A magical region where centuries-old Buddhist and Bonpo traditions are still a significant part of daily life can be reached via the Upper Dolpo Trek to Shey Gompa. You will have a memorable experience thanks to the villages, gompas, and people you encounter on your walk. Here, the communities are even more remote and unspoiled, and the vistas are even bleaker. The most isolated and underdeveloped district in Nepal is Dolpo. Despite certain anthropologists and geographers' exploration of the area, the district as a whole was off-limits to hikers until 1989, when the southern portion of Dolpo was allowed to organize trekking parties. The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen and the Himalayan Pilgrimage by David Snellgrove both contributed to the mystique and allure of Dolpo.
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The route of the Upper Dolpo Trek passes by numerous enormous mountain ranges, including the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Kanjiroba, to name a few. Additionally, it travels through Lower Dolpo, which was formerly its own little country. Saldang and Dho Tarap are two lesser-known locations, although Shey Gompa is the primary attraction. Trekkers rave about the area's untamed isolation, breathtaking mountain scenery, and the fact that the locals still exhibit the kind of naïve kindness that is characteristic of people who reside in extremely isolated mountainous areas.
Trekking to Upper Dolpo
You cannot hike to Upper Dolpo on your own. To trek to this area, you must be accompanied by a government-licensed travel agency. Due to the confined nature of Upper Dolpo and the lack of infrastructure for trekking, a guide takes care of any issues that may arise throughout the journey. When compared to other trekking areas, Dolpo is somewhat expensive. There are a few explanations for this. Four flights in all are required for the journey. Additionally, the cost of traveling for foreigners is generally higher than it is for residents of the country. In addition, the distance traveled is great, and additional expenses are incurred. Due to the remoteness of the area, you'll need more porters to transport tents, sleeping bags, and other necessities. A cook is also required because you'll be spending several nights in tented camps. To keep the price low, there should be a minimum of two trekkers.
In addition to all of them, a trekking permit will significantly increase the price of your Upper Dolpo Trek! Upper Dolpo is a restricted area, hence the permission charge is hefty for foreign visitors; it costs USD 500 for ten days and a further $50 for each subsequent day. The fee is also increased by the permits for Shey-Phoksundo National Park and Lower Dolpo hiking. But why do individuals continue to be persuaded to hike to Dolpo by paying such a high permission cost? It does, however, provide you with a rawness of nature that no other walk does. You get the opportunity to see the caravans of yaks and sheep. The agro-pastoral and migratory lifestyles of certain residents are on display. Additionally, there are always opportunities to learn more about Tibetan culture and the Bonpo people. Together, these factors make Upper Dolpo a wonderland with a wealth of things to discover.
Upper Dolpo Trekking Cost
The cost of a 25-day Upper Dolpo Trek is approximately US$3550 per person. A minimum of two trekkers is required. It covers the cost of your travel from the day you arrive in Kathmandu till the day you depart. Keep in mind that you can alter the trek's schedule to suit your interests, time frame, and goals. Hotels, the number of porters and guides, the hiking route, and other aspects of your trek are all up to you. The pricing of the hike packages varies accordingly.
Cost of Airport Transfer
The cost of airport pickup and departure is included in travel agency packages. When you arrive at the airport, a representative from your travel agency gets you up and drives you in a private vehicle to a hotel. The cost of a cab to get you from the airport to a hotel at your ranges from $10 to $20, depending on how distant your hotel is.
Air transport will take you from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj. You can easily catch a flight to Nepalgunj because it is a sizable city in Mid-Western Nepal. An international flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj costs about $190 one way. For Nepalis, the flight costs roughly Rs. 8700 ($87). Bus service is another option for getting to Nepalgunj. A 16-hour bus ride can be exhausting if you haven't taken one before. A 45-minute flight will get you to Juphal in the Dolpo region from Nepalgunj. Early in the morning, Tara Airline and Nepal Airline plan flights to Juphal. $165 is the cost of the flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal. For Nepalese, the ticket costs about Rs. 8700. Depending on the airline you select, the baggage allowance is between 20 and 25 kilos.
Keep in mind that airlines determine the cost of flights. Compared to other airlines, Nepal Airlines offers lower ticket prices. There are some challenges in this section of the journey. Only a few flights are available each week from Nepalgunj to Juphal and the other way around. As a mountainous airfield in a geographically restricted location, Juphal, the weather has a significant impact on aircraft schedules. Additionally, you must schedule your flight well in advance. If you don't, expect your travel to be delayed. You should not worry about it because your trekking agency will reserve your flight in advance. Note that the 10 kg hold baggage and 5 kg hand luggage weight restrictions only apply to flights from Nepalgunj to Juphal.
