Thulu Syaphu from across the valleyDay 8 Up to Thulo Syaphru
This picture was taken on Day 3 of our trek from across the valley.
Today begins the next leg of our trek enroute to the very holy Gosinkund Lakes, again at 4600 metres. Unfortunately we must continue down the river valley through the morning before we meet the trail up the other side of the valley. We drop to 1700 metres which means a combined climb of 2900 metres over tbe 2 and a half days.
Treks are measured in elevation up and down rather than distance as there is so much climbing and descending and switchbacks that distance is meaningless. All we know is we walk 6 to 8 hours a day up and down and are alwys exhausted at the end of the day.
We stopped at a guesthouse called Rockslide for lunch. One of the groups of trekkers passing heading up to Langtang was a couple and their teen-age son from White Rock. We could tell they were from Vancouver as all there trekking gear was labled MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) the major trekking supplier in Vancouver.
After lunch we began the long climb up to the ridge that Thulu Syaphru is built on. As we
The route to Thulu Syaphbu
get through the lower forest we break out into terraced gardens. We can see the village way above us but its a long afternoon getting to the edge of town. We are almost at the right elevtion but across a valley, so a long descent to a pretty significant suspension brdige and back up again on the other side. Thulu Syaphru is literally built on the ridge with the homes balanced right on the peak of the ridge. The view from the front door looks down the valley to the left and from the back door down the valley to the right.
We were really tired after our 7th straight day of walking, and with this being the first village with power and a bit of internet we decided to take a full rest day. We we able to catch up on some internet and phone the kids. The day of rest was very helpfull as the climbing to come was the most challenging yet.
On our second night two violent thunder storms with heavy rain came through. It was good as the rain clears the mist. The morning arrived crisp and clear as
We had a few Canadian pens to give away to kids who were very friendly
usual. Day 9 Thula Syaphru to Sing Gompa
We climbed steadily all day to a rather unattractive group of guesthomes called Sing Gopa.There were more and more trekkers so we felt fortunate to get a room. Along the way we had our first experience with Korean trekkers, a class of their own (more on this later).
Guides and Porters
About half the trekkers use some combintion of guide and porter. Some of the younger trekkers carried all their own gear. It seemed like too much work for us as a porters wage is usually 10 to $15 per day. You shouldn't feel guilty about having someone carry your stuff as it is providing much needed employment.
We hired Kalu as a guide and Utam as a porter through the recommondation of Lisbeth from Denmark. We connected to Lisbeth through the Trip Advsior website forums. She had used Kalu's trekking agency a couple times before and was really pleased. We contracted Kalu to provide a custom, all inclusive trek for us for 14 days. This included him guide and porter service, accomondations,meals, trekking permits, and transportation.
He also picked us up at the Kathmandu Airport and arranged for our hotel in Kathmandu. Cost was about $55 per day for each of us. This was much cheaper then booking through a North American based agency the cost would be almost double. One can also wait and find a package when you arrive in Kathmandu, but its a bit of a hassle picking amongst hundereds of trekking services. A couple other trekkers we talked to ended up paying about $50 per day for the same type of package as ours. We didn't mind paying a little extra as Kalu was a really good guide and the most Western orientated of the many guides we talked to on the trek. Day 10 Sing Gompa to Gosinkund Lakes
It was straight up hill, over a ridge and through a lovely pine forest through the morning. The prior nights strom had brought down a few trees and many branches. The locals were already hard at work cutting the fallen trees into planks and fire wood. As this is a National Park there are only allowed to harvest the fallen wood without a special permit.
We stopped for lunch at a nice guest house and was served by a very pretty young local lady. Kalu did his best at flirting, and she certainly seemed interested. We made the observation to Kalu who blushed sevearly. We did take a couple pictures of them chatting happily. We told Kalu we would send these to his girlfriend in Kathmandu if he didn't keep up the good work.
After lunch was straight up again, however now above the tree line. We reached the top of another high ridge and then followed a very scrary trail carved into the cliffside. After a couple more hours of trekking we made it to Gossinkund Lakes. The first lake we passed was ice free but Gossingkund itself was still frozen. Very beutiful but as very cold.
