What Camping in the Himalayas is Really Like
The grass was warmed by the gentle sun; the pasture was open before us. Some wild horses stopped for a few seconds to check us out. I guess we didn’t seem to present any danger to them as they continued their relaxed feast. Some wild yaks crossed the river a little lower down. Our breath was hard, as we were above 4000 metres altitude. We were enchanted, so we decided to lay down and become part of this scenery.
Glaciers and high peaks towered above us. We were in Langtang, beyond the last village of the valley, Kyanjin Gompa. There was a further 12 kilometres of uninhabited valley. I wished so badly to have had a tent with me. At this moment, I decided I needed to have a camping adventure in the high Himalayas.
Here I am, a year later, lying in my tent and listening to the snow fall on the outer lining of my tent. I wonder if it will hold. I have a headache as I am at 4650 metres. I know I should drink some water but I am afraid of needing to get out of the tent to pee. It is difficult to sleep at this altitude. Plus, it is cold. I am wearing all my clothes and my sleeping bag is quite warm, but I still feel a shiver from time to time. The nights seem so long…
I doze in and out of sleep and I see the dark is becoming milder: the sunrise is close. I gather some courage and open my tent. Snow falls on my hand. The scenery is so different now: everything is white, and the clouds are very low. But, it is not as cold as I expected. It is time for hot noodle soup, the treat of the day. While I wait for it to warm up, my heart also warms as I look around. I love these mountains! There is no-one else here. The small river murmurs a few feet away, not quite frozen. The peaks around seem untouchable. Most of them are.
My soup smells divine. How easy is to be content in the high mountains. A quick “shower” in the river and a fresh pair of underwear can mean the world. A simple hot noodle soup rivals a fancy dinner.
My dream of camping in the Himalayas has come true. I looked for a valley where not many tourists go. A place that can be explored beyond the small villages full of guest houses. Although one can camp almost anywhere in Nepal, while in villages I prefer to stay in guest houses. The people are welcoming and it is an opportunity to give back to the community.
Rolwaling is unfrequented by tourists. However, a few alpinists do come here, as most of the valley’s peaks are unclimbed. At the end of the valley sits the biggest glacier lake in Nepal: Tsho Rolpa. Along the lakeside there are some wonderful camping places. Being just two hours away from the last village, Na Gaon, it is quite easy even for a first-time Himalayan camper to have an adventure here. Just make sure you take enough food with you, find a good spot that’s sheltered by the wind (there are plenty of bivouac shelters already made), put up your tent and enjoy.
I spent two days camping by the lake, enjoying amazing sunsets and quietness. I had a yak coming by my tent every morning. I guess the grass next to my tent was his breakfast. I saw colorful sunsets from the edge of the lake. I explored the route towards the glacier, which leads to the Tashi Lapcha Pass.
If you are new to camping in the Himalayas, especially the high mountains, the Langtang or Rolwaling Valleys are good places to start. In Langtang you will more easily find gear to rent or guides to accompany you. I had my own camping equipment and I advise others to bring their own too, as what you will find for rent might not be very light. If you have never camped in the high mountains before, it’s a good idea to organize a camping adventure through a trekking company, or arrange it with locals in the valley.
If you have trekked already in the Himalayas and you want to try something different, then this is definitely an experience to have.