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TSUM VALLEY LODGE TREK, 17 DAYS

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Introduction to Tsum Valley Trek
Tsum Valley was a restricted area until it was opened for trekking in 2008 and there is a little information available on the area. The Tsum Valley is a sacred Himalayan Budhhist pilgrimage valley situated in northern Gorkha, Nepal. Literally “Tsum” means vivid against the majestic backdrop of the Ganesh Himal, Sringi Himal and Boudha Ranges, this serene Himalayan valley is rich in ancient art, culture and religion. The local people are mostly of Tibetan origin and speak unique dialect. Trails are strewn with artistic Chortens and lined with Mani walls made of thousands of stone slabs carved with drawings of deities and inscribed with prayers. The famous Kyimu Lung, a pilgrimage circuit in the central Trans-Himalaya, is well known for its center of learning and meditation. This circuit traverses the Tsum Valley the Manaslu area in Nepal, and southern parts of Tibet. The Tsum Valley has long history of Buddhism. The Buddhist saint Milarepa is believed to be meditated in the caves of these mountains. Traditionally, the valley was a culturally distinct geographical called “Tsum Tso Chuksum”, which means thirteen provinces ruled as a single territory. The ancient remains of the Tsum Kingdom are still visible today. Due to its remoteness and inaccessibility, this sacred valley and its people have been bypassed by mainstream development for centuries. As a result, the unique culture of this valley has remained intact. The valley is drained by the Shear Khola, which originates from the western glacier of Ganesh Himal and east and southern glaciers of Sringi Himal and meets the Budhi Gandaki at Nyak. The valley is uniquely rich in wildlife, especially the Himalayan Thar and Blue Sheep which congregates in herds of 50 to 200. Hunting, fishing is not permitted in the Tsum Valley. The valley also boasts some unique and historic monasteries, including Rachen Gompa and Mu Gompa, which lie on a pretty plateau nestled in the lap of the valley and Gompa Lungdang, situated at the base of a conical hill against the main slope of Ganesh Himal. 
People and Religion in Tsum Valley
The local people are mostly of Tibetan origin and speak a unique dialect. Even these days, some families practice polyandry (or having more than one husband at a time). These families have been found to be well managed and wealthier than other families. A long history of Buddhism can be seen. The Buddhist saint named Milarepa is believed to have meditated in a cave in these mountains. It is believed that there is a favorable ambience for fortunate events in this region. The people in Tsum have a strong faith in Buddhism. They pray to Buddha, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) and some bodhisattvas. They install Prayer Flags, Khata, or Mani walls, burn butter lamps in monasteries and believe in the reincarnation of Lamas. The histories and way of life of supernatural entities and stories about them are well-known. Nevertheless Prayer Flags, Khata, or Mani walls are installed and ritual burning of juniper is performed to purify an area against such supernatural entities. The people of Tsum perform numerous rituals and festivals against devil entities. However, the slaughtering of animals on an altar to honor deities does not occur. A few laymen and Lamas practice some special rites to exorcise evil factors. Local people practice mainly two types of astrology “Black” and “White” for the determination of auspicious days. 
Festival in Tsum Valley
Numerous festivals, several mask dances and rituals are celebrated throughout the year in the Tsum Valley preserving the century old practices. Loshar:- LO means year and SHAR means new, the Tibetan word meant of Happy Loshar (Tibetan New Year) celebrated according to the Tibetan Lunar Calendar offering large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. Tsumbas of the lower Tsum Valley celebrate Loshar earlier than the upper Tsum people. Dhachyang (The horse Festival):-The second most important festival of this region is celebrated on a slightly different date than the normal Dec/Jan. Committed to the welfare of the people, it is celebrated by the active male participants holding horse races leaving women to join in the evening for dancing and singing. Happy Saka Dawa:- The full moon day of Saka Dawa commemorates Lord Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana. As cited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in the Vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic, virtuous actions done on this day (fall in May) are multiplied one hundred million times. Rituals are performed at local monasteries and nunneries and the devotees take fasting during this time. Faning:- In mid-August with nutritious and yummy, this festival commemorates the attainment of internal energy from any food, including water.
Itinerary in details
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu and meet with our office representative at the airport and transfer to Hotel by private car. Welcome drink and short briefing about tour/trek, relax.
