Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tsum Valley Nepal Trek | Route and Timings | Part I

A South Col team trekked the Tsum Valley in April-May 2018. A detailed route description and timings are below in this two part post :

For an update of trail conditions in the Manslu/Tsum region please do visit

April 22nd 2018 Kathmandu to Arughat to Lapubesi
We left Kathmandu at 7 am for Arughat. It took around an hour to exit Kathmandu valley and then follow the Prithvi Highway to Pokhara for around 60 km. The road then crosses the river and starts the climb for Dhading.  Dhading Besi is reached in around 3 hours and then the road begins to climb to a ridge on a dirt track.  The progress is now very slow as the bus careered dangerously over the rutted potholes in the mud. After traversing the entire ridge the road then drops around 500 metres in the Arughat valley  crosses the river on a concrete bridge and enters the small town of Arughat by 2 20 pm.   After lunch you need to send your bus back to Kathmandu and arrange another vehicle to Soti Khola as the syndicate does not allow the same us to go to Soti Khola - we had arranged a bus to pick us up at Arughat and drive us now to a rock cliff called Hawa Danda which is now past Soti Khola - it took around 90 minutes to drive from Arughat to Hawa Danda on a very difficult rough road - from there we walked 30 minutes and reach the pretty Laxmi Lodge at Lapubesi. We had spent almost the whole day in buses on terrible roads. The temperatures at this low altitude around 500-600 metres is warm close to 30 - 32 Celsius in the day.  Cost index Dal Bhat 480 black tea 50. Both Nepal Telecom and Ncell phones are working here with low signals. 
Arughat 495m 28 2 18 N 84 48 40 E Lapubesi 606m 28 8 2 N 84 51 16E

April 23rd 2018 Lapubesi to Tatopani
We left Lapubesi at around 7.10 am following the new jeepable road which is under construction.  We spotted the snow peaks of Shiringi Himal also known as Chamar and Chamar South soon out of Lapubesi.

 Within 30 minutes we left the road and dropped down to the river initially on a steep short cut trail and then onto a broader trail which followed the river upstream sometimes over rocks and boulders. Within an hour and 15 min we could see the lodges of Khairabesi above us on the old trail which is now being blasted to make the new road. At around 9. 30 am we entered Maccha Khola and stopped for tea at the New Chum Guest House. The permits were also checked at the Police Station here.  We were then informed that due to blasting, the old trail to Khorlabesi which used to take one hour, could not be used and we would have to take a three hour detour. We waited for our group to come in and then left Maccha Khola at around 11 am. It was a relentless 400 metre climb in the hot scorching sun which took around 2 hours- the trail then dropped steeply for about 350 metres on stone steps many of them rubble and mud caked loose and slippery. 
The trail before Macha Khola along the river
We finally entered Khorlabasi around 2 pm and stopped for lunch. We were then informed that due to blasting once again the trail toTatopani would only open at 5 pm. We started out around 4 pm - the trail had been devastated in several places and it was really rough going - in some places it was extremely narrow and there was no trail at all due to the rocks and blasting - we finally entered Tatopani around 5.30 pm and decided to call it a day - we had been on the go for more than ten hours . Cost Index Dal Bhat 500 Black Tea 60 
Lapu Besi to Macha Khola 2 hr 30 min Macha Khola to Khorla Besi 1 hr normal trail 3 hours new detour across the river Khorlabesi to Tatopani 1 hr 30 min 
Lapubesi 606m 28 8 2 N 84 51 16E Macha Khola 834m 28 13 44 N 84 52 46E Khorlabesi 879m 28 15 14N 84 52 59E Tatopani 965m 28 17 42 N 84 54 15 E

April 24the 2018  Tatopani to Jagat
We left Tatopani by 7.20 am and within 15 minutes crossed the river on a suspension bridge - we then entered a landslide area which continued for about 20 minutes - the trail continued to climb and descend gently along the foaming Budhi Gandaki - in about an hour we could see the blue lodges of Dovan - the path then climbed steeply for about 15 minutes and then entered Dovan.  From Dovan the trail followed the valley and in around 30 minutes entered a landslide area which took around 15 minutes to cross - there were a continuous stream of ponies coming and going the whole morning and this delayed our progress. Within 5 minutes of crossing the landslide we entered Syuli Batti with one lodge New Mountain Hotel and Restaurant where we stopped for a cup of tea. I noticed that this lodge had rooms as well so in a crisis it would be possible to stay here.  We left Syuli Bhatti and the trail continued to climb and descend until it reached some houses where ponies were being loaded in about 30 minutes from Syuli. From here the trail started to climb steeply for around 40 minutes until it reached the top of the ridge where it passes the lone Yaru Guest House. The trail then dropped to the river and passed some lunch restaurants - the valley had opened up here in a broad plain and the river flowed gently through the plain.
The Budhi Gandaki at Yaru Bagar
 We stopped for a good dal Bhat lunch at a new lodge without any name at the end of the village and then crossed the river on a small suspension bridge. We were soon on the new cantilever walk away which had been constructed after the 2015 earthquake and then the trail started climbing steeply - in about 30 minutes we reached a bridge which had a sign Jagat 20 minutes ( don't believe it Jagat is at least 45  to 50 minutes from here). 
The new cantilever bridge at Yaru Bagar 

The trail again climbed steeply for about 10 minutes after this bridge and then dropped to the river. We passed two lodges of lower Jagat before making the last 10 minute climb to Jagat. Cost Index Dal Bhat 600 Black tea 60 Nepal Telecom  phones were working here not Ncell - permits are checked here both at the Manaslu Conservation Area Office and at the Police Checkpost.

