North of Kathmandu and nestled against the Tibetan border is a valley that no one has ever heard about. Its name is hidden and until 2008 was hidden to all foreigners. Its name is Tsum Valley, and the region is still in its pristine condition. It has the flavor of Tibet, and its settlers came southward from the Tibetan plateau over 1000 years ago. The land is Tibetan Buddhist; its language is a dialect of Tibet. Many people here don’t speak Nepali; for all practical purposes, this land has been isolated from the world. Its isolation was intended.
Tsum Valley Trek can only be reached through high north passes or through the narrow Sarki George on the Syar River, which begins its course in the high Himalayas. The Syar River waters the upper and lower Tsum Valley, rich farmland amid the Himalayan Mountains that form the barrier between Nepal and China.
As the area is new to tourism, do not expect to find first-class accommodations. Most lodges are either a single room where everyone sleeps, or you may be sleeping in someone’s home on the floor. Several of the residents are working to develop better accommodations for visitors. Don’t be surprised if you find no glass in the windows (the wind blows through at night). The places are generally pleasant enough, although one place we stayed at had big holes in the roof and large openings on the sides of the building.
Toilets are eastern style and often located in ways from where you sleep. Sleeping dogs get aggressive at night, and if you need to make a midnight outing, you might face to face with a curious yak. The locals drink butter tea, which is very rich and served hot. It makes for an excellent way to warm up, and the butterfat is needed to survive the poor nutrition in the mountains. They also drink Roxy, local alcohol made from millet that is distilled.
The people practice a form of Buddhism which strictly adheres to the practice of not killing any animal for food. The wild animals have no fear of man as they have learned that humanity is not their enemy. The people farm with yaks and use them to move goods in and out of the valley. The few stores are stocked with goods from China, and almost every village has a Gomba (Buddhist monastery). Some of the monasteries are very large, like the one at Rachen Gumba, which has room for 113 monks and nuns and covers several acres of land.
The scenery is most impressive as snow-capped peaks surround the valley. The southern peaks form the Ganesh Himal Range, a barrier between the residents and the rest of Nepal. To the north are more snow-capped mountains that form a barrier with China. The people have lived as they have for hundreds of years. The women work in the small fields and care for the homes; the men work outside and earn what money they can find. They practice a spirit of non-violence and peace, keeping with The Buddha’s teaching.
Here you can walk the trails, climb mountains, visit ancient mountain monasteries, eat Tibetan bread and drink a locally made alcoholic drink called Roxy. Don’t expect to be served meat – it just isn’t done as this is a place of pure vegetarianism. Their diets consist of wheat, buckwheat, barley, potatoes, and bread. They will consume eggs and enjoy traditional Tibetan Butter Tea, which they serve in steaming cups that will warm you against the cold winds that blow through the valley.
The Valley is 100% Tibetan Buddhist. Everywhere you will see pictures of the Dalai Lama. There are Gumbas (monasteries) in almost every village, with the largest ones at Rachen Gumba, Mu Gomba, and GumbaLangdang. The last two monasteries do have places for visitors to stay. They have an excellent view of the Ganesh Himal Mountains. The lamas are friendly and very open to discussing their faith. When passing a Chorten, always pass on the left side, moving in a clockwise fashion.
It is considered bad luck to go around a Chhorten counter-clockwise. When entering any place of worship, treat the place with sacred respect. This will honor the local people who will happily share their faith. Also, ask before entering any place of worship. It is always best to seek permission first. Usually, every home has some shrine where the family worships. You may find yourself sleeping in such a location. As always, treat that place with respect.
The majestic mountain ranges that can be viewed from Tsum valley are Ganesh Himal Range, Siringi Himal range, and Manaslu range. Kulha Palsang Himal can also be seen on the northern side of this valley. Ganesh Himal range, located primarily in north-central Nepal, is a sub-range of the Himalayan mountain range. Yantra (Ganesh I), Ganesh NW, and Mount Ganesh are the mountains of the Ganesh Himal Range.
