Tsum is magical and mysterious. The region was once so remote that almost nothing was known about it. This wild, rugged and exotic valley is located north of Ganesh Himal and just east of Manaslu. The landscapes and mountain vistas can only be described as superlative, as befits another real Shangri-La of the Himalaya.
The main architectural features of Tsum are the distinctive mani walls, chortens and kani gateway chortens, built to ward off evil spirits. The rich cultural heritage includes stirringly located monasteries, lively festivals and historic treasures. Picturesque villages, quaint stone houses with hazy blue wood-fire smoke billowing from the rooftops, mysterious alleys and colourful people add to the mix.
Soon after Philim the trail climbs east to Lokpa in the Tsum region. Dense forest and sheer-sided cliffs almost bar the way. Above Domje a side valley leads up to the great Torogumba Glacier that gives access to the wonderland of Ganesh Himal’s rarely seen north-western faces. Also high up here is the Gumba Lungdang monastery. The jagged peak of Ganesh II has particularly impressive icy bastions and glaciated ramparts.
Beyond Chhokang Paro are the famed nunnery of Rachen, the mystical monastery of Mu, and Dhephyudonma, the oldest gompa of the Tsum Valley. Continuing further north are the barren mountains of the Tibetan plateau.
Eventually a trail leads to the Ngula Dhojyang pass, which enables traders to cross into the Kyirong district of Tibet.
The Tsum Valley has only recently opened to visitors and, as yet, trekking here is in its infancy. Trekkers will be pioneering the way for a few seasons to come, with a degree of basic comfort unimaginable to earlier explorers.