Day 2: Full day sightseeing tour in Kathmandu valley such as Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple and Swoyambhunath Stupa with our Tour guide by private car, Overnight at Hotel. 
Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Arughat Bazar 570m by land cruiser (5-6hrs),
A 4WD jeep/land cruiser may get you there more quickly but costs around. In Arughat (600m), a pleasant market town straddling the Buri Gandaki River (also called Budhi Gandaki on some maps), cross the suspension bridge and stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 4: Trek from Arughat to Lapubesi 880m (6-7hrs),
Trek through Gurung and Magar villages on the untrafficked road, staying on the left bank (true right) of the Buru Gandaki, which you will be following to its source. It can be hot and humid so wet rice, maize and millet are the main crops and you may see monkeys in the forests. There is a simple lodge at Arkhet (760m). Climb on stairs as the valley becomes wilder, prettier and narrower and descend to Soti Khola (710m). There’s a swimming hole in the Soti Khola, popular with locals. Trek on through shady Sal forests then climb up and down for some time an exposed track blasted from the cliff and views way below of wild rapids, eventually dropping to the Gurung Labubesi (880m; Lapubeshi). Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 5: Trek from Lapubesi to Khorlabesi 970m (5-6hrs)
Continue up-river, climbing sometimes and at other times down on the gravel riverbed, passing through Machha Khola (930m) where there is a small lodge. Continue on the same side of the Buri Gandaki, up and down again and across sandy river flats. The Monkeys and Langurs in the jungle above can knock rocks down, so watch out. Large Gurung villages are way above while the track passes few houses, like lower Khorlabesi (960m) which was largely destroyed by a huge rock slip 22 years ago. A survivor has built a botanic garden and nice lodge from which he sells his organic coffee. Goat herders passing through this area wear the distinctive smoke-browned capes called bokkhu made famous in the book Honey Hunters of Nepal. Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 6: Trek from Khorlabesi to Jagat 1370m (5-6hrs)
Continue up and down over a couple of ridges to Tatopani (930m; ‘hot water’) where there are hot water spouts under the sheer cliffs that provide a delightful evening shower.  Climb over a ridge and cross the Buri Gandaki on a rickety suspension bridge, climb on well made marble stairs in the narrow valley for some time and through Doban (1000m; Duvan). Shyaule Bhatti 1hr later has large rock with views where you can take tea and look at the wild gorges ahead. After crossing a landslip and the bridge across the Yaru Khola (1363m), emerge onto river flats for lunch at Yaru (1140m) at the Sandbar Hotel. Look downstream at the massive rock fall that chokes the river. Just past Yaru, cross to the left bank and enjoy easy up and down to Jagat (1410m), a neatly Flag stoned Gurung village where Jagat (‘tax’) is collected on Tibetan trade. There’s a small lodge here and you will need to show your MCAP permit. In this area, potato, maize and climbing beans are all planted at the same time – the potato for food and to suppress weeds, the maize for food and to supply a trellis for the beans, which are an important source of protein. Marijuana is a major weed problem. Walk up the riverbed then climb over a rocky ridge to Salleri (1440m) with views of Sringi Himal (7187m). Stay overnight at Lodge.  
Day 7: Trek from Jagat to Lokpa 2240m (5-6hrs)
Morning descend to Sirdibas (1430m; Setibas, Tara) where there is said to be a lodge. You’ll see your first signs of Buddhist culture here. Continue up-river on the left bank, up and down before crossing Nepal’s longest suspension bridge to the east bank and a tiring climb up to prosperous Philim (1590m; Dodang) surrounded by rich fields of maize, potato and millet. If you are not taking the Tsum Valley side-trip then today you will continue on to Ghap towards the Larkya-La. Traverse north out of Philim on the obvious track signposted to the Larkya-La, through some pretty forest with views up the narrowing valley. After 1hr climbing enter the increasingly misnamed Ekle Bhatti (1600m; ‘lone teashop’) with at least six bhatti, then traverse high above a spectacular gorge, entering a largely uninhabited area of pine trees. Eventually drop to a trail junction going left to Ghap and right to the Tsum Valley. Climb on a well-graded but exposed track through pines and rhododendrons, looking down on the other trail across the river. If the slopes here have recently had their annual burn there is a real risk of stone fall from the cliffs above, especially if there are goats grazing. Climb on zigzag steps, increasingly exposed, and gain your first glimpses of the narrow lower Tsum Valley, very steep across the Shiar Khola which drains from the very top of the valley. Across the Buri Gandaki is Himalchuli (7893m) above steep cliffs. Walk through a largely intact and peaceful temperate forest into Lokpa (2240m; Lakuwa), surrounded by barley fields, where there is a comfortable lodge, toilet. Stay overnight at Lodge. 
