Tsum (Hidden)Valley Trek

The Tsum valley is still not as much exposed like other trekking destinations as it was restricted until the year of 2008. As the valley is rich in Buddhist culture, it comprises of many religious monasteries such as Rachen Gompa and Mu Gompa. Not just the culture, but the biodiversity is splendid as well with many forests, rivers, caves etc.

The journey heads off with a scenic drive to Arughat following to Soti Khola. We will climb the Budhi Gandaki valley upstream via the mix of green terrains and many villages. As we trek, we will pass through blooming rhododendron and pine forests. Continuing the trek, we will be heading from Jagat to Lokpa where the trail will further lead us to Tsum valley; a home to Tibetan locals. The route will have many prayer flags and mani walls that indicate the Buddhist culture. Along with it, we will pass by glacial rivers, beautiful waterfalls and the beauty of the nature within the valley. On the way, we will also be visiting the Piren Phu cave which is one of the most scared cave in the valley. While on the way we may see the local wildlife such as the blue sheep or the Himalayan thar. We will visit the monasteries on our way like the Mu Gompa then the Rachen Gompa. After crossing several suspensions bridges we will reach Gumba Lungdang where after an overnight we will trek to the Ganesh Himal base camp. This exciting trek to the camp is indeed a rewarding one. Then we head back trekking to Lokpa then further down to Jagat. On the following day, we cross many bridges and villages reaching the Arughat Bazaar and from there we drive back to Kathmandu.
The Tsum Valley Trek is indeed an adventurous one that takes you via the off beaten route where you will explore the Tibetan culture, witness the nature’s beauty and also give a pleasant trek. Trekkers may also wish to opt for other trekking packages we offer like
1. Manaslu Circuit Trek
2. Tsum Valley and Manaslu circuit trek

Itineraries(Options)

Option-I (Kaathmanu-Ahrughat-Tsum Valley and back same route) 19 days

Itinerary:

Day 01: Meet and greet at Kathmandu airport (TIA), transfer to hotel.
Day 02: Get permits, preparation or sightseeing in ancient old temples.
Day 03: Drive to Arughat from Kathmandu and stay there overnight.
Day 04: Trek to Soti Khola (710m), approximately 4 hrs walk.
Day 05: Trek to Machha Khola (887m), approximately 6 hrs walk.
Day 06: Trek to Jagat (1345m) and approximately 6 hrs walk.
Day 07: Trek to Lakpa (2240m) and approximately 6 hrs walk.
Day 08: Trek to Chumling (2386m); approximately 4-5 hrs walk.
Day 09: Trek to Chhokangparo (3031m) and about 5 hrs walk.
Day 10: Trek to Nile (3347m) via Milarepa (Piren Phu Cave), 4-6 hours walk.
Day 11: Hike to Mu Gompa (3700 m), Dhephyudonma Gompa (4060m).
Day 12: Trek to Chhekamparo via Rachen Gompa, (Nyigma-pa Buddhist sect.
Day 13: Trek to Gumpa Lungdang (3200m) approximately 6 hrs walk.
Day 14: Trek to Lokpa, approximately 6-7 hrs. walk via Ripchet.
Day 15: Trek to Jagat, approximately 6-7 hrs walk.
Day 16: Trek to Lapubesi, approximately 5-6 hrs walk.
Day 17: Trek to Arughat, approximately 6-7 hrs walk.
Day 18: Drive to Kathmandu from Arughat, 7-8 hrs drive.
Day 19: Departure from Kathmandu to home country.

 

Option-II(Kathmandu-Gorkha-Rupi Nala pass-Tsumvalley-Ahrughat-Kathmandu) 22 days

Itinerary:

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu (pick up and transfer to the hotel)
Day 02: Preparation day for trekking at Kathmandu.
Day 03: Kathmandu to Baluwa (780 m) via Gorkha by 4WD Jeep.
Day 04: Baluwa to Barpak (1950 m) 6 hours trek.
Day 05: Barpak to Gar Kharka (2900m) 6 hours trek.
Day 06: Gar Kharka to Sangrang Kharka ( 3800m) 5 hours trek.
Day 07: Sangrang Kharka to Bhuddha Himal base camp (3600 m) via Rupinala (4720m) 7 hours trek
Day 08: Bhuddha Himal base camp to Jhong Kharka (2960m) 5 hours trek.
Day 09: Rest day at Jhong Kharka.
Day 10: Jhong Kharka to Nyak (2340m) 5 hours trek.
Day 11: Nyak to Chumling (2386m) 5 hours trek.
Day 12: Chumling to Chhekampar (3031m) 5 hours trek.
Day 13: Chhekampar to Nile (3347m) 5 hours trek.
Day 14: Nile to Mu Gompa  (3700m)and back to Chhekampar  ( 3031m) 6  hours trek.
Day 15: Chhekampar to Gompa Lumgdang (3200m) 6  hours trek.
Day 16: Gompa Lumgdang to Ganesh Himal base camp(4300m)& back to Gompa lumgdang 6 hours trek.
Day 17: Gompa lumgdang to Chumling (2386m) 6 hours trek.
Day 18: Chumling to Philim (1570m) 6 hours trek.
Day 19: Philim to Machha khola (869m) 6 hours trek.
Day 20: Machha Khola to Soti Khola (700m) 5 hours trek.
Day 21: Soti Khola to Kathmandu by 4WD Jeep.
Day 22: Final departure to international airport.

