"Dolpo Yak Caravan Trek travels with the traders of Dolpo and big herd of yaks to the elevated Nepal-Tibet border catering a perfect opportunity to sight authentic trading culture of Dolpo, its landscapes, amazing yak caravans and every other highlight remote Dolpo has."
Since yak is one of the most popular domestic animals in Upper Dolpo- it has many essential roles in daily life of the natives. Yak is used for different purposes like transportation, ploughing fields, riding and sometimes they are used to open the trail when it is covered with snow. It is also a good source of nutrients in the highland. Its milk and meat are life saving diet. In the Himalayas a life without yaks is close to impossible.
Dolpo, which is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region, China in the North has business relationship since long. Once in a year there will be traditional exchange market in the borderline. Previously the people of Upper Dolpo used to take the food stuff such as maize, wheat, buckwheat, millet etc. brought from the lower part of Dolpa to the border and bartered with salt. When the winter begins again with the salt brought from Tibet the people go to the lower region to barter with the food stuff.
As the time changes every moment, new ideas and creations take place and the people adopt them without any hesitations for survival. Eventually, the trend of the people of upper Dolpo has also changed a lot. Since the importance of Yarshagomba (Cordisep Cynensis) came in knowledge of the general people they became more concerned in trading it. Since this is the natural product which is found wild in the pastures, doesn't need any pre-investment for the cultivation. Its high market value is increasing every season as consequently the people have started to think that it is the main source of income of the family. Therefore, now a days people take this Yarshagomba to barter for modern food stuff and things of daily uses instead of salt.
Yak Caravan Trip is designed in such a way that the whole trip will go with yaks local traders. It is scheduled according to the movement of traders. So the trip will go all along the way that the traders use and will make camps where they rest, in close coordination with them. The trip will take you up to the No Man's Land . So being with these local people with the caravan of yaks provides the real taste of this Upper Dolpo's traditional trading. Anyone can imagine what a wonderful trip will it be? To make a journey within the spread of Upper Dolpa region, adapting the varied biodiversity on the arid highland in typical traditional way. How will you dream? Make your dream come true joining the Yak Caravan
Day 01: Prepare for the trek and fly to Nepalgunj
In the morning you can stroll in the streets of Thamel while we arrange all your trekking documents (TIMS & National Park Permit) . Then you collect all the necessary documents from our representative and drive to the domestic section of Kathmandu airport. From Kathmandu we fly on any domestic carrier to Nepalgunj. Nepalgunj , a town in the western Terai , is very close to the Indian border and the Bardia Nationl Park. It is a major transport hub for western, mid-western and far-western regions of Nepal. Overnight at hotel or lodge.
Day 02: Fly Nepalgunj- Juphal 2475m/ Trek Juphal- Dunai (2145m) 3 hrs Trek
Today we take a 35 minutes long flight to Juphal- the starting point for adventurous Dolpo Yak Caravan Trek. As we begin the trek, the trail ascends southeast high above Thulo Bheri Valley followed by an hour long walk through maize fields to to reach the village of Kalagaunda. We trek by the southern bank of Bheri River and pass Roop Ghar with the water mill and finally reach the village of Dunai(2145m).Dunai is quite a big mountainous town with schools, health post, government offices, police station and tourist class lodges. We will stay overnight in one of the lodges in Dunai. Probably at Pala Guest House.
Day 03: Trek from Dunai to Chhepka 2670m 6-7 hrs trek
Today we begin the trek descending down through the streets of Dunai Town to cross the bridge over Bheri River. Then we chase the northern bank of the river for an hour to reach Sulighat. Then we head north to reach Shey Phoksundo National Park Check Post. Beyond the checkpost, we gradually climb up along the rock strewn trail that lies above the serpentine Suli Ghad Khola. As the trail stretches higher through the series of hemp tree we arrive to Kageni. Further trekking through beautiful tropical forest dominated by walnut and maple trees, we begin to see the first glimpses of Tibetan culture. Savoring the views of fluttering prayer flags, floral and faunal biodiversity, cascading waterfalls and lush vegetation we arrive to the village of Shyanta 2520m. Almost ninety minutes of uphill trek from Shyanta along the narrow trail brings us to Chhepka 2670m. Overnight in a lodge at Chhepka.
