Shey Festival and Dolpo Trek

20 Days

Starting 4th of Sept 2024


Until recently, what little the outside world knew of Dolpo was gleaned from artistic and spiritual accounts from early visitors. Peter Matthiessen’s meditative book ‘The Snow Leopard’ and Eric Valli’s stunning movie ‘Himalaya (Caravan)’ only added to the allure of this unknown land. The region was only opened to foreigners in 1989, and receives a fraction of the visitors thronging other parts of Nepal. With more trekking agencies venturing into Inner Dolpo – allowing access beyond Phoksundo Lake to the 800-year-old Shey Gompa – a truly remarkable natural and cultural experience is there for the taking (even in the monsoon!). Look out for views of mighty Dhaulagiri (8167m), once thought to be the highest mountain in the world.

The Shey festival is an important historical and cultural heritage of the Dolpo region. According to the legend, an ascetic from Tibet named Dhuptop Singhe Hyese who rode a snow lion to victory over the evil spirits and demons of Crystal Mountain (or Shey- Rivo Drukta) founded a monastery (Shey) and began the practice of circumambulating the Holy Crystal Mountain. Since the 12th century, a festival honoring his triumph over evil has been held every 12 years during the year of the Dragon of the Tibetan calendar, drawing visitors from near and far to the Shey. The Shey Gompa lies in the Shey Phoksundo National Park.

The Shey festival is a rare cultural privilege. It occurs every 12 years with the arrival of the Dragon year as per the Tibetan calendar. Each year represents a different animal with pilgrimage importance in different places around the world. With every turning year, comes a year dedicated to different animal and a pilgrimage to a different shrine. Finally, in the 12 years, taking the turn of Dragon, with a festival celebrated on the Shey Gompa of Dolpo.

The main highlights of trekking in the Dolpo are

  • Flying into Jufal airport with magnificent views of the mountains.
  • Reaching the shores of Shey Phoksundo Lake with the surrounding forests and snow-capped mountains reflecting in the crystal blue water, it is no surprise this region has been described as one of the World’s "Natural Hidden Paradise".
  • Meeting people, witnessing this rare festival of Dolpo that happens once in every 12 years.
  • A chance to trek into the last less traveled remote settings of Dolpo into Mustang.
  • Hiking a part of the Great Himalayan Traverse.