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The Hidden Valley of Tsum Valley and High Manaslu Circuit Trekking

The Hidden Valley of Tsum Valley and High Manaslu Circuit crossing over Larkya-La Pass Camping Trek, 30 Days
The High Manaslu circuit, a remote trek of cultural and topographical diversity, is known for its breathtaking mountain views, challenging terrain and mix of Gurung and Tibetan villages. This year we head north towards the border of Tibet to explore hidden Tsum Valley, a fascinating and magical region of ethnically Tibetan inhabitants who still maintain strong links with Tibet. This is a side trip not to be missed, an absolute highlight. The living Buddhist culture is virtually untouched because of their remote location and wildlife abounds. Our journey begins in Nepal's steamy 'middle hills' at historic Gorkha, a once-capital of Nepal with an impressive 'durbar' (palace), home to Nepal's first dynasty. From lush rice paddies with water buffalo and thatched huts, we trek north along the incredible, mountain-capped high route, through sprawling Gurung villages perched on high, terraced hilltops covered in Rhododendron, to reach Kutang, or lower Nubri. Here the ethnically Tibetan inhabitants speak their own dialect, partly Tibetan and partly Gurung, and live a lifestyle that spans Nepal and Tibet. Trekking ever higher to upper Nubri, purely Tibetan, we share the trails with yak caravans. Here, trade with Tibet continues as it has for centuries and Tibetan villages have been forged from the wilderness by Tibetan refugees. Sublime mountain panoramas, dominated by Manaslu itself, are a highlight of the trek as are side-trips to Manaslu Base Camp, the valley above Samdo near the border of Tibet and the epic crossing the snow-covered Larkya La which leads to the Manang region of the Annapurna circuit.


The Manaslu Region

Manaslu, the 8th highest peak on the planet, locally known as the 'mountain of the spirit', is one of the most spectacular snow-peaks in Nepal, and the Manaslu Circuit, officially open for trekking in the early 90s, a cultural trek par excellence, without a doubt one of the best treks in Nepal. Oddly, it's also one of the Nepal Himalaya's least known treks, and happily doesn't boast of apple-pie lodges, sprawling trekking villages, internet cafes or Western coffee shops. A trek around the 'high' Manaslu circuit is a step back in time, a glimpse of pristine Nepali and Tibetan villages, and a walk through a remote Himalayan paradise. The diversity of the trek, from the Hindu middle hills to the Tibetan high-country dwellers and the awesome mountain scenery of the Manaslu Himal and surrounding peaks combine to make this circuit one of the most interesting, as well as one of the most challenging, treks in Nepal. HW Tillman and his team were the first mountaineering expedition to explore the region in 1950, and the Japanese the first team to climb it in 1956; since then, Manaslu has been known as a Japanese mountain, and because of its sensitive location right at the border of Tibet, few western trekkers ventured into the region. Up to the 1840s, Kutang and Nubri were part of western Tibet and paid taxes to Dzongka Dzong in Tibet. Nubri only incorporated into Nepal in the mid to late 19th century when Gorkha power finally extended into the region. Manaslu was closed after 1959 due to Khampa guerillas encamped in Nubri.

Fact of the Trek;
Trek Destination:
Manaslu and Ganesh Himal Region
Highest Elevation: 5160m
Best Season: Autumn (Oct-Nov) and Spring (March-April) 
Group Size: Minimum 2pax to 16pax
Mode of Trek: Tented Camp
Trek Start/End: Gorkha/Besisahar
Grade: Moderate to Strenuous
Trekking Hour: Normal walking 6 to 7 hours
Transportation by: Private Vehicle
Types of trek/tour: Trekking
Culture: Majority of Gurung and Bhote Lama
Himalayan Sights: Manaslu I, Manaslu North, Ganesh Himal (I, II, III, IV), Nadi Chuli, Himal Chuli, Boudha Himal, Sringi Himal, Naike Peak, Larke Peak and other snowy Tibetan mountains.
High Lights of the Trek: Stunning view of high Himalayan Range, unobstructed Sunrise & Sunset view, typical lifestyle and culture of Gurung, scenic and picturesque villages, ancient Monasteries, wildlife, beautiful terraced fields, dense rhododendron forest, and high glacial lake.


Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu 1340m,
You'll be met at the airport by our representative from the company, so look out for a office sign/logo with your name when you leave the airport. They will bring you back to the Hotel. Welcome drinks will provide by Hotel and short briefing about your treks and refreshment. Stay overnight in Hotel.

Day 2: Full day sightseeing tour in Kathmandu Valley,
A free day to explore in the Kathmandu Valley. Our tour guide introduces as following Options: Climb the many steps to Swayambhunath (the monkey temple), with its commanding views of Kathmandu (1420m), its whitewashed Stupas and its unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. In the midst of traditional Gompas, and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, Boudhanath attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (Koras) of the Stupa. Durbar Square, one of the old capitals of the Kathmandu valley, is a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist temples, stupas and statues, and is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies. Hindu Pashupatinath and its sacred temple complex on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating - when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Stay overnight in Hotel.

Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Gorkha by private vehicle and trek to Gorkha Fort Camp 1060m,
We're up early for our scenic six-hour drive from Kathmandu to the historic town of Gorkha, once the capital of a massive kingdom which included parts of lower Tibet, with it's old 'durbar', or King's palace, a mix of Buddhist and Hindu deities, perched high up in the surrounding hillsides and reached by worn stone steps. After organizing the gear and loads with the porters, we head up many stone steps (about an hour to the fort) to our first night's campsite above the Gorkha Fort, stopping en route to visit this well-maintained site, home of the powerful Gorkha royalty until about a century ago. We can see the crew setting up camp from the top of the fort and it will only take us 15 minutes to reach camp, so linger at this atmospheric spot as long as you'd like. Notice the local 'saddhus' who stay at or visit the Hindu temples inside the fort. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 4: Trek from Gorkha Fort Camp to Arkhol 570m,
We wake to misty mountain views in the morning: the Manaslu range and the Ganesh Himal range are the dominant ones. Have a look over fresh tea/coffee. The middle hills of Nepal are timeless, and we trek for the first two days through classic middle hills scenery; rolling, forested hills, snaking rivers with rounded rock strewn on the beaches, local fishermen casting their nets, iridescent rice fields, papaya, lemon and orange trees, water buffalos, thatched huts and local 'bhattis' (Nepali tea-houses) along the trail for a quick dal bhat or cup of chai. We have a hot seven-eight hour day for our first real day of trekking; with many locals selling bananas and papayas en route (bring small change). We'll meet many colorful Gurung and Hindu locals en route, a will have time to stop at the many traditional villages along the way. We start by descending gradually on stone slab steps to scattered tea-houses, vivid green rice paddies and several small, densely populated village with a school right on the trail, the kids in the schools reciting their lessons. The next descent is very steep and slippery, a long drop down to a small bridge which leads us past more flooded rice-paddies to a dirt road which we walk along for half an hour before reaching a small cluster of tea-houses where we'll stop for a cup of tea. A quarter of an hour later, in the heat of the day, we reach a local bhatti, continue on past more terraced fields and through a small village and then climb up to a point overlooking a magnificent S bend in the Daraundi Khola far below. We descend back to the river and stop at a much needed swimming hole and rocky beach where we cool down and have our packed lunch. About 10 minutes past this stop is a long bridge where we can watch locals swimming and catching fish below us, and then past the village on the other side where cold cokes are available we cross a rickety, swaying, wooden bridge, perhaps the longest in the region. Ekle Sangu is the dingy village on this side of the river; there is a vegetable market just above the village where we will pick up a few supplies for dinner. Another hour and a half of dirt-road trekking on the left bank of the river and again through several small hamlets and bhattis brings us to a small, metal bridge over a small, intersecting bridge. We cross, hike another half an hour and reach our lovely campsite along the beach on the Daraundi River just below the small village of Arkhol. Jump in the river and then enjoy our first mountain sunset. The village kids with surely be by to see what's happening, perhaps carry a basket of beer. Take advantage of a chance for a sun-downer while we're still low in altitude! Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 5: Trek from Arkhol to Rangnung 875m,

A continuation of yesterday's lovely scenery, a slightly shorter five-six hour day, we hike up to Arkhol village on stone steps built into the paddies and continue through the long stretch of main Arkhol lined with small shops. Note the pigeon houses above the shops. We continue though bustling Gurung villages with local tea-houses, some selling a delicious fish curry, contour around rice paddies and then climb high on a steep trail being rewarded by expansive views up and down the misty river valley. We descend again, often following a newly-built dirt road, and cross several swaying suspension bridges spanning the Daraundi Khola before stopping for lunch at a Rocky River beach where we can jump in to cool off (many of the village kids will be swimming, too). We hike past a high waterfall which tumbles to the trail (shower?) and ascend and descend steeply along a new road to reach our camp at Rangnung in the early afternoon. Tomorrow we have a steep climb ahead of us, and this is the last campsite before the large hill. Head down to the river and perch yourselves on the smooth river rocks next to the wonderful swimming hole for a wash after our hot day. The staff might even pick up some small fish for dinner. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 6: Trek from Rangnung to Barpak 1915m,

