Trekking in West Nepal Part II
Dolpo & Shey Gompa
Difficulty: E (hard)
Number of days: 23
Height (max.): 5,635 m.
See Tourists: Dolpo & Shey Gompa trek
The trek through the Upper Dolpo and Shey Gompa is one of the Himalayas’ greatest, and at the same time it is among the harder ones. The route crosses as many as seven mountain passes over 5,000 meters and passes through a very isolated part of northwestern Nepal, where the Tibetan culture of the nomadic people is still unaffected by time and tourism. It also means that the overnight stay takes place in a tent in the old-fashioned expedition style and the experience is completely authentic.
The trek starts in Juphal in the Dolpo region, which is located at an altitude of 2,350 meters, and the path meanders from there into Shey-Phoksumdo National Park to Phoksumdo Lake. Here the path rises upwards between limestone cliffs and goes north, along the high shore of the lake and then over several mountain passes at an altitude of about 5,000 meters on the way to Krystalbjerget and Shey Gompa.
According to securitypology, Shey Gompa is the religious center of the Dolpo region and a magical cultural stronghold, whose monastery is surrounded by long manicures and several chörtenes. Here the Tibetan culture lives as in ancient Tibet, without Chinese influence.
After Shey Gompa, the hike goes north, and over several mountain passes; the path is on the way to the famous Shimen Gompa, where an NGO has built a small school for approx. 4,000 meters altitude.
The trail continues, far from well-trodden paths, over another mountain pass on the way to Chharka. From Chharka, the trail leaves the inner Dolpo and the next three elevation passes are crossed with Himalayan giant Dhaulagiri on the horizon. The route then falls below 4,000 meters and goes first to the fortress village of Sangda and then to the small village, Dhangarjung.
The rest of the route goes downhill and there is a view into the Mustang. The trek ends at an altitude of 2,710 meters at Kagbeni in the Mustang.
Dolpo to Mustang
Difficulty: D (average +)
Number of days: 23
Elevation (max.): 5,700 m.
The trek from Dolpo to Mustang is a pure sensory bombardment of remote desert landscapes surrounded by mystery, high mountain passes, medieval monasteries, abandoned cave cities and of course the adventurous snow leopard. With five passes over 5,000 meters and 23 days of challenging trekking, this is a trip for the well-trained and adventurous traveler.
It’s all worth the effort; The route starts in Juphal and offers every day indescribably beautiful scenery and unspoiled culture, where the original Buddhism still thrives. Among the amazing experiences in the lowlands of Dolpo are the emerald blue Phoksundo Lake and the charming village of Chharka, which is depicted in Eric Valli’s Oscar-nominated blockbuster film, The Himalayas.
After Chharka, it becomes wild nature and home to the extremely terrain-going blue sheep and the enigmatic predator, the snow leopard. A few years ago, one of our groups observed the snow leopard’s tracks up towards the pass, Ghami La. Extremely few people come to these edges, so it is a true privilege to be able to experience this deserted area and admire the grandeur of valleys and peaks. Trekkers are accompanied by blue sheep, wolves, vultures and eagles, etc. In Ghami La you can expect snow, which makes the trip both more challenging and magical.
The small kingdom Mustang opens to its treasure chest of experiences as hikes go through it. From centuries-old caves where the people of that time lived, to towering cliffs and dramatic gorges, the Mustang is a bombardment of soul and senses. The trail continues along the west side of the valley to the historic capital, Lo Mantang, before hiking back along the unknown and spectacular east side.
In short, this is a very special, spectacular and inspiring trekking trip that ends in Chussang, followed by a drive to Jomsom.
Difficulty: B (easy)
Number of days: 5
Elevation (max.): 3,100 m.
Rara Daha, located at an altitude of 3,062 meters, is Nepal’s largest lake, with a circumference of just over 13 kilometers. The lake is located in the western Mugu district and forms the center of the only 106 km2 Rara National Park, established in 1975.
The trek starts on the banks of the Tila River, in Jumla, which is northwestern Nepal’s largest market town. The trail goes up along wooded mountain sides, through villages and over a small mountain pass before continuing through wooded areas, first of rhododendron, then of walnut, bamboo and birch.
The entrance to Rara National Park goes through a narrow, steep valley, and through the park the path continues over another mountain pass, beautifully decorated with colorful beef layers. The hike now goes along a ridge from where there are beautiful panoramic views to Lake Rara.
It is possible to hike around the lake before the route goes routes through villages, over another small mountain pass and down through arable land before the trek ends in Jumla.