Crystal Mountain Treks

Upper Dolpo - The Crystal Mountain Trek

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Upper Dolpo - The Crystal Mountain Trek
Country: Nepal | Destination: Dolpo | Activity: Camping Trek | Grade: 5 - Challenging

(Looking into Tibet)

Upper Dolpo: The Crystal Mountain Trek (35 days, 34 nights)

At the edge of the Tibetan Plateau lies Dolpo, the legendary "Hidden Land" that for years has been off-limits to outsiders. Our trek into this beautiful, wild, and crystalline landscape begins as we head north in the massive gorge of the Kali Gandaki. Crossing the Toudje La (18,250 feet) beyond Dhaulagiri we gain access to a world of rugged people and remote monasteries including Dho, Saldang, Shey (Crystal Mountain), and Ringmo on the shores of Phoksumdo Lake. All restricted-area fees and in-country flights are included. On the Tibetan Plateau -- in the great Himalayan rain shadow -- lies Dolpo, the legendary Ba-Yul or "Hidden Land"; geographically cut off from the rest of the world by a barrier of high mountains, deep gorges and thick forests. Our 30-day trek through true Himalayan wilderness will gain us access to this unique place, which is home to one of the few enclaves of un-oppressed traditional Tibetan culture. En route we pass many of the highest and most beautiful mountains in the world: Maachapuchhare, the Annapurnas, the Dhaulagiri massif, and the remote Kanjiroba Himal. It is not difficult walking, but there is a lot of it!

The Upper Dolpo trek is no tourist tea-house trek, and you will not find our route outlined in any of the Himalayan trekking guidebooks. It is rugged, unspoiled, and unforgettable - arguably the best trek in all of Nepal.

Crystal Mountain, the holiest mountain in Upper Dolpo, is the English name of a mountain near Shey Gompa, the most important monastery in Dolpa. Dinesh Gurung, Crystal Mountain Treks founder, named the company after a trek to the area in the early 80's. After successfully running the trek to Upper Dolpo for several consecutive years, we have now adopted the Crystal Mountain Trek as our signature trek.

More Information

Altitude sickness

This trek does involve sleeping and hiking at high altitude. We will, as we do for all high-altitude treks, provide a GAMOW bag for this trip. A GAMOW bag is a portable hyperbaric chamber that looks like an inflatable extra-large sleeping bag. The effective altitude inside the inflated GAMOW bag is about 5000 feet lower than the altitude you are at; it has been very effective in the past in relieving headaches and other symptoms of altitude sickness.


This trek is rated challenging and involves trekking at high altitude. Most of the hiking will be above 12,000 feet, with nine major pass crossings (the highest being 18,250 feet). Our highest camp will be at about 16,000 feet. There can be snow on the passes. No technical climbing experience is required.

This trip is non-technical and suitable for anyone in good physical condition who loves to hike and would enjoy camping out for an extended period (30 days). You should feel comfortable hiking about 10-12 miles per day at these altitudes while carrying a daypack of approximately 15 pounds. Our maximum altitude gain in one day will be about 4,300 feet, our maximum altitude loss in one day will be about 3,800 feet. Because of the altitudes involved, this is a serious trek. If you don't have experience backpacking in remote areas for lengthy period, this trek can be more than what you asked for. This is not a backpacking trip; your gear will be carried by porters.

Upper Dolpa is not at all like lodge trekking in the Everest or Annapurna region; it is unforgiving and charmingly remote.


Crystal Mountain Treks organizes treks and tours in Nepal, India, Bhutan and Tibet for hundreds of satisfied travelers every year. Feel free to ask us for references who can tell you about their experience with us.


There are over 500 and counting trekking companies in Nepal. We are aware that you have lots of options. But, we believe there are reasons we stand out from our competitors.



