The Langtang Valley Trek is relatively easy, free of hard climbs and freezing temperatures. The local people are mostly of Tibetan origin. A key benefit of this trek is that it is less busy than popular treks in the Everest and Annapurna region.
The famed British mountaineer and travel writer, Bill Tilman (1898-1977), called this “one of the world’s most beautiful valleys.”
According to legend, the valley was first discovered by a lama – a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism – who was pursuing a runaway yak. “Lang” is Tibetan for “lama” while “tang” is Tibetan for “follow.”
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the Langtang Valley Trek.
Langtang Valley Trek – FAQ
What is the main drawcard for the Langtang Valley Trek?
The highlight of this trek is the sight of the Langtang Lirung range, which is no less than stunning. The eponymous mountain is 23,773 feet high and dominates the valley.
How long is the Langtang Valley Trek?
The bare minimum is seven days, but this trek usually takes 10 to 12 days.
When is the best time to do the Langtang Valley Trek?
Autumn, from mid-September to mid-December, and Spring, from March to May, are the best seasons for this trek, when the sun is out during the day but nights are cold. Winter is a possibility, if you are unbothered by the cold.
Where is this the Langtang Valley Trek situated?
The Langtang valley region is in central Nepal, around 19 miles directly north of Kathmandu and near the border with Tibet. Although close to Kathmandu, closer than any other trek, this is as wild as it gets. The valley runs from east to west, sandwiched between the Himalayas to the north and the slightly lower Langtang Lirung range to the south.
What is the general day-by-day itinerary for the Langtang Valley Trek?
It is possible to conduct this trek staying only at tea houses, but there is some time under canvas in this particular itinerary.
- Day 1: You arrive in Kathmandu.
- Day 2: You have a day to spare while the provider arranges things. Kathmandu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you could use the time to expand your horizons. Or shop prolifically.
- Day 3: Leaving early in the morning, you embark upon the seven-hour drive to Syabrubesi at the bottom of the Langtang Valley, the valley of glaciers. The second half is unpaved and a rough drive, perhaps the roughest of your life. You might share a bus with goats and chickens. Sometimes, during the rainy season, the road is blocked by landslides. The route is dazzling, passing through high ridges and with a marvellous panorama of the Himalayas that includes the Annapurnas, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu and the peaks of the Langtang range. There are many waterfalls and wild bee hives. You could even see snow leopards, yellow-throated martins, Himalayan black bears or red pandas, which are endangered. There will certainly be no shortage of monkeys.
- Day 4: The trail takes you across the Bhote Kosi, which emanates from Tibet and lies in a deep gorge. Next you climb through sub-tropical forests that teem with birdlife, connecting to the trail from Syabru. One of these birds is the danphe, which is colourful and the national bird of Nepal. You follow the river, ascending through uninhabited forests of oak and rhododendron, catching sight of langur monkeys if fortune smiles upon you. Vegetation becomes sparser as you go. You camp in a forest. A quarter of the park is forest.
- Day 5: This day sees more climbing, with the occasional glimpse of Langtang Lirung visible through the trees. The trail leaves the forest at Ghora Tabela, now a Nepalese army post. The trail climbs comfortably and the valley grows wider. In summer, you will pass the temporary settlements of herders whose livestock grazes here. There are numerous chortens and mani walls, structures featuring inscriptions. In Tintin in Tibet, Captain Haddock was informed that you should always walk to the left of a chorten or demons will be released, but this was an invention of the author, so there is no cause for worry. Shortly before the village of Langtang, there is a monastery for your delectation. The village is the headquarters of the Langtang National Park, which opened in 1976, the first in the Himalayas and the most unspoiled in Nepal. Houses there are of Tibetan style, with flat roofs and surrounded by stone walls.
- Day 6: You climb slowly through small villages and yak pastures. The valley opens, allowing for even better views. Having crossed a few small streams and moraines (patches of dirt or rock), before lunchtime, the trail arrives at the settlement of Kyangjin. Here there are facilities for the production of spiritual fulfilment and cheese: a small monastery and a famous government-owned factory. The factory makes Swiss cheese from yak milk and is supported by the Swiss government. Really, it should be called nak milk, as that is the female. This is just a small, three-roomed building, but it churns out prodigious quantities of cheese in summer. The snow-covered peaks in every direction make this dramatic.
- Day 7: This is a rest day you will probably use to explore. The glaciers of Langtang Lirung are sensational. You could even summit Kyangjin Ri (14,209 feet), known locally as Brana Chumbo, which is immediately behind the village and provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Langtang peaks.
- Day 8: You retrace your route, terminating at Langtang village.
- Day 9: You continue the return journey, finishing at Syabrubesi.
- Day 10: Now, you go back to Kathmandu, a gruelling nine-hour journey.
Are there any good trekking maps or guidebooks for the Langtang Valley Trek?
The Langtang Valley trek appears in many guidebooks. We recommend A Trekking Guide to Langtang: Gosainkund, Helambu and Tamang Heritage Trail by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons or if this guidebook isn’t available then Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail of Nepal by Alonzo Lucius Lyons.
Are permits required for the Langtang Valley Trek?
You must be registered with the Trekkers Information Management system. An entry fee of $30 is charged by the Langang National Park.
How much does iLangtang Valley Trek cost?
Prices range from $800 on the low-end to $2,000 on the top-end.
Other useful nuggets of information
The nearest school is two day’s walk away. The community established the Langtang Lirung Foundation to build one locally. Initially, an existing building will be used, but one day, a building will be constructed for this purpose on land that was gifted to the Foundation. $13,000 is sought, which is not such a huge sum. Donations can be made through their website here.
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