Have a good breakfast this morning; we head off early for our steep, long climb up to the wonderful village of Barpak, situated perfectly on a green ridge overlooking the misty valley below. There is a new road being built up to Barpak (started in 2009) and we have to traverse this dirt road a few times as we climb through the dense forested hillside filled with Rhododendrons, Bauhenia and other large, leafy trees. Along the way we'll stop for a break at the Gurung memorial 'chautaras' or rest stops. These are specific to the Gurung people, who's religion is Buddhist with an animist/shamanistic bent. Two to three hours of climbing later we reach the local school followed by an entrance gate and several small tea shops. Continuing to climb gently and contouring around tilled wheat fields, it's another hour from the tea shops to reach Barpack village. Our campsite is set up at a private schoolyard in the upper section of the school and there is a small shop just below our camp where you'll be able to find a cold beer. Locals might stop by for a game of volleyball on the school grounds. Barpak is a large, Ghale (royalty) Gurung village, extremely clean, with a weekly market, wide alleys between the houses, grain and vegetables drying outside on the patios, several shops, a new school, a soccer field, viewpoints and flowers planted along the decks of these Gurung houses. Many of its men joined the Gurkha Army, returned to Barpak with new wealth, and have built lovely houses. We arrive in time for lunch, and have the afternoon to wander the narrow streets of the village, a photographer’s paradise. The villagers often organize 'cultural shows', the proceeds of which go to improving the village, so we might be treated to one in the early evening. Across the steep valley the hillsides are peppered with other terraced villages. We are towered over by Baudha Himal, a high, snow-capped peak which makes for wonderful sunrise and sunset photos. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 7: Trek from Barpak to Laprak 2200m,
Another early start and a picturesque climb, with Baudha Himal providing a spectacular back-drop to the sprawling, scenic Barpak as we ascend the narrow ridge; we take the small, stone trail to the right of the main trail after an hour or so, and a total of three hours later, we reach the ridge, officially a pass, which separates Laprak and Barpak. From the viewpoint half an hour before the pass we are rewarded with panoramic mountain views (along with herds of sheep grazing on the grassy hillsides), better than at the actual pass itself, at 2820 meters. Baudha Himal, Shringi Himal, Ganesh Himal and the Langtang range all span the horizon; a truly breath-taking view! The rhododendrons are blooming brilliantly, in many hues of white, pink and red, around us, providing great photographs with the snow-peaks in back. Bring a wind jacket as the clouds often move quickly up to this ridge, and it gets cold quickly. Another steep hour or two of trekking brings us down to Laprak, just past the new 'kane' chorten, another large Gurung village of five hundred houses, perhaps not quite as scenic as Barpak but just as interesting. The Maoists used to stay in this village, and the villagers often offer some friendly indoctrination. We camp in the only campsite around, at the school in the upper section of the village, with several tea-houses nearby. Again, we have the afternoon free to explore the village; take a walk down the hill and a look into some of the houses, all with symbolic murals on the mud-brick walls. Medicinal roots are drying on the decks, and millet and barley are spread in low baskets on the decks. The villagers are friendly, and there is a lot to explore in Laprak's winding maze of lanes. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 8: Trek from Laprak to Korlebesi 875m,
A classic Nepali trekking day of eight hours, all spectacular but a bit hard on the knees. We'll have a 6:30 AM start to have plenty of time for all of us, including the porters, to reach Korlebesi. We descend through Laprak's maze of village paths, the villagers on their decks with their wheat, barley and buckwheat laid out on straw mats, and descend steeply to their corn, wheat and barley fields below the village, and then to the river. After crossing a very rickety suspension bridge, we climb equally steeply back up, past terraced fields of pink sorghum and rice. We contour around several hillsides on a narrow trail, barely visible at times, up to a small chorten just below the village of Singla. From here, the going is easy, and we enjoy the views of the Manaslu Himal, Kutang Himal and Shringi Himal to the north as we walk down through more terraced fields and papaya trees, through the Gurung village of Korla, and then down along a narrow, winding trail to Korlebesi on the Buri Gandaki River. Take care as the rocky steps just before the long suspension bridge to Korlebesi are treacherous! Look out for the local women weaving straw mats in the village. Our campsite is just below the village, next to a small tributary stream, again providing great swimming holes. We will probably get a visit in the evening from this village's cultural ambassadors, and perhaps have another show. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 9: Trek from Korlabesi to Jagat 1370m,
A six plus hour day today, starting with a walk through the village of Korlebesi and followed by an hour of walking along the river, by tobacco and buckwheat fields, past rocks washed smooth by the river, often climbing up stone steps, to reach the hot springs in the center of the small, terraced village of Tatopani. We have plenty of time to soak our grungy bodies in the gushing hot water streaming out of sculpted spouts. A gentle climb through the woods past some spectacular waterfalls and sculpted rocks brings us to a new suspension bridge which we cross. We continue through along a forested path and soon reach the large teahouse at Dobhan. After a short break we cross a tributary river on another suspension bridge; above Dobhan, the Buri Gandaki descends in an impressive series of steep rapids. We'll share the trail with local sheep and goat herders, the youngest of the herd in rope baskets slung over their backs. More steep steps along cliff walls to climb as the river descends even more steeply and even more pronounced striated river rocks decorate our route. There are several chances to stop at fly-blown Nepali bhattis, shared with local farm animals, for a drink or snack en route. After a straight hike through one of the only open sections of the day we'll reach a newer bhatti and campsite where we sometimes stop for lunch. Now our trail climbs high above the river, nearly 200 meters, to descend through what appears to be a huge gateway into some secret place; in front the valley widens, the river makes a large S turn and then calms. We'll stop for lunch at another camping spot and group of bamboo teahouses called Lauri just at the bottom of this climb, with another swimming spot on the river close by (the river is much colder here). An easy hour along the right banks of the river brings us to a long, new suspension bridge after which we climb high, descend past the campsite at lower Jagat and then climb again on neat stone steps before entering our campsite in Jagat, the entrance to the Manaslu Conservation Area. It is worth wandering around this beautiful, paved village, where proud villagers have recorded how much they contributed to these paving schemes. Our campsite is impressively clean and grassy, with cold beers available at the shop next door. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 10: Trek from Jagat to Philim 1570m,

