Langtang

World → AsiaNepal → Langtang

Before making any plans to travel to Nepal, get the most recent update on the 2015 Nepal earthquake disaster.

High altitude trekking is dangerous – Oct 2014 Nepal snowstorm disaster 😦

Manfred Häupl of Hauser excursions reports all trekking routes in Nepal, including Helambu – Langtang are open as of March 2016.

One of the best hikes in the world

 Langtang

4000m+ valley north of Kathmandu, parallel to the Tibet border.

Plenty of challenging side trips up high.

AT A GLANCE

  • Nepal

    Nepal

    minimum 100km (60mi) return

  • plus sidetrips
  • 8-11 days
  • Langtang National Park established 1970 in the Langtang Region, first National Park in Nepal
  • majority of hikers in the Langtang region hire a guide, porter guide and/or porters but it’s  easy to hike independently
  • sleep and eat in basic lodges (tea houses)
  • mid-October to mid-December best months
  • beginning of March to mid-May next best. (Laurabina pass on the nearby Gosainkund trek MIGHT stay closed until early May. Many Langtang trekkers do Gosainkund after Langtang.)
  • days are short, especially in the gorge, in November. There’s much more light in the Spring.
  • the reputation is “generally easy hiking” on good trails with a light pack. Some  challenging, potentially dangerous sidetrips possible. Know that Langtang is not all that easy. There are many more ups and downs than you’d expect.
  • it is easier than the other main trekking areas of Nepal in that maximum altitude is lower … unless you do a trekking peak or two
  • Langtang trails are not expensive, but many spend more than they anticipate on luxuries. We spent about $30/day in 2014. Cheapskates about $20/day.
  • be clear — you might have to QUIT if by bad luck or rushed ascent you suffer altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS).
  • some suffer respiratory problems. Headaches. Or fatigue.

Why We Like This Hike

  • mighty peaks of Langtang (7234m) and Ganesh (7446m) as well as a sprawl of endless 6000m+ summits
  • sacred lakes of Gosainkund in the nearby Helambu region
  • wonderful photographic opportunities
  • colourful Hindu, Buddhist and mountain cultures

P1310947

  • it’s fun to leave the main trails, take to the paths less traveled
  • very little gear is needed
  • you can easily get pack weight down to 10kg (22lbs)
  • walk with no tent, stove or food. Stay in lodges, eat in simple restaurants.
  • safe and easy to hike independently. Even solo.
  • no need to speak Nepali, only English
  • no vaccinations required for Nepal
  • food is good and quite safe (compared with Kathmandu)
  • guest houses sell “hot (solar warm) showers” for about $3.
  • at altitude, food tastes GREAT. Dorje Cafe in Kyanjin Gompa might just be the best bakery in the Himalaya. 🙂
  • near guaranteed to see monkeys and langurs in the wild
  • chance to see marmot, pika, blue sheep, thar
  • slight chance to see Red Panda (we saw one)
  • bird lovers will be thrilled with this region. Lammergeyers fly highest.
  • Yaks! One story tells that the name Langtang means “monk looking for lost Yak”
  • no dogs in the Langtang valley. Therefore no dangerous dogs.
headed up the Langtang gorge

headed up the Langtang gorge

Considerations

Though Langtang is the closest major trekking area to Kathmandu, it’s not close.

langtang_valley_nepal_lrgThere’s a long, awful bus ride  to the traihead. Some vomit on this trip.

bus to trailhead

photo by Mountainlove

  • no 8000m peaks, but the base-to-peak rises are as dramatic as anywhere
  • if you acclimatize well, and have enough days, it’s relatively safe and easy to get to Kyanjin Gompa.
  • carry a tent if you want to overnight at Langshisha Kharka. Or to go further up valley.
  • almost everyone considers a sidetrip ascent of ascents of Treking peaks Tsergo Ri (4984m) or Kyanjin Ri (4773m)
P1320029

Kyanjin Ri

  • consider crossing 4600m high Laurebina La and walking back to Kathmandu via the Helembu, avoiding another horrid bus ride
  • November 1995 a freak snow storm killed dozens (46 some say) of hikers, porters and guides throughout the Himalaya, most by avalanche. The October 2014 Nepal snowstorm disaster killed at least 43 people including at least 21 trekkers.
Kyanjin Gompa 3830m

