• Adventure
  • 08 January, 2017

Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail

Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail
Briddhim village, on the Tamang Heritage Trail. Photo: Iuliana Marchian.

The Tamang Heritage Trail is close to the famous Langtang Valley, but sees fewer trekkers. It can last between five and seven days (if an optional visit to the Tibetan border is included) and passes through Tamang villages, high into the mountains. It was set up as a community-based project to improve local agricultural life through tourism.

The first day, we started the ascent from the main street in the town of Syabru Besi (1467m) and followed a steep footpath. Soon, the dirt track turned into stone steps, and passed through mustard and buckwheat fields. At noon, we stopped for dal bhat at a teahouse, at Bahun Danda Pass (2100m).

After lunch, we climbed quickly at Tsamkhang Stupa, where a lama with a group of Tamang women recited mantras. We continued the trek along a dirt road above the Goljung Valley. We stopped overnight in Gotlang (2238m), a picturesque village where houses have wooden shutters with carved, colorful Tibetan decorations. In the evening, I tasted the local Sherpa tea or suchia (melted yak butter, salt, yak milk, and Nepali tea) and the dhendo (cooked maize flour with vegetables and spicy sauce).

Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail

Traditional fare on the Tamang Heritage Trail. Photo: Iuliana Marchian.

On day two we followed a line of stone pyramids (chortens) with written mantras. They guided us towards the Bamdang Khola Valley. Once the valley is narrowed, we followed a path paved with stone steps, and came close to Chilime village (1762m). As we approached the junction with the Chilime Valley, we passed other chortens and walls of stone with carved and painted mantras. Ahead, far above the clouds, appeared the lofty Langtang peak, over 7000 meters high. We crossed the Chilime River on a suspension bridge and started a long and exhausting hike towards Tatopani village. We stopped for lunch at Cherka hamlet (2038m) and then climbed steeply to Gonggang village (2227m). Our way passed smoothly through a traditional rural landscape, dotted with authentic households and plots of agricultural land. From Gonggang, we walked along a contour line that went up constantly, to Tatopani village (2607m). Tatopani means ‘hot water’ in Nepali and seeing the name on a map usually designates a hot spring, but only empty pools remained after the 2015 earthquake. Tatopani is actually a small resort, with half of its houses having been turned into lodges for trekkers.

Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail

Goljung Valley, as seen from Bahun Danda Pass. Photo: Iuliana Marchian.

The third day, we crossed an impressive subtropical forest with climbing plants, on our way to Brimdang hamlet. The route had ups and downs even though we had to reach 3000 meters. In the background I could see Ganesh Himal, which is 7422 meters high. Brimdang (2848m) had a few houses, a deserted gompa and a homestay, where I watched a woman cooking nettle sauce for dhal bhat. Except for the final part, most of the path to Nagthali Ghyang (3165m) climbed gently. We spent two nights there. As a one-day trip, it’s possible to climb to the top of Taruche (3700m) for a panoramic view of both Ganesh Himal and the Langtang Ranges.

On the fifth day we went down to Thuman village along a paved route with stone steps. The noises into the trees helped us spot monkeys with white heads and long tails. In Thuman (2338m), the police checked my passport and trekking permits. The village was full of smiling children and traditional houses with decorated wooden balconies. Below Thuman we reached a group of chortens where the footpath split.

Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail

Woman cooking nettle sauce in Brimdang hamlet. Photo: Iuliana Marchian.

The way to Briddhim had been slightly damaged by the earthquake, but it was passable. We came down to the Bhote Koshi River Valley next to a suspension bridge, from where we went up to Lingling village (1737m) and had lunch. Later, we climbed other stone steps until the end of the village. After crossing a pass surrounded by prayer flags, we descended steeply into a valley full of waterfalls. From there, we hiked quickly to Briddhim village (2229m). There, water mills spun prayer wheels clockwise and women made woolen bags on looms. In the evening, we enjoyed a tasty dinner cooked in a clay oven.

On the sixth day, the downhill to Syabru Besi followed an exposed mountain path, barely visible within the tall grass. Along our way, we again saw monkeys in the trees and even a spotted deer. We continued descending parallel with the Bhote Koshi River Valley and reached Wangal hamlet (1639m). Further, the footpath brought us to the last suspension bridge of the trek, where the well-known Langtang Valley starts.

The Tamang Heritage Trail offers an authentic experience of the traditional Tamang villages, and it is a fine add-on to the Langtang trek. You can experience cultural interactions as well as expansive mountain views. It is a unique trail with an important heritage value.

Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail

In Nagthali Ghyang. Photo: Iuliana Marchian.

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