At the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in the great Himalayan rain-shadow lies Dolpo, the legendary, Ba-Yul or "Hidden Land" - historically cut off from the rest of the world by a barrier of high mountains, deep gorges and thick forests. Nepal's Dolpo region is legendary among loves of Himalayan culture and landscape. Few foreigners have been allowed into this pristine enclave inhabited by some of Asia's most culturally intact Buddhists. Dolpo was opened to trekking in 1990 and Shey Gompa only in 1992, and the number of foreigners allowed in the region remains strictly limited by the government of Nepal.
Among the visitors to Dolpo are two extraordinarily sensitive and talented writers: David Snellgrove, who visited the region in 1956 and wrote Himalayan Pilgrimage about his explorations, and Peter Matthiessen, whose The Snow Leopard is one of the classics of Himalayan literature. These books describe a land of magnificent quietude and beauty. "How peaceful is Dolpo," Snellgrove wrote, "not only its mountains, but also the lives of the men who live there."
"I wait facing the north; instinct tells me to stand absolutely still. Cloud, mist, snow and utter silence, utter solitude: extinction. Then, in the great hush, the clouds draw apart, revealing the vast Dhaulagiri snowfields. I breathe, mists swirl, and all has vanished nothing! I make a small involuntary bow."
Peter Matthiessen on crossing the Phagune Danda enroute to Dolpo, from The Snow Leopard.
Our 29 day trek will begin at Baglung near Pokhara, amidst Nepal's brilliant green rice terraces. We will walk near Annapurna and beneath the giants of the Dhaulagiri Range. Our route winds westward through villages which have seen few trekkers, through the spine of the Dhaulagiri Range, and over the 4 400 m high Jangla pass and then north toward the remote Kanjiroba Himal. The hiking is not technical, but there is a lot of it! In Dolpo we will journey into the exceptionally isolated area of Tarap in Shey Phoksumdo National Park, then north to Shey Gompa, The Crystal Monastery, and south to the exquisite Phoksumdo Lake. Home to snow leopard, blue sheep, lammergeier, and one of the few enclaves of unoppressed traditional Tibetan culture, this is authentic, rugged, unspoiled, and unforgettable arguably the best trek in all of Nepal.