Trekking in Nepal is one of the adventurous activities to do. Be it in plain land or high Himalayas, trekking trails of Nepal will never fail to amaze you with its charm. Among all the popular treks, Tsum Valley trek is one of them, which is enriched culturally and naturally. Located in northern Gorkha, Tsum valley is surrounded by Baudha Himal and Himal Chuli to the west, Ganesh Himal to the south and Shringi Himal to the north. Being in an isolated and hidden Himalayan valley, this valley is not visited by the trekkers frequently, which makes the trekking route uncrowded and serene. This valley provides panoramic views of the giant peaks in Nepal such as Mt. Manaslu (8,163m), Mt. Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Mt. Annapurna (8,091m), Ganesh Himal, Baudha Himal etc. This trekking destination falls in the Manaslu circuit trek route.
This valley is very rich in ancient art, architecture, culture, and religion. Highly influenced by Buddhism, trekkers can observe some original rituals of Tibetan Buddhists in this holy pilgrimage land. One can get to observe the many religious monasteries and stupas like Rachen Gompa, Mu Gompa etc. Moreover, the flapping prayer flags, wheels, Mani walls, Thangka painting etc. of the Buddhist make the entire trekking trail more vibrant. Besides culture, this hidden valley also comprises natural and biodiversity beauty. Green lush valleys and forests, thundering waterfalls, sounding rivers, ancient caves, varied flora, and fauna etc. add more value to this trek.
Tsum valley trek is regarded as the popular off-the-beaten-trekking trail in Nepal, which was opened to foreign trekkers only in 2008. Being a newly open trekking route, this valley is still rural and pristine. So, to increase the success rate of the trekkers and promote their safety, the Government of Nepal has banned the solo trek to Tsum Valley. There is a maximum chance of getting lost in the way if you fail to navigate properly, so at the time like this local licensed guide for Tsum Valley trek comes in handy.
Tsum Valley Trek can also be combined with Manaslu Circuit trek if you are staying in Nepal for longer days. Manaslu Tsum Valley trek routes are separated from Jagat, Ekle Bhatti. After completing the whole tour of valley, you can again join the Manaslu trek route by getting down to Ekle Bhatti and trekking further towards Deng, Namrung, Sama Goau, Samdo, Dharamsala, Larkya La Pass, Bhimthang, Tilje, Dharapani and finally back to Kathmandu.
Things to Consider before Trekking Tsum Valley
- Independent trek to Tsum valley is impossible as a result it is compulsion for the trekkers to hire a professional guide.
- One needs to obtain the Tsum Valley Restricted Area permit (RAP), which can be acquired only with the help of an authorized trekking agency in Nepal. So, trekkers must plan their trip with a travel company.
- There should be at least a group of 2 trekkers (excluding guide and porter) to visit this valley.
Difficulty Level of Tsum Valley Trek
Tsum Valley trek is one of the physically demanding treks, which takes you to the most remote parts in Nepal. Since this valley is visited by fewer trekkers, the area is still full of wilderness. So, the trekking trail is sloppy, steepy, uneven, and rough. Before this trekking trail was considered a difficult trek; however, with the growing teahouses and construction of road, now it is grouped at strenuous trek. You will start your trek from the minimal height of 800m and reach above 3,000m as a result difficulty level also rises to the peak.
Some difficulties associated with Tsum Valley trek are:
You will start your trek from the subtropical climatic zone and end it in alpine climatic zone. So, you will be facing the varied weather and climate. Gazing sun, snowfall, rainfall, freezing nights, speedy dry wind etc. make this trip complicated.
- Altitude Sickness
After crossing the 2,000m, there is a higher chance of getting the symptoms of altitude sickness like vomiting, headache, anxiety etc. Since you will reach above the height of 3,000m in Tsum valley trek, it will be difficult for you to adjust with the altitude and environment.
Even though the Tsum valley consists of certain risks, with the right kind of preparation, training, proper packing list of Manaslu Tsum valley trek, and by hiring the guide, you can easily overcome the difficulties.
Permits required for Tsum Valley Trek
To accomplish this trek, you need to obtain different kinds of permits depending upon your route. If you fail to achieve those permits, you can embark on this journey. Basically, you need to acquire four different kinds of permits for Manaslu Tsum Valley trek. However, if you follow the different alternative route, then you might not need to obtain all these four.
Required permits of Manaslu Tsum Valley trek are:
- Tsum Valley Restricted Area Permit (Sirdibas to Chule)
- Manaslu restricted Area Permit (Jagat to Sama Goau)
- Manaslu Conservation Area Project (Philim)
- Annapurna Conservation Area project (Dharapani to Besisahar)
Note: All the permits required for Tsum valley trek will be obtained by your trekking agency to provide hassle-free travelling.
Best Time for Tsum Valley Trek
You need to study more about the climatic condition of Tsum valley before planning for the trek. Among all the four seasons, Spring (March, April, and May) and Autumn (September, October, and November) is considered as the best time for Manaslu Tsum Valley trek. During these seasons, weather is stable, temperature is moderate, there is no or little rainfall/snowfall, and the visibility of the huge Himalayas and surrounding environment are clearer.
Winter (December, January, and February) is the off-season for Tsum valley trek, when most of the teahouses and high passes remain closed. Likewise, summer/monsoon (June, July, and August) is not the ideal choice for trekking Tsum valley as there is heavy rainfall and the trail becomes slippery and muddy. Also, there is a high chance of landslides and floods.
