Tamang Heritage Trail

On this moderate seven-day trek just North of Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, get up close with the Tamang people while trekking amid green valleys and snow-capped mountains. The Tamang Heritage trail has the added benefit of providing sustainable economic benefit to the local community.

Overview

Lying north of the Kathmandu Valley, the Tamang Heritage Trail is perhaps the most accessible trekking region in Nepal. Here, you can experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the country—terraced green farmland, thick forests, and the peaks of the Langtang Himalayas, close to the Tibetan border. An added bonus to the natural features is the chance to trek through Tamang villages.

The Tamang people originally came from Tibet as horse traders and settled in hilly parts of Nepal (usually within close proximity of the Kathmandu Valley) several hundred years ago. They have retained a distinct identity with Tibetan roots, as well as their own language. They have historically been one of the most marginalized ethnic groups in Nepal. Sadly, they were among the worst-affected groups during the 2015 earthquake, as their homes tended to be in vulnerable areas cut off from help. Trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail helps bring a source of income to the Tamang people in this area.

Highlights

  • Experience a cultural trek in which you can learn about one of Nepal’s Tibetan-influenced hill tribes, and directly contribute to their rural economy
  • Luxuriate in the hot spring waters at Tatopani
  • Stay in a local homestay in Briddim, to learn more about the Tamang people and their way of life
  • Enjoy spectacular views of Ganesh Himal, the Langtang Himalayas, and the Gosainkund range

Brief itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Drive Kathmandu to Syabrubesi 1,460 m./ 4,790 ft.
Day 2 Syabrubesi to Gatlang 2,238 m./ 7,342 ft.
Day 3 Gatlang to Tatopani 2,380 m./ 7,808 ft.
Day 4 Tatopani to Thuman 2,238 m./ 7,342 ft.
Day 5 Thuman to Briddim 2,239 m./ 7,345 ft.
Day 6 Briddim to Syabrubesi  
Day 7 Drive to Kathmandu  

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Drive Kathmandu to Syabrubesi

Leave Kathmandu early for the seven-hour drive to the entrance of the Langtang Valley. While the Tamang Heritage Trail is not so far from Kathmandu, the road is hilly and winding (though spectacular), climbing high and providing us with superb panoramic views of the Annapurnas, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal and the peaks of the Langtang region. The road then plunges down to the Trisuli River valley, which it follows for most of the day’s drive.

Day 2: Syabrubesi trek to Gatlang (approx. 5.5 hours)

Syabrubesi is the common starting point for the Langtang Valley trek as well as the Gosainkund trek, but instead of heading in these directions, ascend a view point for an hour and a half for a fantastic view of Ganesh Himal, the Gosainkund range, and the Goljang Valley. Head down to the Goljang Valley (about an hour’s walk) and stop there for lunch. In the afternoon, trek for about three hours to reach Gatlang, a beautiful Tamang village.

Day 3: Gatlang to Tatopani (approx. 7 hours)

Today’s walk begins by descending to Thangbuchet, by a lovely river. After lunch, the trail heads up again, across a hanging bridge and climbing to Tatopani, your stop for the night. The town’s name literally means ‘hot water’ in Nepali, and there are towns of this name all over Nepal. Unsurprisingly, here you can enjoy the natural hot springs, with water that comes straight out of the ground. Locals believe that the waters have a healing quality, and it will certainly ease away any aches and pains from the trek.

Day 4: Tatopani to Thuman (approx. 4 hours)

Today, the trail ascends to Nagthali Danda (3,300 m./ 10,826 ft.), a high, open grassland with amazing views of the Himalayas. Stop at the delightful Brimdang village for lunch en route, then continue up to Nagthali Danda. On arrival, stop for a masala chiya (tea), prepared by the gompa’s caretaker. Then, continue down to Thuman, a Tamang village with friendly people who love to sing and dance. You might even be invited to join in!

Day 5: Thuman to Briddim (approx. 5 hours)

Today’s walk begins along a falter section of trail, then descends to Timure. It follows part of the old trade route to Tibet, and in fact, Tibet is not far away—just three hours’ walk. However, it’s not possible to walk across the border these days, and there’s a heavy police presence along the roads in this area. After lunch, the trail continues to Briddim, another Tamang village, where you’ll stay in a local home for a truly unique experience. All accommodation, lodgings, and food are offered at local houses on a rotational basis, so you can be sure that your stay is benefitting the whole community and not just one or two enterprising families (as is sometimes the case with hotels and lodges).

Day 06: Briddim trek to Syabrubesi (approx. 3 hours)

Today is an easy three-hour walk back down to Syabrubesi. Have lunch there, and then spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring. Syabrubesi is a small town, and there are some shops selling local handicrafts made by women, such as colorful aprons and shawls in the local style.

Day 7: Return to Kathmandu

Drive back to Kathmandu while enjoying the mountain scenery en route.

Variations

The Tamang Heritage Trail can be combined with the Langtang Valley trek and/or the Gosainkund trek. For the Langtang Valley trek, instead of returning from Briddim to Syabrubesi, continue on to Lama Hotel. This takes you into the entrance of the valley, then continue to Kyanjin Gompa at the end of the valley. This trek has spectacular, expansive views of the Langtang Himalayas from a wide valley. Return by backtracking, stopping at Thulo Syabru and then Syabrubesi. This would add about three or four days on to the trek.

The Gosainkund Trek is another excellent (and more challenging trek) in this area, which is often combined with the Langtang Valley trek, and can thus be added to the Tamang Heritage Trail for an extended adventure. Because of the altitude of Lake Gosainkund (4,379 m./ 14,370 ft.), the ascent up to here should only be attempted on the return trip from Langtang, not on the way, to aid acclimatization. Trekking to Gosainkunda will add a further three days onto the trek.

Food and accommodation

Most accommodation on the Tamang Heritage Trail will be in small local teahouses, which provide a warm comfortable bed and healthy, filling food. In Briddim, stay at a local homestay, which will also offer comfortable standards but may be a bit more basic.

Food along the Tamang Heritage Trail is much like it is elsewhere in Nepal, with a heavy reliance on rice, lentils and vegetable curries. Momos in this area tend to be a bit different from what you may have tried in Kathmandu. Instead of small, bite-size dumplings, momos here are larger pies that look more like Latin American empanadas, or British pasties. Also, try dhendo, a staple and alternative to rice in many villages of Nepal—cooked maize flour that is mashed up, looking somewhat like refried beans (though tasting quite different!)

Best season

As in most places in Nepal, the best seasons to do the Tamang Heritage Trail are spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November). Because the altitudes on this trek aren’t especially high, it is also a comfortable trek for the winter, and views are likely to be good at this time. Just bring some warm layers.

Getting there and away

The only way to reach the start of this trek is to travel overland from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi. Crowded public buses ply the route daily, but take much longer than they need to because they stop frequently to pick up people (and deliveries) along the way. Alternatively, buses also travel daily Dhunche, a few kilometers before Syabrubesi, from where you can make a private or public connection the rest of the way. A private four-wheel drive is much more comfortable, however.