In Search of Shey Phoksundo lake- Sandeep Pun

Sandeep Pun

I had plans to go on a trek to Shey Phoksundo since long time. Every time, one thing or the other was preventing my adventurous journey.But this year, I finally managed to go on a trek to Shey Phoksundo Lake. Four of my friends and myself departed for the dream lake on 14th Ashwin. Normally, the trekkers fly up to Juphal airport from Nepalgunj and start the trek but we wanted to reach Shey Phoksundo Lake by road route.Shey-Phoksundo Lakethe deepest lake in the country is an alpine fresh water lake in Nepal’s Shey Phoksundo National Park. It is located at an elevation of 3,612m- above sea level in Dolpa district of Karnali province. On the lake’s southern end, the village of Ringmo sits on the 30,000- to 40,000-year-old landslide dam that formed the lake. Past the dam, the water of the lake plunge over a 167 m tall waterfall. The site has great cultural and religious importance. It has the traditional Tibetan culture of the upper Dolpo and both Buddhism and the ancient Tibetan Bon-Po religion of the lower Dolpo- both observed in Ringmo village.

14th & 15th Ashwin: Departed from Kathmandu for Musikot, Rukum by bus

We took a night bus to Musikot, Rukum from Kalanki in Kathmandu. We had booked the tickets earlier in the morning from new bus park. The bus departed at 4pm, 2 hours late due to poor traffic in the capital. The seats were comfortable enough, but the ride was too long. During this travel, we saw a driver who could drive for 24 straight hours (this is bad actually on long route). We reached Musikot in the noon (15th Ashwin). Musikot, Khalanga is the headquarter of Rukum (West) district and is a small settlement atop a hill. We stayed that night at Shishir Guest House, at Musikot

With Musikot Mayor and Administrative Head at Rukum Headquarter

16th Ashwin: Musikot- Aathbiskot/Radi-Tallu by Jeep

We had booked the tickets a day earlier. Early morning at 6:00am, we left for Aathbiskot/Radi. After 4/5 hours long ride we reached the place. We had our lunch at hotel near by Aathbiskot municipality. We had to walk for about 5 minutes from Aathbiskot to reach Khagenkot where we found a Jeep that took us up to Tallu. The road to Musikot-Aathbiskot-Tallu is very rough, but the scenery is amazing. On the way, we found a very beautiful waterfall, Tallu Chhahara. We stopped the jeep for a while and captured some photographs. We walked for about 5 minutes and crossed a trail-bridge to reach the other side of the river from where we could get a vehicle for up to Tribeni. But, we missed the Jeep to tribeni; so we had to wait until the next morning. We stayed at Thuli Bheri Guest House. Two of my friends had to share a room with the cook.

“The cook was very friendly and we enjoyed his company,” they reported the next day. Owner of the hotel was very hospitable and friendly, and it was one of the best stay, we had on the trip.

Jeep decorated like a bride

17th Ashwin: Tallu-Tribeni-Khadang (by jeep) – Tripurakot (6 hours of walking)

We woke up early in the morning, took our breakfast, packed our bags and departed at 7 am. We walked for about 5 minutes and crossed a trail-bridge to reach the other side of the river from where we could get a vehicle up to Tribeni. We had to wait for more than 3 and half a hour for the jeep to get full. But like everywhere in rural Nepal, the driver was not ready to leave on time. He was demanding twice the fair to leave on time. Luckily, a police personnel interfered and finally our journey began after waiting for 4 hours. It was the worst experience, on the whole trip. To our horror the driver was just a 14 years old young boy ! My friends and I were surprised and afraid at same time. After 1 and a half hour drive, he halted for the lunch at his home on the way. The owner of the jeep was our next driver, who did the job following supervision of  the same little driver; who sat besides him. The ride was adventurous for us, though more than 16 people were packed in a vehicle with 14 seats. The three-hour ride seemed like an eternity. We decided to have our lunch and prevent wasting of time. The food was delicious. On the same jeep, we had to pay extra Rs,200 (we already paid Rs500) for the Tribeni – Khadang section and had a 45min drive. We decided to walk for Tripurakot that day. After 6 hours of walking we reached at Arunima hotel,Tripurakot. The owner of the hotel was a government school teacher. He informed us about the cultural and religious importance of Tripurakot. We came to know that Tripurakot village is named after the Goddess Tripura. We were so tired and after dinner we slept quite earlier that day.