Land Line: + 977 1 4416813

Day 01 - Kathmandu

Arrive Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner. (Dinner) 

Day 02 - Kathmandu

Full day sightseeing in Kathmandu. You will be accompanied by our in-house city guide. In the morning, visit Bodhanath, the Stupa of a million dew drops, to watch monks and devotees circumambulate the largest stupa in Nepal. Then visit Pashupatinath, Nepal's most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Drive to Patan for lunch in the garden of the Patan Museum Café. After lunch, visit the well-maintained Patan Museum. Drive back to Kathmandu. (Breakfast and Lunch) 

Day 03 - Kathmandu to Pokhara

Morning flight to Pokhara. Overnight Hotel Fairmount. (Breakfast) 

Day 04 - 07 - Pokhara to Kagbeni (9,100 ft.)

Fly to Jomsom and descend to Marpha. From hot, windy Jomsom (8,900 feet) where the landscape has become truly desert-like. Here, we turn away from the Kali Gandaki and begin to seriously gain altitude. We first go in the opposite direction to Muktinath at 12,400 ft., towards the Thorung Pass, to acclimate better. Then we descend to Kagbeni, the gateway to Mustang, the Kingdom of Lho.

Overnight camp. (All meals)

Day 08 - Kagbeni to Dangorjung (10,300 ft.)

From Kagbeni, we turn away from the Kali Gandaki towards Dolpo. Our first night away from the river will be at the prosperous little village of Dangorjung (10,300 feet) with its small red-walled Buddhist temple and rows of ancient cottonwoods. Overnight camp. (All meals) 

Day 09 and 11 - Dangorjung to Sangda (12,300 ft.)  

The following day, we cross our first pass of note (13,700 feet) - from there we can enjoy unmatched views of the Annapurna area, the Kali Gandaki gorge up to Kagbeni, and to the north-east the entire kingdom of Mustang. Dropping from the pass to a meadow at about 13,100 feet, we make camp and plan to spend two nights (for acclimatization).

Sangda is considered to be the ‘gateway to Dolpo’. Overnight camp. (All meals) 

Day 12 to 14 - Sangda to river camp (16,000 ft.) crossing Thuje La (18,250 ft.)

Leaving Sangda the next day, the trail floats over a small pass (13,500 feet) before descending into the Chalung gorge itself to cross the river on a bridge. Camp (at 13,700 feet) lies on a balcony below our first pass, in a beautiful juniper forest. We will stay here two nights to continue our acclimatization process

The following day is a ‘two pass day’, one of which is also notably the highest altitude of our Upper Dolpo trek. On the trail by six in the morning, swirling mists clear as we again see our way to the top of the Khog La. It is slight descent to a long basin beyond the pass, where we stop for an early lunch before continuing over the Touje La (18,250 feet). We should reach its wind-swept top after a few more hours, gaining magnificent views of Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak to the south. Overnight camp (All meals)

Day 15 to 19 - River camp to Dho Tarap

The next morning, after a rolling pass of about 16,500 feet, we descend into a network of canyons, continuing to work our way north. After two days, the emerald green fields of Charka come into view. We will want to visit the two gompas (temples) here before continuing north. The gompas represent the two religions of Dolpo, Buddhism and B’on.

We descend into the gentle wide valley of the Keheng Khola, and before camp that evening turn west up a small drainage, heading for Tarap. An extra day is planned to explore Dho. Overnight camp. (All meals) 

Chorten (Photo: Walter)

Day 20 to 23 - Tarap to Saldang (13,000 ft.)

Leaving Tarap the following day, our route continues north over another pass (Jeng La 16,700 feet). Prayer flags strung across the river and innumerable unbelievably massive mani walls (made of stones each carved with an offering prayer) welcome us to Saldang. Overnight Camp (All meals). 

Day 24 & 26 - Saldang to Shey (14,800 ft.)