 Tatopani to Dovan 1 hr 15 min Dovan to Syuli Bhatti 50 minutes Syuli Bhatti to Yaru Bagar 1 hr 40 min Yaru Bagar to Jagat 1 hr 50 min. 
Tatopani 965m 28 17 42 N 84 54 15 E Dovan 1016m 28 17 43N 84 54 14 E Jagat 1360m 28 21 3N 84 53 44E

April 25th 2018  Jagat to Philim
We had to make a short day to Philim due to a helicopter evacuation of one of our clients who had fallen on the first day and sustained ankle and head injuries. We left Jagat at 7. 20 am and within 15 minutes crossed another long suspension bridge with three beautiful waterfalls in front. The trail then hugged the side of the rock face with the foaming Budhi Gandaki just next to it and meandered around the valley. The village of Salleri is reached in around an hour and the trail then starts climbing steeply out of the valley reaches a high point and then descends to the village of Sirdibas in around two hours from Jagat. 
Entering the village of Sirdibas
 Just before reaching Sirdibas on a clear morning the fluted walls of  Shringi Himal also known as Chamar peak can be seen at the head of the valley. Sirdibas makes a good tea stop with a few lodges. The trail to Philim now follows the hillside and eventually in about thirty minutes comes below another suspension bridge which needs to be crossed before a 20 minute uphill climb to Philim. The lodges are built from the bottom to the top of the village with the New Philim Village Hotel  situated a short distance from the checkpost being the lodge of choice and also having wifi.  Neither Nepal Telecom nor Ncell phones were working - the locals use what is known as Sky phone which works but I found that the signals were very poor.  Dal Bhat 555 Black Tea 60 Veg Omelette 330
Jagat to Salleri 1 hour Salleri to Sirdibas 1 hour Sirdibas to Philim 1 hour
Jagat 1360m 28 21 3N 84 53 44E Salleri 1340m 28 21 35N 84 53 19E Philim 1570m 28 23 38N 84 53 46E

April 26th 2018  Philim to Lokpa to Chumling
Due to our short day yesterday because of the helicopter evacuation which eventually happened at 3.30 pm we needed to walk a long day today. We left Philim at  5 50 am hoping to have breakfast on the way. The trail traverses north out of Philim through some forest and views towards the narrowing gorge. It climbs gently in around  45 minutes reached the village of Chisopani with a number of lodges. We stopped there for a quick breakfast and then carried on to the trail junction of the Manaslu and Tsum valley treks.  The trail traversed high over a spectacular gorge with the Budhi Gandaki thundering through the gorge and in about an hour from Chisopani arrived at the junction known as Gum Pul with an information board.

 We started up on the right fork towards Lokpa. The trail started climbing steeply for the first 30 minutes. We then reached a newly constructed lodge with five rooms which could be useful on our return journey. Far below us we could see the Manaslu circuit trail and the road to Pewa and Deng. Our trail went through rhododendron and pine forests and then the climb eased up a bit and we passed a gateway before entering Lokpa with two lodges. 
Philim to Chisopani  50 minutes Chisopani to Gum Pul  junction 1 hr Gum Pul junction to new lodge 30 min New lodge to Lokpa 50 minutes. 

After a cup of tea we left Lokpa around 9 am. The trail started to descend and reached a suspension bridge in around 20 minutes. It then dropped further to the Siyar Khola and crossed another smaller bridge in another 15 minutes. The trail then started to climb - first on stone steps and then on newly constructed cantilever bridges like the one at Yaru Bagar - most probably constructed after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. The trail continued to climb relentlessly through the forest for about an hour - some of the red rhododendrons were in bloom and the trees were full of bird song. Far below us the Siyar Khola with emerald green waters rushed through the gorge. The climb then eased a bit but continued to gain altitude - from the last high point  known as Sardi Danda it descended for about 30 minutes to the trail junction of Chumling and Ripchet knows as Ghumlong and marked as Gadhikhola over the river. From here we crossed the last suspension bridge and climbed up to the lodges of Chumling in around 45 minutes. The right fork to Ripchet would be a steep climb of around 40 minutes.  The much advertised Ganesh Himal lodge which we did not stay in was supposedly 25 minutes from Ghumlong. 
The Tashi Delek lodge in Upper Chumling
We finally reached Chumling around 1-30 pm a 7 hour 30 minute day. Neither Ncell nor Nepal a Telecom phones were working here - the lodge Tashi Delek where we stayed had a  Nepal Telecom land line which was working.  There are three lodges in Chumling - the Ganesh Himal on the trail and the other two in upper Chumling. Dal Bhat Rs 550 Black Tea Rs 70 Vegetable Omelette 330
Lokpa to first bridge 20 minutes; First bridge to 2nd bridge 15 minutes 2nd Bridge to the top of the climb Sardi Danda 2 hours Sardi Danda top to Ghumlong 40 minutes down; Ghumlong to Chumling 45 minutes. 
Philim 1570m 28 23 38N 84 53 46E Gum Pul 1634m 28 23 33N 84 53 40E  Lokpa 1930m 28 26 32N 84 55 5E Ghumlong 2116m 28 27 58N 84 57 29E Chumling 2367m 28 28 24 N 84 57 45E

to be continued in Part II next week...

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