Day 8: Trek from Lokpa to Chhokangparo 3030m (6-7hrs)
Descend through beautiful forest, crossing three side streams (one shown wrongly on the Map as Shiar Khola) on bridges, circle under a huge bluff on the river then climb steeply on well-made but exposed stairs. After about 30mins start to traverse north through pines and rhododendrons, still climbing and with very steep slopes. The hidden valley of Tsum stretches enticingly ahead. Eventually descend to a lone bhatti Ghumlong (2130m) on the river. The path straight ahead climbs steeply to Ripchet (2470m; Ripche) in about 1hr; the path to Chumling (2360m) crosses the Shiar Khola on a wooden bridge and up. It is not for those afraid of heights - several locals have fallen to their death from this track while drunk. Make sure you climb up to Chumling and check out the old gompa, the traditional houses, orchards, clinic and beautiful stone streets. This is Buddhist agriculture, with conical pine needle haystacks among the 4 prayer flags. From here on trails are lined with artistic chortens and mani walls made of thousands of stone slabs carved with deities and prayers. An easier day after yesterday, Cross the suspension bridge just east of the hotel and traverse through rich farming land of maize and potatoes. The houses are classic Tibetan with barricades of firewood on the roof, but without flat roofs as it rains and snows here. Cross a huge slip where rocks and flood cleared the area even up onto the opposite bank, killing five in 1999, but is now covered with a forest of new trees. Up the valley to the east are superb views of the 7000m Ganesh Himal, of long suspension bridges on the opposite bank, and far above the perched village of Ripchet (2468m). Lunch is possible at Rainjham (2400m), a single bhatti with enclosed courtyard. Cross the Serpu Khola and climb for 2.5hrs on well-graded but exposed track to upper Tsum and the large village of Chhokangparo (3010m), stone houses nestled under cliffs without a single iron roof. The valley opens here into spacious fields of barley, maize, buckwheat and potato, but wheat has been abandoned due to ‘hill bunt’, a disease which turns the heads black and causes total crop failure. Herds of Thar often graze the wild cliffs to the north, coming right down to the fields. If the air is clear Himalchuli (7893m) can be seen down valley. Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 9: Trek from Chhokangparo to Nile 3360m (4-5hrs)
Most people can climb to 2800m without getting altitude sickness, but the altitude gain in these track notes above Chhokangparo exceeds the 200m per day suggested for safety. Watch for signs of altitude sickness and be prepared to rest or retreat if they emerge. Take time to explore the joined villages of Chhokang and Paro and climb north to a retreat where Lama Kongchog died after 26 years of meditation. His child reincarnation, found in the village, was subject of the award-winning DVD Unmistaken Child (available in Kathmandu). Thar are often sighted near here. The friendly people speak Tsumba, related to Tibetan, but often little Nepali and are quite unused to visitors. Head east through small villages and past a local school, climb over a ridge of chortens and past Lamagaon (3202m) through the flat fields, looking across the extensive crops and river to the huge courtyard of the Rachen Gompa (3240m). This nunnery is the female equivalent of the main Kathmandu Kopan Monastery. Climb up and visit Milarepa’s Cave (Piren Phu), where the bringer of Buddhism to Tibet is reputed to have meditated. The cave is being extensively restored. Cross the Shiar Khola, pass through hamlets of Phurbe (3251m) and Pangdun (3258m) and pass an unusual round stupa before reaching the larger village of Chhule (3347m) through an impressive entrance gate (kani). The children here all wear the Tibetan dressing gown called chubas and there are many yaks. Head upstream to cross the bridge and climb to Nile (3361m; Nyile). Both villages are in traditional style with inclusion of livestock compounds into the houses and sheltered verandahs for drying crops. Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 10: Trek from Nile to Mu Gompa 3700m and Chhokangparo 3030m (6-7hrs)
