Dolpa, the high altitude desert, strongly resembles the Tibetan highland. It lies behind the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri Himal (range). Peter Matthiessen’s meditative book ‘The Snow Leopard’ and Eric Valli’s stunning movie ‘Himalaya (Caravan)’ brought this unknown wonderland to outside world. The region was only opened to foreigners in 1989.
The greener, southern fringes of Dolpa, the largest district in Nepal, are distinctly Hindu. But venture north past the ring of high passes into arid Inner Dolpo, and you will encounter not only Tibetan Buddhists, but also practitioners of the ancient Bon religion, extant in just two villages. The spirituality of Dolpa is visible everywhere – legend says Dolpa is a Beyul, one of the “hidden valleys” created by Guru Rinpoche as a refuge for those of exceptionally pure mind. Today, its northern reaches are settled by Rokpa farmers and Drokpa nomads from Tibet, who are cut off from the rest of Nepal by snow for most of the year. They live in some of the highest inhabited villages on Earth, nestling amongst mountains of stark, ascetic beauty.
In such barren terrain, the spectacle of Nepal’s deepest lake, Phoksundo, is almost beyond describing. Locals believe Phoksundo was formed when a spiteful Demoness flooded a village for revealing her whereabouts to the saint Padmasambhava. The surreal sight of the lake, which hosts no aquatic life and appears to fluctuate between a turquoise and ultramarine hue – appears to substantiate the legend. If you follow in the footsteps of generations of nomads, look out for the remains of the ill-fated village below the lake’s surface.
The Upper Dolpo Trek to Shey Gompa brings you into a mystical land where centuries old Buddhist and Bonpo traditions, interwoven with shamanistic influences, are still an important part of daily life. The vil
Dolpo offers a wonderful chance to experience a landscape and culture very different from other parts of the country. Dolpo is rugged and remote and divided into two areas (upper and lower). The upper region