Day 04: Trek from Chhepka to Chunuwar (Jharana Hotel) 3110 m 5-6 hrs trek
Today we follow a trail that at frequent intervals goes up and down along the riverbed through the woods. Several streams on the way keep you cool. The trail continues along the valley floor to the confluence of the Phoksundo and Pungmo kholas (rivers). We cross to the western side of the Phoksundo khola and reach the village of Shumdhuwa. Shumduwa is a major trail junction and its name reflects this as 'sum' in Tibetan means three and 'duwa' means trail. It is also the Shey Phoksundo National Park's headquarters. Leaving behind this place we proceed to Chunuwar. The route climbs steadily through open country to an elevation of 3370m. We get a close view of a spectacular 167m metre –high waterfall, the highest in Nepal and a faraway view of Phoksundo lake. We stop for the night at Jharana (waterfall) Hotel.
Day 05: Trek from Chunuwar Phoksundo 3460m 5-6 hrs trek
We will join the direct trail to Phoksundo Lake today climbing the hill slope to a ridge at 3780 meter. Today as we make our way to Ringmo, we make a steep descend through birch forests till the trail reaches of the riverbed of Phoksundo khola. We cross a bridge and follow a trail north to the ranger station at Phoksundo Lake. We continue to the point where the Phoksundo khola(river) flows out of the lake. The final push through the Phoksundo River gully, we emerge to the yak filled meadows of Ringmo, a popular Bon Village in the region. Ringmo has few lodges/homestays. Ringmo is a picturesque settlement of flat-roofed stone houses with lots of mani walls. Just below Ringmo we cross a bridge and follow the trail to Phoksundo Lake, where we camp at the national park camping grounds on the west portion of the lake.
Day 06: Rest day and explore around Phoksundo Lake
Today we explore the area around the Ringmo magnificent Phoksundo Lake. First, we explore around Ringmo Village and head to Tshowa (the lake-shore Bon Monastery). The Gompa nestling a ridge top above Phoksundo Lake was built about 900 years ago.Exploring this culturally rich Bon Monastery is fascinating experience. Ringmo village, a typical Tibetan village, is scenic view from Phoksundo Lake. Many beautiful glaciers can be found near and above the lake area. There are many monasteries (Gompas )and Bon-po religious sites at the park and we spend our time visiting some of these. We also explore the wonderful natural sites and enjoy our nature tour. Then we drop down to Phoksundo Lake along steep-sided cliffs. The lake is famous for its magnificent turquoise color and spectacular scenery. Phoksundo is the deepest of Nepal and it is famous for its clean and clear water with brilliant changing colour.
Day 07: Trek from Phoksundo to Sallaghari (3630m) 5-6 hrs trek
Today's trek is probably one of the best trekking days of Dolpo Yak Caravan Trek. It climbs along the narrow trail cut on a cliff standing vertically straight above Phoksundo Lake. This treacherously fascinating trail brings us to another side of Phoksundo Lake. This particular part of the trek is like fantasy walk portrayed by a writer in their fiction novels. To get to the Phoksundo Khola camp on other side of the lake, we slide down for ninety minutes along the beautiful forests. Beyond the Camp, we trek along Phoksundo Khola, the river that feeds water to the lake all the way to Sallagahri. The majority of the trek goes through the sandy shores of Phoksundo Khola whereas; the final part of today's trek slides up to the beautiful campsite at Sallaghari. Enjoy the nights in the camps amongst beautiful pine forest.
Day 08: Trek from Sallaghari to Nangdalo Base Camp (Kang La BC 4100m) 5-6 hrs trek
Today's trek is relatively short; we trek for almost three hours to reach Kangla Base Camp 4100m. As the trek begins we ascend up the narrow defile of Tuk Kyaksa River. The trail switches to opposite side of the river several times. Soon we arrive to a place where the rapids of the river are calmer. We cross the bridge over the river at that point. Thirty minutes of walk after the bridge, we come across the wide valley followed by two hours of walk along the canyon brings us the potential campsite. A walk for a while further reaches to the massive rock slab, which is Kang La Base Camp- our campsite for the night.
