Mt. Kachenjunga (28,198ft & treasures of the snow) is the third highest mountain in the world and was first climbed by the British in 1956. Lying on the Nepal – Sikkim borders, the lush landscape of the Kanchenjunga area is an ideal environment for musk deer, blue sheep, and the infamous yeti. Few westerners have traveled to this remote area.
Kanchenjunga Round trek offers an endless variety of culture and changing countryside as it proceeds from terraced fields, forests of birch, bamboo, and rhododendron that eventually turn to stands of fir and hemlock as one climbs higher into the mountains. Himalayan bear, barking deer, and the lesser panda are among the rich animal and birdlife that fill the area. Kanchanjunga, Makalu and the spectacular Jannu are among the peaks at the outset of the trek. Passing through villages of Brahmins and Chhetries, you enter an almost exclusive Limbu territory with a scatter of Gurung and Sherpa settlements.
Trekking in the Kanchenjunga area is a long course and offers one of the best high altitude trekking trips, leading the famous peaks of eastern Nepal as Kanchenjunga and mysterious Jannu via the enormous Yalung Glacier. It also allows a trip to Lamsang La and Kanchenjunga glacier. The view of Kanchenjunga range and Kanchenjunga (8,556m) the third highest in the world, from the north base camp is simply breathtaking and unforgettable, as is the north face of Jannu, a worthy destination itself. The trail goes from the Sub Tropical lowlands up to the Yalung Glacier 5000m; enable the trekkers to experience a diverse cross-section of topography, people, culture, fauna, and flora. Set in a remote wilderness, inhabited by a few nomadic yak herders, this region has much to offer the adventurous trekkers who are looking for something different.
We will fly from KTM to Bhadrapur and continue to Taplejung by drive. From Taplejung, we will begin our trek following a route along a ridge top towards the TamourRiver where we will enjoy panoramic views of the Makalu (27,825’) and Chamlung(24,000’) peaks. We will continue through forests and rhododendron thickets and soon the Kanchenjunga range will appear. Trekking through the Limbu villages to the terraced mountainside village of Amji-Lhasa, we will get to the legendary Sherpa village of Ghunsa (11,400ft). We will visit the monastery there and soon have our first glimpse of a sea of unclimbed peaks including the Jannu(25,289ft) known as a “mystery peak” or “Terror “. We will trek to the edge of the Kanchenjunga glacier and after crossing the lateral moraine; we will cut across at this junction and arrive at our campsite at Lhonak, an undisturbed landscape of unspeakable beauty.
After a couple of days rest and exploration at Lhonak including a day trip to Pangpema (16900ft) to see the north face of Kanchenjunga, we will head south to Yalung glacier. We will cross the two passes, the Lapsang La (16700ft) or Margin La(15300ft) depending on which is the safest at the time, into the Simbua Khola valley and camp at Ramche (14000ft). We will rest and explore the Yalung Glacier and the southern face of Kanchenjunga, then begin the trek returns. Your dream of seeing one of the most remote lands in the world will be fulfilled.
Kathmandu Arrival (1300m), Transfer to Hotel & Briefing
After you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, you will have to go through custom formalities. Afterwards, you will be greeted by our representative who will be anxiously waiting for you with a placard displaying your name in his hand. You will be transferred to the 3-Star category hotel in a private vehicle. Once you get refreshed, you will get briefing regarding the itinerary. Enjoy welcome dinner in the evening where you can taste authentic Nepali dinner. Stay overnight in a hotel.
Kathmandu sightseeing tour, packing and preparations
Early in the morning, you will be transferred to our office for documentation work. You will also be introduced with your crew members and other trekkers who are going to join you on the trip. In the afternoon, half day sightseeing tour will be organized during which you will be taken on memorable UNESCO Heritage Tour. Tour begins with visit to Nepal’s holiest Pashupatinath Temple Complex and takes us through Nepal’s largest Bouddhanath Stupa and 2500 years old Swoyambhunath Stupa. We will return to hotel for overnight stay.
