Upper Dolpa circuit Trek
The mystique of remote Inner Dolpo, closed to foreigners for decades and still culturally Tibetan, has been enhanced by Matthiessen's 'The Snow Leopard', David Snellgrove's 'Himalayan Pilgrimage' and George Schaller's 'Stones of Silence' among many other travel accounts. Legend has it that the ubiquitous Guru Rimpoche, who spread Tibetan Buddhism throughout the Himalayas, discovered this hidden land, a 'beyul' or refuge, over 1700 years ago, and it has been inhabited by Tibetan nomads, called drokpas, for over a thousand years.
Dolpo is now part of the Nepali region of Dolpa, but historically came from the Zhangzhung Bon-po Kingdom which dominated Western Tibet for over a thousand years, later defeated by the first Tibetan dynasty, Yarlung, between the sixth and eighth centuries. Afterwards, Dolpo was governed by the Kingdom of Lo (now Mustang, formerly part of Tibet) until the Gorkha Kingdom took it over during its consolidation of Nepal a century and a half ago. Since then, it has remained isolated, partly due to its remote location, and partly because of the Khampa guerillas using Mustang and Dolpo as a base during their fight against the Chinese occupation of Tibet after 1959. It has only been open for trekking and tourism since 1989, and then only parts of southern Dolpo were opened. There is still a special restricted area permit needed to trek above Phoksumdo Lake in Shey Phoksumdo National Park, which has only been a viable trekking region since 1999 because of the Maoist activities in this region. This is Nepal's largest national park. Inner Dolpo has a population of approximately 5000 inhabitants, many of whom head south for the winter, and is home to some of the highest villages on the planet.