Dolpo: Expedition to the Crystal Mountain

A Himalayan Trek to Shey Gompa

Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set


Cut off from the outside world by high passes, the Dolpo region of western Nepal is an ethereal corner of the Himalayan world that few trekkers have ever visited. With our extraordinary Trip Leaders, we set off for an incredible 20-day trekking expedition deep into this rare world. We follow ancient trails to remote high-altitude villages where people still live as barley farmers or semi-nomadic yak herders, as their ancestors did, wearing traditional homespun wool robes and Tibetan boots. Many Dolpo villages still practice Bon, the pre-Buddhist religion that all but disappeared from Nepal in the 7th century. This is a rugged and remote trek that brings many rewards, including an exploration day to visit Shey Gompa (14,250'), the fabled monastery that Peter Matthiessen described so beautifully in The Snow Leopard. Our journey crosses a few high passes (our highest at 17,700'!) and we camp at 13,000 feet or higher for an extended period of time, but know that we’ve designed a route that offers gradual acclimatization, with the highest pass coming near the end of the adventure. Another big bonus is that the entire region is still so remote that it’s likely we’ll rarely see other trekkers. This is one of the few places in the world where treks of this remoteness and scope are still possible. Join us!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-9
Kathmandu / Juphal / Begin Trek / Dho Tarap 

After exploring Kathmandu, our trek begins with a hike through juniper forests into the Tarap Valley, home to highland people known as the Kham Magars. We enjoy an Exploration Day in the Tibetan village of Dho Tarap (13,251’), with its cluster of fascinating monasteries.

Days 10-14
Upper Dolpo / Saldang / Namdung Gompa

Passing trailside chortens and walls of beautifully carved mani stones (Buddhist prayer stones), we make our way across Upper Dolpo through a fabulous landscape of mysterious canyons and cliffside monasteries. Colorful yak caravans may pass us on the trail, transporting goods as they have for hundreds of years. We trek farther to Saldang village, with its amchi (Tibetan medicine) clinic and ancient alleys, then on to Namdung Gompa. 

Days 15-16
Shey Gompa (16,237’) / Crystal Mountain

Our Exploration Day at fabled Shey Gompa, a revered pilgrim destination, is a trek highlight. We’ll join pilgrims on the kora (sacred circuit) encircling the monastery, hike to remote hermitages, and enjoy the rarified air and light that makes Shey Gompa like no other place on earth. Next to the gompa is the Crystal Mountain, Dolpo’s sacred peak.

Days 17-20
Kang La / Phoksundo Lake 

Crossing our highest pass, the Kang La (17,700’), we come to otherworldly Phoksundo Lake (11,818’), a vast body of turquoise water encircled by sheer cliffs. In our Exploration Day here, we visit Ringmo Gompa, a mystical Bon-po monastery overlooking the shimmering waters.

Days 21-25
Sepka / Juphal / Kathmandu 

Descend to the lowlands, fly to Kathmandu on Day 23, and depart on Day 25.



Trek into a remote Himalayan realm that few Westerners have visited
Visit otherworldly Phoksundo Lake, with its cliffside monasteries
Hike the sacred kora circuit around fabled Shey Gompa, a revered pilgrimage site
Enjoy our special trekking route designed for gradual altitude acclimatization


Length: 25 days
Cost From: TBA  
Arrive: Kathmandu, Nepal
Depart: Kathmandu, Nepal
Lodging: 19 nights camping, 4 nights in first-class hotels, 1 night lodge
Meals: All meals included except 3 lunches and 2 dinners as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

20-day trek on moderate to steep trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes between 7,000 and 17,700 feet