This time, our destination is Shey Phoksundo Lake which is situated in the Dolpa region.
The Dolpa region is isolated and restricted to travel till 1989. Thanks to Peter Matthiessen for making this isolated Tibetan region famous from his book ‘The Snow Leopard’. Being isolated for so many years and still being the remotest part of Nepal, their culture and lifestyle clearly reflect the Tibetan culture and religions. You will be walking in the trans-Himalayan land that is so richly influenced by the Tibetan Culture.
Culture and Lifestyle of Dolpa People
Dolpa shares the border with Tibet, the people of Dolpo are mostly influenced by the Tibetan religion. So you will be witnessing the ancient culture and traditions which have been preserved for centuries. Also, the yak caravan is the most extravagant thing to witness during Shey Phoksundho Trek. Still, Dolpo people use Yak for transporting goods to and from Tibet and around the Dolpo region. It is not touched by modernity so, their culture and lifestyle is highly preserved too.
Shey Phoksundo Lake
Shey Phoksudo Lake lies in the Shey Phoksundo National Park, which has an elevation of 3,611.5 m above sea level. It is an alpine freshwater lake that is regarded as the sacred place for the Buddhists and followers of the Bonpo religion. It is surrounded by rocky cliffs and deep forests.
Best time to visit Shey Phoksundo Lake
Since Dolpa lies in the rainshadow of the Dhaulagiri Range, it is possible to trek Shey Phoksundo Lake throughout the year. April to November or Spring/Fall is the best time to visit Shey Phoksundo Lake.
The beauty of the Dolpa region and Shey Phoksundo lake has been catching our eyes and mind for few years. In order to capture heaven and promote the place to our lovely viewers, we went to Shey Phoksundo Lake.
Day 1- Kathmandu to Tharu Community Homestay, Chitwan
Our first destination was Tharu Community Homestay. We left in our Toyota and Hodal XR. It usually takes 5-hour rides to Chitwan from Kathmandu, but took us a little more as we were capturing the beauty of the Nepal highway.
Tharu Community Lodge lies in the Chitwan which is very simple. Run by the local Tharu Community of the Terai. Private thatched-roof cabins with attached baths are available. The rooms are small but well-equipped with modern amenities such as running water, comfortable beds, mosquito nets, ceiling fans, and toilets in the Western manner. You can watch the sunrise and sunset from the banks of the Budhi Rapti River. You can also enjoy Tharu Community Lodge’s surroundings, which include landscaped gardens, parks, the shadow of the cottage, and farm animals running around. The Tharu Community’s traditional village life, culture, and tradition will be observed.
Day 2- Tharu Community Lodge to Buddha Maya Garden, Lumbini
We woke up late as our destination Lumbini was not that far from the Tharu Community. After having breakfast, went towards our destination Buddha Maya Garden, Lumbini. Terai is very hot and the humidity was making us crazy. Finally, after a 5-6 hours drive, we reached Buddha Maya Garden.
Buddha Maya Garden is one of the most popular hotels or resorts in Lumbini. Situated in the sacred land and peaceful area of Lumbini World Heritage Garden, Buddha Maya Garden lies just a 5-minute walk from the Maya Devi temple of Lumbini. It has comfortable rooms. multi-cuisine restaurants, and halls suitable for meetings and conferences. Managed by the Kathmandu Guest House, Buddha Maya Garden is very Budget-friendly, which has been serving its clients for the past 35 years.
Day 3- Explore Lumbini
Lumbini is a sacred place where Gautam Buddha is born. It is one of the holiest places in the world which is also listed on the UNESCO world heritage site. The main temple, Maya Devi Temple is also there, which is regarded as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha around 563 BCE.
To observe this sacred place, after having breakfast we decided to explore Lumbini. It was nearby to our hotel and we did not miss a chance. As it said, the main Maya Devi Temple was just 5 min walk from Buddha Maya Garden. The whole area was very peaceful and calming, the sound of spiritual hymns and the meditating monks made me felt like I have found Nirvana.
After there we went to a Scared Ponds called Puskarni. It is the pond where Maya Devi (Buddha’s mother) took a dip before giving birth to Gautam Buddha and later Buddha also had his first bath over there. Then, we moved our pace towards the sacred garden where there is an eternal peace flame, which keeps flaming 24 hours a day. After that, we visited nearby temples and monasteries built by different countries. You can also take a cycle or three-wheeler to visitors museums, other temples, monasteries, and parks.
Day 4- Lumbini to Siddhartha Hotel, Nepalgunj
Our destination for that day was Nepalgunj. It is the gateway to the far west region and also the most popular tourists destinations like Rara Lake, Bardiya National Park, and also Shey Phoksundo Lake. It takes around 4 and a half hours to ride from Lumbini to Nepalgunj. It was evening time we reached Siddhartha Hotel, Nepalgunj, our home for that day.
Situated in the Western region of Nepal, Siddhartha Hotel Restaurant is one of the most popular hotels in Nepalgunj. It has been providing the best hospitality services and as well as delicious local and multi-cuisine to its guests. They have spacious private rooms, banquet halls, and restaurants to cater perfect hospitality experience. They have a swimming pool too, where you can chill yourself in the scorching heat of the Terai Region.
