In the Nepalese Himalayas near the Tibetan border
A real must do in Nepal is go on a trek in the mountains. In this blog we share our experience on the Himalayas near the Tibetan border: the Langtang valley. This will be an amazing experience as you see some of the greatest views in the world, go trough 3 kinds of landscape, be amazed about the way the locals live there and enjoy the nature in a faraway peaceful place.
Trekking on the Nepalese Himalayas does come with a permit of 300 USD. It is best to go with a local guide who will arrange everything for you like transport from Kathmandu (or some other city you stay) and guides you on the trek as it can be intimidating to do it on your own (especially if it’s your first time).
You will need round 7/8 days to do a full trek properly. We did this in 6 days with 2 days on the road, but this is a tuff ride as you will get tiered and your body needs to adjust to the altitude.
Our trek in days:
- Bus from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi
- Syabrubesi to Lama hotel
- Lamahotel to Langtang
- Langtang to Kyanjin Gompa + back to Langtang (you might want to split this in 2 days)
- Langtang to Syabrubesi
- Syabrubesi to Kathmandu by bus
The bus-ride from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi is an adventure of its own really. Since the roads are not much good quality you should prepare for a bumpy ride. It was very cosy though, there was this big screen with an endless Bollywood movie which didn’t seem to have a story line but was a collection of ongoing events happening. Getting out of Katmandu can take some time due to traffic. The ride comes with one break of Dal Bath (traditional Nepalese dish) and a few toilet stops. What I liked most was the great view the bus provided us, as the road is on the hills/ mountains of Nepal.
It just amazes you how comfortable the people living literally on the edge are with the heights. Even the animals seem to be adjusted to this life. I saw little children playing on hills where there is no form of safety wall. Since for us, it is mostly unusual, this can be amazing to see. At the same time the combination of crazy driving and the high roads with barely enough space for the two way traffic can be frightening at times. After an +/- 8 hour drive, we arrived in Syabrubesi and had dinner which really felt good. We took a night rest in one of the small guesthouses, which seemed to be ok, providing a private bathroom, free wifi and a room with a nice view of the mountains.
In Syabrubesi the height is +/- 1500 M.
We started the next morning round 7 and headed of after breakfast at 7.30. The trek was amazing, a lot of green landscape with various trees and other flora. İf you pay attention you might even see little monkeys on the trees. The path is up and down with several climbs here and there. As this was my first serious trek, I have learned a few lessons which I can share as tips.
- Pack your bag very lightly. I know it sounds so obvious, but trust me every pound counts when your going upwards for a long time.
- Next to this, where comfortable clothes and only real trekking shoes. A trekking stick is very handy and 2 might be too much.
On our way we stopped here and there. On the road to the Lama Hotel, (mentioned in Lonely Planet as one of the trekking points), 1 or 2 small stop points are available where you can rest for tea or lunch. After a long day (7 hours of trekking), we finally arrived at the Lama hotel with sweet soaked clothes.
The Lama hotel is very basic and you should forget about the city hotel standards. The shower was far from hot and hygiene in the shared bathroom seemed to be a missing concept (to my city life used opinion). But after all, it’s somewhere in the mountains.
After the shower we washed our used clothes on an outside placed stone with soap and hung them up in the common room we used for warming up and dinner. The room basically had a chimney in the middle and some chairs surrounding it to warm up a bit. On the sides of the wall there where some basic couches and tables. This is a very cosy place to meet other people and share experiences with. I met a German couple and 2 Australian women. There are people from all around the world who do the Langtang valley trek. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are a small plate with basic food, no side dishes no salads. You might want to bring some snacks. Since there is a opportunity to wash and dry your clothes, again: do pack lightly.
At the Lama hotel the height is +/- 2500 M.
As we continued our trek the next morning, the landscape started to change slowly. We started to see more Tibetan life. We saw a group of donkeys guided by people, yaks and as we were going the green became less to make room for a more rocky view. Trees became small bushes. And maybe, it was phycological but it seems like we could feel the climb and increasing altitude. I was so amazed when looking down. It was a real powerful feeling, being surrounded by enormous mountains. I felt really small. Life is different on these heights. Again everybody seemed to have adjusted to the environment and its conditions. Yaks were feeding of small bushes on cliffs. It was almost like if it didn’t pay attention for a moment, it would fall forever in to the endless dept. Maybe the Tibetan stones covered with prayers are protecting all the living here. From my perspective, it looked like a tuff way of living.
On the way, we saw that the Tibetan people were carrying heavy supplies upwards to the villages in the hills. Even long peaces of wood were being carried up with the power of arms, legs and heads. The earthquake was not prevented by the Tibetan prayers and most of the houses needed to be rebuild.
Once arrived in Langtang, I could tell it wasn’t phycological, the altitude was really noticeable. For me this meant a sort of dizziness with fast movements of my head and at night a pressure kind of feeling. Although these were the only symptoms for me, other people (also trekking tourists), seem to feel not much of a change. You don’t have much control over this, since it may or may not hit you. There was this one girl not feeling too well. In these cases you should go back to one level lower or at least not continue upwards for your body to fully adjust, as I learned from a Nordic former Everest Climber who I met on the way. It could be very dangerous to simply proceed.
The height in Langtang is +/- 3500 M.
The real challenging of the whole trek was the last part I think, in terms of altitude and state of fitness. I was already feeling tiered in the legs when we took of early in the morning round 6.30 from Langtang on our way to Kyanjin Gompa. After just 10 minutes of (uptempo) walking I strangely felt out of breath. It must have been the altitude. The best thing that helped was drinking some water and taking short little breaks. It made me feel like a strong person in hard conditions. Even more when I thought about some people who needed to go go back or didn’t continue. On our way the landscape was changed. Even the small bushes became less and less. We saw some Tibetan kind of small religion towers. Although I haven’t been to Tibet, I believe I have seen a lot of Tibetan culture.
It felt like a real challenge to get to our final destination at times. I was really glad when we saw a glimpse of accommodation after long hours of walking. We sat down at the end and of course had a cup of tea. The altitude here was round +/- 4000 M.
From this point there was only one destination left. One hill of 500 M for the highest point of the route. After getting some rest I decided I really wanted to do this. It took me a very long time as I needed breaks on the way. But in the end it was all worth it, because İ was at the top of the world.
No painful legs or tiredness could take away the breathtaking view and achievement feeling.
The highest point of the trek has an altitude of 4500 M.
I would definitely recommend everybody (who is a little fit), to take this trek. It gives you so much.
Long walks give some kind of inner calmed and what better place to do this then on the roof of the world.