The Upper Dolpo Trek courses through a mystical land of Buddhist monasteries and a Tibetan culture largely untouched by the world outside the region's borders. A hike to the area presents a considerable logistical exercise in light of the almost non-existent infrastructure for dealing with trekking parties, but the benefits of such splendid isolation are many for the intrepid visitor willing to deal with the route's numerous challenges.
The austere landscapes and villages strike a unique chord of rustic authenticity that speaks to a timelessness enveloping Dolpo like a protective blanket, with ancient Buddhist and Bon Po traditions delicately interwoven with shamanistic influences to create a local culture unlike any other in Nepal. To journey through the region is to be touched by experiences and sights that will live long in the memory of the few who are fortunate enough to pass through the area.
The Upper Dolpo Trek to Shey Gompa encompasses an extraordinary journey to one of the most rugged and remote parts of the country, with landscapes that hark to the sparse Tibetan plateau to the north. Built-in 1655 and situated at the base of the sacred Crystal Mountain (also known as Ribo Drugta), the monastery of Shey Gompa constitutes a pilgrimage site of some significance to the people of western Nepal. En route, the trail leads through some of the most consistently high trekking territory to be found, with three passes stretching up over 5000 meters in height Nagdalo La (5350m), Shey La (5010m), and Jeng La (5220m)—together with long stretches lingering at altitudes over 4000 meters, guaranteeing many a cold night during the trek. Such challenges of environment and terrain are made for the hardy trekker willing to meet them head-on in the full knowledge that the ultimate and highly unique rewards on offer far outweigh the considerable effort.
If that isn't enough, the Upper Dolpo Trekking also offers another of Nepal's crown jewels, Shey Phoksundo National Park and the spectacularly beautiful Phoksundo Lake, a serene body of water ringed by precipitous mountains and forests that are home to some of the Himalaya's rarest animal species, including the fabled snow leopard.