Day 09: Trek from KangLa BC to Shey Gompa 4280m via Kang La Pass 5240m 5-6 hrs trek
Today we trek to the fabled Shey Gompa and the nearby 'Crystal Mountain', the most sacred peak in Dolpo which Dolpo pilgrims circumambulate each summer before the harvest. We are now entering the real Dolpo, and to enter into this mystical land we have to cross the Kangla pass . The trek to the top of Kang La Pass is along the graveled trail uphill for three continuous hours. However, all the efforts put to come up to the top of pass rewards us with wonderful views. The eyefeasting views from the Kang La Pass includes Cyrstal Mountain, the mountains in Tibetan territory and the mesmerizing landscapes of Dolpo. We also have views of the peaks Shey Shikkar and Kang Chunne, both just over 6000 meters, before descending steeply down to the valley floor and along the river. A red chorten marks the entrance to Shey, where we camp for the night.
Day 10: Rest day in Shey Gompa
Shey Gompa the holy pilgrimage, where the people pay their homage and circumnavigate the holy mountain known as Crystal Mountain. In the interval of every twelve years a holy festival is celebrated here to honor the Dragon year. Though relatively a simple manifestation of architectural skills, Shey Gompa and its vicinity is famous for their mystical attributes that entices the visitors. A day rest to explore around Shey Gompa is worthwhile to know the authentic culture of this highland settlement and its surroundings. Today we will explore Shey Gompa.. It is said to be about 800 years old monastery, with murals inside and an ancient scroll describing the mythology behind the Crystal Mountain. The monastery is locally known as Shelri Sumdho Gompa. Shey Festival, the summer festival observed by the people of Dolpo with huge enthusiasm is hosted at Shey Gompa. Peter Mattheissen wrote quite a lot about his stay in Shey in 'The Snow Leopard', and it was shown in Eric Valli's movie 'Caravan' as Thinley's son's gompa.
Day 11: Trek from Shey Gompa to Namgung Gompa via Shey La Pass 5100m 6-7 hrs trek
After the breakfast in the camp at Shey Gompa, as the trek begins, it follows the trail beside Sephu Khola for almost couple of hours. The landscapes during this part of the trek are typical Dolpo landscapes- barren and enchanting. Then we begin to climb up towards the top of Shey La Pass, which is almost two hours of hike. The acme of Shey La Pass west of Shey, rewards us with the magnificent views of Mustang to the East, Tibet to the North and Kanjiroba, Kagmara and Riu Dhukta, or the Crystal Mountain, to the West. The final push downhill from the pass, which is almost 2 hours of hike brings us to Namgung. We spend our night at Namgung, a local nomadic herding settlement. During today's we will have relatively more opportunities to see the picturesque view of yak caravans.
Day 12: Trek from Namgung Gompa to Saldang (3770m) 3-4 hrs trek
One more short trekking day on Dolpo Yak caravan Trek. However, the short trekking day is worthwhile as it caters the view of yak caravans because Saldang is a big village where traders throng to trade with the caravans of yaks. Before to begin the day's trek, we take a short exploration of Namgung Gompa. Set beside the cliff, though the monastery resembles like every other gompa in Dolpo, it has few special attributes. For example the monastery hosts terracotta images of Sakyamuni Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Dorje Chang. As we kick off the trek, we slide down to Nagma Khola and cross it over to the northern side and chase the upstream trail to the west. Hiking across the spur and the short hike downhill brings us to Saldang, which sits in the Nangkhong Valley. Overnight in a camp at Saldang.
Day 13: Explore around Saldang
Saldang village comprise several villages where you can study the culture and traditions of the upper region of Dolpo closely during the morning. After the lunch , we trek towards Yanger Gompa, which lies on the old trade route to Tibet. Initially the trail steeply descends down to Nagon Khola river bed. Heading north of Nagon Khola along the along the steep sided gorge in three hours from Saldang we arrive to the confluence of Nagon Khola Panzang and Tara Khola. Chasing the trail on the lower riverbank which offers a steep vertical climb but soon emerges to the wonderful sight. We finally reach Yangjer Gompa after 4 hours of memorable trek from Saldang. We set up ours camps at Saldang for the night.
