Some highlights of the Manaslu / Tsum valley trek
I was following the progress on Lonely Planet’s Thorntree forum of one excited trekker planning a trip to one trekker delighted with the experience. He walked the Manaslu Circuit with a side trip into the off the beaten track Tsum Valley and with great respect for all those who advised him beforehand, he wrote up the highlights from his trek and an edited version is re-posted below with permission. Place them side by side with some photographs from the region and a map, and you have a a very pleasant 5 minutes ahead of you.
Trek Highlights included:
- Staying overnight in a local house in the village of Bihi about 20 minutes off the main trek path. It’s a larger, very traditional-looking village. I found in general locals were not able to accommodate us in private houses due to lack of space: lots of kids and food supplies, that is they weren’t soliciting us to stay in their homes and eat their food. They always pointed the local lodge out to us. You have to spend time going from house to house finding someone which is hard during harvest season. One villager did invite us in and I rate it the most interesting experience of the trek. A Tibetan-style house with a stable below and living quarters above mostly taken up by grain storage, pots and pans and family possesions. No furniture whatsoever nor windows. All family time including sleeping is in one room, and the kitchen around a stove on the floor. Dinner was tea and dal bhat with homemade raksi rice wine. I put my sleeping bag and mattress on a tarp between fermenting rice and corn barrels. I could hear the mice scampering around at night.
- Staying at Ranchen Gompa as a guest, touring the complex and helping to teach an English class.
- Staying at Mu Gompa in a Lama’s room and climbing to a viewpoint high above.
- While exploring the village of Samdo I came across an old man sitting on a roof of his house chanting prayers with an incredible Himalayan view behind him. I motioned to him if I could come up and he allowed me to. I just listened to him chant while enjoying the view after which I was invited in to drink yak butter tea (easier said than done). A young girl in the household wanted to give me one of her puppies to keep. I was tempted.
- Crossing the Larkye La in perfect weather. Incedible views of glaciers, rock, peaks and lakes.
- The remoteness of the trek. Very few other trekkers except at the pass and villages right before it. I saw more trekkers in one hour on the Annapurna Circuit than the entire Manaslu/Tsum trek of 21 days
- Volunteering to help some villagers in their field with the harvest. They really laughed and came out to see a trekker harvesting. The next day I started scratching, I think I was bitten or picked up some insects while doing it.
- The incredible river valleys with stone staircases climbing high above a river gorge with waterfalls laced with rainbows.
- Visiting a turquoise lake with a glacier spilling into it from Mt. Manaslu just a short trek above the monastery in Samo.
The trekker in question known as Avsfan and he promises more highlights and pictures soon. You can follow the post here.
For another article recounting the crossing of the Larkya La see: Crossing the Larkya La, Nepali Times Nov 26th 2010. The author says of crossing the pass “…large Himalayan peaks started to appear to the left and right and from the top, I was completely surrounded and indeed emotionally overwhelmed by them.” I have never heard