Langtang, Helambu and Manaslu were the three trekking areas hardest hit by the 2015 earthquake and aftershocks. It was horrific.
Around 9,000 people died during the Nepal earthquake of 25 April 2015.
One tiny village in the Langtang Valley accounted for 243 of them: 175 villagers, 27 local tourism staff (guides and porters), and 41 foreign trekkers.
All of their names are now recorded on a memorial mani wall that has been built among the wreckage.
Yet locals rebuilt.
If you do decide to go to Langtang, be ready for anything.
One of the best hikes in the world
4000m+ valley north of Kathmandu, parallel to the Tibet border.
Plenty of challenging side trips up high.
AT A GLANCE
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 should be considered. Know that Langtang is not all that easy. There are many more ups and downs than you’d expect.
- one appealing aspect of Langtang is that you can explore Nepali villages, snow-capped peaks and imposing glaciers at a lower elevation than other Nepal hikes … unless you add a trekking peak or two
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Though Langtang is the closest major trekking area to Kathmandu, it’s not close.
A jeep or cab would be slightly quicker. And a fair bit safer.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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 lagged behind the other major trekking regions in Nepal:
- 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 teachers, no schools. Older kids go away to boarding school.
- no active monastery, no monks
- meat is not sold in restaurants (a good thing)
- poor book exchanges
- some lodges have very poor pillows and mattresses. Consider bringing your own air mattress and/or inflatable pillow. Consider bringing 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.
- 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
Going Somewhere paid about $178 for 8 days / person to and from Pokhara in 2019 hiking independently. That includes permits.
Langtang trails are not expensive, but many spend more than they anticipate on luxuries. We spent about $30/day in 2014. Budget $40/day if you want to drink beer.
Exodus charged about $187 / day in 2019 / person for a high end guided tour. By shopping around you might pay $50 / day (minimum 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.
This site posts information for independent hikers. If you hire a guide, they’ll handle all these logistics.
Consider purchasing good insurance coverage for this trip. World Nomads, for example, offers policies covering hikers up to 3000m, 4500m or 6000m.
In 2019 we bought 30 day visas for Nepal. And World Nomads insurance for those same 30 days.
Evacuation by helicopter is expensive. Payment must be guaranteed in advance. Bring your credit card, just in case.
- carry more Nepali rupees in cash than you think you need, in case of emergencies. Lodges and restaurants normally only accept rupees.
- In 2019 the most we could take out of a bank machine at one time in Pokhara was 35000 NPR (about $300). We used Nabil Bank machines withdrawing directly from our bank cards, not credit card, to reduce the transaction fee cost and avoid interest.
- 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.
Independents need to buy their own hiking permits for Langtang:
- 2019 $20 (NPR 2,000) / person TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card.
- 2019 $30 (NPR 3,000)/ person Langtang National Park permit – single entry
Happily, both permits are available at the checkpoints en route.
Visa on arrival for most nations at Tribhuvan International, Kathmandu in 2019:
Multiple entry 15 days US$ 30
Multiple entry 30 days US$ 50
Multiple entry 90 days US$ 125
You can pay with credit card or other major currencies. The visa on arrival process is much faster and simpler than in the past. No need to bring passport photos as machines now take your mugshot photo.
- tip guides & staff about 15% if happy with service
- 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.
Here’s our recommended route. Perhaps 14-16 days. Driving to Syabrubesi, trekking Langtang first. Then continuing on the Gosainkund & Helambu trek, walking back to Kathmandu.
- Most people start at Syabrubesi (1500m), a horrorshow 6–10hr bus ride from Macha Pokhari, in Kathmandu. Consider hiring a private car or taxi to shorten 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. 😊
- 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 to Macha Pokhari 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. If this all sounds too complicated, consider hiring your own taxi to Syabrubesi.
- 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. It was not much damaged in the 2015 earthquakes.
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.
A 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.
A 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.
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 …
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)
- Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP)
- Himalayan Rescue Association – altitude FAQs
- Himalayan Rescue Association – Mountain Medicine
- Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN)
Best Trekking Guidebooks
Be sure to get the most up-to-date version of any guidebook you buy.
We used Pritchard-Jones and Gibbons in 2014. It was disappointing. We wished we’d simply taken a digital version of the Lonely Planet Langtang chapter, instead.
- Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya
- A Trekking Guide to Langtang: Gosainkund, Helambu and Tamang Heritage Trail – Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons we found disappointing. Essential information for independent hikers is missing.
- Cicerone Langtang, Gosainkund and Helambu – Kev Reynolds
- Trailblazer Trekking in Langtang, Helambu & Gosainkund: Nepal Trekking Guides – Jamie McGuinness
- Trailblazer Nepal Trekking & the Great Himalaya Trail – Robin Boustead
Best Travel Guidebooks
Yep. We still like Lonely Planet best.
Other Recommended Books
- The Snow Leopard – Peter Matthiessen … best Nepal book ever
- Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster – Jon Krakauer
- Insight Guides – Nepal (2014)
- A Beard In Nepal (2012) – Fiona Roberts
- Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal (2011) – Conor Grennan
- Travelers’ Tales Nepal – Rajendra S. Khadka
- Nepal Trek – A Woman Alone (2006) – Kay Petterson Shaw
- The Ascent of Rum Doodle – W.E. Bowman
Best Maps / Apps
Navigation is not difficult in this region. We use the free Maps.me app.
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.
Recommended is Nepa Maps/Himalayan Maphouse 1:120,000 Langtang Gosainkund & Helambu which also covers the Tamang Heritage Trail
Best Web Pages
- Stunning Nepal – Langtang Valley Trek
- wikitravel – Trekking in Nepal
- living if (2012) – Nepal Trekking Tips
- Rough Guide – Langtang, Helambu and Gosainkund
- Nepal Trekking Holidays
- World Nomads travel insurance
- Trekking Partners
- Trip Advisor – Langtang National Park Travel Forum
- Trip Advisor – Langtang National Park
Best Trip Reports
- Mark Horrell – The fate of Langtang village two years after the Nepal earthquake 2017
- Going Somewhere – TREK REPORT: LANGTANG VALLEY Mar 2019 (independent solo female)
- site editor Rick McCharles Nov 2014 (independent)
- The Getting There – Langtang, Gosainkund & Helambu (independent)
- Rich – The Sojourner – Helambu-Gosainkund-Langtang 2009
- Mountainlove – Langtang, Gosainkund and Helambu Trek 2012 (with porter)
- TERESA 2011 (guided)
Leave a comment if you’ve got an up-to-date trip report to recommend.
Click PLAY or watch the Langtang Trek & Gosainkunda on YouTube. (2017)
Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.
Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. (2017)
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