Nepal is famous as one of the best places in the world for trekking. Many treks are well known and are conquered by thousands of people every year; there are also numerous other less popular routes with fewer people on the trail and thus a greater sense of peace and quiet. We took on one such trek through Langtang valley then up to Gosainkunda Lake.
Here’s what you need to know if you’d like to follow in our footsteps.
Day 1: Kathmandu – Syabru Bensi (Elevation: 1500m)
We took a public bus from the ring road in Kathmandu to Syabru Bensi; you can purchase tickets at one of the small booths near where buses depart from. The cost can vary from around NRs 600-800 per person depending on the company.
Due to a series of landslides on route, the cramped and bumpy drive to Syabru Bensi turned into a 12 hour ordeal; we had to present our passports and TIMS cards at a check point just outside town and pay an entrance fee (NRS 3390/person) for entry into Langtang National Park . Arriving late, we found a budget hotel (NRs 500/room) and got some much needed rest, ready to begin trekking the next day.
Day 2: Syabru Bensi – Rimche (Elevation: 2460m)
Heading out of town and crossing a bridge leads you to the start of the Langtang Valley trail. Open views of greenery, small waterfalls, shrines and a Mani wall are scattered along the way; thankfully the route is relatively well sign-posted and easy enough to follow.
With the assistance of Maps.me, not always accurate but a good aid nonetheless, we made it to Rimche, 10km from Syabru Bensi. We were 2km short of Lama Hotel, the recommended stopping point for the first night.
In Rimche we stayed at a basic but cosy guesthouse in a shady forest setting; we agreed to pay NRs 200 for a simple rickety room, as well as dinner and breakfast, which we enjoyed in the warm dining room.
Day 3: Rimche – Ghoda Tabela (Elevation: 3030m)
Fueled with Tibetan bread, a traditional thick and delicious disk shaped bread, we set off early; doing so is always recommended in order to cover as much ground in the morning as possible.
Continue along the trail following the river; there are some sections where the terrain is steep and dense with trees and vegetation but, as long as you can still see the river, you’re doing OK!
Eventually, at around 3000m, the trail opens up. We stopped for lunch at Tibet Hotel, which was a sturdy, new and exceptionally clean building. Having covered only about 6km, we were fully intending to press on and make it to the village of Langtang. Unfortunately, Lynette had started to feel unwell.
It is vital when trekking at altitude to pay attention to your body and listen to its warning signs; we took the decision to stop for the day and spent the night at our lunch stop, paying NRs 200 for a room. One of the biggest advantages of independent trekking is that you can decide when and where to stop, adding or losing days from your original itinerary as necessary.
Day 4: Ghoda Tabela – Kyanjin Gompa (Elevation: 3830m)
For me, trekking through open ground is the best as it allows for fresh air and stunning views all around; this part of the route certainly did not disappoint!
Keep following the trail and from a distance you’ll see Langtang village (3500m), which gives the valley its name. Due to serious earthquake damage in 2015, the village had to be rebuilt from the ground up; this was one of the worst hit areas in the disaster and, as a result, many lives were lost. We stopped for lunch here but a range of newly-constructed accommodation is available.
From Langtang we pressed on to Kyanjin Gompa, covering the total day’s distance of 13km in pretty good time. The village lies over a ridge in a valley; cross a suspension bridge and you’re almost there.
Local homes and trekking lodges are aplenty; we were offered a room by a friendly lady who approached us as we arrived. Not only did it have a private bathroom with a hot shower but it was also free, as long as we agreed to eat our meals there too. Luckily, the food, as is the case in almost all lodges, was delicious and filling.
A small yak cheese factory and a bakery can also be visited whilst taking a walk around the village. The main draw card, however, is the ascent to Kyanjin Ri viewpoint at sunrise. Even though it’s only 1.5km, climbing up to first 4300m and then 4600m at the second viewpoint, is tough going and steep.
Unfortunately, feeling the effects of altitude gain, I didn’t make it the whole way. Lynette, however, got some fantastic photos and told me that the views were stunning!
