The Tsum Valley is a sacred Himalayan pilgrimage valley situated in a trans-Himalayan region of Gorkha, Nepal. The Tsum Valley's acquaintance with Tibet, natural beauty and its pristine culture make this trekking unique. Tsum comes from the Tibetan work 'Tsombo', which means vivid. 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. The local people are mostly of Tibetan origin and seak a unique dialect. Trails are strewn with artistic chortens and lined with mani walls made of thousands of stone slabs carved with deities and prayers. The Tsum valley has a long history of Buddhism. The Buddhist saint Milarepa is believed to have meditated in the caves of there mountains. Traditionally Tsum valley was a culturally distinct geographical area called 'Tsum Tso Chuksum', which means thirteen provinces ruled as a single territory. The ancient remains of the Tsum Kingdom are still visible today. Due to its remotemness and inaccessibility, this sacred valley and its people have been by passed by mainstream development for centuries. As a result, the unique culture of this valley has remained intact.
|Activity||Trekking in Nepal|
|Max Altitude||0 m|
|Final Dest||Tsum valley|
|No. of Days||27|
|Activities Per Day|
|No Map Available|
Kathmandu arrival/ tranfer to hotel.
Kathmandu rest/preparation day.
Drive to Khahare/Ringne (135 km / 7 hrs) and hike to Phulkharka (4 hrs?). Approaching Phulkarka, we pass through pristine Hindu villages with terraced farms rolling down to the river and are treated to panoramic valley views as well as distant vistas of the soaring Himalayan summits of Ganesh and Manaslu. We camp at a scenic and quiet location near Phulkarka.
We spend an relaxing day exploring Phulkarka and preparing for tomorrow's trek.
We begin with a gradual climb to the village of Majhuwa, then our trail levels out and contours around the broad slopes of Ganga Jamuna (2923m), atop which a large white stupa serves as a shining beacon to everyone below. We pass through villages of Brahmin, Chhetri and Tamang people, and continue to our camp in Manbu, a predominantly Gurung village. Along the way, we enjoy sweeping views of the valley below, as well as inspiring views of mammoth Baudha Himal in the distant Manaslu range.
We descend rapidly to the Budhi Gandaki river, cross a suspension bridge, then climb upstream to join the main Tsum and Manaslu trekking route that originates in Arughat. From here it is a gradual ascent with several river crossings before reaching our camp in the village of Machhikhola. Although we enjoy the convenience of suspension bridges, you'll see a cable and pulley system that locals sometimes use to cross the river.
Our trail takes us along the sandy banks of the Budhi Gandaki river as we slowly ascend to Jagat, a clean and charming stone-paved village with many flower gardens. The valley gets narrower and more-sparsely populated as we climb higher, and snow-capped Sringi Himal (7187m) elusively peeks out as the trail winds its way between steep valley walls.
Overnight stay in tents
After Jagat, we enter the Manaslu Conservation area. This is home to the Gurung people, whose culture has been influenced by Hindus in the lower valley and Tibetans in the upper valley. Further upstream, the Budhi Gandaki river veers westward towards Manaslu, while we turn east up the Shiar Khola river canyon. The landscape changes noticeably to a refreshing alpine mix of pine trees and grassy slopes. Welcome to Tsum valley! We camp in the one-shop village of Lokpa.
Our trail descends to the banks of the swift-flowing Shiar Khola, then passes through verdant forests and Sardi Gorge, squeezed between the narrowing flanks of the towering Shringi and Ganesh Himal. An abandoned old trading trail above appears to almost float across exposed and precipitous walls, while we enjoy a wider and more reliable new trail. We climb a steep ridge, then drop again to a bridge crossing of Shiar Khola, where the final climb of the day takes us to our camp in the ancient village of Chumling. The village is perched on a steep hillside amid ample fields of seasonal crops and offers magnificent views of the Ganesh Himal to the northeast.
We descend to the riverside village of Dumje, where we can enjoy lunch and dangle our dusty feet in the water. Then we climb steeply along the north side of the river, seeing more snow-capped Himalayan peaks appear until we reach our camp in Chhokangparo village. Welcome to upper Tsum valley. An abundance of stone-stacked chortens and mani walls greet us and serve to ward off misfortune. Chhokangparo has a more Tibetan atmosphere than villages in lower Tsum valley.
Today, the valley opens wide, the trail flattens, and towering mountain walls soar high overhead. We see many stone-fenced pastures, grazing land, mani walls, chortens and a stupa as we approach Chhule the highest village occupied year-round in Tsum valley. Its architecture frequently reflects the more ancient styles and symbols of Tibetan Buddhism, and Milarepa Piren Phu cave, with its private retreat, emanates an atmosphere of esoteric mysticism. A large powerful waterfall cascades from high above Chhule to the valley floor far below. We camp on the grassy bank of the upper Shiar Khola just upstream of the village.
