Gosaikunda Trek

  • A quiet trek in the Langtang region of Nepal
  • A trail steeped in mythological significance
  • Trek through rich forests and past pristine alpine lakes
DIFFICULTY:

Moderate-Difficult

TRAIL TYPE:

Forests, meadows, rocks

DURATION:

10 days

ROAD HEAD:

Dhunche

BASE CAMP:

Dhunche

BEST SEASON:

Spring, autumn

The Gosaikunda Trek culminates in the spectacular sight of pristine, crystal clear lakes of the Gosaikunda Lake region. A network of 108 lakes famous for their religious significance, at least 5 of these are accessible in this trek. Situated in the Langtang National Park, this route does not follow the same path to reach the lakes and back, offering trekkers a different landscape every single day of the journey.

It is a tea house trek, which means that basic amenities such as a toilet and bedding is available at the end of every day. Dal-baath and Nepali hospitality is an added bonus to this non-commercial and beautiful trail.

Trek Details

Day 1: Kathmandu to Dhunche

  • Altitude: 6,857 ft
  • Time taken: 6-7 hours drive

Oday 1, there is no trekking to be done. The drive to Dhunche is a mountainous, heart-stopping one with the vehicle hugging the edge of steep cliffs flanked by precipitous drops. The roads are rocky or muddy for long stretches, so carry medication for motion-sickness if you are prone to it

Accommodation: Dhunche has a large number of hotels to choose from for a night’s stay. If you have any last minute shopping for medication, clothes, food or footwear, this is where you should do it.

Day 2: Dhunche to Thulo Syabru

  • Altitude: 7,415 ft
  • Time taken: 6-7 hours
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradual Ascent
  • Terrain type: forest
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

When you begin your journey from Dhunche, you walk on a motorable trail for 2 hours. Steep forested hills rise up on both sides. After this you walk through evergreen oak, pine and rhododendron forests that open up to wide green meadows every few hours.

Thulo Syabru is a quaint village that is embedded in a lush green mountain, and offers stunning views of Langtang and Ganesh Himal peaks. Basic supplies like food, water and personal care can be purchased here, but at an inflated cost. For example, a a bottle of shampoo that retails at INR 75 was being sold here for INR 120.

Day 3: Thulo Syabru to Chandan Bari (Sing Gompa)

  • Altitude: 10,663 ft
  • Time taken: 6-7 hours
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradual Ascent
  • Terrain type: forest
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

On this day you walk through thick rhododendron forests for the first few hours. During April, the forests are painted bright red with rhododendron blooms.

By afternoon, the rhododendron forests make way for thick oak and pine forests covered in moss. These straight, tall trees that seem to touch the sky makes for an eerily beautiful forest landscape.

Once you reach Chandan Bari, don’t miss a visit to the local Yak cheese factory to sample the fare at every stage of its creation and watch it being made

Day 4: Chandan Bari to Lourebina

  • Altitude: 12,828 ft
  • Time taken: 3-4 hours
  • Trek gradient: Difficult. Steep Ascent
  • Terrain type: forests and meadows
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

As you make your way up from Chandan Bari, you will first pass by a surreal forest of mossy tall evergreens with orchids and epiphytes covering their massive trunks, ground covered with huge ferns and blooming flowers.

After few hours, you will notice the forests thinning down into grassy meadows as you make your way to higher altitudes where vegetation is sparse. The path is now steep and feels tougher due to the high altitude. If the sky is clear, the path offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

You will see stony remains of temporary cooking sites built by pilgrims for the annual festival that culminates at Gosaikunda lake peppering the bare hills. The terrain is rocky and in summer, covered with short grassy vegetation and tiny flowers.

Lourebina is a collection of 2-3 tea houses located on a flat area of the mountain, overlooking a wall of mountain peaks in the distance

Note: One can go directly from Chandan Bari to Gosaikunda without staying the night at Lourebina. However, staying overnight at Lourebina will help acclimatize and nearly eliminate the likelihood of Altitude sickness, which many people suffer from upon reaching Gosaikunda

Day 4: Lourebina to Gosaikunda

  • Altitude: 14,304 ft
  • Time taken: 4-5 hours
  • Trek gradient: Moderate-difficult. Steep ascent for about 2 hours followed by a flat trail
  • Terrain type: Rocky and dusty
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

At the start of this day, you will ascend the mountain with an uninterrupted and open view all around you of Langtang range, Manaslu range, Hiunchuli, Tibetan peaks and Ganesh Himal ranges if the weather is clear.

