For decades, a Langtang trek was high on many trekkers’ bucket list: the beautiful Langtang Valley was the third of the great trekking areas of Nepal – only Solu Khumbu (beneath Everest) and the Annapurna region saw more visitors. But in recent years, Langtang has become better known for something else – the devastation wreaked on the main village during the earthquake of 2015. Where many villages around Nepal saw significant damage, high above Langtang village, part of the great peak of Langtang Lirung sheared off, and a huge avalanche of ice and rock buried homes and lodges.
Many died and, understandably, people stayed away for a time. But the surviving families have worked incredibly hard to get back on their feet. Trekking trails are open once more, lodges have been rebuilt, and the valley can once again be visited. There are some incredibly painful sights and stories, of course – a huge fan of grey rock covers the area where the village once stood, and close-knit families lost many loved ones. But that is no reason to turn away, and the people of Langtang don’t want sympathy. They just want travellers to return, as they always had before.
A few reasons to consider a Langtang Trek as your next walking holiday:
Langtang is spectacularly beautiful
There are no 8000m peaks here, but Langtang Lirung rises well over 7000m and its east face rears up for more than 3km (the same as the difference between Everest and its base camp). The village of Kyanjin Gompa is surrounded by snow peaks on all sides, and if you head further up the valley to the shrines of Langshisa Kharka, you’ll have breathtaking views all around. A vast wall of peaks lies between you and Tibet and to the south Ganchenpo (Fluted Mountain) climbs gracefully into the heavens.
Easy access to Langtang treks
You can (if you want) walk there all the way from the outskirts of Kathmandu, climbing through Helambu and past the holy lakes of Gosainkund, before dropping into the Langtang Valley itself. Alternatively, a half-day jeep ride will deliver you to Syabru Besi, at the bottom of the valley – from where three days of gentle climbing will get you to Langtang or Kyanjin Gompa at the head of the valley, with no high passes to cross.
Diverse cultures and landscapes
As you rise through Helambu, or the lower part of the Langtang valley, you’ll pass through rich forests, filled with birds and the occasional monkey. Tamang villagers grow their crops on steep terraces. Slowly you’ll pass through to thin pinewoods split by waterfalls. And then on to the high valley with yak pastures, open skies and glaciers, and the homes of the Langtang people. Throughout the Langtang/Helambu region you’ll find some of the best flower displays in Nepal and a blend of cultures from Newari, Hindu, Tamang, Bhotia and Sherpa communities.
It’s quiet – so you can experience (and contribute) much more than elsewhere
Going on a Langtang trek means you’ll escape the busy trails and teahouses of Annapurna and Khumbu, which can, at certain times of year, make you feel like just a face in the crowd. In Langtang, local Nepali people are incredibly keen to see trekkers come back – and the welcome you receive will be genuinely warm and occasionally emotional.
Even if you know nothing of its recent history, Nepal’s Langtang is a special part of the world. By choosing to spend time in Langtang and with its people, you can perhaps gain richer insights into what life is really like here, beneath the great snow mountains of Nepal.
Interested in a Langtang trek yourself?
World Expeditions organise several treks that (partly) take in the trails of Langtang including:
Download the trip notes regarding the program of your interest or
contact our expert teams around the world who will be happy to assist
you with any queries you may have.
This article is by Keith MacIntosh, a travel photographer and trail runner who visited Langtang in November 2016. Pictures and words are ©Keith MacIntosh, and you can find more images from Nepal (and elsewhere) through his website. Updates through Facebook – search for keithmacintoshphotos.