Tsum Valley Trekon Friday, December 14, 2012
The remote Tsum Valley has only been open to trekkers since 2008. In the past few years several teahouses and pleasant homestays have also been opened along this route. The Tsum Valley is a sacred Himalayan pilgrimage valley in close proximity to Tibet. Its unspoiled natural beauty and its pristine culture make this trekking area unique. Tsum comes from the Tibetan work ‘Tsombo’, which means “vivid”; the significance of which is abundantly clear as you gaze upon the sparkling mountain vistas. Against the majestic backdrop of the Ganesh Himal, Sringi Himal and Baudha Himal ranges, this serene Himalayan valley is rich in ancient art, culture, and religion. Trails are strewn with artistic chortens and mani walls carved with deities and prayers. The Buddhist saint Milarepa is believed to have meditated in the mountain caves and the ancient remains of the Tsum Kingdom are still visible today. Due to its remoteness and inaccessibility, this sacred valley and its people have been bypassed by mainstream development for centuries, and the unique culture of this valley has remained intact.
Highlights of the trek
Challenging and uncrowded trekking experience, unspoiled Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and local culture, magnificent views of Ganesh Himal and Shringi Himal. Visits to Milarepa cave and the remote villages and gompas of the “Tsomba” people.
Daily from late September to early December and February to late June.
Itinerary can be customized according to your needs and length of stay if you are not planning to join a scheduled group trek.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu(1400 m)
We will meet your arrival flight at the Kathmandu International Airport and transfer you to your hotel. You will have time to rest or enjoy strolling around on your own to see some of the local sights while we complete your trek permits and preparations.
Day 2: Sightseeing / Cultural Day in Kathmandu Valley
Half day sightseeing around UNESCO Bhaktapur / Kathmandu where your guide will escort you on a tour of Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines reflecting ancient local traditions. There is time to explore the city’s many places of interest on your own or take a rest while trekking permits are finalised. In the evening sample a delicious traditional Nepali dinner. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 3: Kathmandu to Arughat(570m)
An early departure from Kathmandu travelling by road via the Prithvi highway After a few hours before Malekhu we turn north taking the single track road for Dhading Besi and beyond to Arughat- the last hour or so on a dusty section. Because of the roughness of this road we recommend a private 4WD rather than local bus.
Day 4: To Soti Khola(730m)
Most of this stage is easy walking along a flat road while scenery of rice fields, waterfalls and greenery unfolds as you pass through villages along the way. Arkhet Bazar (620m) is interesting for its old main bazaar road and the gushing Arkhet Khola where the local children bathe. (3 – 4 hrs)
Day 5: To Machhekhola(930m)
Soon after leaving Soti Khola the trail enters into a rougher part of the Budhi Gandaki, and goes up and down and with numerous rocky parts. We’ll see larger waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. Some parts of the trail are particularly narrow or we must cross landslides requiring extra care, especially when mule supply convoys are on the trail. Tropical vegetation adds its charm, together with the thrilling suspension bridges that are regular attraction on this trek. Machekhola (“fish river”) is a pleasant village built on the slopes of the hill. (5-6 hrs.)
Day 6: To Jagat (1340m)
We continue trekking up and down the valley walls along the western side of the Budhi Gandaki until reaching Tatopani, a tiny village of a few houses on the narrow trail between the gushing Budhi Gandaki and a tremendous cliff. As we pass Doban and approach Jagat the valley opens up into a broad expanse with plenty of room to walk along the river bed in most seasons. Jagat is a very picturesque Gurung village with slate-paved streets. We’ll stop at the Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) Office here to register our trekking permits, and will be able to learn about MCAP activities in the region. (6 hrs)
Day 7: Jagat To Lok Pa (2240m)
The trail from Jagat descends to the pleasant village of Salleri. It also has a slate paved main street and friendly villagers. About 2 and half hours from Jagat you reach Sirdibas (1430m), a compact village with nice stone houses and slate roofs. We then pass the small village of Ghote Khola before crossing the Budhi Gandaki on one of the longest suspension bridges of this trek, followed by a steep climb to Philim.
Above Philim the sheer scale and the feeling of being truly amongst the mighty Himalaya is evident at every turn. We cross the Budhi Gandaki yet again, the trail hugging the cliff-side, up and over ridge backs, as we gaze across the valley at cascading waterfalls. Within two hours the trail splits, with one route heading northwest up the Manaslu Circuit towards the Larkye La pass, and our route heading northeast along the Syar river toward the Tsum Valley. After a steep climb through pine forest the trail levels out and we reach the Lokpa where there is a small teahouse on the main trail a few hundred meters below the village. (5 hrs)
Day 8: Lok Pa to Chumling (2386m)
Although we will only gain a few hundred meters altitude overall today it will be up and down all the way along the steep valley walls above the Syar river. We start by descending down to the river, then climb steeply and staying high above the river for a long stretch before returning to cross an old bridge to the north side. From here it’s a steady climb up to Chumling, surrounded by open meadows and planted fields that contrast starkly with the deep forest on the opposite side of the valley. We will overnight at the spacious teahouse here with splendid views. Across the valley we can spot the trail leading through Ripchet, an alternate route from Lok Pa. (4 hrs).
