Langtang and Helambu Region – Travel Guide
According to a legend, a lama following a runaway yak discovered the Langtang valley. Lang stands for “yak” while tang means, “to follow”. The area lies 32 km, north of Kathmandu to the Nepal-China (Tibet) border. This region is the most accessible and closest trekking region from Kathmandu. It has a number of high peaks including Langtang range and Lirung (7246m), which dominates most of the upper valley of Tibetan border. Langtang possesses over 70 glaciers including Ganesh Himal and high altitude lakes like Parvatikunda, Gosainkunda, Dudhkunda and Bhairavkunda. Langtang and Helambu region offers some of the hauntingly beautiful magical and mystical scenery of landscapes and superb majestic view of the great peak of Langtang ranges. Yala Peak and the Ganja La Pass combine to offer more challenging trekking and a link with the valleys and ridges of Helambu.
Peaks in Langtang Valley
Langtang Lirung is the highest peak of the Langtang Himal, which is a sub range of the Nepal Himalayas. Langtang Lirung is recognized for its large vertical relief above local terrain. It rises 5500m above the Trisuli Gandaki to the west. The Langtang Himal forms the western portion of a complex of mountains, which also includes the Jugal Himal. This complex lies between the Sun Koshi valley on the east and the Trisuli Gandaki valley on the west. Langtang Lirung lies near the Trisuli Gandaki, and north of the Langtang Khola.H. W. Tilman and P. Lloyd reconnoitered the peak in 1949 . In early 1960s, attempts were made to climb the peak via the East Ridge, but none could reach the summit. In 1978, Seishi Wada (Japanese) and Pemba Tsering (Nepali), succeeded in conquering the summit, via the same east ridge route. You can relive a time away from the rest of the world. Yala Peak and the Ganja La Pass combine tooffer more challenging trekking and a link with the valleys and ridges of Helambu.
Langsisa Ri (6427m) Peak is situated in Langtang region, one of the most technically challenging peaks to climb. For those who really want to experience the challenges and thrills this peak is the one to be climbed. It would be best to tackle the peak with highly experienced expedition team. Langsisa takes you through the Langtang valley. You will enjoy the spectacular views of pristine pine forest, crystal-clear mountain streams, snow peaks, grassy meadows, boulder rocks. In the upper part of the valley, you will come across snow ridges, angry spanning torrents, high challenging passes.
Paldor (5896m) lies at the southeast end of Ganesh Himal standing in the junction of the Tiru and Karpu Dandas at the head of the Mailung Khola, a tributary of the Trisuli Gandaki river. Paldor Peak is one of the earliest climbed peaks in Nepal. Bill Tilman (pioneer British explorer in Himalayas) conquered it in the year 1949AD. This peak can be climbed from north-east, south-east, west-north, west ridges. Dhunche is the starting point to trek up to Paldor base camp.
Lord Baden Powell Peak
Locally known as Urkema Peak, Lord Baden Powell Peak stands at an elevation of 5,718m.This mushroom shaped mountain situated in the Langtang region offers a perfect alternative to Imja Tse or Island Peak in the Khumbu region. On the way from Langtang to Kyangjin you will see a perfectly shaped snowy peak, which is situated slightly south of Naya Kanga(5844m) seen from the south-west, Urkema peak almost looks like Ama Dablam which is situated in the Everest region. However from the south-east the summit appears like a snowy cone, with a perfect ridge to be climbed on its southeast side. It is surrounded by majestic peaks such as Langtang II, Langtang Lirung, Dorje Lakpa and Xixapangma in Tibet.
Naya Kanga Peak
Naya Kanga (5,122m/16,800ft) is an attractive peak rising to the west of the Ganja La pass. Ascending to Ganja La , the summit of Naya Kanga offer the spectacular panoramic views of mountains in Nepal and Tibet including Langshisa Ri , Pemthang Ri , Shisapangma , Langtang Lirung , Pemthang Kapro Ri and Langtang II . The normal route of ascent to Naya Kanga is via the north – east ridge over a line on ice and snow. Northeast of Kyangjin Ri, there are two peaks; Yala Peak and Tsergo Peak that provide good climbing for acclimatization.
Yala Peak(5520 m /18,110 ft)
Yala Peak is so named because from Yala Kharka it looks like a mountain but it is not a peak at all.It is a bump on a long ridge. Climbing Yala Peak (5520m) does not involve any technical skills. Most of the climb goes on steep snow slopes, but at times there are vertical meters of rocks . The last 15 meters to the top are climbed on a relatively exposed rock pyramid, with 1500 meters to fall if you are unlucky. It is at the same altitude as Kala Pattar. From the summits, the incredible scenery of the upper valley can viewed in its entirety.
Climate, Flora and Fauna
The best examples of graded climatic conditions with complex topography and geography together with varied climatic patterns have enabled a wide spectrum of vegetation types. These include small areas of subtropical forest (below 1000m), temperate oak and pine forests at mid-elevations, with alpine scrub and grasses giving way to bare rocks and snow. From mid-October to mid December and from mid-February until mid-April the weather is usually clear but cold at higher elevation. From mid-April to mid-June, it is warm but often cloudy with occasional thundershowers. Summer monsoon lasts until the beginning of October. During the winter, daytime temperatures are low and snow may occur even at low altitudes.Nepalese alder, oaks, chir pine, maple, fir, blue pine, hemlock, spruce and various species of rhododendrons are the main forest species.
