Langtang National Park (LNP) is the nearest park from Kathmandu situated directly to the north of Kathmandu in the Central Himalayan Region. Langtang National Park was established in 1976 by His Majesty’s Government of Nepal to conserve the unique flora and fauna of the region. It has an area of 1710 sq. km. and extends over parts of Nuwakot, Rasuwa, and Sindhupalchok districts in the southern mountainous terrain of the Nepal-China (Tibet) Border. In 1998, an area of 420 sq. km. in and around the park declare a buffer zone.
The park represents a meeting point between indo-Malayan and Pale-arctic realms, and holds a rich biodiversity. LNP represents some of the best examples of graded climatic conditions in the Central HImalaya. Elevational gradients (ranging from mid-hills to alpine) coupled with complex topography and geology have produced a rich biodiversity unique patchwork of vegetation.
Sub-tropical vegetation characterized by Sal (Shorea robusta) forest in the southern section fo the park is gradually taken over by hill forest (2000-2600m) consisting of Chirpine, rhododendron, and Nepalese alder. the temperate zone (2600-3000m) is covered mainly by oak forest fading to old growth forest of silver fir, hemlock, and larch in the lower sub-alpine zone (3000-3600m). The Nepalese larch (Larix nepalensis), the only deciduous conifer in the region, is found in this park and few places elsewhere. Throughout these zones different species of Rhododendron such as R. arboretum, R. barbatum, R. campanulatum, and R. lepidotum (scrubs) to name a few, form a colorful understory. Tree species such as birch silver fir, Sorbus microphyla and twisted Rhododendron campanulatum are found near the tree line. It is here at 4000m Juniper and Rhododendron shrubs (R. anthopogon) slowly dissolve into the expansive alpine grassland meadows.
Langtang’s expansive high meadows provide summer habitat for numerous ungulate species such as musk deer and Himalayan tahr. The park is also well known for its populations of red panda, Himalayan black bear, snow leopard, wild dog, ghoral, serow and more than 250 species of birds.
The park also offers a rich cultural diversity. The three main ethnic groups in LNP are the Tamang, Yolmo, and Bhotia, each thought to have originated from Tibet. The cultures are discernible by language, house style, dress, ornaments, and customs. The Tamangs are traditional farmers and cattle herders of the region. Their farm lands and villages stretch south and west of the Bhote Koshi/Trisuli River. their religion is related to the Bon and pre-Buddhist doctrines of Tibet. While the people of the Langtang Valley are mostly Bhotias with recent Tibetan origin, many have intermingled with local Tamangs. Generally, they inhabit the higher elevational range. The Yolmo people of the Helambu region are often referred to as “Sherpa”. However, their language and socio-cultural set up do not resemble the Solu Khumbu Sherpa. They are rather more akin to Langtang Bhotias and may also have migrated from the Kyirung area of Tibet. Their religion and monasteries are rich in Buddhist culture. Other hill tribes and castes such as Brahmin, Chhetri, Newar, and Gurung inhabit the lower elevational range along the edges of the park.
While the main objective of the park is to preserve the region’s representative biodiversity, and equally important goal is allow the local people to follow the traditional land use practices that are compatible with conservation. The park has several human enclaves within the park boundary. Participatory management of natural resources is the key around such areas. Local people’s cooperation in controlling poaching, preservation of critical habitats, and monitoring the effects of tourism are encouraged.
Bufferzone (area adjacent to park boundary) management is a jointventure between the park office and the local communities. Local communites have a decision making role in the management of such areas. Additionally, the local communities of the BZ receive 50% of the park revenue for the better management of natural resources to ensure a sustainable supply of resources and community development.
September through May offers a variety of natural splendors, from lush temperate river valleys with screeching langur to spectacular old growth forest and glacial-craved cliffs rimmed by snow covered peaks. the weather is also relatively dry except January-February when one may come across snow.
Autumn is the best time to visit the Park, when brilliant greens fed by the monsoon fade to golden/amber against crystal blue skies, and grains ripen in the enclaves. A short mild winter promises cool temperature (below freezing at night), but uncrowded trails and colorful Tibetan New Year (Losar) celebrations.
By April, bursts of red, pink and white rhododendrons stretch into towering canopies of fir and oak forests. Advent of warm weather makes the Yak and Chauri herds ascend to higher elevation, making occasional camps in the pasturelands, to follow years of tradition. From June to August, skies are heavy with monsoon rains. During August, a lively festival at Gosainkunda Lake attract thousands of Hindu pilgrims and September withnesses spectacular display of wild flowers, white livestock herds, once again, return to lower pastures.
Places of interest
Three main treks routes: 1) Langtang Valley, 2) Helambu and 3) Gosainkunda Lake cover much of the Langtang National park and the southern Helambu region. Langtang and Helambu regions are connected through Lauribina La. All routes have the facilities of locally operated hotel/lodge, tea house, and camp grounds for groups. The park offers a choice of moderate to more difficult hiking with duration ranging from 3 days to 3 weeks. Lodges operate year round except during the peak winter when the trails are blocked.
Trekkers who take extra time to explore trailside wilderness (e.g. near Ghora Tabela and Kyanjin) hill top view point (Kyanjin), and cultural sites (notably in Langtang village and Melamchighyang, Tarkeghayang and Shermathang) will be well rewarded. One has to be self sustaining to venture remote areas of the park such as panch pokhari (five lakes), east of Helambu, the toe of Langshisa glacier, and upper level valley from Kyanjin: and over the challenging Ganja La in upper Langtang Valley.