Day 5: Kyanjin Gompa – Woodland (Elevation: 2810m)
Descending the way we’d come through beautiful pine forest, breathing became easier with more oxygen available. On the downhill journey, progress can be quicker but caution is needed to avoid falling.
We reached Woodland, a lovely lodge in the middle of the forest, at around 7pm as it was getting dark. The 15km stretch had been tiring and it would have been dangerous to continue, so we stopped there for the night.
Run by a wonderful Tibetan husband and wife, we enjoyed the large food portions and log burning stove in the warm and cosy dining area! Again, we paid NRs 200 for our room, which was piled with new blankets to choose from.
Day 6: Woodland – Thulo Syabru (Elevation: 2210m)
To reach Gosainkunda, you must first leave Langtang Valley, taking a steep side trail up and around to Thulo Syabru. As you traverse the riverside path, you’ll see a large yellow sign at the turn-off, detailing the route. Before you begin the steep ascent, make sure you stop for lunch at Bamboo on the valley trail.
At the top, the path levels out and you’ll see Thulo Syabru on an opposite hillock, a large settlement stretching across the hillside 13km from Woodland. Continue walking until you see a suspension bridge; cross it and follow the small precarious path to your immediate right; it will eventually lead up to the village.
We stayed in one of the bigger hotels; unfortunately the name escapes me but simply look for the biggest green building! The room here was more spacious with a private bathroom and separate hot shower; we stayed for free on the proviso that we ate dinner and breakfast at their restaurant.
Day 7: Thulo Syabru – Laurebina (Elevation: 3925m)
Head up and out of the village where the path is, again, sign-posted and easy to follow. The distance to Laurebina is only about 8km but, because of the gain in altitude and how steep the climb is, this part of the trail is very long and grueling.
Take your time; the winding latter part is particularly strenuous. You can break for lunch at Cholongpaty, two lodges on the ridge as you reach the crest of the hill.
Laurebina, with only three accommodation options, offers panoramic mountain views. We stayed at Maya Lodge, the very last lodge at the top of the village, closest to where the trail continues. It was the busiest place we had stayed on the trek but the young owner was friendly and knowledgeable and allowed us to pay only NRs 200 for a basic twin room. Everyone else was paying more, a testimony to our bargaining ability!
Day 8: Laurebina – Gosainkunda (Elevation: 4380m) – Chandanbari (Elevation: 3300m)
At just after 7am we began the ascent towards Gosainkunda; the mountain vistas above Laurebina were stunning and the scenery on route to the lake was just as incredible. Incidentally, the header photo on our blog, featuring the horse, was taken just above Laurebina!
Initially, the climb took us a while as it was rather steep; breathless, we had to take things slowly. At the top, you’ll see a prayer flag strewn stupa and then, a little further on, a small Hindu shrine to Ganesh.
Following the mostly level winding path will lead you to Gosainkunda, on the way passing the two smaller lakes of Saraswati Kund and Bhairab Kund. Although the distance from Laurebina to Gosainkunda is only around 4km, it feels a lot longer!
There are two or three lodging options at Gosainkunda should you wish to stay; we stopped at one with the best view of the lake and had the most expensive cup of hot water we’ve ever had: NRs 100 for one! Thankfully, we still had tea bags!
The lake itself is a stunning shade of blue and a sight that is most definitely worth the hike up; coupled with a cloudless sky, the views that day were beyond anything we’d expected! Timing our trek for October had definitely been a wise decision.
I would like to point out that from Gosainkunda it is possible to continue over the Surya Kunda Pass (4630m), past a series of small lakes, to Phedi and the Helambu region. You can continue on the Helambu route, trekking for three more peaceful days, through quiet traditional villages and forest until you reach the road at Melamchi Bazaar; from there you can catch a bus back to Kathmandu.
Regretfully, due to starting later than planned, we hadn’t the time to continue on the above route; we therefore turned back on ourselves and made it down past Laurebina to Chandanbari.
The day’s total distance amounted to almost 13km and we were impressed to have made it to the village by around 4pm. We stayed at a very nice Tibetan guesthouse, which was payment by donation for the room and the usual mountain prices for food.
Day 9: Chandanbari – Dhunche (Elevation: 1960m)
Our descent took us through the last patch of pine forest and into countryside surroundings. You’ll follow the river for much of the way; heading in the direction of flowing water will always lead to civilization.
Along the trail we took a lunch stop at a small eatery where a group of young Nepali men were waiting for dal bhat to arrive. They told us that they were beginning their trek after lunch. Given the distances and the fact that it was gone 3pm at this point, we didn’t envy them of their uphill task ahead.
The trail brings you out onto a side road, leading into the highway town of Dhunche, where traffic and people are a sudden surprise. At just 7.5km, the final stage of the trek was much easier to complete and the terrain was relatively easy. It would, however, have been much more arduous had we been going in the reverse direction up to Chandanbari.
Dhunche is not, if I’m honest, a pleasant place, a single strip town lined with very basic accommodation and eateries. Here, we struggled to find a decent enough place to stay for a reasonable price; everywhere was poor value for money and many places were dirty and dingy.
Eventually we found somewhere for NRs 600 and booked our bus for the next day, which can be done at a number of ticket booths on the side of the road. The price can vary depending on the company; we paid NRs 550 per person. Dhunche’s only saving grace was that we were able to enjoy a cup of milk tea at a local place for just NRs 20.
Day 10: Dhunche – Kathmandu (Elevation: 1355m)
Day 10 consisted of an early start and a pre-ordered breakfast at our guesthouse. We then boarded a rickety local bus for the 115km journey back to Kathmandu. With the usual messing around that happens a lot in this part of Asia, a 6am departure turned into a 7am departure!
Making steady progress, we reflected on what had been a challenging and yet extremely enjoyable independent trekking experience. We know that it won’t be long before we return to explore more of Nepal’s famous mountains and trekking trails; next in our sights is the Annapurna Circuit!
Planning to Do this Trek? Here are our Top Tips:
- Ensure that you have ample snacks and juice for the trail. You never know when you might need a ‘pick me up’.
- Given that things are expensive in the mountains, it is wise to bring items such as toilet paper, batteries, chocolate and tea bags with you. A cup of hot water is far cheaper than tea; milk is mostly powdered, making black tea a preferable choice.
- Taking water purification tablets is always a good idea; you can fill up with local water (free) and purify it. It’ll save you heaps as bottled is expensive and even boiled water isn’t much cheaper.
- At the time of our trek there were many dubious landslide areas in Langtang Valley; seek local advice before starting out.
- Have a plan and embrace the assistance of maps.me; as I mentioned before though, it’s a good assistant but not always 100% accurate!
- Listen to your body and rest if you need to; even if it means stopping early or taking an extra day, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Try to sleep lower than the highest altitude reached that day – Trek high, sleep low.
- Ensure you have comfortable shoes and a well-adjusted, light backpack. You’ll be on your feet for hours and carrying your bag for just as long. Make sure that you are comfortable and are carrying only that which you need and nothing that adds unnecessary weight.
- Unless you’re with a guide, booking accommodation in advance isn’t possible; you’ll need to make arrangements on arrival.
- Be sure to keep your passport, TIMS card, other paperwork and cash somewhere safe and dry to avoid any damage or water. Make sure that you budget enough per person, per day and have a little extra for any unexpected costs or travel expenses. It’s a cash economy in the mountains and you don’t want to be left short! On average, budget around NRS 2000/person/day.
Below Photos: The TIMS Card
- The TIMS card is a mandatory piece of paperwork that you must present when requested. It costs US$20 per independent trekker or US$10 per trekker if you’re using a guide, porter or pre-booked package.
Travel Insurance: Accidents do happen. To be on the safe side, especially when trekking independently, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance to cover you should medical assistance or even evacuation be necessary. I’d like to recommend World Nomads, a great company used by travellers worldwise. GET AN INSTANT QUOTE NOW.
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Have you trekked in Langtang Valley or to Gosainkunda? Or want some more tips or information? Leave us a comment below!
Enjoyed reading Your Ultimate Guide to the Langtang Valley and Gosainkunda Trek? Check out Trekking in Nepal: Annapurna Base Camp and Mardi Himal!