One of the shortest and easiest trek from Kathmandu has to be a trek to the Langtang Valley! There are a number of routes one can take, visit specific hotspots such as Gosainkunda Lake or climb Himalayan peaks such as Langtang Ri, Yala Peak and Gangchenpo. I was on a special trip, part of Himalayan Travel Mart 2019 alongside travellers from UK, USA, Philippines, Holland, South Africa, Russia and Thailand. It felt like my own mini-Tracing Nepal experience. The team, made of travellers who are bloggers, youtubers, travel agents, travel stakeholders all in their own right – were an amazing group of people who I thoroughly had a pleasure getting to know.
Talking about getting to know – the Langtang trek was not useful for people with an NCELL sim card. As I had an NCELL sim with me, I was pretty much disconnected from the world for few days so I largely spent the time to get to know my travel companions and connecting on a real level. On our rest day at Kyanjin Gompa, we had lunch and then sat and talked… about everything; childhood memories, relationship, break-up, football (where I contributed very little), sex, money, future and suddenly it was time for dinner. I don’t remember the last time I spent so long just sitting and talking and then sitting in the silence that followed. It was pretty nice.
ABOUT THE LANGTANG VALLEY TREK: The first day was a long drive from Kathmandu to Syafru Besi, about 7-8 hours long and then the next day, we started walking and reached Lama Hotel.
At Lama Hotel, which is a village and not one specific hotel (lol), we stayed at the Friendly Guest House. The didi at friendly guest house is super adorable, lovely and smiley! She really fits the name of the guest house. The daju has a very unique voice – you won’t forget him.
The views started getting better from day three as we left Lama Hotel and walked towards Langtang Village. We saw our first glimpse of the mountains and walked through villages and communities devastated by the earthquake in 2015. Walking past rubbles and realising the impact of the earthquake especially in this region was quite daunting.
The sight of Langtang Village left me speechless. After the earthquake triggered an avalanche, the Langtang Village was swept with an estimated 310 deaths including 176 Langtang residents, 80 foreigners and 10 army personnel. Many households that we went to and had tea in had stories to share about where they were when the earthquake struck, who they lost and how the past few years had been.
Speaking to the lodge owners along the way, they often shared how there was little vegetation around the area where they could grow crops like they used to. They told me they rely completely on the trekking trade.
The walk from Langtang Village to Kyanjin Gompa was stunning! I felt like I was being rewarded for the walk and unsurprisingly, I just wanted to push ahead more and more. We started getting quite high too so the mountains felt closer than ever and the landscape as well – was the best from the entire trek.
Our final destination was Kyanjin Gompa. At the guest house, where we spent two nights… I asked the didi, “when and how did you start living in Kyanjim Gompa” and she answered that they actually lived further down the trekking route but had land in Kyanjin Gompa. It was only after the growth of tourism that didi and her family saw a business potential and opened up a lodge there. The mountain communities along the northern belt of Nepal are inspiring and creative. They’ve done well to appeal to different guests from the world as well as doing all they can to provide an authentic experience.
From Kyanjin Gompa we went on a day hike to Kyanjin Ri – the highest point on the trek at a height of 4770m. Boo ya! The highest peak in UK is only 1344m and that’s Ben Nevis. The walk up, especially the first one hour felt quite challenging for me but after that initial getting used to – it was pretty fine.
I got to see stunning views of mountains all around from Kyanjin Ri! Unfortunately, a lot of cloud and rain did follow but that’s the beauty of nature. You can never predict it and you just have to take what you get and to be honest, what I could see from there was pretty amazing. To feel so disconnected but connected to the land is a special feeling and something that we get to experience little of living in such a ‘connected’ world where we have access to so much information and wake up to and sleep, checking notifications.
I had an incredible time in a part of Nepal that I had never explored before! Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any snow leopards or red pandas along the trekking route but we went on but they are definitely two animals that live in this region. So, explore more, go higher and further and you’ll… experience more 😀