With the higher volume of trekkers we were conerned that there may be no room for us uptop. After lunch we sent Kalu ahead to get us a room before the trekkers behind usinevitably caught and passed us on the trail and beat us to any remaining rooms. On the way up a couple trekkers going the other way
told us they thought the guesthouses were all full. This would be a problem as it would either mean turning around and heading back down, or sleeping on mats in the dining room. We kept climbing up trusting that Kalu would come through. The value of a great guide! He was able to sweet talk one of the guesthouse owners into giving us a room where others had been turned away.
Trekkers and Koreans
We meet many nationalities of trekkers. Most were European, the majority German and French, but some Italians, Sweds, Slovacks, Isreallies and Finnish. We did run into a number of Canadans in addition to the White Rock family, a couple our age from Parksville and 5 ladies from Vancouver who worked at the Centre Abilities. Most trekkers were either pre-child rearing or empty nesters We did see a couple families with mid aged children in tow. Strangly we didn't meet a single American the whole trek.
We did cross paths with many Koreans, but certainly didn't meet any. Koreans travel in groups of 10 to 20 trekkers along with a big entourage of porters and cooks. They are
middle aged, very fit, and look quite well to do. They all wear Korean flag hats and have Korean flags hanging off their backbacks. They look like they have fun together, but arecompletely oblivious to anyone else.
The porters carry Korean food, so they don't eat local. When we stop for morning tea, they stop for a beer. Again at lunch they drink beer while we eat. While drinking, their porters are preparing a Korean food meal. Similairly at night there cooks take over the guesthouse kitchen to prepare their special meals. The guesthouses are happy as they charge 5 times the nightly rate for these kitchen priviledges. The problem occurs with the non Koreans staying in the same guesthouse.
We experienced this in our night in Gossingkund. A group of twenty Koreans checked in with all their porters. That left only us and a couple French or German couples. They made a tremendous racket getting settled then took over the dining room while they waited for their special meal. We were shuffled into a corner and had to wait. They did go to bed early but it seemed every one of them had
to get up a go pee around midnight. Worse, they had a 4:30 AM walkup call. Completely oblivious to any of us trying to sleep they stomped, banged, talked, giggled and shouted for two hours before finally leaving. Day 12 Gossingkund going down
During the late evening another storm blew in, with lots of lightening and blowing snow. It was freezing, and with the toilet and outdoor outhouse a real challenge. However we awoke very.early thanks to our Korean friends to a beautiful crisp morning with a couple inches of fresh snow covering the mountains.
We had planned on going most of the way down to Dunche, the end of our trek. We made good time and as we went the concept of a hot shower, attached bathroom, electricity and internet became too much and we decided to do all 3000 metre in the sme day. It was getting late when we came to the last possible overnight spot before Dunche. Kalu, who wanted to get back to civilation as much as we did told us it was only an hour and half more, although another very knee crunching steep descent.
Morning has broken
On our way back down
An hour and a half later, still not even close and exhausted we met an old man who passed us. He said at our pace, which was very slow at that time, it would talke us another two hours. When we complained to Kalu he claimed his time estimate was moving at Nepalie speed, not a tired mid aged
Canadian couple speed. We did eventually get to Dunche, somewhat after dark. It was the only time or the trek we questioned Kalu's judgement.
By the next morning we were happy we had pushed to make it all the way the day before. Kalu was able to quickly organize a private jeep for our trip back to Kathmandu and we were on our way back by 9. If we hadn't pushed it, it would have meant full day in Duncheto get a jeep the folllwing morning.
Now it was just a matter of living through the ride on the wicked road back, a trip that was not that much more pleasent then the trip up.
Note: we did end up renting a private jeep. Kalu was able to quickly find us
a jeep for about $100 for the trip back. Better ride then the bus but still scary, perhaps even more so as we could see so much of the road (and the various oncoming vehicles overtaking on corners) then we could see from the bus.
See the video of our full trek at
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