Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek in Winter

Winter Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek – For our third family trekking holiday to Nepal we decided to venture into a remoter region of the country. The Manaslu Circuit had beckoned since we walked the Annapurna Base Camp trek in 2014, our introduction to trekking in Nepal, which has since become something of a benign.

For our third family trekking holiday to Nepal we decided to venture into a remoter region of the country. The Manaslu Circuit had beckoned since we walked the Annapurna Base Camp trek in 2014, our introduction to trekking in Nepal, which has since become something of a benign addiction, so deeply rewarding is the experience. On this occasion our family of four (mum, dad and two teenage boys) was joined by my sister and her 12-year-old son. We sought something more adventurous, so we added to our itinerary the almost-mythical Tsum Valley, a rugged region bordering on Tibet, where a traditional Tibetan culture and spirituality survives. School holidays in Australia dictated that our trek take place in midwinter, a time of year renowned for stable weather in the mountains but presenting significant logistical challenges due to off-season teahouse closures and freezing temperatures. Visit Himalaya Treks came to our notice via intrepid Nepal trekkers Howard and Sue Dengate, whose Manaslu-Tsum Valley trail notes we’d found online.

Reviews we’d read about VHT and owner Himal Tamang and staff inspired confidence that we’d be in good hands for our ambitious undertaking, as they specialise in remote-area expeditions, including camping treks. Himal himself was reliable and helpful in his pre-trek communication, and showed us exceptional courtesy and hospitality in meeting us before and after the trek. He appreciated that our family group would benefit from the support of a strong team, and we consider ourselves very fortunate to have had the services of guide Ishwar, assistant guide Sambhu, and Sambhu’s brothers Ramesh and Subash and their friend Deepak, who carried our gear. Ishwar speaks excellent English and is an experienced and conscientious guide, alert to the wellbeing of all members of the party and a thoroughly nice person to boot. He showed commendable organisational skills in challenging circumstances, calling ahead to arrange opening of teahouses for our party, including the coup of persuading locals to open Dharamsala, a key staging post in our successful climb over 5100-metre Larke La pass. Sambhu, an aspiring guide and qualified chef, was always a pleasure to be around too.

He provided us with delicious meals, including more than a few unexpected dessert treats, which was a real asset as the few teahouses open were operating on a skeleton staff. There was never any sense of skimping on service or hot food and drinks, the latter much appreciated in the winter cold, especially by ravenous teenagers. The porters were all delightful young men, carrying our gear and assisting at teahouses with never-failing cheerfulness and warmth. We have the gods to thank for three weeks of blue skies, brilliant sunshine and uninterrupted views of spectacular mountains ranges – our reward for forbearance with the winter cold. As we’d previously experienced in Nepal, the cultural dimension of the trek was at least as rewarding as the spectacular natural environment. Passing through villages we were warmly greeted by local people, and there were glimpses of everyday life to surprise and delight around every turn in the trail, despite the evident hardships. Thank you VHT for ensuring that our family adventure was a safe and genuinely unforgettable experience. We do hope to come back and embark on a new adventure with you before too long! Francesca Coles from Australia – December – January – 2017- 2018.

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