Kyanjin Gompa 3830m

  • Main trails are safe. But crossing glaciers is can be difficult and dangerous. Get local advice before you do so.
  • virtually no medical assistance available
  • respiratory problems, stomach problems, headache, sunburn are common ailments
  • you MUST bring footwear you love and trust
  • altitude symptoms are less problem than on other major Nepal treks
  • some hikers buy Diamox in Nepal. It’s called Diamox Sequels in the USA. Others bring homeopathic coca as is used in the Andes.
  • some even carry a course of antibiotics, just in case
  • both men and women are advised to wear modest clothing respecting local culture
  • Langtang valley lags behind the other major trekking areas in modernization. That’s both good and bad.
    • difficult to recharge batteries at some lodges in 2014
    • cold kills batteries. Keep them in your sleeping bag at night.
    • mobile phones do not work in 2014
    • no internet access in 2014
    • no teacher, no school. Older kids go away to boarding school.
    • no active monastery, no monks
    • meat is not sold in restaurants (a good thing)
    • poor book exchanges
    • neither the Langtang Health Post nor Glacier Documentation Center seemed to be open in 2014
    • some lodges have very poor pillows and mattresses. Consider bringing your own air mattress and/or inflatable pillow. Some bring ear plugs.
  • treat all water (except the H20 coming off the highest peaks).
  • try not to buy bottled water on the trek
  • many use a scarf or buff to protect face and mouth
  • squater” pit toilets are the norm. It’s a rare treat to find a sit down loo.
  • you’ll be tempted by pizza, beer,  bakeries and everything else. Almost everyone spends more money than they expect.
  • evacuation by helicopter is expensive ( $1600 per hour up to $10,000, payment guaranteed in advance in 2013)
  • bring a combination padlock

lock

Cost

Exodus charged about $160 / day in 2014 for a high end guided tour. By shopping around you might pay $50 / day (2 people) for a guide, but you’ll be carrying your own pack. It will be more if you also want porters or a porter / guide.

P1320286

This site posts information for independent hikers. If you hire a guide, they’ll handle all these logistics.

Remember to budget expenses like meals, beverages, travel insurance (including helicopter evacuation insurance), tips, etc.

  • carry more Nepali rupees in cash than you think you need, in case of  emergencies.  Lodges and restaurants normally only accept rupees. We took about $700 each in rupees for 15 days. Bank ATMs give you only 1000 rupee bills. Step into a couple of banks to change some of those to 100 rupee bills.
  • a Mars bar in Kathmandu might cost Rs.70. At high altitude, the price could go up to Rs.200. The higher, the more costly.
  • boiled water is surprisingly expensive. Bringing your own stove and fuel is a good idea.
  • there’s a slight chance you’ll need to be evacuated. Bring a credit card just in case.
  • on your travel insurance check what the policies cover under “Adventure Sports”. It varies depending what nation you live in. World Nomads has been recommended. Some of their policies cover trekking up to 6000m. Check whether or not your insurance has any helicopter evacuation restrictions.
  • In Kathmandu you should purchase your TIMS (Trekking Information Management System) card. Also your Langtang National Park entry fee. Or have your guide buy those. Happily, both permits are available at the checkpoints en route.
2014 permits: $20 TIMS, $30 Langtang

2014 permits: $20 TIMS, $30 Langtang

  • in 2014 a single entry tourist visa to Nepal cost was US$40 for 30 days
  • A visa for 31 days or more jumps to US$100
  • the visa on arrival process was simplified in 2014. You no longer need bring passport photos. Nepal loves tourists while, at the same time, trekking in India is a hassle.
  • possible but difficult and expensive to travel to or from Tibet
  • tip guides & staff about 15% if happy with service

Routes

  • if you have a guide, listen to his advice on where to stop each day
  • if you are doing Langtang independently, get a trekking guidebook well in advance. Then decide on your destination each day as you go. That way you can adjust for weather and fitness. It’s fairly common to take a rest day while ascending to acclimatize for altitude.
langtang_gosainkund_helambu_trek

map via NepalSanctuaryTreks.com

  • Most people start at Syabrubesi (1500m), a grueling 6–10hr bus ride from Macha Pokhari, in Kathmandu. Consider hiring a private car to shorten and sweeten that journey.
  • from Syabrubesi most take the shortest route up, via Lama Hotel. Better, we feel, would be a longer and slower route via Khangjim. Slowly, slowly is the mantra up. Descend as quickly as you wish, via Lama Hotel, if you like.
  • Langtang is ideal for trekkers of differing fitness and ambition. Once up to Kyanjin Gompa, you can sit in the bakery and read a good book. Or challenge yourself to a number of side trips. 🙂
  • consider:
    • Lirung lake (1-2hrs)
    • Kyanjin Ri trekking peak (4-5hrs) … very popular
    • Tsergo Ri trekking peak (6-8hrs)
    • Numthang viewpoint (4-6hrs) … very popular
    • Langshisha viewpoint (6-8hrs)
    • Morimoto base camp (2-3 nights tenting)
    • day hike up towards Tilman Pass (1 night tenting)

___

As with many Nepal hiking adventures, the biggest challenge (and risk) for the independent trekker is getting to the trailhead. Bus rides in Nepal can be more dangerous than high alpine passes. 😦

For Langtang, almost everyone needs to get from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi 1500m.

