Photo: Gordon Duvaul
Trip Number: 12560A
Price: $2,695 (12-15)
$2,995 ( or fewer)
Staff: Melinda Goodwater
- Trek expedition-style below 23,000-foot peaks on an ancient pilgrimage
- See entire hillsides covered with a kaleidoscope of rhododendron blooms
- Spend two guided days visiting ancient temples and monasteries in the
- Guides, cooks, porters, and all equipment for the trek
- Kathmandu hotel, airport transfers, and trek transportation
- All meals except two lunches in Kathmandu
Photo: Melinda Goodwater
Directly north of Kathmandu, Langtang is one of the closest areas to trek,
yet it receives far fewer visitors than the crowded Annapurna and Everest regions.
Established as Nepal's first Himalayan national park in 1976, the area includes
the long Langtang Valley rising from lush, old-growth forest to the Langtang
Himal along the Tibet border. Springtime brings an explosion of color as rhododendron
blooms paint the hillsides with vibrant shades of red, pink, and purple while
yaks dot the wide, glacial upper valley. Returning along an ancient Hindu pilgrimage
route takes us to the austere, high-elevation Gosainkund Lakes. Traveling self-contained
expedition-style allows us to immerse ourselves more easily into traditional
local Tamang culture, which is more Tibetan than Nepali. While you hike with
only a day pack, our cheerful Nepali staff carries your gear, cooks our meals,
and sets up and takes down our tents, leaving you free to contemplate and enjoy
this spiritual area.
Kathmandu extends a shocking welcome to new arrivals with its crowded, narrow,
medieval streets and plethora of temples and colorful shops. We'll have two
days to visit Swayambunath, the Monkey Temple; Bodnath, one of the world's largest
stupas or Buddhist shrines; and Pashupatinath, the holiest Hindu temple in Nepal.
Guided exploration of Patan and Bhaktapur, the two other ancient cities of the
Kathmandu Valley, show off a time when Nepal was the most advanced in architecture
and wood carving.
The rest of Nepal enjoys a quiet, rural existence that we'll appreciate as
we start our trek in the foothill village of Syabrubesi. Climbing through protected
forests of oak, chir pine, rhododendron, and alder, we'll be in the playground
of langur monkeys. Barking deer, wild boars, red pandas, and Himalayan black
bears also inhabit these forests. Ascending quickly to the upper Langtang Valley
brings us to the terminus of three glaciers that form the valley's head below
23,767-foot Lantang Lirung and 22,848-foot Dorje Lakpa. We diverge our return
to visit holy Gosainkund Lakes, where thousands of Hindu pilgrims come in August
to bathe in their pure waters. A string of glacial lakes range from 14,000 feet
to near the top of our high pass at 15,120-foot Laurebina La. The steep, rocky
descent on the other side takes us through more densely blooming rhododendron
forests and terraced farms and villages as we finish in the Kathmandu Valley.
Photo: Gordon Duvaul
While most people come to Nepal to trek on the roof of the world, they are
surprised to learn that the cultures of its many ethnic groups are at least
as interesting. Nepal's true treasure is the warmth and hospitality of its people,
and this trek offers the opportunity to bond with our staff and experience their
homeland more as a local than a tourist. The sirdar, or head guide and trek
organizer, is the leader's husband of 16 years, so with their staff of extended
family and villagers, the expedition feels more like one large traveling family.
Indeed this is the trip of a lifetime, but the joy and friendliness of the Nepalese
people will beckon you to return again and again!
Travel in Nepal is still truly adventurous. Although we will try to adhere
to a daily itinerary, please embrace any changes that may have to be made due
to weather, trail conditions, ability of the group, or the serendipity of the
unexpected. This is what makes adventure travel fun and enhances your experience.
Day 1: (Arrive Kathmandu) Transfer to our hotel. We'll have
an orientation about the trip, then the afternoon is free to explore the neighborhood
of Thamel. Enjoy a welcome dinner of traditional Nepali fare.
Photo: Gordon Duvaul
Day 2: (Kathmandu) To recover from jet lag, we'll take a dawn
warm-up walk up 300 feet of stairs to see Hindu and Buddhist temples and to
hear beautiful Newari singing at Swayambunath, the Monkey Temple. The rest of
the day is spent first in the Hindu world of Pashupatinath where we'll see sadhus,
temples dedicated to Shiva and a host of other gods, and ritual funeral burnings
on ghats along the Bagmati River. Then we enter the Buddhist world at Bodnath,
one of the largest stupas in the world. A welcoming home for Tibetan refugees,
monasteries and shops selling Tibetan and Buddhist goods circle the stupa as
monks chant while doing their kora, or circumambulation of the shrine. Dinner
at a fine Indian restaurant.
Day 3: (Kathmandu-Syabrubesi) We board our chartered bus with
our staff and gear for an exhilarating ride through the bucolic countryside
to begin our trek. The last half of the drive is on tightly winding dirt road
that shows the difficulty of keeping roads maintained on steep, unstable hillsides.
We reach Syabrubesi by mid-afternoon where the bus is unloaded and camp is set
up above the upper Trisuli River, just below its confuence with the Langtang
Khola (river). This is our first night in tents (4,820 feet).
Day 4: (Syabrubesi-Lama Hotel) We begin the day by crossing
the Trisuli River on our first suspension bridge of many, then crossing the
Langtang Khola as we head up the river valley. We'll keep an eye out for monkeys
cavorting in the dense jungle ablaze with rhododendron blooms. In this lightly
settled canyon we're likely to see flashy magpies and hear other birds singing.
A steep climb of 3,300 feet past an abundance of waterfalls brings us to camp
at Lama Hotel (8,135 feet) in seven hours.
Photo: Melinda Goodwater
Day 5: (Lama Hotel-Langtang) There's more steep climbing up
the narrow canyon until at last the valley begins to open up and take on the
characteristics of a classic U-shaped glacial valley. The gradient mellows upon
approaching the village of Langtang (11,250 feet) where we begin to see yaks
and possibly a Himalayan lynx. Langtang Lirung, 23,767 feet, rises right behind
the village, which is the headquarters of Langtang National Park. Ascend 3,100
feet in six hours.
Day 6: (Langtang-Kyanjin Gompa) Langtang is the largest and
last year-round settlement in the valley. With colder temperatures at higher
elevations, we may find ourselves eating in dining rooms heated with yak dung.
The valley continues to open up, leaving the forests behind as more high peaks
become visible on the three-hour, 1,400-foot climb to Kyanjin Gompa (monastery)
at 12,660 feet. We'll spend the afternoon acclimatizing with walks to the yak
cheese factory, the monastery, and up on the ridges above camp for spectacular
views of the icefalls tumbling down the Langtang Himal. This is camp for two
Day 7: (Kyanjin Gompa) Waking to the sunlit peaks of Langtang
Lirung, Dorje Lakpa (22,848 feet), and Gangchenpo (20,920 feet), we'll dayhike
up the undulating path on our layover day to the head of the valley at Langshisa
Kharka (meadow) at 13,450 feet, the terminus of three glaciers. The snowbound
hulk of massive Pemthang Karpo Ri, 22,517 feet, dominates the skyline. We may
see lammergeiers and other raptors soaring along with blooming violet-blue alpine
gentians on this round-trip hike of 7-8 hours.
Days 8-9: (Kyanjin Gompa-Lama Hotel-Thulo Syabru) Returning
the way we came, we'll descend in eight hours to Lama Hotel, where monkeys may
distract us to watch their antics along the way. We continue down to 5,700 feet
where we'll begin the long, steep climb to camp at Thulo Syabru (7,400 feet)
in six hours. This village is majestically perched on a knife-edge ridge with
our terraced campsite affording mountain views up the Langtang Valley. We are
now on one of the pilgrimage routes to Gosainkund Lake and have split off from
most of the other trekkers.
Day 10: (Thulo Syabru-Sing Gompa) A steady, steep uphill climb
through oak, hemlock, and moss-draped rhododendron forests leads to a ridgetop
view of the Langtang and Ganesh Himals. Monkeys play in these forests along
the final, pleasant stretch of the 3,500-foot climb to Sing Gompa (10,920 feet)
in five hours. Barking deer may call to us at this scenic campsite.
Day 11: (Sing Gompa-Laurebina Yak) We continue another 2,000
feet up ridges and through deep forests that are home to the endangered red
panda. We enter the Gosainkund protected area, where wood fires, the killing
of animals, and grazing goats are prohibited. We'll reach camp at Laurebina
Yak (12,860 feet) in 3-4 hours, with time in the afternoon to spend gawking
at the Himalayan panorama from the Annapurnas, Manaslu, and Ganesh Himals to
unnamed peaks in Tibet and finally to Langtang Lirung. Lammergeiers may be seen
circling on the high thermals, and those venturing out after dark will be rewarded
with brilliant stars sparkling through jet-black skies.
Day 12: (Laurebina Yak-Gosainkund Lake) The first 900 feet
of this climb are very steep up to two stupas (Buddhist shrines) with a commanding
view of the Himalaya. The remaining 700 feet of the climb has more gentle ups
and downs, with arrival at Gosainkund (14,400 feet) in three hours. Our camp
includes a Hindu temple where a sadhu may be meditating at the holy waters of
the lake. We can hike a kora (circumambulation) around the lake in the afternoon
and explore other small lakes in the chain. Those with energy can hike up the
ridge behind camp for phenomenal views.
Photo: Gordon Duvaul
Day 13: (Gosainkund Lake-Laurebina La-Phedi) This is our high-pass
day going over 15,120-foot Laurebina La (pass). Starting around the lake, we
pass three waterspouts with animal heads that have been built at one of the
cascade inlets to the lake. Then it's a steady climb past Ganesh, Barda, and
Surya Kunds (lakes) along the way. After passing the large chorten (shrine)
at the pass, the descent quickly gets steep, with loose rock and icy patches.
A slow, careful descent brings us to an austere, scenic camp at Phedi (12,265
feet) in 4-5 hours.
Day 14: (Phedi-Tharepati) We continue going down the steep,
rocky trail with a surprising number of ridges to climb as well. Descending
below Gopte, we begin a 1,100-foot climb up to Tharepati (11,940 feet), looking
back at what seems like an impossible route, arriving in 6-7 hours. Perched
on a high ridge, the panorama extends clear to the Khumbu, where peaks near
Mt. Everest can be seen.
Days 15-17: (Tharepati-Chisopani) The next three days are
spent ascending and descending -- mostly descending -- many ridges as we head
down toward the Kathmandu Valley. We're greeted by the spectacle of the rhododendron
bloom again as we re-enter the forests, and our ridgetop campsites open up wider,
more expansive vistas from the Annapurnas to Everest. At Chisopani (7,000 feet),
situated on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley and our last camp in tents, we'll
celebrate our success with our hardworking staff and porters, honoring them
with a party. Over these three days, we descend 4,900 feet.
Photo: Melinda Goodwater
Day 18: (Chisopani-Kathmandu) For our last hiking day we have
one more ridge to climb before the long downhill to Sundarijal (4,430 feet)
on the outskirts of Kathmandu. We pass beautiful waterfalls, rhesus monkeys,
and lovely village gardens on the 3,500-foot descent in four hours. Re-entry
to chaotic Kathmandu is bitterweet as it's just a short drive back to the Potala
Guest House with plenty of time for hot showers and shopping before dinner.
Day 19: (Kathmandu) After breakfast we'll have a guided tour
of the ancient cities of Patan and Bhaktapur, each with its own kings, temples,
and Durbar Squares to show off offerings to its gods. Patan's museum is well
worth visiting, and the peace and quiet in old Bhaktapur is like going back
in time. We'll honor our trekking staff again at our farewell dinner at a favorite
Day 20: (Depart Kathmandu) We'll decompress over breakfast
at a restaurant serving American favorites before transferring to the airport
for our flights home.
The trip begins with pick-up from the international airport in Kathmandu.
The leader will provide guidance and contact information for a recommended travel
agent who can arrange flights from your home city once you are approved for
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Melinda Goodwater
Double-occupancy rooms in Kathmandu are included with the trip. Our hotel features
rooms with private baths and hot showers. It's centrally located within walking
distance of many temples and shops; plus it is staffed by friendly, English
speaking folks. Although not fancy, it is clean with several lovely gardens
to relax in.
On trek, we will share two-person Eureka Outfitter tents that offer plenty
of room for folks and their duffels. Porters will carry them and sherpas set
them up and take them down at each camp. A small amount of hot water is provided
each morning for washing and a toilet tent will be set up at each camp for privacy.
Boiled water and tea will be available at all meals and water purification will
be provided for treating your drinking water. Buying bottled water is discouraged
as the bottles are rarely recycled and end up along the trails.
Meals in Kathmandu will be in restaurants catering to western tastes and hygiene.
On trek our kitchen staff prepares hot breakfasts, dinners, AND lunches. Meals
feature Nepali, Tibetan, and American specialties. Nepal has a wide variety
of food and every growing climate, so fresh foods may be resupplied en route.
Vegetarians are easy to accommodate since dal bhat (lentils and rice) is the
Nepali staple and prepared at every meal. Any other food restrictions should
be indicated to the leader as far in advance as possible. Our staff is well
trained in preparing meals according to western standards of hygiene.
Any Himalayan trek should be considered moderately strenuous, meaning mostly
moderate hiking with a few strenuous days and this trek is no exception. Daily
elevation gains and losses could be as much as 3,500 feet on steep, rough, rocky
trails. The highest mandatory altitude is 15,120 feet at Laurebina La and the
highest camp is 14,400 feet. Several camps will be above 10,000 feet. All nights
will be in tents. You should be in excellent physical condition to do this trek
with recent hiking experience above 10,000 feet. Recommendations for an adequate
conditioning regime will be provided in a future bulletin to approved trip members.
Spring is the ideal time to trek in Nepal with typically dry, clear weather.
Rain is infrequent and usually only lasts a day. However, mountains create their
own weather and rain, snow, or a surprise storm can happen unexpectedly anytime.
Daytime temperatures of 50-75 degrees can be expected depending on elevation,
and nighttime temperatures may go down to the 20s at our high camps. Ultraviolet
rays from the sun are especially strong above 10,000 feet so long pants, long-sleeved
shirts, and high-value SPF sunscreen and lip balm are essential.
Although porters will carry most of your gear, you will need to carry what
you need for the day in a day pack weighing up to 15 pounds. You are encouraged
to hike at your own pace, stopping when you wish for photography or other interests.
We will have English-speaking sherpa guides hiking with us to keep us from getting
lost. You should be comfortable hiking 3-4 hours in the morning and 2-3 hours
in the afternoon after about an hour and a half break for lunch. Because of
the rough nature and steepness of the trails, hiking poles are strongly recommended.
As important as your physical conditioning is your mental preparation. The
more you familiarize yourself with Nepal before the trip, the more you will
be able to absorb and enjoy once you get there. The books in the reference section
would be a good starting point. Also, flexibility, patience, and a spirit of
adventure are necessary. You should be comfortable traveling in close proximity
with a group of people and be able to adapt easily to changing conditions. This
trip will be especially enjoyable for those with an open mind to embrace new
cultures and experiences.
Equipment and Clothing
A detailed equipment list will be sent to approved trip participants. Your
personal gear should be packed in a soft duffel bag -- no hard-frame packs or
suitcases. Duffel weight is limited to 22 pounds since each porter will carry
three of these. What you carry in your day pack is not counted in your duffel
weight. Tents and other trekking equipment and food is carried separately and
not counted in your allotment.
You must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry
into Nepal. A Nepal visa is also required and details to apply for that will
be provided later.
The following books should give you a feel for what the trek will be like.
Your local library is also a good resource.
- Mayhew, Bradley and Joe Bindloss, Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya,
9th edition, Lonely Planet Publications.
- Mayhew, Bradley, Joe Bindloss, and Stan Armington, Nepal, 7th edition,
Lonely Planet Publications.
- Moran, Kerry, Moon Handbook Nepal, Avalon Publishing.
- Nepal, Insights Guides, APA Production/Prentiss Hall.
- Herzog, Maurice, Annapurna, The Lyons Press, 1997.
Maps of our trekking area will be distributed in Nepal. Nelles Maps' Nepal
is a good map of the whole country.
Ninety-six percent of Nepal's fuel energy comes from wood. Since Nepal first
opened her doors to tourism, massive deforestation has occurred, resulting in
the loss of half of the national forest reserves. The rapidly expanding population
also demands more and more space to grow food, and these two factors have resulted
in a serious problem. It is said that Nepal's biggest export is the soil carried
down its rivers to India each year. In certain areas the environment is being
taxed to the limit, and we will have an opportunity to observe this problem
Sierra Club outings to Nepal are doing their best not to contribute to this
problem. In Kathmandu, our hotel uses solar energy to heat water, and on the
trek we use small kerosene stoves to cook on. Do not expect an evening campfire.
We try to lessen our impact in other ways as well. Our practice of not bringing
unnecessary gear and not burning kerosene to heat luxurious amounts of washing
water cuts down drastically on the number of porters needed -- while still keeping
individual porter loads to a reasonable weight limit. Other well-known trekking
companies sometimes employ literally three times the number of porters we do,
a practice that has negative impacts on the remote areas we'll visit.
Langtang National Park works with the people who live in the area. The Park
practices a multiple land-use method of resource management to combine environmental
protection with sustainable community development. Traditional subsistence activities
are woven into a framework of sound resource management, supplemented by small-scale
conservation and alternative energy projects to minimize the impact of tourists
and upgrade the local standard of living. We will be visiting the Park headquarters
on trek to see firsthand how responsible tourism and resource management is
improving the quality of life for the local people as well as the environment.
Besides observing deforestation, overgrazing, and Kathmandu's pollution, you
will also hike through pristine countryside and breathe clean air. The people
you meet on the trek are feeding themselves without the use of herbicides and
pesticides. The Nepalese people have a positive spirit and attitude, and are
learning to cope with the problems of the 21st century -- and to understand
the successes and failures of the modern world. It will become painfully clear
how luxurious our own lifestyle really is compared to that of the overwhelming
majority of the world's people, bringing into question our inequitable consumption
of the world's precious resources.
Your Western viewpoint will force you to question some of what you see, while
your experience in Nepal will be close enough to the land and people that, if
you are perceptive and wise, you will learn much beyond your formal education.
People from first- and third-world countries have much to learn from one another.
Hopefully, these experiences will make us better world citizens and involve
us actively in the search for a balanced, equitable, and sustainable way of
life for all of us on this planet.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Melinda Goodwater went on her first trek to Nepal in 1990 and loved it so much she returned 5 months later. She began leading treks there with her future Nepalese husband in 1992 and lived there through much of the 1990's. She has led over 90 Sierra Club outings everywhere from Alaska, the Sierra, and Rockies, to the desert Southwest. Timesharing between the U.S. and her Nepalese family gives Melinda an insight into the people and culture of Nepal not easily gleaned otherwise. Along with years of experience leading trips in remote and high-altitude situations, Melinda is also a Wilderness First Responder with 80 hours of first aid training. She welcomes you to join her Nepalese trekking family.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips