Langtang Gosaikunda- Helambu (Melamchi) Trek; Second solo travel of the year 2017!by Manoj
Posted on December 28, 2017 Travel/Photography
Gosaikunda Lake at an altitude of 4380 m is a very close trekking destination from Kathmandu. Gosaikunda Lake lies in Langtang region, Langtang National Park to the north of Kathmandu. Spiritually and naturally, this trek is getting a lot of attention in recent years. Thousands of pilgrims trek to Gosaikunda Lake each year on the full moon day of July/ August on the occasion of “Janai- Purnima” festival to take a holy bath. According to Hindu mythology, all the wrong deeds of people will wash away if they visit the religious lake of Hindu, Gosaikunda. Hindus believe that the lakes Gosaikunda, Saraswati Kunda, and Bhairab Kunda were formed when God Shiva plunged his holy Trishul (trident in English) into the ground in order to extract water. The Gosaikunda lake is commonly called “the frozen lake”.
Important facts about Gosaikunda trek
Trekking Grade: Moderate
Trekking Region: Langtang Region in Langtang National Park, Rasuwa
Best time to visit Gosaikunda Lake
The best time to visit Gosaikunda lake is during the times of Spring (February / March to May/ June) when the rhododendrons are in bloom and in the fall (September to November / December) when the weather is temperate and the skies are clear. However, the trek is possible throughout the year.
Gosaikunda Accommodation: Tea-houses with good facilities of food and shelter.
Himalayan Peaks View: Langtang (7,234m), Dorje Lakpa (6,966m), Ghyachu (6,670m), Ganesh Himal and Annapurna (8,091m)
Ethnic Tribes: Sherpa, Tamang, Brahmin, and Chettri
The weather in Gosaikunda is pretty unexpected and variable. Even though the trek is possible throughout the year, a bit of preparation is required. It is very less likely to have rainfall during the spring season in Gosaikunda. Similarly, during the season of Summer (i.e. June to August) skies are unclear with heavy rainfall. Autumn season witnesses perfect skies and flowers blooming along with greenery around. It’s cold during the winter which falls from January to February. The lake is frozen and is covered by snow.
Gosaikunda Trek Map (Gosainkunda Trek Route)
Background of the trek
Gosaikunda trek turned out to be my last travel for the year 2017. It’s the second solo travel of the year after Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake Trek in Nepali New Year. Since it was a solo trip, I had a hard time convincing my mom to get approval. And that’s because of two main reasons; first, I was having a problem with my right leg from the previous week and another one was because of weather conditions (it’s getting really cold). Eventually, mom’s expectations failed and my stubbornness won. The trek was finalized only two days before it happened. So it turned out to be very unprepared one.
Further reading: Trek to Paanch Pokhari- 2016!
Gosaikunda Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Kathmandu to Dhunche (around 8 hours of bus ride) and an hour of walk.
Day 2: New Village Hotel & Lodge, half an hour away from Deurali to Gosaikunda ( around 7 and a half hours of walk).
Day 3: Gosaikunda to Ghopte ( 5 hours of walk)
Day 4: Ghopte to Timboo ( 9 hours of walk)
Day 5: Timboo to Kathmandu (7 hours of bus ride)
Day 1; Kathmandu to Dhunche and an hour of walk
Early in the morning, I woke up before the alarm did. Maybe it was the excitement that was wide awake. Mom woke up as well and I could see a slight disappointment in her. Mom had a bit of relief when it was raining slightly; maybe she thought I wouldn’t be going. Before she could say anything else, I asked her to search for my raincoat and a rain cover. Another disappointment, she might have thought but I was so excited!! So I left home as soon as I finished drinking a cup of tea. Reached there in New Bus park at around 6:30 AM and sadly I couldn’t get any bus before 7:30. No any options were other than wait! In between, I met two of my friends there, had another cup of tea, bought some accessories and departed. With the bus speeding forward, I left all of my thoughts behind. Excitements, curiosities were bubbling up in the mind. Inevitable traffic jams, bumpy rides, and folk music are not new things for the travelers and neither for me. After 8 hours of the ride, we reached Dhunche. I then remembered that I had forgotten to bring a sunglass with me. So walked to see if I could buy one and luckily found a shop there. The shopkeeper charged me way more than the actual price but I had no options other than buying it because there were no other shops where I could buy a sunglass. Since I was traveling with zero preparation, I had no first aid kits with me. Got to a nearby pharmacy and bought some first aid kits. It was already more than 4:30 PM but I don’t prefer staying in the city area and Dhunche is one of them in the region. So, I began walking to the hills. As it’s winter, it got darker pretty soon and the idea of reaching Deurali seemed impossible with me not having light, trekking stick in the dark. After an hour of walk, I found a hotel which is around half an hour below Deurali. Right before reaching that hotel, I found a group of 4 guys who were planning to stay outside under the open sky. Courageous enough I thought! Talked to them about their previous travels and they departed. Sometime later, I was changing my clothes in my room those guys returned and decided to stay there. We were warming ourselves with beautiful conversation and fire. On the other side, there was a sound of the river offering us with soothing and melodious background music and billions of stars witnessing our presence in the countryside. And on top of that, hospitable people of the hotel was something I am going to remember 🙂 What a beautiful beginning! Couldn’t have become better than this…
Further reading: Manaslu Circuit Trekking- 2018!
