Located in northern central Nepal, Ruby Valley is a unique overland trek through the Himalayan foothills (‘parbat’ in Nepali) beneath the soaring summits of the snow-capped Ganesh Himal.
Unlike most Himalayan treks that generally follow north/south river valleys, this route travels up and over many ridges (or ‘dandas’) in a generally east/west direction. As a result, it involves more climbs and descents (about 12,500 ft of total vertical gain and loss), requiring strong legs, stamina and determination.
The rewards, however, are well worth the effort. Our Ruby Valley trek will take you places rarely visited by other tourists, including remote villages, high and scenic passes, less-established trails, friendly local people of many different cultures, and a sense of travelling back in time to traditions and lifestyles mostly untouched by modern development.
Ruby Valley also offers outstanding views of major Himalayan ranges, including the Langtang, Ganesh, Manaslu and distant Annapurna Himal (Nepali for ‘mountains’). It is home to magnificent stands of old-growth hemlock trees which provide excellent quality wood for timbers and roof shingles in many local villages. It is also blessed with an abundance of herbal plants which are transported by foot or yaks over the Himalayas to China (Tibet) and exchanged for salt, wool, turquoise and livestock.
The people of Ruby Valley reflect a rich mix of different cultures. Starting in Langtang Valley to the east, we encounter Tamang people. They are primarily Bon Po or Buddhists...although some also embrace Christianity…who originally migrated here from the north (Mongolia/China/Tibet) and speak a Tibetan dialect. Trekking westward, we meet Gurung and Lama people, also mostly Buddhists whose culture and language are Tibetan-based, but different from Tamang since they are more influenced by people from the south. Below the Phulkarka area in the west are Chetri, Bramin, Ghale, Kami, Damai and Magar people, who are primarily Hindu and reflect the appearances and cultures of people from the southern lowlands and Indian subcontinent. Most all cultures in Ruby Valley, however, also recognize and practice shamanism and animism…especially during festivals, on auspicious and sacred days and when a person is in need of healing.
Since Ruby Valley is remote and undeveloped, we camp during this trek. Eco Trek provides sleeping tents, dining tent, cooking tent and toilet tent so you can relax and be comfortable after trekking each day.
Eco Trek has rated the difficulty level of this trek as ‘demanding’ (based on its threefold scale of ‘moderate, demanding or strenuous’).
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|No. of Days||15|
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Arrive at Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu. Eco Trek will welcome you there and drive you to our hotel, where your guide will come to review all the trek details.
After breakfast, a knowledgeable Eco Trek cultural guide will conduct a city tour where we’ll see and explore many scenic, historic and cultural sites such as Durbar Square of Hanuman Dhoka, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhunath and Bouddhanath, as well as the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. That evening, Eco Trek will treat us to a special Nepali dinner in the hotel courtyard, after which we are free to stroll through the local streets of Thamel…the lively, unique and eclectic tourist hub of Kathmandu.
Eco Trek drives us from Kathmandu to Shyabru Besi. This is a scenic and memorable ride (approx. 125km, 8 to 9 hours) over mountain passes and along rivers with wonderful views of landscapes and rural Nepali life. Along the way, we pass through pristine Hindu villages with terraced rice fields rolling down to the river and are treated to panoramic views of valleys as well as the soaring summits of the mighty Langtang, Ganesh, Shringi, Manaslu and distant Annapurna Himal. We enter Langtang National Park at Dhunche and drive to the town of Shyabru Besi. This is the gateway to Langtang Valley at the confluence of the Bhote Kosi and Langtang rivers. We spend the night at a modest guesthouse here.
We start the day climbing 800m up a zig-zagging trail out of the deep shadows of Langtang Valley to a sunny pass at Bahun Danda. We relax here for tea and enjoy views of the Langtang Himal and distant Tibetan peaks before following a dirt roadway that gently contours around ridges to the Tamang village of Gatlang. We are treated to views of thousands of rice and millet terraces here, as well as numerous rock chortens, stone Mani walls and hemlock-roofed village houses neatly aligned side-by-side. We hike up to a scenic grassy camp just above beautiful Parvati Kunda, where thousands of pilgrims are attracted each year during Janai Purnima to the sacred temple and ponds located here.
We start the day with a steady climb through hemlock and rhododendron forests up to Khurpudanda pass (3,730m). On the way, we pass through a large stand of old-growth hemlock trees burned in a forest fire years ago which now provides Gatlang and nearby villages with a nearly endless supply of high-quality wood for building timbers, roof shingles and firewood. After enjoying lunch and inspiring high mountain views at Khurpudanda pass, we descend to the Somdang river, crossing from Rasuwaa into the Dhading district of Nepal. We camp on a grassy bench in the small village of Somdang.
