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Trek Langtang Nepal

Published by Tabatha Smith, Writer

Country: Nepal

The Experience

Langtang National Park is located north of Kathmandu and stretches all the way to the Nepali/Tibetan border. The remote and stunning views offered here of the Himalayas are unparalleled and well worth the strenuous trek that it takes to see them. The region is home to the Tamang people who have built several Buddhist monasteries among the peaks, which house brightly colored Buddha’s and cradle hundred-year-old silk brocade paintings called Thangka.

Setting out to trek Langtang region, we took the bus from Kathmandu to Thulo Bharku, a spine shattering, nerve-wracking, patience-trying ride, that took 11 hours to travel a mere 130km. Driven and conducted by two boys whose ages added together couldn’t have equaled my own, the bus broke down twice, each time causing a delay of no less than half an hour. Although not an uncommon occurrence for this area of the world, once all was said and done, we had arrived in the endearing village of Thulo Bharku. Happy to be there; our guesthouse was clean, the dahl baht delicious, the people friendly and the kids cute as buttons.

Thulo Bharku is where our trek began, at 1,860 meters (6,100 feet). We wound our way through Barbal and Thulo Shyaphru, down to the Langtang River, a rushing torrent of water, even during the dry season. From there the trail headed up, up, up, to a couple of guest houses at ‘Landslide’, where we spent our second night of the trek. Though we had descended nearly a kilometer during the day, we ended up at almost the same altitude that we began at. The family at the lodge we stayed at was lovely and to help them out, and my knees, we paid their 15-year-old son to be our porter the next day.

Our third day of trekking the Langtang area, we spent the day ascending to Rimche Village at 2,455 meters (8,045 feet), where we enjoyed our last decent shower of the trek. The next morning we caught our first glimpse of snow-capped mountain crests. It was exhilarating getting the first of what would be many spectacular panoramas, the reason for our journey.

In April the trail from Rimche to Ghodatabela (2,972 meters or 9,750 feet) is lined with beautiful rhododendrons in sparkling shades of the rainbow: red, white, pink, yellow and purple. Much of this part of the trail follows the riverbed up through the valley, providing exceptional views of mountains, trees, waterfalls and streams. Once in a while, we would round a corner or climb up a hill and there through the moss-covered trees, we would catch stunning vista view of the peaks we were trekking towards. Regularly throughout our trek in Langtang, we encountered Buddhist prayer wheels built over streams. Buddhists believe that each turn of the prayer wheel grants good karma, and so have built some in such a way that the wheels are turned by the running streams, providing them effortless good karma!

After Ghodatabela Village the valley widened and the walk from there to Langtang Village was serene and relaxing along a smooth flat trail. Yak-cows (a hybrid of the temperamental yak that can handle high altitudes and low temperatures and the more mild-mannered cow that cannot handle high altitudes but is more pleasant to work with) prevalent in Nepal area could be seen grazing on dried out grass. As the valley widened, the views of the Himalaya were constant. Not only were the Himalayan views incredible, but the views back down the valley from where we'd just trekked were spectacular as well. In Thyangsyapu, which is close to Langtang Village, we found ourselves surrounded by craggy rock peaks with brilliant views of Langtang Mountain.

The walk from Thyangsyapu through Langtang, to Kyangin Gompa is likely to be the most spectacular walk of my life. The landscape grows increasingly sparse with trees and grass gives way to scraggly bushes and rocks. Past 3,500 meters altitude we started to notice the Himalayan Iris, a stunning little purple iris, much like the irises back home. On this leg of the trek we enjoyed views of enormous demanding peaks, some with snow and others unadorned. Boundlessly drawn in by excess foothills that fell away behind you. It was here that we got our first full view of Langtang Mountain in all its majesty.

The village of Kyangin Gompa (3,870 meters or 12,697 feet) is where we finished our ascent. Really hardcore trekkers can continue on, but the last of the accommodation is in Kyangin Gompa, so to continue on means your or a porter will have to carry your tents, food, cooking equipment, etc. For us there was no need to continue on after Kyangin Gompa because the views were spectacular. We got a 360-degree view of soaring mountain peaks and ice-blue glaciers. Every way we turned there were snow-capped mountains, and this was an ideal place to just sit and appreciate them. In addition to these towering crests, there is a four hundred year old monastery here that houses a local Buddha statue and colorful Thangka paintings. It is no longer an active monastery with resident monks, but important local celebrations are still carried out here with important lamas and monks in attendance. A local woman looks after it and opens it up every day for worship or tourists.

The trek down from Kyangin Gompa was just as beautiful as going up. Watching the world come back to life is staggering. Streams start to reappear, scraggily bushes turn to lush green trees and the barren ground starts again to yield grass. It is also nice to be back down where the air is full of oxygen and us lowland folk can breath.

The Langtang Region of Nepal will not give you views of the highest mountains in Nepal, but at the relatively low point of 3,870 meters you get one of the best views of peaks in the world. It is well worth the trek up there and is an experience I will relish the rest of my life!

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When to Go to Langtang Trek

The Langtang Trek is not an easy trek, although we saw people of all shapes and sizes complete it. That said, to really enjoy it some training beforehand would be advisable. The best times to trek are October, November or March, April. Bring some sunscreen and moisturizer with you, as it can be quite dry and very sunny, if you're lucky!

Odds n' Ends

If you want to trek longer than a week, you can turn off before you reach Thulo Bharku and keep going up to Gosain Kunda, a frozen lake at 4,300 meters. It is a much more challenging trek that the one to Kyangin Gompa, so be ready for it if you choose to go. It is important to be aware of altitude sickness, to allow for acclimatization it is recommended you do no ascend more than 300 meters per day above 3000 meters.

The Langtang Valley, which is reached from the road end at Dhunche or Sybrubensi, offers an opportunity to explore villages, local monasteries, called gompas, immense glaciers and magnificent mountain views. The Langtang Valley is the most visited part of the National Park and for those who do not wish to camp, accommodation in lodges is available. It is important to note that there are no medical facilities in Langtang National Park, so be sure to pack a complete first aid kit.

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