Trekking in the Langtang Range, Nepal

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Travel Features >> Trekking in the Langtang Range, Nepal

Trekking in the Langtang Range, Nepal

April 08, 2011

The Langtang range lies north of Kathmandu and though it doesn’t offer up any 8000 plus metres peaks, it has a lot else going for it. Part of Langtang lies in Nepal and the other foot steps into the Tibetan Plateau. It’s easily reached from Kathmandu, you can be an amateur climber and still make it to a peak, and it’s yet to become really popular so chances are that crowds will be minimal.

What’s generally referred to as the “Langtang trek” is actually three different routes. On the Langtang Range, you can go to the holy lakes at Gosainkund; try yak cheese at a far away Buddhist gompa on the Langtang mountain; or cut down on the ‘getting there’ to enjoy the ‘being there’ on Helambu.

The Helambu Trek:
Beyond the Sivapuri hills that lie north of the Kathmandu Valley is the region of Helambu. The trek takes off from Sundarijal (1390 metres), which can be reached by bus or taxi from Kathmandu. From Sundarijal, stone steps prise open the thicket to take you to the village of Pati Bhunjyang (1768 metres). (It’s possible to do this part of the trip by jeep.) At Khumtumsang (2469 metres) you enter the Langtang National Park for which a permit is mandatory.
The trek from here takes off into the realm of rhododendron forests and nattering langur monkeys. The highest point on the Helambu trek is the town of Tharepati (3633 metres) where you can pick up the Gosainkund trail towards Langtang peak or continue on chasing the way back to Pati Bhanjyang.
The Helambu there-and-back is not a there-and-rewind. You go on from Tharepati to Malemchigaon (2560 metres), Tarke Ghyang (2560 metres), descending steadily always. Various trails branch off as you descend, leading variously to Pati Bhanjyang or Sundarijal. Otherwise the bustling market town of Malemchi Pul Bazaar (828 metres) would be your destination. Transportation to Kathmandu is easily available here.

The Gosainkund Trek:
Gosainkund refers to a cluster of high altitude lakes, the most sacred of which is called Gosainkund. It’s the site of an annual pilgrimage (July-August) in honour of Lord Shiva who once quenched his thirst here. Heading northwest from Tharepati (3633 metres) through thickly forested tracts of rhododendron, the trail winds past the villages of Gopte (3408 metres) and Phedi (3780 metres) before reaching the mountain pass of Laurebina (4609 metres). The Gosainkund Lake is a short way below the Pass at 4381 metres. There is accommodation by the lakeside. From here you could go down to either Dhunche (1966 metres) or the Langtang Valley, and make the long 9 hour drive to Kathmandu from there.

The Langtang Trek:
The Langtang Trek generally refers to the hike from Dhunche (1966 metres) to Kyangjin Gompa (3900 metres). The town of Dhunche (a tedious 8 hour ride on the road from Kathmandu) is a bustling administrative centre, and is equipped to handle last minute crises like forgotten sunscreen. The trail actually takes off 6 km from Dhunche, at a point called Thulo Bharku (1844 metres). The Shedup Cheling Gompa at Brabal (2304 metres) makes for an interesting pause in the trek.
Further ahead, situated on a ridge at 2240 metres, is the village of Syabru from where the trail drops to 1676 metres and Pairo. Landslides are the characteristic feature of this leg of the hike, which is lashed by heavy rains ever so often. The descent continues till you reach the Langtang gorge, where the first settlement you’ll find is Bambu (1975 meters). There’s a fair bit of wildlife as you ascend towards Rimche (2390 metres), Lama Hotel (2491 metres), Gumnachowk (2774 metres) and Ghora Tabela (3005 metres). Here you’ll begin to leave the thick forests behind, the countryside will become more craggy and you’d have entered serious highland territory. Be careful to respond to symptoms of high altitude sickness, which may occur at this height. The oldest settlement of the area is Langtang village (3420 metres), a beautiful Tibetan settlement that has retained its Buddhist charm. A further trek up a landscape of rock strewn glacial debris brings you to Kyangjin Gompa (3900 metres). There are many short treks from Kyangjin Gompa on which you could foray further, or you could just savour the beauty of the area and the locally produced yak cheese. There’s plenty of accommodation in the town.
You could return the way you came, or pick up the trail to Gosainkund from Syabru. Or turn off at Pairo and head for Syabrubensi (1417 metres) past the village of Domin. Syabrubensi is at the confluence of the Bhote Kosi and Langtang Khola. The Gang La Pass (5122 metres) connects this area in the Langtang Valley with Helambu.

For country and visitor information, see Nepal.

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