Kathmandu to Suketar/Taplejung (2320m), Trek to Mitlung (920m) or Fly to Bhadrapur (40 min), and drive to Phedim (5 hrs)
Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is operating three weekly direct flights in between Kathmandu and Taplejung. Since the flight is infrequent, the flight is scenic with close-up views of Jugal Mountain, Langtang Mountain, Makalu Mountain, Kanchenjunga Mountain and other peaks and mountains. After assembling the crew, we will follow the levelled path for almost two hours to reach Taplejung from where we will walk past few dispersed villages to reach Hangdewa River. Crossing the small Hangdewa River, we will follow the bank of Tamor River for another couple of hours before descending through a muddy path to Mitlung village where we will stay overnight.
Our alternative is to catch flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur, the flight is about 40 minutes only. Form Bhadrapur we take jeep drive to Phedim, this will take about 5 hours and we stay over night in guesthouse in Phedim.
Mitlung to Chirwa (1336m) or Drive to Taplejung – Lunch – drive to Chirwa
Leaving Mitlung village early in the morning, we will follow the trail through series of ups and downs to the pretty village of Sinwa village from where we will descend to Tawa village. From Tawa, the trail stretches up till we reach to the suspension bridge that links Tawa with Thiwa. We will continue walking through terraced farmland to the village of Chirwa. Chirwa is the culturally rich village of Limbu ethnic with proper facility of tea houses and lodges. In almost 5 hours, we will arrive at Chirwa where we will stay overnight.
Alternative plan: If we take flight from KTM to Bhadrapur then, we drive from Phedim to Taplejung (4 hrs) early in the morning, and stop in Taplejung for Lunch and continue jeep drive to Chirwa the same day, Taplejung to Chirwa drive is on dirt road about 5 hrs.
Chirwa to Sekathum (1640m)
The trail stretches uphill and downhill through terraced fields of cardamom and forest of pine and oaks to lead us to Sekathum. After pursuing the escalating trail for almost an hour, we will lower down to the Tamor River via green field. This is a short journey where we will gain almost 300m altitude in mere six hours. From Tamor River, we will continue walking till we reach Ghunsa River which we will cross to arrive at Sekathum. Stay overnight in Sekathum.
Sekathum to Amjilosa (2360m)
This is going to be a bit tough day as we will be walking through slippery gorge. Crossing the suspension bridge, we will enter the forest area from where the trail stretches up and down to the river. Crossing the river via bridge, we will walk uphill to Solima Village. From Solima village, the trail lowers down to yet another river. We need to walk for almost seven hours on this day. Caution is required to walk through slippery gorges to take us finally to Amjilosa. Amjilosa is the point where we will leave lower section of Kanchenjunga region and enter Upper Section. There will be differences in vegetation, culture and local life in lower and upper section. Stay overnight in Amjilosa.
Amjilosa to Gyabla (2690m)
Leaving Amjilosa early in the morning after breakfast, we will take seven hours of long walk to Gyabla. We will witness many Tibetan refugee settlements on our way, mostly near Phale village. The trail continues along riverbank and traverses bamboo, fir and rhododendron forest to take us to the tiny stone house existing near to the river. We will follow the uphill trail and cross bridges at few points. We will also enjoy the views of cascading waterfall at few points. A short uphill climb will take us to the Tibetan settlement of Gyabla. Tibetan Handmade products like beads, carpet and other souvenir items are for sale on Gyabla. Stay overnight in Gyabla.
Gyabla to Ghunsa (3472m)
Leaving Gyabla, we will take the downhill trek to the river from where the valley opens wide to Phale which is also the Tibetan Refugee Settlement area. One can buy gift items like handmade rugs on Phale. We need to cross conifer and pine forest to reach Ghunsa that is inhabited by Sherpa ethnics who have different culture than Rais and Limbus who are found in Lower Section of Kanchenjunga Region. This is the place where helicopter carrying more than twenty remarkable environment conservationists including Dr, Harka Gurung had crashed. Stay overnight in Ghunsa.