It’s simple to organize transport back from the small town, but in Kathmandu it’s not so easy to find transport up into the mountains. Our guidebook (by Bob and Siân) was useless on this critical point.

The boss at Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) told us there were 4 main modes of transport:

• Jeep … best
• Super Express mini-bus $5
• Express mini-bus
• local bus … worst

They all left from the same area of town – Macha Pokhari.

A taxi from Thamel should cost about $3. Get there as early as possible to be sure to find a seat. 6am would be ideal. No later than 7am, to be sure. Ask around to find the ticket booth.

  • Those who have enough time, walk back to Kathmandu via holy Gosainkund lake, over Laurabina pass to the Helambu. Those who do not have enough time, spend another day in a bus from Syaphru Besi back to Kathmandu. 😦
  • Another good option is to combine the Tamang Heritage Trail with Langtang
  • Consider that Nepal offers 15 day, 30 day and 90 day visas on arrival. For the major Nepali treks you normally want a 30 day visa, and at least 21 days in Nepal.

Click PLAY or watch a 3D flyover on YouTube.

Trekking Guides

Should you sign on with a guide?

Consider that you will then be tied into the group itinerary. You’ll travel only as fast as the slowest person in your group.

If not sure, go independently. And — if it turns out you need help — hire a porter, porter-guide or guide and porters yourself on the trail. That can be arranged next day from most lodges.

guide will show you around, but not carry your gear. They may be Nepali or foreign. Many hikers are happier to be led. A good guide may enrich the trip for you.

porter guide is a local who speaks English who may also carry a limited load, perhaps 15kg (33lbs). There is often an insurance fee added.

If you are not confident to go independently, check Trip Advisor, Trekking Partners and other online sites for recent recommendations. Don’t sign on with any company until you are sure they can deliver what you want. We don’t recommend any on the list below. It’s simply a starting point.

wikitravel:

Only TAAN registered trekking agencies in Kathmandu and Pokhara can legally organize treks and provide the services of a guide and/or porter with insurance. Be aware that no one else, no hotel, no street broker, no nice person you just met, not even a trekking guide is legally authorized to organize a trek. During the main seasons the agencies run regular group treks, both tea-house and camping styles …

P1320162

Logistics

If you sign on with a guide, let them organize everything. You are there simply to follow. And enjoy. There’s plenty of time to go off day hiking on your own.

For independent hikers …

  • get a guidebook early
  • decide on what weeks of the year you could trek
  • finalize how much time you can spend on the trail
  • get to Syabrubesi  (good luck with that)
  • once on the trail, decide day-to-day on your itinerary
  • visit Kathmandu after you trek, not before. Many get sick in Kathmandu. Get sick after trekking, not before.
  • donate any clothing or gear you don’t want to take home to the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP)

Local Information

Best Trekking Guidebooks

We used Pritchard-Jones and Gibbons in 2014. It was disappointing. We wished we’d simply taken the Lonely Planet Langtang chapter, instead.

Best Travel Guidebooks

Yep. We still like Lonely Planet best. Get the most recent edition.

Other Recommended Books

Best Maps

You are not likely to get lost, though an Australian hiker was once famously lost for 43 days! Guidebooks  are enough. Still, opening up a big map is a good excuse to take a break from walking. 🙂

Every shop in Kathmandu sells Langtang maps for $2-3. Pick one up when you get there.

click for larger version

click for larger version

 Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports

Leave a comment if you’ve got an up-to-date trip report to recommend.

Movies

Click PLAY or watch a short edit of a 2008 trek on YouTube.

Check our blog for posts tagged “Langtang”.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

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5 thoughts on “Langtang

  1. Pingback: NEPAL – Never Ending Peace And Love – RickMcCharles.com

  2. Thanks for the trip report. I have a question about tipping. You mentioned about 15% for guide and staff. Are you suggesting that amount for each person? For example, I recently did a trek. There were 5 trekkers in our group with 3 porters and 1 guide. Are you suggesting that the guide and each porter gets about 15% OR that the overall amount should be about 15%? Thank you.

    • Good question. Last I heard it was officially closed. But it might be possible to go independently.

      It’s a very sad place right now, however. Hundreds of local mountain people were killed. 😦

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