Lake Gosainkunda is amazing! I love everything about it. I love the trek and how to get there, the surrounding landscape, its religious significance and its isolation.
The lake sits at an elevation of 14,370 ft in Langtang National Park. It feeds the Trishuli River in late spring, summer, and early fall. During the other months, the lake is frozen over. Gosainkunda lake covers a surface area of 34 acres and is part of a larger lake complex that spans around 2,560 acres or 4 square miles. The lake complex (108 lakes) was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s convention on wetlands in 2007.
There are a few different routes that lead to Gosainkunda. All of routes except for a helicopter tour are strictly foot paths. The primary route begins in Syabrubesi, just inside the Langtang national park at an elevation of 1,550 m or 5,100 ft. From Syabrubesi, the trail passes near waterfalls, Buddhist monasteries, temples, forests, and meadows that almost reflect the mountains in their beauty. The trail then leads through Bamboo Village and Thulo Syabru to Shin Gompa. From Shin Gompa the trail leads directly to Lake Gosainkunda.
Day 01: Meet guide and check into a hotel in Kathmandu
Day 02: Visit world heritage sites and prepare of the trek
Day 03: Be chauffeured to Syabrubesi. -08 hrs 1,550m/5,100ft
Day 04: Trek to Lama Hotel. -06 hrs, 2,380m/7,830ft
Day 05: Trek to Mundu through Langtang village. -07 hrs, 3,543 m/11,621 ft
Day 06: Trek to Kyangjin Gompa. -04 hrs, 3,870m/12,697ft
Day 07: Acclimate and explore Tserko Ri. -08 hrs, 5,000m/16,404ft
Day 08: Trek to Lama Hotel. -07 hrs, 2,380m/7,830ft
Day 09: Trek to Thulo Syabru. -06 hrs, 2,230m/7,316 ft
Day 10: Trek to Shin Gompa. -04 hrs,
Day 11: Trek to Gosaikunda. -06 hrs, 4,460m/14,632ft
Day 12: Trek to Ghopte. -08 hrs, 3,440m/11,286ft
Day 13: Trek to Melamchi Gaon. -07 hrs, 2,560m/8,399ft
Day 14: Trek to Tarke Ghyang. -06 hrs 2,590m/8,497ft
Day 15: Trek to Sermathang. -05 hours 2,610m/8,563ft
Day 16: Finish the trek in Melamchi Bazaar, and be chauffeured to Kathmandu. -04 hrs trek, -06 hr drive
What to bring and where to stay
This is a good question as it directly relates to when to go. In general, pack for the season you will be trekking in. But because it is an altitude trek, I recommend dressing a little warmer than normal. I always like to dress in layers when I am trekking. Sherpa Adventure Gear has great quality products with a wonderful selection for both men and women. There products are designed and manufactured to be layer-able.
Tea houses/ guest lodges line the path to Gosainkunda Lake. Due to the moderate amount of traffic normally associated with this route, you will always be able to find a place to spend the night at one of these locations. This eliminates the need for tent camping. However, if you want to tent camp, there are unmarked spaces along the trail for it. Eastern Mountain Sports has a great selection of camping gear on their online store. It is easy to navigate and streamlined.
At the bare minimum bring a sleeping bag, UV protective sunglasses, water filter, warm cloths (layers), hiking boots, trekking poles (if you use them), hat, sunscreen, extra money, a guide, and a friend. If you prefer a SteriPEN to a water filter, that is also fine. Make sure your glasses are UV protective. You can take them to an optometrist to check.
When to go
After posing the question “when is the best time to go”, I thought it might depend on weather or not a lake is still a lake if it is frozen. After doing a little bit of research the conclusion I came up with is yes. A lake is still called a lake if it is frozen, however one might make the argument that it can also be a glacier. With that being noted, I will proceed with the best time to visit Lake Gosainkunda.
In my opinion, the best time to visit is during the main trekking season from September through November. In early September the lake is almost guaranteed to be liquid. During the main season the trail has surprisingly few trekkers on it. In September 2017, 275 people registered for the trek. The main trekking month in 2017 was October, which had 532 people registered for the trek. In November 2017, 485 people registered for the trek.
If you would like to see the lake frozen and covered with snow, the winter season (December, January, February) would be perfect. During these 3 months in 2017, only 537 people trekked to Lake Gosainkunda. These are slightly higher numbers than the summer season, which received 488 people. I do not recommend this trek during the summer. I believe the risk of landslides and traffic accidents are too great.
Trekking during spring is great alternative to fall. The weather is wonderful, however historically there tends to be more people on the trail at this time. From March through May, in 2017, 2,381 people registered to go on this trek. The mountain views also tend to be cloudy.
An all-expenses paid trip to this beautiful lake will cost $1,660. This includes a 16-day trek, all meals, lodging, licenses, and transportation. If you wanted to visit Gosainkunda Lake without the support of a trekking agency, the trip would likely cost $620. This price includes budget meals and does not include a guide and porter. For the hardcore campers who don’t stay in the lodges, their trip would cost about $240 less. A breakdown of the prices follows.
- $25/day guide
- $15/day porter
- $30/day food
- $30/day room board
- $40 licenses
- $100 transportation
There was once this really bad dude named Durva. He was actually a bro because of all the douchy things he would do. One-day Durva had just finished robbing a fairy for her wreath of flowers she picked from the gardens of heaven. Durva had just put the wreath on when the king of heaven road by on his elephant. Durva panicked because he didn’t want to get in trouble, and like a bro, he lied about the wreath. He said it was a gift for King Indra, who took the wreath and placed it on his beloved elephants head. The elephant was allergic though and couldn’t stand the pollen filling its long nose so, it knocked the wreath of its head.
Durva was upset by the sight of his gift being thrown to the ground. With his special powers given to him by Shiva, he cast down Indra. At the time though, Indra and the rest of the Gods in heaven were fighting with demons. The Gods being at a disadvantage sought the wisdom of Shiva, who suggested they stir the ocean with a giant cobra to get the elixir of immortality. When they did, the cobra released its venom. The venom threatened to kill all of life on earth. The Gods went back to Shiva for help.
Shiva saw what had happened and being a righteous and just dude drank the poison, but kept it in his throat. The poison burned Shivas throat, so he went to get a cold beverage from his refrigerator. It was empty. Shiva was a really cool dude and didn’t panic. He took his trusty trident and thrust it into the Himalayan mountains. When he pulled it out, ice cold water sprang forth. Shiva drank this water quenching his thirst.
This created Lake Gosainkuda. Shiva and his wife Parvati now live at the lake. The lake water is considered holy and is a destination for people on pilgrimage. Around June and July, during the Gangadashahra festival and the Janai Purnima festival, respectively, people bath in the water originating from Lake Gosainkunda.