GHT Langtang & Helambu Section, Lower Trail
This is the section which is closest to Kathmandu. Despite of its closeness to the capital, it is surprising to see how traditional the life in these villages is. Both men and women are often dressed in traditional dress, and you see many plugging the land with oxen. The villages offer an interesting mix of Buddhist and Hindu cultures, with Chettri, Newari, Tamang and Sherpa villages. The trail goes mostly through the countryside, but sometimes also through beautiful forest. You have amazing views of the Langtang range and Dorje Lakpa.
: Teahouse/homestay/Camping (it is recommended to take a tent)
- Day 1 Kathmandu- Barabise (870 m) Barabise is 78 km to Kathmandu, which takes about 3-4 hours by bus. It is a bustling bazaar town, which has a couple of basic hotels and restaurants.
- Day 2 Barabise (870 m)-Jalbire (830 m) 8 hrs This is quite a long day, with a total distance of about 21.5 km and a total ascent of 1523 m. But it is a beautiful walk through agricultural landscapes, passing charming villages.From Barabise you climb up steeply, leaving the hustle and bustle of the town behind you quickly. After about 45 min you reach the small settlement of Kalikha (1358 m), after which the climb gets less steep. The trail goes alongside agricultural terraces, following the Dudh Khosi downstream, which is flowing very far below you.After about 1 ¾ hr from Kalikha you reach the highest point (1645 m), which offers you a splendid view of the Dudh Khosi valley and the hills in the distance. The road is going down slowly to the village of Chimling (1576 m; 45 min). Chimling has a few local restaurants and makes a good lunch break.After Chimling the trail follows the Sunkhosi Nadi in the distance far below. Although this area is mostly inhabited by Hindus, you do pass some ruins of stupas. After about an hour you pass the village of Mankha (1491 m), after which the trail starts climbing again, going through the fields, to Chilauni (1594 m; 1 ¼ hr). The hill at the other side of the valley is completely terraced, a beautiful sight, and sign of hard work!It’s another hour to the village of Kalleri (1330 m). It’s a beautiful walk along a small trail going through agricultural terraces and small forests to Phulpinkot (1189 m; 1 hr). Shortly after the village the trail goes down steeply (45 min) till you reach Jalbire (830 m).Jalbire is a Newari village and has a charming main street. There are 4 small, simple local guesthouses.
- Day 3 Jalbire (830 m)-Khobre (2435 m) 8 hrs Today the distance to cover is less than the previous day (16.5 km), but there is a lot of climbing involved, with a total ascend of 2180 m.The walk starts going through the charming main street, passing various Hindu temples. You cross a big suspension bridge over the Balephi Khola and walk on a small path through the fields. The trail soon starts climbing up the hill through the forest, offering great views to Dorje Lhakpa (6966 m). You pass the spread out village Batase (1300 m; 45 min) and Phulping (1520 m; 2 hrs). In Phulping you can take lunch, but there are no official restaurants. If you ask around, you can ask locals to prepare dal bath for you (Note: after Phulping there are no other food and few water refill possibilities for the next 4 hours).After Phulping the trail climbs to the top of a ridge and gives beautiful views to both sides on the green hills. You enter a lush forest, which later changes into bushes in a rocky landscape. About 2 hours after leaving Pulping you reach the village of Bhasre (2005 m). The trail continues climbing for a while and when it goes down you enter a beautiful forest again, offering amazing views to the Himalaya (among which Dorje Lakpa (6966 m) and the Langtang Range.The last 2 hours to Khobre you will be walking on a dirt road, which passes through pine and rhododendron forests and agricultural fields. You pass the village of Poserel Lamidada (2250 m), from which it is 1 ½ hours to Khobre (2434 m). Khobre is a small Sherpa village from which you have amazing Himalaya views (Langtang range and Dorje Lakpa). There are 2 small guesthouses with a campsite.
- Day 4 Khobre (2435 m)-Pokhare Banjang (1575 m) 9 hrs Shortly after Khobre you pass the small Sherpa settlement of Okhreni (2293 m). The Buddhist culture is easily visible, with the bright white stupa’s, a monastery and many prayer flags. You keep following the road past Okhreni and take a trail descending through the forest, with again beautiful views over the Himalaya range.About an hour after leaving Khobre you cross a small bridge (2066 m) next to a waterfall, and continue Nepali Flat walking. After crossing a suspension bridge (2030 m) you go down steeply through the countryside to the big Tamang village Bote Namla (1795 m; 40 min). You follow the trail down through the village and countryside to another suspension bridge (1680 m; 30 min after Bote Namla). The trail goes Nepali Flat again, first through terraces and then through a rocky landscape with bushes, before descending to the Hindu (Chetri) village Tar Namlang (1440 m). You descend towards the Indrawati Nadi River, which you follow upstream to the Tamang village of Chinde (970 m). There are a few local restaurants here, which can provide dahl bath.After Chinde the trail starts climbing again and enters a forest, passing a big white stupa, surrounded by prayer flags and another Tamang village, Bhaskarka (1450 m). You are walking through the fields again, with some small forests. You pass the village of Labgaon (1660 m) which has a beautiful white stupa, with at the back the ruins of an old stupa. From here it is another 45 min to Pokhare Banjang (1575 m). Pokhare Banjang is a Tamang village, with 3 small guesthouses. You can pitch your tents around the stupa.
