- Admire majestic Lake Phoksundo
- Meet Nepalis from a range of cultures, including Dolpali, Bhotia, and Magar
- Trek on lesser-visited trails in the spectacular high Himalaya
- Enjoy time sightseeing in Nepal's vibrant capital, Kathmandu
|Day 1||Arrive in Kathmandu||Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square||Kathmandu|
|Day 3||Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj||Nepalgunj|
|Day 4||Fly from Nepalgunj to Juphal, Trek to Dunai||Dunai|
|Day 5||Trek from Dunai to Chhepka||Chhepka|
|Day 6||Trek from Chhepka to Jharana Hotel||Jharana Village|
|Day 7||Trek from Jharana Hotel to Ringmo||Ringmo|
|Day 8||Explore Lake Phoksundo||Phoksundo|
|Day 9||Rest Day in Lake Phoksundo||Phoksundo|
|Day 10||Trek from Lake Phoksundo to Chhepka||Chhepka|
|Day 11||Trek from Chhepka to Juphal||Juphal|
|Day 12||Fly Juphal to Nepalgunj, Connect to Kathmandu||Kathmandu|
|Day 13||Depart Kathmandu|
Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu
As you fly into Kathmandu, the views of snow-capped mountain peaks greet you. Your representative will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel, where you'll be briefed on your daily activities.
Depending on your time of arrival, you may be able to do some relaxed sightseeing. The centrally located Kathmandu Durbar Square is a good place to start or you can browse the shops and restaurants of the tourist hub, Thamel.
Day 2: Tour Kathmandu: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square
After breakfast, you'll be picked up for a full-day cultural tour of the Kathmandu Valley. Spend the day at three sacred sites: Swayambhunath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple, and Patan Durbar Square.
You'll do quite a lot on this carefully planned day, yet the itinerary doesn't overload you with too many sites. You can spend as much time as you like at each temple as this is a private tour just for you, but most people like to spend about an hour.
Swayambhunath Stupa: A short distance from the city center, high on a hill, Swayambhunath is a great place to admire the views of the Kathmandu Valley below. The stupa—a dome-shaped Buddhist structure—is one of the most historic places in this part of the world. Spins the prayer wheels and admire the fine paintings and sculptures around the stupa.
Pashupatinath Temple Complex: Located on the banks of the Bagmati River, Pashupatinath Temple is Nepal's holiest Hindu pilgrimage site, and has received worshippers for at least 1,500 years. A circuit of the area takes visitors past a sixth-century statue of Buddha and an eighth-century statue of Brahma. Wander past skeletal images guarding temple gates and other magnificent temples dedicated to various deities in the complex. Many open-air cremations are held here every day, so be respectful when exploring and taking photos.
Patan Durbar Square: This beautiful living square with many temples is also home to the excellent Patan Museum. The unmissable Golden Temple is also just around the corner.
Return to your hotel in Kathmandu in the late afternoon and meet your trekking guide, who will go over details for tomorrow's adventure.
Day 3: Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj
In the morning, walk through the streets of Thamel while your specialists arrange your trekking permits, then collect your documents and head to the domestic terminal of Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport. From Kathmandu, you'll fly west to Nepalgunj, a border town on the Terai close to India and Bardia National Park.
After your one-hour flight, settle into your accommodations and relax in Nepalgunj for the night.
Day 4: Fly Nepalgunj to Juphal, Trek to Dunai
This morning, you'll hop on a 35-minute flight to Juphal (8,120 feet/ 2,475 m), the starting point for your trek to Lake Phoksundo.
As you begin the trek, the trail ascends high above the Thulo Bheri Valley, followed by an hour's walk through maize fields to the village of Kalagaunda. Continue trekking along the southern bank of the river and pass Roop Ghar with its water mill, until you finally reach the village of Dunai (7,037 feet/ 2,145 m).
Dunai is quite a big mountain town with schools, a health post, government offices, a police station, and decent lodges. Wander the streets, tuck into a traditional meal and enjoy the view as you sip some Nepali tea and rest your feet.
Trekking time: 3 hours
Day 5: Trek from Dunai to Chhepka
Begin today's trek by descending through Dunai and crossing the bridge over the Bheri River. Then, chase the northern bank of the river for an hour to reach Sulighat.
From here, you'll head north to reach the check post for entering the Shey Phoksundo National Park, where you'll show your permits. Beyond the check post, you'll gradually climb up along a rock-strewn trail above the serpentine Suli Ghad River.
As the trail stretches higher through hemp tree forests, you'll arrive at Kageni. Continue through beautiful forest of walnut and maple trees; soon you'll begin to see the first signs of Tibetan culture. There are beautiful views of fluttering prayer flags, ecological biodiversity, cascading waterfalls, and lush vegetation on the way to Shyanta (8,267 feet/ 2,520 m). From there, you'll tackle another 90 minutes of uphill trekking along narrow trails to your overnight stop, Chhepka (8,759 feet/ 2,670 m).
Trekking time: 6-7 hours
Day 6: Trek from Chhepka to Jharana Hotel
Rise early in the morning and, after breakfast, make your way towards Jharana Hotel. The trail climbs through a forest of big cedars and a winter settlement used by the people of Ringmo village. The route climbs steadily through open country to an elevation of 11,056 feet (3370 m). En route, get a close-up view of a spectacular 1,082-foot (330 m) high waterfall, the highest in Nepal, as well as your first glimpse of Lake Phoksundo in the distance.
Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Day 7: Trek from Jharana Hotel to Ringmo
After a hearty breakfast today, you'll make your way to Ringmo via a steep descent through birch forests, to the upper reaches of the Phoksundo River. After you cross a bridge, you'll follow a trail north to the ranger station at the stunning Lake Phoksundo.
After a final push through the Phoksundo River Gully, emerge to the yak-filled meadows of Ringmo (11,351 feet/ 3460 m), a village home to the ethnic Bon community. Here you'll find a few lodges where you can rest for the night.
Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Day 8: Explore Lake Phoksundo
Spend today exploring the area around Ringmo and the magnificent Lake Phoksundo.
First, you'll head to Tshowa, a fascinating lakeside Bon monastery that's about 900 years old. You'll then drop down to the lake along steep cliffs. Lake Phoksundo is famous for its magnificent turquoise color and spectacular scenery. If you wander around the lake area, you'll find stunning glaciers, and if you're interested in learning more about the local flora and fauna, you can take a guided nature-focused tour.
Day 9: Rest Day
It is advisable to build some extra days into any Dolpo itinerary in case of flight delays, to help with acclimatization, and also to explore the area fully. Luckily, there's a lot to see in this valley.
Spend today resting up and enjoying the views or stretch your legs on a hike to a viewpoint above the lake. You can also participate in some cultural and artistic activities, such as painting and photography, or spend some time interacting with the locals. If the weather is good you could even go for a quick dip in the lake's cold water. In the evening, warm up beside a bonfire at your lodge.
Day 10: Trek from Phoksundo Lake to Chhepka
Today you'll trek back to Ringmo and continue towards Sulighat, following the stream that originates from the lake. You'll then pass through the village of Renje. After an enjoyable meal break, you'll continue through fir and larch forests, then you'll hike along the Sulighat River before you reach Chhepka (8,267 feet/ 2,520 m) for the night.
Trekking time: 6-7 hours
Day 11: Trek from Chhepka to Juphal
After breakfast, you'll continue retracing your steps along the trail through forests, fields, and charming villages. You'll end your trek in Juphal, where you can celebrate with a delicious meal before spending a final night in the mountains.
Trekking time: 6-7 hours
Day 12: Fly Juphal to Nepalgunj, Connect to Kathmandu
In the morning you'll head to the local airport in Juphal for your flight to Nepalgunj. You'll then continue onward to Kathmandu.
Once you settle in at your hotel in Nepal's capital this afternoon, you can enjoy some free time or see anything you may have missed at the beginning of your trip.
Day 13: Depart Kathmandu
Depending on your time of departure, there may be some time today for last-minute souvenir shopping or a final meal of dal bhat or some delicious Nepalese momo. You'll then be transferred to the airport in good time for your flight.