We have a short day of less than three hours today, so enjoy it! After descending a long series of stone steps back down to the river from Jagat, we climb on slab steps along a terraced hill-side to the small hamlet of Saguleri, just past where we can see the impressive Shringi Himal, 7187 meters high. Beautiful flame-leaf trees adorn the trail as we continue to climb and descend far above the river. We pass through the paved village of Sirdibas, where the local children sell oranges in the Autumn and soon afterwards pass the local water-mill. Crossing the river again on a long, high suspension bridge at Gata Khola, the path splits, with the right-hand branch heading off towards the Ganesh Himal. Our route continues upstream, and again we have a steep climb past green fields of wheat to reach Philim, with its health post and Japanese-sponsored school. We arrive at our grassy campsite in time for lunch, and have the afternoon free to wash at the dharapani (tap) across the path from camp, explore the interesting upper village and gompa, or sit and enjoy the afternoon at camp. The upper village's Gurung inhabitants are very poor, far from a health station, and we often spend the afternoon tending to wounds and sick villagers. Notice the chorten with the Moaist hammer and sickle in the center of the upper village, the kane chortens with murals inside and the intricately woven baskets which both the men and the women craft. The exquisite gold heirloom necklaces that adorn some of the women come from Barpak. Be careful of village dogs as they do sometimes bite! Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 11: Trek from Philim to Chumling
If you are not taking the Tsum Valley side-trip then today you will continue on to Ghap (see Day 12 below) 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 and lunch. 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. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 12: Trek from Chumling to Chhokangparo (5-6hrs)
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 tented camp.

Day 13: Trek from Chhokangparo to Nile
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 tented camp.

Day 14: Trek from Nile to Mu Gompa and Chhokangparo
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 tented camp.

Day 15: Trek from Chhokangparo to Gumba Lungdang
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 tented camp.

Day 16: Day trip to Ganesh Himal Base Camp

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 tented camp.

Day 17: Trek from Gumba Lungdang to Lokpa

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 tented camp.

