Upper Dolpo Shey Gompa Festival Trek

Days 26
Price On Request

This journey encompasses the diversity of Lower and Upper Dolpo with spectacular landscape along with rich culture and traditions

At a Glance

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

The Shey Gompa festival is a very significant celebration for the people of Dolpo that takes place once every 12 years. This festival holds immense cultural and religious importance for the local people and draws pilgrims and visitors from far and wide.

Dolpo is a secluded and picturesque valley nestled in the Himalayan mountains, known for its rugged terrain, ancient monasteries, and rich Tibetan Buddhist heritage. Shey Gompa, also known as Shey Monastery, is one of the most revered monasteries in the region and serves as the focal point for the festival. The festival is celebrated to honor the Holy Crystal Mountain by circumambulating it. The festival was initiated by an ascetic from Tibet called Drupthop Singhe Yeshi, who, according to mythology, rode a snow lion to triumph over the evil spirits and demons of Crystal Mountain (Shey-Rivo Drukta). Drupthop Singye Yeshi is believed to have meditated in the caves surrounding Shey Gompa, bestowing blessings and enlightenment upon the land and its people.

Every 12 years of the Tibetan calendar a ceremony is held at Shey and has been practiced for centuries. The Tibetan calendar represents 12 years represented by 12 different animals like the Rat, the Bull, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the sheep, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Monkey, the Bird, the Dog and the Pig. Each year has its specific holy pilgrimage site and ceremony. For example, a ceremony is held at Boudhanath Stupa in the year of Bird and at Mt. Kailash in the year of Horse and likewise, the Crystal Mountain festival is held in the year of Dragon.

The festival commences on the 1st of September in 2024 with the opening ceremony, rituals blessings delivered by different renowned Lama and Rinpoches. There will also be dances, singing and drama performances by different schools of Upper Dolpo. On the 17th there will be a performance by the villagers with numerous games like horse riding, archery and many more.


Day 1 – 22nd Aug 2024 Thursday: 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 Forward Travel 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 – 23rd Aug 2024 Friday: NEPALGUNJ (150m)

Flight: 45 mins
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. If you have arrived late in the night your trek leader will be briefing you about the trek and handing over the trek pack after a late breakfast. 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 – 24th Aug 2024 Saturday: FLY JUPHAL/ TREK DUNAI (2140m)

Flight: 45 mins Trekking: 3 hours
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 as you pass through terraced fields and some villages. The trail now undulates above the Thuli Bheri River which you will be following along to Dunai which is the District headquarters. You will soon walk past the suspension bridge at Rupgad to reach Dunai (2140m). 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 – 25th Aug 2024 Sunday: CHHEPKA (2680m)

Trekking: 5 - 6 hours
You will walk out of the camp grounds and cross a suspension bridge across the Thuli Bheri river to the northern banks and walk downstream towards Rupgad. At the confluence of the Thuli Bheri and Rupgad, you veer to the right following the Suligad River upstream. You reach the entrance of the Shey Phoksundo National Park headquarters and an army barrack where your permits are checked. The trail continues to traverse and undulate following the Suligad river through sub-tropical forests to reach a small settlement of Kageni for lunch past the few houses at Muhan Pani. You will walk along the Suligad to the end of Kageni to cross a suspension bridge over the Suligad to the western bank. The trail climbs a bit and and descends to a small settlement of Jyanlsa to reach Raktang.

You walk through woods of Juniper, maple and cypress. You will cross a metal bridge at Syangta, the trail continues to traverses and climb up to reach a Mani rock (Prayer dedicated to the Buddha of Compassion inscribed on a rock) from where you traverse and descend to the small settlement of Chhepka.

Day 5 – 26th Aug 2024 Monday: CHUNUWAR (3110m)

Trekking: 6 hours
You will walk past a few hotels to the river basin and traverse through oak, cypress, blue pine and juniper woods to reach a chorten. The walk ascends under towering rocky cliffs and alpine forests to cross a suspension bridge across the Suligad at 2820m. You will cross wooden bridge further upstream as you walk through pine forests to a small pass. Here you descend through ringal bamboo thickets and pine woods to cross another bridge at Sidak. You will have lunch by the river side before the small settlement of Rechhi.
After lunch you walk along the river crossing the river a few times on wooden bridges to reach a lone teahouse at Khurbu.You then traverse walking past an army post at the junction leading to Kagmara La. The trail gradually climbs to Samjhana Hotel and then descends to our camp spot at Chunuwar just beside the Tapriza School.

