If one wants to truly experience the fullness of Tibetan Buddhism, one does not need to go to Tibet. Here in Tsum Valley near the Tibetan border is a land where there are 14 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries where you can experience the opportunities to meditate in one of the most delightful settings.
It is here that the famed guru St. Milarepa meditated, turning this valley from warlike cannibals to a place so devoted to peace that no animal or fish is ever eaten. Here, the wild animals will come right up to you with no fear of humans. The people practice their faith in ways that have been separated from the outside world.
This isolated valley was only opened for foreign visitors in 2008 and it retains its charm in this sparsely populated valley. There are only 2500 people living in the upper and lower Tsum Valley, but you will find lamas and gurus who are expert teachers in Buddhism.
There will be time to meditate on this trek. There will be opportunities to learn and reflect. The snowcapped peaks only add to the depth of the spiritual enlightenment.
There is the cave where St. Milarepa meditated, and there you can see his footprint in the rock. There are many Mani Walls, chhortens, and beautiful monasteries to see. The valley may be remote, but it is a land of heightened enlightenment.
Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition is a leading company for Buddhist Spiritual Tours and Treks. We take you into some wonderful areas where you can immerse yourself in meditation and knowledge as you follow the 8 Fold Path of the Buddha.
DAY 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu and transfer to your hotel.
DAY 2 – Tour of Important Buddhist Sites in the Kathmandu Valley
DAY 3 – Travel by private vehicle to Soti Khola.
DAY 4 – Trek to Machhakholagaon (6 – 7 hours)
DAY 5 – Trek to Jagat (5 – 6 hours)
DAY 6 – Trek to Lokpa (6 – 7 hours)
DAY 7 – Trek to Chumchet (6 – 8 hours)
DAY 8 – Trek to Lamagaon (6 – 8 hours)
DAY 9 – Visit Rachen Gomba
DAY 10 – Visit Piren Phu Cave and trek to Mu Gumba
DAY 11 – Spend Day at Mu Gumba
DAY 12 – Trek to Chhokang Paro
DAY 13 – Trek to Chumchet
DAY 14 – Trek to Lokpa
DAY 15 – Trek to Philim
DAY 16 – Trek to Machhakholagaon
DAY 17 – Trek to Soti Khola
DAY 18 – Return to Kathmandu
DAY 19 – Departure
DAY 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu: You will arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport where you will be met by your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition and taken by private vehicle to your Three Star Hotel where you can relax for the night. There will be a short orientation program in the evening at your hotel.
DAY 2 – Sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley: We will visit several of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Valley. There are seven UNESCO sites, of which we will visit four today. In the evening, prepare for your journey to Tsum Valley as we spend the night in a Three Star Hotel.
DAY 3 – Journey to Soti Khola (elev. 700 m): Today's journey is by private vehicle as we journey westward to our destination of the village of Soti Khola. Located on the confluence of the Soti Khola (river) and the Budhi Gandaki River, it is a nice, pleasant place to stay. The journey here will take us through quaint villages and forests, crossing a couple of large rivers before arriving at our local lodge for the night. Travel time is around 7 – 8 hours.