Day 18: Trek from Lokpa to Deng 1865m,
Leaving the Tsum valley, we return to where we left the main trail and continue north into more Tibetan regions. We ascend gradually along a wide hillside through an open pine forest, and then cross the river two more times in the next two hours on small, very badly maintained bridges, Nepali style. As we climb, look back for views of Ganesh Himal lV in back of us. After trekking through dense woods of rhododendrons, bamboo and many flowers for over an hour, we pass the cold campsite of Pewa on the river, and after another hour we leave the gorge and climb briefly to the small village of Deng, approximately five hour of trekking past this morning's campsite. Deng is the start of the lower Nubri region called Kutang, where the people are ethnically Tibetan but speak a different dialect than the people of upper Nubri where the people are pure Tibetans. The Kutang dialect, called 'kukay', is a mix of Tibeto-Burman and Gurung. We have views of Lumbo Himal to the rear, as well as Lapuchen and Dwijen Himals. We camp just below the village, and get fresh greens from the family that owns the land. It's worth a visit to the upper floor of their house above us, perhaps for a glass of local 'chang', or Tibetan beer, and for a chat around the hearth. It starts to feel like a piece of old Tibet again. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 19: Trek from Deng to Namrung 2540m,
The valley is still steep-sided and impressive as we leave camp in the morning, heading for another bridge across the river and to upper Nubri. We switchback steeply up to the small, poor village of Rana, where the women usually have their looms out. Soon after, after more climbing through lovely woods of pine and crossing a small bridge, we reach Bihi Phedi, where there is a good shop and views of Kutang Himal, and start to see mani stones (prayers etched onto wayside rocks, particularly mani stones with pictures of gods and goddesses), a sure sign that we are entering another of the tiny Tibetan footholds that mark the high Himalayan places. We have three or four hours of trekking ahead of us, twice crossing the large Bhuri Gandaki and twice over smaller tributary streams, staying mostly high with many ascents and descents as we walk through the gorge, all the time enjoying spectacular views. Eventually we reach Ghap, where the elaborate mani walls with Buddhas in several asanas were carved by the famous Bihi stone-carvers. The egg-shells strung above the local 'tea-house' doors in Ghap prevent the evil spirits from entering the house. Cross the Buri Gandaki and up steeply up for 45 minutes is the village of Chaak, where the son of the tea-house owner in Ghap lives with his family. There is a small, deserted gompa, carved mani stones (the style here is distinctly different that most other Tibetan Buddhist regions), and some Tibetans from Samdo who graze their yaks here. In the village, they will be drying their maize to grind into flour, and then trade with the people of upper Nubri. Across the river are great views of the village of Prok perched on the plateau jutting over the river below us. From Chaak, you can trek further to Kwak, and there is a trail up to Shringi Himal base camp. A fire recently destroyed the gompa at Kwak. Soon after leaving Ghap, we ascend for an hour through a dense, cool forest of fir, rhododendron, bamboo and oaks, crossing the Buri Gandaki once on a wooden bridge, and continue to climb on smooth, stone steps. We might spot Danphe, the national bird of Nepal, or grey Langur monkeys with white faces along the trail. As we gain altitude, we reach alpine territory and are treated to increasingly broad mountain views. We eventually reach Namrung, the first village in Nubri, a region of purely Tibetan inhabitants speaking a dialect of western Tibet. We eventually arrive at Namrung, at 2540 meters, where we will set up camp in a grassy site above a Tibetan-owned lodge. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 20: Trek from Namrung to Lho 3180m,
Another wonderful and diverse trekking day. Above Namrung, the valley opens out and there are extensive pastures and bear watches to guard them (note the bamboo structures in the fields). A few hours later, we reach the village of Lihi at 2840 meters, a substantial altitude gain. Lihi houses two old gompas, and is spread along the trail with its billowing fields of barley, guarded by more bear watches. Lihi is known for its unusual architecture; apartment-like units with a common roof. From Lihi, you can head east to the newly opened village of Hinang, which also has an important gompa. We are climbing climb gently now and views of Ngadi Himal and Manaslu north open up in front of us. Soon we cross a large stream flowing down from the Lidanda Glaciers and reach the picturesque Tibetan village of Sho at 3000m. Look for the bear claw on the upper deck of the house, and across the river to the ruins of an old Tibetan fort or gompa-hermitage. From Sho, the views of Ngadi Chuli are spectacular, and further on, towards Lho, we are finally treated to breath-taking views of Manaslu itself; quite an impressive afternoon! We set up camp in Lho, a lively, sprawling village adorned with many prayer flags, in the yard of a small lodge just above the new chorten that was built in 2009. The local household dieties in Lho are called 'pholhas' and are revered at small altars in all of the houses. The small gompa just below our campsite worth a visit as is the important new gompa adorned with multi-colored prayer flages up the hill, next to the phone. If you want to call home, this is your chance. From camp, sunset and sunrise from the campsite are wonderful, with breathtaking views of Manaslu and Manaslu north. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 21: Trek from Lho to Sama Gaon (Ro) 3525m,

We wake to a misty, golden sunrise and spectacular views of Manaslu and Manaslu North right from the campsite; a worthwhile backdrop for our morning coffee. Walking through the upper reaches of Lho, with the snowy peaks of Manaslu ahead of us in the distance, we pass billowing green barley fields, a long mani wall and large, old chortens followed by the kane chorten, where we'll get the best views of Manaslu. We descend, cross small streams on wooden bridges and then ascend through light forests next to a small river to reach the high, idyllic Tibetan settlement of Shayla, where we've found pelts of blue sheep tucked away in the rafters of the now-deserted settlement. There are extensive mountain panoramas from here and from the gompa route. A worthwhile and easy alternative route to Shayla is via Hong Sangbu Gompa to the southwest of Shayla. The gompa is near Musithang Kharka, and has an entrance kani, a long mani wall and close-up mountain views. The gompa is now being rebuilt. To get there we climb to the left of the trail at the small hydro-power station. Past Shayla, we have a few hours of trekking through classic alpine scenery, crossing two small bridges over glacial streams. Our trail leads us past Tibet grazing settlements, the trail to Pung Gyan Gompa off to the left, several doksas, or seasonal settlements and eventually past checkered fields of barley and potato to Sama Gaon, or Ro, as the locals call it. Sama Gaon sits in a bowl at the foot of the pastures leading to the high peaks, with mani walls, a small gompa and tightly packed rows of houses at the lower reaches of village, and the large gompa at the upper reaches. The people settled here from Tibet over 500 years ago, and the two gompas date from this time, both having unique architecture and built of wood. The Tibetan villages in this region of Manaslu have distinctive entrance gates (kanis), and they maintain an active trade with their co-religionists in Tibet over several high passes nearby (notice the Chinese brandy and beer for sale in the small shops). If the weather is good, you will see the village women weaving wool (baal) from Tibet into gowns - which are then traded back to Tibet. Taxes were actually paid to the Dzongka Dzong (fortress) at the border of Tibet, a few days walk from Sama Gaon, as late as the 1940's until it was taken over by the Gorkhas in the late 19th century. Later, after 1959, the region was home to Tibetan guerrillas, and thus closed to trekking until 1992. The economy is based on farming, herding and trading. Take the afternoon to hike up to the old gompa settlement above town, and to wander the streets of the fascinating Sama Gaon village.

