Tsho Rolpa (Rolwaling valley) Trek
Tsho-Rolpa (aka Cho-Rolpa Himtal, Tso-Rolpa), the biggest glacial lake in Nepal at an altitude of 4580 meters which lies in Rolwaling Valley, Dolakha unexpectedly became my trekking destination to start off Nepali New Year -2074. Situated between the Everest and Langtang region, the Tsho-Rolpa Lake trek welcomes the trekkers with the majestic view of Mt. GauriShankar (7,145m), Menlungtse (7,181m) and river Tamakoshi on the way. According to the conversation with local people met during the trek, the best time to trek to Tsho Rolpa is during March-April when the forests and the narrow ways are beautifully painted with vivid rhododendron flowers. Trekkers can go there during March-May and August- November as well. Here’s the Tsho- Rolpa Trek route in the pictorial form presented below.
Further reading: Kalinchowk Travel Diaries- 2016!
Tsho Rolpa Trek Route
The trek to Tsho Rolpa Glacial lake takes the route; Kathmandu- Khadichaur- Kharidhunga-Charikot- Singati-Gongar Khola- Chhechet in the bus. And then it’s all walk until Tsho Rolpa through Simigaon, Dongang, Beding, Na Gaon and back to the same route.
Earlier I was planning to trek to Gosainkunda and was prepared accordingly. But one of my friends suggested me to do Tsho-Rolpa (Rolwaling Valley) Trek. A bit of hesitancy and nervousness hovered around my mind but eventually, I headed to a heavenly destination from 14th to 18th April 2017. I wished this trek to be as awesome as Panch Pokhari trek done in November 2016 and certainly, it became one. Here’s my Tsho Rolpa Trek Itinerary
Tsho Rolpa Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Kathmandu to Simigaon (11 hours of Bus ride until Chechet and then 2 hours of walk from there).
Day 2: Simigaon to Beding (7-8 hours of walk)
Day 3: Beding to Na Gaon to Tsho Rolpa and Back to Beding (7-8 hours of walk)
Day 4: Beding to Gongar Khola (6-7 hours of walk)
Day 5: Gongar Khola to Kathmandu (10 hours of Bus ride)
Day 1: Kathmandu to Simigaon (2020m); 11 hours Bus ride and 2 hours of the walk!
Waking up early in the morning, I hurriedly got ready with my backpack and reached Old Bus park at around 5;30 AM. To my surprise, the bus began chasing its destination to Lambagar, Dolakha exactly at 6 AM as mentioned in my ticket. The journey began with a view of Sunrise followed by bumpy ride (as always 😛 ) through the winding and dusty roads. After more than 4 hours of the bouncy ride, the bus stopped at Kharidhunga for lunch. As I was very hungry by then, I finished my lunch within a span of minutes. The dusty ride continued after a while along with the beautiful landscapes and blooming rhododendron flowers on the way.
Reminding myself that the trek was solo; a mixture of excitement and nervousness would emerge. But I was more delighted!
The bus was heading in a snail’s pace (obvious though) and I was having hundreds of anticipations about the trek. Mesmerized by the beautiful landscapes, gurgling streams on the way and fast flowing Tamakoshi river on other the side, the bus reached Chechet (kharidhunga-Charikot-Singati-Gongar-Chechet) at 5 PM which is the entrance to Simigaon (2020 meters altitude). After a quick lunch (a packet of noodles and a bar of chocolate), I started my walk to Simigaon, my destination for the day.
On the way, I met two young guys who were also heading to Simigaon. Knowing the general information of the village and their backgrounds, we reached to Simigaon after 2 hours of walk. It was 7 PM, already dark. One of the guys had relatives there who ran a hotel. He booked a room for me. Awfully tired because of the bus ride, I took a quick nap before dinner. After a while, the food was ready with the warm hospitality of the owners. Few people came there singing, dancing and cheering. Then, I realized it was Nepali New Year-2074!!! What a way to kick off New Year…
Overjoyed; I Wished myself a very very Happy New year-2074 shouting!!!
The delicious dal-bhat and drizzling rain added more beauty to the trek. The day ended well and slept with the thunderstorm and downpour.
Further reading: Manaslu Circuit Trekking 2018!
Day 2: Simigaon (2020m) to Beding (3690m); Welcome to Rolwaling Valley!
Because of the heavy rainfall the whole night, I was little puzzled whether to wait for the rain to stop or continue walking in the rain. I prepared myself ready during the time and fortunately, the rain stopped. While sipping a cup of tea, I readied myself to reach until Beding in the day. At around 7:30 AM, I began my walk with the plan to reaching Beding. The trail started getting colorful and vibrant because of the blooming Rhododendron flowers, greeneries and white mountains sparkling at the top.
On top of that, I was all alone in the vastness of the divine nature. I thought nothing gets better than that!
I would click pictures and videos, take deep breaths and smile, take rest and eat whenever I wanted. Maybe, that’s the beauty of Solo travel.
More than two and a half hours of walk and I reached Surmuche village. That’s where I had my lunch. The person I met there briefed me more about the place. Re-energized with carbohydrates, I began walking again. Kyalche (Gyalche/Calche) at an altitude of 3300 meters was the next destination which took me one and a half hours. In between, the sound of birds (which I had never seen and heard before) would amaze me. At times, it turned out to be an unexpected surprise as well!!
Sometimes later, my trekking stick stopped working. I tried to make but couldn’t succeed. It was permanently damaged! Oh!, only if I had checked it properly before leaving.
Self-reminder: Double Check everything!!!
Continuing forward with the trek, the beauty of amazing streams on the way would resist me from walking. I would stop there, appreciate the magnificence of nature and pass by. Within half an hour of walk, I reached another amazing place full of green and by the bank of Tamakoshi river; Dongang (2800 meters). It was 1 PM then. Sitting by the bank of the river and reflecting the journey so far, my happiness knew no boundary. 15 minutes of gratefulness to everyone and before resuming my walk again, I searched a wooden stick to assist in my walk.
The journey from Dongang to Beding was the longest stretch of that day with a never-ending uphill walk in an increasing altitude. That made the walk tougher than before. I would take frequent breaks in between. Walking through the lonelier path, dense forests and different vegetation gave a feeling that the destination was not far away. But soon after, I found out the snowy way and the pace got much slower.
And with no humans on the way, I had to follow my instincts whenever I was confused.
Good thing; the trail was not as confusing as that of Panch Pokhari.
More than 4 hours of walk, I finally saw a settlement area far away. Already tired of walking, I restored my energy and tried to increase my pace so that I would reach there soon. I reached there in about half an hour. Excitedly, I called kids roaming there asking where could I get hotels. “This is our school, he asks for hotels. ” they laughed looking at each other. Oh my goodness! I had to walk more. I could see Beding village on another hill. Helpless me; I had to continue no matter what. It took me one hour to reach there. I was too exhausted with all the walks.
I opted to take rest rather than enjoying the shiny golden mountains. Nevertheless, I was finally in the beautiful and densely populated Beding village of Rolwaling Valley. When I reached there, I got to know the meaning of Rolwaling which literally means “the grave” used by the indigenous Sherpas of the place. The food was ready and I slept as soon as I completed eating. Before falling asleep, I reflected on the day and it was totally satisfying (even though it was tiring 😊 ).
Further Reading: Gosainkunda Trek 2017: Second solo trek of the year!
Day 3: Beding to Na Gaon (4180m) to Tsho Rolpa (4580m) and Back to Beding
It was a warm sleep in cold weather; I didn’t want to leave my bed. After continuous snoozing, I eventually woke up at 6:30 AM. Drinking a glass of hot water and Sattu and after getting ready, I began my walk at 7 AM. Still, it was a snowy path and freezing cold. I put on my winter cap, sunglass, and gloves. The silent and peaceful walk was something worth remembering. Slowly after, the snowy road began decreasing my pace and more than that, the wind started blowing real hard which added misery to my walk. After 2 hours of walk, I finally reached Na Gaon (4180m). What a beautiful place it was! Oh, I so miss this place; windy yet sunny, snowy yet sparkling and tired yet smiling face! Isn’t it majestic? You bet, it is!
Na Gaon (almost there; Tsho-Rolpa)
I decided to take lunch there. Otherwise, I would be starving because of the walk until Tsho Rolpa and back there. So I started searching for the hotels. To my sheer surprise, there was a signboard of a hotel which read “Wifi Facility”. Expecting the food would be a total worth, I entered there. But sadness! There was no one. Then, I saw a woman standing in front of her house. When asked to prepare food for me; she refused me saying that she’s got some household chores to do. Instead, she suggested me to go to a hotel which was around 10 minutes walk from there near a bridge. I was impatient and went there. Shit! It was locked.
