Manaslu and Tsum Valley Trek

Manaslu and Tsum Valley Trek

I don’t normally write reviews but I would just like to let people know of my experiences with Touch the Himalaya and its staff.
I completed the Manaslu circuit and Tsum Valley trek in March/ April this year. I had a 21 day holiday, meeting my 18 year old son who was travelling in India and Nepal for a gap year.
I contacted Madan as I was looking to do the Manaslu circuit a couple of months before I left and he was prompt in his email replies, informative and consistently helpful. He was clear with his very reasonable pricing and was happy to go along with my requests and to offer me options and possible itineraries.

I was initially looking to hire a guide only and then due to a last minute low back problem Madan was flexible in organising a porter as well at short notice. Madan was happy for me to sort my own accommodation as I am used to travelling independently.
From arrival to departure at Kathmandu airport my service from Touch the Himalaya was faultless, making my stay fantastic. My guide Thakur picked me up from the airport and gave me a lift to my hotel, I met up with Madan and Thakur in Kathmandu the next day with all permits and permissions organised and we travelled by bus to the start of the trek. Myself and my son stayed with Thakur and his family in his family home on the first night as his home village was at the start of the trek. Next day we met our porter Ram who comes from the next village.
The next three weeks of trekking was everything I had hoped. We had a fantastic time and Thakur and Ram were a great partnership, both being local and knowing the route well. Thakur as guide was informative, helpful and always attentive to our needs and looking to make things run smoothly. Thakur also works as a city tour guide in Kathmandu and so had in depth knowledge on culture, customs and religions as well as helping me with my Nepali which I was keen to improve.

Ram was constantly cheerful and helpful both trekking or in the evenings exchanging Nepali and UK card games. Thakur and Ram also knew the lodge owners and we were always made to feel welcome and comfortable (I would class the high camp at Dharamsala slightly differently as everyone has to stay in the one place where facilities are basic but that’s just how it is and I think there are plans afoot to improve this). We were free to trek at our own pace and Thakur was always keen to accede to our requests – for example we managed a side trip to Manaslu base camp for acclimatisation (4900m) although the route was pretty snowy and no one had been up there for a few days.
I particularly liked Thakur and Ram’s flexible and can do attitude and honesty. If I asked Thakur a question he didn’t know the answer to he was honest in his reply, and always did his best to find out.
Madan, Thakur and Ram are all from the Manaslu region. They were always scrupulously honest in our dealings and were helpful to my son after I left Nepal and he stayed on travelling.
Tsum valley is well worth the trip if you have time.
Travel light – you can probably live without it. I would recommend Shona’s in Thamel for gear if you need anything in Kathmandu – great quality nepali made down jackets, fixed prices.
Pack of cards
Side trip to Pungyen Gompa, we did it from Shyala to Samagoan.
I was very pleased that we booked Ram as a porter – once I had swallowed my pride of not carrying my own gear, you’re supporting the local economy and it definitely made my trekking experience better. Obviously, it depends on your finances.

I have previously trekked independently Annapurna circuit 1986, Everest, Arun Valley, Annapurna 1997 and was initially wary about having to book a guide for Manaslu but I needn’t have worried – it enhanced rather than impinged on my trekking experience.

In conclusion I would heartily recommend:
Touch the Himalaya and Madan Neupane for organising your trek or any other adventure you are planning in Nepal.
Thakur Prasad as your guide
Ram Neupane as your porter

Steve Hunter, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Date of experience: March 2018

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