Tsum, like the route around Manaslu, was always a Remote Area trek because there were no lodges catering to individual trekkers. The Nepali government still classes it that way, so permits are complicated and expensive. But in fact it is now possible to trek Tsum with just a tent and a couple of days of dried food, in case. Basic lodges and the occasional home stay make this a new wonder-route.
Tsum has been open for decades, but trekkers were few and far between. Villagers in the Tsum valley would run to stare at the amazing sight of western trekkers! The first good map of the region was printed only 5 years ago.
15 to 18 days - 16 on trek, two driving days
From US$ 1699 per person
Sample itinerary in 16 days
Day 1 Up early, and drive west along the Prithvi highway, named for the Gorkha king of the Shah dynasty who conquered Kathmandu in 1768. Turn off the main road at Dhading and drive to Arughat Bazaar.
Day 2 Up the Buri (or Budhi) Gandaki River valley all day, headed almost due north. Ganesh Himal to the east and Gorkha Himal to the west are your companions today. Tonight's stop is at Almara, in a particularly steep part of the river valley.
Day 3 Continue north along the Buri Gandaki to Labubesi
Day 4 You're beginning to gain significant altitude now, and the steep river valley opens up to give spectacular views of Himalchuli and Manaslu behind. Stay at Tatopani.
Day 5 The land is changing as you gain altitude - almost a mile high now - and the vegetation shows the change. Camp at Jagat, where you'll really begin to feel like your in the middle of the great mountains. Jagat is the entry point to the 'restricted area' where you'll need a different permit.
Day 6 Today you pass from Hindu Nepal to Buddhist areas. You'll see that the people, architecture, and religious symbols all change. Prayer walls made up of stones engraved with ancient prayers will be your way markers until you come down from the high pass. Bear east of the river after Jagat and trek to Lokpa.
Day 7 Trek up the Shar Khola river valley to Chumling
Day 8 Gain some altitude to Chhokangparo at 3,000 m. / 10,000 feet.
Day 9 Visit the Milarepa Cave and Rachen Gompa at Lamagaon, then trek to the twin villages of Nile and Chhule
Day 10 Trek up to Mu Gompa at Chho Syong, 3,700 m / 12,400 ft.
Day 11 Trek down and stay at Rachen Gompa
Day 12 Trek down and stay at Dumje
Day 13 Trek back to Lokpa
Day 14 Trek back to Jagat
Day 15 Trek down to Machha Khola
Day 15 Trek down to Arughat
Day 16 Drive down to the main road and to either Kathmandu or Pokhara