I had no idea what’s next! whether to continue walking with few bars of chocolates left in the bag or return back and search other hotels. PS; it was a difficult path. Seeing a woman in distance, I thought of returning again and asking her to prepare food. Eventually, she agreed and prepared “kodo ko dhido”. That was really energizing. The chase to Tsho Rolpa Lake resumed again.
Shortly after the walk, the wind started blowing at its best. Not only the wind but also the snow began to blow creating real trouble in my walk. To add more misery, my hands got cold. My hands nearly got frostbitten. So, after a while, I thought of putting both gloves in one hand and towel in the other. That helped but wind, it didn’t decrease. At one instance, it nearly swept me away. But somehow, I survived!!!
Further reading: 9 Reasons why I’ll visit Jumla again!
Reaching Tsho Rolpa Glacial; To the destination of Tsho-Rolpa Lake trek!
Despite the difficulty, the excitement of Tsho Rolpa Lake always kept me moving. More than 2 hours of walk from Na Gaon and finally I reached mighty Tsho- Rolpa. WOW!!! A moment where I found out my long lost love! The beautiful spots of ice and greenish water, a reflection of blue sky shining like a jewel in the midst of the panoramic snowy mountains. The sight was more than enough to make me forget everything about the hardships and struggles. I felt like flying!!!
Back to Beding (Departing Tsho-Rolpa)
After spending a few hours there in Tsho-Rolpa, sadly it was time to leave and return back to Beding. I was emotional but I had to move on! Descending down with all the beautiful memories left me light-hearted and contented soul. But my left leg started to trouble me decreasing my pace considerably. Adding more difficulty, I fell off in the slippery snowy way and my right hand got injured. When I looked at the wound, it seemed nothing but the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t even tighten fist. So I had much difficulty while returning. But the interesting thing about the walk was snow melted and it felt like I was walking in a completely new way. Even though wounded and exhausted, I continued the walk witnessing the beautiful scenery around.
As the trip itself was unexpected, the journey got even unexpected. As I was about to reach Beding, my phone fell off my pocket. Phone screen was completely broken shattered. For a moment, I had a cold chill. I thought maybe, that’s the farewell Tsho-Rolpa gave to me. That’s why I still don’t regret that. Rather, I get a sweet reminder of how amazing the trek was every time I look at my phone.
I reached Beding at around 5 PM in the evening. It was cloudy then but completely snow-free. I took a cup of tea, took some rest and clicked pictures and then started having a conversation with the hotel owner. There were few other trekkers at night and we all had a wonderful conversation. 😊 Even after the dinner, we had continued our conversation and it was only after 10 PM, I felt sleepy. All the beautiful trails and amazing moments, what a beautiful day it was, I slept while ongoing through the reflection of the day!
Rolwaling Valley Trek; Discovering more about Rolwaling valley…
- Rolwaling is situated in Gaurishankar National Park below the Gauri Shankar (7135 m). The enchanting view of Majestic Mountain Gauri Shanker can be viewed from here.
- The footprints of Yeti was first photographed by a British Mountaineer in 1951 AD.
- Rolwaling Valley is the gateway to link to the Everest region. One can opt to cross Tashi Lapcha pass (5755m.) to go to Namche Bazar of Everest region.
Day 4: Beding to Gongar Khola (Farewell to Rolwaling Valley)
Early in the morning, I woke up refreshed and completely re-energized. While I was busy getting ready, the breakfast was already prepared. After savoring the breakfast, I left Beding at around 7:30 AM.
Walking alongside the river Tamakoshi in the morning with the sounds of birds (specially danphe and munal) and my own breaths, watching the silver-shining mountains and being happy; I am sure to miss them badly!
I met a lot of fellow trekkers while returning with their curiosities about how long is the next destination. It took me a bit less than 3 hours to reach Dongang from Beding. Thought it’s too early to have lunch there and decided to stop at Kalche for lunch.
Within less than half an hour, I reached there at Kalche; ordered lunch and began watching the beautiful landscape around. I was also having a conversation with the people there. I was surprised by what they said. The deer and munal would playfully dance in the open ground right in front of their house. And I asked, “Don’t they escape after seeing you?”
She replied, “They will only escape seeing the outsiders; we’ve been friend with them for long.”
I was left speechless and awe-struck for a while. But then, Yes! we’ve been outsiders. With the heavy heart and feeling of guilt, I had my lunch; paid for it and left for the next destination Surmuche. On the way, I was thinking about the same thing. Now, when I think of that moment, I believe it somehow arouses a question within me.
Thoughtful journey to Surmuche…
In between the contrasting thoughts, I reached Surmuche after one and a half hours of walk. Hotel owner of that place welcomed me with juice. In the hot sunny day, the juice turned out to be a re-freshener. As I had already set a connection with him in the previous meeting, he didn’t charge any money. Few minutes of explanation of how awesome the trip was, I left with gratefulness and he stayed there with a smiling face.
Further walking and my left leg began to trouble me again! Despite the pain in my leg, everything else was contented and joyful. I reached Simigaon, changed my t-shirts full of sweat and continued walking again. Gongar Khola (below Simigaon and Chechet) was the final destination of the day. It was around 5 PM when I reached there. Even though I was too exhausted because of the continuous walk the whole day, I couldn’t resist myself going out of the hotel, watch and listen to the sounds of waterfalls and the river. Thanks to the tiredness and pain, I was asleep as soon as I had my dinner.
Day 5: Gongar to Kathmandu (Goodbye Tsho-Rolpa, till we meet again)
The bus was about to leave at 6 AM, so I woke up at 5:30; readied myself and had no time for tea. Expecting to reach Kathmandu as early as possible so that I would be less-tired because of the bumpy ride, I got off to the bus. The bus honking the horn left Gongar. Most of the passengers dropped off in Singati leaving the rest of the passengers the seats to stay properly.
Following the snaky, dusty and uneven roads, the bus reached at Charikot at around 10:30 AM. With a very short time to have lunch there, I rushed to a restaurant; ordered food and impatiently waited for it to be delivered. The bus was about to leave; so I couldn’t completely eat my food and left away. The bus ride continued; the road got even dustier and more traffics.
It was 5: 30 PM, I reached Kathmandu. Kathmandu was a different Kathmandu after the New year; less noisy because of #NoHorn system. That’s how I was welcomed in the valley from another amazing valley; Rolwaling.
Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek information in brief:
- Trekking Grade: Moderate to fairly challenging
- Altitude difference: 1200m to 4580m
- Accommodation: Hotels and lodges (No need to carry a tent and sleeping bags).
- Best time for Trek: Spring and Autumn. But the trek can be done all year around.
- Trekking Duration: 5-7 days
Further Reading: Trek to Paanch Pokhari- 2016
What to carry for Tsho Rolpa Trek
- Wind Stopper
- Down Jacket
- Trekking Trousers
- Thermal Tops and Bottom
- Woolen Caps
- Trekking Shoes
- Water Bottle (at least one liter of capacity and it’s better if it keeps water warm)
- Camera with extra batteries
- Sunscreen Cream
- Trekking Poles
- Torch Lights/ Headlamp
- First Aid Kit
- Dry fruits, Chocolates and energy bars
Tsho Rolpa Trek cost
Trek to Tsho Rolpa lake was pretty fair in terms of expense like many other trekking trails in Nepal. The total cost of the trek was less than $55 i.e. Nrs. 5500. This cost included everything i.e. the cost of foods, accommodation and even transportation. Normally it costs around Nrs. 300 for a meal and when we reach a higher altitude, the price rises until Nrs. 500 ($5). And for the accommodation, it costs around Nrs. 200 to Nrs. 300 per person.
However, the cost of Tsho Rolpa trek differs according to the preferences of a person. Also if you’re a foreigner the cost is obviously going to rise. You will need to get a trekking permit. You need to have trekking permit of Gaurishankar Conservation Area and that costs $10 per person per week.
Also, the prices mentioned above are going to increase slightly. If you need a guide, you need to pay around $50 per day and for a porter, the cost ranges from $20 – $30.
Further Reading: Mardi Himal Trek 2019!
In the End: Post Tsho Rolpa Trek…
Trek to Tsho-Rolpa has been one of the most amazing treks in my life so far. And more than that, being a solo trek, this travel holds more significance in my life. The Rolwaling Valley trek was 10 times challenges, 100 times beautiful and 1000 times satisfying than what it is presented here. Because writing and photography help express very less and the moments are to be experienced by the travelers themselves.
I didn’t find Tsho Rolpa Trek route to be that challenging as I expected to be. But the beauty and joy I experienced are certainly beyond words. I wish this trek route gets recognition as it should. If possible, I’d love to go to Tsho-Rolpa trek again in the near future; until then I’ll cherish the amazing moments spend during the trek.
Cheers to Tsho-Rolpa trek!!! 🙂