A huge 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015, killing nearly 9,000 people and destroying many more homes. The village of Langtang was completely destroyed by a massive landslide. 243 people lost their lives. Trekking in the Langtang region was always next on my list – that was before the earthquake. It turned out I had to wait a while to trek the Langtang Valley. My time finally came almost three years later and it was AMAZING!
Taking a Bus to Syabrubesi
Krishna made all the arrangements and our bus was waiting for us when we arrived at the bus park in Thamel, the tourist haven of Kathmandu. Trekking in the Langtang region is only accessible by bus or private jeep from Kathmandu.
Traveling by bus in Nepal is always an adventure! This particular journey was no exception. Long stretches of road are carved out of the steep mountainside, often with enough room for just one vehicle. I soon realised I’d sat on the wrong side of the bus. I could see every drop off mere inches away from me! Luckily the spectacular views kept me distracted! I saw Mount Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain standing tall at 8,156m/26,759ft. The Tibetan border lined with snow capped peaks and finally our destination for this trek – Langtang Lirung (7,227m/23,711ft).
The world you discover when taking a bus in Nepal is incredible and I’d recommend you try it. Though it’s not always the safest transport option available. The safer, yet more expensive option when trekking in Langtang is to take a private jeep from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi. Expect to pay around NPR 14,000 (~USD $140) one way, which can be split between up to 7-8 people.
I was relieved to arrive safely in the small town of Syabrubesi (1,400m/4,593ft), not far from the border of Tibet. We checked into our hotel and sat outside enjoying masala tea in the sunshine, watching the world go by. It was there that I felt myself completely relax into the feeling of being back in Nepal. I love this country!
I smiled at two young girls sitting on the side of the road. Their faces lit up! One thing’s for sure in Nepal. If you smile, you’re guaranteed to get one back. Observing this different, simple way of life is very humbling. I’m always reminded of how much I have and take for granted.
Time to Trek – Syabrubesi to Bamboo
The next morning I prepared to trek – my first trekking in the Langtang region – a very exciting feeling! At breakfast I remembered too late not to order porridge! Tibetan bread is always the way to go at breakfast time!
We pulled on our backpacks and made our way out of town across a suspension bridge. We walked on the ‘new’ road for about 45 minutes and then found the trail. It’s not an easy start to the trek! You gradually ascend, climbing steeply then re-descending, each time knowing that what goes down must go up in the Himalaya!
We followed the roaring glacial blue waters of the holy Trisuli River flowing from Gosaikunda. Deeper into the jungle, we nervously side stepped around rather large cows blocking our path. Then we felt a shower of leaves. Looking up we saw several grey langur monkeys playing in the trees!
We continued to climb, pausing to look at waterfalls and huge beehives hanging from the cliff on the far side. Stopping at Bamboo for lunch we enjoyed a stunning view of the valley and river below. It was warm and I think we both dropped off for a few minutes, feeling lazy after the hard morning’s walk.
Bamboo to Lama
After two dangerous helpings of dal bhat, we started to climb. Krishna pointed out where hot springs used to exist on the trail, but they disappeared during the earthquake.
After a strenuous two-hour climb, we reached a landslide area covered with tall, thin trees. Krishna called them ‘Eldesh’ and explained that these trees often grow where there’s been a landslide.
Another reminder of the devastating earthquake – a shrine to an Israeli trekker.
Nearly 1,000m/3,281ft higher than where we started the day, I had what tasted like the most refreshing drink of Sprite ever! Then we finished our day’s walk at Lama, where I got my first glimpse of Langtang Lirung!
Into the Valley
I woke up reminding myself that the first day of a trek is often the hardest! I was right. Once I got my legs moving again, I felt good! We ascended steadily for four hours through gorgeous jungle, spotting monkeys and exotic birds. I noted the huge forests of rhododendrons, which Langtang is famous for in spring.
As if by magic the jungle suddenly opened up to reveal a huge valley. It made quite a contrast after walking under the cover of trees for so long. Bright blue sky, high mountains and fresh, open air. Finally, I was standing in the Langtang Valley! We climbed steeply before and after lunch at Gumba for an even better view of Langtang Lirung, Churku-Ri and Langsisa-Ri.
