Langtang Valley Trek
When you are sitting in the congested and noisy tumult of Kathmandu, it is amazing to think that in a day’s bus drive you could be on the edge of pristine wilderness. Viewpoints above and beyond Kyangjin Gompa offer some stunning mountain vistas, and the opportunity to really immerse yourself in the Himalaya. Three high passes link to trails through Helambu and can be used to provide a range of loop itineraries.
The Langtang valley can be trekked year-round, and although the mountains are covered in cloud during monsoon, carpets of wildflowers compensate handsomely. The most popular seasons are early October through to mid-February, when the weather is clear and stable, and then from mid-March to the end of May when the rhododendron forests are in full bloom. Care should be taken when attempting any of the high passes; Kangja (Ganja) La, Tilman Pass and Tilman East Pass are susceptible to sudden, fierce storms and snowfall at any time of year.
Comfy teahouses are in every village from Dhunche and Syabrubesi to Kyangjin Gompa after which you will need camping equipment. Supplies are expensive in Kyangjin so try to carry in as much as possible. If you want to attempt the high passes you will need ropes and rock, ice and snow climbing equipment.
Stunning views of glaciers and mountains, amazingly photogenic sunsets, sacred lakes, Buddhist monasteries, Tibetan culture, and the possibility of seeing rare wildlife – Langtang is a culturally rich and beautifully diverse national park.
- Duration & distance: About 9 days total; days not more than 20km per day
- Gradient: Short steep sections
- Quality of path: Formed & rough tracks, some obstacles
- Quality of markings: Signs at beginning, end and major intersections
- Experience required: No walking experience required
- Walking times: Less than 6 hours a day
- Steps: Occasional steps on some days
- Highest point: 4984m
- Best season: Sep-May
- Accommodation: Camping and teahouses
- Recommended map: NP105 GHT Series Langtang & Helambu, Himalayan Map House, 2017
GHT and Other Trails in Langtang and Helambu
Langtang and Helambu offer GHT through-hikers a range of options from technical routes to easy trails suitable for winter hiking and mountain biking.
An enjoyable village-to-village trek that is ideal in the winter-season and for those preferring a lower-altitude route links The Last Resort to Betrawati via Ratnaule, Pokhari Bhanjyang, Golphu, Kharnaitar and then to Betrawati (total 6-8 days, local teahouses en route). At any point along this route you can branch north towards Langtang and cross one of the Tilman passes, Kangja (Ganja) La or Gosainkund to arrive at Syabrubesi. A road links Betrawati with Syabrubesi as well as a number of trails that head into the Ganesh Himal.
Shivapuri, the highest point on the northern Kathmandu valley rim, offers a stunning viewpoint (2732m, 6hrs) of the city below, especially on a clear night when the lights imitate the stars above. There are many trails, which often causes confusion, so take a guide who knows the way.
Panch Pokhari (translates as ‘five lakes’) is a very popular pilgrimage site in the monsoon and location of a Mahadev Temple. These five sacred lakes at 4010m make an excellent 9-day loop trek from the road-head town of Chautara via Sano Okhareni, Kami Kharka, Pauwa Bas, Hille Bhanjyang, Nasim Pati and then to Panch Pokhari. Instead of returning the same route, head down to Tupi Danda and then via Dhap to the road-head at Melamchi, and maybe take an extra day or two to relax en route? Chautara, where you begin the trek with a long ridge climb, is a few hours’ drive from the centre of Kathmandu. The trail ascends the Kamikharka Danda above the Indrawati Khola before linking with the Hutprang Danda and then heading north to the lakes.
The villages en route are a diverse blend of Hindu, Tamang and Bhotia communities separated by extensive rhododendron, pine and fir forests, which surround the Langtang National Park. From the lakes there are great views of the Kangja Himal, Jugal Himal, Rolwaling Himal and distant views of Mt Everest, Mt Makalu and Kanchenjunga. This route can be combined with treks to/from Helambu, Gosainkund and over Kangja (Ganja) La (see p000) or one of the Tilman passes (see The Last Resort to Syabrubesi via Tilman Pass) to the Langtang valley. Alternatively, you could combine with the other sacred lakes in the region at Gosainkund (see Kathmandu to Gosainkund) or Bhairav Kund (see The Last Resort to Syabrubesi via Tilman Pass) for a doubly auspicious trek!
