The Tsum Valley Trek is a popular trekking destination in Nepal and is one of the most cloistered valleys in Nepal. It is one of the famous treks of the Manaslu region, lying high up near the Tibetan border. Located in the Northern part of the Gorkha district and the east of the Manaslu Conservation Area, the Tsum Valley is a relatively remote and less-visited region that offers stunning Himalayan landscapes, unique culture, and Buddhist heritage.
The Tsum Valley also known as the Hidden Valley, is located at an altitude of 1905 to 5093 meters and is rich in Tibetan culture, traditions, and ancient art and mostly untouched by modern civilization. The Tsum Valley was a restricted area until it was opened for trekking in 2008. The Tsum Valley trek offers breathtaking views of the Ganesh Himal(7,140m), Shringi Himal, Himalchuli(7893m), and Boudha Himal mountain ranges. The landscape is characterized by lush forests, terraced fields, and picturesque villages.
The trek takes you through lush pine forests, providing a serene and refreshing environment as you walk amidst tall pine trees. You’ll encounter several rivers and streams with cascading waterfalls along the way. The sound of rushing water adds to the natural beauty of the trek. The region is known for its iconic suspension bridges that cross the rivers and gorges. These bridges offer thrilling and picturesque crossings, adding to the adventure of the trek.
Tsum Valley is home to several unique and culturally rich villages. Each village has its own charm and offers a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of the Tsumba people. The trek is dotted with Buddhist religious sites, including gompas (monasteries), mani walls (stone walls inscribed with Buddhist mantras), and Stupas (Buddhist shrines). These sites are not only spiritually significant but also architecturally impressive. Milarepa’s Cave is a famous pilgrimage site in the Tsum Valley. It is believed to be the meditation cave of the renowned Tibetan Buddhist saint and poet, Milarepa. The cave is perched on a hillside and offers a place for reflection and meditation.
For trekkers with a deep fascination for Tibetan culture and a love for mountain landscapes, the Tsum Valley presents a remarkable opportunity. This hidden valley trek invites you to immerse yourself in the world of Tibetan Buddhism, offering a glimpse into the lives of Tibetan Buddhist communities within their villages. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to witness the daily routines of monks and nuns belonging to various religious orders, all while being surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas. This trek is akin to a pilgrimage, seamlessly blending cultural exploration with the awe-inspiring vistas of the mountains, creating an incredibly enriching and spiritual adventure.
Itinerary of Tsum Valley Trek
|Day 01||Arrival in Kathmandu and transfer to hotel.|
|Day 02||In Kathmandu with an optional sightseeing tour and trek preparations.|
|Day 03||Drive to Machha Khola 900 m / 2,952 feet approx. 8 hours.|
|Day 04||Trek to Jagat 1,340 m -06 hours walk.|
|Day 05||Trek to Lokpa 2,240 m via Deng 1,800 m – 06 hrs.|
|Day 06||Trek to Chumling 2,386 m – 06 hrs.|
|Day 07||Trek to Chokang-Paro 3,010 m – 05 hrs.|
|Day 08||Trek to Nile 3,361 m visiting Millerepa cave – 06 hrs.|
|Day 09||Trek to Mu Gompa 3,700 m – 04 hrs.|
|Day 10||Trek to Rachen Gompa 3, 240 m -04 hrs.|
|Day 11||Trek back to Chumling – 05 hrs.|
|Day 12||Trek to Lokpa 2,240 m – 05 hrs.|
|Day 13||Trek to Jagat 1,340 m – 05 hrs.|
|Day 14||Trek to Machha-Khola – 05 hrs.|
|Day 15||Drive to Kathmandu-08 hours.|
|Day 16||Free day for individual activities.|
|Day 17||International departure for homeward bound.|
Trekking Map of Tsum Valley
Best time for the Tsum Valley Trek
The ideal time for the Tsum Valley Trek is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is relatively stable, and the skies are clear.
- Spring (March to May): Spring is considered the prime trekking season in the Tsum Valley. During this time, the weather is generally stable, and the temperatures are mild. The region comes alive with blooming rhododendron forests and lush green landscapes, making it a visually stunning time to visit.
- Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another excellent time for the Tsum Valley Trek. The skies are clear, and the weather is cool and pleasant. The visibility is exceptional, offering breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks. It’s a popular trekking season, so you can expect more fellow trekkers on the trail.
Seasons to avoid for the Tsum Valley Trek
- Monsoon Season (June to August): Monsoon season in Nepal brings heavy rainfall, especially in the Tsum Valley region. The trails can become muddy, slippery, and prone to landslides. The constant rain and low visibility can obscure the beautiful mountain views. Trekking during this time can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, so it’s generally not recommended.
- Winter (December to February): Winter in the Tsum Valley can be extremely cold, particularly at higher elevations. Temperatures can drop well below freezing, and snowfall can block trails, making them impassable or requiring additional equipment like crampons and ice axes. Accommodation options may also be limited during this time, and some guesthouses may be closed.