Option -III (Kathmandu-Ahrughat-Tsumvaley-Larky Pass-Dharapani-Pokhara/Kathmandu) 23 days

Itinerary:

Day 01: Pickup and transfer to hotel
Day 02: Kathmandu valley Sightseeing
Day 03: Kathmandu drive to Arughat (600mtr) to Soti Khola (710mtr) 5 – 7 hours drive.
Day 04: Trek to Machha Khola (930mtr) 6 hours.
Day 05: Trek to Jagat (1410mtr) 6 hours.
Day 06: Trek to Eklebhatti (1600mtr)  4 hours.
Day 07: Trek to Chumling (2700mtr)  5 to 6 hours.
Day 08: Trek to Chhekampar (2960mtr) 5 hours.
Day 09: Trek to Mugomba (3800 mtr) 5 hours.
Day 10: Trek back to Chhekampar (2960 mtr) 4 hours.
Day 11: Trek to Lukpa (2240mtr) 6 hours.
Day 12: Trek to Deng (1800mtr) 5 hours.
Day 13: Trek to Ghap (2160mtr) 4 to 5 hours.
Day 14: Trek to Lho Gaun (3180mtr) 5 to 6 hours.
Day 15: Trek to Sama Gaun / Sama Gompa (3530mtr) 3 hours.
Day 16: Rest and explore to Manaslu base camp 6 to 7 hours hike.
Day 17: Trek to Samdo (3690mtr) 4 hours.
Day 18: Trek to Dharamsala (4470mtr) 4 hours.
Day 19: Trek to Bimtang (3720mtr) via larke pass(5200mtr) 8 hours.
Day 20: Trek to Gho (2560mtr) 5 hours.
Day 21: Trek to Chamche (1400mtr) 6 hours.
Day 22: Trek to Besisahar (600mtr). 4 to 5 hours.
Day 23: Besisahar and same day Kathmandu  and overnight at Kathmandu hotel.

Note:

This trip can be personalized as per your requirements that meet your time frame. The trip price will be according to Deluxe, Standard, Budget and group size so please kindly provide us your details for tailor made program

Permits and entry fees

Tsum Valley is a restricted area, meaning a trekking permit should be issued by a registered trekking agency and a guide should be accompanied to the travelers. A minimum of 2 travelers is needed for a group.

 Permit fees:

  1. Permit price for Tsum Valley is 35$ for 8 days.
  2. Since the access to Tsum Valley is through the Manaslu region, a permit for Manaslu is needed as well at a cost of 10$ per day.
  3. In addition, there are conservation area fees needed to be paid:
  4. MCAP (Manaslu Conservation Area Project) fee of 2000 Nepali Rupees (~27$).

If you go to Tsum Valley and then continue to circle Manaslu you will als need to pay ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) fee of 2000 Nepali Rupees (~27$), as the Manaslu Circuit ends in the Annapurna region.

Tea House/Home Stay vs. Full Camping trek

The Tsum Valley trek can be done as Home Stay / Tea House trek, meaning you don’t have to carry your own accommodation facilities (i.e. tent) or bring any catering services with you. This has some major pros:

Trek logistics are quite easy.

Consumption of accommodation and eating services from the locals meaning paying directly to them and contributing to local economy. Better interaction and experience with locals.But there are some cons:

A compromise on food quality and quantity

– While some travelers may enjoy local food (i.e. mainly Dal-Bhat and Tsampa) others may find it not satisfactory / enough for such a trek.

A compromise on accommodation conditions

– In Tsum Valley, accommodation is available mainly within premises of locals’ houses. This means that sometimes you may sleep in a shop entrance, share your room with a monk, or get up in the morning with tiny red dots on your legs…

The situation in Tsum valley can get tight if more than two tourist couples are arriving to the same village at the same day, since locals are still not ready to cater more than a few travelers together.