Our trail climbs slowly but steadily higher through alpine meadows interspersed with Juniper and Larch trees. We arrive at remote Mu Gompa, the largest monastery in Tsum valley. A 30-minute hike above Mu Gompa brings us to the ancient nunnery (how old?) of Dheron Gumba, where several dozen Buddhist nuns live a secluded, spartan and simple life of meditation, prayer and devotion. Views of many spectacular mountains abound. We camp on a grassy bench just below Mu Gompa.
Today we follow a narrow remote trail that is used by locals, traders and shepherds to reach the high Himalayan meadows, where they collect medicinal plants and graze their horses and yaks during the summer season. We pass by the confluence of the Shiar Khola and Yamdro River and camp in a grassy meadow shortly beyond. Above lies snowy Ngula Dhojyang pass (5093m) that leads into Tibet. There are only a few yak sheds and stone foundations for nomadic shelters at this high altitude due to harsh winters here.
This is high, open and barren land encircled by the surrounding Yangdol and Puchen Himal. Wild animals like Blue sheep and Mountain Thar can often be spotted travelling across the upper slopes, while yaks and horses graze in the valley meadows. The lighting at this elevation is often inspiring bright, clear and shimmering. Locals sometimes travel through Yamdro enroute to Tibet over nearby Yamdol Pass (5,326m).
From Yamdro, our trail climbs up high rugged terrain to a high saddle (5066m) before descending to seasonal camps at Sangti, Dhaldang and down to our camp at Chhekya. The pristine alpine landscape is inspiring and reminiscent of ancient Tibetan fables and tales. Welcome to the top of the Tsum world!
Today, our trail descends along the banks of the tumbling Changmam Khola, back to its confluence of the Shiar Khola. Along the way we see occasional stone yak sheds and as well as occasional herds of Blue sheep. We camp on a scenic and grassy ridgetop bench at Khalung.
Overnight stay in tents
Finally descending from the high pristine Tibetan landscapes of the past three days, we head back down along the Shiar Khola and across the wide valley below until we reach the red-roofed Buddhist nunnery at Rachen Gompa. Established in 1936, it now houses over 100 maroon-robed nuns, many of whom join the monastery at only 7 years of age. We camp on a grassy shelf overlooking the neighboring village of Lamagaun and the gently-flowing Shiar Khola.
We drop significantly in elevation today as our trail descends to the warmer climes at Dumje near the confluence of the Shiar Khola with the Laudang and Ghaughung Khola. We cross over the river on a wood cantilever bridge to our camp in Dumje.
Our trail today initially climbs steeply up through dense rhododendron and pine forests. Ganesh III (7110m) soon pops into view before us while, to the west, an inspiring vista of the distant Manaslu range also appears. The valley we are now entering has the feel of a secret amphitheater, containing a circle of numerous soaring Himalayan giants, including Ganesh I (7429m), Ganesh II (7111m), Ganesh IV (7052m) and Ganesh III (7110m). We camp near an ancient Buddhist nunnery (800+ years old) that clings to a vertiginous hillside with a sweeping panorama of the Ganesh amphitheater. Known as Gumba Lungdang, it is the most remote nunnery of all Tsum valley.
We follow a narrower and windy trail today upwards through beautiful deciduous forests, some old-growth Fir trees and across several tumbling streams. We ascend to the shrubby alpine terrain and glacial moraines located between the bases of soaring Ganesh I and Ganesh III. We climb a ridge overlooking the awe-inspiring Ganesh amphitheater, as well as the Toro Gompa Glacier, slowly receding far below our feet.
We descend today back to Dumje before following the shaded trail along the lush banks above the Shiar Khola. We traverse two old wood cantilever foot bridges high across deep side canyons before arriving at our camp near Ripchet...a ridgetop village boasting an abundance of good farmland. The narrow and winding stone-lined trails through the village take many unexpected turns and are fun to explore.
From Ripchet, we descend through verdant forests and across several streams as we make our way back through Lokpa, the confluence of the Shiar Khola and Budhi Gandaki rivers, and officially exit Tsum valley. We camp in the slopeside village of Philim, sometimes meeting other trekkers headed up to the Manaslu region
Our trail continues to descend along the Budhi Gandaki valley, passing through the village of Tatopani where a hot water shampoo and rinse feels very refreshing. We camp at Khorla Beshi, where the owner grows coffee and many other fruit trees.
We proceed downstream, passing a huge landslide on the opposite side of the valley and walking on sandy beaches along the shore of the Budhi Gandaki. Later, we gradually climb to a grassy camp at Lapubeshi, complete with a simple but refreshing cool water shower.
Lapubeshi (880m / 20 km / 6 hrs.)
Kathmandu an easy day.
Departure/ drive to airport.