Tsum Valley Trek -an offbeat trekking in the foothill of Manaslu & Ganesh that caters the unexplored landscapes and authentic Tibetan culture in the monasteries dotted in remote highland villages.
The Tsum Valley is a sacred Himalayan pilgrimage valley situated in northern Gorkha district of Nepal. Tsum comes from the Tibetan word “Tsombo” which means vivid. The trail heads up the valley of the Budi Gandaki River through wild and unexplored country inhabited mainly by members of the Gurung ethnic groups. Good cup of the local cultivated natural coffee and Tatopani hot springs will help you to relax on this intensive trial.
Upper Tsum valley (part of the Inner Himalaya) open from Chhokangparo, where hospitable local people (Tibetan group “Tsombo”) welcome you with traditional Tibetan Chiya (butter tea) and local meal. The Tsum Valley is extremely rich in cultural assets. The valley is dotted with gompas (Buddhist monasteries), chortens and mani walls. The longest mani walls (over 250m) are at Dzong and Phurpe. The valley preserves steps of the great Buddhist Yogi Chyuchin Milarepa and story about Guru Padmasambhava circumbulation. The people here never slaughter animals, even as sacrifice to the gods. The Tsum Valley is surrounded by the Buddha Himal and Himal Chuli to the west, Ganesh Himal to the south, and Sringi Himal to the North.
Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 From Kathmandu drive to Arughat Bazaar (8-9 hrs)
Day 3 Trek Arughat to Soti Khola (6-7 hrs)
Day 4 Trek Soti Khola to Machha Khola (6-7 Hrs)
Day 5 Trek Machha Khola to Doban (6-7 hrs)
Day 6 Trek Doban to Philim (6 hrs)
Day 7 Trek Philim to Chumling (Lower Tsum) (7 hrs)
Day 8 Trek Chumling to Chhokangparo (Upper Tsum) (5-6 hrs)
Day 9 Trek Chhokangparo to Nile/Chhule, visit Milarepa Piren Phu Cave on the way (6-7 hrs)
Day 10 Trek Nile/Chhule to Mu Gompa (3700 m), visit Dhephyudonma Gompa (4060 m) (4 hrs)
Day 11 Extra day for excursion
Day 12 Trek Mu Gompa to Rachen Gompa, visit Gonhgye Gompa (Nyigma-pa Buddhist sect) (5 hrs)
Day 13 Trek Rachen Gompa to Dumje (6-7 hrs)
Day 14 Trek Dumje to Philim (cross Ripchet) (6-7 hrs)
Day 15 Trek Philim to Tatopani (6-7 hrs)
Day 16 Trek Tatopani to Soti Khola (6-7 hrs)
Day 17 Trek Soti Khola to Arughat Bazar (6-7 hrs)
Day 18 From Arughat Bazar drive to Kathmandu (8-9 hrs)
Day 19 Depart Kathmandu
It's a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. And as your plane hits the tarmac, our waiting support team will meet and greet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. Welcome drinks will be served and over night at your hotel..
From Kathmandu drive to Arughat Bazaar (8-9 hours)
We take an 8-9 hrs bus ride to Arughat Bazaar in Gorkha district. The village of Arughat is in two parts, on opposite sides of the Buri Gandaki. Arughat Bazaar is large, clean and prosperous with hotels and shops selling cloth, food and hardware..
Arughat to Soti Khola (6-7 hours)
From Arughat Bazar we trek to Soti Khola. Along the way we enjoy splendid views of Shringri Himal. We trek through Gurung and Magar villages, past fields and cascading waterfalls, till we reach Soti Khola.We set up camp on the banks of the Soti Khola(‘khola' means river in Nepali)..
Soti Khola to Machha Khola (6-7 hours)
We trek from Soti Khola to Machha khola (Fish river). Machha khola is a village situated above a stream with the same name. We camp for the night by a wide campsite. .
Machha Khola to Doban (6-7 hours)
The trail from Macha Khola to Doban involves some steep ascents and descents. We climb a well – crafted staircase over a ridge to Doban. Doban lies at the confluence of the Shiar Khola, which flows from the east, and the Sarpu khola, which flows from the west..
Doban to Philim (6 hours)
The route climbs ona rugged rocky trail. We climb up and down ravines and notched trees. We get good views of Sringri himal as we continue up to the village of Philim at 1550m.This is a large Gurung village with fields of corn and millet. There are several good campsites and we set up camp surrounded by alder, blue pine and poplar trees..
