How Difficult is Tsum Valley Trek

Trekking is an adventurous journey and everyone thinks about the difficulties of the trek before they undertake those adventures. The success of the trek depends upon the difficulty grade. Therefore, it is wise to consider the difficulty level of the trek before commencing it. In this article, we are focusing on the difficulty of the Tsum Valley Trek.

Tsum Valley Trek is one of the most popular restricted region treks in Nepal. The valley was popularly known as the world’s remotest valley until recently. The trek to Tsum Valley takes you into the majestic surroundings of the Ganesh Himal, Sringi Himal, and Boudha Himal ranges. The region once being part of Tibet looks completely different from what you will find elsewhere.

Tsum Valley lies on the northern part of Manaslu and used to be a restricted area until 2008. The region is still less exposed in comparison to other touristy areas, with relatively virgin and less beaten paths in comparison to the more popular regions. The Tsum people have their own way of family life, which may be quite surprising for many outsiders. All the brothers in the family are married to a single girl, what you may call a practice of polyandry.

Tsum Valley Trek is a well-known trekking destination of the Manaslu Region. This trek is remote as well as beautiful. Tsum Valley is located in the Northern part of the Gorkha district at the edge of Manaslu Circuit Trek. This trek is an iconic trek for the hidden treasures. Tsum morphologically is the word derived from the Tibetan language which means Vivid against the majestic backdrop of the Ganesh Himal, Sringi Himal, and Boudha Ranges or Beyul Kyimolung which means Holy Hidden Valley of Happiness.  This valley is the center of attraction because Tibetan Buddhist culture is extremely prevalent here. The Tsum Valley has a long history of Buddhism. The Buddhist saint Milarepa is believed to have meditated in the caves of these mountains.

Tsum Valley Trek is more like an exploration of religious sites of Tibetan influenced villages of Gorkha district. The villages are spectacular with Tsumbas; Tibetan Descendants, abundant art, culture, and religion. This trek gives you a different taste with different people and their unique dialect. The whole village seems artistic with Chortens and Mani Walls.

This beautiful and peaceful trek was opened just in 2008. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility, the unique culture of the valley has remained intact. This is a trekking package that is best for visitors who want to study the development history of Buddhism. Moreover, astonishing views of Mt. Ganesh and Mt. Manaslu, exploration of Rachen Gompa and Mu Gompa, observation of remote lives, and trek to natural hot springs are the other highlights of this trek. Similarly, The Tsum Valley is uniquely rich in wildlife (Himalayan Thar and Blue Sheep), historical, cultural, and natural wealth.

Though Tsum Valley is a pristine trekking destination it is relatively difficult trekking in Nepal. The trek is rated as one of the strenuous treks in Nepal. The trek is not easy and the difficulty of this trek depends upon several other factors. This article is based on the same.

Highlights of Tsum Valley Trek

  • World’s remotest valley: Tsumm Valley
  • Stunning off-the-beaten trails
  • Magnificent mountain views
  • Unique and unspoiled culture and tradition
  • The unusual life of Tumbas, the Tibetan Descendents
  • Tsum Valley Trek has an exclusive cultural route that contains monasteries and several Buddhist Mani walls almost everywhere.
  • The rich locale with the typically rural and rustic setting

Altitude Sickness in Tsum Valley Trek

Altitude sickness is the most common reason behind the difficulties to trek in the Himalayas.  Anybody who is not accustomed to the high altitude will certainly suffer from the high-altitude sickness commonly known as acute mountain sickness. This is a condition in which our body could not adjust to the environment due to the less amount of oxygen in air or low barometric pressure.

When we move to the high altitude the barometric pressure will be less and our body couldn’t adjust to that air pressure due to which we feel nausea, dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, headache, loss of appetite, shortness of sleep, etc. which is called Altitude sickness. In terms of its complexities, altitude sickness is grouped into three categories:

  1. Acute Mountain Sickness: It is very common at high altitudes and can cause vomiting, dizziness, nausea, etc. overall, it is the mildest form of altitude sickness.
  2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): It is a very dangerous and life-threatening condition because fluid is built up in the lungs.
  3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): It is the most severe stage of Altitude Sickness because fluid is built up in the brain. It is a life-threatening one. The victim will be unable to walk, breathe, and ultimately in Coma.

Tsum Valley Trek route also has the potential of high-altitude sickness. The highest point on the Tsum Valley Trek ranges from 3,700 m to 5,160 m. This height is the significant one to cause altitude sickness. People will have the symptoms of altitude sickness above 3000 m.

The oxygen level and atmospheric pressure are nearly 50% low at the very high altitude in comparison with the sea level. Therefore, our bodies could not adjust to such an environment and we suffer from altitude sickness.

