Trekking during the Pandemic | Gosainkunda Lakes

Sumitra travelled to the sacred lakes of Gosainkunda in November 2020 and discovers how rejuvenating it is, and how quiet it is due to the pandemic. She also brings back valuable information on how best to trek during these times.

Do you believe trekking is a perfect remedy to ease all those stress, boredom, anxiety you built up during lockdown period? Let me share, how I managed to pull off necessary travel refreshment for my mental health and unleashed my travelling spirits.

The first thing I did was to look for a potential trekking spot that is not far from Kathmandu because staying in close contact with my family members was my top most priority.

Second, I searched for few trekking routes opened for travel enthusiastic. So, I chose Gosaikunda trekking route which was of 3 nights 4 days. Depending upon your walk and fitness level the travel period could be either shorter or longer.

There are many routes available for Gosaikunda trek, the one I chose was Ktm-Dhunche which took us 6 hrs to reach Dhunche - the gateway for all Langtang route treks. I found Gosaikunda trekking route to be one of the difficult trek that I experienced so far. In the span of 10 kilometer you had to uphill from altitude of 2000m to 4400m. The climb is strenuous but result is worthy.

Well, talking about this place, Gosaikunda have its own different stories of origin and how it was created. This trek is a perfect recipe for those seeking bit of historical knowledge, myths, folklores and Tibetan – Buddhist inspired culture lifestyle. My most memorable part of this trek was Sing Gompa 'village'. I have seen a lot of sunsets in my lifetime but none was ever so gorgeous as the one I saw there. The beautiful golden hour of sunset rejuvenated all the stress, anxiety, boredom that I had cumulated during lockdown period.

The tea houses on the way offer you the much needed rest but don't get startled by the prices. It's extremely hard work to get the essential stuff up the mountains hence the cost seems justified.

In order to avoid crowd place in a trail I started early in the morning. If it is not feasible then choose trails that have wider spaces, where you can hike freely without close in contact with other person.

Always remember to put on a buff around your neck. Because wearing a mask all the time is not comfortable at all, so buff is much easier, I pulled it down whenever there was nobody within 20 ft from me and I pulled it up again, the moment I saw someone approaching towards me. This worked pretty well as I was comfortable during my hike and also secured at same time.

The new thing that I experienced during my recent trip is paranoia of local people towards visitors due to widespread of Corona virus. I understood the situation was due to pandemic, so if you face similar situation talk with them and respect their decision.

Things to remember:

- After 3500 mt, only 1 particular hotel is supposed to give the service, they operate for 4 days and after 4 days another hotel will be operated (this way there will be equal distribution of the business during this tough time of covid). Hence a walk in guest might not get a room for accommodation. Please make an advance booking just to be on the safe side.

- Water is expensive, Nrs. 80 per cup, so be responsible.

- The night is very cold. Ensure you have proper winter gears.

- Always remember “Early to bed early to rise makes person to reach on time.” So eat your dinner on time and have a goodnight sleep so that you get pumped up for tomorrow.

- Make sure you carry your power bank, charge everything you can before ascending to the higher altitude as they are dependent on solar energy.

- Please carry dry meats, canned fish or any sort of meat items if you are non vegetarian. (I really struggled J)

- There’s a sacred temple near the lake Gosaikunda, so if you religious person, carry your own incense, Khata (traditional ceremonial scarf in Tibetan Buddhism) or anything to offer to god because you don’t get to buy it once you leave Dhunche Bazaar.

What did I do that was COVID safe?

Shrinking my circle of interaction did help me to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

I did my best to avoid most travelled trails and went to hike with people already in contact with me, family members and neighbors (who does not have travel history)

I always pack out what I pack in, including trash, toilet papers to properly dispose of it.

During this time, carrying hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes could also be useful to keep your hands clean and avoid touching your face.

Note: Prices here is as high as altitude. So, carry some extra cash , no cards please.