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Nepal’s Dolpo Pa Yak Migration (c) Ben Walker

  • Summary
  • Itinerary
  • Dates & Rates
  • Operator
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Dolpo Pa yak migration – Nepal

This is a physically tough and culturally fascinating adventure to join the Dolpo Pa yak migration and immerse yourself in the lives of  these Nepali nomads.  Each year the Dolpo Pa travel en masse toward Tibet in order to trade their yak, and this year you could to join them. 

Travel this ancient and epic route over the course of 25 days which will take you deep into the heart of the mythic Himalaya mountains. Trek 250km across Nepal in this stunning migration.

Highlights:    

  • Live with Dolpo Pa nomads and help them migrate yak herds destined for trade
  • Trek the Upper Dolpo, a restricted and remote region of Nepal
  • Climb the Kanda La Pass at 5322 metres
  • Discover ancient monastery’s like Shey Gompa and learn about the pre-Buddhist Bon religion
  • Dine on local foods made by campfire
  • Explore the sights and sounds of Kathmandu

The Dolpo Pa travel the sacred Upper Dolpo of Nepal. This region is so remote that even Sherpas are astonished. This is the only group that has even joined the nomadic annual migration – though the Dolpo Pa have been making the trek for generations. You’ll cross four high altitude passes over 5000 metres and climb steep ravines, all while taking in the indescribable beauty surrounding you.

The group will fly to Nepalgunj and then Jupal, the gateway to mountains of west Nepal. Though it takes some time, this is the only way to arrive at the Upper Dolpo.  Your local team of guides, cooks, and porters,will meet you there.  The first trek is to the gorgeous Phoksundo Lake. This is where you’ll meet up with the yak train. There will be time to acclimatize, rest, and get to know the families you’ll be travelling with.

If you’re familiar with Peter Mattiessen’s Snow Leopard, you’ll be retracing his footsteps on the first leg of the migration.  After each high pass, more families will join the caravan and you’ll begin to see the community take shape. Each night you’ll make camp with the families and sleep in two-man tents with the mountains soaring above you. The group will travel as close to the border as is permitted.

Though you’ll leave the Dolpo Pa families as they continue on to their final destination in Tibet, your trek is only half way over. The return to Juphal will take an additional nine days and will take you over the striking Jeng La Pass (5110m).  Once back in Kathmandu, you’ll have a hot bath followed by some sightseeing, and a celebration dinner with the team.

This operator runs adventures without a hard and fast itinerary. They are experts at assessing the environment, climate, and group to create the best experience possible. They allow for the unexpected detours which all travellers know is where the real adventure is at.

If you’re familiar with the popular Annapurna or Khumbu routes in Nepal, be warned:  this adventure is vastly different. Though the Upper Dolpo is a recognized trekking destination, very few travel here. Even fewer pass the Saldang heading toward Tibet.  Making this a unique and rewarding immersion experience. Enquire today to learn more.

Itinerary

Teammates arrive

All teammates must arrive at the hotel in Kathmandu at or before 1700 on 5 August. There are many flights that arrive into Kathmandu on this date, and getting to the hotel is each team member’s responsibility. Taxis are cheap and plentiful. Your professional trip leader awaits at the stated hotel and the expedition officially starts there at 1700.

Your passports will be taken at this point so that our local guide can apply for your restricted area permits. Your leader will then deliver a safety briefing and talk through the expedition plan. Your first team meal will be dinner that evening.

On expedition

Once the permits have been obtained, you’ll take a domestic flight to the regional lowland town of Nepalgunj. This is the gateway to the mountainous destinations in the west of Nepal. Very early the next morning you’ll fly into Jupal (this flight included in your expedition cost). This is the only way into the Dolpo region. There you’ll meet your local team including cooks and herdsmen, plus the pack animals ready to carry your bags.

You’ll walk on recognised paths towards the beautiful and serene Phoksundo Lake. It is here you’ll meet the Dolpo Pa families and their yak train. Essential acclimatising and rest will take place near this lake, providing the perfect opportunity to immerse in the life of the Dolpo Pa. After setting off you’ll then retrace the footsteps of Peter Mattiessen as he wrote Snow Leopard. You’ll cross the 5322mm Kanda La pass down towards the 11th Century Shey Gompa.