Some prices:

  • A Guide price is 25-30 $ per day.
  • A Guide cum Porter price is 20-25$ per day.
  • A Porter price is 15-20$ per day.

Expenses during the trek – Lodging and Food

Expenses for lodging and food in Tsum Valley are currently low relatively to what you pay in lodges in Manaslu Circuit Trek.

Generally we paid about 10-15 $ per day per person in Tsum Valley. This is based on home stay accommodation with basic local food such as Dal Bhat and Tsampa, Chapatis, tea and noodle soup.

How Many Days?

Our recommendation is to have at least 7 full days in Tsum Valley, meaning 7 days from Lokpa (the “Entry” village) to Lokpa.

sleeping places: (Lokpa), Tsumling, Chhokang Paro, Nile, Nakyu, Gumba Lungdang, Domje, Lokpa

General description of Tsum Valley

Tsum Valley is stretched along the Syar Khola. Its lower part joins the Budhi Gandaki Valley north of Philim. Its upper part reaches north towards the Nepal-Tibet border.

The 4000 people inhabiting the valley belong to an indigenous ethnic group known as “Tsumbas”. They maintain a Tibetan – Buddhist way of life, and due to the geographical characteristics of the area, their bonds with Tibet are in some aspects stronger than with Nepal. The Tsum Walfare Committee (“TWC”) is an NGO which was founded in order to promote the welfare interests of Tsum Valley people. Part of its activities is to promote tourism to the area and assisting visitors in arranging a trek to the area.

Geographically Tsum Valley can be divided to 6 sections

  1. The “Entrance” – from the branching from Budhi Gandaki Valley through the village of Lokpa till the tea house in Gadhkhola. Altitudes 1800 to 2100 meters.
  2. The “Lower” part – that includes the villages of Tsumling and Ripche up to Domje and Gho. Altitudes 2300 to 2500 meters.
  3. The “Upper” part – the relatively wide and flat area of the valley, from the village of Chhokung Paro till the villages of Nile and Chhule. Altitudes 3000 to 3400 meters.
  4. Mu Gompa area – where the Syar Khola becomes narrow and steep, and Mu Gompa is located. Altitudes 3400 to 3700 meters.
  5. The Wilderness – the mountains, valleys and passes north of Mu Gompa, where no settlements exist. It is a mountain area and domain of convoys trading with Tibet. Altitudes 3700 to 5100 meters.
  6. Another section which is relevant to this trek is the branch from Domje towards Ganesh Himal range, Torogumba Glacier and Gumba Lungdang. This is actually the domain of Ganesh Himal Trek, but many trekkers add at least one day to visit the Gompa at Gumba Lungdang and enjoy Ganesh Himal views.

Detailed description of each section

Tsum Valley is very interesting to be explored on your own pace. Therefore, instead of suggesting a day by day itinerary, we shall suggest the number of days recommended for each section.

Arrival to Tsum Valley: to Lokpa

Lokpa (2240m) is a convenient starting point for the Tsum Valley trek. It is located one and a half hours climb from the trail branch to Tsum Valley from the main Manaslu trail. We walked to Lokpa on a single day from Jagat. The village of Lokpa is located high above the trail. On the trail itself there is one lodge with 2 rooms, each one with 4 beds. Food was very good.

 The “Entrance” to “Lower” Tsum Valley (one day)

From Lokpa the trail goes through a thick forest down, up and down again to the lonely tea house at GadhKhola. It takes half a day to reach this tea house, where you can have a basic meal but no accommodation facilities.

From here the trail branches and you can continue to the “Lower” part in two trails: One goes directly up to the village of Ripche. The other crosses the Syar Khola on a suspension bridge and climbs to Tsumling (also spelled Chumling). We recommend to proceed to Tsumling, and return via Ripche.

When you climb to Tsumling (2380m) the trail splits – go left to reach the old village center, or right to get quickly to Tsumling family lodge. It is recommended to go directly to the lodge, settle down, and then go for a tour in the village. In total, the walk from Lokpa to Tsumling is an easy walk day.

On your way back from Domje, it is highly recommended to take the trail through Ripche, on the southern side of the Syar Khola. The trail climbs gradually from Domje to Ripche through the lovely forest. The village of Ripche is located along a small plateau high above the Syar Khola, with dramatic views to the surrounding mountains. It is highly recommended to walk up to the old Gompa for a view of the village, surrounding fields and mountains. We could not trace the home stay which is supposed to exist in Ripche.

