Tsum Valley Trek: A Journey towards the Distant land
Tsum Valley is a sacred Himalayan pilgrimage Valley and one of such regions in the world that exists in complete isolation. When we can’t even spare some time away from our modern means, people of Tsum Valley has been living life in total seclusion of peace and freedom from interference.
This very astounding fact and the striking location of Tsum Valley amid the Himalayas entices trekkers and is now becoming popular amongst trekkers from around the world. Now is your time to embark on this remarkable trip of your lifetime. The journey might feel ordinary, but the destination is extraordinary.
ABOUT TSUM VALLEY TREK
In 2007, when the rest of Nepal was busy in the chaos of “development,” “infrastructure,” and in the horde of luring as many tourists as possible, Tsum Valley had just opened its gates for trekking and tourism.
Tsum Valley is Tibetan-influenced, and even its name is derived from the Tibetan word “Tsombo,” meaning vivid. Inhabitants of Tsum Valley are called Tsumbas, and many of them have claimed the sighting of Yeti, which they refer as Mehti. The practice of Buddhism is so astute in this valley that it has no violence creed for over 90 years. No animals are hurt or slaughtered in the valley and pains are made to avoid accidental killings of insects or any living creatures. It is believed that Buddhist Saint Milerappa had meditated in the caves of these mountains.
Located in northern Gorkha, Nepal, the valley consists of two remote settlement of Chumchet (Lower Tsum) and Chhekampar (Upper Tsum).
The ultimate solitariness of Tsum valley has left many religious and archeological relics intact. And talking about the cultural practices, polyandry system prevails in Tsum Valley even to this date. From culture, tradition, and even dialect; they have of their own. Certainly, to unravel one of the purest and authentic settlements in the world is worth an effort
TSUM VALLEY TREK
Trekking towards the Tsum Valley is no less than a privilege, as its setting amidst the splendour of the Himalayas with an astounding lifestyle is not something you can experience every day.
Tsum Valley trek is both magical, and majestic that takes you towards the serene surrounding of Baudha Himal ranges, Ganesh Himal and Sringin Himal. As the valley as once a part of Tibet, Tsumbas are of Tibetan origin whose culture and practices are that of Tibetans.
As it is just over a decade since Tsum Valley started to welcome foreigners, very few numbers of trekkers have made their way to this mystical valley of Himalaya. Tsum Valley trek comprises very less exposed area compared to other trekking regions, with relatively virgin and off-the-beaten-path trails.
On the main way towards the Tsum Valley, it leads to the Manaslu Conservation Area, and the route goes through a steep-sided gorge. The journey unfolds stunning waterfalls, exhilarating narrow canyons with sheer sides and full of large boulders and monasteries with colorful prayer flags. As you continue the trek, you will see the Buddhist symbols painted on the boulders as well as the Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hom in a massive meter high Tibetan letters.
Surrounded by Baudha Himal and Himal Chuli to the west, Ganesh Himal to the south and Sringi Himal to the North, Tsum Valley trek lets you immerse in the Himalayan beauty as well.
TSUM VALLEY TREK HIGHLIGHTS
-Along with a very preserved culture and unique practice, Tsum Valley trek also involves a very stunning view of several majestic mountains including Ganesh Himal (7,422 meters), Sringi Himal (7,187 meters), Buddha Himal (6,672 meters) and Hiunchuli (6,441 meters).
-Piren Phu (Pigeon Cave), which is a sacred cave, has a religious essence as Yogi Chyuchin Milarepa, a legendary Buddhist sage mediated in this cave. The cave is located near a village called Burji. As per the popular legend, the sage often used to disguise himself while he went begging, and one day a woman gave him a meager scrap of bread. Then later, this woman’s field became totally barren. It is believed that even to this day, you can see a small plot of land in the village where nothing grows.
-In the monastery, you can see the statue of Avalokiteshwara, Buddha, and Tara. Here you can see also the footprint of Chyuchin Milarepa. There are several religious sites in Piren Phu, as well as several ancient scripts on the stones and ceiling.
