To reach Tsum Valley is like entering into a secret valley. The trail drops down into a gorge on the Syar River and then up again as the land widens to form this rich farming valley nestled between the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas.
To the immediate south are the snowcapped mountains of the Ganesh Himal range, while to the north are the mountains of Tibet. There are only two entrances to this valley which includes just one from Nepal. Inside are a number of small villages as well as 14 Buddhist monasteries, all followers of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism.
The green valley is noted for its apple orchards. The wind blows through the valley, keeping it pleasantly cool even in the midst of summer. The people here primarily speak their own dialect of Tibetan, a dialect that has been developed for over 1000 years.
The valley, because of its isolation, has developed its own unique culture. These Buddhist eat no meat (which includes fish) and have just recently renewed their vows to extend this prohibition for another 300 years. Because of this, the wild animals have almost no fear of you and will come close to check you out. Everything here lives in peace and harmony; man and nature respect and honor one another.
Tsum Valley was not open to outside world until 2008. Until that time, the Buddhist lamas kept the region closed to outsiders in order to preserve its unique culture. Only in 2008 did the government of Nepal open the door to trekkers on a limited basis. It takes a special permit to enter Tsum Valley and to enjoy its friendly hospitality.
This 20 Day Trek features home stays which will allow you to visit the people and to get to know their culture. They are very accommodating and friendly, and enjoy the interaction with outsiders which is still new to them.
Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition is pleased to be able to offer this wonderful trekking opportunity. We have developed strong connections with the lamas and leaders of Tsum Valley, and we can get the necessary permits to allow you to enter the region.
We also have experienced guides who know how to get in and out of the valley as well as how to speak to the people in their native language. Many of the people of Tsum Valley still don't speak Nepali, so having a guide who can communicate in their unique tongue will make all the difference between an enjoyable trek and a poor one.
Join us this year on an exciting trek into Tsum Valley!
DAY 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to Hotel
DAY 2 – Full Day of Sightseeing in Kathmandu
DAY 3 – Drive to Arughat (elev. 570 m) by land cruiser – 6 hours
DAY 4 – Trek to Lapubesi (elev. 880 m) 5 hours.
DAY 5 – Trek to Khorlabesi (elev. 970 m) 5 hours
DAY 6 – Trek to Jagat (elev. 1370 m) 6 hours
DAY 7 – Trek to Lokpa (elev. 2240 m) 6 hours. Entrance to Tsum Valley
DAY 8 – Trek to Chumchet (elev. 2386 m) 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 9 – Trek to Lamagaon (elev. 3302 m) 6 hours
DAY 10 – Trek to Mu Gompa (elev. 3700 m) with side trip to Piren Phu – 6 hours
DAY 11 - Trek to Domje (elev. 2460 m) – 8 hours
DAY 12 – Trek to Gompa Lungdan (elev. 3200 m) – 7 – 8 hours
DAY 13 – Trek to Ganesh Himal Base Camp and back. (elev. 4500 m) 7 – 8 hours
DAY 14 – Trek to Chumchet (elev. 2386 m) 8 - 10 hours
DAY 15 – Trek to Lokpa (elev. 2240 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 16 – Trek to Philim (elev. 1570 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 17 – Trek to Machhakholagaon (elev. 865 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 18 – Trek to Soti Khola (elev. 700 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 19 – Travel to Kathmandu
DAY 20 - 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.
DAY 3 – Travel to Arughat (elev. 570 m): We will travel by land cruiser today to the village of Arughat Bazaar on the Budhi Gandaki River. Arughat is located at a low elevation, and tends to be rather warm in the spring and fall. We pass through interesting forests, cross the Akhu Khola (River) and then on to Arughat. This is the last village of any size, and it is a major bazaar for the people of this region. Any last minute items may be found here. You can find continental food, and we will spend the night in a lodge.
DAY 4 – Travel to Lapubesi (elev. 880 m): We begin our trek today as we move north to the village of Lapubesi. This is a pretty little village on a tributary of the Budhi Gandaki. We will be following the Budhi Gandaki upstream for the first part of this trek. We will spend the night at a local lodge. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 5 – Trek to Khorlabesi (elev. 970 m): The farther north we travel, the narrower the valley becomes. The cliffs are starting to rise high above us. We are following along the valley passing one hot springs at Tatopani, and will find ourselves walking next to the fast flowing waters of the river. There are some Mani walls along the way, as well as some coffee trees that have become a new cash crop. We will spend the night at a local lodge which is quite pleasant and has some good choices of food.
DAY 6 – Trek to Jagat (elev. 1370 m): Jagat is an amazing stone village with flag stone streets. The trek today will rise and fall along some of the cliffs as well as along some very large Mani walls. Watch out for donkey trains as they transport goods up and down the trails. You can hear their bells ringing to warn us of their coming. It is best to take the side away from the drop-off as donkeys sometimes don't care if they push you over as they make their way with their packs. There will be good views of Mt. Manaslu today. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours, and we will spend the night in a local lodge.
DAY 7 – 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 has become narrower. 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 with a smile. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 8 - 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 9 – 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 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 - Trek to Domje (elev. 2460 m): We began the return trip today as we make our way out of the upper valley and to the tiny little community of Domje. It is at the confluence of the Syar and a small river that comes right from the Ganesh Himal Mountains. There are some dense forests along the way where we can expect to see wild animals. We will also be experiencing herds of yaks as these animals are the principle work animals of the High Himalayas. Large with shaggy coats, they don't like warm weather, so they are best suited for living at the higher elevations. There is one local lodge in Domje which is nothing special, but does have a bed and some basic food. Trekking time is 7 – 8 hours.
DAY 12 - Trek to Gompa Lungdan (elev. 3200 m): Today we travel to a remote monastery which offers places for trekkers to stay. Gompa Lungdan sits overlooking Mt. Ganesh Himal I at 7422 meters. There are no villages along the way as we are in a very remote part of the valley. We make our way uphill to reach this place, taking a picnic lunch on the way. Trekking time is 6 – 8 hours.
DAY 13 – Explore Ganesh Himal Base Camp (elev. 4300 m): Today can be a day of rest at Gompa Lungdan, or you can take the trek to Ganesh Himal Base Camp for one of the finest views of the Ganesh Himal Mountain Range. It's a bit of a climb up to base camp, but well worth the trip. Still, if you want to spend the day relaxing at the monastery, there is plenty to enjoy with spectacular views.
Day 14 - Trek to Chumchet (el Trek to Lokpa (elev. 2386 m): It's the return trip today as we make our way down the mountain to Domje and then back to Chumchet where we will stay at the nice guest house we enjoyed when we first arrived. Trekking time is 8 - 10 hours.
DAY 15 - Trek to Lokpa (elev. 2240 m): We return through rhododendron forests, past waterfalls and again descend deep into the Syar River valley that forms the entrance to Tsum Valley before we start to ascend to the village of Lokpa. This is the last place to buy Lhasa Beer and other goods from China as we prepare to leave Tsum Valley tomorrow. Today's trek is a little less, only about 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 16 – 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 17 – 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 18 - 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 19 – 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 20 – 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 Lodge 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 in Three Star Hotels. On the trek, we will stay 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 with someone else of the same sex. 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.