Langtang and Helambu is the third most popular trekking route in Nepal. Located in central Nepal, north of Kathmandu, the area offers a multitude of trekking destinations, all accessible without flights. The three major areas are Langtang, Gosainkund and Helambu, and these can be combined in many different ways to make treks from 7 to16 days long.
Langtang is a narrow valley that lies just south of the Tibetan border. It is sandwiched between the main Himalayan range to the north and a slightly lower range of snowy peaks to the south. Langtang Lirung (7246m) dominates the valley to the north; Gang Chhenpo (6388m) and Naya Kangri (5846m) lie to the south; and Dorje Lakpa (6966m) protect the east end of the valley. The area was designated as Nepal's first Himalayan national park in1971.
A visit to the Langtang Valley offers an opportunity to explore villages, to climb small peaks and to visit glaciers at a comfortably low elevation. Because there are good opportunities for moderate climbing excursions, you should allow a few extra days for exploration. According to legend, a lama following a runaway yak discovered the valley. Hence the name - Lang is Tibetan for yak and tang (more correctly dhang) means to follow. Yaks still live in the valley, but they now share it with trekkers.
This high and isolated region is inhabited by Tamangs whose religious practices, language and dress are much more similar to those of Tibet than to the traditions of their cousins in the Middle Hills.
You can vary the Langtang trek by visiting the holy lakes of Gosainkund at 4300m. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit the lakes during a full-moon festival in August. The lake is also sacred to Buddhists.
Helambu, about 75km north of Kathmandu, is an area inhabited by Sherpas, but their language, culture and dress are very different from those of the Solu Khumbu Sherpas. Unfortunately the accessibility of Helambu has created an influx of tourists who have encouraged begging, the sale of 'genuine antiques' aged over the family fireplace, and several incidents of theft. But with care this is a rewarding place to visit. You can include Helambu in a Langtang trek, either via Gosainkund or by crossing the 5106m Ganja La. This is only a spring trek as in winter the high routes and Langtang are usually snow-covered and can be difficult or impossible, and often dangerous. There are two versions of the Helambu trek, but the best is to make a loop from the edge of the Kathmandu Valley, at Sundarijal, going through Chisapani, Kutumsang, Tharepati, Tarky Gyang and then treking back down the ridge through Sermathang to Melamchipull Bazaar.