Day 6 – 27th Aug 2024 Tuesday: RINGMO (3600m)

Trekking: 5 hours
You cross a steel suspension bridge at the end of Chunuwar and traverse to reach Jharana Hotel and the Amchi Hospital. The trail climbs up to the junction leading to the winter settlement of Polam and the army camp. From Polam the trail climbs up to the first rest shelter with beautiful views.
The trail continues to climb to the second shelter and then to a small pass with views of Phoksundo Lake and Kanjiroba Himal (7883m) and Norbu Kang.You descend through woods of birch, pine and prickly bushes to a small rest spot.The trail continues to climb up gradually to follow Suligad which is now but a small stream draining out of Phoksundo Lake. You walk through a big Gateway which marks the entrance to the village of Ringmo which is your stop for the night.

Day 7 – 28th Aug 2024 Wednesday: Exploration Day (3600m)

Trekking: 4-5 hours
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. 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. Traditional Tibetan culture prevails in Upper Dolpo, Buddhism and Bon are prevalent in lower Dolpo, including Ringmo village. After you settle in at your camp you have time 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.

Day 8 – 29th Aug 2024 Thursday: SALLAGHARI (3595 m)

Trekking: 5 - 6 hours
After breakfast, you will follow the trail towards the end of the village walking past the lake at its western end. The trail is scenic and adventurous as it is carved on the cliffs surrounding the lake in some places. After sometime the trail climbs up through alpine forests to reach a crest adorned with prayer flags.
After 2 to 3 hours of climbing you will descend to Cholophu or Phoksundo camp for lunch which is at the end of the lake. After lunch you continue to traverse along the lake towards your camp at Sallaghari which is nestled amongst pine trees

Day 9 - 30th Aug 2024 Friday: NANGDALA (KANGLA) HIGH CAMP (4500m)

Trekking: 6 hours
After an early breakfast, you will be following the narrow valley carved by the stream that cascades down from Kangla. The trail ascends through alpine woods and you stop by the river halfway through the climb to have packed lunch. This rugged area is known habitat for the elusive snow leopard and also the Blue sheep. The trail continues to climb following the mountain stream with views of Kanjiroba Himal and you will come across a natural gateway carved by 2 rocks. You will finally reach a small clearing which is the Kangla High camp which offers beautiful views of the stunning valleys and snowcapped mountains.

Day 10 – 31st Aug 2024 Saturday: SHEY GOMPA (4340m) (via NANGDALA/KANGLA 5345m)

Trekking: 7 hours
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 Shikar 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 especially during winter) to reach the valley to the Hubalune River. The trail then follows the Hubalune River through alpine meadows. 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 11 – 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 12 – 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 13 – 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 14 – 4th Sep 2024 Wednesday: 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 15 – 5th Sep 2024 Thursday: NAMGUNG (4360m) via SELA PASS (5095m)

Trekking: 6 hours
You will follow the Sephu Khola upstream past the Doksas or seasonal settlements. The trail ascends 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 steadily down to reach the small isolated hamlet 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.

Day 16 – 6th Sep 2024 Friday: SALDANG (3770m)

Trekking: 5 hours
The trail traverses for a while and then descends down to the Namga Khola after which the trail gradually ascends to a small pass adorned with prayer flags. The pass offers amazing views of the mountains in Tibet and the valleys and trails to the east heading towards Mustang.
The trail descends through Trans-Himalayan landscape as you encounter local shepherds. Saldang 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 17 – 7th Sep 2024 Saturday: CHAGAON (3840m)

Trekking: 7 hours
You have an early morning start as you have a quick breakfast and carry pack lunch. You will be following the Nagon Khola walking past Rapa Gompa where you stop to have a tour. to reached the Chagaon, on way you will have short tour of Rapa Gompa. You will walk through the valley flanked by Karcho Danda and Sela Lek following the Nagon River all along to reach Chagaon. Chagaon is small village and last village to connect the Dho -Trap village from Saldang.