After crossing Shey La pass at 5150m, the migration heads north towards the Tibetan border. Here, it’s possible to see more families converge as they continue in their traditional march. You’ll get as close as possible to the border with the families you’re travelling with before having to say goodbye as they continue on to their Nestang partners with whom they trade with in Tibet.

On this journey, you’ll eat local foods prepared by the expedition cooks and will sleep at night in tents.

Goal achieved

The migration with your new Dolpo Pa travelling companions now over as you near the Tibetan border, your trek is actually only halfway through with lots of challenge, surprise and natural beauty ahead.

The return journey to Juphal begins, taking a further nine days of trekking. It includes a crossing of the impressive Jeng La pass at 5110m. You will pass steep sided ravines and fast-flowing rivers before finally reaching the end of the this unique adventure experience.

You’ll fly back to Nepalgunj and then onto Kathmandu where cold beers, warm shower  and a good night out in the famous Thamel district await for those with energy left! There’ll be a contingency day in the city at the end of the program designed to absorb any changes to this arduous itinerary, which will include a half day of sightseeing. The team will be free to depart at any time after breakfast on the 30 August.

More Details

Minimum fitness requirements

  • Trek: up to 20km per day (250km over 22 days)
  • Daily activity: from eight and up to 10+ hrs.
  • Carry: up to 15kg each (with main bags on pack animals).
  • Terrain: varied and challenging. Snow pack, loose rock, mountain passes and river crossings.
  • Altitude: sustained heights mainly over 3500m. Three 5000m+ passes reaching 5322m.
  • Climate: temps ranging from +25C to -15C on the high passes.
  • Swim: potential river crossings so swimming preferred.
  • Age: 21+

Accommodation

In Kathmandu you’ll stay in a comfortable hotel in twin rooms. You can leave a small flight bag here and are welcome to book extra nights outside of the itinerary. Throughout the trek you’ll be camping in technical mountaineering tents shared between two. There’s also a night at a basic guesthouse in Nepalgunj in twin rooms.

Food

You’ll eat in local restaurants while in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj, where there will be a variety of delicious meals. On the trek, a cooking team will accompany the expedition and prepare meals which will provide enough energy.

Though sufficient calories in terms of meals and snacks will be provided by the trip operator, teammates are advised to bring a few favourite trail snacks or bars to keep spirits high.

Transport

Travel from Kathmandu to the start of the trek and back again will be using domestic flights. Due to the time of the year, these can be affected by weather and so contingency time has been added to the schedule in case of delays. Team members are responsible for their own airport transfers with taxis from Kathmandu international airport into the city costing approximately $10.

Kit list

A full kit list will be supplied to applicants in the Nepal Expedition Handbook. Tents, safety equipment, medical and communications kit will be supplied by the trip operator. Teammates should consider their kit in good time in case buying, hiring or shipping is required. Each team member will be required to carry a daysack with water, warm and wet weather clothing, with pack animals carrying the rest of the personal, group and cooking equipment.

   

Dates: 5th – 30th August 2017

Price: 4,199 GBP

What Is Included

  • Professional trip leader with full communications and medical kits.
  • Specialist local guides, cooking team, pack animals and herdsmen
  • Tented accommodation throughout.
  • All food (snacks and meals) and soft drinks.
  • Internal transport as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special permits and permissions within Nepal.

What Is Not Included

  • International flights/ travel to and from Nepal.
  • Travel insurance (obligatory).
  • Nepal visa if required.
  • Tips to local guides (discretionary).
  • Alcohol unless provided by hosts with meals.
  • Personal equipment.

Operator

When it comes to getting off the beaten track these guys can’t be beaten. They lead pioneering expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth. The organisers are dedicated to creating imaginative experiences for adventurers around the world and their team of expert military guides are some of the most experienced in the industry.

Nowhere is off limits and no idea is too crazy. They have achieved ground breaking world firsts such as mountain biking in Afghanistan and mountaineering in Iraq and their first ever expeditions to walk across Madagascar and pioneer white water rafting in South Sudan both made the headlines…. and a bit of history.

Being wild and wacky is one thing but with their background as commanders in the British Army and experienced team of specialists in every kind of terrain and environment means that all of their adventures are thoroughly planned and the safety and security of teams is always their highest priority.

Expeditions can be inherently risky, but they do everything possible to minimise potential hazards and for that, and the utterly extraordinary trips they put on, we salute them.

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