Langtang, which is 61.8 km north from Kathmandu, is the third most popular trekking trail in Nepal. After Everest and Annapurna, many trekkers choose to trek in the Langtang region because of the easy trail and a small crowd.
Post earthquake 2015, Langtang valley suffered a lot. Hundreds of people died, lost their homes and families. The old Langtang valley settlement crushed underneath the landslide that fell off Langtang Lirung. The survivors of the landslides lost their family and everything they had earned till that point.
The economic condition of the people in the area also deteriorated once they lost their houses, properties, and source of income. People in Langtang earned from agriculture and the trekking trails working as guides, porters, owning teahouses, etc. Once the trekking trails closed after the earthquake, they had a limited source of income.
Today, Langtang region is back to its original status. The region is safe for trekking as the boulders that blocked the trekking routes have been removed, new trails have been made in place of the completely damaged ones and new teahouses have been established in place of the old destroyed ones. The aftershocks have also stopped and the risks of landslides/avalanches are very low. You can have safe trekking in this region with lesser risks of your life and belongings.
Langtang Before the Earthquake
In Langtang, life before the earthquake was simple. People of the valley lived their normal lives and depended mainly on agriculture for income. But, the natural beauty of the region soon invited trekkers from everywhere. As trekkers started to increase in the area in the 70s, the region had an economic boom.
People started to earn from either working as guides/porters or owning teahouses. Soon, more locals started to open teahouses to provide food and accommodation for the increasing number of trekkers. Different range of accommodation then started to become available in the area. Trekkers could even opt to stay in luxurious lodges on their trek.
Foreign and internal tourists loved to trek to Langtang. They enjoyed the scenic beauty of Mount Langtang Lirung, Dorje Lakpa, Gane Chempo, etc. Enroute, trekkers would also walk through dense rhododendron and oak forests. It also served them as a chance to have a close encounter to wildlife.
Plus, the warmth and hospitality of the local Tamang made Langtang valley feel like a home away from home. So, people from all over the country and the world chose to trek to Langtang.
But, after April 2015, life in the valley took a drastic change. The entire settlement crushed under the avalanches and landslides due to the earthquake. The remaining survivors are now relocated 100m above their original place. For a long time, the valley had to recover from its economic loss that happened when trekkers stopped coming to Langtang valley due to fear.
Earthquake 2015 and Its After Effects in Langtang
After the annual Ghawa celebration on April 24, 2015, the valley of Langtang had slept in peace. Next morning, trekkers started off to their destination and the life in Langtang valley continued. Little did they know that 7.8 magnitudes of the earthquake would hit the valley at 11.56 am.
Once earthquake hit, everyone started running frantically for their lives. But, the earthquake triggered landslide off Mt. Langtang Lirung immediately. Huge boulders, glaciers, and chunks of the frozen lake fell on the Langtang valley. Plus, high-pressure winds started to flow towards the field. People who were outside in the fields and trekking on the trail died crushed by the huge boulders.
This led to the death of 175 villagers, 27 guides/porters and 41 foreign trekkers in Langtang valley. The entire valley had come into ruins with only one house left standing. More than 400 people lost their homes. The landslides and the winds left the least chance of anyone’s survival. Some managed to do so as they stayed inside their home on the ground floor.
The terror continued for days as the aftershocks of the earthquake kept on shaking the land below. Yet, soon rescue teams started to come for help. They rescued the survivors on the trail and recovered dead bodies from the site.
The survivors, slowly, then built new houses and new lives. But, trekkers were scared when they heard about the death and condition of Langtang valley. Rumors of Langtang valley not being safe floated all around.
But, in the Langtang valley as the aftershocks had stopped the possibility of landslides/ avalanches were also lesser. So, the people started removing the boulders that blocked the trekking trails. They also built new trails in place of the damaged ones and new teahouses to make the Langtang trail ready for the trekkers.
It has been three years since the devastating earthquake hit Langtang valley. Today, you will find a new Langtang valley 100m above the ruins of the old valley. The one house that survived the earthquake of 2015 is still intact. It serves as a reminder of the day when Langtang valley suffered the most.
Many trekkers have started to come to trekking trail as it is safe. The boulders that blocked the old trekking trails after the landslides have been removed. People have built new trekking trails in place of the old ones.
There are also new teahouses in the new Langtang valley to serve the trekkers. The rooms are basic but comfortable. You can get rooms on twin sharing basis with a common squat-type toilet.
There is a separate bathroom with hot shower services that cost an additional charge of $2-$3. In the peak season, teahouses have again started to become packed with visitors. Langtang valley’s economic condition is getting better.
You do not need to worry about any danger of the earthquake in the trail as the aftershocks of the earthquake have stopped. The new trails are safe as there are no huge boulders blocking the routes. The chances of landslides and avalanches are very low. If you walk in the new trails and follow your guide’s instructions, you will complete the trek safe and sound.
Is Langtang Trek Possible and Safe Today?
Yes, Langtang trek is very possible and safe today. The aftershocks have stopped and the chances of landslides or avalanches are minimum. If you choose to trek today to Langtang, you will walk in the new safe trails, enjoying the beautiful landscapes and wildlife.
But, trek in winter and monsoon may make the trails difficult and slippery due to the snowfall and rainfall. It is still possible to trek safely in these seasons if you prepare yourself physically and mentally for the cold temperatures, rainfall, and snowfall. Microspikes are a good idea for the winter season. With proper preparations, you can complete your trek all year round, be it spring, autumn, winter, or monsoon.
Please do not hesitate to plan your Langtang trek after the earthquake of 2015. The trail is possible and safe because of the new and safe trails, removed boulders and stones, and the new teahouses. Also, the money you will be spending on your trekking will go into the development of the region. In a way, you will participate in the development and promotion of the region.