Packing List for Tsum Valley Trek
The success rate of Tsum valley trek highly depends upon your packing list. So, it is crucial for you to prepare the list of required gear and equipment for the Tsum valley trek at least a few months before the trek. Likewise, you should try to avoid the excess packing as it will only increase the stress level. Moreover, focus on light weight and quickly drying clothing. Avoid the cotton clothing as it blocks the breath and makes you uncomfortable.
Some essential items required for Tsum valley trek are:
- Body Wear (Underwear, sports bra, inner layer thermals, middle layer, down jacket, fleece jacket/sweater, windproof/waterproof jacket, fleece pants, trekking shorts & trousers, hiking shirts etc.)
- Head Wear (Sunglass, sun hat, beanie etc.)
- Hand wear (Inner gloves & thick outer gloves)
- Footwear (Hiking boots, sandals/sport shoes, trekking socks etc.)
- Bags and Backpacks (Duffle bags, rucksack, daypack etc.)
- Sleeping Bag
- Toiletries (Sunscreen, moisturizer, lip balm. Toilet paper, shampoo, shower gel, dry towel, toothbrush and toothpaste, baby wipes etc.)
- First-aid Kit
- Accessories (Map, pee funnel, snacks, hydration bladder, trekking poles, head torch etc.)
- Electronics (Mobile phone, charger, camera, power bank, portable games, books, diary & pen etc.)
- Documents (Travel insurance, passport, permits, visa, money, tickets etc.)
Outline itinerary for Tsum Valley Trek
Tsum valley trek begins from a short drive to Soti Khola via Arughat Bazar. From Soti khola, you will start your trekking by ascending to the Buddhi Gandaki Valley via local villages and cultivable lands. Throughout the trekking trail, you will be able to observe the blooming Rhododendron and pine trees (mainly in Spring). From Jagat, we will continue our trek and after reaching Ekle Bhatti, the trekking trail gets separated between Manaslu Circuit Trek and Tsum Valley Trek.
From Ekle Bhatti, we will head towards Lokpa, which will take us to the restricted Tsum valley. Since Tsum Valley is home to the Tibetan Buddhists, you will get to observe the flapping prayer flags, Mani walls etc, throughout the trekking trail, which will give you the aura of Buddhist culture. Likewise, you will also pass through many thundering waterfalls, glacial rivers, and stunning natural scenes. You will also visit the ancient Piren Phu Cave, which is regarded as a sacred cave in the valley. Not only cultural, but you will also get the glimpse of the varied wildlife such as Himalayan Thar etc. On the way, you will also visit Mu Gompa and Rachen Gompa, where you can learn about local lifestyle and beliefs.
You will trek further towards Gumba Lungdang after crossing a few suspension bridges. After staying for one night in Gumba Lungdang, you will head towards Ganesh Himal Base Camp. Roaming around base camp by enjoying the views of stunning peaks is one of the exciting parts of Tsum Valley trek. From base camp, you will start your descent and reach Jagat via Lokpa. After crossing many villages and bridges, you will finally get to Soti Khola. From Soti Khola, you will return to Kathmandu via Arughat Bazaar.
|Day||Destination||Driving/Trekking Duration||Maximum Altitude|
|Day 01||Arrival in Kathmandu||N/A||Kathmandu (1,340m)|
|Day 02||Self-sightseeing around Kathmandu Valley||N/A||Kathmandu (1,340m)|
|Day 03||Drive from Kathmandu to Soti Khola||7-8 Hours||Soti Khola (700m)|
|Day 04||Soti Khola to Machha Khola||5 hours||Machha Khola (869m)|
|Day 05||Machha Khola to Jagat||6-7 hours||Jagat (1,340m)|
|Day 06||Jagat to Lokpa||6-7 hours||Lokpa (2,040m)|
|Day 07||Lokpa to Chumling||5-6 hours||Chumling (2,386m)|
|Day 08||Chumling to Chhokang Paro||5-6 hours||Chhokang Paro (3,031m)|
|Day 09||Chhokang Paro to Nile||4-5 hours||Nile (3,361m)|
|Day 10||Nile to Mu Gompa||3-4 hours||Mu Gompa (3,700m)|
|Day 11||Mu Gompa to Rachen Gompa||4-5 hours||Rachen Gompa (3,240m)|
|Day 12||Rachen Gompa to Gumba Lungdang||5-6 hours||Gumba Lungdang (3,200m)|
|Day 13||Gumba Lungdang to Ganesh Himal Base Camp to Gumba Lungdang||7-8 hours||Ganesh Himal Base Camp (4,200m)|
|Day 14||Gumba Lungdang to Lokpa||6-7 hours||Lokpa (2.040m)|
|Day 15||Lokpa to Jagat||6-7 hours||Jagat (1,400m)|
|Day 16||Jagat to Lapu Bensi||7-8 hours||Lapu Bensi (900m)|
|Day 17||Lapu Bensi to Arughat Bazar||4-5 hours||Arughat Bazaar (5,70m)|
|Day 18||Drive from Arughat Bazar to Kathmandu||7-8 hours||Kathmandu (1,340m)|
|Day 19||Departure||N/A||Kathmandu (1,340m)|
Note: Above-mentioned itinerary is just for reference purpose. You can add and subtract any destination as per your choice.
Thus, Tsum Valley trek is one of the exciting trekking trails in Nepal, which runs through the off-the-beaten-track. From exploring the Tibetan culture to natural beauty of this valley, you will be able to make the uncountable memories. You can also opt this trek for other trekking packages like Tsum valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek, Manaslu trek etc.
-Article written by: Kusum Lharel for Land Nepal