- Day 5 Pokhare Banjang (1574 m)-Gyalthung (985 m) 2 hrs A short and easy day to the little town of Gyalthung so you have time to rest from the long days before. The trail is going down through the fields. This area is quite populated and you are passing several villages, like Bartitok (1356 m) and Dubatsor Chap (1172 m). Just after Dubatsor Chap a shortcut brings you on a small trail through beautiful terraces. You pass a small village at the side of Melamchi Khola (River), Garibesi (996 m) and follow the river upstream. After about 15 min you reach a suspension bridge, which brings you to the small town Gyalthung (985 m). There are a few basic local guesthouses in Gyalthung and nearby the village is a resort (Two Rivers Resort).Gyalthung is accessible by road, a bus to Kathmandu takes about 4 hours.
- Day 6 Gyalthung (985 m)-Samundratar (915 m) via Gul Bhanjyang (2111 m) 8 hrs It is almost 25 km from Gyalthung to Samundratar, first of all climbing to the village Gul Bhanjyang at 2111 m and then going down again. But as a big part of the way is going over a dirt road it is not too difficult to do this stretch in one day.From Gyalthung you follow the road in northwestern direction following the Melamchi Khola upstream. You pass a construction side; the Melamchi water supply system which is also providing water to Kathmandu. After this you start climbing, passing the small settlement of Bolde (1630 m). After Bolde, the dirt road becomes a small trail which is going up steeply through forest and fields, passing the small village of Gurungaon (2008 m). You arrive at Gul Bhanjyang (2111 m; 3 ½ hrs from Gyalthung), inhabited by Tamang and Sherpa people.Gul Bhanjyang is on the Helambu trekking route to Lake Gosainkund, so you find nice lodges here, which makes it a good place for lunch. It is connected to a road again, which you follow in northwestern direction. You pass a white stupa and prayerflags, which actually is a monastery. From here you are going down through the fields, passing a few Tamang villages, like Thulo Golbu (1938 m) and Dadagaon (1700 m). Seen the fact that you are so close to Kathmandu - it is about 25 km as the crow flies - it is surprising to see how traditional the life in these villages is. Both men and women are often dressed in traditional dress, and you see many plugging the land with oxen.After about 2 ½ hours after leaving Gul Bhanjyang, you cross a river (by a suspension bride or if the river is low by stone hopping), at Jhaghare (1286 m). You follow a dirt road, with the Chake Khola below you and pass the village of Rautbesi (1149 m; ½ hr), from which it is about 1 ½ hours easy walking through the countryside to the little town Samundratar (915 m). Samundratar is a nice town with a mix of Hindu and Tamang people. It has a few shops and small local guesthouses/homestays without a name, ask around.
- Day 7 Samundratar (915 m)-Betrawati (605 m) 9 hrs This is a very long day, with a total distance of about 30 km and a total ascend of 1547 m. It is also possible to stay overnight earlier on the way, in Narja, Chokhate or Kotunge (camping recommended).You leave Samandratar in northwestern direction, crossing a blue suspension bridge over the Chake Khola. You follow the river, and it is easy, mostly flat walking on a dirt road, which after the village of Sabesi is even asphalted. You are walking through beautiful countryside scenery, passing villages like Koskade (734 m) and the small bazaar town of Kharanitar (800 m; 2 hrs after leaving).Shortly after Kharanitar you take a small path at the right side of the road, going up steeply through terraces, crossing a dirt road a few times. After about 1 ½ hrs you reach the village of Narja/Narjamandap (1070 m-11 53 m). In Narja are a few local restaurants, where you can take lunch (or even stay for the night, camping is recommended).You keep on going up, passing the villages of Narja Banjyang (1278 m), Narja Moria (1330 m) and Martum Banjyang (1367 m; 45 min after Narja). After Martum Banjyang it is easy and almost flat walking on a large path through the fields, passing Garigaon (1326 m). You arrive at a white stupa and a brightly painted gompa, surrounded by prayer flags. This is Gore Banjyang (1390 m). From here you go right, and down through the fields on a beautiful trail.You can also go straight at Gore Banjyang, then you will reach at the village of Chokhate (about ½ hours), where you can stay overnight (camping recommended). From Chokhate, there is a trail going down to Kuwapani (963 m), from which you continue to Betrawati.You pass the village Kotunge (1137 m) and enter a forest. The landscape is completely different now, you are mostly walking in the forest, high on a slope, with the Phalakhu Khola (River) at your right side far below you. You are passing a few villages surrounded by fields, like Kuwapani (963 m) and Mohabir (899-859 m). About 2- 2 ½ hrs after Kotunge you get at the same level of the Phalakhu Khola. It is then still about 15 min through the fields to the town of Betrawati (605 m). Betrawati is a small bazaar town, with a few local restaurants; some can offer a place to stay upon request.
- Day 8 Betrawati (605 m)-Kathmandu 5 hrs From Betrawati you can take a bus to Kathmandu (5 hrs).