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The Langtang Valley may have been badly hit by the 2015 earthquake, but this trek is not one to miss

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

I lasted just four days in Kathmandu after completing the Everest Base Camp trek before I felt the beautiful Himalayas calling my name once again. The Langtang Valley had been put on my radar after watching the Netflix Docuseries 'Aftershock: Everest and the Nepal Earthquake', and while this series would probably cause some to avoid this region out of fear, I couldn't get the imagery of the extensive valley and huge white-capped mountains out of my mind. So off I went!


NB: I wasn't keen on another long trek right off the back of Everest, so took a route that didn't include Gosainkunda Lake.


Like with all treks in Nepal, there is a bit of planning and preparation involved, so here's what I figured out for trekking in the Langtang Valley.

Day 3, on the way to Kyanjin Ri

Travel insurance

I went with True Traveller - they have specific coverage for trekking in Nepal and trekking up to 6000m (you get up to 5000m if you go to Tsergo Ri).


Trekking companies

I was pretty torn whether or not to have a guide for this trek. On the one hand, I didn't know how developed the track was, and had heard mixed reviews about needing/not needing a guide, so felt having a guide was probably safest. While on the other hand, as a solo trekker this time around, I could save myself a couple of hundred bucks by going without a guide! In the end, I opted to go through the same company as I did for Everest Base Camp, Spiritual Excursion, and they organised my trip and a guide for me.


If I were to have my time again, I would do this trek without a guide. I didn't gel well with my guide and found the one-on-one dynamic a little uncomfortable as a young solo woman. Through meeting other solo travellers who trekked without a guide, I also came to understand how overcharged I was getting through going through a company. I paid a flat $10 USD/night (1300 rupees) for accommodation on the trek, while trekkers sorting out everything themselves paid around 300 rupees/night... so a big difference! While I was happy to pay this extra fee on Everest Base Camp where teahouses were busy and my guide always called ahead and knew exactly where we were going to stay, my guide on Langtang did not offer the same service, and would instead look for a room once we arrived at our destination - which is something I could have done myself!


However, I think I needed the experience of having two guided trips to learn the lay of the land on trekking in Nepal, and while a frustrating experience, I was confident trekking solo for future trips. Always a silver lining hey!


Trekking gear

I was pretty happy with what I took with me, so here's the extensive list!


Big things:

  • 1x 40L trekking backpack (like with Everest Base Camp, I didn't see the necessity of a porter for me)

  • 1x -20*C sleeping bag (my trekking company provided me one for free, however I actually could have easily gone without it - you don't sleep at very high altitudes so it doesn't get too cold).

  • 1x sleeping bag liner (nice to have your own if you're hiring a sleeping bag).

  • 1x set of hiking poles (I hired these in Kathmandu - you can hire them from most trekking stores for about 100 rupees/day).

Clothes:

  • 1x trekking pants (nb: in Nepal, if you want to wear shorts, they should be about knee-length. It is not culturally appropriate to wear short shorts, for both men and women. The jury is out for whether wearing tights/skins is appropriate).

  • 1x waterproof pants (you never know what the weather is going to be like in the mountains! Though it didn't rain, I used my waterproof pants as my end-of-day pants = the clean clothes I put on after a day of trekking).

  • 1x waterproof rain coat (^^)

  • 1x set of 100% merino wool thermals (long-sleeved top and leggings. Wool is king! I used my thermals as pyjamas).

  • 1x quick-wicking t-shirt (I opted for a polyester-blend t-shirt, but wish I went for wool. Wool is not only good at keeping you warm, but also regulates heat and doesn't stink too much when you sweat - important!)

  • 1x quick-wicking long-sleeved top (good for sun protection, an alternative top so you don't stink out the other one, and mine also had a hood, which was a nice addition).

  • 1x polar fleece (needs to be light and warm).

  • 1x down jacket (people had some pretty big and thick ones. Because I had a good woollen base layer, and a good polar fleece, my small down jacket did the trick).

  • 1x buff (keeping your neck warm helps you stay healthy on the trek).

  • 1x beanie

  • 1x set of woollen gloves

  • 3x pairs of socks (two for trekking, one for night-time. Go for wool if you can).

  • 4x pairs of underwear

  • 1x bra

  • 1x hiking boots

  • 1x sandals (it's nice to put on a different pair of shoes at the end of the day).

