Dolpo Mugu Trek
The Dolpo to Mugu Trek is a less frequented but stunning trek that takes adventurers through the remote regions of Upper Dolpo and Mugu in Nepal. It offers a rare opportunity to witness the untouched landscapes, ancient cultures, and pristine beauty of the trans-Himalayan region.
Here’s an overview of the Dolpo to Mugu Trek:
- Duration: Approximately 18 to 24 days, depending on the specific route and side trips.
- Difficulty: Challenging due to the remote nature of the trek, high altitudes, and long walking days.
- Max Altitude: Varies but can reach up to 5,000 meters or higher at certain passes.
- Starting Point: Juphal
- Ending Point: Rara Lake or Gamgadhi in Mugu
- The untouched beauty of Upper Dolpo and Mugu.
- Witnessing the deep blue Phoksundo Lake and the vast expanse of Rara Lake.
- Traversing high-altitude passes with panoramic views of the Himalayas.
- Encountering unique cultures, ancient monasteries, and traditional villages.
- Spotting diverse wildlife, including the elusive snow leopard in Shey Phoksundo National Park.
Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. The capital city of Nepal welcomes you with its rich heritage. Use this day to gather any last-minute trekking essentials, attend a briefing by your trekking agency, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Board a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, a city located in the southern plains. This city offers a sharp contrast to the hilly landscapes you'll soon encounter. It's a melting pot of diverse cultures, giving you a glimpse of both the hill and Terai regions. Overnight in Nepalgunj.
An early morning flight takes you to Juphal, the gateway to Dolpo. The real trek begins here. Start by descending through local villages and terraced fields to reach Dunai, the administrative center of Dolpo. The trek offers an introduction to the region's landscapes and culture. Overnight in Dunai.
The trail takes you alongside the Bheri River, through walnut groves, and deep canyons. Ankhe, set at an altitude of 2,896 meters, is a village you'll encounter after crossing a suspension bridge and navigating some challenging terrains. The diverse flora and local settlements offer insights into the region's biodiversity and culture.
The journey from Ankhe to Sulighat involves crossing multiple bridges, navigating through dense forests, and trekking alongside the river. The trail offers glimpses of the stunning Phoksundo Lake's aquamarine waters in the distance.
A significant day as you'll reach the mesmerizing Phoksundo Lake. As you approach Ringmo village, the lake's vast expanse becomes visible, its deep blue waters contrasting against the stark, barren hillsides. Explore the nearby Ringmo village and appreciate the Tibetan Buddhist culture evident in chortens and mani walls.
Given the altitude, it's crucial to acclimatize. Use this day to explore the lake's shores, visit nearby Bon monasteries, and perhaps hike to a viewpoint to witness the lake in all its grandeur from above.
Trek alongside the lake's western edge before entering a trail marked by birch forests and lush vegetation. The day ends by the Phoksundo Khola (river), offering an opportunity to camp by the riverside and enjoy the wilderness.
A challenging day as you head towards the Kang La pass. The trail involves a steep climb, but your efforts are rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. Camp near the pass, called Phoksundo Bhanjyang, preparing for the ascent the next day.
Ascend the Kang La pass, which at 5,360 meters offers panoramic views of the region. The descent is equally challenging, leading you to the ancient Shey Gompa, a significant religious site in Dolpo.
Trek through meadows, stark landscapes, and cross another high pass, the Saldang La (4,785 meters). Descend to Namduna Gaon, marked by its monastery of the Karma-pa sect.
Trek to Saldang, a village located on a plateau high above the Nam Khong Nala. Saldang is the largest village in the northern Dolpo region and a significant trade center due to its proximity to Tibet.
The trail follows the Nagon Khola, passing through terraced fields, chortens, and local settlements. Reach Yangze Gompa, a region with two Gompas and local villages.
From Yangze, head towards Sibu, passing through terrains used by local yak caravans traveling to Tibet. From Sibu, a few hours of trekking brings you to Jeng-la Phedi, where you'll camp near the base of the Jeng La pass.
Ascend the Jeng La pass early in the morning. The pass offers mesmerizing views of the Dhaulagiri massif. The descent is towards the Tarap Valley, leading to Tokyu Gaon, a village with a monastic community.
The trek to Dho Tarap takes you through wide valleys, alongside the river, and offers glimpses of the region's unique geology and topography. Dho Tarap is a fascinating village with a mix of both Bon Po and Chaiba sects.
The trail follows the Tarap Khola, meandering through narrow gorges, deep valleys, and local settlements. Witness the diverse flora and fauna of the region as you navigate this challenging but rewarding terrain.
Trek through forests filled with juniper and wild roses, leading to Khani Gaon. The village is set against a backdrop of cliffs and terraces, making it a picturesque stop.
The trail leads to Tarakot, a village that once served as a fortress. Tarakot lies on the banks of the Thuli Bheri River and offers trekkers a glimpse into the region's historical significance.
Retrace your steps back to Dunai and then ascend to Juphal. This is the final leg of the trek, giving you an opportunity to reflect on the journey.
