The prized goal of the Upper Dolpo trek is to appreciate natural beauty and wildlife of Shey Phoksundo National Park. The park has a pristine ecosystem and a great variety of floral and faunal species including Blue Sheep, Red Panda, Snow Leopard, orchids, oaks etc. The Phoksundo Lake which is the centre of attraction of the park attracts visitors in thousands.
Located in mid-western Nepal, Upper Dolpo is a natural and cultural jewel of the central Himalaya. It lies within the Shey Phoksundo National Park and sits on the laps of Dhaulagiri Massif.
Upper Dolpo is a remote region with no roads and direct air connection. The nearest road head is Nepalgunj about 200km south and the nearest airport is in Juphal. Hence, the Upper Dolpo trek starts with a short flight or day-long bus ride to Nepalgunj and then a short flight to Juphal, from where the trekking begins.
Visiting villages and interacting with local local people who have similar culture as Tibetans is simply joyful. The locals here follow Bonpo religion that predates Buddhism. Dolpo is regarded as a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated. Shey Gompa (4200m) and Tsering Gompa (4400m) are two of the most important Buddhist monasteries in this region.
The greatest challenge of Upper Dolpo trek comes at the crossing of two high passes of Kang La (5270m) and Jeng La (5080m). These passes offer majestic views of Dhaulgairi, Kanjiroba, Kang Chhune, and Kagmara as well as sprawling Tibetan landscape.
Upper Dolpo Trek has been graded moderate to strenuous and is mostly a mix of tea-house and camping trek. Special permit is required to enter into this area and trekkers are allowed only in groups.
If you have seen Oscar-nominated documentary Caravan directed by Eric Valli, then you would know where and how amazing Upper Dolpo region is.