First of, I know and understand that Dolpa is a restricted area and trekkers are required to take a guide but as a solo female, I feel A LOT MORE comfortable trekking on my own than with a guide.
I started this trek from Kagbeni since I’m walking mix of low/high GHT and started in eastern border. The next village is Santa and there’s already a road (looks like coming from Jomsom) but most of road walk is only after the first pass/ridge crossing (4300+). Road is only used by motorcycles and one tractor.
In Santa, some people offer homestay. The last house looks like it’s going to have rooms for trekkers, still under construction in 6/18. Other villages are Chharka Bhot (with guesthouses, reasonable food and room cost), Dho Tarap (reasonable food cost, 1000NPR) and Ringmo (typical teahouse food cost, 1000NPR). From Ringmo it’s teahouse trekking down to Dunai. Guesthouses double as shops and have biscuits, noodles, chocolates, etc.. There’s only solar power in the villages.
Campsites: Galden Goldun Khola – with 2 sheds and plenty of water; at the foot of Jungben La – 1 dirty shed, water from the river; before Chharka Bhot – water seeping from ground but needed to make a deeper pool to collect; Chap Chu – camped with herders, plenty of spring water, ~3hrs from Dho Tarap – lots of herders and yarsagumba gatherers camping, supposed water source was dry so had to get water from main river (stomach was fine after), Danigar – with “tent hotel” that serves dal bhat, water from main river again. These are only where I camped, there are more campsites.
Route finding: not really difficult. Used GPS tracks downloaded from ght website and the ght guidebook (not very detailed). Maps.me was also a bit helpful. Only got “lost” twice.
Trail condition: All in all, trail is in good condition except for some parts cut by landslide (before and after Santa) and very loose slope + steep switchbacks before the ridge crossing above Galden Goldun Khola. I trekked in summer so no problem with snow. Water along the trail was kind of limited so I carry 2.5 liters each morning. There are 4 river crossings after Chharka Bhot which are unavoidable. Water was knee deep or a little higher, difficult to cross with only one trekking pole.
Passes: There are actually 6 5000+m passes but whichever direction you’re going, one will be super easy to “climb.” They’re not difficult to cross, they’re just high or unless there’s snow/ice.
Permit: Had my permit arranged by a company that allows trekkers to go without guide. 3 weeks for 2 people was $60 but 2-week permit is enough.
Checkposts: Only at Phoksundo Lake (not in Ringmo) and Sulighat(?). No one asked for my permit. Was stopped by army men twice on the walk from Ringmo. First time they asked for my passport and the next just let me go when they realized I’m not Nepali.
Others: It gets super windy not only at the pass but most of the day. Only came across 3 other trekking groups who were going the opposite direction. Encountered a few mule trains and some yak caravans, some locals going to Jomsom or Dunai. Other than that I was completely alone seeing only marmots. Very few people speak English but my very limited Nepali + hand/body gestures was enough to communicate.
- Backpack, Down Jacket, Headlamp, Hiking Boots, Hiking Poles, Sleeping Bag, Stove and Fuel