Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Langtang Valley Trek

Near the top of Kyanjin Ri 
Amongst the three major trekking areas in Nepal, namely, Everest, Annapurna and Langtang, the Langtang valley is the most under trekked. Most of the big name peaks are in the Everest and Annapurna regions, so Langtang has always come third when selecting a trekking destination. In many ways this is real pity because Langtang offers pristine forests, rich bird life, monastic culture and above all some spectacular mountain views of the Langtang Himal topped by the shapely Langtang Lirung. The walking is also very enjoyable as there are large sections through the forest where the trekker is often alone surrounded by nature. The is a far cry from the Everest trek where the trails are crowded and often more than busy! A South Col team trekked the Langtang valley in November 2013.

There is a direct bus which leaves Kathmandu at 7 30 am and reached Syabrubesi by 3 pm.  If you are a group of 5 to 6 trekkers you could consider hiring a four wheel drive vehicle (one way cost to Syabrubesi would be around USD 180 or so).

You need the Langtang National Park permit (NPR 3,000, SAARC citizens NPR 1,500, and the TIMS permit (USD 20 and 10 for individual trekkers and group trekkers respectively USD 6 and 3 respectively for SAARC citizens). The Langtang permit is available from Tourist Service Centre (01-4256909 extn 244;; Bhrikuti Mandap Kathmandu . Take a passport copy and two passport size photos. It is also possible to get both the two permits at the National Park Office before Dhunche.

 Day 01 Kathmandu to Syabrubesi (1470m) by road   
The journey should take 6 to 8 hours depending on traffic and mode of transport.

Day 02 Syabrubesi to Lama Hotel  (2470m)  1070m ascent  7 to 8 hours
From Syabrubesi walk up the main road and then take the right hand fork and descend to the river. Before the bridge you come to a check post where the permits are verified. Cross the bridge and climb up to a small village. Walk through the village for about five minutes and then come to another bridge. Do not cross this bridge and carry on along the same bank of the river. After about an hour or so, you will reach the New Bridge Ayusiddhi Lodge at Tiwari. Cross this bridge and walk upstream through a very pleasant forested track. In about two hours from Syabrubesi you will come to Doman next to a huge waterfall. From Doman climb uphill and then downhill and in about 30-40 minutes reach the lodges of Pairo. From Pairo the trail is through the forest  and in about 90-100 minutes reached Bamboo which is the first day’s lunch stop.  Leave Bamboo after lunch and continue to climb through the forest past waterfalls. About an hour from Bamboo the trail crosses another bridge with “Welcome to Langtang” signposted on top. There is a small tea house across the bridge.  The trail then begins to climb steadily for about an hour to Lower Rimche. Upper Rimche is about 20 minutes away with two lodges and lovely sunset views. If you are continuing to Lama Hotel for the night stop it is about 20 minutes from Rimche. This can be quite a long day and if you are not sure, it is suggested to stop at Bamboo.  
Syabrubesi to Doman – 2 hrs; Doman to Pairo 40 min; Pairo to Bamboo 1 hr 15 min; Bamboo to Lower Rimche 1hr 30 min; Lower Rimche to Upper Rimche 20 min. Upper Rimche to Lama Hotel 20 min.

Day 03 Lama Hotel  to Ghora Tabela (2970 metres) to Langtang Village (3430 metres) 980m ascent 7 to 8 hours   
Leaving Lama Hotel the trail winds through oak and rhododendron forests. Keep a look out for birds, I spotted a Khalij pheasant here! Within forty minutes the Langtang peaks come into view framed by the trees. The pleasant stop of Riverside is reached in about 90 to 100 minutes. 20 minutes away from
Riverside is Woodlands. From Woodlands the trail climbs uphill once again and in about an hour or so reaches Ghora Tabela. Ghora Tabela is a good tea stop in the sunshine. The Army check post is just beyond Ghora Tabela  where the permits are checked once again. The trail again climbs from the Army check post and crosses a forested patch after which it reaches Thangsyap in about 75-90 minutes.  Thangsyap is a good stop for lunch and there are a number of lodges here. Ahead of Thangsyap the valley begins to broaden and in  around 20 minutes Chamki village is reached. The lodges here specialize in yak curd and Hotel Peaceful  offers this to all trekkers. Try to have the yak curd with honey!  From Chamki, the lodges of Langtang village look tantalizingly close but they are still 90 minutes away. The trail climbs to a hill top crosses Gomba village and then descends to a long suspension bridge. Cross the bridge and then climb up to Langtang village.
Lama Hotel to Riverside 1 hr 15 min; Riverside to Woodlands 20 min; Woodlands to Ghora Tabela 1 hr.Ghora Tabela to Thangysyap 1 hr 15 min; Thangsyap to Chamki 30 min; Chamki to Langtang Village 1 hr 30 min.

Day 05 Rest and Acclimatization day at Langtang Village (3430 metres)
We are now at 11,000 feet plus so a rest day for acclimatization is recommended.

Day 06 Langtang Village to Kyanjin Gompa (3860m) 460m ascent (3 to 4 hours) 
The trail climbs through Langtang village pass some marshy flats which could be iced over in late autumn/winter. It then ascends in a series of zig zags to Mundu village (30 to 40 min). From Mundu reach Sedum in around 20 min. The valley now begins to open up and Gina Chhenpo presents a dress circle view at the head.  From Sindum the trail follows the river uphill and reaches the “Big Rock CafĂ©” in around 40 minutes. Stop for a cup of tea here – Kyanjin is still an hour away. The trail descends to the river and in the distance a white chorten can be seen – the entrance of Kyanjin. From the river it is about thirty minutes to the chorten. Cross the bridge over the fast flowing Langtang Khola and meander over flats climbing gently until Kyanjin Gompa is reached.    
Langtang to Mundu 35 min;  Mundu to Sindum 30 min; Sindum to Kyanjin Gompa 2 hrs.

Day 6 Rest Day at Kyanjin Gompa 
The rest day at Kyanjin Gompa can be used to walk up the valley part of the way to the grazing grounds of Langshisha Kharka surrounded by glaciers. Alternatively it is possible to climb the peak of Kyanjin Ri (4600m) with a fine view over the entire Langtang valley.  There is a lower Kyanjin Ri viewpoint which is visible just above Kyanjin Gompa with the prayer flags and this is around 4400 metres and  takes about two hours to climb! The harder climb is Tsergo Ri (4984m) which would take around four hours up and three hours down. There can be snow and ice near the top.

Day 7 Kyanjin Gompa to Lama Hotel (2480m)  6  to 7 hours
 It is a fairly long haul down to Lama Hotel and perhaps it is easier to return to Langtang village in the evening from Kyanjin Gompa and then go down to Lama Hotel the next day. This is what we did. It is a 1300 metre descent down the valley to Lama Hotel passing Langtang village (2-3 hours), Ghora Tabela (3-4 hours) and finally Lama Hotel ( 6-7 hours).  We usually stop for lunch at Ghora Tabela.

Day 8 Lama Hotel to Syabrubesi   5 to 6 hours
We continue down to Syabrubesi where we started our trek.

Day 9 Syabrubesi to Kathmandu by  vehicle 

For more photographs of the Langtang valley please do visit
For an interesting account of the Langtang trek done thrirty years ago please do visit

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