Langtang After the 2015 Earthquake
It wasn’t long before the devastation in the valley was visible. Huge rocks and boulders that fell in the massive landslide still dominate large sections of the trail. I saw pieces of stone houses everywhere and occasionally people’s belongings lying in the rubble. It was then that the enormity of the disaster in Langtang hit home.
Langtang Village used to sit directly below the south face of Langtang Lirung. When the earthquake struck, it was as if the mountain itself was falling. A large glacier and frozen lake situated high above came tumbling down carrying enormous boulders and rocks with them. The village had no chance. Only one house and a few people survived.
We reached the avalanche site. A huge crevasse in the valley that takes almost 45 minutes to cross. Krishna explained that after the earthquake, the land was even beneath the rock fall. But aftershocks and further ground movement caused a section to sink. It was a sobering walk.
Just 100m beyond the site of the original village, we arrived in ‘new’ Langtang. A memorial is visible from far away. There you can find the names of the 243 people who died.
Nepali people are incredibly strong and resilient. They’ve rebuilt a bustling hub of teahouses in Langtang Village in less than three years. Many of them larger and more luxurious than before. Yet the future of the village is uncertain, as many local guides prefer to take their clients further along the trail to stay overnight in Mundu. Krishna explained that for many, Langtang Village has a strange feeling after the earthquake.
We also stayed in Mundu. Not because of the superstition. But because it would be possible to leave our backpacks behind and do a day-hike up Kyanjin-Ri from Mundu. Then after reaching the summit of our trek, we’d return to Mundu to sleep in the teahouse.
The walk to Mundu was stunning. The Langtang Valley is absolutely beautiful. Wide open space, spectacular mountain views, a river flowing through and many yaks of all different colors, shapes and sizes. It felt amazing to be trekking Nepal again!
We received a very warm welcome at Nima Hotel and Lodge. It was very quiet in Langtang and we were the only guests. I was lucky enough to enjoy breakfast in the kitchen with the family. They gave me the warmest place by the fire and kept refilling my tea. I watched as they fried delicious Tibetan bread!
Day Hike to Kyanjin-Ri
No backpack day! When you carry your own 15kg pack, it’s a relief to walk for a few hours without it! We continued further along the valley enjoying magnificent views, passing several shrines along the way. You must always keep to the left of these stone memorials.
A new hydro power station feeds electricity through the valley. A necessity for Langtang residents and businesses. But for trekkers, it’s a shame to see such a spectacular view filled with electricity pylons.
Soon we arrived at Kyanjin Gumba (3,800m/12,467ft). I was amazed at the size of this settlement so isolated in the mountains!
Krishna pointed to Kyanjin-Ri, our summit at 4,773m/15,659ft. It was easier than some of the Himalayan scrambles I’ve known from previous treks. Yet still challenging after two long, hard days of walking! We climbed steeply in the slippery dust for about two hours. Then we reached the top. WOW!
It was incredible! Words and photos don’t do the 360° view justice! We spent a long time up there breathing in the magnificent views in all directions and recording them to memory (and SD cards!). The weather could not have been more perfect, or the sky more blue. In the end, Krishna had to practically drag me back down – I just wanted to stay and look at that view forever.
Trekking in the Langtang Region with Nepalorama
Trekking in the Langtang region is a brilliant option, especially if you’d like to do a shorter trek in Nepal. The trails are quieter than in the Annapurna and Everest regions too. Spring is the perfect time, when the huge rhododendron forests are in full bloom. These photos were taken in January. We were very lucky to enjoy such great weather at that time of year.
We completed our return trek to Kyanjin-Ri in just five days. But we walked very hard and for many hours each day. Normally we’d recommend six days for this itinerary. It’s also possible to take a detour on the way back from Langtang to enjoy some different views from higher vantage points.
If you’re feeling inspired by this blog, let us customise your trek. There are so many options for trekking in the Langtang region. Follow our footsteps in the Langtang Valley, walk the Tamang Heritage Trail, or trek to the Holy Lakes of Gosaikunda. We’ll help you select the best options to create your perfect trip in Nepal!