At a glance
Trekking Destination: Tsum Trekking
Transportation: private and public vehicle
Trekking hour: 5-6 hours each day
The Tsum Valley, north east of the Manaslu (mountain of the spirit) trail, was first opened to trekking in 2008. The Tsumbas are of Tibetan origin, speak a unique dialect and still trade to the north. The valley is rich in ancient art, culture and religion. It adds a richly rewarding extension to the Manaslu trek.
A scenic drive through the Middle Hills leads to the trailhead beyond Arughat at Soti Khola. The Manaslu Tsum valley trekking trail crosses numerous ridges and villages as it rises to Philim. Here it turns east into the lower, then broader Upper Tsum Valley. Crops include barley, maize, buckwheat and potatoes. Look out for Himalayan Tahrs and Bharal (blue sheep); preyed on by illusive snow leopards.
Highlights include the village of Chhekampar with its stone houses, slate roofs and Milarepa’s cave. The monastery at Mu Gompa and Rachen Gompa to the south has nuns of the Ngak-pa sect. Gumba Lungdang is another important nunnery where trekkers are welcomed at the evening puja. Their 360o views are amongst the best on the trek. From there a forest track leads to the Ganesh Himal Base Camp.
At Lokpa, the trail rejoins the Manaslu circuit and climbs through the Kutang – Nupri valleys (the western mountains: part of Tibet until the 1840s); peopled by another Tibetan community with its own distinct customs and language. The route is forested and gradually presents views of Himal Chuli, Ngadi Chuli and Manaslu with the glaciers that flow from their flanks.
In Samagaon, visit the Kargyu Chholing Monastery and Pungyen Nunnery. A high trail leads to the Manaslu Base Camp: the mountain was first conquered by a Japanese team in 1959.
Then, for two days, the trail climbs gradually toward the Larkya La, passing great vistas. The downward trek drops into the forested Marsyangdi Valley and joins the Annapurna Circuit Trail for the downstream walk to Tal and jeep/bus to Kathmandu.