-Rachen Gompa, established in 1905 in Shiar Khola Valley, Mu Gompa established in late nineteenth century, which is a six-hour hike form Chekkam, Dephyudonma Gompa, the oldest gompa in Tsum Valley and Lungdang Gompa, established through the determined efforts of a blind man in early 20th century; all these ancient Buddhist monasteries is one of the major highlights of Tsum Valley Trek.
-Not to mention the Tibetan culture and tradition you will witness in this trek, which is one of the most preserved ones in the world. If you embark on Tsum Valley Trek during the month from December to January, you will witness a very important festival of this valley, Dhachyang, also known as the festival of horses. In this festival, beautifully decorated horses participate in the race.
Likewise in the month of May, Saka Dawa festival is celebrated by locals in the commemoration of birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. The most prominent festival is Losar (Tibetan New Year), which is celebrated for 15 days during January/February. The festival of Faning is celebrated to mark the attainment of internal energy. It is believed that energy can be gained from any food, including water. The festival is celebrated in mid – August by having nutritious and delicious food.
TSUM VALLEY ALTITUDE
The total coverage of Tsum Valley is about 1663 km2, and the lowest point is at 1,905 meters, Lhokpa and highest is at over 5,093 on the Tibetan border, Nagula Dhojhyang.
The highest altitude reached on the Tsum Valley trek is Mu Gompa at 3,700 meters, however trekking further to Dhephyudonma Gompa at 4,060 is an equally popular option.
TSUM VALLEY TREK DIFFICULTY
Although Tsum Valley trek is not a strenuous one, it doesn’t require expert knowledge or skills either. Having a good fitness with 6 to 7 hours of high touch strolling stamina level is equally important. Scaling up with a slower pace, having enough nutrition, enough rest, and keeping yourself hydrated are some tips to make the journey a bit less challenging.
TSUM VALLEY PERMIT
As Tsum Valley falls under the restricted area, you will certainly require a restricted area permit.
For restricted area permit, the following is the fee structure.
-September to November: US 70 per person per week (after a week US 10 each for an extra day.)
-December to August: US 50 per person per week (after a week US 7 each for an extra day.)
Along with it, you will need two national parks and a general trekking permit. Below is the information in detail.
-Manaslu Conservation Area Project permit: NRs 3,000
-TIMS Card: NRs 1,000 (Not required around Manaslu Conservation Area where you have restricted area permit.)
TSUM VALLEY ROAD
It is really a major development that Tsum Valley is being connected with road. Previous hikers of Lapu Besi and Maccha Khola would have noticed the road building on, and the road is connected to China.
It was 2010 when government’s Western Regional Road Directive under Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Development of Nepal announced the construction of an international road connecting Tibet and India and the route selected would pass through Tsum Valley.
TSUM VALLEY SHORT TREK
Tsum Valley Trek is a long trek that usually takes around 20 days. However, if you are short on time, Tsum Valley Short trek is possible in 10 days. Although the journey might be a bit of hush-hush, Tsum Valley short trek is possible too.
MANASLU TSUM VALLEY TREK
Manaslu Circuit Trek starts with a scenic drive through Middle Hills leading to the trail beyond Arughat at Soti Khola. The trail crosses numerous ridges and villages as it rises to Philim. From here, the trail turns east towards the lower Tsum Valley, then the border of Upper Tsum Valley.
You will see the beautiful terrace field of crops, including barley, maize, buckwheat, and potatoes.
Then, passing through the village of Chhekampar that consists of stone houses, slate roofs, Milerap’s cave, Mu Gompa, Rachen Gompa, and the vivid beauty of Tsum, we descend.
When we reach the village called Lokpa, the trail rejoins Manaslu Circuit and climbs through Nupri Valley which is inhabited by Tibetan community. Walking in the forested area, the mesmerizing view of Himal Chuli, Manaslu and Ngadi Chuli gradually appears.
As the journey went further, we get past Samagoan, and a high trail comes which lead to the Manaslu Base Camp. Now, for two days, the trail climbs gradually towards the Larkya La pass and descends into the forest area of Marsyandi Valley.
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