Kangja (Ganja) La – this pass should only be attempted by experienced trekking groups with appropriate climbing and camping equipment. Kangja La offers a great circular trek back through Helambu, some fantastic views of the Langtang range and an approach to the popular trekking peak, Naya Kanga. From Kyangjin Gompa, retrace the trail towards Langtang village and after about 20 minutes take the left fork, which drops down to the river and a small wooden bridge. A small but obvious trail climbs through birch and rhododendron forest to simple teahouses and a good campsite, Ngegang Kharka (4430m, 2hrs). Continue climbing, staying on the west bank of a watercourse, across steep ground until you reach the base of moraine deposited by the glacier above, and a potential campsite (4640m, 2hrs).
The pass is a further 2-hour climb up a steep rock scramble, which is often made treacherous by snow. Mountaineering skills and a fixed rope may be necessary to reach Kangja La (5130m) and to descend. There is a steep descent on loose moraine for 3 hours, do not head towards the glacier rather, stay on the east-facing (right) slope of the valley. Continue descending past some kharka and staying high on, but not on top of, a ridge that runs almost due south above the Yangri Khola. There is a good campsite at Keldang (4420m) after another 2 hours with water from a tributary of the Yangri Khola. Continue to traverse the ridge without losing height; the next campsite is Dhukpa (4030m, 6hrs). Follow the ridge until the trail swings up to some prayer flags (1hr) and then descends steeply to Tarkeghyang and the main Helambu trails.
The main route continues to Melamchi Bazaar (870m, 2 days via Sermathang) or via Tharepati and Chisapani (see reverse of Kathmandu to Gosainkund, days 1-4).
The Last Resort to Syabrubesi via Tilman Pass
This route requires excellent navigation skills and/or local guides, and technical climbing experience for either the Tilman Pass or Tilman East Pass. Only fully equipped camping groups will be able to attempt the route, there are no teahouses or major resupply opportunities between the Bhote Kosi and Kyangjin Gompa.
The route described here is from The Last Resort (1220m) on the Arniko Highway to Syabrubesi via Panch Pokhari and Tilman Pass, however, cross-country options also include linking Panch Pokhari to Kangja (Ganja) La or Gosainkund.
Leave The Last Resort on the Arniko Highway from the main gate and pass through Panlan village immediately to the south. From here the trail climbs a steep hillside with little shade to Baldun (1890m, 1¼hrs), which the locals might refer to as Listi. However, the real Listi (2260m; Finaid: Barhabise sheet: 2785 04, ref: 893 866) is a Tamang community on a plateau further up the hill and is reached in another 70 minutes. As you approach the ridge above you will clearly see a Hindu Temple, beneath which is a community health post where you can camp.
Continue on the temple ridge to a series of chorten overlooking Listi and then swing north-east, keeping on the ridge. Do not traverse around the ridge (to your left, or more north). After 1½ hours you reach the top of the ridge above Listi and a broad grassy place (2650m) where cremations occur, so treat the area with respect. From here you can see the trail traversing a hillside to your north to a minor pass where a Sherpa village called Bagam (2705m, 45 mins) is home to some of the three hundred nuns from Bagam Gompa, situated below the ridge. There is also a school here, which would make a good campsite. To the north, you can see a steep forest-covered ridge and the trail from Bagam leading straight up to 3286m (100 mins) to a temporary dharamsala, which is just below the main ridge.
At the top of the ridge there is a trail cross-roads, turn left and continue on the ridge proper. At first the trail looks like a watercourse and you are tempted to bear right, but don’t stray from the ridge and the trail soon becomes a pleasant flat walk through pine forest. Shotang Kharka (3379m; Finaid: Barhabise, sheet: 2785 04, ref: 887 920) is reached in 20 minutes; you will need to ask herders to show you where the water source is located.
From Shotang the trail continues north, climbing a ridge with good views of mountains to the north-east in Rolwaling and Tibet, and north-west in Langtang. Pilgrims who come for the August festival have made the trail broad and easy to follow to Chogomogor Kharka (3924m, 2hrs; Finaid: Barhabise, sheet: 2785 04, ref: 887 949), which is a major trail junction both north–south and east–west. If you do not wish to continue to Bhairav Kund you should camp here.
To reach the sacred lake of Bhairav Kund, climb a little to a chorten and then head north-east across the east-facing flanks of a rising series of craggy peaks; there is a dharamsala and campsite at the lake (4113m, 1¾hrs).
