5 Reasons why Dolpo is the next best trekking destination in Nepal
Positioned between the Tibetan Plateau and Dhaulagiri Range, Dolpo region in western Nepal’s less frequented the trekked area. Until 1989, the route was simply not opened for foreigners. However, after the opening for permits, the trekking destination was trekked by several famous trekkers who have nothing but remarkable things to say about the region. George B Schaller in his book “Stones of Silence” has written every trail of this trek in detail. Also, the international award-winning movie “Caravan” was also shot in the Dolpo region.
Nevertheless, the Dolpo region trek has still gone unnoticed by many due to its remote placement and the inaccessibility due to several reasons. The promotion of this remote yet a Shangri La has been done through word of mouth till today. It won’t be long for everyone to notice this treasured region. There are several trekking routes and trails in Dolpo.
Let’s begin with the highlights of Dolpo Region.
Phoksundo Lake – Gem of the West
Located at an elevation of 3,611m, Phoksundo Lake is truly the gem of Dolpa. There’s a natural dam made by the landslide which dates back more than 30,000 years old. It is truly scenic to watch the waters of the Phoksundo plunge over a 167m tall waterfall. In season, the alpine water lake is full and the surrounding area is filled with lush pine forests with flowers blooming around them. Also, you might get to see the fabled animals such as Blue sheep, Himalayan Thar and even snow leopard coming in for a sip at the waterfall. The Phoksundo Lake is truly a nature hidden wonders. However, the lake is a sacrilegious place for the Buddhists and Bon people of the region, so swimming or taking a dip in the lake is prohibited for the trekkers.
Live the historic Tibetan Buddhism and Bon Culture
The Dolpo Region is mostly inhabited by Tibetan Buddhists who have located themselves in the villages of Tarap and Phoksundo Lake. As the region is linked with Tibet, there is a religious, cultural and economic trade between the people of Dolpo and Tibet. However, there is a minority of demographics in the population who still follow the Bon religion in Dolpo. This antique and unique culture was established in Dolpo even before the Buddhism. Trekkers can get to see the mix of both the religion in this region. The region has Mani walls which are the stacks of stone walls with Tibetan Mantras carved on it. Also, the trekkers will be passing through Color painted Chortens.
Dolpo is the largest district in Nepal and is home to Nepal’s largest National Pak “SheyPhoksundo National Park”. Therefore, there is enriched biodiversity in the Dolpo region. Furthermore, the upper Dolpo Trek offers even more flora and fauna collections during the trail. The famous Himalayan Gold “Yarsagumba” or Cordyceps is found abundantly in this region. So, in the month of June – July, the whole settlement of Dolpo can be seen camping in the high meadows for searching Yarsagumba. Some hikers have even commented by saying that during this trek, more blue sheep can be seen than humans. With the vast meadows and freshwater supplies, the Dolpo region is a sanctuary for the rarest of Himalayan species. If lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the evasive snow leopard.
Panoramic view of the region
The Dolpo region consists of several high passes which offer splendid views of faraway lands of the region. Trekkers will have to traverse through demanding uphill battles to reach the passes of over 5000m. After reaching the top, Trekkers will get once in a lifetime scenic views of the snowcapped mountains, river basins and the trail for further exploration.
Caravan “just like the movie”
An exciting aspect of trekking in this region is to get to see the caravan of yaks, mules and Tzopas driven by the caravan drivers. These caravans are usually the supplies from or to Tibet. These caravans have been used for supplying and restocking the upper Dolpo people’s settlements with grains, salt and other essentials. The caravan drivers are held with high dignity in the region as they have to face through thick and thin in the merciless weathers of the highest of altitudes.
The unchartered territory of Dolpo has been hidden for centuries. Nevertheless, it has now been open and up for trekkers who want to see the real gem of the west.