Finally after so much time spent in Kathmandu we are going out for a trek!
Nepal is a great country for trekking. The landscapes are breathtaking and despite some of them being through the Himalayan range, your hike can be as easy as you want: There are a lot of tea houses and lodges so you don’t need to do camping; there are guides and porters that will bring all your belongings for you; there are even organized treks where you just need to walk freely while others guide, carry, mount the tents and even cook for you. In our case, we’ll do everything by ourselves since we don’t like paying too much and don’t feel it is necessary to have a guide or a porter.
The most popular treks in Nepal are the Annapurna circuit, the Annapurna Sanctuary (Base Camp), and the Everest Base Camp.
These treks, despite having big names on them are way too crowded and we are not very attracted by the high elevation after having been in Tibet recently. So we decide to do the Langtang Valley trek: an 8 to 10 day trek through a valley with different villages and landscapes, going up from 1400 to 3800 meters of altitude and having the possibility to connect to other treks through Helambu or Tamang areas. It doesn’t deceive as you will see in the pictures. Totally recommended! Jump to the last page if you want practical info.
The adventure starts at 6:30am at one of the Kathmandu bus stations—a full of dirt and quite busy turn of the road. Some buses stop for some minutes wherever they can. Other smaller buses/vans just slow down while a kid hanging from the door yells the destination to catch possible passengers.
Our bus finally arrives after asking many times about it. It is a standard long line Nepali bus, which is a totally transformed, way old and colorfully painted piece of metal with wheels. Standard messages of “Speed Control” on the front and “Please Horn” on the back can be seen. A melodic and amusing horn with different tones can be heard. Our backpacks share space on the roof with sacks of potatoes, sacks of peas and boxes of tomatoes. We share a sit inside with an extra sack of ginger and some other postal packages that will be delivered along the way. Fortunately this bus is the “express” variety of the line which means it’s not packed with people and doesn’t stop too often.
Numerous and frequent buses falling from the cliffs make the necessity of a bus crew. The experienced driver will drive honking all the way through zero visibility turns. A kid assigned to the door will whistle in different tones according to the proximity of the bus to the cliff. Another man who speaks good English is in charge of the passengers and their park permit paperwork. Everything seems to work surprisingly fine!
We finally arrive to Syabru Besi and a pile of trash, including plastics, is being burned at the entrance of the village as a welcome, smoking the main road with a horrible smell. We walk around a little and finally go to sleep for 3 dollars the room.
The Lantang Valley trek is going all the way up until the end so it is a bit exhausting for us because we are not in good shape contrarily to the Nepali porters, also called by us “Supermen”, because they go at triple speed carrying up to three backpacks!
The first half of the trek is the steepest and goes along the river. Everything is forest with lots of beautiful vegetation and a bit cold. Some signs point us in the right direction; there is only one crossing without a sign but we just need to choose the one that goes along the river. The lodges, found every hour of walk, are generally comfortable and the prices progressively increase the farther you go. We usually agree for some discounts and do not pay for the room but only for the food, with very similar menus everywhere.
The people around the trek are very friendly and pretty much everybody greets with a “namaste”, except women with grumpy faces. Accommodation is a strong business here and of course comes with its advertising. Several people sell their lodges along the way giving business cards and owners pop out of their houses greeting us and insistently willing for us to stay or drink some tea. Hey, there is even rock advertisement!