Philim to Chumling (Lower Tsum) (7 hours)
We take the trail up through Philim and head up over a ridge that leads to Ganesh Himal Base camp and Chumling( Lower Tsum). We camp for the night at Chumling. There are several good campsites at Chumling..
Chumling to Chhokangparo (Upper Tsum) (5-6 hours)
From Chumling we trek to Chhokangparo. Upper Tsum valley (part of the Inner Himalaya) open from Chhokangparo.Chhekamparo is a village situated on flat land and made up of two settlements Chhekam and Paro. From the valley, the Ganesh Himal range can be seen directly to the south where it provides spectacular views of the Baudha and Himal chuli peaks to the south-west. Some households in this village practice polyandry..
Chhokangparo to Nile/Chhule, visit Milarepa Piren Phu Cave on the way (6-7 hours)
From Chhokangparo we trek to Nile/ Chulle. This is the last village heading north in the upper Tsum Valley. Nile is on the western, sun-side of the Shiar Khola, about 20 minutes walk across from Chhule.
On the way we pass the Piren Phu cave. Piren Phu (pigeon cave) is one of the most sacred caves in the Tsum valley. It is located at the foot of a rugged cliff near the village of Burji. Milarepa, the famous Tibetan saint, was believed to have meditated here. There are two separate gumbas attached to the rocky cave. Richly painted Buddhist murals, excellent artistic scripts carved on stones, long prayer flags and significant Buddhists paper scripts make this cave one of the most important socio-cultural asset in the valley.
Beautiful views can be had of the Shiar Khola, Rachen Gumba, the mountains and settlements amidst vast agricultural land. .
Nile/Chhule to Mu Gompa (3700 m), visit Dhephyudonma Gompa (4060 m) (4 hours)
From Nile the trail gradually ascends to Mu gumba, the largest monastery in the region. Mu Gumba is located at the highest and farthest point in the Tsum valley. Mu Gumba was established in 1895 AD and is situated at an altitude of 3510m.The monastery houses religious books, including Kangyur, a life sized statue of Avalokiteshwara, and images of Guru Padmasambhava and Tara..
Extra day for excursion
We take a hike up Mu Gumba and reach the base of Pika Himal (4865m).We are quite close to Tibet and get a good view of the Tibetan peaks as well as the Ganesh Himal range. After the day's excursion we return to our camp at Mu gumba..
Mu Gompa to Rachen Gompa (5 hours)
From Mu Gumba we take the trail to Rachen Gumba, a nunnery. The nunnery is situated in the Shiar Khola Valley in the foothills of the mountains bordering Nepal and Tibet. Rachen Gumba was established in the year 1905 AD and is one of the largest nunneries in the Tsum valley. It houses nuns belonging to the Ngak-pa sect, which does not allow animal slaughter. The nunnery houses one thousand clay, moulded statues of Avalokiteshwara, a brightly colored, carved throne and pillar, and a large prayer wheel. The interior is richly painted with murals about Buddhism and its history..
Rachen Gompa to Dumje (6-7 hours)
From Rachen Gompa we proceed towards Dumje, a small village with about eight houses and adjoining cattle shed. .
Dumje to Philim (cross Ripchet) (6-7 hours)
From Dumje we trek to Philim and cross Ripchet. On the way we pass one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Lower Tsum Valley, Samba Tingding Chhupyang. .
Philim to Tatopani (6-7 hours)
From Phillim we trek to Tatopani. There is a hot spring at Tatopani. You can relieve your tired muscles by soaking yourself in the hot spring..
Tatopani to Soti Khola (6-7 hours)
From Tatopani we trek to Soti Khola. We pass through terraced fields and tropical waterfalls and finally set up camp at the village.
Soti Khola to Arughat Bazar (6-7 hours)
As we make our way from Soti Khola to Arughat Bazar, we come to the last leg of our journey..
From Arughat Bazar drive to Kathmandu (8-9 hours)
We drive to Kathmandu..
Our Nepalese support team will take you to the airport for your flight home. (Or stay longer for short tours such as game drive at National parks, do some wild-water rafting, a Tibet tour or even mountain biking). .
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TRIP GRADE- Moderate to fairly challenging
This is a long trek that goes right into remotest corner of high mountain country and over high pass. Physically quite tiring, it involves approx 6-8 hours trekking along rocky ridges. No previous experience is required, you should be moderately fit, used to some regular exercise and enjoy walking in the high altitude conditions.
