Langtang trek itinerary: the ultimate guide
This post is about the Langtang trek in the Bagmati province of Nepal. An area that is located only, 51 kilometers north of Kathmandu. Making this an easy and accessible hike for those that love to see the Himalayas, but have limited time
The Langtang trek brings you to a beautiful valley at the foot of the snow capped mountain peaks of Kyanjin Ri and Langtang Lirung. All are part of the Langtang National Park.
Why choose the Langtang trek?
So why choose the Langtang trek? My first response would be, because it is a very beautiful and diverse hike. The Langtang trek starts in lush forests where you might see langur monkeys or red panda’s and ends in the alpine meadows of Kyanjin gompa where yaks wander around.
Culturally it is also an interesting hike as you pass by multicultural villages with Tamang and Sherpa communities. Most ethnic groups along the Langtang trek are of Tibetan origin and follow Buddhism.
The Langtang trek is one of the shortest tea house treks in Nepal and brings you to beautiful high altitude mountain sceneries in just a few days. Perfect if you are short on time, but if you prefer a longer hike it is easy to combine the Langtang trek with the Gosainkund lakes and the Helambu circuit.
The Langtang trek is also a sustainable choice as you do not need to fly to reach the start of the trail. Syabrubesi is an 8 hour bus journey from Kathmandu. Despite all these advantages, the Langtang trek gets relatively few visitors compared to the Everest and Annapurna regions. If you want to avoid the crowds, Langtang is a great destination.
The Langtang trek and the earthquake
The Langtang area was hit hard by the earthquake in 2015 when a deadly avalanche completely destroyed Langtang village. The families that survived slowly rebuilt their lodges, but then covid came. If there is one area in Nepal where people can really benefit from the return of tourism, it is here.
I did the Langtang trek in 2010. Long before the earthquake hit the area. The Langtang village that I visited and stayed at, no longer exists and is still buried under the avalanche. Survivors moved to Kyanjin gompa, but a new Langtang village is built 100 meters above the old one.
As of now, the Langtang Trek is open again and there are enough lodges in the new Langtang village to receive trekkers.
Langtang trek itinerary
In this Langtang trek itinerary I mention every day the amount of time it took me from start to finish. I am a slow hiker though. I like to take frequent breaks to enjoy the beautiful views.
If you are a fit hiker, you can probably do it in less time
Day 1: Bus from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi
You need the first day to get from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi, the start of the Langtang trek. Like any bus journey in Nepal, it is a long and bumpy ride over winding mountain roads. Delays are common with frequent breakdowns or landslides blocking the road.
In theory, the bus journey to Syabrubesi takes around 8 hours. In practice, it often takes much longer. Buses stop everywhere to let in new passengers up till the point that the only place left for more people is on the roof. While this is officially not allowed, it does happen.
My bus was half empty when we left Kathmandu, but one hour later was totally packed. As we left the city behind us the views got more beautiful and soon the peaks of the Himalaya were in sight.
Right before Dunche there were some scary parts with steep cliffs right next to the road. Even the Nepali lady next to me started to show signs that she was scared, so I knew it wasn’t just me.
After 9 long hours I finally arrived at Syabrubesi. Because it was late in the afternoon I decided to stay the night.
Logistics: Buses and shared jeeps to Dhunche and Syabrubesi leave everyday from the Gongabu bus station (new bus park or Machapokhari) in Kathmandu. Get there early as it is a chaotic bus station and buses to Langtang leave between 6 – 8 AM in the morning. It is best to reserve your tickets a day in advance at the bus station or at a travel agency in Thamel.
Insider tip: there are delux buses that are slightly more expensive, but don’t stop everywhere to let in new passengers. Shared jeeps are also slightly faster and more comfortable. The best option are private jeeps, but they are expensive ($150+)
Day 2: Syabrubesi (1492) – Lama Hotel (2447)
15 kilometers, 7 hours, altitude gain 1070+
The first day of the Langtang trek is also one of the most difficult days of the trek as you gain more than a 1000 meters in altitude. It starts with a 3 hour gentle climb up to Bamboo village.
Bamboo village is about halfway and a great place for a lunch break. After Bamboo the climb gets more steep, but is still not too difficult if you take it easy.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first day. Most of the day is right next to the Langtang river and through lush forests where I saw langur monkeys in the trees. In total it took me little over 7 hours to reach Lama Hotel or Changtang. A cluster of lodges in the forest.
Day 3: Lama Hotel (2447) – Langtang village (3430)
14 kilometers, 6 hours, altitude gain 980+
The second day of the Langtang trek is another day of long ascents. The first half of the day is still next to the river and through the forests. However, after 3 hours you leave the forests behind you and enter the beautiful Langtang valley.
Ghodatabela is midway and a great place to stop for lunch. From here you have beautiful views on the snow capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas. The second half of the day is through the glacial valley past small rural villages.
Langtang village used to be the largest and oldest village in the Langtang valley. Famous for its yak yogurt and yak cheese. The new village has a number of new lodges to stay the night.
Day 4: Langtang village (3430) – Kyanjin Gompa (3900)
7 kilometers, 4 hours, altitude gain 470+
The third day of the Langtang valley is the shortest and only has a small gain in altitude. I did feel the ascent more than the previous days though which probably had to do with being over 3000 meters high.
I felt tired easily and was more quickly out of breath. Therefore, I was forced to take frequent breaks. Stil, I enjoyed every step I took because of the spectacular views. Between Langtang village and Kyanjin gompa are a few yak herding villages with visible buddhist influences such as ancient mani walls and stupas.
Kyanjin gompa was the most lively village I visited in the Langtang valley. Yaks and horses were grazing in the fields, children were playing outside and women walked outside carrying buckets of yak milk.
Kyanjin gompa is a good place to try yak yogurt or yak cheese and the yak cheese factory is definitely worth a visit.
Day 5: Kyanjin Gompa
Kyanjin Gompa is a great place to stay for at least one day to explore the valley. For half day hikes you can choose between the peaks of Kyanjin Ri and Tsergo Ri that both offer beautiful viewpoints. The hike up to the summer yak pastures of Langshisha Kharka is a long and challenging day trip.
Day 6: Kyanjin Gompa – Lama Hotel
20 km, 8 hours, altitude loss -1440
The sixth day of the Langtang valley trek was a very long day walking back from Kyanjin Gompa all the way to Lama Hotel. At Ghodatabela I was doubting whether to stop and still had energy, but I miscalculated the time it took to reach Lama Hotel. Being alone in the forest with misty clouds in the mountains and the sun setting was very beautiful, but I was glad to reach the warmth of my guesthouse just before dark.
Day 7: Lama Hotel – Syabrubesi
15 kilometers, 7 hours, altitude loss -1070
The seventh day of the Langtang valley trek I felt a bit sad that this would be my last day of hiking. I loved being back in the forests and once again saw langur monkeys. It felt too soon for my lunch break at Bamboo and my arrival at Syabrubesi.
Day 8: bus back to Kathmandu
Going back to Kathmandu after trekking in the mountains of Nepal always brings mixed feelings. Of course I am looking forward to the comforts and delicious foods in Kathmandu, but at the same time I am missing the mountains as soon as I take my seat in the bus back.
The Langtang Trek Travel tips
Langtang trek permits
For the Langtang trek you need two permits.
TIMS card: The Trekkers information management card is necessary for almost all treks in Nepal. You can get your TIMS card at the Tourism Board office at Bhrikuti Mandap in Kathmandu. Bring your passport and two passport size photos. The TIMS card costs 2000 nepalese rupees.
