Himalayas: Mighty & Magical

Langtang and the Holy Gosaikunda Lakes

7000m Himalayan Summits

Kathmandu, buzzing capital, coloured with rickshaws and spices, barbers on every street corner, markets on every footpath, a profusion of temples. Kathmandu, 1350m high, UNESCO World Heritage Site; its name means “Temple of Wood”. Kathmandu, an exciting start, and an insight into the fascinating Newari culture.

After leaving the buzz of the capital we head north to the stupendous beauty of the Langtang Valley. Charming tea-houses, authentic lodges and friendly locals welcome us along the way and share a part of their lives and culture. “Dal Baht” is the staple diet; lentils and rice, a healthy and tasty base accompanied when possible with meat, potatoes or other vegetables. Incredible views of the 7000m. summits of the Jugal and Ganesh Himal as well as the Langtang Peaks are guaranteed to take your breath away! Prayer flags, stupphas and chortens welcome us as we cross passes and ridges; we climb stone steps through terraced fields and hill villages, walk through enchanting rhododendron and holly-oak forests and come to the Holy Lake of Gosainkund with the head of Shiva. The walking is not more difficult than in the Pyrenees or the Lake District.

For the altitude, our program is designed to climb slowly and prepare us for our time over 3000m. Lodges and Tea-houses allow us to meet local people and our guides and porters help to give a privileged and authentic insight to the lives and culture of these people who live on the roof of the world. The kindness of these people is likely to be one of the highlights of your trip to Nepal, and the glowing smiles will warm your heart for years to follow.

Nepal and the Himalayas – not to be missed in this lifetime!

Price: 1750€ pp. Date: …. Contact and Book: Sian.

We’re horribly sad following the huge and devastating earthquake in Nepal, making this trek impossible, and any future treks uncertain. Below are some links to information and ways to help.

The European Geophysical Union has a page of links and information. They suggest donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee. Funds raised will be matched by the UK government.
Donate to Oxfam Australia’s Nepal Campaign
Donate to Oxfam UK’s Nepal Appeal

TREK ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1350m)

Welcome at the airport and transfer to the hotel. We stay our first night in the Holy Himalaya Hotel in Thamel (the centre of Kathmandu).

Day 2: Drive to Sundarijal & Trek to Chisopani (2300m)

Gokyo lakeA short drive takes us to Sundarijal and the start of the trek. We follow Kathmandu’s water supply uphill and come out into typical terraced farmland. Already the views back to the city are spectacular! Continuing up onto a ridge we enter the forests of Shivapuri – bamboo, holly-leaved oak, epiphytic ferns and orchids. Glimpses through the trees show that we have crossed the watershed and are beginning to descend. Views open up towards teh Jugal Himal, the Langtang peaks and the Ganesh Himal. We reach Chisopani (2300m) soon after, a ridge-top collection of tea-houses where we spend the night in a cosy lodge.

Day 3: Trek to Gul Bhanjyang (2130m)

Fabulous open views and a gentle downhill stroll start the second day. We pass through the village of Pati Bhanjyang and then contour around the next hill before beginning a steep climb to the village of Chipling. Another climb after the village, up a steep stone staircase, takes us over the next hill on the ridge, passing through forest before descending the main ridgeline to Gul Bhanjyang (2130m). On the way we pass a couple of large ‘chorten’, indicating we are crossing into Buddhist country. Gul Bhanjyang is a delightful classic hill village, situated in a pass. We are here for the night.

Day 4: Trek to Magen Goth (3150m)

ChildrenShortly after leaving the village we cross over the ridge (at another teashop) and follow a charming path through forests and meadows to Khutumsang (2470m), yet another village set in a saddle on the ridge. We should glimpse some of the higher peaks away to the east from here. We then have a long climb up through an enchanting forest of holly-leaved oak, partially on stone steps and with the occasional view down to rice and millet terraces far below. This climb marks a change in the character of the trek – we move from the warm, terraced and populated ‘middle hills’ to the higher, and refreshingly cooler ‘temperate’ and ‘sub-alpine’ zones. By the time we arrive at the top of the climb we are in amongst rhododendrons and conifers. We cross a prayer flag laden pass, and descend into a new landscape of meadows, streams and dark woods, stopping for the night in a lodge in the hamlet of Magen Goth (3150m).

Day 5: Phedi (3500m)

An excellent morning’s walking takes us back up onto the main ridge, with sensational views across a range of blue ridges, to the peaks of the Rowaling and the western Khumbu. Undulations, traverses and short climbs lead us along the crest to Tharepati (3490m). In the spring there is flowering rhododendrons, and in autumn the reds and yellow of berberis and birch. Our trail swings away from the ridge and crosses from very steep ground at the head of the Tadi Khola valley, taking us towards the distant Laurebina La. There are a series of quite short but steep ups and downs, past the tiny settlement of Ghopte to the equally small hamlet of Phedi (3500m) where we spend the night in a lodge.