Day 18 – 8th Sep 2024 Sunday: Jyanta La H.C (4700m)

Trekking: 8 hours
You will follow the Nagon Khola upstream to reach a small settlement of Rakyo.From Rakyo you continue to ascend through alpine meadows to reach Darsumma Doban at the confluence of Nagon and Dachun Rivers. You will ascend from here steadily along the valley extending from Kigyu Danada to reach High Camp at 4700m.

Day 19 – 9th Sep 2024 Monday: DHO TARAP (3950m) VIA JYANTA LA (5220m)

Trekking: 7 hours
Today, it is a steady climb following the 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 east steadily following the valley Jyanta High Camp (4600m) close to close to the village of Tokyu. You continue to descend to reach Tokyu filled with many traditional Tibetan style houses. You can have a bit of an exploration of the Ripuchen Bon Gompa whilst lunch is being prepared. The gompa offers panoramic views of the Tarap Valley and the passes in the north. After lunch it is a gradual descend to the lush valley of Dho Tarap as you walk past the Health post and the Crystal Mountain School. 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 20 – 10th Sep 2024 Tuesday: NAWARPANI (3480m)

Trekking: 6 hours
You will follow the trail that leads through the beautiful Tarap valleys along Tarap River. The walk offers stunning views of snowcapped mountains and lush green meadows. As you trek, you will come across the several small settlements of Sisaul and Ghyamghar and you make numerous crossing of the Tarap River. The trail will undulate and traverse following the river past Toltol to eventually reach the small settlement of Nawarpani for the night along the banks of the Tarap River.

Day 21 – 11th Sep 2024 Wednesday: LAINI ODAR (3370m)

Trekking: 5 hours
After breakfast, you gradually climb above the Tarap River and then descend to a suspension bridge. From the bridge the trail traverses past Thajum with a single Tent Hotel to continue descending down the valley. You will be crossing the Tarap river a few times on wooden bridges to reach Chugyar with 3 Tent Hotels. From Chugyar the trail climbs up and descends to a high trail to reach a single hotel at Tilba. From Tilba the trail undulates above the river through alpine woods and then descend to a narrow gully to finally reach the camp at Laini Odar by the river with towering Rocky Cliff.

Day 22 – 12th Sep 2024 Thursday: NAMDO (2540m)

Trekking: 6 hours
After breakfast, you will follow the Tarap river downstream and the trail undulates high above the river. You will be descending on some exposed trail below towering cliffs to walk through alpine forests of juniper to walk past Chedul Gompa and cross a suspension bridge to reach Laisicap which has an army post. The trail becomes broader and climbs out gradually from Laisicap through woods of barberry, peaches, Himalayan primrose and juniper to descend to a gully and climb to Chyangachaur having a few Tent hotels. The trail undulates and descends to the small settlement of Yalakot. You cross a small bridge at Yalakot and the descend to cross the Bharbung Khola to walk through fields to reach Namdo a small settlement below Tarakot. You will be getting views of Putha Hiunchuli and Churen Himal.

Day 23 – 13th Sep 2024 Friday: Dunai/Drive to Jhupal (2475m)

Trekking: 4 hours Drive: 1 hour
You will be descending to the Bheri River and crossing a steel suspension bridge to reach the small settlement of Dharapani. The trail continues to traverse and descend following the Thuli Bheri River downstream past villages of Byasgad, Palchi Khola and Dubachaur. You will cross a suspension bridge before Upallo Dunai and then traverse along the east bank to reach Dunai for lunch. After lunch, you will board local hired jeeps to Jhupal. 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, enjoy your last meal on the trek and share a 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 – 14th Sep 2024 Saturday: FLY NEPALGUNJ- KATHMANDU (1360m)

Flight: 45 + 45 minutes
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 – 15th Sep 2024 Sunday: 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 30-40 minutes away from your hotel or head off to explore the medieval city of Bhaktapur which is 60 minutes’ drive from the hotel. You can just sit and relax in the hotel or go for last minute shopping, 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 where your hotel is located.

Day 26 – 16th Sep 2024 Monday: 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 onwards journey.

Dates and Price

Dates Price Single Sup Status Book/Enquire
22/08/2024 - 16/09/2024 On Request - 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


A 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 D

Melbourne, Australia

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

Victoria, Australia

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