Saturday, November 15, 2014

Helambu Trek, Nepal

Nepal is one of the top trekking places in the world, with the famous Annapurna Himalayan range as one of its most popular and most visited backdrop. Treks range from 3-18 days, so there is one to fit most people's schedule and fitness. And this is only one part of Nepal!

I've decided to try a less touristy trek, and I have 6 days. So I opted for the Helambu trek, which is part of a bigger Langtang-Gosainkunda-Helambu trek. The Langtang region is also a beautiful trekking region, and Helambu is south of the mountain range. Here's some feedback regarding this trek.

One of the plus points of this trek is its accessibility from Kathmandu. Trekkers to the Annapurna region would have to get to Pokhara, which is either a 7-8hr bus ride or a flight. The Helambu trailhead, on the other hand, is just an hour bus ride away from Kathmandu! At the end of the trek at Melamchi Puul Bazaar, it is also just a 4hr bus back to Kathmandu.

The highlight of the trek is the 3rd day/night at Therapati (3600m). So essentially, the first 2 days of the trek is the ascent to reach Therapati (from 1500m), and the 4th+5th day is the descent. The thing I didn't like about the trek is that most of the ascent (and descent) is all "bunched up". Especially the 4th day after Therapati, it was a continuous 4-hr steep descent which is a sure recipe for feet blisters and damaged knees.

The scenary during the trek is mostly of terraced fields and villages against the mountainous backdrop of the Langtang Himal, Jugal Himal range etc. So expect plenty of greenery. However, my first 2 days of the trek was marked by heavy mists and clouds, which is not common at this time of the year (Oct). So even though at Chisopani (first night), famous for its sunrise views and popular for weekend trips by the locals, I didn't quite get to see a good sunrise. Luckily, when I arrived in Therapati, the weather turned for the better, and it was a spectacular highlight. The lodge/guesthouse was set amidst a spectacular backdrop of mountains, and the setting was picture-perfect. Add to it a beautiful sunset, and an equally enchanting sunrise the next morning, it certainly washed away any negativity of the previous days.

At the end of the day, I had mixed feelings for the trek. If not for the wonderful highlight at Therapati, I would not have enjoyed the trek as much, the main gripe being the long continuous steep ascent/descent on the trek. I also didn't get good weather for half the trip but weather is not something anyone can control.

So for those wanting to experience a short less touristy trek, as opposed to something immensely popular like the Poon Hill trek, this is something to consider.

Terraced fields with snowcapped mountains as backdrop
Contrast of the fertile land and bare snowy mountains
Alpenglow on the Jugal Himal range at Therapati

Sunset in Therapati - High in the clouds
Guesthouse in the mountains (Therapati, 3600m)
Misty atmospheric post-sunrise at Therapati

Village life - one of the key aspects of the trek in Helambu


Herbert Wong said...

My friend- you still have time to travel?

Wanderer said...

Got. Sacrifice job lor... :(

How's family life?