Discovering Dolpa

Published On: March 3, 2018 12:20 PM NPT By: Swasti Gautam

They were two friends who were poles apart. From their childhoods and hometowns to their identities and habits, they had nothing in common. While Pemba Dorjee Sherpa was from the robust and rocky mountains, Jason Shah belonged to the fertile plains of Nepal. However, both of them had similar ideas on what they thought constituted a ‘good life’ and that eventually made them partner up and start an enterprise of their own which they named SherpaShah.

“You could say we discovered our real selves though different travel journeys. For us, travelling was an indispensible part of our lives. We could not do without it,” says Sherpa. So they decided to open a platform through which they could encourage other people to travel as well. This platform is not only about organizing trips. It also aims to facilitate and encourage grassroots sustainability, urban renewal, civic responsibilities, sharing economy, and introspective travelling. 

According to Sherpa, travelling stimulates creative minds and helps them understand the world from a different perspective, something people often fail to do when they limit themselves to set surroundings and cultures. “We make travel itineraries that mostly revolve around social themes to help people understand Nepal differently,” adds Shah.
 A unique escapade 
Sherpa Shah and Bid Nepal (Snow Yak Foundation) are organizing a 15-day trip to Dolpa. This expedition starts from the April 20 and they are currently encouraging 12 enthusiastic travelers to join them. The entire trip will be expertly guided by Binod Shahi and Jason Shah. They also have a professional trekking safety team to accompany them throughout the length of the trip. 

This small-group adventure aims to explore spirituality, social change, and the beautiful Shey-Phoksundo. “The culture, tradition and religious practices of Dolpa are completely different from what we experience here in Kathmandu. With our 12 travelers, we aim to understand and enjoy their various realities,” says Shah. He also adds that he is most excited to interact with the people of Dolpo ethnicity and understand their way of living. 

Adventure awaits 
Dolpa is a beautiful place deeply entrenched in spirituality and religious beliefs. “It is a bit detached from the rest of Nepal because roads have yet to connect Dolpa with the rest of the country. And that makes it even more special,” says Sherpa. 

Shah adds that trekking is an adventure that everyone can pursue in Nepal. He says this country is filled with friendly hills and mountains where people can start their voyage alone. “Going on a trip with 12 other people will help you understand things better. One even learns to engage with different people while travelling and understands the diverse practices prevalent in Nepal,” says Shah. 

This team aims to start their journey from Nepalgunj, the western Tarai plains of Nepal and move on to Ringmo of Shey Fhoksundo National Park. In their journey, the team intends to explore river valleys, the hot Tarai belt, alpine lakes, and many more. 

“It would have been easier and cheaper to just take a flight to Dolpa. But in this journey we will explore the anecdotes and oral traditions of the Masto/Dhami shamanism and ancient Bon religion. And our trekking trails are made in such a way that we will interact with Dolpo and Khas ethnicity too. This will make our journey unique and informative,” says Shah.

Binod Shahi, who will be guiding the trip, has lived and taught in Dolpa for about 14 years. “Shahi will help our travelers meet young leaders of Dolpa and understand their local government and governance. Also, this expedition aims to understand Dolpa in the context of modernization,” says Shah.       

Roughing it 
According to Sherpa, this is not going to be a luxury travel. Everyone will have to carry their own luggage and will definitely have to face several hardships along the way as well. “Little things in life help us learn and this will be one such adventure. But you can be assured that it will teach you valuable lessons in life,” says Shah. 

In this expedition, travelers will ride on buses, jeeps, horses, and yaks. This journey will include walks along the Bheri River and also multiple adventures through Rukum and Jajarkot to reach the fertile valleys of Dolpa. “Yes, you will also be surprised to know that Dolpa is not just about snow capped mountains. It also has lush green valleys,” adds Shah. 

They then intend to spend three days in local villages before starting their trek to Phoksundo Lake. They will also visit a popular goddess Tripura Sundari who is said to be one of the ten Mahavidyas in Hinduism. Throughout their trek, the team will stay in tents and eat with the local community at local tea houses and local’s homes. 

At the end of the journey, travelers will be able to enjoy the peaceful Phoksundo Lake and the stunning mountains surrounding it. “We will stay there and take time to interact with and understand the locals and come back with lots of fun memories,” says Shah. On the final day, they intend to trek down to Dunai, the district headquarters, and then take a flight back to Kathmandu.
Trip details 
Travel areas:
Nepalgunj-Jajarkot-Rukum-Tripurakot-Ringmo-Phoksundo Lake-Dunai- Kathmandu
Tent and sleeping bags are provided by the expedition.      
Trip duration: 15 days  
Price: NRs 95,000 


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