Overview The Dolpo Phoksundo Festival in 2024 is a captivating cultural event that showcases the vibrant traditions and rich heritage of the Dolpo region in Nepal. Nestled in the remote and pristine landscapes of Upper Dolpo, this festival offers a unique opportunity to witness the unique customs and rituals of the Dolpo people while celebrating their ancient cultural heritage. The festival takes place against the backdrop of the magnificent Phoksundo Lake, the deepest lake in Nepal also known for its mesmerizing turquoise waters and surrounding snow-capped peaks. The combination of the stunning natural beauty and the colorful festivities creates an…
Overall, the Dolpo Phoksundo Festival is an enchanting cultural celebration that combines the beauty of Phoksundo Lake, the spiritual rituals, and the warmth of the Dolpo community. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the rich traditions of the region and create lifelong memories of this unique cultural experience in the heart of the Himalayas.
As you fly into Kathmandu, the views of snow-capped mountain peaks greet you. A representative and driver from our office will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. The representative will help you check into your designated hotel. The hotel will be Three star. At the hotel you will be briefed about your daily activities.
From Kathmandu we take a bus or fly on any domestic carrier to Nepalgunj. Nepalgunj is a town in the western Terai 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. Here we will have to make a night stay because the flight for Dolpo occurs only in the early morning. The hotel will be 10 to 15 minutes drive from the airport. Our representative will pick you up from the airport and take to the hotel.
Today our representative will pick you up from the hotel to the airport. We take a 35 minutes long flight to Juphal .Our trekking starts from Juphal .The trail descends and winds through local villages down to Kalagauda, where there are some shops and tea houses. We trek by the riverside and pass through Roop Ghar a small cluster of people with the water mill and finally reach Dunai bazar (2150 m) A small town, the head quarter of Dolpo district. Dunai has a several private and government school and college, police check post and some government offices. There is a trekking store too where you can get all goods needed for trekking food and equipments. We stay overnight in Dunai. Reaching Dunai one can have a visit to the town or Bon stupa and school, Buddhists Central Monastery and the very first private English medium school across the river. You can have nice views of some villages and the whole town from this side.
As the trek begins today, we follow the upstream trail that banks Bheri River. First part of today’s trek is very pleasant as we trek along the levelled path occupied by beautiful landscapes in the neighbourhood. Almost a couple of hours of trek bring us to the settlement of Byasghar 2430 m. Exiting out of Byasghar, we continue trekking along the riverside trail that heads towards northeast direction. During this part of the trek, the trail most of the times flanks the river closely and at other time it climbs over the hill or around the ridge. The trek continues along open trails before it arrives to Baijibara.
This small settlement holds a Bon Monastery. After a short uphill trek further, dry stone walls and cultivating fields indicate the arrival of famous mid-hill settlement of western Nepal, Tarakot, A small settlement that nestles high above Thuli Bheri River was once a famous trading point as it was the capital of ancient independent kingdom Tichorung. Most of the natives of the village belong to Magar tribe and the most of them practice Tibetan Buddhism as their religion. In some clusters of ‘Kaike’ a local dialect is spoken, which is not spoken anywhere else.
As the trek begins today, we hike along the trail that lies on the southern bank of Bheri River. An hour long trek brings us to the open valley created by Bharbung Khola. Then the Phoksundo Nature Experience Trek heads east along the bank of Bharbung Khola. This part of trek brings us closer to Putha Huinchuli and Churen Himal. The trail beyond Bharbang Khola chases the easy steps that eventually bring us to Laisicap 2775 m. Now we cross the main river and begin to trek along the west bank of Tarap Khola. We head north until we arrive to Khanigaon 2950m. Khanigaon is the winter residence of the Dho-Tarap people. We can see the wonderful view of Sandul Gompa across the valley from Khanigaon. The final push on the steep uphill trail finally brings us to Laini Odar, which is a wonderful camping site with a beautiful waterfall nearby.
