Phoksundo Lake: Nepal’s Most Beautiful High-Altitude Lake

Are you craving for an adventure that will take you deep into the heart of the wilderness? are you seeking a place where alpine forests, raging rivers, and arid mountains merge into one breathtaking landscape? If your heart yearns for such a journey, look no further than Phoksundo Lake in Dolpa, Nepal. In this travelogue, we’ll take you on a mesmerizing journey into the largest national park in Nepal, Shey Phoksundo National Park. As we explore the untouched beauty of this remote area, get ready for an adrenaline rush but also get ready for moments of unmatched peace.

Meeting the Beautiful People of Dolpa

Travel isn’t just about the places you visit, it’s also about the people you meet along the way. In Dolpa we crossed paths with the locals who made this journey even more worthwhile.

As we made our way through beautiful landscapes and enjoyed the scenery we met with the people that the people here are just as beautiful as the land they call home. Meeting with these people is an awesome experience. Different culture, different dress-up. The lifestyle was totally different.

Phoksundo lake

Phoksundo Lake is a destination for the intrepid. The journey to this hidden gem isn’t for the faint-hearted. To reach the far edge of the 4.94 square kilometer lake, where few have ventured, we embarked on a trek from Ringmo village through a trail known as the “caravan trail.” This trail has a unique place in cinematic history, having been featured in the 1998 Oscar-nominated movie “Caravan,” which offers a glimpse into life in Upper Dolpa.

Phoksundo lake

A Change of Plans: From Everest to Dolpa

Our journey to Dolpa wasn’t part of the original plan. Initially, we were set to fly to the Everest region. However, due to adverse weather conditions temporarily closing the airport in Lukla, we seized the opportunity to embark on a different adventure. Summit Air introduced direct flights from Kathmandu to Juphal Airport in Dolpa. That provides an alternative way to reach this remote region. For those who prefer to take the scenic route, traveling by road through Dunai, the district headquarters of Dolpa, is also an option.

Phoksundo lake

As you make your way to Phoksundo, you’ll be captivated by the symphony of nature. Rivers accompany you throughout the journey, their constant roaring providing an ever-present backdrop. The old-growth forests that envelop you along the trek are a balm for the soul. Take a moment to appreciate the power of these rivers, which have carved majestic gorges over countless millennia.

Ringmo Village

Ringmo village, next to Phoksundo Lake, is the largest settlement in the region. Here, life is simple and connected to nature. You can try locally brewed alcohol and savor local potatoes while enjoying the serenity of the place.

Families in Ringmo are engaged in the harvesting of potatoes, a crop vital for survival in these arid lands. These potatoes are preserved under the soil for winter consumption, in a testament to sustenance farming, one of the region’s primary sources of food.

Phoksundo lake

One of the most enriching aspects of travel is connecting with the people you meet on your journey. In Ringmo, we experienced the simplicity of life as we joined locals in the fields and shared in their daily activities. The warmth and kindness of the people we met were a powerful reminder that life’s true beauty lies in simple moments and the connections we make along the way.

A Touching Reunion

Our journey led us to reunite with an old lady. We talk to her not by her name, we call her in the Nepali Language Aama. She is a local who welcomed us into her home during a previous visit to Dolpa.

We shared meals of buckwheat bread and baked potatoes and offered assistance in gathering firewood and water. This reunion was a heartwarming reminder of the bonds formed while traveling and the importance of sharing life’s joys with those we meet.

Phoksundo lake

Phoksundo Lake: A Gem in the Himalayas

The ultimate prize of this extraordinary trek is Phoksundo Lake. Nestled in the heart of Shey Phoksundo National Park, this alpine freshwater lake is a visual masterpiece. It is the largest and only trans-Himalayan national park in Nepal, encompassing the districts of Dolpa and Mugu in midwestern Nepal. The park is also home to various religious sites, including the famed Shay Gompa in Upper Dolpo, established in the 11th century.

