The beauty of Nepal knows next to no limits. And while some are seeking to trek on some of the world’s tallest peaks, there are of course the times when all you want is to be lost in the quietness of a mighty mountain and a high-altitude lake meandering next to it. So, its time to throw on our trekking shoes and make way to the Phoksunda Lake.
How to reach: Fly down to Kathmandu and from there fly down to Juphal.
Altitude: 11,849 ft
Difficulty level: Moderate
Duration: approximately 7-11 days (subject to pace and logistical planning)
Best time to visit: September to November, March to May
Read about Cat Ba Island in Vietnam, here!
In the large district of Dolpo, this is a trek which awaits with a stunning turquoise freshwater lake at the end but more than that you will find yourself enjoying the way itself. A trek is of course lauded for reaching its highest peak which gives one an inevitable sense of achievement. But the key to truly cherishing a trek lays in savouring the scenery as you make your way to the top, soaking in an embrace of nature every single day. So, whom do you want to see amongst your companions? How do oaks, fir and pine trees sound? Or maybe you’d like some waterfalls?
A little lesser sighted but sure to leave you just as mesmerized is the wildlife hiding within the depths of this route. Species such as the snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, blue sheep, Tibetan sheep and the musk deer tend to get spotted here. They say animals can sense your feeling towards them. Thus, if you are afraid, they fear that you may harm them. If you are welcoming, they just might feel comfortable with you. So, ahhh, who’s up for making a friend?!
Actually, the wildlife is to be credited for having put this trek on the map. Author Peter Mattheissen was in the hopes of sighting a snow leopard as he accompanied naturalist George Schaller in their search for the blue sheep in 1973 through the terrains of Nepal’s Dolpo region. Mattheissen actually even regarded their expeditions as a pilgrimage of sorts for he practiced Zen Buddhism. The accounts were published in 1978 in the book titled “The Snow Leopard”. The award-winning book narrates, “The golden birds fall from the morning sun like blowing sparks that drop away and are extinguished in the dark,” which of course sounds spellbinding enough to send many in search of the same.
The area was conferred a national park status and the trek route specifically was opened up to the general public in 1989.
Beyond the nature and wildlife typical of many treks, here you will witness passing through the hamlets of mountainous villages such as Juphal, Dunai, Kageni, Chhepka and Ringo. If you’re not a fan of camping then you can opt for one of the guesthouses in these villages. But even if you are camping out, I would urge you still visit a few of these villages to get a taste of their lifestyles. In Ringo youo can observe the Bon culture. Bon is a religion of Tibetan origin. Dating back approximately 4,000 years ago, the religion’s practices overlap that of Buddhism, however, Bon is much older than Tibet’s favourite religion of today. If we go further back, “bon” were actually priests who would perform rituals for spirits found in local villages and as well as for ensuring a smooth afterlife of the dead. A number of the pre-Buddhist Tibetan rituals and practices thus came to embody the Bon religion. Their culture and practices have been preserved within this small village of Ringo that the trek takes you through. And within their religion, the lake you are intending on visiting is considered to be sacred, so, make sure to pay your respects to the topaz waterbody.
Read about the Valley of 72 Waterfalls in Nepal, here!
With a depth of 145m, it is the deepest lake in all of Nepal. I’ve always wondered how the phrase “Monday blues” or “feeling blue” came to be coined. It suggests blue to be dull and gloomy when in reality in nature some of the most beautiful things come in the colour blue. From the widest skies to stunning beaches and azure lakes, such as Phoksunda Lake of course. 😊