Day 5- Nepaljung to Juphal by Summit Air Flight
A flight from Summit Air leaves every day at 6.15 from Nepaljung to Juphal airport. We packed our gear and took a flight to Juphal. Juphal is a small settlement and the gateway to the upper Dolpo region and Shey Phoksundo Lake. The flight duration was 1 hour. From up above in the air, you will witness the snow-capped mountains and small settlements.
Jhupal is a small village of Dolpa which is very peaceful as well cold. Thanks to Soman Gears for such protective clothes and gears. It really protected us from the wind and cold of the Dolpa region. After making all the arrangements for our backpack trek towards Dhunai.
Day 6- Dunai to Syangda
After having breakfast, we trek towards Syanda. It was a 6 -7 hour trek. On the trail, we saw a wheat and vegetable field before reaching Thuli Bheri River. We crossed the big suspension bridge and finally reached the Shey Phoksundo National Park.
Shey Phoksundo National Park (SPNP), is the largest National Park having an area of 3,555km/sq. From there we got to see the Trans Himalayan easy stem and the Tibetan type of floras and faunas. We will be taking through the banks of Suli Khola. From there we could be some part of the Dhaulagiri Range. After staying for a tea, we walked towards Syanda while indulging surrounding pine tree line spruce, fir, Juniper and Cyprus and bamboo forest.
Day 7- Syangda to Jharna Hotel
We were just a day away from our final destination, Phoksundo Lake. So, without wasting our time our destination was Jharna Hotel. The trail was covered with beautiful forest and the sound of the river was so soothing that we forget about the long walks we have to take. Sometimes, on the way, we met local people with their mules called Dzopas. Dozopas is a crossbreed of Cow and Yak. They are used to carry different goods.
We reached Jharna (waterfall) hotel. We were greeted by the magnificent waterfall of 107m high known as Phoksundo waterfall also called sunlight or Suligad waterfall. It was very beautiful and huge too. The trail was not tough, but it was tiring but we pushed our possibilities and we reached the new horizon. We decided to stay on the lap of the waterfalls, so we spend our night at Jharna Hotel. We were tired and slept early.
Day 8 – Jharna Hotel to Shey Phoksundo
That was the day we have been waiting for. After 4 hours of trekking, we will reach Shey Phoksundo Lake. Our final destination and the dream that we have been craving for so long. We were so excited that we ate breakfast and headed to the destination, without wasting any time. There was a different kind of energy and enthusiasm. Maybe it was because my dreams were coming true and the beauty of the lake was just providing me the energy. So, even though it was 2 hours of steep walk, I didn’t feel any tiredness at all.
After that it was a descending walk and reached Ringmo village, a small settlement which follows Bonpo religion. It is a Buddhism but very older than that. This Dolpa region is used to be the main hub of Bon Kingdom known as Zhang Zhung. Presently, this kingdom is very powerful that lies in western and northwestern Tibet. As per ancient history, it says that Zhang was defeated by the Buddhist kingdom of Tibet. This is how Bonpo disappeared, but there are some people who still follow or practice it.
Knowing the history and admiring the beauty we finally reached Shey Phoksundo Lake. Our final destination. And the place was so beautiful that there no words give justice to its pristine beauty.
Day 9- Shey Phoksundo Viewpoint
We woke up early to see the sunrise from Phoksundo Lake. The glorious lake was so calm and peaceful, my eyes were just on it. Being in the place that has been on the wish list for so long, that feeling, is something that makes us happy. It made me feel that I live for Travel. Surround by the rocky hills and pine trees, the blue-green color makes this alpine lake so stunning.
Buddhist followers of the Bonpo religion believe that there is an underwater palace and Tantric Mandala of spirits under Shey Phoksundo Lake. There are beautiful glaciers right above or near the lake. Another interesting thing is, there is Tshowa Gompa, a 900-year-old Bon monastery which is situated right on the ridge above Phoksundo Lake.
Day 10- Trek to Chhepka
We took the same route to be back on the Chhepka Village. We stayed there overnight.
Day 11- Chhepka to Jhupal
From Cheepka, we did not stop and our destination was Juphal. We were going to take an early flight to Nepaljung from there, so we fasten our pace as much as we can. The flight back to Nepalgunj from Jhuphal leaves at 7 am in morning. But to our bad luck, there was no flight due to the weather condition. So, there were other people too waiting for the flight. So, we request Summit Airlines to manage the flight for us. Luckily, thanks to Ms. Manjiri, she managed a flight just for us, and other passengers were also happy to fly back to Nepalgunj. I will never forget the help she has done for us. We said see you soon in Dolpa village.
We took a flight to Nepaljung. We landed and unpacked our things and freshen up. As per our plan, we sat together at a campfire, opened our Yarchagumba Whiskey, and talked about the beauty of the Dolpo region and its people. That was our last night so sat a little longer.
Day 10- Kathmandu
We woke and felt kind of sad to be back to the same routine. But we achieved our dream, so we were happy too. We packed our bags as it was our time to go home. Saying bye to the people of Siddhartha Hotel, we headed towards home.