The Shey Gompa Festival of Dolpo

Days 26
Price On Request

A perfect trek to embrace your inner-self in this spiritual quest in the rugged wilderness of magical Dolpo.

At a Glance

Trip Style
Exploratory Treks
Dolpa & Far West
Best Time to Travel
August - October

The Shey Festival of Dolpo, also known as Shey Ribo Duchen, is a significant religious and cultural event celebrated in the Dolpo region of Nepal. This festival is closely tied to the Shey Gompa (Shey Monastery), one of the most revered Buddhist monasteries in the region, located in the remote and rugged Dolpo area. The festival is celebrated every 12 years, according to the Tibetan calendar, and attracts pilgrims and visitors from various parts of Nepal and beyond.
The Shey Festival is fundamentally a pilgrimage where devotees from Dolpo and surrounding regions travel to Shey Gompa. The journey to the monastery is considered a spiritual undertaking, with the remote location adding to the pilgrimage’s significance.
The festival involves a series of sacred ceremonies and rituals conducted by monks and lamas. These include prayers, offerings, and chanting of Buddhist scriptures. The rituals aim to purify the participants and bring blessings for prosperity and well-being.
One of the central activities during the festival is the kora, or circumambulation, around the Crystal Mountain (Shey Ribo) and other sacred sites in the area. Pilgrims believe that performing the kora brings spiritual merit and purification of sins.
Similar to other Tibetan Buddhist festivals, the Shey Festival features Cham dances, where monks don elaborate costumes and masks to perform dances that depict various deities, demons, and mythological tales. These performances are both spiritual and entertaining, teaching moral lessons and preserving cultural traditions.
The festival serves as a vital social event, fostering a sense of community among the isolated inhabitants of Dolpo. It is a time for families and friends to gather, celebrate, and reconnect, strengthening social ties.The Shey Festival is celebrated in one of the most scenic and pristine regions of Nepal, with the backdrop of the Himalayas adding to the festival’s allure. The journey to Shey Gompa and the festival itself offer breathtaking views of the mountains, valleys, and unique landscapes of Dolpo.
The Shey Festival of Dolpo is a unique blend of spirituality, culture, and community, deeply rooted in the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. It is an important event for the people of Dolpo, reflecting their religious devotion and cultural heritage while also attracting interest from travelers and scholars fascinated by the region’s rich traditions and natural beauty.


Day 1 – 19th Aug 2024 Monday: KATHMANDU (1360m)

You will be greeted at Kathmandu airport by our team in Nepal. Once you complete the arrival formalities at the immigration and you have access to your luggage you head towards the Exit Hall walking through a connecting tunnel/walkway. You will be met by our local team in the exit Hall just below the escalator or opposite the lifts. He/she will have a Cho La Adventures sign to greet you.
It is only a short drive to your hotel located in the heart of the city. Before checking into your room your trek leader or our representative will talk briefly on the program ahead and schedule a trek briefing.

Day 2 - 20th Aug 2024 Tuesday: NEPALGUNJ (150m)

Today, you have a free morning to explore Kathmandu or do some last-minute shopping for your trek whilst the trek permits to Dolpo are being processed. In the late afternoon, you take the flight to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu and stay overnight in a hotel as there are no connecting flights to Juphal.

Day 3 - 21st Aug 2024 Wednesday: FLY NEPALGUNJ TO JUPHAL (2475m) TREK TO DUNAI (2140M)

You will make an early start to the airport for the 35-minute flight to the airstrip at Juphal (2475m). Upon arrival you are met by the trek crew and so once the bags are sorted you hit the trail or rather a dirt road which is easy as you descend down to Kalagauda. The trail now undulates above the Thuli Bheri River which you will be following along to Laisicap. You will soon walk past Rupgad to finally reach the small town of Dunai (2140m) which is also the District headquarters. Dunai has some private and government schools, a college, police check post and some government offices and a monastery. You can go out for an exploration of this interesting mountain town after you settle in at your camp.

Day 4 - 22nd Aug 2024 Thursday: TREK TO TARAKOT (2540M)

You will be following the Thuli Bheri river upstream throughout the walk today. You cross a bridge to the northern bank of the Bheri and the trail traverses along the river for some time. In a few hours you will reach the settlement of Byasgad. From Byasgad, you will continue to walk towards the northeast direction following the Bheri. During this part of the trek, the trail follows the river closely and also undulates around the ridge extending from Byas Risi Lek. The trek continues traversing through riverine forests and open areas to pass through Lawan. You cross the river to the southern bank to pass through Beluwa to eventually reach Tarakot nestled above the Thuli Bheri river. This village with fields surrounded by stone walls used to be an important trading post and capital of the ancient kingdom of Tichorung.
Most of the inhabitants of the village belong to the Magar tribe and practice Tibetan Buddhism. In some clusters of of this village ‘Kaike’ a local dialect is spoken, which is not spoken anywhere else in Dolpo.

