Dolpo is a high-altitude culturally upper part of the Dolpa District of western Nepal, bordered in the north by China. Part of the region lies in Shey Phoksundo National Park.

Trekking in the remote region of Dolpo leads through scenic, hidden valleys and ancient shrines like Shey Gompa. Enjoying fascinating views of the pristine waters of  Phoksundo Lake, encountering yak caravans that cross the high-Himalayan passes and mountain people who live in some of the highest settlements on earth like the Dho-Tarap valley.

Dolpo’s extraordinary natural beauty was exquisitely captured in the Oscar-nominated film“Caravan”. Trekking in this Himalayan region is an unforgettable adventure.

Dolpo trekking

Dolpo is confined by the Dhaulagiri range in the south and east, Mt. Sisne and Kanjiroba in the west and the Tibetan plateau towards the north. Lake Phoksundo’s shimmering turquoise waters never fail to fascinate visitors, making it one of the major attractions of Dolpo.

Settlements here are generally at amazing altitudes of 3,660 m to 4,070 m and the people are devout Buddhists who have been trading with Tibet for centuries. There are 130 gompas (Buddhist monasteries) in Dolpo which speaks volumes for their religious fervor.

One of the delightful moments during the trek is the sight of long yak caravans that even today endure immense hardships negotiating the harsh, icy terrain, crossing high mountain passes, carrying goods for barter to the other side of the Himalayas.

upper dolpo trek

Closely linked with Tibet, the people speak Tibetan, look Tibetan and retain their Tibetan heritage and culture which are highlighted by religious ceremonies in their monasteries where Tibetan Buddhism prevails.

Little has changed in the way of life for these hardy people who strictly follow the customs and beliefs of their forefathers who came over from Tibet centuries ago. This trek is an opportunity to meet these simple folk who live under extreme conditions just making ends meet.

Opened up for tourism only in 1989, these high mountain valleys remained unexplored and largely unseen by outsiders. Isolated by the difficult topography, the people in this region have preserved their culture and live a life untouched by the trappings of modern society.

Dolpo is one of the Restricted Areas of Nepal so trekkers require a Trekking Permit from the Department of Immigration in addition to the TIMS card to trek in this region. Trekkers must be extremely fit to endure the long and strenuous stretches en route.

Dho-Tarap valley

According to different sources, Dho-Tarap is known as one of the highest Human settlements in the world.  DhoTarap valley is located at the heart of Dolpo. Approximately 1,500 people live in three village clusters in the valley: Dho, Tokyu, and Lang. Dho has 120 households and is located at an altitude of about 3,800m whereas Tokyu, with an equal number of households, lies upstream at a slightly higher altitude (4,100m). Lang is a small settlement of about 30 households located off the main trail leading to Dho from the south, about three hours walking distance from Dho. Currently, DhoTarap is the headquarters of the Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality according to the new constitution.

Dho-Tarap can be reached within a travel distance of one day from nine different villages of Dolpo. To the east, a trail leads to Charka village and over to Mustang district; to the south, the trail leads to Sahartara and towards Beni via Dhorpatan and another to Dunai and towards Juphal the only flying out point from Dolpo. Likewise, another trail to the west leads to Nepalgunj where the motorable road is under construction. another trail from Dunai leads towards Phoksumdo and over to Jumla district while the other trail leads to SheyGompa, Bijer village, and further west to Mugu district; and to the north, to Bentsang valley and across the Maryum la to Tibet.

Dho-Tarap valley
Photo: Dho-Tarap valley of Dolpo region of Dolpa

Breathtaking landscape, serene rivers and turquoise-colored lakes, spectacular villages, ancient monasteries, stupas and mani walls, distinct vernacular architecture, rich traditions of Bon, Buddhism, and Amchi, are some of the things which make Dolpo an important place to visit in Nepal. To say that the opportunity to stay for a few months in this place will be a lifetime experience.

Due to its comfortable location, Dho-Tarap is politically, socially, and economically getting attention from all sides. So, the major changes are being taken place in Dho-Tarap. In recent years the population of Dho-Tarap has been rapidly increased. It is because many neighboring people are moving to Dho-Tarap. Many have even bought land and have started to do business there as well. So, Dho- Tarap is politically, socially, and economically going through rapid changes as compared to the neighboring villages but still, the place holds its charm and several potentials to explore


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