Over the past few months a common question in the minds of those I have told about this adventure is ‘so why the Dolpo?’. Following the brief introduction in my last post I offer a little more today. My sources are ‘The Great Himalayan Trail’, a book by Robin Boustead who developed the idea for the most challenging alpine trek in the world, and Wikipedia.
In his book, Robin says Dolpo is remote and wild, 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. Oasis-like villages dot barren landscapes, scarred by deep canyons, and all beneath velvet blue skies. He goes on to say that a combination of ancient animist beliefs, Tibetan Buddhism, and Bon religions predominate throughout the cultivated Lower Dolpo valleys, and up to the high, arid plateau around Saldang. Now that Mustang is losing some off its authenticity following a new road having been built, the Dolpo is perhaps the the last genuine example of traditional Tibetan culture. This picture shows the location of Dolpo to the northwest of Nepal.
To add spice, should that be needed, Robin adds there are a number of trekking options that run through Dolpo and all are magnificent. Most trekkers enter and exit Dolpo via the dirt airstrip at Juphal in Lower Dolpo. Alternatively experienced groups could consider the much more committing access routes from Mustang (east) or Mugu (west) where trail finding and acclimatisation pose additional challenges.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that we intend intend to trek around 240 miles from Jomsom in Mustang to Jumla in the west. Most of the time we shall be over 4000m with frequent climbs to over 5000m and camping every night. I have seen treks offered from Jomsom to Juphal (or the other way) and from Jumla to Juphal (or the other way) but not all the way from Jomsom to Jumla. We shall be using Juphal as our emergency exit should that be necessary.
I hope this answers the question ‘why Dolpo?’. It is quite simply a breathtaking challenge – in more ways than one!
I will share the detailed main trekking route and the emergency exit route in due course but will close now with a few photos from wikipedia that hopefully bring the text to life. I expect to bring a few photos back that I can share without breaking copyright. Should you want to see more photos in advance then an internet search for ‘Dolpo photos’ might be rewarding!
These are Lower Dolpo from wikipedia. Upper Dolpo is more mountainous.