Other things:

  • Crampons (I didn't know if I'd need these but threw them in anyway, and am glad I did as it was snowy and icy at the top of Tsergo Ri!)

  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, bar of shampoo (which also doubled up as basic soap and washing detergent), wet wipes, moisturiser, lip balm (spf - burnt lips are not nice), sunscreen.

  • Technology: camera (+ charger and spare battery), kindle (+ charger), portable charger (+ charger), phone (+ charger).

  • First aid: bandaids (if your boots aren't well worn-in, then blisters may very well be on the agenda), paracetamol and ibuprofen, cold and flu medicine, diamox (or some other kind of altitude sickness medication, just in case - I didn't take it though), hayfever medication, tweezers, nail clippers and hydralyte (I think these nice tasting hydration tablets are the reason I was able to drink 4L of water a day!)

  • Snacks: I became an absolute fiend for a snickers bar! They're about 100 rupees / bar in Kathmandu and upwards of 300 rupees once you start trekking... so it's worth stashing up!

  • Essentials: passport, trekking permit, money, water bottles (I took a 700ml LifeStraw filter bottle, and a 1L bottle. I usually carried 1L on me at a time - there are lots of places where you can fill up)

  • Additional: journal and pen, period products if you're unlucky with your timing!

Route

While my trekking company planned out an eight day trip (door to door in Kathmandu), I ended out completing it in seven days. Again, I did not go to Gosainkunda Lake. Here's my route (31 October - 6 November, 2022):


Day 1

  • Bus from Kathmandu to Syrabu Besi, 7 hours

The day:

Through not a huge distance in terms of kilometres, this bus ride takes about 7 hours and is pretty uncomfortable - think bumpy roads bringing you out of your seat, and a hot, noisy and busy bus! I'm sure you could get a private jeep or a more luxurious form of transportation to Syrabu Besi (maybe a helicopter!) but I do enjoy the local busses as they give you a good glimpse into life in Nepal. But they're certainly not for the faint of heart!


We arrived in Syrabu Besi by the late afternoon, and after exploring for a little while, a group of three young teenage girls befriended me and invited me back to one of their homes for some tea, which was a lovely little encounter and a brilliant start to the trip!


Day 2

  • Trek from Syrabu Besi (1550m) to Lama Hotel (2380m), 11km

The trek:

Easy intro to the walk. There are two routes you can take in the beginning - one that is along a road on one side of the river, and another that is just a small trail on the other side of the river. We opted not to cross the first bridge we met, and went along the small trail. It was a nice, easy walk through green forests and along the river. We ended out getting to Lama Hotel quite early, so I sat down by the water and read and journaled for ages, which was really meditative, and was exactly what I wanted out of my solo trek!


If you are planning this trek, I would avoid Lama Hotel if possible. The accommodation available in this small village is super basic compared to other places, and there's not a tonne to do or see there if you get there early like I did. Walk a little further to the next village, is my best tip!


Day 3

  • Trek from Lama Hotel (2380m) to Lantang Village (3430m), 12km

The trek:

Another pretty relaxed day, though I must say that most of this trek felt pretty relaxing to me after tackling Everest Base Camp, so perhaps I'm not the best judge! There was a short period of some solid uphill through the forest, though the shade helps with not being overcome by heatstroke. The warm weather on this trek is certainly felt in the beginning when you are at low altitude.


Langtang Village was really cool and special place to stay. Before getting to the village, you walk for about 20 minutes over the avalanche that wiped out the old town in 2015, which is a really eery feeling. I recommend taking the time to talk to the owner of your teahouse, as they will very likely have a personal and emotional story to tell. The teahouses in Langtang Village were some of the nicest I have encountered, as they have all been built post 2015.


Day 4

  • Trek from Langtang Village (3430m) to Kyanjin Gompa (3870m), 6.4km

  • Hike from Kyanjin Gompa (3870m) to Kyanjin Ri (4350m) and back, 4.4km

The trek and hike:

The trek from Langtang Village to Kyanjin Gompa was listed as 4 hours on maps.me, but took me 1.5 hours - so don't believe everything you read! We started early for an easy walk to Kyanjin Gompa, where I then had a second breakfast, before heading up Kyanjin Ri with two friends made along the way. Though a pretty steep journey up to the top of Kyanjin Ri (you can just go to the lower lookout, but I always recommend getting to the top), it didn't take us too long to get to the top. Nepali flags and scenic 360 degree views - it was beautiful up there!


As the day was still young, I opted to make my way down the mountain a different way. This ended out involving some steep and off-road trekking, but I loved being up at that elevation with the stunning view for as long as I was able. These views never get old!


Day 5

  • Hike from Kyanjin Gompa (3870m) to Tsergo Ri (5033m) and back, 9.4km

  • Trek from Kyanjin Gompa (3870m) to Langtang Village (3430m), 6.4km

The trek and hike:

We woke early to begin the trek up to Tsergo Ri, and I'll tell you what... she's a toughie!! We went up over 1100m in elevation in the 3.5 hours it took to get to the top so boy oh boy the body was feeling it! While I absolutely loved the physical challenge of getting up there (and mental - it felt like every high peak you reached just presented an even higher destination in the distance), this hike is certainly a challenge so you should consider your own personal abilities and fitness levels before making your way up. A good idea is taking it slow! I'm a bit of a zoomer when it comes to trekking, so my times aren't a great basis for your own planning.


To make day 6 a little shorter, I opted to trek back to Langtang Village after coming down from Tsergo Ri. Though an easy route between the two villages, and only an hour or so of walking, it felt pretty tough after conquering Tsergo Ri!


NB: There was quite a lot of snow and ice on the top when we were there in early November, so it's definitely worth carrying crampons with you if you have them.


Day 6

  • Trek from Langtang Village (3430m) to Syrabu Besi (1550m), 23km

The trek:

Day 6 was a long one but wasn't too tough on the body as it was all downhill. I quite enjoyed taking in the views in the opposite direction this time around (as it is an in-and-out trek), but could certainly feel myself getting eager to just lie in bed in Syrabu Besi ASAP (Tsergo Ri did a solid number on my body - all the uphill had me feeling like I'd done a serious lower body workout the day before, consisting of about 10,000 squats!).


Day 7

  • Bus from Syrabu Besi to Kathmandu, 7 hours

The day:

Nothing like a long, hot and bumpy bus ride to help an achy body after 5 days of walking!


Money

In an offer of full transparency, here is the price breakdown I was given by the tour company (in USD):

  • Bus ticket: $10 x 2 x 2 (I had to pay for the guide to get to and from Kathmandu also)

  • Trekking permit: $30 x 1

  • 8 day guide cost: $20 x 8

  • Mountain accommodation: $10 x 7 nights

So $300 USD all in all, which I thought was pretty good and competitive!


I again budgeted a generous 1000 rupees per meal, so took 3000 rupees per day for the 8 days all in all. Because I ended out doing the trek a day quicker than I had paid for, I left the additional money I had already paid as the tip for the guide.


All in all, I spent $710 AUD. This includes the $300 USD for the company, food and tipping the guide. As my trip was 7 days all in all, it was therefore about $100 AUD a day, which does work out cheaper than Everest Base Camp cost me.


Conclusion

If you have done a couple of treks in Nepal before, I would say you could easily do this short Langtang Trek without a guide. However, if it's your first trek in Nepal then I'd still recommend taking a guide. While the trail is not difficult and is easily marked, a guide helps you get the lay of the land when it comes to trekking in Nepal (e.g. how to find a teahouse, how ordering and paying for food in the teahouse works).


I loved my short time in the Langtang Valley and have recommended this trek to many people. One you can do in such a short amount of time and with a light pack (sleeping bag isn't necessary), it's a really good one. While I usually prefer loops to in-and-out treks, the landscape and scenery this trek provides is not to be missed.



Xxo,

N.



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2 commentaires


Chris Greacen
Chris Greacen
16 févr. 2023

Thanks! I have some work in Kathmandu in late April and a Nepali friend of mine recommended doing the Langtang Valley trek before I have to spend the week in Kathmandu in meetings. I tend to like to a hike a bit further in a day than average -- and notice you do too (your ABC + Poonhill in 7 days hike) and I've been weighing whether I want to hire a guide or not. Reading your blog inspires me to try this without a guide. Thank you for the inspiration!

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N.Harrison
N.Harrison
20 févr. 2023
En réponse à

Hi Chris, thanks so much for reading! Yep - I am a fan of a zoomier trek. While I like to enjoy the sights as I go, I also like the challenge of some bigger days in terms of kilometers. My route in Langtang was a beautiful little trek. I’ve heard that Gosaikunda Lake is amazing so think I’d include that in my route if I had my time again. Enjoy!

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