Day 5 - 23rd Aug 2024 Friday: TREK TO LAINI ODAR (3370M)

Today, you will be hiking along the trail that lies on the southern bank of Bheri River. An hour into the trek brings you to an open valley along Bharbung Khola which is a tributary of the Thuli Bheri. This part of trek brings you closer to Putha Huinchuli and Churen Himal. The trail gradually traverses to eventually bring you to Laisicap at 2775 m. Here you cross the main river and begin to trek along the west bank of Tarap Khola to reach Khanigaon at 2950m. Khanigaon is the winter residence for the villagers of Dho-Tarap. You can have the wonderful view of Sandul Gompa across the valley from Khanigaon. The final push on the steep uphill trail will finally bring you to Laini Odar, which is a wonderful camping site with a beautiful waterfall nearby.

Day 6 - 24th Aug 2024 Saturday: TREK TO NAWARPANI (3480M) or TOLTOL (3520m)

Today as you head further up the Tarap Khola valley, the trail passes through the deep gorges with towering cliffs and spectacular scenery. After couple of hours of walking to the north of Laini Odar, the trail begins to widen up. You will now walk on a well paved wider trail with wooden planks in some sections leading to Chhyugar (3440m). Chhyugar lies at the bank of small stream which you cross to trek along the western bank of the Tarap River to reach Nawarpani at 3475m. To shorten the next day’s walk to Dho Tarap you will walk for another couple of hours to reach the winter settlement of the Upper Dolpo villagers at Toltol.

Day 7 - 25th Aug 2024 Sunday: TREK TO DHO TARAP (3950M)

You will be following the Tarap River throughout the day and you will be crossing the river a number of times. You will walk along the northern bank of the river to reach the small settlement Ghyamgar which also houses a monastery. At Ghyamghar, you cross the Tarap Khola to the eastern bank to reach Sisaul. At Sisaul you cross the river again to the western bank and begin to trek along Tarap Khola valley to reach Langa.
You cross the river at Langa to walk on the eastern bank to eventually climb a hill from where you descend to the settlement of Dho Tarap. Dho Tarap is an important settlement of Dolpo nestled in wide Tarap valley and was a famous trading post for traders from Tibet and Mustang in ancient times. Dho Tarap used to be an administrative center of Dolpo and is currently, the headquarters of the Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality and a trade center as well. It’s one of the highest human settlement in Nepal.

Day 8 - 26th Aug 2024 Monday: DHO TARAP (3950M) ACCLIMATIZATION

Dho is the largest settlement in Tarap valley and has several gompas. On the ridge above the village is the Ri Bhunpa Gompa and to the east, the village of Shipchhok has a Bon-po gompa which is certainly worth exploring. There are also opportunities to get great views of the valley and surrounding snow peaks from a number of nearby ridges. It is good to have an extra day at Dho which can also be used as a contingency day in case of bad weather or other delays en-route. However, this day is most useful for acclimatization to let your body get used to the altitude gain as the walk will be getting more demanding in the Trans-himalayan landscape above Dho.

Day 9 - 27th Aug 2024 Tuesday: TREK TO JYANTA LA BC (4600M)

Leaving Dho, you will head north-west following the Thakchiu Khola following the river upstream walking past mani wall and chortens to reach the settlement of Tokyu in about 1.5 hours. It is a gradual climb all along to Tokyu which is higher up the valley at 4400m. From Tokyu the trail heads up towards the Jyanta La valley with the vegetation becoming more arid and shrub like. The air becomes thinner as the trail climbs up the rugged valley to reach your camp at 4600m below Jyanta La.

Day 10 - 28th Aug 2024 Wednesday: TREK TO PASS CAMP (4700M) Via JYANTA LA (5220m)

Today, it is a steady climb following the Jyanta Khola through boggy alpine valley to reach the pass at Jyanta La (5220m) after climbing for about 500 metres. You will have views of the surrounding mountains and the numerous ridges both in Lower and Upper Dolpo. From the pass you will descend steadily following the valley extending from Kigu Danda to reach Pass Camp (4700m) close to Dachun Khola. However, we can also strive to push a little further to the small settlement of Rakyo (4200m) which has a few houses. This descent to Rakyo following the Dachun Khola downstream and then the Nagon Khola valley will help shorten the walk to Saldang.

