Kathmandu rest/preparation day Explore the colorful, narrow, winding and bustling streets of Thamel.
Drive to Khahare (850m), 7 hrs…
Drive to Khahare/Ringne (135 km / 7 hrs) and hike to Phulkharka (4 hrs?). Approaching Phulkarka, we pass through pristine Hindu villages with terraced farms rolling down to the river and are treated to panoramic valley views as well as distant vistas of the soaring Himalayan summits of Ganesh and Manaslu. We camp at a scenic and quiet location near Phulkarka.
Explore Phulkarka… We spend an relaxing day exploring Phulkarka and preparing for tomorrow’s trek. (Opportunity to observe daily life in a Nepali village, talk with villagers, play with children, visit school, maybe play soccer or volleyball with local Nepali kids.)
Manbu (1,400m / 20 km / 6hrs) We begin with a gradual climb to the village of Majhuwa, then our trail levels out and contours around the broad slopes of Ganga Jamuna (2923m), atop which a large white stupa serves as a shining beacon to everyone below. We pass through villages of Brahmin, Chhetri and Tamang people, and continue to our camp in Manbu, a predominantly Gurung village. Along the way, we enjoy sweeping views of the valley below, as well as inspiring views of mammoth Baudha Himal in the distant Manaslu range.
Machhikhola (1,750m / 15 km / 6 hrs) We descend rapidly to the Budhi Gandaki river, cross a suspension bridge, then climb upstream to join the main Tsum and Manaslu trekking route that originates in Arughat. From here it is a gradual ascent with several river crossings before reaching our camp in the village of Machhikhola. Although we enjoy the convenience of suspension bridges, you’ll see a cable and pulley system that locals sometimes use to cross the river.
Jagat (1,410m / 20 km / 7 hrs) Our trail takes us along the sandy banks of the Budhi Gandaki river as we slowly ascend to Jagat, a clean and charming stone-paved village with many flower gardens. The valley gets narrower and more-sparsely populated as we climb higher, and snow-capped Sringi Himal (7187m) elusively peeks out as the trail winds its way between steep valley walls.
Lokpa (1,835m / 18 km / 6 hrs) After Jagat, we enter the Manaslu Conservation area. This is home to the Gurung people, whose culture has been influenced by Hindus in the lower valley and Tibetans in the upper valley. Further upstream, the Budhi Gandaki river veers westward towards Manaslu, while we turn east up the Shiar Khola river canyon. The landscape changes noticeably to a refreshing alpine mix of pine trees and grassy slopes. Welcome to Tsum valley! We camp in the one-shop village of Lokpa.
Chumling (2,285m / 17 km /6 hrs) Our trail descends to the banks of the swift-flowing Shiar Khola, then passes through verdant forests and Sardi Gorge, squeezed between the narrowing flanks of the towering Shringi and Ganesh Himal. An abandoned old trading trail above appears to almost float across exposed and precipitous walls, while we enjoy a wider and more reliable new trail. We climb a steep ridge, then drop again to a bridge crossing of Shiar Khola, where the final climb of the day takes us to our camp in the ancient village of Chumling. The village is perched on a steep hillside amid ample fields of seasonal crops and offers magnificent views of the Ganesh Himal to the northeast.
Chhokangparo (3,010m / 21 km / 71/2 hrs.)
We descend to the riverside village of Dumje, where we can enjoy lunch
and dangle our dusty feet in the water. Then we climb steeply along the
north side of the river, seeing more snow-capped Himalayan peaks appear
until we reach our camp in Chhokangparo village. Welcome to upper Tsum
valley. An abundance of stone-stacked chortles and manywalls greet us
and serve to ward off misfortune. Chhokangparo has a more Tibetan
atmosphere than villages in lower Tsum valley.
Chhule(3,347m / 16 km /41/2 hrs.) Today, the valley opens wide, the trail flattens, and towering mountain walls soar high overhead. We see many stone-fenced pastures, grazing land, many walls, chortens and a stupa as we approach Chhule…the highest village occupied year-round in Tsum valley. Its architecture frequently reflects the more ancient styles and symbols of Tibetan Buddhism, and Milarepa Piren Phu cave, with its private retreat, emanates an atmosphere of esoteric mysticism. A large powerful waterfall cascades from high above Chhule to the valley floor far below. We camp on the grassy bank of the upper Shiar Khola just upstream of the village.
Mu Gumpa (3,580m / 12 km /4 hrs ) Our trail climbs slowly but steadily higher through alpine meadows interspersed with Juniper and Larch trees. We arrive at remote Mu Gompa, the largest monastery in Tsum valley. A 30-minute hike above Mu Gompa brings us to the ancient nunnery (how old?) of Dheron Gumba, where several dozen Buddhist nuns live a secluded, spartan and simple life of meditation, prayer and devotion. Views of many spectacular mountains abound. We camp on a grassy bench just below Mu Gompa.
Bhajyo (4,030m / 7 km / 5 hrs.) Today we follow a narrow remote trail that is used by locals, traders and shepherds to reach the high Himalayan meadows, where they collect medicinal plants and graze their horses and yaks during the summer season. We pass by the confluence of the Shiar Khola and Yamdro River and camp in a grassy meadow shortly beyond. Above lies snowy Ngula Dhojyang pass (5093m) that leads into Tibet. There are only a few yak sheds and stone foundations for nomadic shelters at this high altitude due to harsh winters here.
Yamdro (4,510m/4km/5hrs) This is high, open and barren land encircled by the surrounding Yangdol and Puchen Himal. Wild animals like Blue sheep and Mountain Thar can often be spotted travelling across the upper slopes, while yaks and horses graze in the valley meadows. The lighting at this elevation is often inspiring…bright, clear and shimmering. Locals sometimes travel through Yamdro enroute to Tibet over nearby Yamdol Pass (5,326m).