Altitude Sickness can suffer anyone who attempts high altitude. If you feel any symptoms associated with Altitude Sickness along with headache, you need to change your elevation. It means climb down to the lower elevations. If the symptoms are severe, you need medical attention. We can prevent Altitude Sickness also.

Symptoms Correlated with the Altitude Sickness

  • Headache
  • Fatigues
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Unusual swelling of hands, feet, and face
  • Nose Bleeding, Difficulty in breathing
  • Increment in pulse rate
  • General Malaise

How to minimize Altitude Sickness in the Mountains?

  • Do not climb hurriedly
  • Acclimatize properly
  • Drink plenty of freshwaters
  • Do not drink or smoke, eat hygienically.
  • Do not begin your hike from above 3000 m
  • Don’t climb more than 300-500 m in a day

Difficulty of Tsum Valley Trek

Tsum Valley Trek is a fantastic trekking destination for the adventurer who wants to explore the hidden corner of Nepal. This wonderful trek leads you to far north mid-west Himalayas tucked between a massive range of Ganesh Himal and Manaslu range. Since the region is less explored in comparison to other trekking regions only a few travelers have made it to this high and mysterious valley.

Tsum Valley Trek comes under one of the physically demanding and relatively difficult treks in Nepal. It comes among the tough trekking in Nepal. The trek is a restricted area trekking. Therefore, it has fewer explored routes and trekking trails. The trails are narrow and remote. Most parts of this trek are steep and rocky trails. This is perfect for the ones who love the isolated region. Altitude is a major threat to this region.

Trekking to Tsum Valley doesn’t demand any trekking experiences from your past. However, to beat the challenges that the trek has to offer you, you must always be in shape and be strong. Trekking in the Himalayas isn’t as easy as you expect it to be. To sustain the high altitudes, rocky terrains, and high mountain passes, you must have better strength.

To boost your physical endurance for trekking, you can practice some training. You may practice running, skipping, cycling, swimming, and other workouts. You can also go on short hikes to nearby hills before you go on the actual trek.

Let’s read about some factors that make this trek a difficult journey:

Altitude

Tsum Valley Trek varies from 1,905 meters in Lhokpa to over 5,093 meters at Ngala Dhojhyang pass on the Tibetan border. The Valley is bounded by high passes- the Ngala Dhoj Hyang (5,093m) to the west and Yamcho Pass (5,326m) to the north. That is to say, the altitude of Tsum Valley is prone to altitude sickness.

Weather

The weather above 4000 m altitude remains always unpredictable. The weather remains quite unstable at the Tsum Valley. The Tsum Valley altitude roughly ranges from 700 m to 5000 m. The region experiences a long harsh cold season, harsh blow of wind, blizzards, etc. which also can spoil the journey.

Distance

The average length of the Tsum Valley Trek varies according to the route you choose. However, the standard route is around 180km and it takes an average of 6 hours to cover the distance in a standard trek package of 16 to 17 days. Hiking 5/6 hours each day simultaneously on rocky, steep, and off the beaten trails is a real difficulty even for an experienced trekker.

Topography

The Tsum Valley Trek is located in the remote region of Nepal. It is also referred to as a hidden trek in Nepal. The region does not have well-established trekking infrastructures. It is totally under the wilderness. The trails are not well maintained, very few people head towards this destination.

Best Season for Tsum Valley Trek

Weather and temperature are the most important factors that determine the difficulty of any treks in Nepal. Unlike other treks, March to May, September to November is the busiest season for Tsum Valley trek. Heavy snowfall in the winter season (December-February) and continuous rainfall from June to August (Rainy season) disturbs the trek in other seasons. Tsum valley is not suitable to trek in the winter and rainy seasons.

Spring Season (March-May)

This is the best time to trek in the Tsum Valley. The weather is very favorable in Tsum Valley during the spring season. Stunning views of Mt. Manaslu and glaciers are the major attributes of this season. Temperatures start increasing from the mid of March and with clear skies. One can enjoy the best views of snowy mountains in this season. From April & May, low land starts getting hot, high land in the mountain is neither cold nor hot in the daytime. Nighttime is comparatively colder than daytime. Many trekkers often succeed in their expedition at this time. On the journey, the rhododendron flowers will be blooming at their best with a variety of colors.

Autumn Season (September- November)

This is also one of the perfect seasons for the Tsum Valley Trek. This season is the peak of tourists due to the favorable weather. As the monsoon slowly ends, a perfect trekking climate starts itself. The temperature goes up to 20° C during the daytime and falls to 5° C during the night time. This season is the best trekking season in the year. The season is characterized by a clear sky and an amazing view of the mountains. It is highly recommended as it’s the best time for the Tsum Valley Trek.

