An Inner Journey to Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit

June 1, 2020

When a journey blends the circumnavigation of nature and culture at once, there exists an experience of a world apart. Such an experience comes true with the Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek. Set off on an adventure to the world’s eighth highest mountains and a hidden valley as you enjoy a journey to the religious heritage of ancient Buddhism.

This region was only opened for trekking around the late 90s. Thus, much of the land here remains untouched. The trek perfectly depicts the fantastic wilderness of Nepal and the cultural beauty that follows. With trails set on an array of diverse terrain, one can truly find the adventure they seek. Cascading waterfalls, gushing glacial rivers, amusing high passes, and rich biodiversity are some remarkable things to look out for on the trip. But the journey has more to offer here. The hidden valley of Tsum is known to possess a unique Buddhist culture that remains untouched and unbothered by modern civilization.

The Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek is a unique journey. Here are five reasons for what makes this journey unique and worth trying:

1. Immense Natural Beauty
Nepal is a land of mythical beauty, and the Manaslu region fits right into the description. Nestled on the laps of the world’s eighth highest mountain, the diverse terrain here holds an array of unique landscapes. The structural beauty that this region has is unparalleled. The trails are set within cascading waterfalls, winding hills, glacial rivers, high passes, and rugged topography. Within the region, is also a diversified set of flora and fauna? The lush greenery here holds some unique species of animals and plants. All these features depict the immense natural beauty of the Tsum valley and Manaslu circuit trek that is worth witnessing.

2. Views of Mountains
As the name suggests, the trek circuits around Mt. Manaslu (8,156 m), the eighth highest mountain in the world. Witnessing some great mountains is one of the biggest delights of traveling in Nepal. The Manaslu circuit trek is no different. You can view some fantastic mountains such as Ganesh Himal, Shringi Himal, Hiunchuli, the Annapurna ranges, and the Manaslu itself. From the stunning pass of Larkya La at the altitude of 5220 meters, one can get a magnificent 360-degree view of the horizon.

3. High Passes
The Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek encompass a number of high cliffs and passes. One such notable pass is the Larkya La pass. At 5,220 meters, this pass is the highest point you will reach during this journey. It is also the most challenging part of the trip as both the ascent and descent are steep and difficult to walk on. At the top of the pass, you get a magnificent view of the scenery. Some notable mountains to see from the pass include Himlung Himal (7126meters), Cheo Himal (6820meters), Gyagi Kung, Kang Kuru (6981meters), and Annapurna II (7937meters).

4. Rich Buddhist Culture
The hidden valley of Tsum is known for its precious Tibetan Buddhist culture. The beautiful Mani walls, Chortens, shrines, and monasteries reflect the existence of the rich culture. The monasteries here are a great way to get a more in-depth insight into the Tibetan Buddhist culture. Some famous monasteries to visit here are Rachen Gompa and Mu Gompa, the region’s biggest monastery. The Buddhist culture of the Tsum valley till date remains untouched and unravaged by modernization. Thus, learning about this special culture is a true blessing.

5. Diverse local ethnicities
Another major attraction of the Tsum valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek is the local ethnic diversity. The trails of the trek pass through various scattered settlements. As you get closer to the local communities, you witness the beautiful cultural diversity that exists here. Observe how each ethnic group, with their cultural values and beliefs, live in harmony with the other. Some prominent ethnic groups of the Manaslu region are Gurungs, Magar, Chhetri, Tamang, etc. This serves as an excellent opportunity to learn more about Nepali culture and traditional lifestyle.

Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2: Restricted Area Permit procedure and Guided Sightseeing tour in Kathmandu Valley
Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Soti Khola710m by land cruiser (6-7hrs)
Day 4: Trek from Soti Khola to Kholabesi 920m, (5-6hrs)
Day 5: Trek from Kholabesi to Jagat 1410m, (6-7hrs)
Day 6: Trek from Jagat to Lokpa 2240m, (6-7hrs)
Day 7: Trek from Lokpa to Chhokang Paro 3031m, (6-7hrs)
Day 8: Trek from Chhokang Paro to Mu Gompa 3700, (5-6hrs)
Day 9: Trek from Mu Gompa to Chhokang Paro 3031m, (5-6hrs)
Day 10: Trek from Chhokangparo to Gumba Lungdang 3200m, (5-6hrs)
Day 11: Day trip to Ganesh Himal Base Camp 4500m, (7-8hrs)
Day 12: Trek from Gumba Lungdang to Lokpa 2240, (7-8hrs)
Day 13: Trek from Lokpa to Ghap 2300m, (7-8hrs)
Day 14: Trek from Ghap to Lho 3180m, (5-6hrs)
Day 15: Trek from Lho to Samagaon 3520m, (3-4hrs)
Day 16: Trek from Samagaon to Samdo 3875m, (3-4hrs)
Day 17: Trek from Samdo to Dharamsala 4460m (3-4hrs)
Day 18: Trek from Dharamsala to Bimthang 3590m, (7-8hrs) via Larkya-La Pass (5160m)
Day 19: Trek from Bimtang to Dharapani 1860m, (6-7hrs).
Day 20: Trek from Dharapani to Syange 1100, (5-6hrs).
Day 21: Trek from Syange to Kathmandu by land cruiser (7hrs)
Day 22: Final Departure from Kathmandu

Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek Route
The journey of the Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek begins with a scenic drive from Kathmandu to Soti Khola. The drive takes about 6 to 7 hours and takes you through winding hills towards the Manaslu region. You will stay overnight at Soti Khola and prepare for the trek the next day. You will head towards Jagat via Khorlabesi. You start ascending as you enjoy the sight of gorgeous rivers, valleys, and lush greenery. From Jagat, your next destination is Lokpa. You reach Lokpa within 6 to 7 hours and rest there for the night. From Lokpa, your next stop is at Chhokang Paro. Enjoy the majestic panoramic views from Chhokang Paro, beyond which lies the famous Rachen Gompa.

Walk by the many fields and livestock of the local people as you head towards Mu Gompa. Mu Gompa is located westwards on the close borders to Tibet. It is also the most remote part of the Tsum Valley. You can enjoy the spectacular view of the surrounding snow-clad mountains as you hear the sounds of the prayer flags flapping in the rushing breeze. The day after you reach Mu Gompa, you return to Chhokang Paro and then towards Gumba Lungdang the next day. Enjoy a day trip to Ganesh Himal Base Camp at 4500 meters and witness a breathtaking view of Ganesh Himal and the surrounding alpine wilderness.

You will now return to Lokpa. You pass by some lush greenery, gushing rivers, and several settlements. From Lokpa, you will make your way towards Ghap and then to Lho. The following day, you will trek towards Samagaon. You again pass by several settlements and religious sites such as Mani walls and Chortens. The next day, you make your way towards Samdo. The short walk leads through fantastic views of Mt. Manaslu. You reach the Tibetan refugee village, which lies close to the Tibetan border. From Samdo, you will head towards Dharmashala. The trail is steep and takes about 4 hours to complete. Finally, on the eighteenth day, you will head towards Bimthang via Larkya La Pass. At 5,160 meters, this is the highest point you will reach during the trip. This is also the most challenging day of the trek, as you will walk around 8 hours. After you reach Bimthang, the trek almost comes to an end. You make your way towards Dharapani, and then to Syange the day after. From Syange, you drive back to Kathmandu, where the journey ends.

Restricted Area Permits and Accommodation
Like any other trek in Nepal, you need to obtain a few permits for the Tsum valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek. You will require a Special Restricted Area Permit (Manaslu RAP), Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP Permit), and Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP Permit). Your tour operator will obtain these permits on your behalf and include the cost of these permits in your package.

The Tsum Valley and Manaslu Circuit Trek is a teahouse type trek. This implies that all accommodation includes facilities of lodges or guesthouses, also known as teahouses. If you are traveling with a trekking agency, they will prepare all bookings for you in advance.

Key information
● The cost of the Tsum valley and Manaslu Circuit trek is $1,850 per person.
● This is a strenuous trek. You will be walking around 6 hours on average per day. The trails may differ at points from well-built to natural rocky paths. Thus, this trek is only suitable for those with moderate experience in trekking.
● Make sure you are well-informed about the altitude coverage of the trip. You must be aware of your body condition and whether it can withstand the altitude pressure or not.
● The best time to do this trek is during spring (March to May) and autumn (August to November). These seasons have the best weather conditions with the least chances of rainfall. The temperatures during these months are also moderately warm or cool.

The Tsum valley with Manaslu Circuit Trek is a unique way of exploring the Himalayas. The immense beauty that comes with the natural and cultural aspects of the region is unparalleled and one of a kind. If you are planning on going for a trek to witness Nepal’s wilderness, you should consider putting Tsum valley with Manaslu circuit trek as an option.