DAY 4 – Trek to Machhakholagaon (elev. 865 m): Today is the first day of trekking, and we are following along the west shore of the Budhi Gandaki River. This is the major river that drains the Tsum Valley/Manaslu area. It is a wild river with plenty of rapids as it carves a deeper and deeper valley the farther upstream we will trek. We will pass through the village of Tatopani, known for its hot springs. Our destination is the terraced village of Machhakholagaon which has a good guest house and some great food. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 5 – Trek to Jagat (elev. 1370 m): Our journey takes us along Mani Walls and pass a number of Buddhist chhortens. We start seeing more evidence of Buddhism as it is much stronger in the mountains. There are some high places on which we will be overlooking the river valley below. Jagat is an impressive village made of stone with stone paved streets. Here we will spend the night in a local lodge. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 6 – Trek to Lokpa (elev. 2240 m): We are rising in elevation as we following along the Budhi Gandaki. We will cross the river on a suspension bridge and then trek upwards to Philim Village. This is the last village of any size as we travel to Tsum Valley. From here, we will start seeing fewer and fewer villages while rising higher and higher above the river. We can watch eagles and hawks soar on thermals while spotting magnificent waterfalls as they fall over cliffs and down to meet the river below. The river below has become narrow. Once we reach the confluence of the Budhi Gandaki and Syar Rivers, we will follow the trail along the latter. This river drains Tsum Valley. Our destination is the little village of Lokpa, the first village of Tsum Valley. It is small, but has a nice lodge with good selection of Chinese goods at the connecting store. The owner has four beautiful daughters who cook, clean and will serve you. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 7 - Trek to Chumchet (elev. 2386 m): We may be in Tsum Valley area, but today we actually enter the valley through a very narrow trail that will take us down to the rapids of the Syar River. We will not see any villages along the way as we pass through the narrow canyon until we come almost to our goal of Chumchet Village. Near there is a little community of one house called Gumlung. Here there is a little local store, tea house, tea stall, little restaurant and anything else they can serve you. It is a great place to stop for a cold drink (he has cold Coca-Cola and Chinese beer). We cross the bridge of the Syar River and it is a short walk to Chumchet which has some fantastic views of the snowcapped peaks. The local lodge is pleasant and has good food. There is a monastery here along with wonderfully terraced farm fields. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 8 – Trek to Lamagaon (elev. 3302 m): We continue to follow the Syar River as we move from the lower to the upper Tsum Valley. The entire population of Tsum Valley is only 2500 people, so villages are spaced far apart. The elevation rises as we go to the upper valley through dense forests with monkeys and other wild animals. The upper valley is rich farmland in the narrow valley with many monasteries, chhortens and Mani walls. Apple orchards become common once we reach the largest village of Chhokang Paro. We will continue up the trail to the delightful village of Lamagaon. Here there is a great home stay. The people who own this place are wonderful, and you will have the opportunity to not only have great hospitality, but also see how they live and farm. They make most of their goods by hand in the home. Nearby is Rachen Gompa, one of the largest monasteries in Tsum Valley that can house 113 monks and nuns. Trekking time is 7 – 8 hours.
DAY 9 – Visit Rachen Gomba: Right across the river from Lamagaon is one of the largest monasteries in Tsum Valley. This monastery is under the direction of a highly regarded lama who has been trained in Tibetan Buddhism. The grounds are large and spacious, and there are 113 individual cells for monks and nuns who study here. We will stay one more night with our friends in Lapagaon at their wonderful guest house.
DAY 10 - Trek to Mu Gompa (elev. 3700 m): The upper valley has many more small villages than the lower valley and we will gain elevation until we come to Mu Gompa where we will spend the night at a Buddhist monastery. Along the way, we will stop in the morning to visit Piren Phu which is cave monastery. Here on the mountainside is where the great guru Rinpoche meditated, leaving his footprint in the rock. From up here, it is one of the most fantastic views of the valley surrounded by the high snowcapped peaks. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 11 – Spend day at Mu Gompa: The same lama that is in charge of Rachen Gompa is also the spiritual leader of this community at Mu Gompa. What is nice here is that this monastery is open for tourists to stay. Today we will have the opportunity to meditate and meet some of the leading gurus that teach here. We can spend the time in meditation in the high mountains which form a wonderful meditative background for meditation and reflection. We will spend another night here.
