Nestling between Ganesh Himal and Langtang in the shadow of Tibet is the Tamang region of the upper Rasuwa district. It has seen a plethora of new developments recently, putting it firmly on the trekkers' map. It's a trek eminently suited to those wishing to discover more than glossy mountain peaks and high panoramas.
Those two elements feature, but it is the Tamang people who grab the limelight. Their colorful, ancient and traditional Tibetan-influenced culture is unique across Nepal.
Although predominantly Buddhist, they have a surprising number of Hindu traditions and some have found Christianity. Their ancient shamanism and animist ancestry have not quite vanished either.
The fabulous viewpoint of Taruche above Nagthali is a stunner revealing the shy peak of Ganesh I, the elephantine Ganesh V as well as the long forbidden ancient trending post of Kyirong in Tibet. Topping it all off is Langtang to the east, watching at close quarters.
The Tamang trails are accessed from the Ganesh Himal region via Gatlang or from the main Dhunche-Langtang road. New lodges and well-developed homestays give a trekker a wide choice of accommodations as well as the advantages of planning long or short daily hikes.
The main villages are Gatlang, Thambuchet (Tanget), Tatopani, Brimdang, Nagthali, Thuman (Thugman), Lingling and Briddhim. A trek here is just a ticket for a short but stylish introduction to the Thrills of trekking in Nepal, where every turn of the valley brings yet another unexpected pleasure.
Now that the region's trains are being integrated into the Great Himalaya Trail network, they are destined to be discovered by a wider appreciative audience.
North of Kathmandu and easily seen from its rooftops is the great brooding ridge of Gosainkund that separates the Tibetan-inspired scenery of Langtang from the middle hills of Helambu.
Seemingly soaring to heaven, these oxygen-starved ridges hide the sacred lakes of Gosainkund. Auspiciously there are said to be 108 lakes, large and small, locked into secret dips and gullies within the massive barrier.
These high and wild amphitheaters of the Hindu god Shiva allow passage to walkers through just one or two defiles. Crossing from Helambu to Laurebina Yak (or vice-versa) by way of Gosainkund is the preferred one for recreational hikers.
However, others choose the Ganja La pass and very few the harder mountaineering Tilman Pass. These stairways to heaven offer climbers and well-equipped trekkers a chance to penetrate the hidden corners of Shiva's domain.
The demons too are lurking here to catch the unwary and those who set out ill-prepared. The god of destruction (Shiva) does not let those who venture into his domain go without some penance.
Almost in the backyard of the Kathmandu Valley, the ridges and hills of the Helambu region are often passed by without a glance. It's a shame that this region, so easily accessed, has never really gained the recognition it deserves.
The south-facing, sunny aspect of Helambu offers warmth and hospitality to be welcomed by those itching to get away from it all, but without being uncomfortable for weeks on end. Warm and welcoming people make any sojourn along these less-frequented trekking routes a delight.
Hindu farmers work the fields living a way of life little changed over the centuries. (We can ignore the most obvious sign of modernity – mobile phones – for the gushing introduction just for a few indulgent minutes !).
Rapidly developing with new dirt roads, the great agricultural reserves of the region are sure to continue to be its real wealth.
Trekkers, however, can do themselves a big favor by entering or exiting the Langtang region along with its pleasant as well-endowed (with lodges) routes. Mountain lovers can observe the Jugal Himal – the equal of any, from a number of vantage points.
Langtang Himal is a magical and mysterious land. This area, close to and visible from the Kathmandu Valley, is amazingly peaceful; life plods on serenely, ignoring the frantic rush of city life.
Langtang Himal has not only the main peak of Langtang Lirung but also a superb array of sentinels guarding the Tibetan frontier. The narrow through of the main valley is watched over benignly by lesser-known peaks such as Pemthang Karpo Ri, Lengshisa Ri, Dorje Lhakpa, and Gengchenpo (Genchenpo).
Trekkers can bag a couple of demanding viewpoint summits for a grand perspective of the enticing attractions. This northern valley hosts Buddhist communities whose ancestry can be traced back to Tibet. Mystical monasteries grace the landscape, blending into the majestic visions all around.