Dolpa (locally pronounced as Dolpo) besides being the largest district in Nepal, covering an area of 5.36% of the country’s total land is renowned for its amazing natural beauty, unique religion and warm-hearted people. Bordered towards the north and northeast with the Tibet Autonomous Region, China Mustang towards the east, Myagdi, Jajarkot and Rukum in the south and Jumla and Mugu towards the west, Dolpa still has its own unique culture.
For centuries, the local people cultivated and grew their own food which consisted of buckwheat, barley, maize, potatoes, etc. The only means of transportation was a yak caravan that carried salt from Tibet to the southern plain in exchange for food grains and commodities. The region was only accessible by foot and the trail meandered through the high passes of Mustang, Dhorpatan region, Rukum and Jajarkot until the operation of an airport.
The airport, located at Juphal, has irregular flights from Nepalgunj. Recently, Nepal Army completed a rural track that connects Dolpa with Dunai (the headquarters of the district from the south). The land was restricted to foreign trekkers until 1989.
The Phoksundo trek gives you a glimpse into the lives of the local people and their Himalayan lifestyle, against the backdrop of amazing landscapes and crystal clear lake. The blue lake is situated at an altitude of 3,611 meters. The trek passes through the lush green forest, waterfalls, pristine springs and rivers. Wildflowers bloom during the monsoon and you will get snow clad views of Mt. Kanjirowa and Kang Tai Tonh Himal. You will even encounter centuries-old chortens and Bon monasteries at different villages.
Phoksundo Trek Diary
I set off for the trek with a team of writers and journalists during the last week of June. I had reached Radi two days earlier from Khalanga in the Rukum district while my other team members took a flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal. My journey began after I crossed the suspension bridge at Thuli Bheri River in Radi and passing Tallu Bazar which was a 4.5 hours jeep ride along the Bheri River, Khadang, Kanchhi Bazar in Tipurakot; a small town in lower Dolpa.
While waiting for my team to arrive, this was the perfect chance to explore Tipurakot. I spent two days visiting Tripura Sundari Temple and walking around the small town. On the third day, I headed towards Dunai by crossing Suligad which is the main gateway to Phoksundo and Upper Dolpa.
I followed the trail beside the army barrack, leaving behind the Bheri River and I finally reached the checkpoint of the Shey Phoksundo National Park. I continued my trek along Phoksundo Lake and reached Kageni. It was a gentle and steady trail with a few ascents and descents. The blue waters of Phoksundo Lake never left me throughout my trek. As I climbed up higher and deeper into the woods, the traill had gentle climbs with the lush green forest through Rhyachi.
The next day of the journey continued till Chunubar passing through Samduwa.
The final day was an exciting morning as we only had a few hours left to reach Phoksundo. The trail was a gentle path for half and hour but then became a steep climb - which was tiring! The day started with an exciting morning as it left a few hours to reach the destination. The path followed the gentle trail for half an hour, then ascended steep climb. It was tiring and sweating hike. We saw beautiful Phoksundo waterfall enroute.
Finally, it was there, beautiful Phoksundo lake. The blue Phoksundo lake across beautiful Rigma village at a nearby distance. Yes, it’s now closer, mesmerizing scenes was around us. Shortly, we reached most-awaited Lake.
The lake is 27 kilometers from Suligad. Trekking from Suligad takes two and a half days. It is a comfortable trek. The first day takes around 7 hours and you can overnight at either Sangta or Chhepka. The second day is a 7 hour trek to Chunubar and it takes 4 hours to reach Phoksundo on the third day.
Side Trek to Pugmo: A Hidden Village
At an hour’s distance from the main trail at Phoksundo is Pugmo Village (3,200 meters). It is at a distance of 4.3 kilometers, left from Samduwa. The village has 35 houses built with stone , wood and mud. Bhote communities live in these humble homes. Agriculture and livestock are their major occupations. There is a Bon monastery built during the 15th century known as Namgyal Lakhang.
Fee & Permit: Lower Dolpa trekking permit - US$20 for a week, Shey-Phoksundo National Park - NRs. 3000
Tripura Sundari Temple