Phoksundo Nature Experience trek today begins along the spectacular trail. As we head further from Laini Odar, the trail goes through the deep gorges with scary cliffs above them. After couple of hours of trek to the north from Laini Odar, the trail begins to become relatively open. A little bit of effort put to make the trail easier can be seen. We now trek on the easy trail paved with wooden planks and flat stones that leads us to Chhyugar 3440m. Chhyugar lies at the bank of small stream which we cross and begin to trek along its western bank to Pibke or Nawarpani 3475m.
The final part of today’s trek, which is couple of hours long brings us to Toltol 3530m. Toltol is a winter refuge for the people of Upper Dolpo. We will settle down our camps here for the overnight stay.
One of the most interesting days of the trek is about to begin. The trek most of the times runs along the bank of Tarap Khola switching sides frequently. On the first part of the trek we hike along the northwest bank of Tarap Khola to Ghyamghar, a small settlement with a monastery. At Ghyamghar, we cross the river and begin to trek along the eastern bank to Sisaul. At Sisaul once again we cross the river to its western bank and begin to trek along the lonely valley.
As we arrive to Langa, we once again cross the river and follow its eastern bank that climbs to a small arid hill. The last part of today’s Inner Dolpo Trek slides down from this small hill to Dho Tarap 3950m. Dho Tarap is a fascinating settlement that manifests the real attributes of Dolpo. This famous settlement of Dolpo nestles high above a wide valley and was a famous trading point to the traders of Tibet and Mustang in the ancient days. We will settle down our camps at Dho Tarap for the overnight stay.
Dho-Tarap is known as the highest human settlement of Nepal. Which is approximately 4000 m and a residence to approximately 15,000 of population . As I mentioned above it lies in the heart of Dolpo. It is because it is reachable from all others valleys approximately within a day. It is also because remaining six valleys are somehow connected to Dho-Tarap. So, lately it has been the central attraction of Dolpo from the development as well as from tourism perspectives. According to the new federation of Nepal Dho-Tarap had been constituted under the name of Dolpo Buddha R.M . DhoTarap is divided into three small villages; Dho, Takshi and Kalang. Dho and Takshi villages are reachable within each other roughly in one hour walks. It takes approximately 3-4 hours to reach Kalang from Dho and Takshi. Likewise the culture there is highly influenced from Tibet autonomous region. Like other valleys agriculture and semi-nomadic life are on which they depend the most. So unlike other valleys Dho-Tarap valley has unique climate and soil texture which results in grow of Yastsagumbhu. Yartsagumbhu (cordyceps) is a type of fugus which grow in high altitude pasture in summer as a grass.Which means in winter it is a caterpillar and grows as a grass in summer. So Yartsagumbhu has been lately acting as a turning point of economy life of Dho-Tarap.Which means it has been a catalyst to bring changes in lifestyle of Dho- Tarap.
We begin the trek along a gentle uphill trail from Dho Tarap. Nearly an hour long uphill climb brings us to Crystal Mountain School and Health Post. Schools and health posts are very rarely seen in Dolpo. En-route to Numa La Base Camp we trek along the easy trail that reaches to Tokyu 4209m. Authentically traditional looking village Tokyu is a widespread village with graceful and old-fashioned houses. Tokyu is also a delightful place for a photographer on a bright sunlight. The trail beyond Tokyu right away crosses the River to Kanger. To the northwest direction of the main trail, we see the dramatic views of Shering Gompa which is the house for the monks in the region. The comfortable trail ends here as we begin to slide up along the wild and barren rugged trail to the Base Camp of Numa La 4350m. Overnight in a camp at Numa La Base Camp.
Today the trek isn’t going to be easy. As the trek begins towards the Numa La Pass it begins to test trekker’s endurance. The trek chases the trail that climbs up to endless ridge top.
The path is not easy as well- gaining higher elevation on the rugged trail is electrifying and maddening experiences of equal measures. However, the demanding trek also rewards with the majestic views of Mt. Dhaulagiri and Churen Himal.