Langtang National Park
Langtang valley, which has been expanded up to the Tibetan border, was declared as a national park in 1976. Langtang National Park has a wide variety of biodiversity including 3,000 species of flora. It is also a rich storehouse of medicinal plants. This National Park provides a habitat for approximately 32 mammals and 283 species of birds. 25% of the Park’s total area is covered by forest, starting at sub-tropical forests below 1,000 m. There are 45 villages within the boundaries of the Langtang National park .The Park provides habitat for a wide range of animals including wild dog, red panda, pika, muntjack, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Himalaya tahr, ghoral, serow, rhesus monkey and common langur. The Trisuli and Bhote Koshi Rivers forms an important route for birds during spring and autumn migration between India and Tibet.
Langtang Valley offers an opportunity to explore the villages of the Sherpas and Tamangs. The majority of people are Tamang and of Tibetan descent mostly mixture of Tamang, Sherpa and Bhotia. Their religion is related to the Bon and the pre-Buddhist doctrines of Tibet. Today this religion has merged with the newer teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.
North of Kathmandu lies Helambu district, where you can find many scenic villages inhabited by Sherpas and Tamangs who have emigrated from Tibet. The Sherpas of this region are very different in their practices and lifestyle from the Sherpas in the Everest region.
Helambu: Helambu situated at the north side of Kathmandu valley, comprises of highland villages,like Melamchi and Tarkeyghyang. Helambu offers an opportunity to experience Sherpa culture.Beautifully situated in alpine meadow, the region is mostly inhabited by the friendly and helpful Sherpas. It is home to two major races of peoples, the Hyolmo or Yolmo and the Tamang. Helambu is also famous for its sweet apples and artistic Buddhist monasteries.
Gosaikunda: One of the most famous pilgrimage destinations, Gosaikunda is actually a sacred Lake, situated at an elevation of 4360m. Gosaikunda can be reached either from Dhunche or from Sundarijal, in the eastern part of Kathmandu Valley. Each year thousands of Hindu devotees visit these lakes during Janai Purnima festival in the month of August.
Briddim: Briddim is a Tibetan Buddhist village in Langtang valley, which is located at an altitude of 2229 m. Around 43 houses are spread around the village. Most of the houses are built of stone. The major inhabitants are Tamang and their lifestyles are influenced mostly by Tibetan culture. Briddim can be observed as a living museum that reflects the traditions and culture of the Tamangs and their lifestyle. Major facet of this village is the interesting lifestyle of the Tamangs and their culture. Livestock production, agriculture and trade with Kerung (Tibet) are the main occupation of this village people.
The Tamang Heritage Trail takes you to the midlands of Nepal and gives you an enriching experience.The beauty of the mountains and the unique culture and lifestyle of the people who live there is the hallmark of the Tamang Heritage Trail. Passing through the traditional Tamang villages where the lifestyle of the villagers has seen little changes, you will get the chance to mingle with the locals, observe their custom and tradition, unique architectural houses, and the ancient monasteries
The Classic Langtang – Helambu trek
The classic Langtang Helambu trek comprises of trekking in the Langtang and Helambu region. Lying 30 km north of Kathmandu, Helambu is the most accessible trekking region in Nepal. The trek starts from Syabrubensi, after driving 150 km from Kathmandu. The trail gradually ascends upstream along the Bhote Kosi River, passing through the forests of the Langtang valley to the alpine meadows and yak pastures around Kyangjin. After an ascent of Kyangjin Ri [4350m.], from where the 360 degree mountain views are truly spectacular, the trail goes back to Syabru. From here, we further trek to the sacred Gosainkund Lake situated at an elevation of 4336-meter and to Kathmandu via the lovely Helambu region. This moderate trek can be done any time of the year except during monsoon [July & August]. This trek can be done throughout the year, except during the monsoon season.
Lord Baden Powell Trek
This is a new trekking route in the Ganesh Himal area, North of Kathmandu. The trek starts from Syabru Besi, after a day long drive from Kathmandu. On the way to Gatlang, the Goljung view point will, after a short 3 hour walk, give you an amazing panorama of the Ganesh Himal including Shishapangma (8013m) and Langtang Lirung (7246m).
From here, you enter a quiet and unspoiled valley which will lead you to the Jageswor Lake after a 3 days hike. The steep trail goes through a dense forest where life seems to be suspended on time. This region of Nepal is inhabited by the Tamang people. The ascent will eventually end up at almost 4200m and views from the south ridge of this mountain chain are truly breathtaking. At Changan Kharka, the descent to Tatopani starts passing through small Tamang settlements and large forest while following the Sanjen Khola stream. The 2 day descent will lead you to Tatopani located at 2600 meters high. A bath in the Hot Springs is a must and its rewarding after the wild camping trek. Day long walks lead you to a new valley where you will get a glimpse of Tamang culture (in Thuman, Rasuwagadi and Briddim). You will follow the Bhote Kosi River on the left side of the valley to the North and then come back on the opposite side on your way back to Syabru Besi, from where it all began. This trek can be done throughout the year, except during the monsoon season.
This trip was satisfying. The meeting and handling was excellent. I am very happy with guide Bharat. The itinerary was very good, not too exerting and I enjoyed it. Great arrangement! Looking forward to make many more trips to Nepal through Explore Himalaya
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