Day 11 - 29th Aug 2024 Thursday: TREK TO SALDANG (3770m)

You will be descending following the Nagon Khola passing through the villages of Chagaon and Sugugaon where there is a check-post for permit entry. You will be following an undulating dirt trail along the riverine valley flanked by Karcho Danda and Sela Lek. You will see the Rapa Gompa, Namdo Gompa and Dechen Gompa along the way to Saldang. From Sugugaon the trail continues to descend through settlements of Dundargaon and Tankhor to reach the village of Saldang which is one of the most prominent villages in Upper Dolpo with more than 300 houses. You will have time to explore and to wander through this fascinating, scenic Tibetan village, past mani walls and through kanis (chorten gates), village alleys and barley fields.

Day 12 - 30th Aug 2024 Friday: TREK TO NAMGUNG (4360m)

Today the trail ascends steeply up to a small crest topped with prayer flags with amazing views of the mountains in Tibet and the valleys and trails to the east heading towards Mustang. From here the trail traverses for a while and then descends down to the Namga Khola which you cross to reach the village of Namgung.
Just above the village you will see the ancient red and white Namgung Gompa perched on a cliff-side. There are also other ruins of ancient gompas and dwellings built into the cliff-side near Namgung, adding to the mystique of this area. A visit to the Namgung Monastery in the afternoon is worthwhile as the monastery houses very old Buddhist texts.

Day 13 - 31st Aug 2024 Saturday: TREK TO SHEY (4340m) via SELA PASS (5095m)

You will be hiking up steadily for about three and half hours to reach the Sela Pass (5095m) adorned with prayer flags. This windy pass offers magnificent panoramic views of the peaks surrounding Dolpo, with Mustang to the far east, Tibet to the north, Kanjiroba, Kagmara and the Crystal Mountain (Riu Dhukta), to the west. The landscape resembles more and more arid plateaus and cathedral-like canyons of neighboring Mustang as we descend through this other-worldly landscape. The trail descends down to the Shepu Khola which flows towards Shey. Once you are down by the valley you walk past seasonal settlements (Doksas) and ancient Mani walls to reach the small isolated hamlet of Shey.
It is here that Peter Matthiessen and George Schaller, the world-renowned zoologist and conservationist spent the first two weeks in November 1973 exploring the rugged landscape in a concerted attempt to see the elusive snow leopard.

Day 14 - 1st Sep 2024 Sunday: 1st Day of Festival SHEY (Opening Ceremony) (4340m)

After breakfast, you will have the opportunity to participate in the festival (The timing of the festival will be finalized as we reach Shey as the Monks will fix the timings according to the Buddhist calendar). The grand celebration will start with prayers and blessing speech by the renowned Rinpoche’s and Lamas. The local inhabitants, as well as monks from various monasteries participate in the festivities, making it a truly vibrant and spiritually charged event.
There will be dance, singing, picnic lunches and traditional dance by old age people. After an interesting and immersive day, you will head back to camp for dinner and a well-deserved rest and reminisce about the days event.

Day 15 - 2nd Sep 2024 Monday: 2nd Day of Festival SHEY (4340m)

During the Shey gompa festival, devotees and pilgrims undertake arduous journeys to reach the monastery.
They come from different parts of Nepal, as well as from neighboring Tibet, to witness and participate in the scared rituals. Many pilgrims also bring offering such as butter lamps, prayer flags, and religious artifacts to the present to the monastery and seek blessings. All the villagers participate in the popular events like horse racing and archery. In the early evening, the villagers will perform traditional dancing and singing to entertain the visitors.

Day 16 - 3rd Sep 2024 Tuesday: 3rd Day of Festival-Full moon SHEY (Kora) 4340m

The Shey Gompa festival not only showcases the spiritual devotion of the people but also serves as a means to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the region. It attracts researchers, scholars, and tourists interested in exploring the unique traditions and practices of the Dolpo region.
You will be joining the local people for the Kora of the Holy Crystal mountain which is the key component of the festival. It is believed that Crystal mountain is place where many Buddhist masters have walked through passing on ancient wisdom and prayers of protection. Preserving the tradition of ancestors, the devout along with visitors continue to partake in the Kora to wash their sins and gain merit. The Kora allows visitors to interact with the locals and understand their way of life better adding lifelong memories to their journey.