NOTE: If we ever have an extra day in Sama Gaon, a great excursion is a long day-hike up to Pung Gyan Gompa, at 3870 meters, a stunning walk up an often icy and slippery trail along the Numla Khola and the Pung Gyan glacier past Tibetan 'kharkas' or seasonal herding settlements, with unbeatable views of Manaslu near the gompa. The gompa was mostly destroyed by an avalanche in 1953, and recently rebuilt. The complex includes a cave gompa as well, which affords even better views of the valley. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 22: Trek from Sama Gaon to Samdo 3850m,
Another day of incredible mountain views, past craggy woods of Himalayan Birch, during the walk up to Samdo, an easy three hours away. For those who want, we'll make an excursion to the lake below Manaslu Base Camp: Just north and off to the left of the trail leaving Sama Gaon, we cross a small bridge and rock-hop over the river and then head west towards Manaslu Base Camp, where we'll have stunning views of the lake, glacier and valley. We usually hike for about an hour up a steep trail to the right of the lake and stop for lunch at a green doksa. After heading down and en route to Samdo, we continue along the left side of the long mani walls at Kermo Kharka, and soon afterwards spot the entrance chorten of Samdo high on a bluff. We descend back to the Bhuri Gandaki and cross a small bridge before another short climb to the 'kane' entrance of Samdo. The villagers of Samdo came across the border from the village of Riu in Tibet after 1959 and built their new village here, at their old herding settlement. Like the people of Ro, Samdo inhabitants are Tibetan, and were ceded the land by the king of Jumla over 500 years ago; but, unlike the Ro people, they only claimed their land after the Chinese takeover in the early 1950s. Since then they have established a trade with China and India, marketing among other things, the aphrodisiac root that grows in the region. We'll see if we can get an invitation into a local house for chang (Tibetan barley beer), salt-butter tea and perhaps a bit of carpets or textile shopping. Get out and take a walk around the village, where the inhabitants live an essentially Tibetan lifestyle, herding their yaks, sheep and goats, training their horses and planting barley. There is a small gompa in a house mid-village which we visited in previous years, a puja being held by several of the reincarnated lamas living in Samdo. We also have a strong connection to a family in Samdo which Clint Rogers, who wrote the book about Samdo that we have in our library, lived with years ago. We helped the wife, Nima Dikki, get over her four-year postpartum depression, and know her husband Tsewang Gyurme and their kids well. We will stop in for a visit and to check to see how Nima Dikki is doing, a rare chance to see how a real Samdo family exists. We're high, and the wind can be chilling in the evenings, so tuck into the little tea-house next door to our campsite for a cup of salt-butter tea to warm you up.

Day 23: Samdo, Acclimatization Day

Another rest and acclimatization day in this wonderful village below Manaslu, which towers above us. We recommend a hike up the valley directly in back of Samdo, with Samdo Ri behind it, heading towards one of their trading passes to Tibet, for amazing mountain panoramas including an in-your-face view of Manaslu itself. From left to right: Simrang Himal, Himal Chuli, Ngadi Himal, Manaslu, Manaslu North and Larkye Peak. To the right of the Larkye La which is just in front of us as we look northwest, we can see Cheo Himal and possibly Kang Guru behind the pass. En route up and down to these viewpoints we pass many lovely, slated herding settlements, called doksas, now empty, and purple and yellow primulas color the hillsides. We might also see more Danphe as they crash through the underbrush, and probably will see Lammergeyer and Himalayan Griffin soaring high above us. The prayer flags strung up on a distant hill, sending messages out into the Himalaya; make a good stopping point before returning to lively Samdo. A longer option for the day is a trip to the Gya La ('large pass') to the north of Samdo, a more frequently used trading route to Tibet. Where the border markers at the top says 'China, 1962.' You usually share the trail up to the pass with groups of Samdo residents and their yaks carrying timbers over the border to Tibet. True High Asia and a long day! Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 24: Trek from Samdo to Dharamsala High Camp (Larkya Phedi) 4460m,
We leave Samdo on the old trade route towards Tibet (Sherpas from the Khumbu region used to bring their yaks into Tibet and then across the Larkya La down into Nubri on their extensive trade-circuit in years past), cross a small bridge, and climb through the ruins of Larkya Bazaar across from Larkya Glacier which tumbles down from Manaslu North. The bazaar was one of the trade markets, a seasonal tented camp that flourished years ago. After three to four hours of climbing past more glaciers, through open plateaus of dwarf rhododendron and juniper bushes, with increasingly awe-inspiring panoramas, we come to the campsite at Dharamasala, the high camp for the Larkya La. We'll have lunch here while the staff sets up camp and gaze out at the views. You'll really feel the altitude and the cold here, so enjoy a more leisurely afternoon and keep warm. We're in blue sheep territory, so keep an eye out for herds of them grazing nearby on the barren hillsides. We'll have an early dinner in preparation for our pass crossing tomorrow. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 25: Crossing over Larkya La (5140m) to Bimtang 3590m,

