Just back from a few days in glorious Dhorpatan in Baglung district. The name comes from the flat meadows above the ~4000m high tree-line, which are locally known as patans, and the marshy flat open valley next to which the village itself sits called dhor. If you are a slightly adventurous trekker, trail runner or mountain biker, I can highly recommend visiting Dhorpatan. And by adventurous, I really only mean ready to take things as they come, with simple food and accommodation, and just be ready to direct your trip rather than be led.
Where is Dhorpatan!?
Here it is at a glance. It’s west of Pokhara and the Annapurna region, about a day’s travel by jeep.
Here is a Google Earth representation to show proximity to the mountains.
Why the recommendation? Well, it is just beautiful. Our recce trip lasted just a few days. I was with two mountain bikers who wanted to assess the trails for mountain biking trips in Dhorpatan. You’ll find extremely friendly people, wide, well-made trails, pristine forest and meadows, sparkling rivers, and experience a kind of way-out-there remote feeling.
Additionally, tourists don’t really go there, it is very seldom visited. In 2013 just 88 visited! (Source.) Many of those will be doing a camping trek into Dolpa, from Beni to Dunai, which is part of the Great Himalaya Trail lower route. Some more still we be private hunting parties coming to shoot Blue Sheep and similar for a fat dollar-per-head fee (which then goes to aid conservation efforts). And the rest will be adventurous people like you looking to explore.
You might have heard of the Guerilla Trek. While the name is catchy and stays in the mind, it does not reflect the experience of being there, which is tranquility, peace, friendliness, and an almost complete feeling of detachment from the busy modern world.
“While visiting this otherworldly area, another name may come to mind: The Shangrila Trek…follow it and be transported to a timeless land, … of legendary hospitality.” – Guerilla Trek.org
Man Bahadur who has promoted this area for a long time suggested the name “West Dhaulagiri Trek.” This is nice and locates the area with reference to a well known mountain.
Why is Dhorpatan ‘undiscovered’?
It’s silly to call it undiscovered, but that is often the tourism marketing language used. There are many fabulous places to visit in Nepal but access is, and long has, been an issue. Older webpages talk about three or four-days to hike in or out. There has been a lot of road building in Nepal and so access has changed a lot.
Our trip started in Pokhara and we took a jeep to Baglung, then Burtibang. There the jeep gave up – 2WD was not enough for a river crossing and the poor road conditions. So from here we walked the 6 or so hours to Dhorpatan and it was also a very pleasant walk. We spent a night in a tiny hotel in Bobang and set off early the next morning. So, just one to one and a half days to reach Dhorpatan.
Accommodation around Dhorpatan
Around 4 or 5 years ago the UN Medep programme helped communities build tea-house accommodation. For instance the Dhorpatan tea-house is simple but comfortable. Dal bhat, potatoes, omelettes and the kind of things you can expect to eat. The manager rents the place of the community for a fixed fee per year, so everyone benefits from it. Other simple tea-houses are spaced regularly. If you are a small group or 2 or 3 with guide, then I think you could very easily find accommodation in people’s houses.
Itineraries for Dhorpatan
Our recce itinerary was:
- Drive Pokhara Burtibang, walk Bobang (9 hours)
- Walk Bobang > Dhorpatan (3 hours)
- Return trip to Phalgune pass (~4000 m, 6 hours)
- Loop west in the morning, then walk to Gurjaghat (3 hours)
- Gurjaghat to Jaljala > Darbang (8 hours, hiking, running – long day)
- Jeep from Darbang to Pokhara (5.5 hours)
This below is one itinerary for the Great Himalaya Trail lower route to Dunai, but it requires some camping. If you want other suggestions, please add a comment below.
- Day 1 Kathmandu-Beni (9 hr bus ride) or Pokhara-Beni (4 hr bus ride)
- Day 2 Beni (850 m)-Darbang (1100 m) 6 ½ hrs – this can now be completed by public bus or jeep.
- Day 3 Darbang (1105 m)-Lamsung (2160 m) 8 hrs – part of this can be done by bus also, to Sibang.
- Day 4 Lamsung (2160 m)- Chhentung( 2950 m) via Jalja La (3386 m) 8 hrs – big climb, then gentle easy downhill. Could continue to Dhorpatan from here.
- Day 5 Chhentung( 2950 m)-Thakur (3309) via 2 passes (3691 m and 4160 m) 9 ½ hrs
- Day 6 Thakur (3309 m)-Guibang (2768 m) 7 hrs
- Day 7 Guibang (2768 m)-Campsite Sen Khola (3979 m) 7 hrs
- Day 8 Campsite Sen Khola (3996 m)-Campsite Purpang, Saure Khola (4065 m) 5 hrs
- Day 9 Campsite Purpang, Saure Khola (4065 m)-Dunai (2096 m) via Jang La (4519 m) 10 hrs
- Day 10 Dunai (2096 m)- Juphal 3 hrs
- Day 11 Flight Juphal-Nepalgunj-Kathmandu
See also these (very slow, relaxed) itineraries which go much further west http://www.guerrillatrek.org/itineraries/
Here is a map with a growing amount of information.
Link to this Dhorpatan map in a new window.
Useful links about Dhorpatan
- A printed Dhorpatan map is available from Himalayan Map House.
- More photo images from Dhorpatan on the Great Himalaya Trail Flickr website.
- Dhorpatan on Wikipedia
- Nepal Department of National Parks and wildlife DHORPATAN HUNTING RESERVE
Any questions, please add a comment below.