Trail To Highest Settlement of Earth : Dolpo is remote, wild and considered by many to be one of the most magical and mysterious of places in the Himalaya. Linked for hundreds of years to Tibet, this region lies among the high peaks, on top of the roof of the world. Trekking here is very different from much of Nepal; oasis-like villages dot barren landscapes, scarred by deep canyons, and all beneath velvet blue skies.
Boasting a diverse terrain and extraordinary biodiversity, Dolpo connects the Tibetan plateau with the pahar of Nepal, and has some of the highest continuously inhabited settlements on earth along the Thakchu Khola, at 4100m. To the south is a large east-west valley system called Lower Dolpo, and to the west is Mugu, which lies beyond the sacred Crystal Mountain and the Kanjiroba massif. To complete Dolpo’s isolation, the Khyaklum and Dhaulagiri Himals create a natural border to Mustang and Annapurna to the east. A combination of ancient animist beliefs, Tibetan Buddhism, and Bon religions predominate throughout the region.
There are a number of trekking options that run through Dolpo, they are all magnificent and provide some wonderful GHT options. Most trekkers enter and exit Dolpo via the dirt airstrip at Juphal in Lower Dolpo. Alternatively, experienced groups could consider the more committing routes from Mustang (east) or Mugu (west), where trail finding and acclimatisation pose additional challenges. Perhaps the most beautiful place in Nepal is Phoksumdo Lake, in the centre of Dolpo, which can be combined with trails to Shey (Crystal Mountain) to access Bhijer, Saldang and the northern villages, or Dho Tarap and the valleys to the east. There are also route options that follow the Bharbun Khola, through Chharka Bhot and even to Hidden Valley to the north of Dhaulagiri.
Most of Dolpo and eastern Mugu are protected by the Shey Phoksumdo National Park and Buffer Zone which covers a massive 3555 km2 and is the largest such park in Nepal. Referred to as a Trans-Himalayan Ecosystem (the lower, lush valleys of the mid-hills are linked with the arid Tibetan plateau), this is a culturally and environmentally sensitive and fragile region, which demands the utmost respect and care.