Day 17 - 4th Sep 2024: 4th Day of Festival SHEY (4340m)

Today is the last day of the festival which is marked by the Masked Dance or Cham performed by the monks signifying the victory of Good over Evil. Clad in vibrant costumes and ornate masks representing deities, demons and various mythical figures, the dancers engage in intricate and symbolic movements to enact ancient Buddhist stories and teachings. The dance is accompanied by traditional music and chanting, creating an enchanting and mesmerizing atmosphere. Enjoy the day at festival and interact with local people gaining meaningful insights into the local culture and religion. After an intense four days of cultural insight and self-exploration, it is time once again to get ready for the adventure on the trail.

Day 18 - 5th Sep 2024: NANGDALA HIGH CAMP (4500m)

Leaving Shey, the trail crosses the Hubalune Khola and ascends following the river upstream past a long Mani wall. The trail climbs steadily towards Nangda La pass to reach a small clearing at the 4600m which will be the camp for the night.

Day 19 - 6th Sep 2024: LAKE CAMP (3600m) VIA NANGDA LA (5345m)

You have an early start as the trail now continues to climb steeply till you reach Nangda La Pass (Kang La) at 5345m adorned with prayer flags. At the top, the views of the snow-peaks Shey Shikkar and Kang Chunne and Kanjiroba are spectacular. There is a steep descent for some time as you will have to switchback on scree and in snow sometimes (dependent on weather conditions during winter) while crossing the Tuk Kyaksa river several times to eventually reach the confluence of Tuk Kyaksa and the Phoksundo rivers. The trail then follows the Phoksundo river with numerous stream crossings through forests of silver birch and pine and alpine meadows which open up to a wider valley to reach a clearing at the north end of the lake.

Day 20 - 7th Sep 2024: RINGMO (3600m)

After breakfast, you will take the trail that skirts around the west of the lake. The trail climbs up steadily to a crest adorned with prayer flags high above the lake. The trail descends and then undulates precariously offering magnificent views of the turquoise lake below. Phoksundo Tal (Phoksundo Lake) is a RAMSAR-registered wetland (The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially to Water fowl Habitat) and is Nepal’s deepest and second largest (4.94 square km) freshwater lake.
On the lake's southern end, the village of Ringmo sits on the 30,000 to 40,000 year old landslide dam that formed the lake. Past the dam, the waters of the lake plunge into a 167 m (548 ft) waterfall.

Day 21 - 8th Sep 2024: Exploration Day (3600m)

Traditional Tibetan culture prevails in Upper Dolpo, Buddhism and Bon are prevalent in lower Dolpo, including Ringmo village. You have the entire day to explore the village of Ringmo and the nearby Tshowa or the lake-shore Bon monastery. The Gompa nestled on a ridge above Phoksundo Lake was built about 900 years ago.There are more than 20 stupas in the southern belt, and one gompa in the eastern side of the lake, where annual prayers and worship are carried out.

Day 22 - 9th Sep 2024: CHHEKPA (2680m)

15 minutes of descent through alpine shrub of cotoneaster, barberry and juniper leads to the small settlement of Polam which is the winter settlement for the villagers of Ringmo. You have an amazing view of a 167 meter waterfall draining into the Phoksundo river. The trail continues to descend through the settlements of Chunuwar, Jharana and Sumduwa on the confluence of Pungma Khola and Phoksundo river. At Sumduwa the trail to Jumla branches to the west and to Dho Tarap to the east, you will take the trail following the Phoksundo towards the south. You will be now walking through riverine forests of fir, birch, larch and bamboo thickets to reach the small settlement of Rechi. From Rechi you will follow the Phoksundo river downstream to cross a bridge which you re-cross once again to the eastern bank to reach the small hamlet of Chhepka, a small Tibetan settlement tucked away amongst the steep hill-sides.

Day 23 - 10th Sep 2024: JUPHAL (2230m)

After breakfast you descend on rocky trail through forests to cross a bridge at Anhke Khola to reach the small settlement of Shyanta. You will now cross the Phoksundo river at Suligad bridge, hence the river is now called the Suligad river all along till it merges with the Thuli Bheri at Suligad Ghat. The trail continues to descend down the river valley through open woods to Raktang and to Kalrupi as the trail perched high on the cliffside follows the Suligad downstream to reach Suli Ghat which is the Entrance to the Shey Phoksundo National Park. It is the largest National Park in Nepal covering 3555 square km and was established in 1984. You will cross the Thuli Bheri to walk through Rupgad and other linear settlements to reach Juphal, your final camp on the trek before you fly back to Kathmandu tomorrow. In the evening it is time to celebrate with your crew, a slap up meal and few drinks and look back upon the great adventure that you have just completed. This will be the final night to say goodbye to the crew and thank them for the immense work that they have done to make your trek a safe and memorable one.

