The Langtang Trek is one of the most famous treks in Nepal. Many people budget 8 to 9 days and combine it with the Gosaikunda Trek. While this means you get to experience both iconic trails within a limited amount of time, we decided to take a different approach. Instead of rushing back down the valley once we had reached Kanjin Gompa, we decided to take it slow and stay a couple of days extra in Kanjin Gompa. But what is there to do there? This is how we spent our three days in the 3860 metre-high village.
Day 1: Hike to the base of the Langtang Lirung Glacier
When you stay in Kanjin Gompa you will see the Langtang Lirung Glacier looming over the village, surrounded by the peaks of Langtang Lirung, Changbu and Langtang Yubra. Once we caught the first glimpse of it we knew that we wanted to climb up to get a closer look at this amazing natural site.
From the monastery you can just follow the path leading up towards the glacier. After around an hour you will have to start a steep climb until you reach a plateau, from where you can admire the glacier. There is a path that leads even closer towards it, but for us this was the end as a very hostile yak was blocking our way. After having trekked up the Langtang Valley for four days, we didn’t mind a short day, and had a phenomenal picnic on top of the stones on the flat area.
From here, you have an amazing view of the bowl-shaped valley that is surrounded by impressing peaks. During the three hours we spent up there we saw several small avalanches coming down the mountain slopes, each sounding like a huge explosion. Sitting in this fascinating and sacred landscape in complete silence – except for the natural sounds of the snow, the glacier and a few animals – was one of my favorite experiences of the trek. Even my 8-year-old daughter sat there in silence for a while, taking it all in.
Day 2: Hike to the lake
The next day we decided to take it slow again and climb up to a lake we had seen from the glacier the day before. It did not seem to have a name. To reach it we went down to the monastery again, crossed the river and followed some pipes uphill. After a quite steep ascent we reached the lake. The view was amazing, with a backdrop of high mountains and the glacier. We followed one of the paths to the right of the lake until we found a spot to sit and have another picnic.
Sitting by the lake, enjoying some rotis rolled with omelet from our guesthouse, was exactly what we needed after the four days of travelling and ascending quickly. It is possible to walk around the entire lake and get closer to the glacier on the other side, but on this day, we decided to just enjoy the scenery without walking too much.
Day 3: Hike to the Kyanjin Ri viewpoint (4,600 m)
On the third day we set the biggest challenge for ourselves: to climb up to the Kyanjin Ri viewpoint that we had seen looming over the village the previous couple of days. Several paths led towards the viewpoint, and we started very motivated. The path wound higher and higher, and got steeper and steeper. When we were there it hadn’t rained for many days and the conditions were very good, but I would not want to climb that path after rain, or even snowfall.
After a climb that seemed much longer than it actually was (and some heart-stopping moments when my daughter stood at the edge of a 100 metre drop!) we arrived at the first viewpoint. In a sea of prayer flags a couple of benches were placed–the perfect spot for a small break. The view from here was already spectacular, and the village down in the valley looked like a toy village. We could see far down the valley, and Tibet seemed only a stone’s throw away.
After a quick snack we continued along the ridge to reach the second view point further up. The ascent was quite scary – the ridge dropped vertically to the left and still quite steeply to the right side. Nevertheless, we climbed at an ant’s crawl and around 45 minutes later we stood on the Kyanjin Ri viewpoint, at 4600 metres. From there we could see the glacier and lake again, but this time from the top. We stayed a long time taking in this amazing view, with only the sound of prayer flags flapping in the wind.
Unfortunately, the weather started to turn, so we decided to go down again. So we wouldn’t have to go down the same way, we followed the ridge a little bit further until we could turn right to descend through a side valley. Through a huge herd of yaks, the path quickly led us back to the main valley and then to Kanjin Gompa. When we reached our guesthouse, the first snowflakes started to fall, and we were very happy to be back. With a hot tea warming our hands it was beautiful to see the snow falling on the village from inside, knowing we had challenged ourselves so much and succeeded.
The next morning the entire village was covered in a thin layer of snow. After an amazing three days in Kanjin Gompa, our time was over and we had to go back – but the three days up there will stay in our memories forever.