Such ambivalence has accompanied Nepal’s rapid road-building spree in other parts of the country like Tsum, Manang and Mustang. But perhaps nowhere has the change from no-road to road been as dramatic as here in Dolpo, which was the last district in Nepal not linked by road.
Over on the other side of Mo La pass, at 5,021m, an excavator is clearing a switchback down the rocky slope that follows the trekking trail, which itself followed the ancient trading route from Dolpo to Mustang.
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“The weather is challenging, it is windy and cold on the pass, and we have to bring the diesel up by mule from Mustang,” says excavator operator Padam Bahadur.
Those who own lodges and depend on trekking groups for income are opposed to the road. Even if it is built, they say it should not destroy the traditional trading routes and trekking trails.