Phoksundo lake

The Bon Religion

Dolpa is a land of diversity, not just in its landscapes but in its religious practices. While closely related to Buddhism, the native pre-Buddhist religious tradition of Tibet, known as Bon. The Bon is still practiced in these parts. Followers of the Bon religion, known as Bonpos. Bonpos coexist with Buddhist monks who inhabit monasteries and serve as guides to the spiritual treasures of the region.

Phoksundo lake

Experience at The Shey Hotel

The trek to the legendary Shey Hotel is an unforgettable experience. This remote and isolated place is so quiet that monks come here to meditate. It’s a sanctuary where the connection between nature and spirituality is palpable. The tranquility of the surroundings is punctuated by the silent meditation of the monks. It provides a rare opportunity for inner reflection.

Phoksundo lake

Rinmo to Cholufu

The journey from Rinmo to Cholufu is not for the faint-hearted. It involves trekking along cliffs and ridges that surround Phoksundo Lake. The sight of locals navigating these treacherous paths as their daily commute is a humbling reminder of life’s challenges and the resilience of the human spirit.

Phoksundo lake

Riker Village

While heading back, consider taking the alternative route through Riker Village. This lesser-traveled path offers a different perspective on the beauty of Dolpa. The welcoming locals, traditional architecture, and serene landscapes in this hidden gem are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Throughout our journey we encountered a diverse array of people. Each with a unique story to share. The warm hospitality and genuine kindness we experienced from the locals made our trek truly special. Dolpa isn’t just a place it’s an opportunity to connect with the heartwarming people who call this remote corner of the world home.

As we prepared to leave Dolpa, our hearts were filled with gratitude for the extraordinary experiences and connections we had made. The monk who had joined us on our journey hosted us for a cup of coffee, an intimate gesture of friendship. It was time to bid farewell to the tranquil beauty of Phoksundo Lake, the friendly faces we had met, and the simplicity of life we had embraced.

You can watch a full Travel documentary of a Nepali traveler by clicking here

Enclosing journey

Phoksundo Lake in Dolpa, Nepal, is a hidden treasure that awaits those willing to venture off the beaten path. It’s a place where nature’s grandeur meets the warmth of the people who call it home.

The trek through Shey Phoksundo National Park is an epic adventure that immerses you in the beauty of the Himalayas, the traditions of the Bon religion, and the serene simplicity of life in Dolpa. It’s a journey that offers a deeper understanding of the world and a profound connection with the people and places that make it extraordinary.

As we conclude our travelogue, we invite you to share the beauty of Dolpa and Phoksundo Lake. Keep in touch with us and let the world discover the enchantment of this remote corner of Nepal. In the end, it’s a reminder that travel is not just about the places you visit, it’s about the people you meet and the stories you collect along the way.

Map to Phoksundo Lake


What is the best time to visit Phoksundo Lake?

The best time to visit Phoksundo Lake is during the spring (March-May) or fall (September-November) when the weather is mild and sunny.

How do I get to Phoksundo Lake?

There are two ways to get to Phoksundo Lake: by plane or by road. The nearest airport is Juphal Airport, which is about a 2-day trek from the lake. There are also regular buses from Kathmandu to Dunai, the district headquarters of Dolpa. From Dunai, you can take a jeep or hike to Phoksundo Lake.

What is the trek to Phoksundo Lake like?

The trek to Phoksundo Lake is moderately difficult and takes about 5-7 days.

What is there to do around Phoksundo Lake?

Besides hiking and camping, there are a number of other things to do around Phoksundo Lake. You can visit the Ringmo Monastery, hike to the Shey Gompa in Upper Dolpa, or explore the surrounding villages. You can also go fishing, boating, or birdwatching.

What are some of the challenges of trekking in Dolpa?

Dolpa is a remote region with limited infrastructure. The trails can be challenging, and the altitude can be difficult to adjust to. It is important to be well-prepared before embarking on a trek in Dolpa.

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