Kanchenjunga Trek – 25 Days
Kanchenjunga (8,586 m) is the third highest peak in the World. The name Kanchenjunga is derived from four words of Tibetan origin, usually rendered Kang-Chen-dzo-Nga or Yang-chhen-dzö-Nga and interpreted in Sikkim as the “Five Treasuries of the Great Snow.” The mountain holds an important place in the mythology and religious ritual of the local inhabitants, and its slopes were no doubt familiar to herdsmen and traders for centuries before a rough survey of it was made.
This is one of the unexplored and virgin trekking routes locating in the eastern part of Nepal. Kanchenjunga Trek is a really pleasing trail that offers us wonderful snow-capped mountains, Landscape, and exotic scenic views of the Himalayas. You will see a wide range of scenery from lush, tropical jungle through to rhododendron, chestnut and oak forests and then at higher altitudes into the alpine zone. You can enjoy different types of small and high snowy peaks above 8,000 m and below 8,000m popular peaks such as Mt. Everest (8,848m), Mt.Makalu (8,201m) and Mt. Lhotse (8,516m), etc.
The Kanchenjunga trekking goes through the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, managed by local communities in partnership with WWF, which is one of the least densely populated areas in Nepal. Pristine forests, alpine meadows, and high-altitude wetlands are home to the endangered snow leopard and red panda, the vulnerable Himalayan black bear, clouded leopard, and the Assamese macaque.
Kanchenjunga Trekking route can be used from Nepal and Sikkim side too, where we can find many mysterious stories concerning on Himalayan Yeti, the abdominal snowman is believed to be found in this region. Kanchenjunga trek is a special and unforgettable destination among the trekkers because of its landscape, an amazing topography of the land. We can see massive wildlife during the trekking such as snow Leopard, Musk deer, Red Panda many more.
Kanchenjunga Trekking trail has more exciting and challenging daredevil and popular organizing trip to situated in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area which is spread over 2,035 m sq km from enriching in wildlife diversities also many threatened species of birds such as Impedance Pheasant, Red-Billed Blue Magpie, Shy Dragon, Amphibian and Mammals are found in this region and preserved including Snow-leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Musk Deer, Red Panda, etc.
While, Passing along this trekking trail will provide us to observe the remarkable valleys with their an amazing culture, traditions of the local inhabitants, magnificent views of the frozen lake crystal clear stream, Okthan glacier, an amazing ascend of Rathong and Kabru, glacial excursion around Ramche, etc are the best point view of the Kanchenjunga trekking trail.
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Best Season for Kanchenjunga Trek
The most favorable seasons to trek in Nepal are autumn (September-November) and spring (March-May).
One of the best seasons to trek is in autumn. It is the time when the greenery of forests and colorful rhododendrons surround the trails. You can enjoy the serene view of mountains, clear sky in the perfect weather, and temperature.
As the winter ends, spring brings a beautiful ambiance for trekking. The temperatures are moderate while the scenes are spectacular in the mountains. The wildlife is also seen during this time to bask in the sun’s heat.
But, it is quite risky to travel during summer (June-August) as it is a rainy season. During the cold winter (December-February), the trails covers with snow and the trek is full of risk.
Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty
The Kanchenjunga trek is long and quite strenuous, requiring a good level of fitness needed for three weeks of sustained walking with a backpack. The terrain is often rough with rocky paths and some long hills and there are a few areas around the base camps where it might be necessary to use short ropes to aid moving across rocky terrain. These are for safety and assisting people over short rocky sections. However, there are no climbing skills needed for the trek.
During some days, you will have to walk for 8 to 9 hours. For that, you will need a fit body and a healthy mind. You can get some physical training before you go. Make sure that you can walk from 7 to 8 hours a day.
There are various sections on the trail with the possibility of landslides. Mainly in the rainy season and in winter, you must fear landslides and avalanches. While walking through tough sections, you might feel low in energy. Many trekkers feel that. So, get some energy bars or chocolates.
Be careful while ascending or descending over the glaciers, and other rugged sections. You might get injured in these sections.
What Should you pack for Kanchenjunga Trek?
The basic idea of the kit is to keep you warm, dry, protected from the sun and cold, able to move efficiently in the mountains, and able to be comfortable in the evenings and night. Your daypack should weigh around 8 – 10 kgs and your main duffle bag should weigh around 15kgs.