Thank God for fresh-brewed coffee; it's dark and cold as we pack up our bags and tents in the morning and head off on our eight to nine our trek! After a short climb above the campsite, we reach the ablation valley on the North side of the Larkya Glaciers where we have views of Cho Danda, Ganesh Himal l to the east and then of Larkya Peak (6250m). We continue across the moraines of the glacier and past frozen lakes, often through the snow, making a gradual ascent which becomes steeper only in the last section to the pass, which should take us about four hours to crest. If there is fresh snow, we may see snow leopard prints from the evening before; it's also blue sheep, pika, marmot and Tibetan snow-cock territory. The views from the top of the pass are wonderful, a mountain panorama equally stunning from both sides of our double pass. To the west Manaslu on the left and Phungi to the right. To the east, Kang Guru (ridge only), Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal and a bit further the views open up to included Gyagi Kung and the Annapurna II . After hanging our Tibetan prayer flags and yelling 'Ki ki so so lha gyalo' (may the Gods be victorious), get ready for a steep, often slippery drop to a trail following the glacial moraine. Bring your trekking poles, and 'yak tracks' if you have them. We'll lunch below the pass on smooth rocks surrounded by primulas and azalea bushes before continuing the descent. It's still three hours to go to our campsite, a long haul. A boulder-strewn descent leads us, finally, to Bimtang, which means 'Plain of Sand', the spot where the Samdo people keep their animals in the cold winter months. The three sisters of the 'Three Sisters Hotel' are on hand with chilled beer, and the evening clouds gather and turn pink behind the surrounding peaks. It's all worthwhile now. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 26: Trek from Dharmashala to Tilje 2300m,
A chilly but beautiful morning, as the sun behind the ridge hits the peaks around us long before the campsite. After leaving the grazing fields of Bimtang, we climb to a ridge over the moraine, soon afterwards crossing a boulder-strewn river, which recently flooded, on a wooden bridge. We ascend and then head down through open forests of brilliantly blooming rhododendron, juniper, birches and spruce past the doksas below Bimtang, passing Samdo-pa returning from shopping with their loaded horses. Butterflies flutter peacefully around us, hummingbirds dart from tree to tree, and white strawberry flowers and azalea bushes are underfoot. We'll lunch at a small tea-house, and then continue along the rocky river-bed and sliding hill-sides to several small, green villages, a sign that we've reached lower altitudes. Eventually, after a somewhat long but very scenic day, we reach the large village of Tilje, and our campsite in the lower section. The inhabitants are a mix of Manangis, Ghale Gurung and Chettris (Hindus), so have a unique architecture and culture, and eat mix foods - dal bhat, buckwheat dhiro, tsampa and Tibetan salt-tea. The gorge ahead marks the land of apple pie, cold beers and hot showers, otherwise known as the Annapurna Circuit. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 27: Trek from Tilje to Tal 1680m,

It's an easy trekking day following the Dudh Khola through bamboo forests down to Dharapani, an atmospheric Tibetan village with prayer flags fluttering in the wind, stopping en route at the gompa in Thongje on the old Annapurna trail. Trekking south on the main Annapurna Circuit trail, we soon arrive at a long suspension bridge over which we cross the Marshyangdi River to reach the small village of Karte, re-crossing it soon afterwards. We continue along a high, winding, stunning cliff-side trail past several small teahouses at Khorte, and then switch backing down the steep trail before crossing the Marshyangdi river yet again. Before us, we see the wide plain and waterfall at scenic Taj, the last village of the Lower Manang region. Tal means lake, and the area here was formed when the valley was blocked by a landslide and a dam formed behind. The lake has long gone and now the village of Tal sits on the river flats. We'll set up our campsite on the grassy lawn of the last tea-house in Tal. Showers available for anyone needing one, and of course cold beers. Take the afternoon to amble over to the waterfall at the other end of town, and wander through this small hamlet. Stay  overnight at tented camp.