We take a layover day to relax in Somdang or have the option of climbing 930m to an abandoned zinc mine where a collection of old buildings and mining gear are found as well as a large shaft that has been drilled over 1km horizontally into the mountain. From here, the trail continues up toward Paldor Peak base camp (4,980m), although this destination would take a strong trekker 3-4 more hours to reach. As an alternative, we follow this trail only 60m above the mine site to a grassy meadow area along a scenic river gorge, which makes for a great Eco Trek lunch stop. Descending back to Somdang, we enjoy fine views of several high waterfalls, scenic mountain vistas, the tumbling Mailang Khola river…and can only imagine how porters carried heavy loads of zinc and other minerals on their backs down this steep trail!
We descend to Tipling today (1,890m), a large village home to two Buddhist gompas (monasteries), a Protestant church, a Catholic church and a cremation ground for both Buddhists and Christians that is lined with colorful flags…all of which reflects the religious diversity of Tamang people. Later, we reach Chalish (1,674m), a village mostly populated by Gurung and Kami people. These hospitable villagers often perform cultural dances during festivals as well as for the occasional visitors. We then descend to cross the Ankhu Khola river (1,440m) before climbing about 40 minutes to camp at the wonderful hot springs at Tatopani. The nice stone-lined pool here features three waist-high spouts you can sit under for a back/shoulder/head water massage and measures about 2m x 5m x 30cm deep…ideal bathing for 4-5 people. It also is located only a few steps from a cool clear-flowing river you can dip into…perfect therapy after some hard days on the trail with Eco Trek!
We return to the Ankhu Khola river before traversing up and around wooded ridges to the hillside village of Tir Gaon, where many friendly children may come out as you enjoy your Eco Trek lunch. The trail from here to Lapchet is narrow but good and has a very remote feeling. It features many up and down sections, is mostly sunny but with some nice shaded rest stops, passes many millet terraces and offers some nice views of snowy Ganesh III, Ganesh VII and Paldor Peak. It crosses the Gandak Khane Khola river before making a final climb to our camp in Lapchet. This general area truly feels like the very heart of Ruby Valley.
We start the day climbing to Barmachet Danda pass (2,680m), which offers impressive views of Ganesh IV, III, VII & V, Paldor Peak and the now distant Pang Sang pass…giving us a good perspective on how far we have trekked. After lunch, we descend to our camp at remote, friendly and quiet Kachet village.
We head down the trail this morning to cross the Hohang Khola river, where a suspension bridge, beautiful waterfall, cascading river and water-powered grain mill are found. We then climb and contour around ridges and hills sculpted with millet terraces and stop for lunch in the village of Kichet (1,780m). As we continue, the trail offers sweeping views of the Ankhu Khola river valley far below, while on the opposite and distant hillsides we see larger villages such as Gyangsang, Ungul and Chyamthali. We camp at the ridgeside village of Rigaon.
We enjoy trekking through more remote and hilly areas where the trail sometimes becomes less defined and more difficult to follow, especially through terraced areas. Since there is no trail signage, this reinforces the importance of staying in a group with your Eco Trek guide who knows the way. Further on, a large recent landslide just before the village of Chimchok (1,520m) marks the beginning of an unimproved dirt road that we follow to Pokhara Danda (ridge) where a small wind generator has recently been installed. There are good views from the scenic camp here.
Our last day on the trail offers us several choices. Those who are ready to relax and kick back can enjoy a downhill homestretch to Eco Trek’s scenic but wooded ‘sky’ camp at Montari, a short walk below Phulkarka. This beautiful camp sits atop a circular flat ridgetop that offers sweeping views of the Ankhu Khola river valley, terraced hillsides and the gleaming white stupa atop towering Ganga Jamuna. More industrious trekkers can head up the ridge to the heights of Tinsure viewpoint (3,225m) or Ganga Jamuna (2,925m) to take in a panoramic view of both snowy Himalayas and deep river valleys.
Today we drive 7-8 hours back to Kathmandu to the hotel to rest, clean up or treat ourselves to a spa or massage- a wonderful way to unwind!
Today is for you to relax and do whatever you like, and at your own pace. You can sleep in at the hotel, have a leisurely lunch, wander the bustling streets of Thamel to shop for unique souvenirs, enjoy a massage or sightsee.
Today, with a heavy heart but high hopes to see you in Nepal again soon, Eco Trek sees you off at the airport for your flight home.
Ruby Valley Trek Extension (Options)
Our Ruby Valley trek can be adjusted to fit nearly anyone’s needs. Eco Trek can arrange extra days to give you time to explore higher regions or simply trek at a more relaxed pace.
For example, you can take an extra day or two to rest at Montari Sky Camp and ramble around the Phulkarka area at your leisure…or take more days to climb upstream from Tatopani Hot Springs to explore the high country (up to 4,341m) near the base of the soaring snow-capped Ganesh Himal, or even visit Paldor Peak base camp (4,980m). Eco Trek will make sure you have a fun, safe and memorable experience!