Generally speaking for Kanchenjunga Trek a good pair of trekking boots, thermal wear, fleece jacket, down jacket, lightweight windcheater, trekking trousers, and shorts, long-sleeved and short-sleeved T-shirts, duffle bag and daypack, gloves, enough pair of socks, sunglasses, headlight, woolen beanie caps, water bottles, personal toiletries, gadgets, and books. You can split your requirements into these sections:
- BAGS – Duffle bag ~80L (for a porter) + Medium Daypack ~40L (carried by you)
- SHELL – Top and bottoms to keep dry from wind/rain/snow
- INSULATION – Warm layered system of fleeces, trousers, tops and gloves and hats for sun and cold
- BASE LAYER – Thin layers to wick away sweat and wear on very cold mornings or evenings
- FEET – good quality waterproof ankle-high boots and camp/lodge shoes/sandals
- SLEEPING – Warm 3 to 4 season sleeping bag and a full-length sleeping mat
- DRINKING – water bottles and purifiers
- WASHING & MEDICAL – wash kit and personal first aid and items for personal hygiene
Kanchenjunga Trek Highlights
- Magnificent views of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Jannu, Mera Peak, and many others.
- The beautiful remote villages in the Kanchenjunga region.
- Exploration of both Kanchenjunga Base Camps.
- Experience of walking over the glaciers.
- Pristine Rhododendron forest and the high alpine passes.
- The settlements of Tibetan refugees on the Kanchenjunga Trekking Routes.
Kanchenjunga Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu Airport
Day 2: Fly to Taplejung, trek to Lali Kharka (2315m)
Our Kanchenjunga Trek begins. We return to the airport and take an internal flight across the country traveling east along the main Himalayan chain to the tiny airstrip at Taplejung. We meet our trek crew here and take lunch while the porters’ loads are sorted. After lunch, we have a short walk to our first nights’ halt at Lali Kharka at 2315 meters. There is a good view of Kangchenjunga from camp.
Day 3: Trek through villages to the ridge crest at Kande Banjyang (2170m).
Today, we contour around and descend to Tambawa, with views of the remainder of the day’s walk ahead of us. We continue the descent, passing through the village of Pakora to a great swimming spot on the Phawa Khola. Crossing the river on a suspension bridge, we begin the steep climb up towards Kunjuri and after a long pull reach the crest of the ridge which is known as Kande Banjyang (2170m). We make camp on top of the ridge. This is a great spot and we have good views of Kangchenjunga from here. We can clearly make out the south and main summits along with Yalung Kang.
Day 4: Trek to Phonphe Dhanda (1890m) through terraced fields and villages.
The day begins with a 20-minute descent to the village of Khesewa. From here the path traverses the steep mountainside, negotiating terraced field systems high above the Kabeli Khola. Some ups and downs as we cross several side valleys. Amazing scenery including views of Ratong and Kabru and a first peek at the awesome south face of Jannu. There are many shady spots to rest on the way and we will take lunch at one of these. The day ends with a final climb to our camp on field terraces at the small hamlet of Phonphe Dhanda (1890m).
Day 5: Cross the Khesewa Khola river and contour the hillside to Yamphudin (1700m).
We descend steeply to the Khesewa Khola and cross the river on another suspension bridge. We climb again through terraced fields to the village of Mamankhe. From here the walk to Yamphudin is along a trail that contours the hillside above the Kabeli Khola. The path has several ups and downs as we cross the ridges and stream beds that make up the valley sides before finally descending to the river and our camp at Yamphudin. Here we can bathe in one of the many clear pools in this beautiful river. This is a truly idyllic spot and at an elevation of 1700 meters and is also the most remote settlement in the area and the last habitation we will see until we reach Ghunsa. Ahead is the ridge of the Deorali Danda, which we must cross next.
Day 6: Traverse the Deorali Dhanda ridge to Darachak and Omje Khola (2365m).
Crossing a steep spur, we have fine views of the valley beyond Yamphudin to the south and of the Omje Khola Valley and Deorali Danda (ridge) to the north. Dropping down to a small stream, we cross a stream and take a zig-zagging trail through pleasant farmland to Darachuk, then keep climbing through meadows to the low pass at Dubi Bhanjyang (2540m). We then descend through tree ferns and forest to reach the Omje Khola. We follow the stream for a short distance and cross it to a campsite (2365m) a little further upstream. A short day, with the afternoon free to rest or to do some independent exploration.
Day 7: Trek through the jungle to Simbua Khola and onto to Torontan (3010m).
Straight out of camp, we begin 3 hours of steep ascent to the crest of the Deorali Danda, in the dense jungle all the way except for a couple of kharkas (clearings) en route. We reach a pass at 3230 meters, from the top of which there are good views of Jannu which is definitely closer now! Descending from the pass we have to cross a landslip area and if this is in unstable condition (after heavy rain) we may have to make a short but steep climb to detour over the top. Beyond the landslide area, we enter the forest again and find a spot for lunch. A steep descent follows, down into the valley of the Simbua Khola. Across another ‘interesting’ wooden bridge and we are soon at our camp-site at Torontan. Amongst the towering firs of what is now a mainly coniferous alpine forest. Altitude at Torontan – 3010m.