Acclimatization Day at Ghunsa
Since Ghunsa is located at an altitude of more than 3500m, it is wise to take a day of rest for proper acclimatization. There are many comfortable teahouses for accommodation in Ghunsa. Ghunsa is considered as the headquarters of Kanchenjunga North. We can explore Ghunsa or climb to the nearby ridge for better views of surrounding mountains and peaks. Another alternative is to visit the Lpasan La Monastery for which we need to walk through the forest area. We will return back to Ghunsa from the Monastery for overnight stay.
Ghunsa to Khambachen (4130m)
The path from Ghunsa to Khambachen continues through the landslide area that takes us through off the beaten section of Kanchenjunga North. Leaving Ghunsa, we will follow the scenic path with views of surrounding mountains and peaks. We will walk along the edge of river towards northern territory. We will be greetd with the pleasant aura of pasture land full of lush green vegetation and rhododendron and pine forest. The trail leads us to Rampuk Kharka from where we will walk along the cascading waterfall and arrive at yet another landslide prone area. We can get close-up view of northern face of Mount Jannu once we walk past the landslide prone area. Kambachen, Lhonak and Pangpema are temporary settlements where we can find small stone teahouses for shepherd’s settlement during summer. Stay overnight in Khambachen.
Rest Day at Khambachen
Located at an altitude of 4050m, Kambachen is a high alpine area of grass land with absence of forest. Khambachen is the perfect place for taking rest from trek as it will help us to get acclimatized to the high alpine region of northern hemisphere. This will also prepare us and refill our energy that we will require for next two days to make it to the north base camp of Kanchenjunga. We can explore the Nupchu River Valley in the afternoon. Report to the guide immediately if you are feeling unwell. Evacuation from Pangpema is difficult than from Khambachen. Stay overnight in Khambachen.
Khambachen to Lhonak (4792m)
This is going to be a long and tiring day as we need to trek for around seven hours to reach Lhonak from Khambachen. We will begin our trek early in the morning. We will walk past the field of rocks and boulders and enter Ramtang Valley as we pass through the Ramtang Monastery. This Monastery exists near to the bridge which we will arrive after passing through the cascading waterfall. We will visit the Monastery and take brief rest before continuing our journey through the landslide prone area. Keep your eyes open for loose rocks that make the path tricky. We will lower down to the river and follow the path that greets us with the first view of Lhonak settlement. There are very few small stone teahouses in Lhonak. These teahouses are a summer settlement of shepherds. Accommodation in these teahouses will not be comfortable. We might prefer accommodation in tent in Lhonak and Pangpema. Lhonak is a pasture land that is surrounded with hills and mountains. Stay overnight in Lhonak.
Lhonak to Pang Pema Base Camp (5140m), Return to Lhonak (4792m)
Pang Pema is the North Base Camp of Kanchenjunga. We will walk through the landslide prone area and fields of rocks and boulders to reach the grassy plain land of North Base Camp. We will climb to the nearby ridge for the close-up views of Mount Jannu, Chang Mountain and an incredible view of North Face of Kanchenjunga. We can meet with climbers who are on their way or have returned from climbing Peak 5950 which takes extra four days from Pangpema. Climbing Peak 5950 does not require climbing permit. After enjoying the stupefying views of Mountains and Peaks, we will retrace our route back to Lhonak where we will stay overnight.
Lhonak to Ghunsa (3415m)
Continuing our return trip, we will leave Lhonak and lower down to Ramtang Monastery. After taking brief rest in Ramtang Valley, we will walk past the landslide area to arrive at the bridge which we will cross and walk past waterfall to arrive at Khambachen. Descending trail is easier. So we can easily make it to Lhonak from Ghunsa in a single day without having to take a day of rest in Khambachen. The trail is scenic with views of Kanchenjunga, Gimmigela Peak, Mera Peak and other peaks and mountains at the backdrop. Following the descending trail from Kambachen, we will reach Ghunsa from where we can find the permanent settlements. We can meet with trekkers from Selele who are on Kanchenjunga South Base Camp Trek. Stay overnight in Ghunsa.