Day 9: Chumling to Chukkum Paro (3031m)
After an easy start today along a gentle downward trail we’ll cross the river again. From here it’s mostly straight up for a few hours, first through a mix of pine and deciduous forest, then opening up to arid terrain of the high plateau with broad meadows and squat shrubbery. As we crest the plateau about 15 minutes before reaching Chukkum Paro the Tsum Valley opens up and we see the full breadth and depth of this geological wonder.
When we reach Chukkum village you will be fully enveloped in the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the indigenous “Tsumbos”. Small gompas dot the outskirts of the village where solidly built slate-roofed houses are packed closely together, like herds of yaks shielding themselves against harsh winter weather. During the trekking season though you can expect warm, sunny days with chilly evenings. (4 hrs).
Day 10: Nile/Chule (3300m)
It’s an easy hike along well-constructed trailsand through primitive yet quite neat little villages toward the larger villages of Chule and Nile, which face weach other on opposite sides of the Syar river at the base of the comma-shaped, steep valley leading up to Mu Gompa. A huge headwall with an icy waterfall dominates the background of Chule. About 100 meters above the village looms a 700 year old Buddhist monastery that we can visit before or after crossing the river to Nile where we will stay in a comfortable and hospitable local home. This will be a relatively easy day with lots of time in the afternoon for relaxation and exploration. (4 hrs)
Day 11: Mu Gompa (3700 m) and Nile
We will start the trek early alongside the Syar river leading up the valley to Mu Gompa. The trail steepens sharply as we approach the Gompa after an hour or two of hiking. We will still be engulfed in the shadows of the deep valley but will see the monastery above us lit up brightly as the sun’s rays spill unfettered down another high valley to the east, as through a window. There will be plenty of time to explore the monastery complex and its gompa. The views looking back down the valley toward Ganesh Himal are spectacular, with the stark valley terrain serving as a perfect backdrop for the sparkling whiteness of the snow-capped peaks surrounding us. Depending on our trek pace and group interests it may also be possible to explore other gompas and vistas in the mountains surrounding Mu Gompa. There are overnight accommodations at Mu Gompa where we will have the option of staying, or return to Nile (one and a half hours away) for the night. (5 hrs)
Day 12: Chumling
As we start to make our way down the valley you will have a different mountain views, dominated by the broad face of Ganesh Himal. You should also have a fresh and well-informed perspective on the region and its culture as you revisit the villages and people along the route home. Along the way we will stop at Ranchen Gompa, a sprawling nunnery that hosts hundreds of Buddhist aspirants from around the world each year.
As we approach Chumling the terrain will once again be transformed, this time from arid high plains to verdant forests.
Day 13: Phillim
We descend rapidly from the Tsum Valley today, although not without some challenging ascents and descents on the valley walls, before reaching Lok Pa where we will have lunch. From Lok Pa, we soon meet the Budhi Gandaki river again as we make our way back to Phillim. At the juncture of the Syar and Budhi Ghandaki below Lok Pa the trail splits off to the Manaslu Circuit route heading northwest. This is where the combined Manaslu/Tsum trek route diverges, while we continue south. Our overnight accommodations at the Phillim guest house will offer significantly more comfort and services than we’ve had access to up in the Tsum Valley. From here to Arughat we will be staying again in guest houses rather than homestays.
Day 14: Khorlabesi
Although there will still be some ups and down as we pick our way over landslides and narrow valley trails on both sides of the river, the going will be much easier from here on. Khorlabesi is a friendly little village with the distinction of having very good “local coffee”. (5 hrs)
Day 15: Lapubesi
We continue our return along the downward slope of the Budhi Ghandaki. Before reaching Lapubesi we again reach a suspension bridge that we crossed on the way up the valley. Coming from this direction we will see several magnificent, interconnected waterfalls cascading down the in front of us. At our teahouse accommodations in Lapubesi we can enjoy beautiful vistas over the river and across the high valley. (4 hrs)
Day 16: Arughat Bazaar
We start the day with more challenging trekking up and down the valley walls and across some landslides. By the time we’ve reached Soti Khola the trail will have become a mostly level road with occasional local traffic. Arriving in Arughat by mid-afternoon we will have time to explore the town and celebrate our trek. (5 hrs)
Day 17: To Kathmandu (or Pokhara)
We return to Kathmandu or Pokhara by bus or private vehicle and arrive at our hotel before evening.
Day 18: Departure
After breakfast and depending on the time of your departure flight you can enjoy shopping or sightseeing in Kathmandu before transfer to the international airport.
The trek program is – because of weather or unforeseen events – subject to change.
Services and costs included in the price
- International and domestic airport pick-up and drop-off
- Three nights hotel accommodations with breakfast in Kathmandu
- Licensed and trained trekking guides
- Porters for carrying luggage and supplies
- All accommodations (teahouse lodges) during trek
- All meals with hot beverages whilst trekking
- All necessary documents and permits for trekking
- Trek equipment including sleeping bag and down jacket
- First aid supplies
- Insurance equipment for staff
- Coordination of Rescue service (costs covered by your insurance plan)
- Guided tour of World Heritage sites in Kathmandu area
- Traditional Nepali welcome dinner
Services and costs NOT included in price
- International airfares
- Travel/trekking insurance
- Excess baggage charges more than 16kg and hand bag more than 5kg in domestic flights
- Nepal visa fees
- Airport departure tax
- Rescue charge
- Bottled drinks (cold and alcoholic)
- Expenses of personal nature
- Lunches and dinners whilst not trekking