Owner of the hotel with his bike, at Tallu

18th Ashwin: Tripurakot-Suligad (by Jeep)- Chhepka (7 hours of walking)

Next morning, we were thrilled to see beautiful mountains and sunrise out there at Tripurakot from the hotel. We walked for another 30 minutes from Tripurakot to reach Supani, where we found a vehicle waiting for us to take us to Suligad. After driving for about 45 minutes, the vehicle dropped us at Suligad, the starting point of the trek. We registered our names at the Nepal Army post. We took lots of photos, which was not waste of time. It took us 2 hours to reach Kagani village and there was 1 and a half hour more to reach Sangta. The trail is not very steep or difficult though. You just walk uphill for a few minutes and then downhill for a few minutes along the river. The host served us one of the most delicious meals of the trip at Sangta. After lunch at Sangta the only lodge available there, we ate some sour pomegranates from the nearby trees and started walking towards Chhepka. Then, we walked for another 3 hours to reach Chhepka village which is one of the largest settlement in the route. At 6:30pm we reached Chhepka and booked two rooms ASAP. We were informed on the way that, all the hotels were already booked. We somehow managed rush to two hotels, for two rooms that night. A seventeen years old young girl served us delicious dal bhat and tea at her hotel in Chhepka. Her name was ‘Yungdong’, she was alone with her small 4 years old brother. She told us that her mother was in upper village and father was on trek to Manang. She was called Pomo, which means sister or young girl. She was on her vacation and served tea, coffee, and food to the passerby to generate income for her family. There in kitchen, we saw hanging Tungna made by her father. One of my friends played it. She was very strong and hardworking, for sure inspiration to all of us. Ewi an old lady from a nearby hotel also came to talk with us. Ewi mean grand mother in the local language. She was enjoying ‘aara’-the local wine and started cracking jokes. She had her own local accent and we nearly fell to the ground and tears rolled down our cheeks, by her funny jokes.

Pomo the amicable girl at Chhepka hotel

19th Ashwin: Chhepka-Pal-Raichi- Samjhana Hotel (5 hours of walking)

 We left Chhepka at 9:30 am after a light breakfast of biscuits and tea. After walking for 1 and half an hour we arrived to Pal (tent house) where we decided to have lunch. Then, walked for another 3 and half hour to reach Samjhana hotel, which was suggested by Pomo . We made a good decision to stay there at Samjhana hotel that day, though we had already reached at around 2pm. We walked countless uphills and downhills, crossed several trail-bridges, passed through varied landscapes to reach at Samjhana hotel. We targated Samjhana hotel that day so that we could reach Shey Phoksundo lake early next morning. We got fine rooms, better hospitality and good service at Samjhana hotel.

Pal where we had our lunch, Rs. 50 per egg



20th Ashwin: Samjhana Hotel-Ringmo- Shey Phoksundo (4 hours of walking)

The trail became very steep, almost like a vertical walk from Samjhana hotel. We left the hotel at 7:30 am after a heavy breakfast of tea, biscuits, chocolates, and dalmot chauchau. The locals are said to take just two hours to reach the lake, but it took us almost four hours. The delay in part was due to the numerous breaks we took to take photographs. For almost three hours, we walked steep uphill to reach a place called Hawa Ghar which has a small hut where you can rest and observe the scenery. From Hawa Ghar, it took us an hour of walk to reach the Shey Phoksundo Lake. The walk from Hawa Ghar is relatively easy, and the trail is so beautiful with trees of different colors and shapes. We reached Shey Phokundo at around 11:30 am and were instantly pulled into the charms of its beauty and magnificence. Looking at its deep blue and serene waters, we forgot the passage of time. Hours turned into a few minutes in the presence of Shey Phoksundo lake. It was worth all the troubles. We experienced snowfall by lake side, it was so cold that we couldn’t walk around. So, we stayed in our rooms and enjoyed the beauty of the lake.

Ewi and the view from hotel

21st Ashwin: Shey Phoksundo – Raichi (6 hours of walking)

22nd Raichi-Chhepka-Suligad(6 hours of walking)- Jufal (45 minutes by jeep)

After conquering Phoksundo, the mesmerizing beauty of Upper Dolpa; we were set for the return to Juphal. The time we spent on the lake absorbed away all the fatigues. And with a great affection, memories, respect and energy; we headed south after finishing our mouthwatering lunch in Kanjirowa hotel. We passed the villages waving good bye and namaste. We talked to the local children and elders clicking their pictures. In between we didn’t fail to call home to hint about the memorable adventure we had. We remember how the road turned shorter after a glimpse of the lake for the first time. Though the road was stiffy, we were running happily. The big stones standing besides the path; kept alive the memories of Maoist revolution of Nepal; carrying the communist symbols and messages. We collected our stuffs we had left in Samjhana hotel. Back along the beauty of flowing blue river reached Raichi for that day. We had to adjust with many guests as it was the only hotel there and we didn’t have enough time to move more further. The stay was a happy one and worthy at the Pahuna hotel. We had to get up very early next morning; figuring the toilet queue as the hotel was full of guests. We had to catch the vehicle at Sulighad fast. So had some breakfast and were the first guests to check out. We stopped at Chhepka, bathed, had lunch and took some rest. We also saw a herd of Yaks on the way. We had some apples and junars on Kageni and finally made it to Suligadh. The long route along the river from the Phoksundu we had crossed various rivers at different places; some were wooden bridges while some were suspension and untimely they were ready for our farewell.

we caught the jeep from Dunai the headquarter to Juphal at Suligadh. We stayed at Tripura hotel, Jufal recommended by one of my childhood friend. The hotel belonged to his uncle Mr.Balkrishna Dangi. He served us very well and also managed plane tickets for us. He even refused to take payment of our fooding and lodging. On 23rd Ashwin we returned back to Nepalgunj by flight.