Ghunsa to Selele (4480m)
Leaving Ghunsa early in the morning, we will leave the trail leading us to Gyabla and choose the right path all the way to Sele Le. Selele is not inhabited by locals. We will walk past the forest of rhododendron and juniper. This region is rich in wildlife. Many travellers claim to see snow leopard on this area. So always stick together and do not walk alone. This will be our final night on northern Kanchenjunga as we will reach Cheram village on Kanchenjunga South after passing through Selele Pass on the next day. Stay overnight in Selele.
Selele to Yalung (4128m)
This is the challenging day as we need to move up and down through the steeper section. We will begin our trek early in the morning. Climbing the steep uphill section, we will make it to the summit of Sele Le Pass from where we will enjoy the views of Kanchenjunga North Face, Mount Makalu and Mount Jannu. We must climb slow and steady as it demands more energy. The path from Cheram to Ramche continues uphill. We will descend from Selele Pass and move towards the lower section of Kanchenjunga South. The trail continues through the boulder valley to Cheram which is the first village that we will find on our Kanchenjunga South Base Camp journey. We will proceed further to Yalung from Cheram where we will stay overnight.
Yalung to Ramche (4360m)
Walking past the snout of Yalung glacier which is also known as Kanchenjunga south Glacier, we will reach Simbuwa River. Crossing this river, we will advance towards Lapsang Village before making it to Ramche. Ramche is known as the Kanchenjunga South Base Camp. We can enjoy the unobstructed views of Manaslu, Kanchenjunga and other surrounding mountains and peaks from Ramche. Accommodation will be more comfortable in tents at Ramche.
Trek to Oktang valley (4780m), Return to Ramche
After having breakfast, we will leave Ramche and make side trip to Oktang Valley. Moving near to the ridgeline which greets us with spectacular view of Kanchenjunga South Face and southern face view of Mount Jannu, we will advance towards remote Oktang Valley where we will visit ancient Oktang Monastery. Finally, we have completed Kanchenjunga North Base Camp as well as Kanchenjunga South Base Camp in a single trip. We will return to Ramche from Oktang Valley for overnight stay.
Ramche to Tortong (2980m)
The path from Ramche to Tortong is relatively easy. From Ramche, we will take an hour of walk from Ramche to Cheram at which point the trail branches in two directions. We will choose the right hand side path and cross Simbuwa River to enter the forest of rhododendron. Trek from Ramche to Tortong almost takes seven hours during which we will lose altitude of more than thousand meter. Compared to the high alpine region, there is well management of accommodation in tea houses in Lower Section of Kanchenjunga including Tortong. Have a comfortable stay at Tortong.
Trek to Hellok village (7 hrs)
From Tortong, we will take the newly build shorter trekking route over Yasang to Hellok village instead of traditional longer route to yamphudin to Suketar. Tortong and Hello is quite a long day walk crossing over Yasang la, its uphill up to yasang and down hill to hellok village, this route makes the trek day shorter by 2 days. We stay in Hellok village on a local teahouse or possible go up to Ranipul from where we get local jeep to Taplejung the next day.
Trek to Ranipul (4 hrs) and drive to Taplejung same day, 6 hours
From Hellok, we will follow the trail along green field to the collection of teahouses. Advancing further, we will reach Ranipul. This is a short yet pleasant trek. From Ranipul we take local jeep to Taplejung about 5-6 hours drive on dirt road, we reach Taplejung in the late evening only. Stay in Guesthouse in Taplejung
Drive to Bhadrapur (8hrs) and fly to KTM (40min)
We will try to catch an early morning flight from Suketar to Kathmandu directly. If this flight is not available, then we take drive to Bhadrapur (8 hrs) and take later afternoon flight to KTM the same day. You will be transferred to hotel for overnight stay.
: Free day, shopping and celebration meals in the evening
This is rest day. Spend the day as you like. You can go for shopping in Thamel where you can buy souvenir items. Upon your interest, we can also arrange for guided sightseeing tour. Farewell dinner will be served in the evening
You will be transferred to the Airport three hours before your scheduled flight. Safe journey. We hope to see you soon.