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Do you want to visit the hidden valleys closer to the Kathmandu Valley? Do you want to observe Bon religion, culture and tradition in the Northern Himalayas? I know, your answer is a big “YES!” Tsum Valley Trek is the only option you have for this wonderful experience once in Nepal. Located in the proximity of Manaslu (8,163 m), Tsum valley is one of the two important valleys of Manaslu Tsum Valley region. Populated by the people of Tibetan origin called “Tsumbas”, this valley has 18 small villages. Around 4,000 people who follow Tibetan Buddhism and Bon religions live here. The Buddhist and Bon shrines are common cultural attractions during this trek.
Tsum Valley trek is the most popular off the beaten path trekking in Nepal. The Government of Nepal had not opened this valley for the international trekkers until 2008. It was done to protect the native culture and tradition from foreign influence. While hiking along the rugged trails going up and down, you can enjoy the flora and fauna of Manalsu Conservation Area Project. This conservation area consists of an estimated 2,000 flowering plants.
The pine, oak, juniper, birch and rhododendron trees are the major plants. If you make Tsum Valley trek in spring season, this area looks exactly like a bride on her wedding day! In addition, you can also have the glimpses of Himalayan animal species during this journey. Some common animals are musk deer, Himalayan thar, red panda, Himalayan black bear, etc. Even some bird species play hide-and-seek with you while trekking along the isolated trails.
Bon Religion in Tsum Valley Trek
Tsum Valley lies in the proximity of the Tibetan Plateau in the Northern Himalayas. Although it is located in Nepal geographically, you find a high influence of Tibetan religion, culture and tradition. It is surrounded by the soaring Himalayas from all three sides except the eastern part. Buddha Himal (6,692 m) and Himalchuli (7,893 m) from the west, Ganesh Himal (7,422 m) from the south and Shringi Himal (7,165 m) from the north circumscribe this hidden valley.
Manaslu region contains two major valleys: Nubri and Tsum. Nubri Valley is exposed to the outer old and influenced by the imported culture as people of this valley go for foreign employment. However, Tsum valley is a collection of 18 villages. Around 4,000 indigenous ethnic people called “Tsumbas” live in this region. Most of the people of this valley are from Tibetan origin.
The residents of this valley follow Buddhism and Bon religion originated from the Tibetan Autonomous Region. You will see many monasteries, chortens and mani walls reflecting Bon religion. The most significant shrines of this region are Mu Gompa and Rachen Gompa. Both the shrines are resided by around 100 monks and nuns. You can find the mural paintings of Tibetan Buddhism and ancient books.
Mu Gompa contains a full size of Avalokiteshwara and images of Guru Padmasambhava and Tara. There are many ancient religious books and a row of chortens. You can have the breathtaking view of the Himalayas close to the Tibetan Plateau.
Food and Accommodation Facilities in Tsum Valley Trek
In the beginning, Tsum Valley trek used to be completely a camping trek. But, nowadays, it is a teahouse trekking as there are teahouses established at the trail. Besides, you can also find homestay facilities in some ethnic villages. Teahouses en route provide basic facilities of food and accommodation to the trekkers. Due to the lack of transportation facilities, people cannot carry all the stuffs required for luxurious facilities.
Although basic, beds are clean with warm quilts or blankets to protect the cold temperature. If you like, you can take your sleeping bag with yourself. The food items are really hygienic and organic. They produce most of the food items and vegetables in their own farmlands. They don’t use chemical fertilizers in the plantation of crops and vegetables. Nevertheless, we highly recommend you to avoid the non-veg items as they may not be fresh in the high altitude.
Homestay sites also provide the same kind of food and accommodation facilities. The more interesting side of homestay is that you get to eat with the host family. You can even learn to cook their food items instead. On the other hand, it is a great opportunity to be friending with the friendly people of the rustic setting. It gives you a chance for cultural exchange with the host family. Most significantly, you will contribute directly in the economic aspect of the remote villages.