DAY 12 – Trek to Chhokang Paro (elev. 3030 m): Chokkang Paro is the largest village in Tsum Valley. We have begun the return trek today as we will pass through a number of our enjoyable little villages with their local monasteries. We will visit one on the way back to Chhokang Paro. If we are in season, we can get some delicious apples that this valley is famous for. We will spend the night in Chhokang Paro at a local lodge. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 13 – Trek to Chumchet (elev. 2386 m): We enter the lower valley today as we follow along the Syar River to Chumchet. The valley is beautiful. There are fewer farms in this region, but the scenery is beautiful with pleasant views of the snow-capped mountains. Winds flutter through prayer flags that line our way. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 14 – Trek to Lopka (elev. 2240 m): Today we leave the Valley as we make our way through the narrow valley entrance and then up to Lopka to spend the night. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 15 – Trek to Philim (elev. 1570 m): We leave Tsum Valley as we pass through pine forests, following the bend of the Syar River as it prepares to join up with the Budhi Gandaki River. Once we reach the confluence of the two rivers, it starts to form a deep canyon while we walk along the trail high above it. We will reach Philim tonight where we can get some good food and spend the night in a good guest house and even have a hot bath. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 16 – Trek to Machhakholagaon (elev. 865 m): The Budhi Gandaki River picks up more water from many mountain streams that flow into it, and the river now has the power to cut a major canyon as it descends down toward the Terai region. We are following our old trail back to a pretty little village of Machhakholagaon. Here we find many water taps, good places to stay and great food. The village sits on a hill and there are stone steps up and down the main street. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 17 - Trek to Soti Khola (elev. 700 m): Today is our final day of trekking as we make our way downstream following the Budhi Gandaki River. We will pass through coffee orchards and by farms in this narrow valley. We will stop for the night at Soti Khola at a local lodge. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 18 – Return to Kathmandu: We pick up our vehicle today and begin the drive back along the back roads following the river until we reach the main highway back to Kathmandu. In the evening, we will enjoy a farewell dinner complete with a local cultural show. We will return to our Three Star Hotel for a good bed and a hot shower.
DAY 19 – Departure: All good things must come to an end, and today, it is time to travel to your next destination. Your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can help you to plan your future trip as well as to other destinations around South Asia. Be sure to talk to your representative before leaving Kathmandu about a return trip to this great country. As they say, a lifetime is never enough to explore all that Nepal and the Himalayas have to offer.
Your safety is of paramount concern while traveling with Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition. Please note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary; however, since this adventure entails travelling to remote mountainous regions, we cannot guarantee that we will not deviate from it. Weather conditions, health conditions of a group member, unexpected natural disasters, etc, can all contribute to changes in the itinerary. The leader will try to ensure that the trip runs according to plan, but please be prepared to be flexible if required.
THE TREKKING GROUP
For this trek, there will be one leader, an assistant leader (4 trekkers = 1 assistant leader) and Sherpa porters for carrying luggage (2 trekkers = 1 porter). This arrangement ensures that if anyone in the group is sick, the trip can still go ahead as planned. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can run this trek for groups of any size. But, Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition generally includes maximum of twelve (12) visitors as this company has found this to be the optimum size for a successful trip. However, if you would like to make a group booking for more than twelve people, Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can arrange this, too.
All accommodations for the Tsum Valley Buddhist Spiritual Trek are on a twin sharing basis with inclusive trip costs and based on standard of hygiene, standard of service and food, location, etc. There are two styles of accommodations on this trip. In Kathmandu, we will stay three nights in Three Star Hotels. On the trek, we will stay fifteen nights at local lodges and tea houses which do vary in quality. Most contain unheated rooms with wood beds and foam mattresses. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition provides attached rooms in some major towns; however tea houses or lodges in some places only have shared facilities as well as shared toilet. If we are a solo traveler, we may have to share the room. However, some places in Tsum Valley have just one big room where everyone sleeps. Please understand that we will try to provide single rooms if at possible for an additional supplemental fee.
During our trek, we can enjoy typical Nepali food as well as some basic foods from different types of cuisines. While in Kathmandu, we can enjoy a great selection of foods from a variety of ethnic cultures. In the larger villages, we will have good selections, but some of the small villages may only feature a single item for dinner. Lunch will be served as a picnic lunch. There will be a farewell dinner that will feature a cultural show in Kathmandu.