You will go through a steep ascent for ~2 hours. Clouds hang lazily below you on both sides, and vegetation is nearly absent. You will pass by a small stupa, after which the trail flattens to a snaking path along the edge of the mountain. Soon, you will begin the spot the lakes that make the Gosaikunda lake region.

The first lake appears as a tourmaline pond far away and below you, hugged by fluffy clouds just above its surface. The first sight that welcomes your entry to the Gosaikunda lake is a small statue of Ganesha embedded into the mountain face. Soon, the large lakes come into view- a truly emotional, overwhelming experience due its sheer expanse and beauty!

A little about Gosaikunda Lake: The lake appears as twin water bodies, separated by a hilly mound. The lake is “oligotrophic” (dictionary: characterized by a low accumulation of dissolved nutrient salts, supporting but a sparse growth of algae and other organisms, and having a high oxygen content owing to the low organic content) and has a surface area of 34 acres. The water is crystal clear, offering a view of the stones and pebbles that lie deep below. The site has deep religious significance, and is considered the abode of Lord Shiva and Gauri. The “Samudra Manthana” or churning of the ocean is said to be the origin of the Gosaikunda lake. When Lord Shiva swallowed poison, he is said to have pierced his “trishul” to the ground to tap water to soothe his stinging throat. The Gosaikunda lake is said to have been created in this manner, and is revered by Hindus. A walk around the lake would take 2 hours and is a rocky path. Take care not to slip into the water.

Stay: There are 4-5 tea houses in Gosaikunda offering basic amenities. Heating is a luxury as there is no firewood in the area due to lack of vegetation. Temperatures dip to -5 degrees at night even in the peak of summer. There is a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva at the edge of the lake. If you stay an additional day, you can climb the Surya peak, which offers a panoramic view of 5 lakes in the region.

Day 6: Gosaikunda to Ghopte

  • Altitude: 14,304 ft to 15,092 ft and finally 11,581 ft
  • Time taken: 8-9 hours
  • Trek gradient: Difficult. Ascent upto to Laurebina Pass followed by descent and alternate ascents.
  • Terrain type: Rocky
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

This is the longest trek day and the toughest one, as you leave Gosaikunda behind and ascend to ~4700m to cross the Laurebina pass, the highest point of the trek.

You pass by 3 more pristine lakes, each of which have a unique colour and lay nestled in what appears like Martian terrain of red soil and rocks.

After you cross the pass, you will descend down a valley, offering a view of grassy peaks ascending steeply on both sides. The clear, open path makes way to a narrow mountain path that takes you up and down, sometimes precariously covered by loose rocks (post-earthquake, it is recommended that you remain alert while walking through this region).

Small streams will zig-zag around your path, and you will see the forest-covered mountain above you, and a stony shrub-covered mountain-face below. Ghopte is a single tea-house that lies hidden in a clearing

Day 7: Ghopte to Mangengoth

  • Altitude: 11,220 ft
  • Time taken: 4-5 hours
  • Trek gradient: Ascent to Thadepati pass followed by descent.
  • Terrain type: forest
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

The trek begins with an ascent to cross the Thadepati pass (12,106 ft) and then the descent begins through lush green rhododendron forests. Mangengoth has 2 tea houses located alongside each other in a clearing that offers views of mountains covered in forests all around.

Day 8: Mangengoth to Kutumsang

  • Altitude: 8,104 ft
  • Time taken: 4-5 hours
  • Trek gradient: Descent
  • Terrain type: forest
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

The descent continues as you make your way to Kutumsang, a large settlement with some modern amenities available to stay at. The trail from Mangengoth takes you down the mountain path surrounded by forest, and closer to the village- through semi-cultivated lands.

Note: It is possible to go from Ghopte to Kutumsang in a single day, if one is up to it.

Day 9: Kutumsang to Chisapani

  • Altitude: 7,267 ft
  • Time taken: 6-7 hours
  • Trek gradient: Descent
  • Terrain type: forest
  • Water sources: You can refill water bottles with filtered water at the tea house where you stop for lunch.

