Manaslu/Gorkha Region Trek
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The Manaslu/Gorkha Trek lies in the Gandaki Zone, and the mountain scenery of Manaslu is astonishing. There's the two-horned massif of Manaslu (8156m), the circumnavigation of which is a meditation on the wonders of Himalayan geology. There's Himchuli, which rises an incredible 7000m from the Marsyangdi River. Nested in between these Himalayan giants are the villages drawn from Hindu and Buddhist influences. Add a sprinkling of butterflies in the forests, and you'll be convinced you'll catch sight of the shy red panda. Manaslu has long been overshadowed by the established trekking regions to either side. But the 'spirit mountain' is so spectacular and so easily accessible by road, it's a mystery why it's taken so long for guides and trekkers to discover it.
Manasulu lies north of the historic fortess town of Gorkha, from where the last kings of Nepal ventured forth to conquer the rest of the country in the 18th century. The Manasulu Circuit has recently become a teahouse trek, opening up the misty wood-shingled villages of Nubri valley. But hikers are free to explore the many other trails being forged right now.
Another surprise of this region is the Tsum Valley, a sacred Himalyan pilgrimage valley situated in Gorkha. Literally 'Tsum' means vivid. Against the majestic backdrop of the Ganesh Himal, Sringi Himal and Boudha ranges, this serene Himalayan Valley is rich in ancient art, culture and religion. Trails are strewn with artistic chortens and lined with mani walls made of thousands of stone slabs carved with drawing of deities and inscribed with prayers. The Tsum valley was totally restricted until it was opened for trekking in 2008, after which its resemblance to Shangri La was acknowleged by the world. This valley is also known as the hidden valley. Due to its remoteness and inaccessibilty, this sacred valley and its culture has remained intact. The valley is drained by the Shear Khola, which originates from the western glacier of Ganesh Himal and eastern and southern glaciers of Sringi Himal and meets the Budhi Gandaki at Nyak. This valley is uniquely rich in wildlife, especially the Himalayan Thar and Blue Sheep which congregate in herds of 50 to 200. Hunting and fishing is not permitted in the Tsum Valley. It also boasts some unique and historic monasteries, including Rachen Gumba and Mu Gumba, which lie on a pretty plateau nestled in the lap of the valley, and Gumba Lungdang, situated at the base of a conical hill against the main slope of Ganesh Himal.