Until recently, what little the outside world knew of Dolpo was gleaned from artistic and spiritual accounts from early visitors. The region was only opened to foreigners in 1989, and receives a fraction of the visitors thronging other parts of Nepal. With more trekking agencies venturing into Inner Dolpo – allowing access beyond Phoksundo Lake to the 800-year-old Shey Gompa – a truly remarkable natural and cultural experience is there for the taking (even in the monsoon!). Look out for views of mighty Dhaulagiri (8167m), once thought to be the highest mountain in the world.
The greener, southern fringes of Dolpa, the largest district in Nepal, are distinctly Hindu. But venture north past the ring of high passes intoarid Inner Dolpo, and you will encounter not only Tibetan Buddhists, but also practitioners of the ancient Bön religion, extant in just two villages. Today, its northern reaches are settled by Rokpa farmers and Drokpa nomads from Tibet, who are cut off from the rest of Nepal by snow for most of the year. They live in some of the highest inhabited villages on Earth, nestling amongst mountains of stark, ascetic beauty.
In such barren terrain, the spectacle of Nepal’s deepest lake, Phoksundo, is almost beyond describing. Locals believe Phoksundo was formed when a spiteful demonness flooded a village for revealing her whereabouts to the saint Padmasambhava. The surreal sight of the lake, which hosts no aquatic life and appears to fluctuate between a turquoise and ultramarine hue – appears to substantiate the legend. If you follow in the footsteps of generations of nomads, look out for the remains of the ill-fated village below the lake’s surface.
Upper Dolpo Trek to Shey Gompa
The Upper Dolpo Trek to Shey Gompa brings you into a mystical land where centuries old Buddhist and Bonpo traditions, interwoven with shamanistic influences, are still an important part of daily life. The villages, gompa’s and people you meet during this trek will leave an unforgettable impression on you. The landscapes here are even more desolate than on the Dolpa Circuit and the villages even more isolated and pure.
Dolpo-Phoksundo Lake Trek
Trekking in Dolpo is a unique experience. You walk through beautiful landscapes, passing through pine forests alongside wild rivers with views to beautiful snowcapped mountains. The Phoksundo Lake is clearly of an incomparable beauty. It’s deep blue and emerald colors are enchanting. In Ringmo, the village close to the lake, you can experience Bonpo culture, based on a century old religion which is a mystique mixture of Buddhism and animistic believes.
Dolpo Circuit Trek
Hiking the Dolpo Circuit is an experience you’ll never forget. It gives you the opportunity to experience life in the remote highlands. You walk through a variety of landscapes, ranging from green pastures, reminding to the European Alps, to barren rocks, reminding to the Tibetan plateau. The Phoksundo Lake is of an incomparable beauty, with its deep blue and emerald colors, surrounded by steep bold rocks.