In the end of September Nepal celebrates the Dashain festival, which provided the opportunity of leaving Kathmandu for 6 full days. In other words – an opportunity to leave behind the paltry 3000m peaks around me and venture to the tall peaks of real Himal-alayas – the place where snow lives. The destination for this trip is Kyanjin Gumba – a small village at the end of the trail that runs into the heart of Langtang National Park. …and if the gods of the mountain approve, this might even culminate with a summit.
Before you can start hiking, you have to get to the trailhead – for Langtang NP, it is the village of Old Syabru Besi. The initial plan was simple: load out a small Kia with backpacks, food, supplies and take a (relatively) leisurely drive there, complete with stops on the way for pictures, snacks and anything else that might spark my curiosity. What better way to improve a hiking holiday, than add to it a roadtrip through Nepal – at least so I thought. So imagine my surprise when on the evening before, my travel companion found out that the drive might not be as leisurely as imagined. In fact, according to the locals, the road would be impassible for anything but busses and 4×4-vehicles. Holding stedfast to my desire for a roadtrip I was reluctant to believe these comments at first – I had checked several maps beforehand and all had a clearly marked highway go all the way to Syabru Besi. Surely at least one of the maps would have indicated tough roads, if it were true. Fortunately I decided to seek additional confirmation, and when Google displayed articles recommending to get off the bus instead of risking death on the barely-drivable mountainside, plans had to be redrawn.
Thus, the following morning found us scrambling amongst crowds of people at what serves as the bus station for Kathmandu. Dashain is Nepal’s most awaited holiday, which almost everyone spends together with their family – this had turned the entire station into a chaos of people, some looking for tickets, other searching for busses, with the added street vendors, beggers and middle-men trying to peddle last available tickets at marked-up prices. Only through luck did we stumble upon a monster of bus, that was headed to our destination. We were merrily directed towards a large sac of onions and an upturned bucket sitting in the aisle – the VIP seating for those without foresight to buy tickets in advance. We accepted these with relief, glad to be on our way towards a great adventure.