How to Get Tsum Valley Trek
You have a couple of alternatives to start Tsum Valley trek. One, you can follow Kathmandu-Gorkha-Aarughat-Soti Khola. The other, Kathmandu-Dhading-Aarughat-Soti Khola. But, the scenery of both the routes is not much different. From Soti Khola, you ascend higher by following the uphill and downhill trails. You go past some Gurung villages until you reach the destinations. Trekker will relish the brilliant view of the Himalayas of Manaslu region and Ganesh Himal region.
Traveller will reach almost to the border of Nepal with Tibetan Autonomous Region. You will visit Mu Gompa and Rachen Gompa as well. After getting the first-hand knowledge about Tibetan Buddhism and Bon religion, you descend towards the lower altitude. It takes nearly 9 hours to reach Soti Khola, the gateway to Manaslu Tsum Valley trek from Kathmandu. You will remain in this picturesque region for about 12 days by enjoying the cultural and natural features.
Tsum Valley Trekking Permits
Tsum Valley trek is a restricted area trekking in Nepal. It means, solo trekking wouldn't been allowed here. You must be in a group of two associated with a registered trekking guide. The Government of Nepal had banned this trekking region for the foreign trekkers. When the Government feels insecurity regarding the local culture and tradition, it puts restriction on trekking.
Tsum Valley Trek is the abode of Tibetan Bon and Buddhist religion and its cultural wonders. In Nepal, Bon religion exists only in two regions: Upper Dolpo and Tsum Valley. If solo trekking to Tsum Valley is allowed, this may encroach the authentic socio-cultural aspects, too. Therefore, you require a special trekking permit for Manalsu Tsum Valley trek. You don’t need TIMS Card to make this trek although. Altogether, you have to have the following trekking permits.
Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) Entry Permit during the Tsum Valley Trek
To protect the wildlife and vegetation of Manaslu Tsum Valley region, the government has established MCAP. This trek introduces you to the unique flora and fauna of this Himalayan region. Hence, you should have MCAP Entry Permit. MCAP permit cost is USD 30 per person per entry. The permit works during your stay in the respective region. You can get this permit either from Jagat en route or Nepal Tourism Board Office, Kathmandu.
Tsum Valley Trek Restricted Area Permit (RAP)
As Tsum Valley is a restricted area trekking, you need a special permit for visiting this region. Tsum Valley Restricted Area Permit cost is different in different times of the year. From September to November, you have to pay USD 40 per person for the first seven days. Then, you have to pay USD 7 per person per extra day.
Similarly, from December to August, the very special permit costs USD 30 per person for a week. After that, you will be charged USD 7 per person per additional day. The special permit will be issue by the trekking department of the Nepal Immigration Office, Kathmandu. For this you have to submit your original passport and 4 passports sized photos to the concerned office.
- Scenic drive to Soti Khola
- Gurung and Tibetan Villages of Manaslu region
- Astounding view of Manalsu (8,163m), Ganesh Himal (7,422m), Himalchuli (7,893m), Buddha Himal (6,692m), Shringi Himal (7,165m) and Tibetan Plateau
- Flora and fauna of Manaslu Conservation Area Project
- Mu Gompa and Rachen Gompa as the landmarks of Bon religion
- Best off the beaten path trekking nearby the Kathmandu Valley
- Tsum Valley as the hidden gem of Manaslu region
Upon the arrival day, reception at the Kathmandu Airport and hotel transfer. In the leisure, you can visit Thamel Bazaar on your own.
After breakfast, the tour guide takes you for Kathmandu Sightseeing excursion. You will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Swaymabhunath Stupa (the Monkey Temple), Patan Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple and Bouddhanath Stupa will be visited. The art and architecture of these sites allure you the most.
You begin the overland trip towards Soti Khola after you have your breakfast. You drive along the Prithvi Highway until Dhading. Then, by crossing the Trishuli River, you move towards Dhadingbesi.