We offer several options regarding the organization of your trek:
1) Guide, Accommodation and Porter trek (GAP trek):
This is an abbreviation of Guide Accommodation and Porters (GAP). This option of the trek is for those who want basic support from us. This is the most economic way to do trekking in Nepal. We provide an English speaking local Sherpa guide, book and pay for the accommodation in local lodges during trek and arrange required porters and trekkers pay for meals directly to the local lodge owner. Expect to spend around $25 a day for food. Guide, accommodation and porters are covered in the price.
Includes: Accommodation, guide and porters Excludes: Food
2) Camping trek
On camping trek you will be sleeping and eating on tents. A trekking crew contains one sirdar, one cook and a numbers of kitchen crew, Sherpa assistants and porters depending on the size of the group. Under the leadership of the Sirdar (the local trek leader) the crew will ensure you take the right path. The kitchen crew will keep you well fed with delicious and nutritious meals. The porters shall transport the gear from camp to camp. Our main aim is to make the trek as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible. Sirdar and his assistants speak basic English, good enough to explain to you about the places, local culture or any sight that catches your eyes.
Includes: Guide, Porters, Cook, All meals and tents
3) Lodge or tea house trek
Although simple, the teahouses or lodges do provide shelter and warmth and are normally run by friendly local families. The lodge or tea house treks are less expensive then camping trek and are largely suitable for small group.
Includes: Accommodation in Lodge, guide, porters and all meals
YOUR TREK CAN BE ORGANIZED IN ALL THE 3 WAYS AS MENTIONED ABOVE.
We have a pool of star hotels in Kathmandu. During the trek, rooms are basic, normally just a bed with a pillow and blankets. A few have electric lights and all have a spacious dining room-lounge. We will accommodate you and your group in local lodge available each day. We send a porter ahead of us to book the required rooms for the group (rooms cannot always be booked in advance).You stay in single rooms where possible, but often you will have to share. Please remember that some of them are very basic and a sense of adventure is necessary. It is cheaper to stay in Lodge rather than organizing a camping trek.
Camping trek means sleeping in tents.
On a camping trek, the tents provided are ‘Two men dome’ or ‘A’ shaped. Foam mattress with insulation underneath is provided for sleeping. Clients need to have their own sleeping bag. Bags or cloth packs are used as pillows. If you wish, you can bring your own ‘Air pillow’.
Meals are included in our price and are taken in Lodges available along the trail. You can find a considerable variety of Nepali and Western food as well as drinks (coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, and beer).
Meals are prepared by our cook. We provide three tasty and nutritious meals daily along with drinks.
You will have to make your own eating arrangements in the many Lodges available along the trail. Expect to spend around $25 a day for food. Guide, accommodation and porters are covered in the price.
On camping trek, our staff will boil water and cook meals treated by potassium permanganate or iodine. On GAP trek and Lodge trek, you will be able to buy safe hot drinks in the tea house.
We recommend you to bring water purification pills.
LUGGAGE WHILE TREKKING
During the trek, your main luggage will be carried by porter or yaks. Please keep your luggage as light as possible around 12 to 15 kgs. You simply carry a day pack with water bottle, camera, sun-screen, spare jacket etc. You can leave your valuable items at your hotel while trekking. Many hotels have a locker system and provide a deposit slip for the valuables kept under the hotel's safekeeping.
GROUP LEADER AND CREW
We provide different options concerning leadership in order to match your requirements:
1) Western leader
2) Trained Nepali Trek leader (experienced and knowledgeable)
3) Sherpa Guide (handles the logistics and guides you and your team on the trek)
The Sherpa guide (commonly called Sirdar) will be accompanied by a crew of porters. On camping trek, there will be 2/3 porters for each members while on GAP and Lodge trek 1 porter for 2 members.
JOIN A GROUP OR PRIVATE TRIP
Our trips are available on both fixed departure and private basis. If you are looking for a group to join this trip please check our ‘2020 departures’ link for availability, dates and price. If you would like to travel independently, or with your friends, families & colleagues you are invited to choose any of the trips at your convenient timeframe for any number of people (minimum 1 & maximum 100 at a time).
If you want to do something that is not included in our trip list we are ready to tailor a trip to suit your exact requirements. In short, we will make every effort to get you on the trip you want, when you want.
GROUP SIZE ON FIXED DEPARTURE TRIP
If you opt to join our ‘fixed departure trip’, you are likely to be joining people from different countries of any age group except minors. The size of group varies, minimum no of persons required to operate a trip is 2 and the maximum is 12 people.
Lodge trek and Camping trek:
You only need money for table drinks (alcoholic/nonalcoholic beverages), snacks while walking, tips, souvenirs, hot shower (available in some places).