Day 24 - 11th Sep 2024: FLY NEPALGUNJ- KATHMANDU (1360m)

After breakfast, you will be assisted to the Juphal airport where you take morning flight to Nepalgunj and then on a connecting flight to Kathmandu. Upon arrival in Kathmandu you are driven to your hotel in the heart of the city. You have the rest of the day off to shower and relax or perhaps head out to town for shopping or a few beers.

Day 25 - 12th Sep 2024: FREE DAY IN KATHMANDU (1360m)

Today you have an entire day to yourself in Kathmandu which you can spend exploring the back streets of Patan which is only 30 minutes away from your hotel or head off to explore the medieval city of Bhaktapur which is 45-minute drive from the hotel. You can just sit and relax in the hotel, your trek leader will be on hand to make suggestions and assist you. If you have missed out on your welcome dinner, your trek leader will take you for dinner in one of the fine Nepali restaurants in Thamel which is the main area close to your hotel.

Day 26 - 13th Sep 2024: DEPARTURE

Your trip ends today after breakfast. Your trek leader will be on hand to advise and assist with your onward travel arrangements. A departure transfer to the airport is included and you will be driven to the airport in a private vehicle for your onward journey.

Dates and Price

Dates Price Single Sup Status Book/Enquire
19/08/2024 - 13/09/2024 On Request Available Available Book Now

If the trip dates don't match your available dates we can run a private departure for just your friends or family. Just fill up this form and we can discuss the options

Price Includes

– 3 nights in Hotel Tibet or similar in Kathmandu on BB
basis Twin Share
– 1 night in a 4 Star Hotel in Nepalgunj Twin Share with Dinner and
Breakfast included
– Trek escorted by English Speaking local leader,1 assistant
guide and porters/mules
– International Airport Transfers (Arrival & Departure)
– Twenty-two (22) nights basic comfortable trek accommodation in
tents on Twin Share
– Foam Mattresses
– Breakfast, Lunch & Dinners on Trek
– Staff Insurance
– Porterage on trek to carry all luggage
– Insured Cook and Kitchen Crew
– All Domestic Airport Transfers
– Airfares valued at USD 670
Juphal -Nepalgunj -Kathmandu–

Trip Highlights
• Visit to Dho Tarap and exploration of the village
• Visit Saldang Village
• Visit Shey Monastery and exploration of Tsakang
• Visit Phoksundo Lake

– Group safety equipment-
• Comprehensive First aid kit
• Medical Oxygen and PAC Bag on the Trek
• Satellite Phone for Emergency Calls
– Trek Pack (for loan whilst on trek) valued at over US$500,
• Good Quality Cordura Kitbag
• High quality Down sleeping bag designed for sub-zero
• Fleece Inner Liner
• High-altitude Down jacket
– Trek Permits valued at USD 700 which includes the following
– Shey Phoksunda National Park Permits
– Lower Dolpo Permits
– Upper Dolpo Restricted Area Permits
– Pre departure trek information
– Packing List
– Trekking Map

Price Excludes

– International flights
– Visas
– Travel Insurance (Mandatory for Emergency Heli Evacuation)
– Lunches and Dinners in Kathmandu
– Any optional tours and activities during free time
– Local Jeep Hire/Ponies
– Camera fees where applicable
– Bar Bills, Fizzy Drinks, Mineral water, souvenirs and personal
expenses, etc.
– Tips or gratuities for the Trek Crew (Suggest USD 10 per trek
day per person)
– You can tip your Trek Leader separately in Kathmandu


Wonderful Experience

Chola Adventures is a first rate trekking operator with a really personalised approach. Nima Lama has long experience as a leading guide with Peregrine. Now in his own company he combines typical Nepalese friendliness with great knowledge of the ethnic groups, religions and culture of the country and lots of interaction with locals. Nima has exceptional English and understanding of Western cultures (especially Australia). His staff were also great - enthusiastic and attentive in everything. We did an 18 day trek in the Upper Dolpo which required re-routing to cope with heavy snow on the passes. Nima and the crew made it work seamlessly. A wonderful experience.

Brian Doolan


Highly Recommend

I'm recently back from a fantastic trek in the remote Dolpo with ChoLa Adventures. They had everything that one would desire on a camping trek with the added advantage of being able to directly negotiate a custom itinerary with a Nepal-based company. Dolpo was not just about the landscape: Nima and the crew really helped us to engage with the local culture and experience something magic. Highly recommended, I can't think of a single negative comment.

Lincoln Paterson


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