13-28 Sept 2013
This is a wonderful opportunity to visit the sacred Himalayan pilgrimage valley in northern Gorkha, Nepal. Tsum means vivid and this serene Himalayan valley is set against the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas crowning Tibetan villages steeped in traditional culture and Buddhist values. The Tsum Valley is known as the Hidden Valley of Happiness in sacred Buddhist texts and is a remote and little visited region. It is believed that obstacles can be removed by being in this beautiful valley and famous yogi, Milarepa meditated in a secret cave in the Tsum Valley in the 11th century. No animals are allowed to be harmed in this pristine and beautiful region, and it is a profoundly beautiful and untouched place of natural splendour rarely found in the world today.
We will be trekking into a remove village deep in the mountains where we will spend time with the local community, as community members, helping them with a project of building a boarding school for 100 students from all over the valley. The school will enable students from remote villages to receive a modern education with traditional values and Buddhist wisdom. We will be visiting in the early stages and our volunteering will involve helping out in village life, with possible assistance with early building work. Teaching and medical skills are most welcome and we will also bring in medical aid. The trip will be led by Zatul Rinpoche, the head of Rongbuk Monastery near Chomolungma (Mount Everest) who now lives in Australia and is an ardent supporter of his people, bringing the plight of Tibetans to the eyes of the world. We will also visit surrounding villages and have teachings with Venerable Geshe Thardoe and Zatul Rinpoche. If you are looking for a heart opening and authentic experience with Tibetan people and to extend yourself through trekking and community service then this will be a spiritually growthful and life changing tour for you.
Investment: $2999 AUD — (includes $400 AUD donation to the school)
PDF Download: Intinerary - Tsum Valley Seva Tour 2013
DAY 1: 13 Sept, Kathmandu
Arrive in Kathmandu, transfer to our hotel and rest. (B) (D)
DAY 2: 14 Sept, Kathmandu, Swayambanath
Morning tour of Swayambanth area including the famous monkey temple and oldest stupa in Nepal. Swayambanath is a very powerful area spiritually and we will enjoy some time to soak up the energy. Today we also visit the Thubten Choling Monastery near here, a beautiful Nyingma monastery which is the school Zatul Rinpoche belongs to. The teacher of that monastery, Trulshik Rinpoche one of the main teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and considered the most senior Nyingma Lama in the world passed over in 2011 and the whole school building project is under the auspices of this lineage. Geshe Ngawang Thardoe is a senior monk in this tradition and the area of Tsum is of the Nyingma Buddhist lineage. Although Zatul Rinpoche lives in the West and isn’t in a formal teaching role, he is one of the senior Nyingma Lamas in this tradition and is one of the lamas responsible for finding the reincarnation of Trulshinik Rinpoche and visits he here every year to provide guidance for the monastery. We will have intimate access to the monastery and participate in spiritual practices and pujas with the monks. (B)
DAY 3: 15 Sept, Kathmandu
Some sightseeing in Kathmandu and possibly more time at the Monastery. We will visit Boudhanath, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu, either today or on our last day in Kathmandu. (B)
DAY 4: 16 Sept,Tsum Valley
Today we fly into the Tsum Valley to Chhekampar. The Tsum Valley is rich in wildlife and we will see many animals and beautiful scenery. It is a sacred Himalayan pilgrimage valley and has a long history of Buddhism and a very intact culture. We meet the villagers and settle into our homestay places. Activities in the village. (B) (L) (D)
DAY 5 – DAY 7: 17 – 19 Sept, Tsum Valley
Activities and opportunity to spend some time connecting with the villagers and families we are staying with. This valley is an extraordinarily beautiful place, like a bowl it offers breathtaking scenery and is truly another world. It is a hidden jewel and one of those rare places to travel to that is very much unexplored and protected from the ravages of tourism and modernization. We will have a Full Moon Puja and teachings from Zatul Rinpoche and Geshe Ngawang Thardoe. (B) (L) (D)
DAY 8 – DAY 9: 21 Sept, Tsum Valley
We will participate in volunteer work, working alongside the local people building a school for the valley. This trip is a preliminary and introductory trip for the project, so we are unsure of the extent of the work to be undertaken at this stage. There will be lots of time to make deep connections and friendships with the villagers and have a truly unique experience in a remote and beautiful Tibetan community. (B) (L) (D)
DAY 10: 22 Sept, Return Trek Chhekampar to Chumling
Gentle trekking back through this spectacular and very remote valley. We will be staying in very simple locally run tea houses. Porters will carry your bags. This will be a scenic and special trek, close to the land and locals. (B) (L) (D)
Day 11: 23 Sept, Return Trek Chumling to Philim (B) (L) (D)
DAY 12: 24 Sept, Return Trek Philim to Tatopani (B) (L) (D)
DAY 13: 25 Sept, Return Trek Tatopani to Lapu Bensi (B) (L) (D)
DAY 14: 26 Sept, Return Trek Lapu Bensi to Arughat
Then drive to Kathmandu (B) (L)
DAY 15: 27 Sept, Kathmandu
Rest in Kathmandu, debrief and gather for a celebration meal. (B) (D)
DAY 16: 28 Sept, Fly Home (B)
IMPORTANT: Zatul Rinpoche requests that tour participants remain vegetarian for the duration of the tour, so as to remain pure in intent and so that no sentient beings die in relation to this project.
INCLUDED: All accommodation, transport and tour guiding. All meals stipulated on the itinerary. (Meals not included will be at inexpensive tea houses). Internal return flight to Tsum Valley. In the Tsum Valley we will homestay with locals. Teachings and Buddhist practices led by Zatul Rinpoche and Geshe Ngawang Thardoe. Tour guidance and support by Leanne Bird.
NOT INCLUDED: International air tickets and airport taxes, meals not stipulated in the itinerary, personal expenditure and tips. Travel insurance (it is a requirement that all tour participants have travel insurance including cover for medical repatriation.)
PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary may be subject to change, circumstance may dictate alteration of the planned itinerary. Included meals above is a guide, you will be provided with at least as many meals as indicated above, although the order may change. The village will be in the remote part of the Tsum Valley and there are no roads. We will cover 9-16 kilometres a day on the return trek and there will be porters to carry your packs. As well as your much appreciated efforts in helping the villagers with the school project, we will be donating $400 from each tour member directly to the project, to help with the supply of building materials.