Bali - Bal Bahadur Lopchan, star guide and organizer

 

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Da'Gelje Sherpa - Expedition Himalaya co-owner

Pik admires Phoksundo - Jamie

Shimen village in the Panzang valley - Jamie

Trekkers say:

Thank you for a very special trek. There were so many good things about it. The food was excellent, the organization smooth, the staff friendly and reliable, the tents comfortable and secure.....but the best was Dolpo itself. I had never seen such powerful beauty before. It struck me that in spite of your extensive experience trekking and climbing in the Himalayas, you had retained an enthusiasm and a passion for remote places. For me that made going to Dolpo with you and your group extra special.

Hester SS, Upper Dolpo Magic

 

Our trek went brilliantly, crew were great, food excellent, and we were unbelievably lucky with the weather!

Clive Carlyle, Upper Dolpo to Jomsom private group

 

... A month doesn't go by (literally) where I don't think of it and Megan and I often go back to great stories from the trek. It was a privilege to be in Nepal and to be led by a top notch group of guides, sherpas etc!

John Carmellini, written 2016 about our 2005 Kanchenjunga Double Magic

Upper Dolpo

Legend has it that the ubiquitous Guru Rinpoche, who spread Tibetan Buddhism throughout the Himalaya, discovered this hidden land, a "beyul" or refuge or shangri-la, over 1700 years ago, and it has been inhabited by Tibetan yak and sheep herders, called drokpas, for over a thousand years.

Dolpo is now part of the Nepali district of Dolpa, but historically was part of the Zhangzhung Bon-po Kingdom which dominated Western Tibet for over a thousand years, later defeated by the first Tibetan dynasty, Yarlung, between the sixth and eighth centuries. Afterwards, Dolpo was governed by the Kingdom of Lo (now Lower Mustang and Upper Mustang, formerly part of Tibet) until the Gorkha Kingdom took it over during its consolidation of Nepal a century and a half ago. Since then, it has remained isolated, partly due to its remote location, and partly because the Nepal government didn't want tourists to explore it as Khampa guerrillas used Mustang and Dolpo as a base during their fight against the Chinese occupation of Tibet after 1959 until the 1970's.

The mystique of remote Inner Dolpo, still culturally Tibetan, was catapulted to cult status by Peter Matheissen's "The Snow Leopard", David Snellgrove's "Himalayan Pilgrimage" and George Schaller's "Stones of Silence", the first historical travel accounts of the region.

Established in 1984, Shey-Phoksundo National Park is Nepal's largest national park.

Gear

It is critical to bring the right gear. Most importantly do bring sturdy trekking boots, we are trekking over rough terrain. These must be almost new (no old boots!) and should be relatively tough and strong, ie not the very lightest models. You must be prepared for some light snow, although we hope the trek is snow-free.

See Scarpa UK's trek range to get an idea of the choices. Fabric and leather boots trekking boots work, as do all leather options. You want to balance light weight with toughness and support, and each person weighs these values differently.

A snowy pass, be prepared; Kees indicates this is our ninth 5000m pass on our Dolpo trek - Jamie

Fitness

You MUST have a good level of trekking fitness. We don't set out to make the trek tough, but it will be as we are trekking across plenty of passes. Let's face it, all longer Himalayan treks are tough!

Trek style

We trek standard Nepal expedition style, with you carrying a day pack, porters and mules carry the gear and we have a kitchen crew to cook for us. So in some ways it is basically a standard camping trek, however we have our list of carefully thoguht out details such as better jams, tent systems that make our trek service basically the best custom service available. More details on request.

Maps

The double-sided GHT map Dolpo & Mugu NP109 covers the trek except the last day or so, and is the best map as Jamie personally updates it. This is readily available on Amazon and from other map shops, and in Kathmandu. There are plenty of other cheaper maps available in Kathmandu, less accurate though.

Background

MyHimalayas.com by Carsten Nebel, has a great section on Dolpo and he has trekked with us many times.

Himalaya - the multiple award-winning movie directed by Eric Valli, is essential and delightful viewing. Based on a true story, it is documentary-like and you will recognize many of the scenes during the trek, and note that many are basically unchanged. Jamie and team met Jampa (a good personal friend) and Eric at Dho-Tarap while it was being filmed in 1996 (The making of Himalaya).

Seven Years in Tibet - although at the time filming in South America was emphasized, parts were filmed in Dolpo by the crew above; I only realized this when seeing the movie and recognizing several of the exact scenes that we saw being filmed!

Almost all of these books available in Kathmandu and via Amazon, and sections can be looked up on Google Books:

Caravans of the Himalaya by Eric Valli is a beautiful coffee-table book and part of the research for the movie/

High Frontiers: Dolpo and the Changing World of Himalayan Pastoralists by Kenneth M. Bauer

Four Lamas of Dolpo & Himalayan Pilgrimage by David L. Snellgrove

The Snow Leopard (Kindle edition available) by Peter Mattheissen

Tales of the Turquoise by Corneille Jest

Stones of Silence by George Schaller - best bought in Kathmandu

Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and Beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal by Geoff Childs

To see the detailed itinerary and more photos use a laptop/desktop browser or tablet in landscape (and hit refresh).

Inspiration

Here are a few inspiring photos.

Trekking up the Suli Gad (river) - Jamie

Nice smile from a Dolpo woman collecting fire wood - Jamie

Our horse team climbing up the ridge to our special Crystal Mountain pass - Jamie

A yak shepherds a nak (female yak) amid the autumn colours near Namgung - Jamie

Traditional chuba-clad girls of Dolpo - Jamie

Don't believe "It never rains in Dolpo" - it might be rain shadow but it can still rain! - Jamie

Approaching Dho - Jamie

Namaste!