The trip continue further while following the Budhi Gandaki River banks until Aarughat. You will enjoy the enthralling view of Mt. Manaslu (8,163m) and Ganesh Himal (7,422m) en route.
Driving further for around 2 hours, you reach Soti Khola. Although most of the trekkers to Tsum Valley start from Aarughat, you will start from Soti Khola. It has been the gateway to Manaslu Tsum Valley trek after the construction of the roadway.
Moving ahead from Soti Khola, you will cross a few natural waterfalls and the Budhi Gandaki River. The trail moves along the sal forests across Siding and Khursane, which are also important stops during the trek.
Enjoying the attractive view of Bahundanda and Syange of Annapurna Circuit trail, you move towards Lububesi. Lububesi is one of the largest Gurung village of Manaslu trekking region.
By crossing the Budhi Gandaki River Valley and the Nauli Khola suspension bridge, you reach Machha Khola. As a large quantity of fish used to be found here, the place is named Machha Khola (Fish Stream).
Today’s trail moves up and down until you cross the Tharo Khola to reach Khorlabesi. Then, you move past Tatopani where you can see a natural hot water spring. By relishing the attractive natural setting all around, you move further towards Dobhan.
Then, by crossing a suspension bridge over the Budhi Gandaki River, you climb the staircases decorated by the prayer flags of Tharo Bharyang. By crossing the mani walls, you reach Jagat at the end of the voyage.
As you enter into Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) from Jagat, you need to get it issued or checked here. Then, you move forward along the steep uphill and downhill trial, you walk past Salleri, Sirdibas and Ghatta Khola villages.
Moving a little further, you reach Philim, which is a prominent Gurung Village of this region. Here, you can visit a school made by the Japanese and a Police Post to collect more information. Moving northwards from Philim, you reach Chisopani (Cold Water).
After breakfast, you begin the walk and go past Ekle Bhatti on the way. Then, showing the beautiful waterfalls, the trail hides in the dense pine forests. Ascending through the trail of Tsum Valley trek, you move next to pine and rhododendron forests.
Then after, relishing the wonderful appearance of Himalchuli (7,893m) and Buddha Himal (6,692m), you reach Lokpa. Following the zigzag trail along the rhododendron forests across the Lungwa Khola, you reach Chumling.
From here, you can enjoy the captivating sight of Shringi Himal (7,165m). You can visit the old Chumling Gompa and the well-maintained stone paved streets of this village.
Enjoying the view of Ganesh Himal Range, you move along Rainjam and Syarpu Khola to reach Gho Village. It is also an important stopover of Manalsu Circuit trek.
Ascending for 2 hours along the steep trail, you reach Chhekamparo. On the clear day, you have the stunning view of Himalchuli (7,893m) and Ganesh Himal as well.
You begin the trip along the steep uphill trail that takes you towards Lamagaun. You can visit the Rachen Gompa and move further across the Shiar Khola. Then, you walk past the villages like Lar, Phurbe and Pangdun respectively.
By walking across an old stupa, you reach Chule Village. Then, you climb further towards Mu Gompa. It is the largest and oldest monastery of Tsum Valley region. Located close to the Trans-Himalayan Terrain, Mu Gompa was established in 1855 AD.
The monastery contains a full size of Avalokiteshwara and images of Guru Padmasambhava and Tara. There are many ancient religious books and row of chortens. You can have the breathtaking view of the Himalayas close to the Tibetan Plateau.
You begin today’s journey after having breakfast at Mu Gompa. Following the trail going up and down, you reach Rachen Gompa. Rachen Gompa is located in the Shiar Khola Valley on the lap of Manaslu (8163m) region.
Established in 1905 AD, it is the largest nunnery in the entire Manaslu Tsum Valley region. Only female nuns are allowed to stay and learn Buddhism here. On the way, you might come across some herds of yaks grazing in the green meadows.