Day 6: Laurebina Yak (3950m) and Laurebina La (4610m)

DSC_0920This morning we have a long and steady climb up to the Laurebina La (4610m), the high point of this trek. We climb through pastures and past small crags to reach the pass, which lies just above a small lake. For the views we walk a bit further along, around a corner from where we can look down towards the Gosiakundra (4336m). The very best views are to be had by climbing one of the small peaks for a panorama of the Manslu and Ganesh Himal, and the close snowy peaks of the Langtang. When we’ve finished soaking up the views we head off and soon reach the holy lake of Gosiankund; the black rock in the middle is said to be the head of Shiva and the waters formed by him from a glacier to slake his thirst after drinking poison. Once a year during the full moon between mid-July and mid-August the lake is thronging with Hindu pilgrims taking ritual bath. For our descent we follow an extremely well constructed path contouring the north side of the valley coming out onto a ridge overlooking the main Langtang Valley. Syrabrubensi is almost 3000m below! We descend the ridge to the small set of lodges at Laurebina Yak (3950m) where we can then watch the sun set behind Manaslu and the Ganesh, reappearing again in the misty depthf of the Bhote Kosi valley and making the mountains glow pink… From here the Tibetan mountains are clearly in view, just to the right of the great Ganesh peaks.

Day 7: Down to Thulo Syabru (2130m)

As the trail descends, there are outstanding views across Langtang Valley to Langtang Lirung (the highest peak in the range). To the west are dramatic views of Himalchuli, Ganesh Himal and Manaslu, and we arrive at Sing Gompa where there are a couple of hotels and a small cheese factory. We continue, descending steeply to Thulo Syabru through forests of oak, firs and rhododendrons. Thulo Syabru, our stopping point for the night, is a small Tamanag village with a few lodges and a monastery.

Day 8: Back up to Lama Hotel (2748m)

DSC_1051We head out this morning traversing through terraced fields and dense forest with a variety of species such as oaks, maple, alder and bamboo. Northern hemisphere temperate forest meets Asian bamboo forest! We may see the yellow-throated martin, the langur monkey, the red panda or the Himalayan black bear en route. Further down the trail crosses a stream and we pass several small bhattis (tea shops) before crossing to the north bank of the Langtang Khola for  spectacular vistas of cascading waterfalls and scrub oak forest. We arrive at the Lama Hotel where we stay overnight.

Day 9: On to Langtang Village, heart of the Langtang National Park (3500m)

From the Lama Hotel we continue our ascent above the Langtang Khola. The trail becomes progressively steeper until we come across one of the most breathtaking sights of the trek, the Lantang Lirung, soaring above at 7246m. We cross the river over a log bridge, and climb further to arrive at the lush meadowns of Ghora Tabela at 3000m. The road then opens up into a wide valley of yak pastures and scattered picturesque Tamang villages with water mills and prayer wheels. We arrive at Langtang village (3500m), the headquarters of the Langtang National Park, with its flat roofed Tibetan style houses, hotels and cultivated lands which produce buckwheat, potatoes, wheat, turnips, barley etc. Mountain staples that remind us of the Pyrenees 100 years ago !

Day 10: Onwards to Kyangjin (3800m)

DSC_1095From Langtang the trail heads through rick yak pastures and the interesting traditional villages of Muna and Singdun. We cross a wooden cantilever bridge and, after a short climb over the moraine, we reach a wide valley. From here we climb up to the pass and Kyagjin Gompa where there is a small monastery and a government operated cheese factory. Here we have the choice of an afternoon rest of we can climb up to Kyanjin Ri.

Day 11: Rest day in Kyangjin!

Ahh – finally we have a rest day and there are plenty of options on offer. We can explore the monastery and the cheese factory. We can climb the Kyangjin Ri (4350m) for some wonderful views of snow capped mountains spreading out just beyond. We can walk up the moraine to see the spectacular ridges and glaciers, or we can set out to climb the Tshergo Ri (4084m) from where we can witness one of the most beautiful Himalayan panoramas, with views onto the Langtang (7246m), the Shishapangma (8013m) and the Dorje Lhakpa (6986m) among others! We’ll see how we feel, as the other option is just have a rest and recuperating from our previous day’s efforts. Another night in the cosy lodge in Kyanjing Gompa.

Day 12: Return to Lama Hotel (2784m)

From Kyangjin we head back down to the Lama Hotel, following the Langtang Khola to Langtang village and on to Ghora Tabela. After stopping briefly for lunch we continue the somewhat steep descent to Lama Hotel.

Day 13: Down to Syabru Bensi

yak in langtangWe continue our descent, heading through a narrow gorge and bamboo forest, passing several tea shops and lodges along the Langtang Khola. The descent is broken up with views of cascading waterfalls, and a steel suspension bridge at 2000m. The valley widens out and we arrive at Syabru Bensi where we spend our last night of the trek in a lodge.

Day 14: Return to Kathmandu

Today is a long bus trip back to Kathmandu (about 8 hours) with a stop for lunch and tea on the way. We’ll stay again in the Hotel Himalaya and head out for dinner in Kathmandu.

Day 15: World Heritage sights in Kathmandu

Today is a free day to discover the World Heritage sights within the Kathmandu Valley. Program up for discussion

Day 16: Heading Home

Transfer to the airport to head home or continue your journey.

The price includes:

– Service of a local guide (sirdar) along with two Pyrenean Odysseys guide and one porter for every two guests during trek
– Three nights accommodation in a 3* hotel in Kathmandu with dinner and breakfast
– Accommodation in lodges and tea-houses with breakfast, lunch and dinner while on trek
– National Park entry fee
– Transfer from Kathamndu airport and transport to start of trek, return to Kathmandu at end of trek
– Yoga/stretching on option where possible along the way.

The price does not include:

– Plane tickets
– Personal insurance
– Lunches in Kathmandu
– Entry visa to Nepal (taken at the airport, about 30€ for 30 days)
– Drinks
– Tips for sidar and porters

Mandy’s reading suggestions

the snow leopardThe Snow Leopard by Peter Matthieson.

seven years in tibet7 years in Tibet by Henrich Harrer.