Dolpa Trek

Dolpa Trek

Fast facts


  • The highest mountain of the region is Churen Himal with 7,381 meters (see map).
  • The majority of Dolpa lies behind the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri Himal (range) and is high altitude desert, strongly reminiscent of Tibet.
  • 3,555 km2 of Dolpa has been set aside as Shey-Phoksundo National Park. The park shelters blue sheep, Himalayan black bear, leopards, wolves and the elusive snow leopard – of which there is a trek of the same name.
  • Overlooking the Phoksundo Lake is the Pal Sentan Thasoon Chholing Gompa, a Bön-po Gompa said to have been built 60 generations ago.
  • Dolpa is well known for: the movie ‘Himalaya‘, the  stunning, turquoise Phoksundo lake, Shey Gompa, said to be 800 years old and its desert like Tibetan scenery.
  • From May 15 until June 15 it is yarchagumba season in Dolpa. During this period people all over Dolpa leave their house to collect yarchagumba, a unique combination of a fungus and a caterpillar which only grows in certain areas above 3500 meters and is in high demand in countries like Japan and Malaysia for its medicinal qualities. Even schools close during this time! Besides, many people from surrounding districts enter the village to collect this precious species. They get about US$ 1 for each yarchagumba, but it is worth far more in Japan, China and Malaysia.


Dolpo, one of the heighest inhabited places on earth, with scattered fortress like villages and monasteries nestling amongst mountains of stark, ascetic beauty. With the beautiful azure of Phoksumdo Lake, authentic culture and few visitors, it makes for an extraordinary trekking experience






Legend says Dolpa is a Beyul, one of the “hidden valleys” created by Guru Rinpoche as a refuge for devout Buddhists and those of exceptionally pure mind. It is said that the hidden land of Dolpa, was first settled by Rokpa farmers and Drokpa nomads from Tibet and it is now one of the highest inhabited places on earth, with scattered fortress-like villages and monasteries nestling amongst mountains of stark, ascetic beauty.

Though part of Nepal today, Dolpa remains culturally and economically tied to Tibet, as the people of this desolate area are cut off from their southern neighbors by snow-covered passes for much of the year. Their world is bounded in the east and south by Dhaulagiri and Churen Himal ranges and in the west by the Mugu district. Dolpa has been bypassed by development and was only opened to foreigners in 1989, when southern parts of Dolpa were opened to organised trekking groups.

Peter Matthiessen’s the Snow Leopard and David Snellgrove’s Himalayan Pilgrimage have contributed to the mystique and attraction of Dolpa, along with the stunning French/Nepali film Himalaya/Caravan directed by Eric Valli.

Visiting this area is your chance to see the truly spectacular beauty of Phoksumdo Lake. There is no aquatic life in the lake, which helps to make the waters a brilliantly clear turquoise and at 4.8km long, 1.8km wide and said to be 650m deep, this is a truly magnificent spectacle in such an arid landscape. According to legend, Phoksumdo Lake was formed by a spiteful female demon who flooded a village after they revealed her whereabouts to the saint Padmasambhava. It is said you can see the remains of a village below the lake’s surface.


Inner Dolpo is one of the last vestiges of authentic Tibetan culture. It’s a land of ancient trading routes, monasteries and medieval fortresses set in a timeless landscape that is very distant from the modern world.


Dolpa is Bon-po country, where people practice a shamanistic religion predating Tibetan Buddhism. You will find that much of Bon-po symbolism is the opposite of Buddhist practice. You should walk to the right of ancient mud chortens (ie keeping them on your left), which are inscribed with swastikas with their arms pointing in the opposite direction to the Buddhist’s. While Buddhists chant “om mani padme hum”, the Bon-pos chant ‘om ma tri mu ye sa le du”, which in Tibetan means “in clarity unite’.

You can trek here in the monsoon, when many areas of Nepal are not so suited for trekking. While people do not usually think of trekking in Nepal in the monsoon months, this arid landscape is not affected, being in the rain-shadow of the main Himalayan Range! After November it is very cold and can be risky as the passes are covered by snow. This area is arid, high altitude desert and you need to be extremely self reliant to trek in this harsh landscape where food shortages are common. The lower trekking areas however are much more hospitable and food and accommodation are available.


GHT Dolpo Treks



  • Upper Dolpo to Jomsom trek

Instead of following the more popular Dolpo Circuit trek, the Upper Dolpo to Jomsom trek heads further north to an area very close to the Tibet border and then walks out along the challenging trail to Jomsom giving you a good number of days on one of the most special sections of The Great Himalaya Trail.


  • Phoksundo Lake trek

A short trek to the visually stunning Phoksumdo Lake, feasible for semi-independent travellers


  • The Dolpa Circuit trek

A 14 day camping trek that takes in some of the best that Dolpa has to offer including Bon villages, Phoksumdo lake, Dho Tarap and many wild trails in between.


  • Inner Dolpo trek

High passes, Trans-Himalayan landscapes, and the fabulous Phoksumdo Lake make for a remarkable journey to Shey Gompa, the spiritual heart of Inner Dolpo. One of Nepal’s most exceptional treks.