Tour overview

Kanchenjunga Trekking is one of the popular things that you can do while visiting Nepal. Kanchenjunga is the top trekking region for trekking in Nepal which offers an astounding lifetime experience in the Himalayas. Kanchenjunga region is less impacted, less crowded, yet unspoiled and undistorted trekking destination that offers an incredible experience of the Himalayas.

The trail toward the world’s third-highest mountain Mt. Kanchenjunga, 8,586m, offers the iconic views and the beauties of the eastern Himalayas. The region is in far eastern Nepal. Just a side has Sikkim which is also the most popular tourist destination in India. The Kanchenjunga Conservation Area is the best part of Kanchenjunga trekking which is yet least visited and less crowded.

Lush Rhododendron Forests, green vegetation, and the beautiful pasture and grassland, juniper trees, and alpine trees/plants add more beauties to the Kanchenjunga trekking track. Every step trekker made allows them to experience the beautiful mountain vistas and stunning glimpses. The long Himalayan range of Kanchenjunga rising high above the green lines of hills are so mesmerizing and jaw-dropping.

The trails in lower elevation comprise of beautiful and typical settlements of ethical Nepalese communities and groups. Kanchenjunga trekking is the trekking of Himalayan paradise beautifully blended with cultural blessings. The diverse cultural and natural blessing in one single point makes Kanchenjunga trekking one of most to-do trekking destination.

Beautiful and traditional villages and the people’s typical culture and heritages, stunning views of green hills, jaw-dropping mountain vistas of gigantic Kanchenjunga Himal, beautiful rivers, gorges and the Riverbanks, waterfalls, streams, and creeks, and lakes, isolated routes and tracks, off-the-beaten trekking in the less crowded area, etc. are theHighlights of Kanchenjunga trekking. The months of September to December and March to May are the best time for Kanchenjunga trekking. Kanchenjunga trekking is recognized as the difficult trekking in Nepal. The challenging difficulty level of Kanchenjunga Trekking makes it one of the most popular and best trekking in Nepal.

Overview

Despite its stunning natural beauty, the Kanchenjunga region has remained off the radar of most trekkers given its remote location and lack of infrastructure (until recently it was camping only).

In recent years, teahouses have opened up in the villages and other convenient locations along the trail. This means that small groups can now trek here more affordably and payment for accommodation and meals goes directly to the local economy.

This region offers rewarding trekking through lush, low-lying valleys and up through incredible forests and into the high alpine pastures and glaciers at the foot of Kanchenjunga. Along the way, you’ll pass through Hindu and Buddhist villages whose culture includes Chhetri, Rai, Limbu, Gurung, Sherpa, and Tibetan.

Keep in mind, the trails are narrow and the teahouses simple as, still, relatively few trekkers visit this remote area. You won’t find the fancy meals and attached bathrooms available on the popular trekking routes, but you will experience the real Nepal in all its diversity of cultures and landscapes.

The most popular route takes 24 days and visits both the North and South Base Camps of Mt. Kanchenjunga. However, there are a few other shorter options, as well.

There is essentially one main trail and you can trek it in either direction, visiting both base camps (24 days) or one of the base camps (18/19 days) or do a shorter circuit (about 15 days depending on your stops). The routes described below start at Taplejung and do not include travel time to and from Kathmandu (please see the ‘getting there and away’ section below).

North & South Base Camp – 27 Days

This is probably the best-known trek in the region and well worth the effort if you have the time. The ideal route is to visit the North Base Camp followed by South Base Camp, given the better acclimatization schedule in this direction.

As with the other routes, this trek most often starts at Taplejung (or the Suketar airport if you fly in) but logistics are in flux as new roads are being developed.

From Taplejung, you trek down to Mitlung where the trail follows the Taplejung until Sekathum where you branch off into the Ghunsa river valley. The Ghunsa river drains the glaciers of Kumbarkarna (Jannu) and Kanchenjunga and you follow this valley right up to Pang Pema, the northern base camp. You can stay in very simple accommodation at Pang Pema and explore from there, or you can stay at Lhonak and do a day trip up and back in a long day.

On the way back down you return to Ghunsa and then turn towards the south base camp, climbing high to cross the Sele La (‘La’ means pass) at 4,720m and then making your way steeply down to Cheram. From there you can trek to Ramche and then take a day to visit the south base camp, or you could stay at Cheram and do a long day trip. Then you prepare the legs for steep descents as you leave the alpine landscapes behind and trek down to Tortung.

In your final days here, the trail crosses numerous ridgelines—with incredible views back up to the Himalayas—to get back to Taplejung through lush forests and farmland, getting very hot as you trek the uphill sections in the lower altitudes. There are various ways you can go for this stage of the trek and, with roads and accommodation options changing quickly in the area, it would be wise to talk with your trek operator before finalizing your itinerary for these days.

North Base Camp – 21-24 days

This trek follows the North & South Base Camp route, above, until you get back to Ghunsa. Here, you can choose whether you wish to return via the same trail you trekked up from Taplejung (taking 18 days) or whether you cross over the Sele La and return via Cheram and Yamphudin (taking 21 days). If you wish to spend more time at the Pang Pema and explore beyond, then you should add two days.