Acclimitization and Safety
High Altitude Sickness (HAS) can be life threatening if elevation is gained too rapidly without proper acclimatization. Medical doctors advise against ascending more than 400m a day once above 3000m elevation. Alternatively, one can spend an extra night at 3000m and 3500m before ascending further.
Over exertion and dehydration contribute to HAS. Drink at least 3-4liters of water everyday besides tea and coffee which act as diuretics. Watch the health of your companions and porters. Symptoms of HAS are headache, dizziness, trouble in breathing and sleeping, loss of appetite, nausea, and general fatigue. If someone develops HAS symptoms, take the person to lower elevation immediately.
The Langtang-Helambu trails are rocky and slippery after rain or frost. Watch out for falling rocks while crossing landslides but do not stop. Never hike alone. Hiring local guides is strongly recommended on Ganja La (5121m) trek and on Lauribina La (4600m) during winter. Carrying a comprehensive first-aid kit is advisable as there is no medical facilities out of Dhunche. Emergency radio facilities are available at the army posts at Ghora Tabela, Langtang, and Magingoth. Telephone facilities are available at Singh Gompa and at major settlements in Helambu.
How can you help
Visitors to Langtang-Helambu are requested to support local efforts to conserve the natural and cultural heritage by observing the following guidelines:
– Avoid the use of firewood when possible by using alternative energy such as solar of kerosene. Order the same food at the same time as other people do while staying at a lodge to help minimize fuel use.
– Do not ask lodge operators to heat the room with firewood. Put on another layer of warm clothes instead. Blankets are available upon request at lodges.
– Guided treks should provide kerosene stoves for their staff to avoid the use of firewood. Currently, kerosene is available at a regulated price at Dhunche, Syabrubensi, Thulo Syabru, Langtang Village, Lama Hotel, Kutumsang and Melamchigyang.
– Avoid buying packaged food items that create rubbish. Chose local foods.
– Throw trash in rubbish bins and ask your guides and porters to to the same. Do not leave behind non-biodegradable wastes such as batteries, hard plastic, metal, etc.
– Purify water with iodine instead of buying bottle mineral water or using firewood-boiled water.
– Bury human waste and toilet paper far away from water sources, when toilet facilities are not available.
– Respect local customs and traditions. Respect religious sites (e.g. mani stones, prayer flags, monasteries) by passing them clockwise.
– Take off your shoes and hats before entering Buddhist monasteries. Ask before taking pictures, and do not smoke or talk loudly.
– Never take or purchase items of cultural importance shrines, or homes along the trail.
– Discourage begging, and lodge owners who ‘call’ you to their lodge.
– Do not put trash in cooking fires.
Support Local Socio-Economy
– Do not bargain for prices that are set by the village tourism committees. A portion of this charge goes to support clean up and conservation of the area.
– Hiring local porters and/or guides not only enrich your trip with indigenous knowledge but helps support local people.
– Be responsible for the safety and welfare of your porters and guides as they do for you.
Langtang Valley Trek (Dhunche-Kyanjin):
Starting Point | Destination | Hours | Altitude
Kathmandu (car/bus) > Dunche > 8-10 > 1960m
Dhunche > Thulo Syafru > 4-5 > 1420m
Thulo Syafru > Bamboo > 3-4 > 1975m
Syafrubensi > Bamboo > 4-5 > 1975m
Bamboo > Lama Hotel > 3-4 > 2840m
Lama Hotel > Ghora Tabela > 3-4 > 3000m
Ghora Tabela > Langtang > 3-4 > 3420m
Langtang Kyanjin > 2-3 > 3900m
Dunche to Helambu via Gosainkunda:
Dhunche > Sing Gompa > 5-6 > 3300m
Thulo Syafru > Sing Gompa > 3-4 > 3300m
Singh Gompa > Cholang Pati > 2-3 > 3550m
Cholang Pati > Lauribina > 2-3 > 3900m
Lauribina > Gosainkunda > 2-3 > 4380m
Gosaikunda > Lauribina pass > 1-2 > 4610m
Lauribina pass > Ghopte > 2-3 > 3400m
Ghopte > Tharepati > 3-4 > 3630m
Tharepati > Melamchighyang > 2-3 > 2650m
Melamchighyang > Tarkeghyang > 3-4 > 2560m
Tarkeghyang > Shermathang > 3-4 > 2600m
Shermathang > Melamchi Pul > 5-6 > 830m
Sundarijal to Gosainkunda and Helambu:
Sundarijal > Pati Bhanjyang > 5-6 > 1770m
Pati Bhanjyang > Kutumsang > 4-5 > 2470m
Kutumsang > Tharepati > 3-4 > 3630m
– An entry fee of NRs. 1000 should be paid at the National Park’s ticket counter at Tri Devi Marga, Thamel, Kathmandu between 9:15 am – 4:00pm before proceeding the journey.
– Camping inside the park should be made only at the designated areas.
– Purchase of wildlife trophies or religious artifacts are agins the law and can cause heavy penalties.
– Travel within the park between sunset and sunrise is prohibited.
– Visitors should be self sufficient in fuel supply (kerosene). The use of firewood is strictly prohibited.
– Flora and Fauna are fully protected and must not be distributed.
– Rubbish must be packed out, buried or disposed of in designated areas.
– Carry out non biodegradable items such as plastics bags and bottles.