Day 8: Glimpses of the Yalung Glacier as we trek onwards to Tseram (3910m).
Following the true right bank of the river, this is a blissful day’s walk through pine and rhododendron forests. The valley floor climbs fairly steeply and as the day progresses the trees become more stunted and widespread, giving us glimpses of the snow-capped giants ahead and of the massive snout of the Yalung Glacier. Just before Tseram, the towering heights of Kabru and Rathong start to peep over the moraine. It will still be warm in the sunshine but when the sun drops the temperature plummets to remind us that we are really gaining height. Altitude at Tseram – 3910m.
Day 9: Optional day walk to Kangchenjunga South Basecamp at Ramze (4580m). Return to camp at Tseram.
Today we have the option to visit the southern base camp for Kanchenjunga. The scenery is magnificent as we ascend past the snout of the Yalung Glacier into a series of ablation valleys which give relatively easy walking (the term ‘easy’ here applies to the underfoot conditions and not the effort required to trek at this altitude!). A frozen lake, clear streams, and views of Koktang, Rathong and Kabru are the highlights of the walk up to Ramze – a broad, flat ablation zone at 4580 metres. If we are lucky, we may see blue sheep grazing on the slopes above. After soaking up the situation of standing beside a Himalayan glacier with soaring peaks all around, we make the return journey to our camp at Tseram. The round trip should take around 7 – 8 hours and a little more if we decide to go further along the ablation valley. Anyone who wants to can opt to take this day as a rest day.
Day 10: Cross the three passes (Sinelapcha, Mirgin, and Sinion La) to Selele (4200m).
This will be one of the longest days of the trip as we cross a series of passes on Kanchenjunga’s long SW ridge to access its northern side. The day begins with a steady climb of 2 – 3 hours to Chhuchung Pokhari, two small lakes with a superb retropect of the valley. From here we have about 1 hour of steep climbing to the first pass, the Sinelapcha La (4730m) where we cross the main watershed between the valleys of the Simbuwa and Ghunsa Kholas. The trail then undulates for at least 1 hour to the second, slightly lower pass, the Mirgin La (4690m) and again undulates with a short steep climb to the third pass, the Sinion La (4670m). There are superb views throughout this day and it is one of the highlights of the trek. From the final pass we make a descent of around 2 hours to our camping place at Selele. We will take packed lunches today and the cook team will have some warming noodle soup waiting for us in camp. There are also a couple of small tea shops here. Altitude in camp is around 4200 metres.
Day 11: A short trek to Ghunsa (3425m). Visit the Ghunsa Gompa.
A cold morning as it takes until around 8 am for the sun to clear the steep hillsides to the east. There are two more ‘passes’ to cross today, but there is little in the way of climbing. We begin by contouring the hillside for 2 hours enjoying fantastic views. The first pass reached is the Sele La and the next is the Tamo. We then descend for another hour and a half through rhododendron forest into Ghunsa (3425m). We can see Lapsang La Peak on the descent and the route down from the Lapsang La. The day is relatively short and we may opt to go all the way to camp for lunch. After lunch we will have the opportunity to visit the Ghunsa Gompa which is beautiful inside and well worth the effort. There are a few shops in the town and this is the place to buy a Tibetan rug, as there is a Tibetan Refugee Camp nearby. Ghunsa is also the best place to taste tungba, the traditional Tibetan wine made from millet.
Day 12: Vital contingency day for possible delays.
This is a contingency day to be used at the leader’s discretion in case of any delays to our schedule or to adjust the stages of the trek depending on the conditions. If it has not been needed at this point, we may opt to use it as a well earned rest day in Ghunsa.
Day 13: Trek to Kambachen (4110m). Stunning views of Jannu.
From Ghunsa the trail ascends gently through beautiful pine and rhododendron forests, passing many mani walls and chortens – welcome reminders of the local peoples’ Buddhist faith. After stopping for lunch by the river at Rampak Kharka, after 3 to 4 hours walk, the afternoon’s walk is a steep climb up the mountainside in front of us and a descent to camp at the summer village of Kambachen. The stunning peak of Jannu (7710m), which is also known as Kumbhakarna, rises above our camp. It was first climbed in 1962 by its south-east ridge. The stupendous north face resisted many attempts until a strong Russian team in 2004. Gazing up at the face you will marvel at this extraordinary feat! The altitude at Kambachen is 4110 metres.
Day 14: Trek via Ramtang to Lhonak (4800m).
