Trek Relief: Langtang Valley, Nepal

 

Destination: Kyanjin Gumba and Kyanjin Ri peak

Max Altitude: 4779m/15,679ft

Trekking distance (RT): 54km/33.5mi

Activity level per day: 5-7 hrs walking


What  to Expect

Food and water

On treks in Nepal, it is customary to eat breakfast and dinner where you are lodging. The staple diet of Nepal is dal bhaat, or lentils and rice with a side of vegetables. If you have any special dietary restrictions or allergies, please be sure to indicate them on our volunteer application form. Though all food is covered on the trip, we encourage you to bring snacks and comfort foods from home for variety. 

As a service to our guests, our staff will be providing safe, treated Himalayan water at the lodges. Remember to leave your bottles at the dining table to be refilled!

 

 

 

Accommodation and showers

Rooms are on a shared basis. In Kathmandu, you will be staying at our lovely base at the International Guest House. On the trek, you will be sleeping in rustic Nepali teahouses. The rooms are clean, basic and generally double occupancy. Be prepared to use eastern squat toilets and for the possibility of no hot showers on the trail. If that is the case, our staff will be providing washing bins with warm water at the lodges.

The day doesn’t end when we stop hiking. There will be down time while food is being prepared, after meals, and in the mornings before departure. We will be providing yoga mats for some much-needed stretching, but how you choose to spend your time in the lodges is up to you! Feel free to bring games, instruments, hobbies, speakers, etc. to share with your fellow trekkers and staff. And who knows, perhaps the people who will enjoy the entertainment the most will be the locals!

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Laundry

Laundry services are available in Kathmandu, but on the trail you will have limited opportunity to wash your clothes. In the lower elevations small items can be hand washed and dry easily, but above 2,500m it may be too cold. Some people prefer to bring plastic bags to separate clean from dirty clothes and wait to get back to Kathmandu.

Electricity

On the trail there will be limited opportunities to charge your batteries, and expect to pay up to $5 per charge in some lodges. Please come prepared by bringing a headlamp/flashlight, extra camera batteries and a backup battery bank.

*Tip: to extend battery life, keep your batteries in your pocket to prevent them from being drained when it’s cold out!

 

Trekking Conditions

Trail description

The trail starts in Syabrubesi and follows the Langtang Khola (river) all the way to our final destination, Kyanjin Gumba. In total it takes 3 days to walk uphill and 2 days to return following the same path. Every few hours you will pass a settlement, populated by newly reconstructed homes and teahouses. The earthquake’s effects are evidenced by the various landslides that you will cross, which makes the trail quite rocky and uneven at times.

On the first day of the trek, the trail will take you up the forested canyon of the Langtang Khola, where langur monkeys are often spotted. By the second day you will leave the tree line and enter the broadening Langtang valley, where you will catch your first glimpses of yaks and zopkios (yak and cow hybrids). On the third day, you will pass an unimaginably massive landslide that marks the grave of Langtang Village, which used to be the largest settlement in the valley. The final stretch to Kyanjin Gumba is incredibly scenic and has many chortens and mani walls dotting the path. Kyanjin Gumba itself is a charming small town, and you will spend 2 glorious nights in this scenic settlement. The view of Langtang’s tallest peak, Mt Langtang Lirung (7246m), is extraordinary from Kyanjin Gumpa. On the 4th day, an optional half day hike up Kyanjin Ri peak will give you rewarding panoramic views, and is followed by volunteer work with the community. To return, we follow the same path downhill over the next 2 days. Our last day is dedicated to volunteering at our school site in Syabrubesi.

Himalayan conditions

Because we will be gaining 3,200m in elevation, what you experience at the beginning of the trek will be drastically different from the top of the valley. The weather can be unpredictable and change from clear skies in the morning to snow in the afternoon. Please prepare for all extreme weather conditions: bright sun, wind, rain, mud, ice, hail, and snow. The chart details the temperatures in Langtang Village (3430m), near the top of the trek.

The sun is much brighter and harsher at altitude, especially if there is snow. Fair skin will burn easily, and most people wear sunglasses and a large brimmed hat or baseball cap. The wind and cold can leave your skin chapped and cracked; thick moisturizers and vaseline and a buff or scarf to cover your face will help protect you from the elements.

The trail in Langtang can be quite rocky since we cross many landslides caused by the earthquake. Trekking poles are a good option for those who are older or are concerned about their knees for the long downhill descents. If you are unsure, bring them just in case - they can be collapsed and kept in your duffel if you don’t need them. High ankle boots will protect you from rolling an ankle, and they will provide you with more protection at our volunteer sites. Sandals will be a happy compliment to your boots and useful for showers, at the lodge, and resting your feet at lunch.

 

Training for the trek

Prepare yourself for walking 5-7 hours a day on the trek. Many people begin moderately fit and end the trek feeling amazingly healthy. To maximize your enjoyment on the trip, plan an exercise program that trains  you for endurance hikes well in advance before you go. Brisk walks are a good start, building up to include long walks up and down hills while wearing your hiking boots. Carrying a weighted pack will help you get stronger. Whenever possible, take the stairs to train for ascents/descents, and seek out exercise programs that build up your cardio.

The best way to prepare for altitude is to go to elevation - if possible, within 2 weeks prior to your trek spend at least a night or two somewhere 3,000m or above to acclimate.

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Health and Safety

Safety while volunteering

Please protect yourself at the school construction site by wearing high ankle boots while volunteering. Use your sunglasses as eye protection, and we will provide work gloves and dust masks. Before starting the volunteer work, your trip leader will be giving a safety briefing highlighting the potential hazards on site.

Immunizations

There are no official immunization requirements to enter Nepal, but the following should be considered with the consultation of your doctor:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningitis
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus-Diptheria
  • Polio
  • Measles, mumps and rubella
  • Japanese Encephalitis B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altitude Sickness

Acute mountain sickness (AMS), or altitude sickness, becomes a concern above 2,800m. The symptoms are a headache, feeling breathless on exertion, loss of appetite, nausea, difficulty in sleeping, dry cough, and/or general fatigue and may result in a serious condition. To learn more about AMS, visit: http://www.altitude.org/altitude_sickness.php

One drug currently known to prevent AMS is acetazolamide (diamox), which can be taken preventatively or as a treatment; start with 125 mg diamox every 12 hours, with a maximum dosage of 500 mg per day.  However, you should not use this medicine if you have cirrhosis, severe liver or kidney disease, an electrolyte imbalance, adrenal gland failure, or an allergy to acetazolamide or sulfa drugs.  It also causes some minor side effects, such as tingling fingers and a funny taste in the mouth.

Natural supplements to prepare the body’s cardiovascular oxygenation process are gingko biloba and chlorophyll, which should be taken (in the form of tablets or drops) consistently at least a couple of weeks prior to your arrival to high altitude.  Ginkgo biloba improves blood circulation and increases saturation in arterial oxygen, allowing the brain to tolerate lower oxygen levels. Chlorophyll increases the amount of red blood cells in your system; the more red blood cells there are, the more opportunities there are for oxygen to be absorbed.

During the trek, go up slowly, take it easy, and give your body time to get used to the altitude.  The body has an amazing ability to acclimatize to altitude, but it needs time. For instance, it takes about a week to adapt to an altitude of 5000m.

 

Travel Information

Nepal visa

Visa on arrival is available at the airport. A single entry visa for 15/30/90 days costs $25/40/100. You can use the automated kiosks when you exit the terminal. However, if the kiosks are not functioning you’ll need to provide a 2X2 photo to obtain your visa (bring one just in case).

Money and tips

1 USD is around 100 Nepalese Rupees (NRS). ATMs and money changers can be found right outside the airport and every corner in Thamel. There will not be any opportunity to take out or exchange money on the trail. If you plan on buying souvenirs or beers on the trek, perhaps prepare $100 in leisure money to spend.

Trek Relief does not cover tips - this is up to your discretion. If you appreciate the services provided by our staff, please consider tipping them. As a guideline, the suggested amount per participant for the entire 10-day trip is $100, to be divided among the staff. Generally, the trip leader receives 30% of the total and will be collecting the tips on our last night in Syabrubesi. Please prepare for this in Nepalese rupees before leaving Kathmandu.

Getting in

If the skies are clear, you will see the great Himalayan range as your plane lands in Kathmandu. It normally takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to Thamel, the main tourist center of Kathmandu. Airport pickup is arranged through our base at the International Guest House in Thamel - just send us your flight details! Our pre-trek briefing and high altitude yoga class is held in the lovely courtyard garden at 4pm the day before departure unless otherwise specified, followed by a welcome dinner.

We depart the hotel at 7AM the next day to catch the bus to Syabrubesi, the starting point of our trek. It is a bumpy 8-9 hours from Kathmandu; the road conditions in Nepal are very poor, but the scenery is well worth it! Try to sit on the left side for the best views.

 

Gearing up for the Trail

What we provide

As a service to our participants, we are providing a 55 liter trail duffel bag, sleeping bag and liner, and down jacket for use on the trail. These borrowed items will be distributed to you at our pre-trek briefing the day before departure. Please note: participants are liable for any damages to lent gear.

 

 

 

 

 

Luggage logistics

When packing for the trail, please consider that a porter will be carrying the trail duffels of two people with a maximum of 25 kg per load. The porters will pick up your duffel bag from your room each morning and deliver it to the day’s destination. Expect to not have access to your duffel until you reach the lodge at the end of the day.

During the day, you’ll be carrying your own daypack which should have all the Himalayan trail essentials: rain jacket/poncho, fleece top, sun hat and sunglasses, and water bottle/thermos.

If you are traveling with extra luggage that you won’t need for the trek, you can leave it at the hotel in Kathmandu free of charge.

Packing List

Please make sure that you have everything you need to survive the Himalayan elements. All of the essentials can be picked up cheaply and easily in Kathmandu, the knockoff trekking gear capital. You can even stock up on your medications in the local pharmacies - no prescriptions necessary! 

Regarding clothing, think conservative. Bare shoulders and knees, especially in rural mountain villages, are culturally inappropriate and should be avoided.

Electronics

  • Battery bank - there are limited charging opportunities on the trail
  • Headlamp - helpful at night
  • Spare batteries - for electronics
  • Universal outlet adaptor - most places have USA compatible sockets, but not all
  • Portable speakers - great for the trail, lodge, and volunteer days (optional)
  • Toiletries

  • Sunscreen - essential
  • SPF chapstick - essential
  • Vaseline/thick moisturizer - for chapped skin that comes with drier high altitudes
  • Hand sanitizer - most bathrooms don't have a sink or soap
  • Bandana/wash towel/wet wipes - we provide washing bowls at the lodge
  • Travel towel - most lodges do not offer towels

First Aid

  • Acetazolamide (Diamox) - for altitude sickness, not suitable for those with sulfa allergies
  • Gingko biloba/chlorophyll - natural alternative medicine to Diamox
  • Azithromycin - antibiotics (diarrhea, UTI, etc)
  • Electrolytes - for diarrhea and cramping
  • Ibuprofen/aspirin - general painkillers
  • Paracetamol/Actifed - for fevers and colds
  • Antihistimines - for allergies
  • Vitamin C supplements - there aren't many fruits or veggies on the trail
  • Bandaids - for small cuts and scrapes
  • Moleskin - for blisters

Clothing

  • Athletic shirt(s) - quick dry
  • Fleece jacket - wicks sweat and rain
  • Down jacket - ours is bulky and more ideal for lounging at the lodge
  • Rain jacket/poncho - keep in daypack at all times (essential)
  • Thermal pants - bottom base layer
  • Fleece pants - bottom mid layer/lounge pants
  • Hiking pants - wind cutting/rain resistant
  • Hiking boots - ideally high ankle and waterproof, broken in
  • Sandals - for lodge time/shower
  • Hiking socks - 3x
  • Thin gloves - for hiking
  • Sun hat - keeps the bright sun off your eyes (essential)
  • Warm hat - it can get really cold (essential)
  • Thin buff or scarf - keeps the wind and sun off your face (essential)

Trail Accessories

  • Daypack - 20-30L backpack with waistband and rain cover is ideal
  • Fannypack - to keep toilet paper, money, chapstick etc. handy (optional)
  • Sunglasses - for higher altitudes and snow (essential) 
  • Water bottle/thermos - suggested 2 liters total capacity
  • Trekking poles - helpful for bad knees (optional)

Travel Essentials

  • Passport
  • 2X2 photos
  • Copy of insurance policy
  • Luggage lock
  • Ziplock bags
  • Ear plugs