National Park Entrance permit: For the Langtang trek you also need a national park entrance permit. Although you can get this at the checkpoints in Dunche and Syabrubesi I recommend you to get it as well at the Tourism Board Office at Bhrikuti Mandap in Kathmandu. This costs 3000 nepalese rupees plus 13% VAT.
Independent or with a guide?
The Langtang trek is moderately difficult, but easy to do without a guide. There is one trail to follow and it is hard to get lost. Unless you go off season there will be enough other hikers on the trail to keep you company.
If you are alone and not that experienced you might want to consider joining a guided trek or hiring a guide, porter or porter guide.
In Nepal there is a clear distinction between a porter and a guide. A guide shows you the way and can tell you more about the history and the culture of the places you visit. A porter will only carry your luggage. Despite their heavy burden they often walk far in front of you and might have reached the lodge when you are only midway. A porterguide is less common, but does both.
Accomodation on the Langtang trek
Along the Langtang trek there is plenty of accomodation and teahouses to choose from. They are rather basic compared to other treks like, The Gokyo Lakes, Poon hill trek or the Annapurna Circuit. They can’t be booked online beforehand. There is a first come first serve basis and some lodges are fully booked by big tour groups.
At the regular stops like Lama Hotel, Langtang village and Kyanjin Gompa there are enough lodges that there will always be a bed for you somewhere.
The prices of accomodation is incredibly cheap, sometimes even free, but they do expect you to order dinner and breakfast at their establishment.
Food on the Langtang trek
The good thing about tea house treks in Nepal is that however basic lodges might be, the food is often quite good if you stick to Nepali cuisine. Yes, many lodges try all kinds of international dishes to attract tourists, but in my opinion often not the best choice.
When trekking in Nepal I eat Dahl bath at least once a day. This national dish of rice with lentils knows a huge variety in how it is prepared. Different vegetable curries from fermented spinach to roasted cauliflower and different pickles to spice it up. Not one dahl bath is the same.
Other Nepali foods to try are Tibetan bread, Thukpa and Momo’s.
When to go
The best time to go trekking in Nepal is spring and autumn.January and February will be too cold with lots of snow on the trail. March, April and May are the warmer months before the monsoon. As the rainy season approaches it can become hot, dusty and humid, but this is not a problem at the higher altitude Langtang valley. Another highlight in spring are the blooming rhododendrons
June, July and August are the monsoon months bringing lots of rain and leeches at the lower altitudes. The biggest problem regarding the Langtang trek is the high chances of landslides on the road from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi and muddy trails.
September, October and November are the most popular months for trekking. Autumn brings clear blue skies and mild temperatures before the cold sets in in December. Autumn is also a festive season with the celebration of Dashain and Tihar. Nepal’s biggest festivals.
The Langtang trek involves a rapid gain of altitude with Syabrubesi at less than 1500 meters high and Kyanjin gompa at 3900 meters high. Experts advise to not ascend more than 300 – 400 meters per day once you are above 3000 meters high. This Langtang trek itinerary actually ascends a little bit more than that and therefore it is important to be cautious of altitude sickness.
The key to prevent altitude sickness is to take it slow, give your body enough time to adjust to the height and to drink enough water. Diamox is a medicine that might help your body to acclimatize, but will not cure altitude sickness once you have severe symptoms. In that case, the only remedy is to go down to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
Mild symptoms may include being tired and more easily out of breath. More severe symptoms of high altitude sickness are headache, dizziness, trouble sleeping, breathing problems, loss of appetite and nausea.
Take these symptoms seriously and watch out for symptoms in others, even in your nepali guides or porters. It is a misconception that they cannot get altitude sickness.
Books and Guides
Cicerone and Trailblazer both have excellent and comprehensive guides about treks in Nepal. Unfortunately their guidebooks about Langtang are out of print and somewhat outdated. Still, if you can get one of those I would certainly recommend it.
Another option is the Lonely Planet’s trekking in the Nepal Himalayas guide. However, even the newest version was released shortly after the earthquake and lots of things have changed in Langtang since.
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