You need to pay for your meals and should expect to spend around $25 a day for your food and snacks.
Tips are appreciated by your support team after the trip. The amount depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. As a suggestion, we advise that you can allocate 5- 10 % of the total tour cost as tips.
The starting and ending point of the trek is Soti Khola, which is connected by a 6/7 hours’ drive from Kathmandu. We will arrange flight and airport pick up and drop transfers as per the itinerary.
For using internet, Wifi service is available in lower altitudes. You can also use Ncell and NTC network (both for internet and mobile network) but they don’t work properly in some places as you go higher. If it is crucial for you to keep in contact with your family or others, we can provide you a mobile satellite phone (rental charge on request).
TREKKING GEARS & EQUIPMENT
Trekking: You will need walking boots, sleeping bag (4 seasons/ -20C rated), waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, water bottle, sun-screen and day pack. Comprehensive list of equipment will be provided once you book your trip. It's not necessary to spend a lot of money buying extra equipment and clothing before your trip. Majority of these gears can be bought or hired at reasonable rates in Kathmandu.
TYPICAL DAY ON TREK
Lodge/ Tea House Trek, GAP Trek & Camping Trek
Each morning after packing our bags and having a good breakfast, we set off on the day's walk. After walking for 3-4 hours we stop for lunch at around midday. The afternoon's walk is generally shorter and we usually arrive at our destination in time for afternoon tea. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the village, doing a bit of washing or simply relaxing with a good book. On some days we will arrive at our destination by lunchtime and the entire afternoon will be free. After dinner, the evening will often be spent playing cards and reliving the day's adventures, before heading off to bed for a well-earned sleep.
However, on a camping trek, you begin your day with a hot cup of tea which will be served to you in the tent at 6 am, followed by a bowl of hot water for washing. Other day activities are the same as mentioned above.
MEETING AND GREETING IN KATHMANDU
You need to pass on your International flight details to us for a “meeting and greeting” service at airport. You just pass on the Customs and come out of the Terminal building where you will see someone standing with a placard with either ‘Explore Himalaya’ or your name written on it. Our airport representative or tour officer will greet you and welcome you with a garland.
The itineraries for each trip should be taken as a guideline only. Depending on the prevailing situation, you can modify it to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of trek completion should always coincide with the original itinerary. You should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip into the remotest region, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in itinerary. In such cases, we or your guide will suggest the best alternative similar to your original.
We ensure liability as indicated in itinerary and list of services. If the holiday is cut short or completed earlier than the projected period upon client’s wish, we shall not be responsible or make refund against unutilized days or services. Clients need to pay for Hotels/services incurred in Kathmandu or elsewhere in such cases.
In addition to your trek, we can organize extensions both within Nepal and other neighboring countries. You may want to try water rafting or a jungle safari in Nepal or Nepal Cultural Tour. You may as well take a trip to Tibet, India or Bhutan, whichever seems more appealing to you..
All visitors except the Indian nationals must hold passport and valid visa. Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulates abroad. You can also get “On Arrival Visa” at entry points. Some countries’ nationals need to get visa prior their arrival. Please check http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa for detailed information.
Visa can be extended at the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Children under 10 years need not pay any visa fee.
Gratis visa for 30 days available only for tourists of SAARC countries
Multiple entry 15 days - US$ 30 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 30 days - US$ 50 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 90 days - US$ 125 or equivalent convertible currency
Tourist Visa Extension
* Visa extension fee for 15 days or less is US $ 45 or equivalent convertible currency and visa extension fee for more than 15 days is US$ 3 per day
* In case of delay, (less than 150 days), additional US $ 5 per day as late fine.
HEALTH ISSUES AND VACCINATIONS
As vaccination requirements change frequently, we suggest you to consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to the beginning of your trip. We recommend protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis and polio.
The main health consideration in high altitude is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor and purchase them in Kathmandu. Our itinerary will allow your body to acclimatize properly and handle the low oxygen rate.
If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, we highly recommend you consult your doctor about your suitability for trekking in high altitude areas before booking. We suggest that you take some pain-killing pills with you and enough medicine for cold, diarrhea, nausea and fever. Some nasal ointment and throat-moistening pills will greatly help for those who are sensitive to chilly or freezing weather conditions
FIRST AID KIT
We supply a medical bag with standard medicines prescribed by trekking doctors and a user’s manual. Since our staffs/guides are not qualified for suggesting medications to western clients, we would request you to use the medicines upon your own risk. It is safer and more reliable if you have your own medicine kit and not depend on what we have.
