Our wild treks into Upper Dolpo, Nepal started while having butter tea with ‘Caravan Thinle’, the Dolpo village chief from the movie ‘Himalaya’. Thinle helped us to create our unique, adventurous treks into remote Upper Dolpo. Each year, with Thinle’s nephew Thinle Gyalgen and his white horse, we explore further into spectacular Upper Dolpo, camping at far-flung Tibetan villages and the turquoise Phoksumdo Lake at Ringmo, crossing high Himalayan passes, visiting ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and exploring new trekking routes. This is a remote land of snow leopards, blue sheep and Tibetan nomads on horseback, one of Nepal’s most culturally interesting regions.
This year’s Upper Dolpo trek includes an exploratory route to Bhijer and Shyamling Gompa, crossing several Himalayan passes from Shey Gompa to reach idyllic Saldang, bustling with village life. Trekking along Nepal’s Great Himalayan trail, we finish our Himalayan journey by crossing the many high passes along ancient trade routes to reach Mustang, and are treated to magnificent mountain panoramas of the Annapurna range and the peaks bordering Tibet. En route we stop at remote Mustang villages and summer settlements, rarely visited by Westerners.
Our journey begins with a spectacular flight along the Himalayas to the remote airstrip at Juphal, in Lower Dolpo. We trek up the beautiful Suli Ghad River gorge to the turquoise Phoksumdo Lake, and then along the ‘Devil’s Trail’ and to reach the first of many 5000 meter Himalayan passes, this one leading to Peter Mattheissen’s fabled Shey Gompa and the sacred Crystal Mountain. At scenic Saldang, with its gilded monastery and local amchis (Tibetan doctors), we have an extra day to explore the nearby Tibetan villages, busy with their Autumn barley harvest. Trekking past mani walls and ancient chortens deeper into Upper Dolpo we reach the most authentic and interesting part of Dolpo, the beautiful Panzang valley. Off the main trekking routes we arrive in region of ‘pure’ Dolpo, where we spend several days in the traditional villages sharing salt-butter tea with the locals and doing some bartering for their colorfully striped textiles.
One of the highest inhabited realms on the planet, Upper Dolpo is still a stronghold of the pre-Buddhist, shamanistic Bon religion, as well as Tibetan Buddhism. Upper Dolpo is a breathtakingly beautiful and mountainous region of fortified villages, ‘dzongs’, turquoise lakes, sacred mountains and high passes, susceptible to heavy snows which isolate it from neighboring regions for much of the year. The trekking is challenging, but the rewards are immense.
Join us for our wild trek into remote and sublimely beautiful Upper Dolpo!
NOTE: Previous Himalayan trekking experience required for this trek. It is a very remote region and an extremely challenging trek, with many 5000+ meter passes and limited exit points.
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Kamzang Journeys is owned and operated by Kim Bannister, an American expat and traveler of 25+ years who is based in Kathmandu, Nepal (spring, autumn and sometimes winter) & Leh, India (summer). Kamzang Journeys is a registered LLC in the USA. The inspiration for Kamzang Journeys originated in Ladakh, where Kim and team have been trekking for 15+ years. It came from trekking through sparkling river valleys of sculpted ochre, mustard and moss-green rocks under soaring Himalayan peaks, through green, nomadic pasture lands peppered with nomadic yak-hair tents under a canopy of endless blue skies. Our passion for these regions inspired us to make a lifestyle of leading treks and bicycle trips through Nepal, India, Tibet and Bhutan, later adding Mongolia and newly Pakistan to the list. All of our Kamzang team shares our love of these Himalayan regions, of the adventure of trekking, of exploring far-flung villages, sipping salt-butter tea in local houses, of camping with the nomads as they round up their flocks of sheep, goats and yaks, of watching for snow leopard and kiang as we journey through remote plateaus on the border of Nepal and Tibet, of bicycling through some of Bhutan's most breathtakingly beautiful regions.