Dolpo is a lengthy walk in a far-off location. Therefore, you require a knowledgeable, experienced guide who is well-versed in Dolpo. They ought to have excellent communication skills with both you and the locals. A typical guide fee ranges from $40 to $50 per day, per guide. $30 more should be added to their insurance. There are other less expensive manuals available, but you shouldn't cut corners here. A trustworthy guide contributes to a memorable and comfortable Dolpo Trek. The guide can inform you of the communities, their residents, and their customs and cultures with effective communication. With a guiding companion by your side, exploring the remoteness and uniqueness will be incredibly simple.
Food and Accommodation Cost
You spend three nights in Kathmandu, one in Nepalgunj, and the remaining nights in your walk-in teahouses or under a tent. Your lodging is taken care of by the hiking organization. Just breakfast is included in the trekking package in Kathmandu. Both lunch and dinner are on your own. However, their plan includes your full-board meals when you depart Kathmandu. Both in Nepalgunj and Kathmandu, you'll get to stay at a respectable hotel. Usually, they are twins and share a room. However, the tea houses along the trail are simple ones with few amenities. Tented camps also offer the fewest amenities.
In terms of food, both Kathmandu and Nepalgunj provide a wide variety of choices. In these cities, one can find Nepali, Indian, Chinese, continental, and Western cuisine. However, your options narrow as you set off on your journey from Juphal. Rice, noodles and seasonal vegetables are typically served as meals in Dolpo tea houses. Similarly, they typically eat eggs, bread, and cereal for breakfast. Noodles, biscuits, and sweets are available in local small businesses. For two tourists, food and lodging typically cost roughly $40 per day.
Special Trekking Permits
Up until1996, travel to the restricted area known as Upper Dolpo was prohibited. Despite being accessible to tourists now, it is still rather expensive to travel to this restricted area. An international visitor's visa to Upper Dolpo costs $500 for the first 10 days. Following that, a day permit is $50. So, your itinerary determines how much an Upper Dolpo permit will cost. To get to Upper Dolpo, additional permits are needed. Permit for Lower Dolpo costs $10 per week per person. Similarly to that, a permit for Shey-Phoksundo National Park costs $30 + 13% VAT. An additional $20 cost is required for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit if you intend to end your journey in Jomsom. As you have special authorization to hike to Dolpo, you do not require a TIMS card.
As soon as you land at Juphal, you can manage the porters there. A porter can carry a maximum of 30 kilograms. On the other hand, the trek's difficulty and altitude are factors. Consequently, the porter's maximum load drops to 15 kg. A porter typically makes $30 a day, not including food. Therefore, if you require two porters, you will pay $40 per day for their services. $25 more should be added for each porter's insurance. Porters typically mentor you throughout the trail as they move rapidly. They arrive at the location of your overnight stay before you do. As a result, they will have the tea house or tent camp ready when you arrive.
The Upper Dolpo trip is a lengthy, difficult hike in a lonely area at a high elevation. You will be removed from modern amenities and cities. On occasion, you can have to trek for hours without coming across any habitation. You might then consider how well you should be organized. You receive assistance from the trekking organization you will be traveling with by receiving the equipment and other supplies you will need for your walk. Following the group size, the company supplies you with tents, duffel bags, sleeping bags, a medical kit box, a high-altitude chamber box, a trekking map, and any other equipment required for the walk. Additionally, some expenses travel companies do not include in their packages. The cost exclusions for their trek packages are listed below.
You presumably learned from your investigation that different businesses charge varying prices for Upper Dolpo trekking. Because of the very wide cost range, it is very difficult to know which company to trust. If you performed some research on the Upper Dolpo Trek before making decisions, it would be helpful. For instance, the costs may be over US$ 7000 to try and estimate how much foreign tour operators are spending.
However, if you compare the pricing of the same package with one offered by a local travel agency in Nepal, you might be able to get it for a third less price. Due to their fears for their safety, first-time visitors are typically accompanied by international branding firms. However, I can tell you that local Nepali organizations can provide the same quality and a fantastic trek itinerary for a fraction of the cost. Everyone sleeps in the same class of tea houses, so it doesn't matter if you choose the more expensive or less expensive option.