Upper Dolpo is a forbidden territory in highlands of Mid-Western Nepal. The region homes fascinating landscapes, wildlife, and remote villages where people of different culture live harmoniously.
Here, you can make Bon people and Tibetan Buddhists your friends and delve into their Tibetan-influenced culture. There are so many routes to Upper Dolpo Trek. You pass through sparsely populated remote villages clustered on the banks of rivers and streams. Those regions still depend on traditional methods for the living and are yet to see modernization.
Shey-Phoksundo, a turquoise colored lake is the ultimate attraction of Upper Dolpo. Besides that, the lifestyle of Dolpo people, called as Dolpo pa, is another luring factor of this region. There are monasteries, shrines, and ancient villages that carry huge values to those locals.
Trekking to Upper Dolpo
You cannot trek independently to Upper Dolpo. A government licensed company must accompany you to trek to this region. As Upper Dolpo is a restricted region and lacks trekking infrastructures, a guide manages for all possible problems in the trek.
Comparing Dolpo with other trekking regions, Dolpo costs pretty high. There are a few reasons for being so. You need a total of four flights in the trip. On top of that, the airfare for foreigners is comparatively higher than the airfare for locals.
Moreover, the trip is long and everyday expenses increases the cost. The remoteness of the place means you need to have more porters to carry tents, sleeping bags, and other necessary items; you also need a cook as you have to spend some nights in tented camps. There should be a minimum of two trekkers so that the cost remains reasonable.
Besides all these, there is another major factor to upsurge the cost of your Upper Dolpo Trek – Trekking permit! Being a restricted region, Upper Dolpo permit fee is high for foreigners – USD $500 for ten days and $50 for each additional day makes it pretty expensive. In addition, Lower Dolpo trekking permit and Shey-Phoksundo National Park permit increase the overall cost.
But why are people still lured to trek to Dolpo by paying such a high permit fee?
Well, it offers you rawness of nature that no any other trek offers. You get the chance to behold the caravans of yaks and sheep. You witness the nomadic and agro-pastoral life of some locals. And, there is always an opportunity to dig into Bonpo people and Tibetan lifestyle. All these combine to make Upper Dolpo a wonderland that has so much to explore.
Highlights of Upper Dolpo
- Shey-Phoksundo Lake
- Shey Gompa and Buddhist monasteries
- Crystal Mountain
- High passes over 5000 meters
- Old and traditional villages
- Tibetan-influenced culture
- Bonpo and Tibetan Buddhism
- Nomadic and agro-pastoral lifestyle
- Blue sheep, snow leopard, and Himalayan musk deer in the wilds
- Yarsagumba- a medicinal herb
Upper Dolpo Trekking Cost
25 days Upper Dolpo Trek costs around USD $ 3550 per person. There should be a minimum of two trekkers. It includes your trip cost from your arrival day in Kathmandu until the departure day.
Remember, you can customize the trek itinerary as per your objective, holiday span, and preferences. You are free to choose hotels, number of porters, guides, trekking route and other elements of your trek. The trek package costs vary accordingly.
Upper Dolpo Trek Cost
Below are the costs included in our Upper Dolpo trek packages.
Cost of Airport Transfer
Travel agencies’ packages include airport pick up and departure cost. As you land at the airport, your travel agency representative picks you up and transfer you to a hotel by a private vehicle. If you want to travel on your own from the airport to a hotel, then the taxi fare is about $10-$20 depending upon the distance to your hotel.
Food and Accommodation Cost
You spend 3 nights in Kathmandu, 1 night in Nepalgunj and rest of nights in tea houses or camped tents in your trek. The trekking company looks after your accommodation.
Note that, the trekking package includes only breakfast in Kathmandu. You have to pay for lunch and dinner yourself. But, as you leave Kathmandu, their package covers your full-board meals.
You will stay in a pretty good hotel in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj. The rooms are usually twin-shared. But, the tea houses on the trek are ordinary ones with basic facilities. Furthermore, tented camps have the least facilities.
When it comes to food, you will have a plenty of options available in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj. Nepali, Indian, Chinese, Continental dishes, Western foods- all are available in these cities. But, as you begin your trek from Juphal, your options dwindle.
Tea houses in Dolpo usually have rice, noodles, and seasonal vegetables for meals. Likewise, they usually have bread, cereals, and eggs for breakfast. Small shops have noodles, biscuits, and sweets in the region.