Leave your rucksack behind. Make an early start up valley on the west bank, enjoying sunrise on the narrowing valley walls, yaks being put to pasture and a day with just a light pack. The final climb up to the large Mu Gompa (3700m; Mugumba) is through dry Tibetan country, with rows of chortens and widening mountain vistas. This is a large monastery with over 100 monks and an ancient gompa visited by David Snellgrove (Himalayan Pilgrimage) in 1956. If time permits you can also visit Dhephyudoma Gompa (4000m) further west on an obvious track. On three sides now are tantalizing views of the border with Tibet, with frequently used passes to the east (Ngula Dhojyang or Mailatasachin Pass, 5093m) and west (Thapla Bhanjyang, 5104m) just out of sight. Some people climb to Kalung (3820m). Making a daytrip to the passes for a view into Tibet. There are extensive seasonal yak pastures in all directions, the Lungdang Glacier to the east and high peaks in all directions. Return down valley through Chhule, collect your rucksack and continue down as far as Phurbe, but stay on the east bank of the Shiar Khola and cross flat boulder-covered plains to Rachen Gompa (3240m), where it is possible to inspect the ancient gompa if you want. Camping is also available. The older part of the nunnery is more interesting. Families in the Tsum usually have at least one family member as either a monk or a nun. Continue south until a bridge crosses to the west bank then descend again to Chhokangparo. Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 11: Trek from Chhokangparo to Gumba Lungdang 3200m (5-6hrs)
Drop below Chhokangparo on the previous trail for about 2hrs, until a small gompa is reached at Gho (2485m). Descend on a narrow trail to the left through the village and drop to a wooden bridge over the Shiar Khola. Cross the bridge to Dhumje (2440m, Tumje) which has a Tibetan herbal medicine clinic and school. The track onwards climbs just behind the clinic. Climb very steeply on an indistinct track through pines and rhododendrons until the track starts traversing at a mani wall with prayer flags. The track is exposed and narrow. Finally, in the pine forest, take an uphill trail and make a steep zigzag climb through huge silver pines to reach Gumba Lungdang (3200m), perched on a ridge with small cells for the nuns through the beautiful rhododendrons above. This small gompa with 40 nuns has an intense and engrossing puja every night. The mountain views in all directions are amazing. Stay overnight at Monastery.
Day 12: Day trip to Ganesh Himal Base Camp 4500m (7-8hrs)
Your guide will be required for this trip since the track is poorly marked. Circle from the gompa past the nuns’ housing, drop on dusty or muddy zigzags to regain the lower track and continue up valley on a rocky indistinct track through the forest. Cross the Laudang Khola to the west bank on a rickety wooden bridge and climb steeply through pristine pines and rhododendrons on a ridge. There is a hut in a kharka about halfway up, with the track continuing behind it, then up a birch-lined dry creek bed and eventually you emerge into grassy flats behind the lateral moraine of the Toro Gompa glacier. Continue climbing past seasonal yak huts and you will find a track on the moraine wall that gives superb views of the Cirque of mountains. The camp is somewhere about here. It takes about 4hrs to reach the Ganesh Himal Base Camp (4200m). The map shows another base camp on the east side of the glacier, but there appears to be no obvious track between them, so return to Gumba Lungdang in time for the evening puja by retracing your steps. Altitude can make this day difficult for some, but the intact forest wilderness and views make it an outstanding trip. Stay overnight at Monastery.
