Nepal is geographically small but with a diverse land. Kathmandu's most crowded city to Dolpo's isolated villages, this land is full of mystery. Known for its beauty all around the world, Nepal includes many beautiful Natural resources and Historical places. One of the essential regions here in Nepal that sync with both natural awesomeness and historical mystery is the Dolpo region.
Dolpo is the largest district in Nepal. Dolpo alone covers 5.36% of the total landmass of the country. Dolpo is situated at 28°43’N to 29°43’N latitude and 82°23’E to 83°41’E longitude, whereas the elevation of Dolpo ranges from 1,525 to 7,625 m (5,003 to 25,016 ft). Dolpo borders Tibet (China) on the north and northeast, the Jumla and Mugu districts of Karnali on the west, Myagdi, Jajarkot and Rukum on the south, and Mustang on the east. The population of Dolpo is approximately 29,545. The main occupation of the Dolpo region is agriculture, and most people are of Tibetan origin. It is believed that they migrated into this region before the 6th century. Their language and customs are unique. Their religion still includes ancient Shamanistic practices of Bon Mysticism. Dolpo is not just another isolated land but is full of mystery. There are two types of Monasteries in this region Bon or Kagyupa (famous for its scholars, Tilopa, Marpa). The Do Tarap region has numerous Bon monasteries.
Dolpo region does not have a place only for nature lovers, but it has always significantly impacted spiritual seekers. Shey Gompa is the spiritual heart of Inner Dolpo. Shey Gompa is situated below Riwo Drugdra, the crystal mountain. Shey Gompa was built around the 11th century by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. Shey Gompa is widely revered, and each July, hundreds of Buddhists visit Shey Gompa and make a ‘Kora’ or circumambulation (pilgrimage circuit).
The Dolpo region is divided into Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo. You need a special permit to enter this region. This region was opened for trekking in 1989, including many untouched and less explored trails. It is tough to match Dolpo for its pristine beauty and rugged charm to any other traveling destination in Nepal. The upper Dolpo and Lower Dolpo trekking offer magnificent views of endless landscapes. Dolpo lies in a rain shadow area. Dolpo remains much drier and receives less rainfall than other parts of the country.
A huge part of the Dolpo region is protected by Shey Phoksundo National Park. The name is believed to have been derived from the 12th-century Shey Monastery and the deepest lake, Phoksundo Lake. Shey Phoksundo National Park protects endangered wild lives such as snow leopards, musk deer, Tibetan wolves and many more. Shey Phoksundo National Park is one of Nepal's largest and only trans-Himalayan National parks. Dolpo region has altitudes from a little over 1,500m at Tribeni to 7,381m at the peak of Churen Himal. Mukot, Kanjiroba and Putha Hiunchuli are other famous peaks in Dolpo trekking region. Small ranges of great Himalayas comprise the southern border. Dolpo region is a labyrinth of often wide glacial valleys and ridges.
Dolpo region is Nepal's most isolated region, and the central point of this area is Shey Phoksundo National Park. Surrounded by Dhaulagiri and Churen Himal ranges in the south and east, and the Jumla district to the west, trekking to Dolpo can be your lifetime experience with notable features of snowcapped peaks, most ancient and isolated villages, rich wildlife, cultures, monasteries and beautiful lakes.
Trekking to the Dolpo region exposes you to the highly isolated Himalayan valleys. One of the main attractions of this region is Shey Phoksundo Lake. The lake is free of aquatic life, crystal clear water surrounded by rocks, forest and snow-capped peaks. Dolpo is mainly divided into lower and upper regions these days. Both areas provide you with an equal adventure in the Himalayan region. Dolpo trekking begins from Juphal and follows the route to Dunai and up to Bang la Camp, the uppermost point of Dolpo trekking.
In 1951 Nepal was opened for tourism activities, and most of the highlands then began to enjoy changes. After this sensitive act, Dolpo became a mysterious forbidden region for foreign travelers in 1974. Dolpo became an ideal hideout place for Tibetan freedom fighters (Khampas), which caused many conflicts with the Royal Nepalese Army. Another main reason was China’s clamming for their lost territory, which also imbalanced tourism activities. However, after about fifteen years in 1989, a few regions of Dolpo was opened for tourism activities, including the South of Phoksundo, Tichurong, and Tarap.
Trekkers and travelers usually only trek to one; the Lower Dolpo region or Upper region. Since Dolpo is a massive region, it isn't easy to walk the entire area within a short time. The lower Dolpo region trek offers an exciting trip experience in the remotest western part of Nepal. Trek begins from the flight to Jhupal via Nepalgunj. We walk through the shadow landscapes of the Himalayas. We can witness the yak caravans, which maintain the traditional salt trade with Tibet. Lower Dolpo trek leads you through two High Passes, Numa La and Baga La. Lower Dolpo trek is famous as the barren hidden valley, where you can witness remarkable villages. Dolpo is a land of mystery. The stillness of time can be seen here, looking at inhabitants with unique Tibetan culture.
Once you trek to Upper Dolpo, you will experience the mystical and spiritual aura hidden in this region. Once you go higher, you can witness rare animals such as snow leopards and blue sheep. Walking on the Upper Dolpo trail, we will have to come across many technical high passes and unique forests, including waterfalls. The path of Upper Dolpo goes from Shey Phuksundo National Park crossing striking valleys, landscapes and monasteries. Shey Gompa, Saldang La Pass, and Dho Tarap are Highlights of this trek. A special permit is required to trek this mystical region which offers many things with rarely explored trails.
You may have trekked to various regions but feel like something is missing. Most trekking trails may not offer you many things as you want. Dolpo is a region where you will always get more than you want. It provides everything one wishes to witness in their trek in these parts of the Himalayas. Not just the fantastic landscapes, it always has been the land of seekers, rich with mystical dimensions and profoundness of culture. One can witness amazing panoramic views of the Himalayas through the local eye. It can be a lifetime journey without a ray of doubt. Some of the reasons why one should trek to the Dolpo Region are: