Just a week ago, we saw a glimpse of the Langtang Valley from the village Thulo Syabru while visiting Gosaikunda. Langtang is one of the most hit district by the earthquake and is the place where our friend Chhembel and his family live. I, along with my husband, have been supporting his family since 2003. With our team we would drive directly back to Kathmandu, there was no time to walk into Langtang Valley. I would stay a few days in Kathmandu to meet people and follow up on agreements.
To cut a long story short, I rescheduled my flight to find out the current status of Langtang. I also wanted to meet Chhembel whose wife died during the earthquake and his lodge was completely destroyed.
On 10 january, Chhiree and I drove from Kathmandu to Langtang and started our trek from Syabrubensi that afternoon. From Sherpagaon, Chhembel joined us. He told us all the details regarding what happened, the current situation and future plans for the reconstruction.
Here are my findings so far :
It was heartbreaking to see the devastation and to feel the emotions of the victims. If we purely look at the trail, I found the situation hopeful as the trails are restored and partly readjusted. Enough lodges have reopened to make trek with overnights in lodges possible.
It’s absolute rewarding to visit Langtang, the area is still beautiful and the locals are so thankful to welcome you when you visit.
Start of the Route
It’s impossible to walk to low route via the Langtang-khola river (via Bamboo lodge), the area has been severely affected by landslides. I wonder how this area will be restored ever again. The start of the route now can only be done via the high route on the other side of the river with the villages Khangjim en Sherpagaon.
Khangjim (2300 m):very less damage. 5 out of 7 lodges are still functional.
Sherpagaon (2600 m); 3 lodges open. I didn’t know this trail to Langtang but it’s a beautiful route with wide open views.
There were 4 landslides on the way to Rimche where the trail connects again with the “normal” Langtang-trek
Rimche (2400 m): 1 out of 2 lodges are operating and the 2nd one will open soon.
Lama Hotel (2500 m): Enough lodges are restored.
Gumnachowk / Riverside (2770 m): Two teashops are destroyed. One of them due to landslide in october 2015.
Chunama (2800 m): The only lodge (Woodland) is restored and looks good.
Ghoratabella (3030 m): Destroyed by landslide and impossible to reach via the old trail. However, the trail is adjusted; a new wooden bridge is constructed to cross the river. Next up is about 2,5 km walk on the other side of the river. This part has plenty of possibilities for new lodges; it’s safe and there are enough flat pieces. This land is part of Langtang National Park. I am not sure whether anyone will be allowed to build anything in this area. The army camp was destroyed and is vacant now. You will rejoin the old trail after crossing the river next to the army camp.
Thyangsyap (3140): The lodges are destroyed by snow avalanche after the earthquake.The village might be rebuilt in the future.
Chamki (3230 m): 6 lodges are destroyed. Suspension bridge was also destroyed by the massive snow avalanche.
Langtang Village (3430 m): it’s hard to believe your own eyes if you know how beautiful its has been here before. The change is unbelievable. A town which used to be so beautiful is not the same anymore. Langtang was affected by an avalanche after the earthquake.
The lake flooded and came down: tons of ice, snow, rock and mud came down and are spread in the valley over a length of about a kilometer. The power of the avalanche was about 50% of the atomic bomb that was thrown on Hiroshima!
Nothing reminds you of the fact that there used to be a village here. It has become one big grey moraine and you can still find ice in the river.
The old village that lay a little higher is also destroyed, but here you still see some walls standing. It’s still unclear whether they will rebuilt here in the near future or not.
Mundu (3550 m): Few houses of this old village are partly restored and the two lodges are open.
Sindum (3600 m): 1 teashop is open and has one simple place to sleep
Kyangjin Gompa (3830 m): All lodges are mildly affected by a snow avalanche. At the moment, 3 out of the 25 lodges are reopened. This spring almost all the lodges will be open again and there will be plenty of choice to sleep. There is a lot of reconstruction going on in Kyangjin and helicopter deliver construction materials everyday.
If you don’t carry your own tent, you will have walk the part Rimche → Mundu / Kyangjin in one go. Thus, always carry your own tent. You can visit the woodland lodge after winter and can also go to Lama Hotel -> Mundu. It would be good if lodges are built fast at the height of Ghoratabella, on the other side of the river. This is also a good height (3000 meter) to acclimatize if you’re not used to the height yet.
Advise to the Nepali Goverment;
I spoke with Deepak Raj Joshi, the CEO of the NTB, Tej Raj Dahal (GHT) and Bacchu Shrestha (Ministry of Tourism) and my advice is:
The government should remove debris of the houses around Langtang as soon as possible.
It would provide employment opportunities for porters. Reconstruction of the area around Ghortabella needs to start as soon as possible, especially the areas where landslides occurred need to be made safer.
I am very thankful that I could make this trek. Even though there is a lot of misery, I also found a lot of hope especially after learning the way the locals are dealing with the entire situation. The area is so beautiful and makes me fall in love again with Nepal and its people. The way to support the people of Nepal is by going to NepalNow.
Courtesy: Katja Staartjes