Namaste and Tashi Delek!
I want to write to let you know that we had a wonderful trip to Tsum Valley and the Manaslu Circuit. Thank you for organising the trek us! I realise now that the Tsum Valley and the Manaslu Circuit are very special places to go, and feel that perhaps I have had the best experience of Nepal. For me, while the mountains were amazing, the most special part was the sense of being in a spiritual place, marked by prayer flags and the stupas and mani stones that people have left over the centuries. I also loved the big smile of greeting on people's faces as we walked past them on the path - I thought the people were very lovely and learned a lot by seeing their way of life. Dhawa Lama told us that while countries like Australia are powerful for technology, Nepal is powerful for spirituality, and I think he is right.
I thought I would send you some feedback about our guide, Ngima Sherpa, and our porter, Tshering Namgyel. I was very happy with Ngima and Tshering. Twenty-one days is a long time to spend with someone you don't already know, but I enjoyed their company the whole time. I felt very safe with Ngima. He was attentive to how we were going, for example, asking how my legs were going, as I was worried that I might have a problem with my knee, and paid careful attention to our itinerary, adjusting it for acclimatization and how far he felt we could go each day. The acclimatization worked very well, and I felt that we went at exactly the right pace for our ability and the amount of time we had available. We even got over Larke Pass with no problems! Ngima was also very good at arranging things when we arrived at our night's accommodation.
There was always a room for us, cups of tea and a nice meal. I was also happy that he took good care of Tshering. It is important that he was not too dominant or intrusive. Some trekkers told us that they were annoyed because their guides were "hovering" around them too much. Ngima was not like this - he was there when we needed him, and gave us space when we needed privacy. I also enjoyed that Ngima and Tshering seemed to get along well, and often spent time talking together as they walked along the track. After the trek, Ngima stayed in touch with us while we stayed in Kathmandu for a few days. He even arranged a taxi for our trip to the airport and came to see us off from our hotel.
Tshering is a lovely young man. He worked hard, was reliable, and always had a smile at the end of the day, even when we was tired. He always did his job well. I felt very safe with Tshering and trusted him. I was very happy to hear he got more work after our trek, and I hope he will continue to find good work.
The itinerary was very good, with going up Tsum Valley first, and then joining the Manaslu Circuit. These two parts of the trek are quite different to each other. At first I was sad when we left Tsum Valley, but Manaslu Circuit was wonderful, too. Mount Manaslu is just glorious, and going up to Manaslu Base Camp was a highlight of the trek. I was also very proud of getting over Larke Pass (but Dharamsala, where we spent the night before going over Larke Pass, is not very nice, and very expensive). After we arrived at the Annapurna Circuit, and there was the road, I found I didn't really want to trek any more. Walking away from the mountains was not nearly as much fun as walking towards them. I think if I did it again, I would want to finish the trek one or two days earlier and catch a jeep back to Besi Sahar, maybe from Dharapani if the road is good enough.
I would have liked it if there was a proper home stay during our trek - on planning this trip we hoped that we would spend a few nights in Nepali homes. The lodges and guesthouses that we stayed in were quite good, but not really a homestay. As we trekked in Tsum Valley, I realised that there are not many homestays available. However, this is something that I think would have made our trek more interesting, and would have given us a deeper contact with the culture. Some other trekkers told us that they stayed in a homestay in Tsum Valley, and it was a highlight of their trip One thing I really liked about our holiday was staying in Boudha. We stayed there, at the Ti-Se Guesthouse because it was your recommendation, but I loved it around Bodnath stupa, and thought it was much nicer than staying in Kathmandu..
Overall, it was a wonderful holiday. I have attached here a couple of my favourite photos. I hope you will be able to keep the Tsum Valley safe from the road they are talking about building - I have seen the effects on the Annapurna Circuit, which are not good.
I hope you are well and happy. With best wishes,
- Sue Watt