Also the view of fantastic snowcapped peak Norbung Kang dominates the trail. After 4 hours of effortful trek we arrive to the top of Numa La Pass 5310m. The top of Numa La Pass has quite a spacious saddle with prayer flags fluttering with winds.
As we slide down the Numa La Pass, the trail is relatively easier. The path follows Gyambo Khola and then encounters the spurs before it finally slips into the beautiful meadow of Danighar 4512m. Overnight in a camp at Danighar.
As the trek begins today, it right away caters a vertical uphill climb along the shabby yak trail. Initially the trail to Baga La Pass gains elevation rapidly.
The elevation of 600m is gained so rapidly that, this part of trek really demands extra efforts. As we arrive to the top of the pass, we witness the scared chortens.
Norbung Lang Peak looms right in front of our eyes along with other peaks on the ridgeline from the top of the pass is one of the most beautiful views of entire Phoksundo Nature Experience Trek.
As we descend down the pass, we slide into deep ravine and cross the frozen stream to open space. The final push down is a beautiful meadow Temche/Yak kharka 4000m. We have a night rest here.
At Yak Kharka, the trail branches into two. Descending trail drops down to Maduwa whereas; the ascending one traverses high towards Ringmo.
The trail to Ringmo penetrates the lush vegetation of pines, junipers and cypress. This part of trek offers the stunning views of towering cliffs throughout the trek.
Passing the highest waterfall in Nepal on the right, the trail finally stretches to Ringmo, a famous Bon settlement in the region. The final thirty minute downhill trek from Ringmo finally brings us to the mesmerizingly beautiful lake, Phoksundo. Overnight in the camps beside Phoksundo Lake.
Trekking on the slightly ascending trail we come to the top of the ridge from where we will have last glance of magnificent lake Phoksundo. Then ascending the winding trail on arid land we come to down Polum. After that we will trek downhill through the wood and small streams by the sides.
The trail goes with ups and down with similar surroundings to reach Chhepka. Now vegetation gradually looks different now we can find some trees like apples, walnuts and bamboo bushes. We will make the last camp within Shey Phoksundo National Park at Chhepka.
Today, the last walking day in this trip we start our trek towards Juphal from Chhepka. Just after a walk of nearly an hour we come down to a beautiful place called Syangta where there is a hotel too.
Now the trail provides you very pleasant moments with the different chirps of different kind of birds. Finnaly crossing a bridge at Sulighar (Army barrck) we leave the National Park and head for the night stop at the airport, ‘Juphal’.
Crossing the river we will get to the broaden straight road that leads Kalagauda through some clusters of human settlement, and Rupghar. From Kalagauda the trail goes winding through the village Dangimwada where you can see some vegetable farming and apple farms. Finally, you reach Juphal to make the last camp in Dolpo and there will be the early morning flight for Nepalgunj by next morning.
From Juphal you will fly to Nepalgunj in the morning and will have to spend some time in Nepalgunj. So, you can take a walk around the settlements or can go to the hotel and have a rest. In the afternoon you on the same day you will fly to Kathmandu. In Kathmandu our representative will pick you up from the airport and takes you to the hotel.
Our representative will drive you to the airport for your return flight.
Beyond the festival itself, the Dolpo region offers breathtaking landscapes and a sense of remote wilderness. Trekkers can embark on a journey through the rugged valleys, ancient monasteries, and high mountain passes, immersing themselves in the natural beauty and tranquility of the Himalayas. The trek to Phoksundo Lake, with its pristine waters reflecting the surrounding peaks, is a highlight of the journey.
Throughout the festival and trek, visitors can engage with the warm hospitality of the Dolpo people and gain insights into their traditional way of life. Staying in tea houses and interacting with the locals provides a genuine cultural experience that adds depth to the journey.
The Dolpo Phoksundo Festival in 2024 is an extraordinary opportunity to witness the convergence of cultural festivities, natural beauty, and spiritual traditions in the remote Dolpo region. It offers a profound experience that allows visitors to appreciate the rich tapestry of the Dolpo community and forge lasting memories of this unique cultural celebration in the heart of the Himalayas.