Fly from Juphal to Nepalgunj, and then catch a connecting flight to Kathmandu. Celebrate the trek's completion in the capital, indulging in its culinary and cultural delights.
Bid farewell to Nepal and embark on your onward journey, carrying memories of an unforgettable Himalayan adventure.
- Arrival and Departure transfers:
- Accommodation in Kathmandu:
- Welcome Dinner:
- Meals: Full board meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) during the trek.
- Full board meals 3 times a day (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) while on the trek.
- Trekking permits (ACAP and TIMS) and necessary entry fees.
- Trekking Maps:
- Professional and highly experienced government-licensed local trekking guide.
- Necessary porters as per your group size (usually 2 guests = 1 porter).
- All expenses of the trekking staff (guides/porters) including food, accommodation, salary, insurance, and equipment during your travel period.
- Comprehensive First Aid Kit.
- International flight airfares (to/from Kathmandu)
- Nepal VISA fees
- Extra nights in Kathmandu:
- Personal expenses such as additional meals, snacks, hot and cold drinks.
- Optional Activities: Any optional activities or side trips beyond the standard trek itinerary are not included.
- Tipping: Tipping the trekking guide, porter, and other support staff is customary but not usually included in the package price.
Permits: Both Dolpo and Mugu regions require Restricted Area Permits due to their remote nature. Additionally, if your trek encompasses Shey Phoksundo and Rara Lake, respective national park permits are mandatory. Always carry multiple photocopies of your permits and identification.
Altitude Awareness: The trek traverses high-altitude areas. Acclimatization days are vital to avoid altitude sickness. Familiarize yourself with its symptoms and consider carrying altitude sickness medication after consulting with a doctor.
Trekking Guide: Given the challenging terrain and restricted status of the areas, hiring a knowledgeable guide is highly recommended. They not only help navigate the trail but also facilitate cultural interactions and manage logistics.
Pack Essentials: Ensure you have a good quality sleeping bag, layered clothing for cold temperatures, rain gear, and a comprehensive first aid kit. Solar chargers can be handy due to limited electricity in remote areas.
Local Culture: The region is steeped in Tibetan Buddhist culture. Show respect for local customs, especially in religious sites. Always ask permission before taking photos of people or private property.
Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Due to the strenuous nature of the trek, drink plenty of water and ensure you have a balanced intake of carbs, proteins, and fats. While teahouses provide local food, carrying energy bars or snacks can be beneficial.
Embarking on the Dolpo to Mugu Trek is a rewarding experience, but preparation is crucial. Ensure you're well-equipped, informed, and respectful to fully appreciate this Himalayan adventure.
1. How challenging is the Dolpo to Mugu Trek?
The Dolpo to Mugu Trek is considered to be of moderate to challenging difficulty due to its remote nature, high-altitude passes, and extended trekking days. Prior trekking experience, especially at high altitudes, is beneficial.
2. What permits do I need for this trek?
Trekkers require a Restricted Area Permit for Dolpo and Mugu. Additionally, if trekking through Shey Phoksundo and Rara Lake areas, specific national park permits are essential. Always apply for these permits in advance, as obtaining them can sometimes take time.
3. What's the best time to undertake this trek?
The ideal months for the Dolpo to Mugu Trek are during the pre-monsoon period (May and June) and post-monsoon (September and October). The region often remains inaccessible during winter due to heavy snowfall.
4. What kind of accommodation can I expect?
The Dolpo to Mugu Trek is remote, and the accommodation facilities are basic. Expect simple teahouses, homestays, and many nights of camping. It's essential to be self-sufficient, carrying tents and necessary supplies.
5. How do I manage food and water during the trek?
Local teahouses provide traditional Nepali and Tibetan foods like dal bhat, momo, and thukpa. However, it's a good idea to carry some snacks and energy bars. For water, always carry purification tablets or a portable filter, as bottled water is not always available and carrying plastic is not eco-friendly.
6. Is it safe to do the trek solo?
Given the trek's challenging nature and the requirement for special permits, it's advisable to trek with a registered agency or an experienced guide. They can assist with logistics, route navigation, and any emergencies.
7. How do I deal with altitude sickness?
Acclimatization is crucial. Include rest days in your itinerary and be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness. It's also beneficial to consult a doctor before the trek and carry prescribed altitude sickness medication.
8. What gear do I need for the trek?
Essentials include sturdy trekking boots, warm clothing, rain gear, a sleeping bag suitable for low temperatures, a first-aid kit, sun protection, and a hat. A good quality backpack with a rain cover is also essential.
9. How do I access the starting point of the trek?
The trek typically starts from Juphal, which is accessible by a flight from Nepalgunj. Nepalgunj can be reached via a short flight from Kathmandu.
10. What are the cultural etiquettes I should be aware of?
The Dolpo and Mugu regions have a strong Tibetan Buddhist influence. Always respect local customs, especially in monasteries and religious sites. Seek permission before taking photographs, especially of locals, and dress modestly.