Normally the trek up to Lhonak via Ramtang is not too strenuous despite the increase in altitude. The views are incredible as one by one the peaks are revealed. After 3 hours or so, we reach our lunch stop at Ramtang, from where the incredible fluted summit of Wedge Peak first becomes visible. Look out for blue sheep on this part of the walk. During the afternoon’s walk, Nepal Peak, the Twins, Merra and White Wave all come into view. The camp-site at Lhonak is on a grassy plain perched high above the Kangchenjunga Glacier opposite Wedge Peak – exposed to the icy wind, but the view more than compensates for the chill! Altitude at Lhonak – 4800m.
Day 15: Trek to Pang Pema (5150m), Kangchenjunga North Basecamp.
It is a relatively short walk up to Pang Pema from Lhonak, but we will be taking it easy on account of the elevation. Depending on conditions we may visit Pang Pema as a day hike from Lonak or we may opt to spend a night up at the basecamp. The trip leader will make this decision. From our camp at Lonak, the trail climbs steadily negotiating several landslide areas before emerging at a grassy terrace in the ablation zone beside the glacier. Pang Pema is a relatively sheltered spot right opposite the towering North Face of Kangchenjunga. This has to be one of the most spectacular places in the world and a fitting climax to this unique trek. It is possible to climb a little way above Pang Pema for a stunning panorama of Kanchenjunga and its glacier. Depending on the option taken we may camp here or make the short descent back to Lonak. Altitude at Pang Pema – 5150 meters.
Day 16: Descend to Kambachen (4096m).
Time to begin the walkout from this remote and beautiful place. Today we retrace the route of our approach, dropping down as far as the camp at Kambachen (4096m). We should find breathing to be a little easier than it was 2 days ago as we trekked up through Lhonak and today is the perfect time to get those fantastic photos we might have missed on the way up.
Day 17: Trek down the valley via Ghunsa to Gyabla (2725m).
We will have an early breakfast ahead of our 3 to 4-hour trek back down this spectacular valley to Ghunsa. Then, after lunch, our way out of the mountains follows the beautiful Ghunsa and Tamur kholas through a spectacular forest of rhododendron, conifer birch, and oak. We start by crossing the Ghunsa Khola on a bridge and following the river on its west bank to the Tibetan refugee village of Phale (3140m). The valley sides are steep hereabouts and leaving the village the trail descends fairly steeply, following the river as it cascades downwards. There are several ups and downs and side streams to negotiate as we make our way downstream to the last of the Tibetan villages at Gyabla (2725m).
Day 18: Following the Ghunsa and Tamur Khola rivers we descend through the forest to Thyangyam (2405m)
Our way out of the mountains follows the beautiful Ghunsa and Tamur Kholas through a spectacular forest of rhododendron, conifer birch and oak. We start by crossing the Ghunsa Khola on a bridge and following the river on its west bank to the Tibetan refugee village of Phale (3140m). The valley sides are steep hereabouts and leaving the village the trail descends fairly steeply, following the river as it cascades downwards. There are several ups and downs and side streams to negotiate as we make our way downstream passing the last of the Tibetan villages at Gyabla (2730m) before reaching our overnight halt at Thyangyam (2405m).
Day 19: Descend through steep-sided valleys to Lelep (1690m)
Contouring high above the river we have fine views today. There are several ups and downs to negotiate landslip areas in the steep-sided valley as we gradually make our descent. The trail passes through the village of Amjilasa (2510m) and then descends to Lelep (1690m) close to the confluence of the Ghunsa Khola and Tamor River
Day 20: Trek to a riverside camp at Chirwa (1204m). The ehat and humidity increasing as we descend.
Just beyond the village we come to the confluence of three rivers – flowing in from our left is the Simbua Khola and from our right, the Tamur Khola which issues from the still restricted Walunchung Gola area. The three rivers combine to form a mighty stream – the Tamur – which we now follow. We cross the tributary Simbuwa Khola on a suspension bridge and follow the Tamur on its east bank. There are plenty of spots for bathing in the numerous small tributary streams which we cross before reaching our riverside camp just before Chirwa. We will feel the heat and humidity increase as we descend to lower altitudes today. Altitude at camp 1240 meters.
Day 21: Trek out to Gadi Danda (1700m) crossing several river valleys.
Travellig now through ever more populated and cultivated lands and in warm climes. we make descents and climbs to cross the tributary valley of the Thiwa, Tawa, Sisne and Yaphre Kholas before reaching our final camp of the trek at Gandi (1700m).
Day 22: Trek to Taplejung (2315m)
We can enjoy a leisurely breakfast before the final morning’s trek which brings us full circle on our Kanchenjunga Trek circuit back down to the town of Taplejung / Surke. We can enjoy some refreshments in the bazaar before making the final climb up to the airstrip where we will have our last camp. We also say goodbye to our trek crew here.