- Post-Monsoon (September): Immediately after the monsoon season, the trails may still be wet and muddy, and there is a risk of landslides. While the weather begins to improve in September, it’s not as stable as the autumn months, and some trails may still be less than ideal.
- Early Spring (February to early March): Early spring can also be quite cold, and there may still be snow and ice on the trails, particularly at higher elevations. Trekking during this time may require more extensive cold-weather gear, and some areas may still be inaccessible due to snow.
Permits required for the Tsum Valley Trek
Restricted Area Permit for Tsum Valley
Tsum Valley is classified as a restricted area because it is located close to the Tibetan border. For border security reasons, control of tourism and other activities, and protection of the culture and landscape, it is designated a restricted area by the government of Nepal.
Due to this reason, a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required for trekkers to enter this region. This permit covers the areas of Gorkha Lower and Tsum Valley consisting of Sirdibas, Lokpa, Chumling, Chekampar, Nile, Chule, and Chumnubri Rural Municipality (including all areas of wards number 3,6 and 7). Before entering the area, you should show this permit at the entry point of Jagat.
This permit can only be acquired by a government-registered, licensed local trekking agency. Hence they will collect it on your behalf. Restricted Area Permit (RAP) costs depend on the travel season and the days you stay in the restricted areas of the Tsum Valley trek.
Tsum Valley Trek Permit Cost
(As of July 2022, issued by the Department of Immigration, Nepal):
September to November (Autumn Season) is US$ 40 for the first week and then US$ 7 for each additional day spent in the restricted area.
December to August (Winter, Spring, and Summer Seasons) is US$ 30 for the first week, then US$ 7 for each additional day spent in the restricted area.
Manaslu Conservation Area Project
Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) permit is required for the Tsum Valley trek because the trail is located in the Manaslu region. The permit fees support the development and protection of the Manaslu conservation area, which encompasses an area of 1,663 sq. km. The permit needs to be shown at Jagat or Philim. The cost depends on the nationality.
Fee for SAARC nationals is NRs. 1000 per person (US$ 10 approx.)
The fee for other nationals is NRs. 3000 per person (US$ 30 approx.
Required Documents For Tsum Valley Trekking Permit
The Tsum Valley Trekking permit requires the following documents during the application process:
- Passport-size photo (For MCAP permit)
- One scanned photograph (to be uploaded for Tsum Valley RAP’s online form)
- Photocopy of your passport (with at least six months validity)
- Travel insurance papers (includes helicopter evacuation of up to 6000m)
- Nepal tourist visa
Terms and conditions for the Tsum Valley Trek Permits
Here are the terms and conditions for acquiring and using the Tsum Valley Trekking Permits:
1. Children under 10 years do not require a permit fee.
2. The permits are non-refundable, non-transferable, and valid for single-entry use only. Furthermore, they are issued for individual trekkers exclusively.
3. Entry permits can only be issued from designated offices in Kathmandu and not from any checkpoints along the trekking trail.
4. While entering the Manaslu Conservation Area, you must abide by the regulations of the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 B.S. (1973)
5. You must carry the entry permits with you throughout the trek and show them to concerned officials at the checkpoint as and where required.
6. Both the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) and MCAP costs are inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT) and other government taxes.
7. Permit holders cannot enter anywhere beyond the designated areas inside the conservation area and restricted area.
Additional Trek to the Manaslu Circuit
The Manaslu Circuit Trek is a popular and adventurous trekking route in Nepal, offering a blend of natural beauty, cultural diversity, and challenging terrain.
The Manaslu Circuit Trek is situated in the Gorkha district of Nepal, in the western part of the country. It circles around Mount Manaslu, the eighth-highest peak in the world, which lies at an altitude of 8,163m and offers spectacular views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks.
The Tsum Valley Trek can be undertaken as a standalone adventure or it can be undertaken as a combined trek with the Manaslu Circuit Trek for those with additional time to spare.
Tsum Valley Trek Difficulty
The Tsum Valley Trek is graded as moderate to adventurous due to its elevation, reaching heights above 3,700 meters (12,139 feet). While the trek is not overly difficult, it does involve a mix of high climbs, steep descents, and some gradual sections.
Throughout the Himalayas, ups and downs are a common feature of trekking routes. The Tsum Valley Trek begins with winding ascents in some areas, including gradual climbs and occasional steep sections that may last for a few hours.
Accommodations for the Tsum Valley Trek
Teahouses and lodges are the most common types of accommodations along the Tsum Valley Trek. They are basic but provide a comfortable place to sleep. Rooms typically have twin beds, basic bedding, and shared bathrooms. Some teahouses may have attached bathrooms for an additional cost, but this is less common.
Many teahouses have common dining areas where trekkers can relax, socialize, and enjoy meals. These areas often have wood-burning stoves to provide warmth, especially at higher altitudes. Teahouses and lodges usually offer a limited menu with traditional Nepali and Tibetan dishes, as well as some Western options like pasta and fried rice. The food is basic but nourishing.