The following morning retrace your steps to Chogomogor Kharka (45 mins) and then take a trail that heads east-north-east to a kharka on the Paulan Dada (3812m, 1¼hrs; Finaid: Barhabise, sheet: 2785 04, ref: 873 956). Be careful to stay on the west-ridge trail from this kharka as many tracks lead into the forest. Descend a trail, which gradually becomes very steep as you enter dense forest. In 2 hours, you reach a temporary dharamsala and series of chorten directly above Kyangsin village (2520m) to which you descend in 30 minutes. A trail then traverses a hillside to the north-east and once around the ridge descends steeply to the Nyasem Khola (1861m, 2hrs), where there is a camping place on the far side of a suspension bridge. Do not camp close to the bridge as there are quite a few ticks and lice in the area; instead pick an area about 20 or 30 metres upstream.
Climb a trail on the far side of the river for 300m to Nimatol village (2158m, 1hr) where there is a new trail that traverses the sometimes-steep hillside to Tembathang (2160m, 45 mins). You will need to employ a local guide from this village, as the trails ahead are frequently overgrown and rarely used.
There are two options from Tembathang:
- A long route to Panch Pokhari via Hille Bhanjyang (3-4 days, see Panch Pokhari) follows more substantial trails. A local guide is advisable for a confusing forested section before Hille Bhanjyang.
- A more direct route to Panch Pokhari (2 days) heads upstream from Tembathang. Follow a flat trail north from the village to a wooden suspension bridge over a tributary but do not cross the bridge! Instead, follow a small trail that crosses the river about 10 metres downstream and then winds onto flat ground where there are some well-used kharkas. From the northern end of the kharka descend to the river. The trail now climbs the true right (eastern) side of the river course to the hamlet of Tegu where you continue to follow a trail along the bank. In 1½ hours from Tembathang you will reach the remains of Thipu village. There is a good campsite by the river before the village area.
Note: the enormous landslide area on the far bank destroyed Mahathan village and most of Thipu village but, incredibly, with no loss of life.
Do not cross the river at the village, instead continue on the true right (east) bank for one hour to a small bamboo and log bridge. Cross carefully to the true left bank and then continue north on a sometimes scrubby trail through forest to Chedupa Kharka (2513m, 1hr; Finaid: Dorle Pahad, sheet: 2885 16, ref: 774 062). From this large kharka a small trail heads north for about 50 metres before heading up the steep hillside to your left. You might need to ask a local to identify the trail. There are ticks and leeches along this track so be vigilant. Climb for about 800m to Salingling Kharka (3323m, 3hrs 40 mins; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 765 057), where you might be able to find water in a gully to the south. If not, continue for another 45 minutes to Nemagchukpa Kharka (3578m), where there is permanent water. Continue along the ridge through rhododendron forest to an intersecting ridge, which leads to Panch Pokhari. There is another, small kharka campsite at 4048m (2¼hrs) on the ridge. From here it is only 1½ hours to the lakes of Panch Pokhari (4074m), which you reach by crossing the main north–south ridge at 4229m (Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 747 034).
Directly to the east of the temple at Panch Pokhari is a short climb back to the ridgeline (4245m, 40 mins), which you should cross and descend to a broad kharka (4070m, 20 mins). Follow the obvious trail north as it rises to cross a hill spur into another shallow basin. For the next 1½ hours continue north crossing similar spurs and basins between 4000m and 4200m. In the fourth basin you will see a trail junction where the left trail climbs towards a rocky outcrop and the right trail swings away to the north-east. You can take either trail, but if the north-facing slopes are covered in snow and/or ice you might find the longer, but lower, north-east trail safer. The higher route climbs to a small lake (Lingsing Kharka, 4450m, 1hr) whereas the north-east trail contours lower slopes at 4000m +/- 30m for 2 hours before climbing and rejoining the higher trail at a small basin with a well-built stone kharka (4273m; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 749 092). From this kharka continue north, climbing for about 100m before the trail levels and you then drop through a small valley to ascend a final ridge above Tin Pokhari (4255m, 1½hrs; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 754 110), although the three lakes have dried up.
From the ridge above Tin Pokhari you have a clear view of both glacier approaches to Tilman Pass and Tilman East Pass. In clear weather it is even possible to see the rocky ridge of Tilman East Pass at the base of the west ridge of Dorje Lakpa peak. Your choice of which pass to attempt will depend on time available, weather conditions and skill level. The easier route is Tilman Pass (the western of the two glaciers, described in full), however Tilman East Pass is a spectacular option for experienced groups and is worth considering if you have time available.
Crossing Tilman Pass
From Tin Pokhari follow a trail that drops into an ablation valley to the north-west, trek through some kharka and climb for 2¼ hours until you each a campsite (4646m; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 731 134) at the valley’s end, marked by a steep moraine wall. There are a few large boulders on top of the moraine wall, climb to the most northerly of them and descend beside a small glacial lake.
From the lake cross to the middle of the glacier and follow an indistinct trail marked by occasional cairns. In 2 hours, you will reach a campsite (4867m; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 732 150) on the glacier just as the valley narrows, and in a further 20 minutes you will reach the base of the pass (4848m).
There appear to be two routes up the lower rocky section of the pass, but the right-hand rock-climbing option is exposed and prone to rockfall so it is better to ascend the loose scree to the right of the icefall (and to the left of the rock-climbing route). Once above the rock band, traverse around to your left and climb mixed ice and rock to the right of the icefall and beneath a steep rock-face. Once at the rock-face traverse left to the glacier and then climb directly onto the pass snowfield. Tilman Pass (5308m, 2hrs 40 mins; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 727 166) is through a narrow notch to the north-west of the snowfield. Beware of rockfall on both sides of your approach.
Once on the pass descend a steep snowy slope to the north-west. Beware of crevasses on your descent, it is wise to rope everyone because the descent becomes steeper as you approach a broad plateau covered in avalanche debris at 5130m (45 mins), where you could camp. Follow a snowmelt stream on the true left (western) side of the plateau to a steep drop to a glacial lake in a valley below. This section can be treacherous and care should be taken on the rock and ice-filled gullies; a handline may be needed in places. In less than 2 hours you should reach the lake, where you can camp on the northern shore (4756m; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 727 185). Alternatively, continue to the left (north-west) of a moraine wall to an indistinct campsite at 4720m (30 mins).
Continue to descend north-west to a small, level, sandy place (20 mins) about 200m above Langshisa Glacier. A landslide ahead along the old trail means that you must now descend to the glacier, the moraine here is very unstable, steep and prone to rockfall. Beware of patches of hard ice covered by loose moraine as you descend to the side of Langshisa Glacier (45 mins). Descend beside the true left bank of the glacier for 1½ hours when the first patches of vegetation appear. Continue descending through prickly bush as directly as you can while following some not-so-obvious stone cairns towards Langshisa Kharka (4285m, 1½hrs; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 703 214).
Wade the river at the shallowest point (normally near a large boulder on the true right, northern bank) and move directly away from the river to find the main trail to Kyangjin Gompa (3900m, 3hrs to your west). From Kyangjin Gompa follow the main Langtang valley trail to Syabrubesi (1503m, 9hrs, see Langtang Valley for trail notes in reverse).
Crossing Tilman East Pass
This is a relatively new route and has only been completed a few times by groups with Sherpa staff and experienced porters. The descent from the northern side of the pass has many crevasses. Both sides of the pass are prone to rockfall. Care should be taken, as well as rock, snow and ice climbing equipment.
From Tin Pokhari follow a trail that drops towards an ablation valley to some small kharka to the north-west, the first of which has a trail that turns north (4210m, 15 mins; Finaid: Lantan, Sheet: 2885 15, ref: 745 118). Drop to the river that flows from the Tilman Pass glacier and ascend the moraine above a glacier that flows down from the north-east. The trail climbs steeply at first but as it nears an intersecting glacier from the north-west becomes more flat. There isn’t a good campsite beside the glacier so continue north and camp far enough away from the hanging ice at 4675m (4¼hrs; Finaid: Lantan, sheet: 2885 15, ref: 763 152). Head out into the centre of the glacier (eastwards) and then head north, staying clear of any rockfall from crags to your left.
Ascend a slight step to a snowy basin and then climb again to Tilman East Pass (5368m, 3hrs; Finaid: Dorle Pahad, sheet: 2885 16, ref: 777 178), which is a rocky ridge about 30m high. It is then a steep descent across a crevassed snowfield to the north-north-west, to the upper reaches of Langshisa Glacier. Continue down the southern edge of the glacier to Langshisa Kharka (4550m, 12hrs from the pass).
Dress CodeMid-altitude alpine clothing and camping equipment required
IncludedLangtang Valley Trek
Not IncludedSpecial PermitsTea Houses AvailablePersonal Guide