Numbur Cheese Circuit
The Numbur Cheese Circiut offers visitors a superb breathtaking view of majestic Himalayan peaks including Annapurna South, Langtang, Gaurishankar and Numburchuili and many more. Walk through deep river gorges, glacial lakes, terraced rice fields, subtropical forests and Sherpa villages to the the Lhiku Khola glacier, watched over by the towering peaks of Pathibarra and Numburchuili. One can also visit one of Nepal’s first cheese factories, established in 1957 and the famous Thodung Monastery on the way.
In April and May rhododendrons bloom in profusion, you may also see eagles and musk deer as well as Himalayan tahr, a species of goat antelope. If you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard.
Shivalaya and Those are the start and finish points of the Numbur Cheese Circuit and are 8-9 hrs drive from Kathmandu. Seasonal Super express bus service goes to/from Kathmandu's Old Bus Park, near the Nepal Tourism Board(7am Daily). Kathmandu to Jiri/Shivalaya takes 6-8 hours (450NRs). The winding road is very well paved with fine mountain views. The route follows the Arniko Highway towards Tibet before turning right over the Sun Koshi at Lamosangu for the climb on the Swiss built Lamosangu-Jiri Road, the "gateway to the Solu Khumbu", through Sindupalchowk, Dolahka Districts to Ramechhap. Buses make a lunch stop after 4 hours at Mude Bazaar, famous for the largest potatoes in Nepal.
There are currently no fees or permits needed for this trek.
Shivalaya is the gateway for the most exciting trek in North Ramechhap. The route to Shivalaya follows the traditional approach march for Everest expeditions, pioneered by Sir Edmund Hilary, along the old trade route from Jiri.
Khahare village comprises of less than 5 houses, inhabited only during winters by their owners who spend their summers on the pastures bordering Tibet tending to their yaks and chauri. The trail runs up and down along the valley side through terraced fields, dips to cross the river and then snakes steeply up the cliff on the other side.
From Khahare the gradual climb to Jatapokhari begins. The trail offers views of the roaring Khimti Khola river below. From here on be prepared for Chauri on the trail - stick to the inside of the trail and get out of their way! Passing through the Tiny Sherpa village of Phokte the trail ascends through the rhododendron forest to the summer pasture of Maanedanda
The trail climbs to jatapokhari along the riverside and as the altitude increases, we move through alpine pastures to scrubby forests of sunpati, a rare mountain herb that fetches up to 6000NRs/Kg. The path climbs beside the river, before a dramatic waterfall heralds our arrival at Jatapokhari.
A holy mountain lake, in the lap of Mt. Numbur is a popular pilgrimage destination in Ramechhap. Over 3000 pilgrims make their way here to celebrate Janiapurnima. It is believed that taking a dip in its holy waters will fulfill one's wishes. An overnight is recommended to allow for aclimatisation. Take a side trip to Baula Pokhari, the "mad lake" but don't disturb the spirits within or your wishes may not come true!
There are five small lakes, known as Panch Pokhari, within this huge glacial cirque. The unmistakeable Annapurna South dominates the western horizon.
"Wilderness" is the only apt term for the wild and rugged basin of the Lhiku Khola valley. The mountain views are sensational, with views extending north into Tibet, as you cross the Thulo Lapcha pass at 4838m, traditionally used by local Sherpas to bring yaks across the mountains to Ngeju. The trek follows the Likhu Khola Valley until you reach the remote yak pastures of Ngeju nestling at the foot of the ice-fall tumbling from the sacred summit of Numbur. The ancient Buddhist Shrine of Kau Gumba lies above the tree-line in the upper Likhu Khola Valley enclosed by a great sweep of high rock and snow peaks. Dudhkunda, the 'Milky Lake' rests in the heart of the basin, surrounded by tumbling glaciers and large moraines.
Lahaksewar 'Sewar' is one of the most beautiful Sherpa villages in the Upper Ramechhap region, with its astonishing landscapes, cultural wealth, and the hospitable Sherpa people. 'Sewar' offers untouched Sherpa culture where people have maintained the traditional way of life.
The trail goes through the river valley, descending through deep forest to Kyama (3190m) with good views along the way of Pathibara and Numberchuili.
With the gleaming Numberchuili as the backdrop, Gumdel is a tiny hamlet gathered around a large Buddhist Stupa. The Gumdel Home Stays offer the best of Sherpa hospitality and cultural traditions amidst luxuriant landscape and spectacular mountain scenery. From here the trail descends through dense forest finally meeting the Everest trail at Bhandar.
Thodung is a small active monastery surrounded by an aroma of pines, natural beauty, and a variety of flora that enhance the serenity of the monastery and its surroundings.
Tamdanda, above the Newar village of Lapchane, is one of the tallest hills in Ramechhap. From here you can see most of the central and eastern Himalayan peaks Dhalguiri, Annapurna, Gauri Shanker, Numbur, Makalu, Kanchenjunga. The peak also offers breathtaking sunrise and sunset views during good weather. The variety of flora and fauna, with 65 species of birds, makes it the place to head off to for nature lovers. Tamdanda at 3000m provides the best east-west panoramic Himalaya views in the area and also hosts the largest variety of bird species in the mid hills of Nepal.
Before the construction of the Jiri Road, Those was the busiest market town on the trade route between Namche and Lamosangu.
The villages of Jiri, Shivalaya, Deurali, Bamti-Bhandar and Gumdel are well-served with trekking lodges,toilets and hot (bucket) showers.
In Kharare, Lahaksewar and Kyam accommodation is in an actual home or 'Community-run homestay', so the cross-cultural exchange is more authentic. Although part of the trek is in uninhabited areas, Community-run homestays operate during the trekking season so it's quite suitable for independent trekkers.
The area above Khahare to Sewar is uninhabited so camping is the only option at Panipakha, Phokte, Maanedanda, Jatapokhari, Panch pokhari, Thare, and Ngeju.
If you plan to continue along the Everest trail, the 'Numbur Cheese Circuit' provides excellent options for acclimatization.
“Leave only footprints behind you, take only memories when you leave” - This concept of sustainable tourism is based on the premise that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations.