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Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek – One Of Nepal’s Most Demanding Treks

Updated on December 4, 2020

On this page you will find a comprehensive and impartial guide to the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek.

Discover when to go, what the route entails and other FAQs about the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek.

Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek

The Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek is one of Nepal’s most demanding treks and requires previous experience of high altitude trekking. Rope, ice axe and crampons are usually required and you might need to wear a helmet as some stretches of path are susceptible to small rockfalls.

The Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek is said by some to be the toughest three-week trek in Nepal. The bare minimum duration is 13 trekking days plus two more for acclimatisation, but most trek options are over 20 days long. This can be extended with some side trips such as the option to climb the non-technical Dhampus Peak (6,060m). Since many of the trails on the first half of the trek are rarely used, the services of a guide are highly recommended.

The Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek takes you around the towering form of Mount Dhaulagiri (26,795 feet). Mount Dhaulagiri is the seventh-highest mountain on Earth and was first climbed in 1960. From 1808 to 1848 it was thought to be the highest, although that honour has been held by Everest since 1852.

In the extinct Indian language of Sanskrit, the language of the Kama Sutra, “dhavala” means “white” and “giri” means “mountain.” While other mountains have the same name, this particular white mountain is perhaps the most spectacular. The trek winds up through high alpine pastures, even higher passes and serene, remote valleys.

Please Note

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a big risk on the Dhaulagiri Trek as sudden increases in altitude cannot be avoided on this trek – the ground rises by 23,000 feet in the space of less than 20 miles.

Trekking at such an altitude is a challenge even for fit and very experienced hikers. Acclimatisation is essential, but it cannot guarantee a risk-free completion of the Dhaulagiri Trek.  

Warning: Due to the altitude and remoteness, the consequences of bad weather are much more severe.

Dhaulagiri Trek Map

Dhaulagiri is northwest of Pokhara, in the Dhaulagiri region as seen in the map below.

dhaulagiri-region-map
Trekking Everest: Base Camp, Kala Patar and Other Trekking Routes in Nepal and Tibet (Cicerone Trekking Guides)

There are slim pickings for guidebooks on the Dhaulagiri Trek.

The 2001 guidebook called Trekking Everest: Base Camp, Kala Patar and Other Trekking Routes in Nepal and Tibet (2019) dedicates a chapter to the trek, however, this may be a little out of date. 

There is a trekking map available here.

Dhaulagiri Circuit Typical Itinerary

Dhaulagiri-Circuit-Trek-1

There are several Dhaulagiri Circuit trek itineraries that can be done. Below we have laid out the most popular version – 23 days, leaving from Kathmandu. If you want to make your own way to Pokhara or Beni then you could probably organise this with your operator or guide.

Click each day to read more...

Day 1

Day 2

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Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

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Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Dhaulagiri Circuit Important Information

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the trek cost?

Are permits required for this trek?

When is the best time to trek?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

How difficult is the trek?

What gear do I need?

Do I Need Insurance for the Trek?

climbing-aconcagua-insurance

Climbing insurance is vital for Dhaulagiri Trek. If an accident or incident should occur that requires immediate medical assistance and evacuation you will most definitely want adequate trekking insurance that can cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment.

Make sure you have insurance that covers you for any travel related risks, like lost, stolen, damaged or delayed baggage; interruptions and flight delays and tour operators default.

Please read our article on travel and trekking insurance in Nepal. The article provides great information on what type of insurance you'd need.

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