After breakfast, you descend along the steep downhill trail towards Dumje. You will enjoy the Himalayan views and wildlife of Tsum Valley during the trek. By walking through the rugged trail for about 6/7 hours, you arrive at the destination.
You will meet other trekkers who are making Ganesh Himal Base Camp trek (4,200m there. Also, the trekkers of Tsum Valley waiting to hike to Gumba Lungdang spend the night at this stopover.
Today’s journey starts after you have your breakfast. You follow the flat trail passing through the wooded lands up to Ripchet. Ripchet if a large village having around 70 families of the Bhotia people. It also has teahouses that provide basic facilities to the trekkers to Tsum Valley.
By walking past a beautiful natural waterfall, you move further. Then, by following a newly constructed trail, you reach Lokpa Village. Moving ahead, you reach Philim for the night station.
You have your breakfast before starting today’s trekking. To reach the final destination of the day, you have to go past a few villages. Some of them are Sirdibas, Jagat, Dhobhan and Tatopani.
The trail leads you to the tropical region quite away from Tsum Valley. You can take a bath at Tatopani (natural hot water spring) if you like. Walking further alongside the steep uphill and downhill path, you arrive at Khorlabesi.
In the beginning, you go across the Tharo Khola to reach Machhakhola Village. Following the banks of the Budhi Gandaki River, you reach Lububesi, a Gurung Village. You again cross two small natural waterfalls at the steep cliffs and reach Khursane Village. In the end, by crossing the sal forests and the Budhi Gandaki River, you get to Soti Khola.
After breakfast, you start the trip by following the banks of the Budhi Gandaki River. Enjoying the enchanting view of the Himalayas, green environment and the picturesque villages, you arrive at Soti Khola.
Then, you drivie along the same roadway you followed a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy the views of Manaslu region trekking and Ganesh Himal Range including small trading centers as well.
After you get to Kathmandu, you will be transferred to the hotel. When you become fresh, you can take a round of Thamel. You can purchase some relics and garments to gift to your people back in the home country.
In the evening, we invite you for farewell dinner at a restaurant around Thamel. You will enjoy the cuisines and cultural performance while staying there.
Today is the final day of Tsum Valley trek itinerary for 16 days. Therefore, the member staff of the company escorts you up to the Tribhuvan International Airport in time.
- Airport pick-up and drop off service ,
- Trekking Guide and Trekking porter (Two participant=1 porter =Maximum 25 kg of luggage )
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Accommodation during the trekking
- Sleeping bags, down jackets, duffel bags and trekking sticks if required,
- Trekking permit of National park,
- TIMS(Trekking Information Management System )
- Insurance and equipment for the trekking staffs
- First aid kit
- Farewell dinner in Kathmandu with cultural program in typical Traditional Nepali resturant
- Personal expenses
- Drinks, beverages, hot shower,
- Travel insurance
- Tips for guide and porter
- Meals & hotel accommodation in Kathmandu (with out itinerary )
Although a remote trek in the Northern Himalayas, Tsum Valley trek is of moderate type. The highest place to reach is Mu Gompa (3,700m/12,174ft). The trails are steep uphill and downhill but not much difficult to cross.
There is not any high pass to cross during the journey to and back from Tsum Valley. You find teahouses in every stops that provide basic facilities of food and accommodation.
You may find it quite challenging as well due to trekking hours and altitude gain. You have to walk for about 6 hours every day in the less frequented trails. Going uphill and downhill along the steep trail is also not less challenging.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) may not be a problem during this journey. You will walk and spend nights above 2,500m only for three days. You should walk slowly by taking enough rest, have enough water, food and sleep to get rid of AMS.
The cost of any trek depends upon a few things you want to have during this. Food and accommodation services, trekking itinerary as well as number of guides and porters are the determining factors of the cost. The better services of food and accommodation, longer itinerary and more number of guides and porters cost higher. If all these are shorter, the cost of this trek goes far below. To know more about the cost, visit www.nepaltrekkingroutes.com.