Day 2; New Village Hotel & Lodge (Near to Deurali) to Gosaikunda (4380 m)
Deep sleep after a tiring bus ride the other day and I woke up at 8 in the morning. 4 guys had already left early in the morning. They were planning to Gosainkunda at any cost. I heard a few people talking outside of the hotel and asking if they could reach Gosaikunda that day. They seemed determined! Since I was planning to make this trip very slow with no rush at all, I did not set any specific destination and so, I was flexible. I got readied and tea was waiting for me. It was around 8:30 AM when I started walking. Chilly morning, serene walk and beautiful landscapes! Oh man, it was so mesmerizing. The only companions I could have a conversation with were the woodland of Oaks, pines, and rhododendron. Uphill walking and the spectacular views of Langtang range had already begun. I reached Deurali and found a group of 5-6 guys whom I had heard talk in the morning. They were having a tough time walking and were already exhausted. After a brief conversation, I continued my walk and half an hour later, I met the four cool guys. They were having foods somewhere in the cool shades below Dhimsa. A moment of surprise for both parties! I didn’t expect to meet them that soon. Maybe they thought the same. After a short rest, we then continued the beautiful journey together.
The uphill trail continues the tree-lines and lush vegetation behind for dwarf rhododendron and bushes. I stopped at Tea houses on the way for tea-breaks. The warmth of people made me stay for a longer time. And since those guys were walking slowly, I decided to walk on my own pace. We departed from Chandanbari making sure we’d be meeting again. It was only 2 PM when I reached Laurebina. I thought of staying there but there were no any people. The hotels and lodges were closed. Since I had plenty of time before sunset, I decided to walk one more step further and it was until Gosaikunda. When I asked the fellow travelers about the timing, they told me it’d take me not more than 2 and a half hours. It’d be 4:30 PM. Weather was pretty clear and so was the mountain range views.
Most of the times while walking solo, I used to feel the tiniest in the vastness of nature. But in this trip, I felt so vast from within! I was so grateful for everything. I’d stop while walking and felt like dancing. I danced as well. 🙂 With the pace getting slower, altitude rising and tired body, the mind got even serene and quieter than before. I was really really loving the trip. Everything I looked around seemed so beautiful and I used to feel content. It was around 4:30 PM when I reached Gosaikunda. There was only one hotel operating at that time because of fewer tourists traveling there. Right after reaching there, I sipped a cup of tea and prepared myself to shoot the sunset. After clicking loads of sunset pictures, I couldn’t resist staying there witnessing tranquility. The view of Gosaikunda and Bhairav kunda was mesmerizing! It got darker, colder and in turn, the food was waiting to be served. Ate the delicious dal-bhat and then I fell asleep as soon as I got under the warm blankets.
Further Reading: Solo Trek to Tsho Rolpa Lake- 2017!
Day 3 Gosaikunda (4380 m) to Ghopte (3430 m)
During the treks, waking up after 8 was usual for me. That was what happened that day too. But when I got outside after waking up, the view was captivating. Reflections of hills around the lake, blue sky and cool breeze; how cool is it? While staying outside in the cold chilly morning, I could feel nothing but sheer freedom and grateful. Out of four cool guys I met earlier, there were only three. One of them had health issues and therefore couldn’t come to the lake. Even though they had reached half-way through Gosaikunda from Lauribina early, they had to return and stay in Lauribina. I stayed with them for some time talking about how amazing the trek had been and the beauty of nature! Sometimes later, I left and began walking. It was an uphill walk to the East towards Surya Kunda. Walked for more than an hour and still found no marks of any people there. In between the rocks and boulders, the trail reached Surya Kunda and the further walk took me to the last pass of Gosaikunda (aka the East Laurebina La). This pass is the highest spot of this trek. After reaching the top, a long descent brought me to Phedi 3,630m. I had my lunch there at around 12 PM. After a nice lunch break and lovely conversation with the hotel owner, the journey continued which is also the entrance to the Helambu region. Normal vegetation starts from this point and one can witness rhododendron and other alpine bushes.
