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.
Day 01: Arrive Kathmandu (1,300m/4,264ft)
Day 02: Kathmandu valley sightseeing and trek preparation
Day 03: Kathmandu – Arughat (670m/2,198 ft) Soti Khola (710m/2,330ft): 135km, 8-9 hrs drive
Day 04: Soti Khola – Machha Khola (890m/2,920ft): 14km, 6-7 hrs
Day 05: Machha Khola – Dobhan (1,000m/3,280ft): 11km, 6-7 hrs
Day 06: Dobhan – Philim (1,590m/5,216ft): 10km, 6-7 hrs
Day 07: Philim – Lokpa (2,240m/7,350ft) – Chumling (2,360m/7,750ft):10km, 6-7 hrs
Day 08: Chumling – Chhekampar (3,010m/9,850ft): 10km, 5-6 hrs
Day 09: Chhekampar – Nile (3,480m/11,415ft): 8km, 4-5 hrs
Day 10: Exploration day: Nile – Mu Gompa (3,709m/12,169ft) – Chhekampar (3,010m/9,870ft): 13km, 6-7 hrs
Day 11: Chhekampar – Gumba Lungdang (3,200m/10,496ft): 12km, 5-6 hrs
Day 12: Gumba Lungdang – Ripchet (2,470m/8,100ft) – Lokpa (2,240m/7,348ft): 14km, 7-8 hrs
Day 13: Lokpa – ‘New Bridge’ (1,675m/5,500ft) – Bihi Phedi (1,990m/6,530ft): 9km, 6-7 hrs
Day 14: Bihi Phedi – Namrung (2,660m/8,727ft): 8km, 4-5 hrs
Day 15: Namrung – Lho (3,180m/10,430ft): 4km, 3-4hrs
Day 16: Lho – Sama Gaon (3,530m/11,578ft): 8km, 5-6 hrs
Day 17: Sama: Rest and exploration day: Birendra Tal / Pungyen Gompa / Manaslu Base Camp
Day 18: Sama – Samdo (3,860m/12,660ft): 8km, 3-4 hrs
Day 19: Samdo – Larkya Phedi/Dharamsala (4,460m/14,628ft): 7km, 3-5 hrs
Day 20: Dharamsala – Larkya La (5,160m/16,930ft) – Bimthang (3,720m/12,201ft): 12km, 7-9 hrs
Day 21: Bimthang – Gho (2,515m/8,250ft): 12km, 5-6 hrs
Day 22: Gho – Dharapani (1,920m/6,300ft): 8km, 3-4 hrs
Day 23: Dharapani- Besi Sahar (760m/2,495ft) – Kathmandu (1,300m/4,264ft): 190km 7-8hrs
Day 24: Final departure