Tsum Valley Trekking is the solution to tired crowded trekking routes in what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation.
Restricted to tourists for a long time, the Tsum valley was finally opened to tourists in 2008. Due to this, it is still remarkably intact, and trekking through it feels like going on an adventure in an ancient land filled with the bounty of nature and small villages that have escaped the grasp of modern trappings.
The Tsum Valley is located in northern Gorkha and is an optional route while completing the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Its name, “Tsum” originates from the Tibetan word “Tsombo”, which means vivid, and no other word perfectly captures this valley’s essence.
Most of the inhabitants trace their lineage to Tibet, and Tibetan culture strongly influences their culture. They follow Buddhism and its influence is so strong that the people have taken an oath of non-violence that prohibits them from sacrificing animals, hunting, and starting forest fires.
Many monasteries have been built in this region, and you will have a great and informative time as you marvel at the many paintings, statues, and relics these monasteries hold.
Shielded from encroachment into its natural element due to this oath and the ban on tourists by the Government of Nepal, the valley is a treasure trove for nature lovers. Your trail runs along the Shear Khola, which originates from the glaciers of Ganesh Himal (7,422 m) and Shringi Himal (7161 m).
As you trek along its many raging tributaries through dense forests, you will gaze at the many ruins and relics of the “Tsum Tso Chuksum” (literally thirteen provinces of a single territory), an ancient kingdom centered on this valley.
The Manaslu Conservation is mainly two different Trekking routes: Tsum Vally Trek, and Manaslu Circuit Trek. En route, The Tsum valley with Manaslu Circuit Trek is an alternative hiking route besides your longer adventure holidays.
Key highlights of the Tsum Valley Trekking
- Travel through this seemingly ancient valley off the well-worn path taking in its sights unbothered by mobs of tourists and the trappings of modernity.
- Trek across high suspension bridges along roaring waterfalls, travel through dense pine, fir, and oak forests, and observe species endemic to the Manaslu region.
- Awe-inspiring views of Himal Chuli (7,893 m), Ganesh Himal (7,422 m), Manaslu (8,163 m), Churke Himal (5,282 m), and Shringi (7161 m).
- Ancient Buddhist monasteries and landmarks are brimming with tales to tell. These landmarks are so important that the Tsum Valley is a part of the Kyimu Lung, a well-known pilgrimage circuit of learning and meditation across the central Trans-Himalaya.
- Historic sites have been preserved for centuries due to the remoteness of the valley from a time when it was host to its own Kingdom.
Tsum Valley Trekking Attractions
The key attractions of Tsum Valley Trek are nature, culture, and people. Some of them are discussed below,
People and Culture
Lying adjacent to Tibet, the Tsum Valley has been molded culturally by a Tibetan influence, and many of its inhabitants have migrated from Tibet.
They are named the “Tsumba” people, and most of them adhere to Buddhism and speak in a dialect different from their neighbors called “Tsumke”.
The Buddhist influence is so strong that the valley has been declared a Shagya, meaning Non- sacrificing area. Due to this reason, the sacrifice of animals, hunting, honey hunting, and starting forest fires have been banned in the valley since 1920.
Agriculture and tourism are the primary sources of income here. Most farming is subsistence, with wheat, maize, millet, and potato as major crops.
The people also derive additional income from the harvest of Yarchagumba, a fungus that grows on the larvae of moths and is valuable in Chinese medicine from May to July.
Due to the stronghold of Buddhism in the region, most festivals celebrated here are religious. Some of them include:
Lhosar is an important festival in the Tsum Valley and Nepal. “Lo” means new, and “sar” means year, so it is a celebration of the New Year. All religious buildings in the valley are cleansed and decorated. Family gatherings are organized, where people exchange wishes and gifts for the coming year. They enjoy these gatherings with traditional foods and homemade alcohol. It falls in January or February.
Saka-Dawa is the festival to mark Buddha’s birth, death, and enlightenment. This is done by visiting the many monasteries of the region. Most devote fast on alternate days. A unique ritual called “Ngyungne” is performed by burning butter lamps.
Flora and Fauna
Covering an altitude ranging from 1905 m to 5093 m., the Tsum valley is home to flora ranging from verdant coniferous forests to alpine scrublands.
Forests of oak, rhododendron, and pine grow dense in the lower elevation. As you go higher, these trees gradually disappear and give way to open grasslands.
