Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tamang Heritage Trail: Part I

Ok, so we're back from hiking a little early, and short on anything to do with the Langtang valley, instead we did just the Tamang Heritage Trail. I'll explain why in this post (or the next) but the short of it is that Kim wasn't fond of steep down hills in the snow, something there was sure to be more of in Langtang proper. This part aside, we had a great time, saw some great stuff and met some fantastic people. I was able to map the whole trail with GPS and the results can be seen in the Google Earth image below. I've color coded each days hike a different color, and the places we spent a night are marked as the house with a flag.

I was really happy with how my Garmin performed, getting what looks like really good data almost the whole trip. The only day things got a little jumpy was on day 5 (purple) when we were walking at the bottom of the valley and had our worst satellite exposure. On close inspection you can see that there is a slight deviation between reality and where Google has their imaging, it's just under a 100' shift to the west. I've mapped all my photos and POI in one KML file, so if anyone is interested just leave a comment or e-mail me and I can send you the file.

So to get to this region you catch a 7 AM bus out of northern Kathmandu, with an estimated travel time of ten hours. Despite being under 80 miles as the crow flies, several ridges, rivers, and miles upon miles of switchbacks mark the actual route, making it a very long ride. To add to the comfort, the bus is made for Nepali people, meaning if you are over 5' tall your knees hit the seat in front of you. Our bus made numerous stops along the way, onloading and offloading various bags of grain, rice, potatoes, people what ever. At one point we came across a traffic back up due to a blocked road. Apparently there had been an accident, the guy who had hit someone on a motorcycle had fled on foot, and to prevent his car from going anywhere until police arrived the road had been blocked. Two hours later we continued on our way and reached our destination after only 11 hours and a few bruises. That night we stayed at the Hotel Peaceful and I awoke with the worst dehydration headache I have ever had, I felt like someone had kicked me in the back of the head with a steel toe boot. Only time in my life I have been nauseous from pain, apparently caused from some odd muscles I used to hold my pack on the bus and a lack of proper hydration. Lesson learned I guess.
So anyway on to the trail. By the time morning rolled around I was feeling much better. The day started with about 2,500' ascent up a bunch of switchbacks that would get us to Rongga Bhanjyang a pass at just about 7,500'. Along this section we got awesome views of Langtang Lirung and the adjacent mountains. Along the trails were numerous Buddhist Chortens (pictured above) and mani walls. These all added to the already picturesque landscape.
After topping the pass we continued down the "road" for another couple miles to the village of Godam, from where we took a trail gently leading down the hill toward the village of Gotlang. This is where we ended our first day, and the view from the community lodge there can be seen above (the mountain is Langtang Lirung). The lodge was run by a man named Dawa who was incredibly helpful and made our stay very comfortable. The village was extremely photogenic and Kim got some of her better pictures of people here. We also had the fortune of sharing the lodge with a Dutch couple, the kind of people that you are grateful to spend dinner with chatting over whatever. Really interesting people.
Above is a picture of Kim being mobbed by children who want their photo taken. They would all yell "One Photo?!?" and then after the shot they would run to see their faces in the preview screen, then run away again so they could get in another picture.

From Gotlang the trail descended gradually along the ridge down to the Bamdang Khola (a river) which we crossed then turned north along the Chilime Khola (another river) to the town of Chilime. We then crossed this river and began the long climb up to Gongoling, where we had lunch. While waiting for lunch some woman came through town singing and dancing which was kind of cool. The lodge owner was also very helpful and after lunch we made our way to Tatopani (meaning hot water) where we spent the next night. Here they also had hot springs and we were able to get a fairly nice bath.

I'll Continue the rest of the hike's details in the next post. My pictures can be viewed from the link on the side of the page "Tamang Heritage Trail" it's the mini slide show. Kim's much better and more numerous photos can be viewed HERE.


  1. I'm not sure if old post comments get checked, but if so, I'd like a copy of your Tamang trek .kml file so I can look a bit more closely. Thinking of doing this trek this fall.

  2. Thanks for all your detailed posts on trekking. I am wondering how to get that .kml file from you.

  3. Hey Mark,
    I get e-mailed for every comment on the blog, so I always can reply to ones on old posts. I was recently away trekking up in the Everest region and that is why I didn't reply right away. If you would still like the KML file please just e-mail me at and I'll send it over to you.

  4. Hello Mr Smith,

    I am planning to go in a few days for the same trip as you did last year, ie Tamang+Langtang+Gosaikund so I want to ask you something: it seems you did all the way by yourselves without any porter or guide, am I right? Woould you say it is feasible to do it for someone alone, first timer in Nepal?
    Thanks for your insights


  5. Hey Bart,

    Yes, I've never used a guide or porters in Nepal, and on any of the primary tourist trails it has never been an issue. While I should point out there are some inherent risks any time you travel alone, Nepal is very easy to get around, and with all the people and villages it's difficult to really get lost. The Langtang Valley especially does not even have any wrong turns you can even take, just a path and 2,000 meter cliffs on either side. After passing over the Gosainkund lakes and as you descend back to Kathmandu via Helumbu the trails do get a bit more confusing as the middle hills are inhabited by lots of people and so there are lots more trails. If you're ever unsure just ask someone to point you in the right direction and you shouldn't have any issues. Best of Luck with your trip!

  6. Hello! I'm going to nepal next week. Can you sent the gps file to me? I sent a email. Thank you.

  7. Hey Raul,
    I have to look and see if I can find the old GPS file, it's from 2010- I'm sure I have it somewhere. I no longer use the earlier e-mail address listed above in the comments, so please contact me at and I'll do my best to get you the file.


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