Discover Nepal's majestic region of Dolpo. This remote area, made famous by Peter Matthiessen’s book 'The Snow Leopard,' has only been open to trekkers since 1989. Its most alluring attraction, Phoksundo Lake, is sacred to Buddhists and followers of the Bonpo religion. This relatively easy trek involves no high passes, and winds through Himalayan forests and traditional Tibetan villages.

Highlights

  • Discover Phoksundo Lake, sacred in the Bonpo religion
  • Immerse yourself in Tibetan culture in the village of Ringmo
  • See the spectacular Jharana Waterfall 
  • Explore the ancient Tshowa Gompa, a 900-year-old Bon monastery

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 2 Fly to Nepalgunj, gateway to the Far West Nepalgunj
Day 3 Fly to Juphal and trek to Dunai Dunai
Day 4 Trek to Chhepka village Chhepka
Day 5 Trek to Jharana Waterfall Jharana
Day 6 Trek to the Tibetan village of Ringmo Ringmo
Day 7 Explore sacred Phoksundo Lake and Tshowa Gompa Ringmo
Day 8 Trek to Chhepka Village Chhepka
Day 9 Trek to Juphal Juphal
Day 10 Fly to Kathmandu  Kathmandu

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

Bouddhanath Stupa, Kathmandu
Bouddhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

As you fly into Kathmandu, views of snow-capped mountain peaks will greet you.  On arrival, you will be escorted to your hotel. The afternoon is free to explore Thamel, Nepal's tourist district, or shop for exotic trinkets and sightsee around Boudhanath Stupa and Basantapur Durbar Square

Day 2: Fly to Nepalgunj, Gateway to the Far West

Woman carrying grass in the Terai
Woman carrying grass in the Terai

In the morning you can explore the streets of Thamel or visit the Garden of Dreams, a lush and serene oasis in busy Kathmandu. Today you will fly to Nepalgunj, a town in the western Terai near the Indian border and gateway to the Far West. 

Day 3: Fly to Juphal and Trek to Dunai 

Dhaulagiri Himal above Dunai
Dhaulagiri Himal above Dunai

Today you will fly to Juphal at 8,210 feet, the starting point for the trek to Phoksundo Lake. The trail ascends southeast, high above Thulo Bheri Valley, then winds through maize fields to the village of Kalagaunda. You will follow the southern bank of the Bheri River and pass Roop Ghar, where you can see a traditional water mill, before finally reaching the village of Dunai at 7,035 feet.

Trekking Time: 3 hours

Day 4: Trek to Chhepka Village

Folk festival in Dunai
Streets of Dunai

Descend through the streets of Dunai and cross the bridge over the Bheri River. Follow the northern bank of the river to Sulighat before heading north to Shey Phoksundo National Park check-post. The rock-strewn trail climbs above the serpentine Suli Ghad River through a series of hemp trees to Kageni and then through a tropical walnut and maple forest, where you will begin to see glimpses of Tibetan culture. Savor the views of fluttering prayer flags, cascading waterfalls, and lush vegetation on the way to Shyanta village located at 8,268 feet. Another hour-and-a-half walk uphill along the narrow trail brings you to the village of Chhepka at 8,760 feet.

Trekking Time: 6–7 hours

Day 5: Trek to Jharana Waterfall

A forest in Dolpo
A forest in Dolpo

Rise early for the trek to Jharana Waterfall. The trail climbs through a cedar forest to a winter settlement used by the people of Ringmo village. The route then ascends steadily through open country to an elevation of 11,056 feet and our stopping point for the night, Jharana. Your efforts will be rewarded with a close-up view of the spectacular 1,083-foot Jharana Waterfall — one of the highest in Nepal — and a faraway view of Phoksundo Lake. 

Trekking Time: 5–6 hours

Day 6: Trek to the Tibetan Village of Ringmo

Ringmo Village
Ringmo Village

As you make your way to Ringmo at 11,350 feet, you will trek through birch forests to the upper reaches of the Phoksundo River. Cross a bridge and follow the trail north to the ranger station at Phoksundo Lake.  After a final push through the Phoksundo River gully, you will emerge onto the yak-filled meadows of Ringmo, a Tibetan Bon village, where you will stay the night.

Trekking Time: 5–6 hours

Day 7: Explore Sacred Phoksundo Lake and Tshowa Gompa

Ancient Bon monastery
Ancient Bon monastery on the shores of Phoksundo Lake

Today you will explore the area around the magnificent Phoksundo Lake. Explore Ringmo village before heading to Tshowa Gompa, a 900-year-old Bon monastery on a ridge above the lake. Descend along the steep-sided cliffs to the lake. Phoksundo Lake is regarded as sacred by Buddhists and followers of Bonpo religion, who believe that the lake contains an underwater palace and a tantric mandala of spirits. The lake is famous for its striking turquoise color and spectacular scenery. Many beautiful glaciers can be found near and above the lake area. 

Day 8: Trek to Chhepka Village

Ringmogaon, Phoksundo Trek
Ringmogaon, Shey Phoksundo National Park

Today you will trek back to Chhepka. Head towards Sulighad, following a stream originating from the lake. You will pass through the village of Renje, and fir and larch forests along the Sulighat river before reaching Chhepka at 8,268 feet.

Trekking Time: 6–7 hours

Day 9: Trek to Juphal 

The view from Juphal
The view from Juphal

After breakfast, retrace the trail to Juphal through beautiful forests, fields, and villages. 

Trekking Time: 6–7 hours

Day 10: Fly to Kathmandu (via Nepalgunj)

Sunset over Patan Durbar Square
Sunset over Patan Durbar Square in Kathmandu

In the early morning, you will fly from Juphal to Nepalgunj and on to Kathmandu, where you will be transferred to your hotel. The afternoon is free to enjoy some sightseeing or rest in your hotel.

Map

Map of Phoksundo Lake Trek – 10 Days
Map of Phoksundo Lake Trek – 10 Days

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Phoksundo lake trek, dolpo – 10 days, Nepal - Jul 1 - Jul 10, 2018

Traveler: Kelsey R. - Local specialist: Kunchok Nima

We had an amazing experience trekking with responsible treks and would highly recommend it to anyone considering traveling to Nepal. Our guide Sonam was a true professional, taking care of us every step of the way. We did a 12 day hike to Phoksundo Lake and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a tour that is a bit more remote. We only say 4 other trekkers the entire time, and were able to really experience true Nepalese culture. The trek was definitely challenging at... read more

We had an amazing experience trekking with responsible treks and would highly recommend it to anyone considering traveling to Nepal. Our guide Sonam was a true professional, taking care of us every step of the way. We did a 12 day hike to Phoksundo Lake and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a tour that is a bit more remote. We only say 4 other trekkers the entire time, and were able to really experience true Nepalese culture. The trek was definitely challenging at points, but nothing we (moderately fit people) couldn't handle. The most difficult part of the trip was getting to the remote area of Nepal where our hiking began and ended. We ended up being stuck for a few days; however, Sonam and the responsible trekking crew pulled out all the stops and made sure we were on the first flight out.

If you want a real Nepal experience where you get to interact with local people and see some amazing sights do this trek!