Various species of animals call the valley home, with the elusive snow leopard, musk deer, Ghoral, Himalayan Thar, and blue sheep being only some of them.
The beautiful visage of birds like Danphe, Monal, the Golden eagle, and Himalayan griffon adds vivid colors to the outdoors and offers you their melodious songs on your trek.
Monasteries and Caves in Tsum Valley
Tsum valley is rich in Buddhist tradition and culture. Some of the crucial monasteries are,
Milarepa cave, also known as Piren Phu (literally “Pigeon cave”), is considered one of the most sacred sites in the valley by its inhabitants.
The cave earned its sanctity and name by being one of the landmarks where the renowned and influential Tibetan yogi and spiritual poet Milarepa mediated.
Milarepa is an important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the Kagyu branch, founded by his academic lineage. He is said to have achieved enlightenment by meditating in many rocky caves such as this one.
The cave is close to Burji village, at the bottom of a rugged cliff. Three Gompas are built in the vicinity of the cave. These gompas are home to various relics attributed to him, including his footprint.
Serang Gumba is an ancient monastery built near a much more ancient cave.
This Gompa is peculiar in the Tsum Valley Trekking as it blends Buddhist and Hindu practices at a level uncommon to the region.
The reason for this fusion level is that the cave was once. Where the Hindu monk Sringi meditated in his quest for peace and enlightenment.
Buddhist paintings and statues line the ancient cave, and you will have a great time exploring and admiring them.
Mu Gompa is a renowned monastery in the Tsum Valley Trekking, the largest one. The Mu Gompa was built in 1936 by Drupa Rinpoche, a monk from Bhutan.
It is built atop a remote hill with a perfect view of the towering Himalayas behind. Due to its geography, the neighboring settlements are quite a few hours away on foot, isolating the monastery.
The Gompa is home to some 20 monks, with the oldest being here for over 40 years. They live here, studying Buddhist philosophies and practicing their religion.
Most trekkers spend a day of the trek visiting the Gompa and trekking to the base of Pika Himal (4,865 m).
Rachen Gompa, more specifically Rachen Nunnery, is a revered Gompa of the Tsum valley. It lies close to Milarepa Cave, and most itineraries of the Tsum Valley Trek contain an overnight in the surrounding settlement.
As the Tsum Valley has been declared a Shagya (literally “Non-sacrificing area”). The inhabitants and visitors must abide by rules around non-violence toward animals. Breaking any of these rules is considered a sin, and the punishment is to light 1000 lamps in Rachen Gompa.
The nunnery houses a Tibetan doctor who provides medical care to the nuns and the locals. As a nunnery, it includes a calm and peaceful atmosphere. And visitors must be mindful while taking in the many pieces of Buddhist art the nunnery features.
Best Season for Tsum Valley Trekking
Autumn (September – November) is generally considered the best season for trekking in Nepal, and the Tsum Valley also follows this trend.
The countryside is swept clean by the monsoon, giving your trail a brand-new vibe. Temperatures hover around the pleasant, giving you the best experience while hiking.
Spring (March-May) sees the flowers bloom again the following winter and rhododendrons color entire hills red underneath clear blue skies. As with autumn, temperatures are perfect for a trek.
Permits for Tsum Valley Trek
To begin your Tsum Valley Trek, you must purchase the Tsum Valley restricted area permit. Its cost per person is: –
September – November
- USD 40 for one week
- USD 7 every day after the first week
December – August
- USD 30 for one week
- USD 7 every day after the first week
Do note that the Government of Nepal has made it compulsory to have a guide during the Tsum Valley Trek.
Three weeks in Nepal for travel
Yes, 3 weeks is enough for Tsum Valley Trek in Nepal, en route, in this time frame. We are able to do Tsum Valley with Manaslu Circuit Trek in the west-southern lap of the Himalayan. This Restrict area influences in Tibetan border with Cultural. Although, this hiking is part of a lifetime experience.
We here at Tour Trekking Company in Nepal, guarantee a safe journey first and foremost, and all that with the best prices, you will find among the many establishments peddling packages.
Our experienced guides will answer all queries you may have about the places you are visiting. And they will also handle all the hassle of any paperwork you encounter.
So, take a step into this magical and ancient land with us!
Further Reading about Nepal
Trekking in Nepal – A Complete Travel Guide