Things to Pack for the Tsum Valley Trek
Here is a list of essential items and gear to pack for the trek:
- Sturdy and comfortable hiking boots with good ankle support are essential.
- Lightweight, moisture-wicking tops and bottoms to regulate body temperature.
- Fleece jackets or down jackets to keep warm at higher altitudes.
- A high-quality, breathable waterproof jacket to protect against rain and wind.
- Lightweight, quick-drying pants for trekking, and an extra pair for evenings.
- Several pairs of moisture-wicking and warm socks, preferably woolen.
- A warm hat, sun hat, and a buff or neck gaiter for protection against the sun and cold.
- Insulated gloves for cold weather and a pair of lightweight gloves for lower altitudes.
Gear and Equipment:
- A comfortable and sturdy backpack with adjustable straps and a rain cover.
- A good quality sleeping bag rated for the season and temperature of your trek.
- Lightweight trekking poles for balance and support, especially on steep descents.
- Headlamp/Flashlight with extra batteries, for lighting during early morning or evening hikes and in tea houses.
- A reusable water bottle or hydration bladder to stay hydrated.
- UV-protective sunglasses with side shields to shield against glare and snow reflection.
- High SPF sunscreen and lip balm with sunblock to protect against strong Himalayan sun.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, and wet wipes.
- First Aid Kit including basic medications, bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any personal prescription medications.
- A quick-drying travel towel for personal hygiene.
- A map of the Tsum Valley region and a guidebook for reference.
- Identification and Permits: Passport, visa, trekking permits, and several photocopies of each.
- Cash: Carry enough Nepali Rupees for expenses, as ATMs are scarce along the trek.
- Snacks: High-energy snacks like granola bars, nuts, and chocolates for quick energy.
- Camera and Chargers: If you plan to capture the stunning scenery, bring your camera and extra batteries or chargers.
- Plastic Bags: Zip-lock bags or dry bags to keep important items dry in case of rain.
- Trash Bags: To carry out your trash and help keep the trekking trails clean.
FAQs OF Tsum Valley Trek
Where and How to Obtain Tsum Valley Trekking Permits?
Manaslu Conservation Area Project Permit (MCAP): The MCAP can be obtained in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the Nepal Tourism Board office, located on Pradarsani Marg. Their office is open from Saturday to Sunday, except on public holidays, between 9 am and 5 pm. The processing time for this permit is typically less than an hour.
Tsum Valley Restricted Area Permit (RAP): Unlike other permits, the Tsum Valley Restricted Area Permit (RAP) cannot be directly obtained by individual trekkers. Instead, it must be applied for and collected by a registered Nepali trekking agency on behalf of the trekkers. When you hire a trekking agency in Kathmandu, they will guide you through the process. This typically involves providing the necessary documents and applying for the RAP online, a process that takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. The trekking agency will then collect the permit from the Trekking Department of Nepal Immigration office in Kalikasthan, Kathmandu.
Do I need a TIMS card for the Tsum Valley Trek?
The Tsum Valley Trek does not require a Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card. This is because the mandatory Restricted Area Permit (RAP) for the Tsum Valley already collects all the necessary information about the trekker, including details of the trek route and emergency contacts. As a result, trekkers do not need to obtain a separate TIMS card for this particular trek.
Do I need a guide for the Tsum Valley Trek?
Yes, you need a licensed and professional guide for the Tsum Valley Trek because it is a restricted area and the off-beaten trail is not well-defined so it can be confusing and dangerous if you try trekking without a guide.
Are there ATM facilities along the Tsum Valley Trek?
ATM facilities are limited, and you should not rely on them during the trek. It’s recommended to carry enough cash to cover your expenses throughout the trek.
What is the accommodation like on the trek?
Accommodation along the Tsum Valley Trek is basic, with tea houses and homestays being the primary options. Facilities can vary, but expect simple rooms with shared bathrooms.
What is the maximum elevation reached on the Tsum Valley Trek?
The highest point on the Tsum Valley Trek is often Mu Gompa, which stands at an elevation of around 3,700 meters (12,139 feet).
Is the Tsum Valley Trek physically challenging?
The Tsum Valley Trek is considered moderate to moderately challenging. It involves a mix of uphill and downhill sections, with some steep climbs and high-altitude hiking. Adequate physical fitness and acclimatization are crucial for a comfortable trek.
Are permits required for the Tsum Valley Trek?
Yes, permits are required for the Tsum Valley Trek. Trekkers need a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) for Tsum Valley, as well as a Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (MCAP). These permits can be obtained through registered trekking agencies in Kathmandu.
What is the Tsum Valley Trek?
The Tsum Valley Trek is a trekking route in the northern part of the Gorkha district of Nepal. It offers trekkers the opportunity to explore a remote Himalayan valley with a unique culture, Buddhist heritage, and stunning natural beauty.