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Langtang & Gosainkund Trek, Nepal Birding Trip Report
by Prasad Anand
23 March - 13 April 1999
I was too early for White-browed and Gould's Shortwing and White-bellied Redstart. I also suspect the wood on the opposite side of the valley at Kyangin, is better later on.
Two people died when I was at Kyangin. An Australian girl was taking altitude sickness tablets, which only suppress the symptoms. She ascended to 4500m, spent the night there, came down the next day to Kyangin 4000m and that morning she died with no warning. There's a lot written in the guidebooks about A.M.S. but as even they have itineraries, which exceed there own suggestions it is confusing. Then I came across a very clear explanation. Everyone acclimatizes at their own rate. When you start getting sick you are not acclimatizing fast enough and you have crossed your "acclimatization line". It takes a few hours for symptoms to develop so you need to calculate what height you were a few hours before you start to feel sick. You need to take note of this height. Do not ascend with symptoms. If you stop ascending and symptoms do not disappear or the sickness gets worse you need to get back down to this height. What happened to the Australian girl is that firstly, she didn't know she was sick because of the pills and secondly she didn't get down to below her acclimatization line. If you take care, there is really no danger.
On a happier note, to climb all the way to Kyangin and not to explore the hills a little would be to waste the chance of a lifetime. The panorama from Tsergo Ri is absolutely unbelievable. It is also a good place to find Snowcocks on the ridge up. Make sure you set of as early as possible otherwise other trekkers may disturb them (personal experience). You can walk down by heading north (ask a guide if there is one up there) until you hit a small side-valley and then head down this valley and around the main valley either on a high path or the valley bottom. There is a good guidebook series with one for the Langtang area with these walks in. It has a globe symbol on the cover.
If you can't climb Tsergo Ri the next best thing is the hill above Kyangin. It is best to climb via the valley to the right. Climb up to the ridge at the valley head and then walk left along the ridge to the prayer flags and descend via the ridge. I saw Snow Partridge and Red-fronted Rosefinch along this walk. Take loads of film!
There is a resident Tibetan Rimpoche at Kyangin.
Make sure you have sunscreen and sunglasses.
There are plenty of good lodges except Phedi, Ghopte and Tharapati, which are pretty basic and Chisopani, which is a right dump.
There is a corrupt politician who owns many of the lodges in the Langtang Valley. He has stolen communal land at Kyangin, which means their festivals don't happen. He owns the second lodge on the left at Ghore Tabla and the second Riverside Lodge (which is actually ran by two lovely girls and is in a beautiful location, I couldn't resist). There is a lodge at Langtang called Langtang Village Guest House ran by a guy who is doing a lot for the village. He has built a small H.E.P. station and a new school with the aid, which the other guy was pocketing. He is very informative. And can tell you the other lodges to avoid if you want.
At Kutumsan there was a nice lodge. It didn't look like much from the outside but the kitchen was immaculate and it was very peaceful. It was the last lodge on the left before the dip in the ridge where the trail starts to climb a little.
Dunche. (23rd March)
Un-identified Bush Warbler? (Olive above, buff below, with a small dark necklace and calling trrr trrr trrr). Spot-winged Rosefinch (pair), Black Partridge, Eurasian Jay, Small Niltava, Striated Prinia, Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Short-billed Minivet, Golden-spectacled Warbler,
Syabru. (24th March)
Spot-winged Rosefinch, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Pacific Swift, White-browed Fulvetta, Chestnut-crowned Laughing Thrush, Short-billed Minivet, Common Buzzard, Blyth's Leaf Warbler, Eurasian Jay, Spotted Laughing Thrush, Spotted Forktail, Kalij (on the way back down).
To Lama Hotel. (25th March)
Plain Mountain Thrush, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Mrs Gould's Sunbird, Black-breasted Sunbird, Long-billed Thrush (by the metal bridge below Syabru, 2 present here on the way down , also), Honeyguide (just past Landslide Lodge on cliffs across the river also on cliffs on opposite side of river just before Lama Hotel), Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Spot-winged Rosefinch, Blyth's Leaf Warbler. Also Goral. I dipped on Nepal Wren Babbler which have been seen just up from Lama Hotel.
Lama Hotel. (26th March)
Green-tailed Sunbird, White-tailed Nuthatch, Black-faced Laughing Thrush, Snow-Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Black-faced Warbler, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Eurasian Jay.
Lama Hotel to Ghore Tabla. (27th March)
Nepal House Martin, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Beautiful Rosefinch, Pallid Harrier.
Ghore Tabla. (28th March)
Streak-throated Yuhina, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous-fronted Tit (several more seen later on in the trek), Beautiful Rosefinch (common ).Also Muntjac.
Ghore Tabla to Langtang. (29th March)
Beautiful Rosefinch, Plain Mountain Finch.
Kyangin. (30th March-2nd April)
Goldfinch, White Wagtail, Alpine Accentor, Rosy Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Winter Wren, Hen Harrier, Snow Partridge, Red-fronted Rosefinch, Black Kite, Tibetan Snowcock (on way up to Tsergo Ri) Also Himalayan Tahr.
To Sing Gompa. (4th April)
Collared Grosbeak, Spot-winged Rosefinch, White-collared Blackbird, Red-headed Bullfinch, Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Chestnut Thrush, Blyth's Leaf Warbler, Grey-headed Woodpecker.
To Laurebiniak. (5th April)
White-winged Grosbeak (common later), Golden Bush Robin, Cuckoo, Fire-tailed Sunbird (common later), Buff-barred Leaf Warbler.
Gosainkund. (5th April)
(It is a beautiful climb up to the ridge in the morning). Red-fronted Rosefinch. Look out for Smoky Warbler, which has been seen at the lake here.
To Pedhi. (6th April)
Look out, or even scour the hillside coming down from the pass for Wood Snipe, which have been seen here. (Also look for Smoky Warbler). White-winged Grosbeak. Red-fronted Rosefinch, Desert Wheatear, possible Upland Buzzard, Buff-barred Leaf Warbler.
To Gopte. (7th April)
Probably the same Buzzard as yesterday. Pink-browed Rosefinch, Beautiful Rosefinch, Grandala, Blood Pheasant, White-browed Bush Robin.
Gopte. (8th April)
Fire-tailed Myzormis, White-browed, Golden and Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, White-browed Rosefinch (a pair), Blyth's Leaf Warbler.
Gopte to Tharapati (9th April)
Mountain Scops Owl (heard)
Tharapati to Kutumsan (10th April)
Common Rosefinch, Hoary Barwing, Peregrine calling and displaying.
Kutumsan to Chisopani. (11th April)
Large Hawk Cuckoo.
Chisopani to Pati Bhanjan. (12th April)
Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Lesser Cuckoo, Upland Pipit.
To Sundejaal. (13th April)
Ultramarine Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Forktail (at the small reservoir near the end), Grey-winged Blackbird, Striated Laughing Thrush. This area is the Sheopuri area mentioned in the "Birdwatchers Guide" and you can look there for possible birds. You can also see, you can descend to Budhanilkantha.