 “Lower” Tsum Valley to “Upper” Tsum Valley (one day)

The trail from Tsumling continues east conveniently above the Syar Khola. It gets to Rainjam in less than 2 hours, where you can get a meal and very simple accommodation. The trail then crosses the Sarpu Khola on a suspension bridge and climbs up. The picturesque village of Gho is reached after less than half an hour. From Gho the trail continues to climb, and reaches the first village of Upper Tsum Valley, Chhokung Paro (3030m), after almost 3 hours.

 “Upper” Tsum Valley (at least two days)

“Upper” Tsum Valley is interesting to explore. It is relatively wide, with several settlements, abundance of cultivated agricultural land, spiritual places and hospitable residents. Since you go and return through the valley, it is recommended to allow at least two days for this part. When you go up, it is recommended to stay at the western side of the river. As mentioned before, Chhokung Paro is recommended as a first station in “Upper” Tsum Valley. There is a convenient Home Stay in a relatively large room for guests and delicious local meals. Children of the village will be happy to show you around.

Pass the village of Nakyu and reach Lamagaon. After the village you can visit the Milarepa Piren Phu cave. It is believed that a footprint located in the cave actually belongs to the famous Milarepa. The climb to the cave which is located on the cliff takes about an hour, and the views to the valley and surrounding mountains is spectacular. Entrance fee to the cave is 300 Rupees per person which are dedicated to its preservation. The trail then goes through the villages of Phurbe and Pangdun and reaches the neighboring villages of Chhule and Nile.

It takes a day walk to reach Nile from Chhokung Paro. In Nile accommodation is available at one family house. We were 4 travelers there. Two of us shared a room with a monk, and the other two slept in the entrance of the family store…

It is highly recommended to climb to Chhule Gompa or to the hills above Nile, to get a bird-eye view of the twin villages and surrounding scenery.

Going back from Chhule – Nile, it is advised to continue on the east side of the river after passing Phurbe. It is an easy walk through flat Lar, followed by a visit to Rachen Gompa – a large monastery for nuns. Continuing back south it is recommended to sleep in the home stay at the village of Nakyu. The family will open a very nice tent for you in their yard and cook delicious food.

 Mu Gompa (at least half a day)

Mu Gompa is located dramatically above the Syar Khola, less than 2 hours walk from the village of Nile. The atmosphere in this remote location is highly inspiring and the monks are hospitable. You can stay overnight in the Gompa, and make short walks to the ridges above it if weather permits and visibility is clear. It is possible to walk from Nile to Mu Gompa for a short visit, and then go back to Nakyu / Chhokung Paro on the same day, but it is recommended to allow at least a full day for exploration of Mu Gompa and its surroundings starting from Nile.

The Wilderness

If you like to enjoy pure mountain environment, this area is for you. But as this area has no settlements, you will need to be self supported with tent and catering services in order to pass a night out there. In two days you can camp at Bhajyo, make a day trip to the Nepal-Tibet border at Nueladajyen Bhanjyang at 5093 meters and return to Mu Gompa. Longer trips include a circular camping trip that goes through the mountain scenery in Kalung, Chhekya, Dhaldang, Yamdro, Bhajyo and back to Mu Gompa. This will add several days to your itinerary. Note that if you are keen on visiting the Nepal-Tibet border, and continue to the Manaslu Circuit anyway, you can make a day trip to another border point starting from Samdo, without the need to carry camping equipment.

 Gumba Lungdang and Ganesh Himal Base Camp (at least one day)

  1. A highly recommended trip is a side trip to Gumba Lungdang and Ganesh Himal Base Camp. The trail starts from the village of Domje. It is recommended to do this trip on the way back from “Upper” Tsum Valley. From Nakyu or Chhokung Paro you can descend to Gho in 2-3 hours, continue to Domje via a narrow beautiful trail, have lunch in Domje before you start the long 3-4 hours climb to Gumba Lungdang.
  2. The trail from Domje to the Gompa is an attraction of its own – its first part zigzags steeply and then levels a bit as it goes high above the Langdang Khola on an exposed slope towards the Gompa.
  3. Visiting the Gompa is a touching experience. The Nuns and teachers at the Gompa are most welcoming. Meals are available in the Gompa kitchen, and usually your guides will join the effort preparing them. The nuns will find you a place to sleep somewhere in the Gompa premises. We were offered the entrance to the Prayer Hall as a sleeping place, and had one of the best sleeps we had during the trek…
  4. The mountain scenery from the Gompa is truly spectacular, with Ganesh Himal peak dominating the view.