Even in the autumn season, you would have the best trekking experience from mid-September to end. Tourists in this season are also attracted by the main festival of Nepal; Dashain and Tihar. As winter slowly begins, snow falls begin in the Manaslu region and it eventually tough to trek. Nights will start to get colder. November is the busy season as it is the clearest month with sparkling days. The daytime temperatures are very stable and constant and due to this, the view of the clear blue sky and the mountain is phenomenal. From December, the temperature starts to get cold and begins to snow.

Spring and autumn are the best seasons to travel in Nepal and the same implies with the Tsum Valley Trek also.

Trekking in the offseason, i.e., during summer and winter, is really challenging.

Facts of Tsum Valley Trek

Tsum Valley Trekking is a blessed Himalayan expedition. It is famous as an off-the-beaten trekking route in Nepal. The trek in the wilderness is gaining popularity amongst trekkers seeking challenges. The off-the-beaten-path trek features breathtaking views of mountains, unique ancient culture, and crossing a high mountain pass. Here is a short description of some interesting facts of Tsum Valley Trek.

Solo Trekking Restricted

Tsum Valley is a restricted trekking region in Nepal. The region was not open for trekkers and visitors until a few years ago. To trek in this region, there must be at least two trekkers in a group with a professional guide. It is mandatory to trek with a registered and licensed trekking agency.

Restricted Area Permit Required

To trek in the Tsum Valley, you must buy a restricted region permit. The permit can be bought from the Tourism Board Nepal or Trekking Agencies Association Nepal. The Government of Nepal has provisioned the Restricted area permit to keep the natural, cultural, and historical heritages of the region intact.

Manaslu Conservation Area: Home to the highest no. of endangered species

Tsum Valley Trek is an extended trekking region of the Manaslu Circuit Trek. One of the top features of the trek is Manaslu Conservation Area. Manaslu Conservation Area is known for its rich preservation of the highest no. of endangered species of animals. The area features around 2000 species of plants, 33 mammals, 3 reptiles, and over 110 species of birds. Manaslu Conservation Area is home to rare animals like Snow Leopard, Musk deer, Jackal, Brown Bear, Lynx, and others. Also, Himalayan Tahr, Blue sheep, Himalayan marmot, Wooly hare, and others live in this conservation area.

The practice of Polyandry

Tsum Valley Trek is also famous for its unique cultural practices. One of the exceptional practices prevalent in the valley is polyandry. A woman who marries the eldest brother serves as a wife to brothers of the same family.  This kind of tradition is rare and hardly practiced elsewhere.

Off the beaten path, less crowded

Tsum Valley Trek is the world’s best off the beaten trekking route. The region is also a restricted one. Therefore, very few travelers go to this region. Apparently, the region was not open for trekkers until 2008. The region has traces of ancient Tibetan Buddhism. The trek is less crowded also because of its remoteness.

Diverse culture and lifestyle

Tsum Valley is still untouched by modern civilizations. The region preserves the best of ancient Buddhist culture and traditions. The lifestyle of the people living here is yet pastoral. People have a simple lifestyle. You can witness Mani walls, mud-built Chortens, monasteries, colorful Buddhist prayer flags, etc. everywhere.

Other Facts

  • The region is believed to be the meditation center of Milarepa. According to legends the famous Buddhist Yogi, Chyuchin Milarepa meditated in one of the caves in Tsum Valley. The cave where Milarepa meditated is regarded as sacred and is called Piren Phu (Pigeon cave). 
  • Only experienced trekkers are preferred for this trek.
  • Tsum Valley can be extended during the Manaslu Circuit Trek.
  • The life of the people living here is not much different than they used to have in ancient times.

Tips for Tsum Valley Trek

  • Try not alone; always hire a professional local trekking Guide
  • Learn safety rules
  • Acclimatize and Acclimatize
  • Choose the right trail for your fitness
  • Carry local currency
  • Pace yourself, don’t travel under pressure
  • Wear the most comfortable dress help you to succeed
  • Select a Government Licensed Trekking Agency
  • Be familiar with the trails
  • Check the weather condition before you begin
  • Tell someone where you will be
  • Buy an Insurance Policy with the appropriate coverage
  • Pack ten Essentials

Interested in this trek? Then here you go for the itinerary.

Last but not least Tsum Valley Trek is one of the best and hidden valley treks in the Annapurna Region. The region is not yet fully discovered. This is pure and unspoiled trekking in Nepal. The region boasts unique culture, richer ecology, and even a beautiful landscape. It is a must-do trek in Nepal either. If you are planning for a trek in Nepal and have not yet decided which way to go, we recommend you choose this trek. If you want more information, please feel free to contact us.  

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