Day 13: Trek from Gumba Lungdang to Lokpa 2240m (7-8hrs)
This can be a taxing day so start early. Descend from Gumba Lungdang by the upward track. In Dumje cross the Laudang Khola and stay on the south bank of the Shiar Khola (contrary to the map). Climb over some very deep gorges and shaky cantilever bridges to picturesque Ripchet (2470m; Ripche). Take time to look around at this perched fertile valley of barley and buckwheat with evocative chortens in the fields backed by pine forest. Descend on steep stairs to the lone bhatti Ghumlong (2130m) on the river, which you passed through six days ago. Climb again through the pristine temperature forest to Lokpa (2240m). Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 14: Trek from Lokpa to Dovan 1070m (7-8hrs)
Another long day, continue from Lokpa down the exposed track until the track from Philim comes in from the left. Turn right, cross the Buri Gandaki on a solid bridge goes to Larke-La Pass but we follow the trail what we came before from Philim. Descend down to Sirdibas and we finally reach to Jagat. Further descend takes us to Yaruphant. The arid Tibetan climate now gives way to subtropical green vegetation. Continue trekking to Dobhan. Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 15: Trek from Dovan to Sotikhola 730m (6-7hrs)
Walk along the Burigandaki river to Tatopani, there is a hot spring at Tatopani. If interested, you may dip yourself in the hot spring and relax your tired muscles by soaking yourself in the hot spring. If not continue walking up and down from Tatopani to reach Khorlabesi, The trail crosses the Tharo Khola flowing in a rocky ravine. Head down again to the river and traverse to Machha Khola village. Walk along the Budhi Gandaki River to reach to Gurung village of Labubesi. Pass the two waterfalls on a steep rocky trail on the side of a cliff. We then reach Khursane. Walk along the ridge above Budhi Gandaki and cross the Sal forests. Finally, cross the bridge to arrive at Soti Khola. Stay overnight at Lodge.
Day 16: Drive from Soto Khola to Kathmandu 8 hours via Arughat Bazzar by private land cruiser,
Drive back to Kathmandu by private land cruiser along the banks of the Marsyangdi and Trishuli rivers with splendid views of green hills, mountains, farming terraces and villages on both sides of the road and transfer to Hotel. 
Day 17: Final Departure to International Airport
Your adventure in Nepal comes to an end today! There is nothing to do but trade emails with travel companions and organize the photos. If you have more time you can do some shopping or sightseeing. A representative from our company will take you to the airport approximately 3 hours before the scheduled flight. On your way home you'll have plenty of time to plan your next adventure in the wonderful country of Nepal. 
Our Tour Package Includes:
* Airport/Hotel/Airport picks up and transfers by private car/van.
* 3 nights accommodation with breakfast at Standard hotel in Kathmandu.
* Kathmandu valley sightseeing tour as per above mentioned itinerary and all entry fees.
* Meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with Tea & coffee and hot water during the trek.
* Lodge to lodge accommodation in lodges during the trek.
* 1 experienced helpful and friendly guide, porters (1 porter for 2 persons), their food & accommodation, bus ticket, salary, equipments and insurance.
* Manaslu Conservation Area Permit.
* Tsum Valley Restricted Area Permit (35 USD for first 8 Days).
* All transportation by private vehicle.
* All necessary permits.
* First Aid Medical Kit box.
* Tourist service charge,
* Office Service charges.
* All Government Tax. 
Our Tour Package doesn't include;
* Any meals (Lunch and Dinner) in Kathmandu other than breakfast.
* Travel insurance (if you want us to arrange your travel insurance, we would greatly be happy to assist).
* International air fare to and from Nepal.
* Nepal Tourist Visa fee.
* Items and expenses of personal nature.
* Any kind of alcoholic drinks, cold drinks, laundry, phone call, internet.
* Personal Trekking Equipments like sleeping bags, jackets (can all be hired in KTM)
* Emergency Evacuation (Helicopter Rescue).
* Any costs which arise due to a change of the itinerary, because of landslides, political disturbance, and strikes etc.
* Any other costs whatsoever, that is not mentioned in the cost included.
* Horse renting and additional porters due to natural calamities during the trek.
* Tips for guide, porters, driver...

                                                     Tipping is expected but it is not mandatory.

N.B : The package can be redesigned or redeveloped as per your taste. For more information please e-mail us at snftnepal@yahoo.de

 
Note: In case of emergency during the trip, Helicopter will be arranged by Swiss Family Treks & Expedition (P) Ltd. The charges must be paid by the clients themselves.

 


TOUR CANCELLATION:
There will be a cancellation fee of 25% for any cancellation three weeks prior to Tour departure date, 50% two weeks prior to Tour departure date and no refund thereafter. No refund for no shows & delay arrivals whatsoever reason.


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