There are two recommended day trips from the Gompa:

  1. Ganesh Himal Base Camp – This is the more popular day trip by visitors. It goes through the forest up the Langdang Khola towards the Torogumba glacier and the Ganesh Himal Base Camp.
  2. Langdang Danda View Point – We did not have time to do it, but I feel it has a potential to be the “Poon Hill” of this area. There is a narrow trail that goes high up above Gumba Lungdang to the Langdang Danda ridge. This ridge separates between Upper Tsum Valley and the Ganesh Himal Valley at an altitude of over 4000 meters. Views from the ridge must be outstanding. Locals claim you can get to the ridge in 2-3 hours from Gumba Lungdang (…and then continue to Chhokung Paro in another 5-7 hours of steep descend). We know that the Tsum Welfare Committee is planning to promote a “shortcut” trail from Tsum Valley to Gumba Lungdang probably through this demanding trail. In any case it is highly recommended to take a local guide with you if you attempt to visit the ridge as a day trip.

Services along the trek

Telecommunications

In most villages along the trek you can find a satellite or cellular based phone for making phone calls to anywhere in the world. The satellite phones are highly reliable as they work independently based on solar power. Price for an international call is 1-2$ per minute. Internet service is not available.

Electricity

In many villages 220v electricity is available thanks to local micro hydro plants. Light and power sockets are available, although in some places you will be asked to pay a bit to charge your batteries. Villages with 220v electricity include: Tsumling, Chhokung Paro, Lamagaon, Nile. Villages without 220v electricity usually have led lights charged by solar panels.

 

Package Price: US$ 1400.00 P/person

Cost Includes

  1. Arrival and Departure transfers on both domestic and international flights.
  2. Hotel Accommodation in Kathmandu on a twin share BB basis for the nights asin itinerary.
  3. ull board meals while on camping trek to TSUM valley.
  4. Accommodation on 2 men tented camp.
  5. Welcome dinner with ethno-cultural program as listed in the itinerary.
  6. Half day guided city tour as listed in itinerary.
  7. Tsum valley trekking map.
  8. Private transportation to and from the starting and end points of the trek
  9. All camping equipment including th member, staff and kitchen tent.
  10. Free use of quality trekking gear – sleeping bag, fleece inner liner, insulated mat, sleeping pillow, down jacket, duffel bag etc during the trip.
  11. Professional local trekking group leader trained in Wilderness First Aid.
  12. Portable Altitude Chamber / Gamow Bag (A life saving device in case of Acute Mountain Sickness) along with the comprehensive First Aid Kit.
  13. Trekking Cook, guides and other support staff.
  14. Porters to carry all personal gear and group equipment.
  15. Insurance of all staff including porters.
  16. Warm clothing and other required trekking gear for porters
  17. Mountain Monarch T-shirts and other seasonal gifts.
  18. Comprehensive pre-departure information and trip dossiers.
  19. Trekking Permit, national park / conservation entry fees.

Cost Excludes

  1. Nepal Visa fees and Travel Insurance of any kind
  2. International Airfare
  3. Drinks and main meals in cities
  4. Tips and items of a personal nature like

Note:-

Special Permit:A special Restricted Area permit is required for Manaslu and a separate one for Tsum. These permits require that you have a registered guide and a party of two or more.

The Manaslu fees are: September – November $US70 $US50 for the first week (then $US10 per day) or December – August $US50 for the first week (then $US7 per day). For Tsum the same periods apply but the fee is $US 35 for the first week.

so you’ll need 8 photos for all this. In addition, you will need to pay both the Manaslu Conservation Area Park (MCAP) fee (Rs2000) and the Annapurna Conservation Area Park (ACAP) fee (Rs2000) for the section from Dharapani to Besisahar after you join the round-Annapurna trail. So you might as well farewell tour guides in Dharapani and add the round-Annapurna leg, exiting down the Kali Gandaki as we did, making it a 35 day trek in total.

Lodges are often local bhattis with only dal bhat on offer and hard beds above the smoky kitchen, although you can raise porridge, tsampa, noodles, omelette and roti at most places.

While simple, they are clean and friendly for the most part. There are small shops in most villages with limited stock (soap, toilet paper, batteries, bottled water, biscuits, noodles, beer, whisky). Fleas can be an issue.

There are signs in most villages pointing Awards to Larkya La, with times to the next village that are usually accurate. The Tsum is similarly marked. Since many people don’t know where there are lodges, and since there were neither maps nor track notes for Tsum before, here is some current information which we hope will make the route more popular and so help improve the number and standard of the lodges.