RESCUE / EVACUATIONS
In case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we believe will not happen; we will do everything to transfer you to the nearest hospital. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation, please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back to Kathmandu
Before joining a tour, we recommend you to take a travel insurance which should cover cancellation, medical expenses, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation.
CLIMATE AND BEST TIME TO GO
The best seasons to trek in the Manaslu region are Autumn (from mid-September till November end) and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May). Temperatures will drop considerably as you trek higher everyday. The nights are cold (between -10 C to 5C) but the days are sunny and hot (between 10C to 20C). The mornings are usually clear, with clouds building up during the afternoon, disappearing at night. Trekking during the monsoon is not recommended, as the visibility during monsoon is limited. Trekking during the winter is possible; however, it is much colder than Autumn and Spring. March, April, October and November are the most popular and favored months for traveling. Please choose the time that is convenient for you.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
The most prominent ethnic groups in this region are Gurungs, Brahmins, Chhettris, Manangas, Tamangs and Tibetans. The subtropical lowlands are inhabited by people whose dressing and appearance are more typically 'Nepali'. The inhabitants of the upper Budhi Gandaki, a region known as Nupri ('the western mountains'), are direct descendants of Tibetan immigrants. Their speech, dress and customs are quite similar to the neighboring Tibetans. Both Hinduism and Buddhism are practiced in the Manaslu region, however, Buddhism is the predominant religion.
Apart from cultivating rice, millet, corn, tobacco and wheat, the local people also earn their living through trade with Tibet.
Wonderful environment of the Himalayas is also an extremely fragile one. Increasing population density and numbers of trekkers threaten the very beauty of Nepal. At Explore Himalaya, we are extremely conscious about the environment and aim to minimize our impact as much as possible.
As deforestation is one of the greatest environmental threats, we do not have camp fires and use kerosene for cooking as an alternative fuel to wood. We also discourage trekkers from using wood-fuelled hot showers in lodges along the way. Many lodges, however, now provide solar hot showers, a far more eco-friendly alternative.
Garbage disposal is another major problem and some of the busier trails can, at times, appear strewn with litter. Our staff members are well motivated towards eco-friendly practices. We carry out all our garbage, apart from that which can be safely and easily burnt at the campsite. Our aim is to help protect and preserve this beautiful environment for future generations of trekkers to enjoy.
Explore Himalaya works with the motto ‘Development through Tourism’. Keeping in line with this motto, Explore Himalaya Community Service Project (EHCSP) has been conceived to empower underprivileged, marginalized, poor and minority segments of Nepal.
Since its inception, EHCSP has been incessantly facilitating and advocating for school education, health, community development, forest conservation, agriculture and culture preservation. Explore Himalaya encourages its clients to contribute for the development of Nepal.
Care for Porters and Staff
We ensure that all the porters and other staffs going into high altitude conditions are provided with adequate clothing and equipment. We are the first ever company to supply high-altitude porters with crampons. We run the trek according to the guidelines of the International Porter Protection group (IPPG - www.ippg.net).
1) Your booking will be confirmed by email once we receive your deposit of USD 300 and the signed copy of booking form and contract.
The balance is due no later than two months prior to departure. If you book a tour less than 2 months prior to departure, you must send the full payment within 7 days of confirmation by us.
2) If you cancel, the following scale of charges will apply:
2 months before departure – Loss of deposit (US$ 300)
29 days to 2 months before departure – 30% of total trip cost
10 to 28 days before departure – 60% of total trip cost
Less than 10 days before departure – 100% of total trip cost
It is fundamental to acknowledge that this is an adventure tour. This requires some flexibility. The day to day itinerary is taken only as a guideline. We cannot be held responsible for any delays caused by International or domestic flights, strikes, Government regulations, weather or natural casualties etc. In such cases, Explore Himalaya shall provide suitable alternatives which could be decided upon mutual agreement. If an agreement cannot be made, Explore Himalaya shall only be responsible for refunds after deducting the expenses already incurred.
If you have any questions regarding this trip, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly by phone: 977-1-4418100. We answer all enquiries within 24 hours.
Being back for two weeks in Belgium, after another splendid Himalaya trek in Nepal. I wanted to thank you for the great job you have done, in the difficult days in the beginning of October. The Tsum trekking was great, but still we are thinking what it would have been like up there in Dolpo. After reading so many books about the Cristal mountain and his surroundings we are still hoping to get there once… I prefer May 2011 for the new Dolpo trekking.