Day 14: Trek from Saldang to Sumdowa
From Saldang you will head towards the borderline of Nepal and China. This part of the trek is probably Nepal's least frequented trekking trail, which caters the most beautiful view of yak caravan of the highlands. Trekking along the trail of Saldang Lek, Dolpo Yak Caravan Trek with "Explore Dolpo" arrives to Sumdowa, the last trading town at Nepal-Tibet border. Overnight in Sumdowa.
Day 15: Sumdowa – Rest
This is the point where barter system of trading still exists. The culture available to see here is truly Tibetan and authentically traditional. Let us observe the activities for the whole day, which is worthwhile. Traders are involved in bartering and once the business is done exiting out of the small highland town with the yak caravans towards their destinations is probably the scenic view and the greatest opportunities to capture Yak caravans.
Day 16: Trek fromSumdodwa to Saldang
After the wonderful Yak Caravan Trek in Dolpo, the trek today enters the latter half. We begin to trek along the retracing trail towards Dunai. The first day of trek on the retracing trail extends till Saldang.
Day 17: Trek from Saldang to Namgung Gompa
Continue the trek along the retracing trail. The best thing about the trek on the retracing trail is that if you had missed something really important during the trek towards the destination few days ago, you don't have to worry at all. Ask your guide and take your time to understand the culture of Dolpo and never forget to sight the views of Yak Caravans, which are always beautiful doesn't matter how many times you have seen it. At the end of the day's trek you would arrive to Namgung Gompa.
Day 18: Namgang Gompa – Shey Gompa
Today the Dolpo Yak Caravan Trek retraces along the trail to Shey Gompa. Revisit the Gompa for detailed information on it or explore the authentic settlement of Dolpo to understand the culture of Dolpa-pa in a better way.
Day 19: Trek from Shey Gompa to Kang La BC
Retracing the trek, endure the challenge of crossing Shey La Pass and savor the beauty of Himalayas from such high elevation. At the end of the day's trek we trek down to Kang La Base Camp via Shey La Pass 5100m.
Day 20: Nangdalo Base Camp – Sallaghari
The walk today will be pleasant in the wood with trickling streams and cool environment. At the end of the day on the retracing trail we trek down to Sallaghari via Kang La Pass.
Day 21: Trek from Sallghari to Phoksundo Lake
The up and down trail in the stiff hill will reach us to the beautiful lake Phoksundo today. Arriving to Phoksundo Lake though along the retracing trail is a reward. Savor the beauty of Phoksundo Lake once again and camp in the tents at the lakeshore for the night.
Day 22: Trek from Phoksundo to Chhepka
Today, we shall descend down to Chhepka, which is relatively an easier trek compared to the trek from Chhepka to Phoksundo during the beginning of Dolpo Yak Caravan Trek. Savor the beauty of western mid-hills of Nepal and take your time while trekking down.
Day 23: Trek from Chhepka to Juphal
Today is the last day of Dolpo Yak Caravan Trek, which ends at Juphal. After 5-6 hrs of day's trek we would let go all the trek exhaustion at Juphal and wait for tomorrow to board theflight back to urban Nepal. Overnight in a lodge at Juphal.
Day 24: Fly from Juphal to Nepalgunj and to Kathmandu (same day flight)
In the morning after the breakfast, we walk to the airport in Juphal and board the plane to Nepalgunj. After thrity five minutes of flight we arrive to Nepagunj. From Nepalgunj we board the flight to Kathmandu and in an hour or so we land at Kathmandu Airport. End of the trip.
Trip duration : 24 Days
Grade : Moderate
Maximum altitude : 5240m
Activity : Trekking/Photography
Starts in : Nepalgunj
Ends in : Nepalgunj
Trek Type : Camping
Accommodation : Tents
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