Food and accommodation usually cost around $40 per day for a couple of travelers.
Dolpo is a long trek in a remote region. So, you need an experienced guide who has a lot of knowledge of Dolpo. Also, he should be able to fluently communicate with you and locals.
Guide service usually costs around $40 – $50 per day per guide. Add $30 for their insurance. You can also find cheaper guides, but this is not where you should compromise.
A responsible guide helps to make your Dolpo Trek comfortable and memorable. With a proper communication, the guide can help you know about the villages, people and their culture and traditions. You will find it so easy to explore the remoteness and uniqueness with a guiding companion beside you.
Porters can be managed from Juphal as you land there. The maximum load a porter carries is 30 kg. But, the difficulty and altitude of the trek come into play. So, the maximum load for the porter decreases to 15 kg.
A porter usually costs about $30 per day including his food. So, if you need two porters, then you will spend $40 per day for porters. Add to that, $25 for insurance of each porter.
Porters usually walk quickly mentoring you throughout the trail. They reach your overnight staying place faster than you. So, when you reach to a tea house or tented camp to stay, they will have the place prepared.
Upper Dolpo is a restricted region that was banned to visit until 1996. Despite being opened to travelers these days, this restricted region is quite expensive to visit. The permit for a foreigner to visit Upper Dolpo costs $500 for first 10 days. After that, each day permit costs $50. So, the cost of Upper Dolpo permit depends on your itinerary.
There are additional permits required to reach Upper Dolpo. Lower Dolpo permit costs $10 per week per head. Likewise, Shey-Phoksundo National Park permit costs $30 plus 13% VAT. If you plan to exit your trek at Jomsom, additional $20 fee incur as Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit.
You do not need TIMS card as you have a special permit to trek to Dolpo.
You will travel to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu by air. Since Nepalgunj is a huge city in Mid-Western Nepal, you can easily find a flight to Nepalgunj. One way Kathmandu-Nepalgunj air travel for a foreigner costs about $190. The airfare for Nepalese is about Rs. 8700($87).
You can also reach to Nepalgunj by bus. If you have not traveled long by bus, the continuous 16 hours journey can be enduring.
From Nepalgunj, a 45-minute flight takes you to Juphal of Dolpo. Tara Airline and Nepal Airline schedule flights to Juphal early in the morning. The airfare from Nepalgunj to Juphal is $165. The ticket costs around Rs. 8700 for Nepalese. The baggage limit is around 20-25 kg depending on the flight you take.
Remember, the flight price depends on airlines. Nepal Airlines ticket price rate is cheaper as compared to other airlines.
There are a few complications in this part of travel. There are only a few flights in a week from Nepalgunj to Juphal and vice-versa. As Juphal is a mountainous airstrip located in a geographically constrained area, flights to Juphal greatly depends on the weather condition.
On top of that, you need to book your flight in advance. If you fail to do so, be prepared to face trek delay. As your trekking agency is responsible for booking your flight in advance, you don’t have to worry about it.
Note that, flights from Nepalgunj-Juphal have only 10 kg limit for hold baggage and 5 kg for hand luggage.
Upper Dolpo trek is a long and strenuous trek in a remote and high altitude. You will be far from cities and modern facilities. Sometimes, you may have to walk for hours without seeing any human settlement. So, you can think about how well you should be prepared.
The trekking agency you will travel with helps you by providing trekking gears and other necessary materials for your trek. The company provides you with tents, duffle bags, sleeping bags, medical kit box, high altitude chamber box(as per the group size), trekking map, and any other necessary items for the trek.
There are also costs that travel agencies do not cover in their packages. Below are the cost excludes in their trek packages.
- Nepal visa cost (USD 25 for two weeks and USD 40 a month)
- International flight to and from Nepal
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
- Tips to guides, cooks, porters
- Emergency rescue(if needed)
Upper Dolpo Trek gives you an opportunity to explore the remote part of Nepal. You walk on the trails that pass through breathtaking landscapes to unexplored Upper Dolpo. You witness the nomadic and agro-pastoral lifestyle of locals, the Tibetan-influenced culture of Tibetan Buddhist and Bonpo, and the settlements above 4000 meters.
If you want to trek to Upper Dolpo, you can contact us. Mosaic Adventure is a local company with first-hand knowledge of Dolpo. We make sure you experience the trek that you will remember your entire life.