Jamie McGuinness - Project Himalaya owner-guide Bali - Bal Bahadur Lopchan, star guide and organizer


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Jamie's Flickr photo sets - explore them!

The harvest in Dolpo

On our special route route to Shey; note the people dots in the mid-upper right corner

Pik and Ornella cruise down to Shey (Shelri Sumdo) Gompa, down to our camp already set up

"Snow Leopard Lake" under moonlight

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

Detailed Itinerary

We trek on the usual route in to Lo Manthang and avoid the four wheel drive track as much as possible.

Our itinerary is well planned with appropriate time for acclimatization to altitude and the multiple rest days can handle unscheduled delays, and there is a variety in the length of trekking days with some half-days to/from villages, giving time to further wander around locally and enjoy. We get to altitude quickly but then stay at the 3800m level for a number days before heading higher.

Although this is the itinerary we plan, we adapt the itinerary to conditions and to the trekkers along with us.

Prior to your arrival in Kathmandu we send out an email with detailed arrival instructions including the visa procedure, meeting our staff, contact details and changing money etc.

Day 0 - early arrival

To explore Kathmandu and recover from long flights, we suggest arriving a day before the trip is scheduled to start. There is just so much to see and do, whether wandering around the various Durbar (King's) squares or taking a guided tour. 

The additional day is also best to aid recovery from long flights and time zone changes, which are particularly brutal if coming from North America.

Early arrivals will be met at the airport by our staff and escorted to the hotel where Jamie will meet you. We book the extra nights hotel nights and you can pay ahead or on arrival.

Day 1 - arrive Kathmandu 1350m

If you want to spend the minimum amount if time in Kathmandu then you can arrive today before 2pm so that we can take your passport to finish the permit process either today or tomorrow morning.

Our staff meet you at the airport, look for a sign with your name on it and Jamie will meet you at the hotel. Give your passport to the pickup staff for the final permit process.

Jamie will show you around Thamel, the funky tourist area, to shop for maps and last minute gear. We have a trip briefing in the hotel garden starting 6pm this evening and head out to dinner together.

2 - fly Pokhara 827m

After the office has finished collecting all the permits, sometime after lunch, we take a short half hour flight to Pokhara in an approx 50 seater propeller aircraft. From the right side of the plane, the huge Himalayan mountains rise from the middle hills, dotted with villages and terraced fields. It is a relief to transition from the appalling Kathmandu traffic but smart new domestic terminal to laid back Pokhara. Touristy lakeside is an area of cafes, souvenir trinkets, trekking gear shops and hotels.

Lets check out the World Peace Stupa if your legs need some exercise.

Machapuchare from a morning excursion viewpoint near Pokhara

3 - fly Jomsom, trek Kagbeni ~2800m

It is an early morning flight to Jomsom, to beat the regular midday winds, and after meeting the crew (who came in overland), we stretch the legs with the less than three hour walk to Kagbeni, a delightful village well worth exploring. We are trekking up the massive Kali Gandaki valley with Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, and most visibly the Nilgiri mountains towering behind us and it is said that the Kali Gandaki is the deepest gorge in the world, with these monster 8000 metre peaks soaring no less than five kilometers above.

Kagbeni overlooks the Kali Gandaki River, and is a warren of mud brick alleys, an authentic taste of what is to come.

Kagbeni with colourful buckwheat fields and a glimpse of the soaring Niligiri mountains

4 - Trek Chhusang 2980m (/ Chele 3050m)

Leaving Kagbeni, we pass through the restricted area checkpost; no more Annapurna Circuit trekkers. We walk on the eastern side of the Kali Gandaki as we trek along to Chhusang, mainly flat trekking today with minor climbs only, passing through authentic villages with apple orchards. Already there are organ pipe cliffs, hoodoos and ancient, inaccessible caves dug into vertical conglomerate.

Harvest time - we are trekking while the fields are ripe with crops, and then through the harvest time

5 - Trek Samar 3600m

... lunch in shady Samar.

Spectacular - Jamie

6 - Trek Jhaite 3820m

7 - Trek Dhakmar 3820m

Today is perhaps the most colorful and scenic day of what is one of the most scenic treks there is.

The gorgeous colours and formations - Jamie

8 - Trek Lo Manthang 3800m

The last functioning walled city in the world...

9 - Lo Manthang

Those gompas!

Dharma protector - Jamie

10 - stay Lo Manthang 3800m

In addition to exploring the walled city and the unique gompas, there are plenty of other options. Take a horse or jeep up valley to Chosar and the caves, or rarely visited Konchokling (which a few of us trekked to in 2018).. We will discuss options while there.

11 - trek grassy camp 4300m

It is only half a day to our first wilderness camp as we climb 500m in altitude, a prudent gain considering how many nights we have already spent at around 3800m. There is a very special longer route to the camp that we will probably take, and will share it's secrets only on the trail.

12 - rest-explore grassy camp 4300m

We are camped next to friendly nomads, basically the only Tibetan-style nomads in Nepal!

13 - trek 4850m camp

Heading further up, the water and grass thin and we camp at the last water source, in a pleasant camp with wonderful views across the valley to Tibet to the north, and across to the Saribung region and where we have previously explored.

Our delightful camp - Jamie

14 - 4850m camp

A rest and exploration day with plenty of possibilities including some high hills nearby.

15 - cross Kekyap La ~5600m, Ghyung Khola ~5100m

Also called the Kakyep La, we crawl up the stony pass, traversing around and up, and feel the altitude. The panorama is breathtaking for other reasons though, with much of the Annapurna range another peaks piercing the skyline.

The descent down the other side is steep and relentless, and basically we aim simply to get down to the bottom and along the valley to a good camp site.

Dawa and Da'Kusang discuss the route over the pass; Annapurna I in the background

16 - trek Arniko Chuli BC ~5400m

The terrain opens out as we gently gain altitude in the valley. Let's see how far up the valley we get, but probably we camp by a glacial lake.

Kiang, the wild ass of Tibet, rarely seen in Nepal, however, we will almost certainly see them.

17-19 - Arniko Chuli BC ~5400m

There are peaks and passes everywhere here. First we have to work out which peak is the real Arniko Chuli!

This is not Arniko Chuli but is indicative of what we might be climbing

20-34 ...

I don't have a detailed itinerary written for the rest of the trek; I will work on it sometime, perhaps - or just come along to experience it for real!

Day 35/38/40? - depart

You are free to leave Kathmandu today, however it is probably worth planning an evening flight as just occasionally the Jomsom-Pokhara flight is delayed, perhaps a couple of times a month, and so this allows for a delay. Alternatively stay an extra night for some shopping...

Photo galleries of our previous Dolpo treks

Every time I review my previous trek photo albums I am blown away by our exploratory treks across the region. Here is a link to Jamie's Flickr collections and of course the relevant are the Upper Mustang and the Dolpo sets of albums See the 2011 GHT2 Mustang to Dolpo album for the in between section, and sometime I will finish one for our 2018 trek too.


Jamie's Flickr photo sets

Jamie's Flickr sets

Carsten Nebel, an itinerate trekker and one of the 2011 explorers also has a Flicker Nepal Mustang 2011 set.

For more info on the region also search Google for for Paulo Grobel's explorations (the individual pages are hard to reach from his home page). Sometimes it feels like I have followed in Paulo's footsteps, across Saribung, and this Arniko Chuli area, and in ideas, such as exploring about Simikot. He is a great explorer; however we have done more than our share of exploring in the east of Nepal too :)