This descent takes you through several villages and forests, all in a day. The most beautiful part of the day is the walk through a large pine forest that makes you feel like Christmas came early! You also walk through a narrow, deep path that has large dark ferns growing on both sides along steep rocky walls. Chisapani was a populated hill station until the earthquake destroyed all buildings. Many have been rebuilt, and the hotels offer beautiful views of the forests and stunning sunrises and sunsets

Day 10: Chisapani to Sunderijal

  • Time taken: 3-4 hours
  • Trek gradient: Descent
  • Terrain type: forest and villages

Obtain a permit to walk through the Sunderijal national park, a forest full of ferns, trees and flowing plants such as wild roses. The path is made of stone steps, and makes for a relaxing end to the journey. Once you leave the park, you will go past a water reservoir and large villages to reach civilization. Use public transport or hire a private vehicle to make the 4-5 hour journey to Kathmandu ($100-$200)

Forest permits required:

All trekkers in Nepal are required to procure a TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) Card (Nrs 2000), available in Kathmandu. Besides this, you need the Langtang National Park Entry Permit (NRs 1000) which can be obtained on the way to Dhunche. On the last day, a permit to trek through Shivpuri National Park (NRs 300) is required to reach Sunderijal. Carry your passport and aforementioned permits with you at all times in case of random checks by the Nepali army.

Points to note: 

Flora/Fauna: The trail offers a walk through Rhododendron forests, Tropical evergreen canopies, Oak forests and Pine Forests. Be prepared to be met by the sight of thousands of orchids carpeting the forest floor and tree trunks. The Langtang region is famous for being home to the protected Red Panda. You would be very lucky to spot these shy creatures. Colorful birds, deer, hares and rabbits are guaranteed to cross your path.

Water sources: You can buy bottled water at the tea houses that you stay at. The trekking route is planned in a manner that you stop at a settlement for lunch every day. All such places sell bottled water. You can also refill your water bottles with filtered water for free at these places.

Food: Tea houses provide a reasonably large number of options to choose from. The local Dal-baath (rice, watery mildly spiced lentils, potato curry and stir-fried greens with an accompaniment of pickle) is a delicious and satisfying meal option

Cost details: If you go through a guided tour with a travel agency, all accommodation and meals are covered by them. One guide and one porter is provided. The cost for such a package ranges from (USD) $350-$800 depending on the agency

If you decide to go on your own, the teahouse charges are as follows and varied by region. Typically, costs increase with altitude and quality.

  1. Accommodation per room: NRs 400- NRs 2,500
  2. Mineral Water Bottle: NRs 40- NRs 200
  3. One Bucket hot water or shower (if available-typically only in low altitude settlements): NRs 100- Nrs 400
  4. Regular Hot Water: NRs 20- Nrs 100
  5. Meals: NRs 200- Nrs 550
  6. Tea/Coffee: NRs 50- NRs 250

While room charges are not high, Tea Houses typically charge for everything additional – to get extra blanket, to take a shower, to get a cup of warm water etc. You could spend between $10- $30 per day for basic requirements (not including luxuries such as snacks, fizzy drinks etc.)

It is preferable to carry all basic requirements from Kathmandu itself to save costs.

Currency: Carry Nepali Currency as far as possible. USD is accepted grudgingly by some tea houses if travelers have no other option.

This trek has been documented by Meghana Vasisht.

The trail from Dhunche to Thulo Syabru PC: Meghana Vasisht
Trail from Thulo Syabru to Chandan Bari PC: Meghana Vasisht
Oak forest near Chandan Bari PC: Meghana Vasisht
A view of Laurebina PC: Meghana Vasisht
On the trail from Laurebina to Gosaikunda PC: Meghana Vasisht
The first lake you see as you approach Gosaikunda PC: Meghana Vasisht
A view of Gosaikunda PC: Meghana Vasisht
Another view of Gosaikunda PC: Meghana Vasisht
The shrine at Gosaikunda PC: Meghana Vasisht
Another lake in the region PC: Meghana Vasisht
At Laurebina Pass PC: Meghana Vasisht
Inside a tea house PC: Meghana Vasisht

How to reach Dhunche

The starting point of this trek is Dhunche, a 6-7 hours drive from the city of Kathmandu. One can hire a private jeep ($150-200) via a local operator or a trekking company, or use the local government transport option which is much cheaper (Nrs 200), but would not guarantee a seat.

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Sneha Rao

Sneha Rao

Sneha is an erstwhile HR professional from Bangalore, now living in Mumbai. Currently, she is a Content Writer at Indiahikes. She has trekked several trails in Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Kerala and Meghalaya. She holds the Green Trails idea close to her heart and enjoys researching and writing about the environment. To get in touch with her, write to sneha@indiahikes.com.

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