Day 28: Trek from Tal to Syange and drive to Besi Sahar,
Continuing along the riverside, we have a quick ascent to the entrance 'kane' of Tal, and after cresting the small hump, we descend steeply past the small teahouses at Sattale, loosing even more altitude as we continue down through the lush forest to the river and cross another suspension bridge leading to Chamje. a short hike uphill. Chamje is an atmospheric, 'wild west' village of traditional-style teahouses, often packed with saddled local horses. From here the road-building is full-on, so we'll continue as far as we can get, and hop in our jeeps! But before then, one more steep descent through the woods, looking across the river to large waterfalls, leads us to the lovely cobbled village of Jagat, situated on a shelf which juts into the precipitous Marsyangdi valley. Back to the lush, semi-tropical middle hills of Nepal! Descending steeply, we arrive at the small, somewhat wild-looking village of Syange, and hope our jeep is waiting for us! We'll have a bumpy drive to Besi Sahar where we set up our last campsite and get ready for our last night's party with the staff and porters in the evening! Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 29: Drive from Besi Sahar to Kathmandu by private vehicle,
It's a hot, five (plus) hour drive back to Kathmandu, so we'll try to head off early and stop for lunch en route back. It is a different world back in the Nepali hills, and the gentle light sends us on our way back to the bustle of Nepal's capital and transfer to Hotel.

Day 30: Final Departure to International Airport as per your flight schedule.

Our Package Inclusive
# Int’l/Dom Airport/Hotel/Airport picks up and transfers by private car/van on arrival and departure.
# 3 Nights accommodations in twin bed sharing basis with breakfast at Standard Hotel in Kathmandu.
# Sightseeing Tour as per above mentioned itinerary and all kind of entry fees.
# Meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) with tea or coffee are included during the camping trek.
# Tented Camp accommodation during the camping trek.
# 1 Experienced, helpful, friendly and well trained English speaking guide, 1 trekking cook, kitchen helper and necessary porters for camping trek, porters (1 porter for 2 peoples) during the trek and their food, accommodation, equipments, salary and insurance.
# All Equipments for Camping Treks (Tents, Dinning Tents, Kitchen Tents, Toilet Tents, Mattresses, Tables, Chairs and Kitchen Utensils for cooking etc.).
# All ground transportation by private vehicle.
# Tsum Valley Restricted Area Permit.
# Manaslu Restricted and Conservation Area Permit.
# Annapurna Conservation Area Permit.
# All necessary permits in different region.
# Tourist Service Charge.
# Office Service Charge.
# All government tax.
# First Aid Medical Kit box.

Our Package Exclusive
# Any meals (Lunch and Dinner) in Kathmandu other than breakfast.
# International Airfare to and from Nepal.
# Travel Insurance.
# Nepal Tourist Visa Fees.
# Items and expenses of personal nature.
# All kind of alcoholic drinks (beer, wine, whisky), cold drink (mineral water, coke, fanta, sprite, juice), laundry service, postage, phone calls, internet, donations, museum entry fees etc during the trip.
# Personal Trekking Equipments such as sleeping bags, walking poles, down jackets, walking boots. (It can be hired/bought in Kathmandu).
# Emergency Evacuation (Medical Insurance and Helicopter Rescue in case of accident and can be paid either insurance company or clients themselves).
# Any cost arises due to a change of the program/itinerary, because of landslides, political disturbance, strike and some accidental problems.
# Horse/Pony renting and additional porters due to natural calamities during the trek.
# Any other costs whatsoever, that is not mentioned in the cost inclusive.
# Tipping Tips for guide, porters, drivers and horse man.

Tipping is expected but it is not mandatory and can be treated end of the trip if satisfied.

N. B. This is a general itinerary, which can always individually be “tailor-made”. The package itinerary can be redesigned or changed due to trekker’s fitness and time frame of holiday. Similarly hotel can be upgraded or downgraded depend on your budget. Please email to us at mystiquenepaltreks@yahoo.com for more details and discussions for suitably programs.

P.S. In case of Emergency Evacuation during the trip, Helicopter Rescue will be arranged by Mystique Nepal Himalayan Trekking & Expedition (P) Ltd within 1-2 hours in first call. The cost of the rescue must be paid by the clients themselves or insurance company.

TREKKING/TOUR CANCELLATION PROCEDURES:
There will be a cancellation fee of 25% for any cancellation unforeseen problems shown one month prior to Trekking/Tour departure date, a cancellation fee of 50% two weeks prior to Trekking/Tour departure date and no refund thereafter. No refund for no shows & delay arrivals whatsoever reason.
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