Thank you for a very special trek. There were so many good things about it. The food was excellent, the organization smooth, the staff friendly and reliable, the tents comfortable and secure.....but the best was Dolpo itself. I had never seen such powerful beauty before. It struck me that in spite of your extensive experience trekking and climbing in the Himalayas, you had retained an enthusiasm and a passion for remote places. For me that made going to Dolpo with you and your group extra special.
Hester SS, Upper Dolpo Magic
The mystique of remote Inner Dolpo, closed to foreigners for decades
and still culturally Tibetan, has been enhanced by Matheissen's 'The
Snow Leopard', David Snellgrove's 'Himalayan Pilgrimage' and George Schaller's 'Stones of Silence' among many other travel
accounts. Legend has it that the ubiquitous Guru Rimpoche, who spread Tibetan
Buddhism throughout the Himalayas, discovered this hidden land, a 'beyul' or refuge, over
1700 years ago, and it has been inhabited by Tibetan nomads, called drokpas, for
over a thousand years.
Dolpo is now part of the Nepali region of Dolpa, but historically came from the
Zhangzhung Bon-po Kingdom which dominated Western Tibet for over a thousand
years, later defeated by the first Tibetan dynasty, Yarlung, between the sixth
and eighth centuries. Afterwards, Dolpo was governed by the Kingdom of Lo (now
Mustang, formerly part of Tibet) until the Gorkha Kingdom took it over during
its consolidation of Nepal a century and a half ago. Since then, it has remained
isolated, partly due to its remote location, and partly because of the Khampa
guerillas using Mustang and Dolpo as a base during their fight against the
Chinese occupation of Tibet after 1959. It has only been open for trekking and
tourism since 1989, and then only parts of southern Dolpo were opened. There is
still a special restricted area permit needed to trek above Phoksundo Lake in
Shey Phoksundo National Park, which has only been a viable trekking region since
1999 because of the Maoist activities in this region. This is Nepal's largest
national park. Inner Dolpo has a population of approximately 5000 inhabitants,
many of whom head south for the winter, and is home to some of the highest
villages on the planet.
It is critical to bring the right gear. Most importantly do bring sturdy trekking boots, we are trekking over rough terrain. These must be almost new (no old boots!) and should be relatively tough and strong, ie not the very lightest models. You must be prepared for some light snow, although we hope the trek is snow-free.
See Scarpa UK's trek range to get an idea of the choices. Fabric and leather boots trekking boots work, as do all leather options. You want to balance light weight with toughness and support, and each person weighs these values differently.
This trek is particularly logistically challenging and we have a 16kg baggage limit for the porters; that does not include your day pack that you carry yourself.
You MUST have a good level of trekking fitness. We don't set out to make the trek tough,
but it will be as we are trekking across plenty of passes. Let's face it, all longer Himalayan treks are tough!
We trek standard Nepal expedition style, with you carrying a day pack, porters and mules carry the gear and we have a kitchen crew to cook for us. So in some ways it is basically a standard camping trek, however we have our list of carefully thoguht out details such as better jams, tent systems that make our trek service basically the best custom service available. More details on request.
The double-sided GHT map Dolpo & Mugu NP109 covers the trek except the last day or so, and is the best map as Jamie updates it personally. This is readily available on Amazon and from other map shops, and in Kathmandu. There are plenty of other cheaper maps available in Kathmandu, less accurate though
Carsten Nebel http://www.myhimalayas.com/dolpo/index.htm
Almost all of these books available in Kathmandu:
Eric Valli - 'Caravans of the Himalaya' (coffee-table book)
Himalaya - L'Enfance D'Un Chef (See Amazon.com to buy a copy)
Kenneth M. Bauer - 'High Frontiers: Dolpo and the Changing World of Himalayan Pasturalists'
David L. Snellgrove - 'Four Lamas of Dolpo' & 'Himalayan Pilgrimage'
Peter Mattheissen - 'The Snow Leopard'
Corneille Jest - 'Tales of the Turquoise'
George Schaller - 'Stones of Silence'
Geoff Childs - 'Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and Beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal'
Karna Sakya - 'Dolpo: The Hidden Paradise'