3 hours of slow and steady walk from Phedi led me to Ghopte (meaning overhanging rocks, nature’s gift of a cozy shelter for pilgrims). There were few small caves formed by overhanging large rocks. Ghopte has two teahouses and one was closed. The hotel owner was a lovely person to talk to and there were other tourists willing to have the conversation as well. Soon after, it was sunset time. Every one of us got outside and clicked loads of pictures. The moment was so captivating that you wouldn’t take your eyes off. Layers of clouds below us, polluted-free colorful sky and a breath-taking sunset. What more to expect!!! I clicked hundreds of pictures as the colors of sunset kept changing. All of us were sitting around the firewood and reflecting the trek so far. There were parties; a German, a Canadian, hotel owner, me and a group of three Dutch sharing each other’s experience. Out of them, Canadian’s stories struck me the most. He’s a trekking guide back in his country and shared the stories of struggles while traveling. And those stories of hardships have certainly become a beautiful memory now.
Further reading: Kalinchowk Travel Diaries 2016!
Day 4; Ghopte to Timboo
After the morning tea and breakfast, I was about to leave Ghopte and the hotel owner told that I could easily reach Melamchi in less than 5 hours. If it’s so, I’d reach Melamchi not late by 1 PM and also thought of catching a bus to Kathmandu the same day. While other people had already left the place in a hurry, I was not in a hurry. In less than 2 hours, I was there in Thadepati. Felt like a good place to rest and click pictures; so stayed there for some time, drank a cup of tea there and moved again. Descending down east, the trail rapidly took me through small Sherpa village of Melamchigaon at an altitude of 2620m.
Expectations vs Reality!
When I reached Melamchigaon, I was really surprised. I was thinking I’d reached Melamchi Bazaar but it was Helambu. And when I asked people about Melamchi Bazaar, they told me it’s too far from there. One of them funnily said, “you’ll reach Melamchi in three days if you walk from here!”. I was shocked to know but that was what it was. I had two choices either I had to stay there in Helambu and take the bus the next day or else walk somewhere on the way to Melamchi. One of the guys said that I could reach until Timboo and it’s 3-4 hours walk from there. Also, I work some personal work to do and had to reach Kathmandu the next day by noon at any cost. So I decided to walk until Timboo.
A bit of walking and I stopped for a lunch break. There were 3-4 people working. I had a conversation with them and they told me about the village. Due to the name of sacred Helambu valley, the Sherpas living there are called Hyolmo. It is also famous for apples and artistic Buddhist monasteries.
Further Reading: Mardi Himal Trek- 2019!
I paid for my lunch and continued again. Hours passed along with splendid landscapes and still, there’s no sign of reaching Timboo. Since the beginning of walk from Helambu, people told me it’d take around 3 hours to reach there. But I had walked more than 4 hours and still, people told me it’d take more than 2 hours. Lost the way? Damn it! yeah, I lost my way. It was already 5 PM and I had to walk two more hours to get there. And I asked people if there’s any possibility of staying somewhere near and “No” was the answer. I had no torch-light, no charge on my phone and had to walk for 2 more hours. Every time I met any person, I asked him/her to make sure if I was on the right track. Crossed through dense forests with plenty of langur scaring me at times, breathtaking waterfalls that would wash away my tiredness and the sounds of silence cleansing my mental worries. And finally, I was there at around 7 PM. It was pitch dark and I had another difficulty finding the hotel. Eventually, I found one and had to pay a little more than I was supposed to. Sadly, I had no option other than stay there. Tired legs were demanding deep sleep as soon as I entered my room. And the food was not ready. Took rest for some time, ate food and again got back to sleep. Difficult and tiring day but truly fulfilling and satisfying one for sure. 🙂
Day 5: Timboo to Kathmandu
The fifth and final day of the trek was all about the bus ride from Timboo starting from early in the morning at 6 AM. Bus ride continued until Kathmandu through Melamchi Bazaar, Zero Kilo, Dhulikhel, Banepa, Surya Binayak and Koteshwor. Because of traffic jams, road situation and too many frequent stops in between, it took me more than 7 hours to get to Kathmandu.
Gosaikunda Trek Cost
The total cost of this trek to Gosaikunda was less than NRs. 6ooo (i.e. $60) which included all the expenses (transportation, foods, accommodation and for some petty expenses like sunglass, first aid etc). If you’re a foreigner, the cost is going to increase because of the fact that you need to get trekking permit and the expenses for food and accommodation is slightly more as well.
Gosaikunda- Helambu trek holds deep significance in my life. I always wanted to go there but many times my commitments went in vain. However, I am truly grateful for being able to do this trek. I would highly recommend the trek lovers to go to this trek as it is pretty cost-effective as well. Even today, I get a bright smile remembering those beautiful moments of desperation, gratefulness, tiredness, solitude, beautiful conversation, meeting warm people and what not. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by! Happy traveling 🙂 🙂 🙂