The Langtang trek is a relatively short trek (from 6 to 9 days) that combines fantastic mountain views and excellent tea house accommodation. What’s more is that Syabrubesi (1400m) the jumping off point for the trek is just a six hour drive from Kathmandu. Compared to the Everest Base Camp or Annapurna this trek receives just a handful of visitors.
The trek starts with a bumpy but sometimes hair-rising six hour drive to the small hill station of Syabrubesi (1400m). The road follows the same path as that to Pokhara from Kathmandu but heads towards the Langtang region about 50km from Kathmandu. It’s impressive to see the small farming villages with tightly terraced fields hugging the mountain sides.
Leaving the road at Syabrubesi one follows the trail up the Langtang valley. The first few days are spent climbing alongside the river, the Langtang Khola, through a beautiful forest of Oaks and Rhododendron. After a steep climb to Ghoratabela (2970m) the river canyon widens up into a broad U-shaped glacially carved valley reveling the beautiful peak of Langtang Lirung (7227m) to the north and Naya Kanga (5844m) to the south. It’s another 2 days walk up to the last tea houses at Kyanjin Gompa (3750m) where one can easily spend another several days exploring the upper Langtang Valley.
Here is a quick look at what we think are the top 6 reasons for choosing the Langtang Trek;
- Amazing Mountain Views – Langtang Lirung (7227m / 23,705 feet) while not one of Nepal’s 8000m peaks still ranks as one the world’s top 100 peaks and is quite impressive as it comes into view after reaching Ghoratabela. Continuing on to Kyanjin Gompa through the upper valley you can view Naya Kanga (5844m) to the right as well as the greater Kangja La Himal. If you take a day hike into the upper Langtang Valley from Kyanjin Gompa you can see a good view of Langshisha Ri (6427 m / 21,085 ft).
- Friendly Locals and Excellent Tea Houses – This is a relatively easy place to trek with comfortable tea houses spaced every few hours all the way up to Kyanjin Gompa. The local Sherpa people are almost always all smiles despite the tough mountain life they lead. If you can bring a few pieces of candy for the local kids its sure to earn some happy faces. All the tea houses have good standards and the rooms are clean with comfortable mattresses. It’s not required to bring a sleeping bag here as blankets are available free upon request. While you wont find internet above Syabrubesi it is possible to arrange phone calls at the tea houses. If you have a Nepali SIM card take note that Ncell works below Lama Hotel and Sky network generally works all the way to Kyanjin Gompa.
- Climbing Kyanjin Ri or Tsergo Ri- Compared to the surrounding peaks these are both practically hills but can still be considered challenging day hikes. Kyanjin Ri (4773m) is the easier of the two peaks and lying directly northwest behind Kyanjin Gompa takes 3 to 5 hours to climb. Tsergo Ri (4984m) is only a few hundred meters taller but one should plan on most the day to tackle this one. Both the peaks offer amazing views of the surrounding peaks which include; Langtang Lirung (7227m), Yubra (6246m), Changbu (6251m), as well as the Langtang Lirung Glacier and the ice fall between Yubra and Changbu.
- Great Local Foods – Taka a chance with some of the local delicacies if you get tired of the typical trekking fair of Dal Bhat, macaroni, spaghetti and boiled potatoes. Fresh Yak Curd is available in almost every village above Ghoratabela. Another option is to visit the local cheese factory in Kyanjin Gompa to get a more firsthand look at the process of making the local yak cheese. Seabuckthorn juice is a sweet and tangy drink made from the berries of Hippophae Salicifolia which are collected in November. The juice is locally available for about 200Rs a cup and said to be rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. If you are taking a private car to Syabrubesi you might be able to arrange a stop at one of the local Himalayan trout farms to sample some fresh fish.
- Beautiful Rhododendron Forests – The Rhododendrons come into bloom starting in late March and last until July depending on the species in bloom. The most prolific bloom is that of the red flowers of the species Lali Gurans which blooms from April to May. The bright red flowers set against the snow white peaks are a sight to behold.
- Day hiking in the Upper Langtang – You can spend at least a few days going on day hikes around Kyanjin Gompa. The first options are to climb Kyanjin Ri or Tsergo Ri as previously mentioned but another good option is to take a day hike further up the Langtang River Valley to the abandoned settlement at Numthang from where you can get a good view of the terminal moraine of the Langtang glacier as well as Langshisha Ri (6427 m / 21,085 ft).
- The Monastery in Kyanjin Gompa. The ancient stone monastery and Gompa sit just outside the main agglomeration of teahouses in Kyanjin Ri. The monastery dates back at least 400 years and draws its origin from Tibetan Buddhism. The interior is richly decorated with finely drawn paintings that remind me of the many monasteries I visited in Ladakh. One should give a donation of a few hundred Rps to help with the upkeep.
Update: These pictures were taken shortly before the earthquake. The Langtang Region was one of the most damaged in all of Nepal. Having trekked in the region with my wife just days before the earthquake we were devastated as we learned about what happened. Our hearts go out to those in the region who suffered loss. I am now posting a series of posts on the region to remind people how beautiful the area remains and also because I believe in part how fast the region recovers will depend on when trekkers are willing to return. While trekking in the Everest Region is now okay (see current update) it will certainly take the Langtang Region longer to recover. We wont be running treks this current season but we are planning to start again sometime 2016 – ask us for more details on the current situation.