Sringi Himal range lies in the Central Nepal-south of Tibet border and has Shiar Khola valley in the east and the Tom / Trisuli Gandaki valley in the west. The highest peak in this range is Chamar, 7187m, about 25km east of Manaslu. Although Mt. Manaslu is not seen from Tsum valley, its southern ranges can be observed. Himal Chuli and Baudha Himal of the Manaslu range are seen from here.
Ngala Dhojhyang is a beautiful pass situated above the snowline at an altitude of 5093m. The pass is very windy and is clear and pleasant, especially in summer. Likewise, Thapa pass is located at an altitude of 5104 m and is partly covered with snow and glaciers. Then another pass called Humlung Pass is tough to reach, and it takes eight hours for outsiders to arrive at that pass. Jonah is a perfect place for camping since it has enough land for tents. After Joni, we can reach Dhursa, which is very steep and narrow, and it takes three hours to reach the pass from Dhursa.
Lungdang Khola, Shiar (Syar) Khola, and Sarpu Khola are the main rivers of Tsum valley, originating from the glaciers. Regarding lakes, ChhoSyong-Mu, Khungyu Lake, ChhoLungyu, and Yamdro lakes are attractive lakes for tourists.
Trekkers will be delighted to see numerous waterfalls during the Tsum Valley Trek. Waterfalls like Chhuypang Chemo Chule, Samba Tingding Chhupyang, and Syoga Lungba are some major beautiful waterfalls that will come during trekking.
We will start our trekking with the lovely sunrise and a delectable breakfast. As we proceed through the pine forest and beautiful green terrain to our destination, we will stop for lunch at teahouses in the middle. We’ll have some Nepali delicacies or western cuisine during lunch hour. Additionally, after 5 to 6 hours of trekking and a blend of uphill and downhill terrain that includes several communities, waterfalls, and rivers, we will arrive at our destination in the evening. Similar to this, we will spend our time in a teahouse reading novels till dinner, playing cards with our guides, and making plans for the walk the next day as we sleep.
No other time of year will compare to the spring season as the ideal time to peacefully approach the Tsum Valley. The wildlife and vegetation in this area depend on this season for their vitality. Additionally, there will be sufficient clarity to appreciate the viewpoint of the magnificent flora and animals and the ideal view of the Himalayas. The weather will be warm and moderate, with daytime temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius.
The blustery months of September through November are also the ideal times to climb the Tsum Valley. Significant weather variations, Rhododendron blossoms, and pine forest growth will all make a magical experience during the trek. The temperature will be fantastic, with a daytime high of 10 degrees Celsius and a nighttime low of 0 degrees Celsius, keeping everything clear and pristine. With spectacular additional aspects this season, Tsum Valley Trek will be on a different dimension.
From June through August, there will be a lot of rain, making trekking through the Tsum Valley adventurous. However, the slope will be slippery and steep, making the ascent quite problematic. This trekking will be exciting due to the heavy rain and bright sunlight, with daytime temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius and overnight temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius. Even while monsoon fogs prevent a clear view of the Himalayas most of the time, there are occasional instances when rainfall dramatically improves visibility.
The winter walk across the Tsum Valley will be a little more arduous. In contrast to the chilly nights, which cause temperatures to drop below -5 degrees Celsius, the cold wind causes daytime temperatures to range from 5 to 3 degrees Celsius. Trekking will be beneficial during this season as well, with warm clothing.
Throughout the Tsum Valley Trek, you may come across many monasteries. These monasteries serve as a reflection of the customs and cultures of the inhabitants of the upper Tsum Valley.
In the center of the jungle, across the hills, you can see the Lungdang Gumba. On either side of this Gumba are high hills. It will be stunning to see the spectacular scenery of Ganesh Himal II and Ganesh Himal III from this Gumba. Approximately 50 monks reside in this Gumba. The local arts and crafts of this Gumba reflect the people of this region’s historical culture.
In 1936, Drupa Rinpoche, a “monk from Bhutan,” founded this lovely monastery. Many young and old Buddhists call the historic monastery home. Rachen Nunnery embodies the peaceful culture of the individuals who live in the Tsum Valley. More intriguing to observe are the prayer flags that descend from the monastery’s roof and the stone carvings that cover the floors.
The Mu Gumba radiates positive vibes. Most young monks practice meditation and study with their masters here. This Gompa is more tranquil due to the pleasant wind that comes directly from the north. It’s lovely because of the fluttering flags in the air and the peace from hearing Mu Gumpa chimes. Following the culture of Buddhism, people perform several rites and worship here.
The Tsum Valley Trek is moderate to severe in difficulty. This expedition incorporates a few severe and treacherous obstacles that you should be aware of sometime in the middle. However, everyone can finish the Tsum Valley Trek in peace, regardless of skill level, notwithstanding the above. All you need to do to prepare for the steep climb is some decent exercise before the hike. Because we will be trekking over 3000m, there may also be an issue with altitude sickness.
In addition, the trek up from the edge of Ganesh Himal and the trek to the Mu Gompa will be a little tricky. Similarly, conducting some cardiopulmonary and muscular strengthening exercises before the trek and researching the region’s weather patterns and scenery can work better for completing the Tsum Valley Trek smoothly.
Based on 5 Reviews
Without Peregrine Treks and Tours’ guidance, I could never have envisioned doing this trek. My sincere gratitude to the entire personnel of this trekking organization for coming up with such a fantastic adventure in the Tsum Valley. The accommodations were excellent because I didn’t anticipate getting such fantastic service during the trek. Moreover, I had the incredible opportunity to see Ganesh Himal, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri. It was beautiful to see the Rhododendron woodland across from the settlement of Chumling. I will never forget my experiences on the Tsum Valley Trek with Peregrine Treks and Tours.
From Peregrine Treks and Tours, this was an expedition on another level. It was incredible to experience the Tsum Valley trek. Across from the Lokpa settlements was an exquisite Tibetan hamlet. All throughout the trek, the meals were excellent. Moreover, it was remarkable to see how the greenery above the landscape reflected the pine forests during the trek. I’ll never forget when we came to a halt to let sheep and yak herds cross the trial. The incredible expedition was a unique and exciting experience. We are grateful to Peregrine Treks for making this possible.
The serene, tranquil sound of monastic bells was lovely. I had no idea I would see Mu and Rachen Gumba’s striking eyes as I crossed the Himalayas. Witnessing the prayer flags of these monasteries float in the chilly northerly breeze was a serene experience. I recall touring the monasteries’ interiors and photographing the arts and crafts representing the Buddhist culture. There was something primal and unique about the way those locals meditated. With their calm minds and subdued voices, the local Buddhists were magnificent. Aside from that, the Mu Gompa’s surroundings and environment were evocative and quite old.
A special mention goes to Peregrine Treks and Tours, one of Nepal’s most outstanding trekking companies. Taking a SUB utility bus to the Besi Sahar was enjoyable. The hike up from Chhekampar was abundant in natural features. Similarly, seeing the incredible caves, dwellings, stone sculptures, and prayer flags were fantastic. I recall the monkeys descending from the pine forests to get the fruits through the obstacle. The snowy setting from Ganesh Himal’s perspective was also fantastic to see. Our adventure ended in such tranquility makes me feel quite fortunate, and those were some of the best days.
I’ll never forget the inscribed mani walls depicting the history of the inhabitants of Tsum Valley. While traveling through the Manaslu Conservation area, the plants and fauna were rewarding to observe. I did not anticipate seeing a natural hot spring as well. The expedition was exciting and thrilling. I recall finding the yak’s footprints while trekking towards the Nile settlement. Similarly, the Buddhist monastery boasts an impressive view of the mountains from its tea rooms and rows of lovely prayer flags. From beginning to end, the Tsum Valley Trek was incredible, and I want to thank Peregrine Treks and Tours for providing skilled guides and porters and top-notch services during the trek.