Nepal - trek to the Tsum Valley and Ganesh Himal
Rita Mendes-Flohr > Nepal - trek to the Tsum Valley and Ganesh Himal
April 18-May 5, 2011 - camping trek to remote region of Tibetan culture that only opened to trekkers in 2008.
with Crystal Mountain Treks - Katmandu

Photos with my Nikon D300s, 18-200 mm lens.

Ten and a half years after doing the Anapurna Round, I finally returned to Nepal, this time for a tenting trek to the remote Tsum Valley and Ganesh Himal that splits to the east from the Manaslu trail of the Buri Gandaki.

This region of Tibetan Buddhist culture, just south of the border with Tibet, only opened up to trekkers in 2008, and unlike the Anapurna region (where I trekked in the fall of 2000), village life here has not yet been taken over by the trekker economy and we were welcomed by curious, shy but warm villagers. Books say they practice polyandry – but we have not been able to verify this. The wheat and barley fields are an almost unbearable green, while the snowy peaks of the Shringli, Manaslu and Ganesh Himal and other mountains marking the border with Tibet surround the narrow valley that is dotted with shrines of Tibetan Buddist devotion - chortens, mani walls, kani gates, prayer wheels, gompas and stupas. And in the springtime, the rhododendrons were in full bloom.

The high point, for me, was being invited by the nuns of Gompa Lungdang, where we spent two nights, to attend their evening ceremony in their nunnery in the clouds. It was a two hour musical performance, structured into sections where different combinations of instruments and chanting alternate – long trumpets that are rolled out on the ground, short trumpets, conch shells, large drums and hand-held swiveling drums and cymbals – with the wafting scents of burnt juniper offerings.

The Nepalese government seems eager to develop the area – possibly to counter Chinese influence, as much of the trading takes place over that border. We encountered no mule trains into this region – only human porters, but the road along the Buri Gandaki is coming quickly, electricity lines already reach halfway into the Tsum Valley – will development be sustainable?

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