Turning southwest, another major pass (Se La at 16,800 feet) needs to be crossed in order to get over to Shey. This will take us about two days, so we can enjoy a high camp en route with an excellent view of Tibet. We set up camp (14,800 feet) and plan to spend two nights to explore the area. Shey is named after the ‘Crystal Mountain of Dolpo’, which rises to the southeast. Highly recommended is the 1,500-foot climb to Tsakang, the "Red Chalk" gompa. Overnight camp. (All meals) 

Day 27 to 29 - Shey to Ringmo

Turning south the next day, we have our last pass (Kang La 16,800 feet) of the Dolpo Trek to negotiate. This is the continental divide, and snow is likely to cover the pass. Camp is near the village of Ringmo. The people here are B’on, and the amiable resident lama will delight in showing his gompa to us. A layover day is planned here to enjoy the surroundings. Coming from the barren north, the green of the pines and junipers, and the blue of the lake seem almost surrealistic.

Overnight Camp. (All meals) 

Mule Train above Phoksumdo Lake (Photo: Sue DeArman)

Day 30 to 32 - Ringmo to Dunai

Continuing south, we leave the lake along its effluent, the Suli Gad. You may begin to hear a roar in the distance, then coming around a corner - a massive 900-foot waterfall, the biggest in Nepal. The next day we walk along the south side of the Thulo Bheri for about an hour, then climb up for about three hours to the village of Jufal (8,700 feet). This is the location of the Dunai airfield, a steeply inclined STOL field carved out of the hillside. It is necessary to camp here one night, as our flight out on our charter plane will be in the early morning. This last evening of our Dolpo Trek, we will have a party with all our porters and staff who have been with us for 30 days.  Overnight camp (All meals). 

Day 33 - Dunai to Kathmandu

The next day, we will depart Jufal by chartered plane (Twin Otter) landing in Pokhara. From Pokhara we will fly to Kathmandu on a regularly scheduled flight, arriving by mid-day. Day free in Kathmandu. Overnight Hotel (Breakfast and Lunch). 

Day 34 - Kathmandu

Sightseeing in Kathmandu. Visit Swayambhunath, the monkey temple, and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (All meals). 

Day 35 - Depart for home

Final departure. 




The Upper Dolpo Trek is part of the Great Himalayan Trail.

Total Package Cost Per Person: USD 5,150

More Info

Per person price (valid until December 31, 2019)

2 persons: US$ 6,295 per person
3-5 persons: US$ 5,650 per person
6 or more persons: US$ 5,150 per person

Single Supplement: US$300

 (Contact us for AUSD and Euro quotes and private departures)


Price includes:

  • Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information
  • All airport transfers; two full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments.
  • 4 nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu.
  • Airfare: Kathmandu to Pokhara and Dunai to Kathmandu
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary; Lodge/tent accommodations on the trek
  • Shey Phoksumdo National Park Fee and Annapurna Conservation Area fee
  • Upper Dolpo restricted area fee
  • Gamow Bag (High altitude pressure chamber) and Pulse Oximeter
  • Satellite Phone


Price does not include:

  • Your international airfare
  • Nepal Visa
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Personal equipment (a suggested list will be mailed to you)
  • Your travel insurance (Required)
  • And other expenses of a personal nature





After acceptance to the program, a $500 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot. Deposits must be sent by wire transfer. Final payments can be made by wire transfer or by credit card (VISA card only - a 4% surcharge applies for credit card payments).

Cancellation Policy:

The $500 deposit is non-refundable.

There will be no refunds once the trip begins.

If for security or other reasons, we need to cancel or postpone the trek, you may apply the deposit and final payment toward any other trip we offer in Nepal, Tibet, India or Bhutan.

Because this trip requires a lot of pre-trip logistics arrangement, we are unable to provide cancellation refunds for personal emergencies like we do for other trip. Hence purchase of trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended.

Available Dates

10 September , 2018 To 14 October , 2018

06 May , 2019 To 09 June , 2019

09 September , 2019 To 13 October , 2019

Book this trip now as spaces are available.

This trip has the minimum sign ups required and is guaranteed to run.

Limited spaces are available so please contact us to inquire about the departure status.

This date is unavailable. please contact us to inquire about other trip departure dates or booking this trip as part of a Custom Itinerary.

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