Until 1996, Dolpo was a forbidden land with an authentic Tibetan culture largely unchanged for the last 1200 years. High, arid plateaus scarred by deep canyons form Upper Dolpo, which is a distinct contrast to the fertile lower valley to the south of the Kanjiroba and Dhaulagiri ranges. This 6th stage of the GHT trail snakes along the natural border of the two regions, at times exploring one and then the other. We`ll frequently meet nomads from Tibet and explore ancient Buddhist sites. After the major trading valley of Dho Tarap we cross windswept passes to the astoundingly beautiful Phoksumdo Lake before returning to Kathmandu.
During this trek there will be sections where the trail is very rugged or ill-defined, some trails have been trekked only once by a small party, and so the going will be tough. Space in some camp sites will also be very limited. It may be necessary to make changes to the itinerary at any time due to unforeseen circumstances such as adverse weather, snow or trail conditions, river water levels, or group movement. Your trip leader will advise any changes should this occur.
Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu
You will be met by a representative and transferred to the hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all clients arriving today. Drinks and snacks will generally be served from 6:30 pm until 7:15pm, and this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members before heading out to dinner.
Day 2: In Kathmandu (1330m)
This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Patan or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
Day 3: Fly Kathmandu to Pokhara
This morning we take a flight west to Pokhara, Nepal`s second largest town and our first night`s camp. On arrival we are greeted with sights of the entire Annapurna Range.
Day 4: Fly Pokhara to Jomsom (2760m)
This morning we take a spectacular mountain flight to Jomsom where we will meet our trekking crew.
Day 5-6: To Muktinath (2810m), walk approx. 6hrs. Rest day.
A half day walk brings us to Muktinath, an impressive village that is our gateway to Mustang. To pass beyond this point you need a special Mustang permit. We will meet the Full GHT group today.
Day 7: To Goat Kharka (3478m), walk approx. 6hrs.
From Muktinath we head south through the village and cross a suspension bridge to a series of steep switch backs that lead to a grassy plateau. From here we follow the main trail leading to a Kharka. Dolpo People - "West of the upper Kali Gandaki, at around 4000 metres, lies the remote area of Dolpo. Surrounded by mountains over 6000m, this landscape can only be successfully inhabited by tough, hardy people. The people of Dolpo do not have a tribal name, like Sherpas, or a district name, like Lopa. There are 25 or 30 villages spread over an area of about 1300 square kilometres. The Dolpo people are very hospitable and kind, and grow most of the crops they need, as well as keeping yaks, sheep and goats for meat, wool and milk products, or to be sold or traded. Their houses are built of rough stone and all huddled together, as though trying to gain warmth and comfort from each other. This often makes the villages look like forts. Their traditional ‘fancy’ dress for women includes a striking headdress made of two rectangular brass plates with edges that turn up over the top and back of the head. These headdresses are adorned with coral and turquoise and often represent the wealth of the family. They marry by choice or arrangement, and follow Buddhism and Bon. The 1998 movie ‘Caravan’ (also called ‘Himalaya’) was shot here and told the tale of the now defunct salt caravans.
Day 8: To Santa (3778m), walk approx. 7hrs.
Today is a challenging day and we must cross two passes on our way to Santa. We set out early and climb a hillside where the gradient increases as we enter a gully and pass by some caves before reaching a watercourse. We meet the main trail once again from Phalyak and make our first pass crossing at 4306m. Continuing west we contour through basins before crossig the Bhima Lojun La (4460m). Traversing for 1 -2 hours we reach a spur where we descend into a large ravine and cross a scree slope to Santa.
Day 9: To Ghalden Ghuldun Khola (4247m), walk approx. 6hrs.
We follow the trail through two gullies before reaching a series of switchbacks to Jhansye (4195m). The trail now levels out as we cross a hillside and then make a descent to Kyalunpa Khola where we cross a wooden bridge and head west to a narrow gully. Our campsite set in juniper trees is gained by climbing up a steep gully.
Day 10-13: To Lalinawar Khola (4800m/ 4hrs). Cross Jungben La (5550m) & Niwas La (5120m) to Nulungsumda Kharka (4987m/ 7hrs) & Chharka Bhot (4302m/ 6hrs). Rest day.
In the coming days we make two challenging pass crossings above 5000 metres. From the top of the Jungben La we gain magnificent views to the south of Hidden Valley and Dhaulagiri can be seen. The following day we cross the Niwas La and make any easy descent to Nulungsumda Kharka where we camp at the confluence of the Malun and Thasan Kholas. The trek to Chharka Bhot is a relatively easy day and we will spend a rest day here. Chharka Bhot is a centuries old fortified village and a great place to spend our well earned rest day.
Day 14-16: To Chap Chu (4320m/ 7hrs), Maran (4350m/ 8hrs), & Nungmala Base Camp (4440m/ 6hrs).
Heading west from Chharka Bhot we descend to the Chharka Tulsi Khola. Whilst travelling alongside the river we are forced to make a few crossings back and forth. We then make a short climb before descending to a minor tributary and crossing on stepping stones. Another climb of 45 minutes brings us to Chap Chu and our camp for the night. Our trekking day to Maran sees us crossing the Chan La (5378m), it is an easy gradient to the pass and we are now fit and acclimatised. From the top the views are stunning and we get a sense of the scale of the dramatic mountain scenery around us. From the pass we descend a series of switch backs to the valley before ascending to a ridge that sits above the Sheru Khola to our south. Once we reach a chorten we head down to the Tarpi Khola valley and on to Maran. An hour from Maran is the large trading village of Dho Tarap. Above the village is the Ribum Gompa nunnery and Regu Chorten, and time permitting we will make a visit. Today’s trek is relatively easy going to our campsite at a roofless Nungmala Base Camp at 4440m.
Day 17-20: To Bagala Base Camp (4500m/ 6hrs), Temche (3900m/ 7hrs) & Ringmo (3641m/ 4hrs). Rest day.
Leaving the Nangmala Base Camp we are now well on our way to Ringmo and the stunning Phoksumdo Lake. We travel over the Numala La to a picturesque campsite at Danigar. This area is dominated by Norbung Kang (6085m). The following day will find us descending to Temche, a large grassy kharka, where animals are often kept. The trek to Ringmo is a stunning day and we enter pine forest before arriving at Ringmo. Phoksumdo Lake is a few minutes beyond Ringmo and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the Himalaya.
Day 21-22: To Chhekpa (2720m/ 5hrs) & Dunai (2140m/ 5hrs).
Early in the morning, we bid farewell to the Full GHT group. As we head down south we make our way to Dunai, the administrative & trading centre of Dolpo. The landscape through which we are now travelling consists predominantly of forests, grassy meadows and plateaus. Before reaching Chhekpa we pass by the Tapriza Secondary School. The school was established by a Swiss anthology student, Marietta Kind. Visits to the school are most welcome. Finally we reach the confluence of the Suli Khola and head down stream to cross the Thulo Beri Khola on a suspension bridge and arrive into Sulighat.
Day 23: To Juphal (2475m), walk approx. 4hrs. Fly Nepalgunj.
Today is our final day of trekking and we pass through terraced fields on our way to Juphal. From Juphal we take a short 40 minute flight to Nepalgunj and a welcome shower. Our accommodation tonight is in a basic hotel.
Day 24: Flight Nepalgunj to Kathmandu
After breakfast we will return to Kathmandu. The flight from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu is approximately 1.5 hours. On arrival transfer to the Radisson Hotel.
Day 25: Trip concludes Kathmandu
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further ones have been made. Those people departing by aircraft will be transferred to the airport and assisted with check-in procedures.