To share the experiences of a nearly 5-week trip to Upper Dolpo, you need more than one article on the website.
For this reason, only a brief summary of the most important findings of the trip is presented in this article:
There have been some changes since the last visit in 2018. In particular, the fact that the government has decided to open up Upper Dolpo by building “roads”. You drive up the mountains with big bulldozers, and some of the paths slide down again when it rains. It seems to us that it hasn’t been well thought through, more like aimless “activism”.
There are definitely divided opinions about this infrastructure measure. The younger generation finds this quite good, because it is possible to cover faster distances with a motorcycle. It is also hoped that the transport of goods will become cheaper.
But there are also critical voices, because many jobs are in danger of being lost (mainly in the transport sector with mules, horses and yaks). Tourism could also change drastically.
Climate change is noticeable in the Dolpo. On the one hand due to heavy rainfall and significant landslides in Lower Dolpo. On the other hand, there is a lack of water in some villages and there was heavy snowfall in Upper Dolpo as early as October. We experienced it all first hand. The residents have never experienced weather extremes like this year.
People are suffering considerably from the pandemic because China has kept its borders closed for three years. Trade with Tibet is important. People currently have to buy their goods more expensively in their own country or do without.
The locals of Upper Dolpo continue to urgently need the support of foreign organizations such as the HUMAN Foundation. Education and medical care are still the areas with a very high need for support.
Operations of our winter schools in Saldang and Nyisal is felt to be very important. We have been asked several times to continue to finance these lessons in the long term. The two winter schools for the period 2022/2023 start again in November.
Our new school building in Lhuri has come to a standstill because the timber could not (yet) be transported over the passes due to early snowfall. Construction will continue in 2023, so use will not be possible until the middle of next year. The residents of Lhuri are eagerly awaiting its completion and the children are very much looking forward to it.
Currently in Lhuri there is the shell of five classrooms and two rooms as a hostel for students from other villages. Next year will be two more rooms for the teachers to sleep in and the construction of the school kitchen as well as the roofing of all buildings, floors and a corridor along the classrooms.
Our excellent network is particularly positive and important, both with the local population in many villages and with other foreign organizations (NGO’s) that are active in the Dolpo.
Despite the optically not very nice road construction, a trekking tour to the Upper Dolpo is still a dreamlike experience.
There will soon be a new film about the Dolpo and our projects, which will be completed and published on the website by the middle of the month.