South Base Camp – 20 days

This trek follows the Northern Base Camp route, with the common variations on where you can stay at the lower elevations depending on your walking speed and when you arrive in Taplejung.If you’re strictly doing this as a teahouse trek from the south to the north, then it’s a long day from Tortung to Cheram where you ascend almost 1,000 m in one day. Many people can cope with this altitude gain if sleeping at this elevation (3,968 m) and many trekking agencies do organize this trek going from south to north. If you are an experienced trekker and know how your body acclimatizes, then you may wish to consider trekking the route this way. However, we recommend a more cautious approach to acclimatization and consider the north to south route preferable, as

Shorter Circuit – 18 Days

This trek may seem ‘cut short’ after reading the itineraries above. However, this is a stunning trek in its own right and—even if you don’t visit either base camp—it is very well worth the effort if you can get out to this incredible part of Nepal.

 Section 1 of the GHT

The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is an epic trail crossing Nepal from east to west which can be broken down into sections that are a bit more manageable for most of us. Section one includes the Kanchenjunga trek up to the northern base camp and back to Ghunsa. From here the trail crosses over the Nango La pass to visit the remote area of Olangchungola before trekking out from Tumlingtar or back to Taplejung (approx. 32 days, Kathmandu to Kathmandu).

Best season

The best months to trek in the Kanchenjunga region are from early March to mid-May and from October to late November. We recommend avoiding the monsoon season which runs from approximately late May to mid/late September. During the winter, many local people will move to lower elevations and teahouses will close so the only option will be camping and it will be extremely cold.

In the springtime, you can see an incredible show of the Rhododendrons in bloom, with the many varieties growing here flowering in different colors. In spring, the trails will be drier while in autumn the skies are crystal clear but the trails may have changed with the monsoon rains and some itinerary adjustments may be required.

Getting there & away

There are a variety of ways to get from Kathmandu to the start point of this trek. Depending on your dates, you may find it best to adjust your itinerary to the available flights.

Flights are available from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur from where you fly or drive to Suketar airport near Taplejung. You can also fly from Kathmandu to Biratnagar from where you can fly to the small airport at Tumlingtar (an alternative start/end point for longer treks in this region).

Direct flights may also be available, although flight schedules are subject to change so it is important to ask your local specialist for the best way to get there for your planned travel dates. Mountain airports like Taplejung and Tumlingtar are also vulnerable to delays, so it is a good idea to build in buffer days in case you need to drive in/out due to bad weather.

Overland options include hiring a vehicle from Kathmandu or one of the fly-drive combinations above. Buses are available and far cheaper but are only for those with the time available for the very long bus trip to eastern Nepal, plus the connecting transport (bus or jeep) up into the hills. The style of tourist buses that run from Kathmandu to Pokhara are not available for this region.

Trek Info

Here are some of the Trekking accessories that you require for the easy and convenient journey-

In general you will need four sleeping bags (we could provide you one for the trek), a duffel or a trekking bag of 70-80 liters (we can provide one), down jacket (this too we can provide one if needed for the trek) and a normal travel bag of 25-30 liters.

For clothing, you will require the following-

Upper body- For this-shirts, waterproof jacket, fleece jacket or pullover, water proof jacketare needed. Wind proof jacket are optional but preferred. For T-shirts, baggy cotton T-shirts are the best especially for warm days in lower altitudes. Moreover, we recommend synthetic T-shirts as they quickly absorb the moisture. Then, for the waterproof jacket, we recommend you to have nylon which is light.

Lower body- For this, you need hiking shorts, trekking pants, soft shell and hard shell pants, cotton pants or jeans. For hiking shorts, buy the fabric which dries quickly. For trekking pants, go for the ones which have zipper in the middle of the knees so that you can take off the bottom part when necessary. Forsoft shell pants, buy a synthetic fiber. Then, for hard shell, buy a waterproof one. Full zipper from top to bottom is preferred for both soft and hard shell pants. For extra wearable, have a pair of jeans or cotton pants.

Inner wears- Regarding inner wears, you need lightweight underwear which is preferably made up of synthetic. For women, own synthetic sports bras. You could also have swimsuit if you would like to.

Footwear- For this, you need a trekking boot, gaiters and sandals. For Trekking boots, get a hard sole lug-cleated boots for good performance for every kind of landscape. We then recommend you to have a pair as it helps keep your feet dry quickly and keeping dust, rocks and snow out of your shoes. We also suggest you to have a pair of sandals as it helps while you are in the lodge. Then, for socks, you require 4 pairs of synthetic and 3 pairs of woolen socks.

Hand wears- The hand essentials are gloves, mittens and hand warmers. For warm weather, buy synthetic or thin woolen gloves. For cold weather, buy a woolen or fleece gloves. While for mittens, Gore-Tex mittens are the best. Regarding hand warmers, it’s completely your choice whether you want to have or not.

Face protection- For protecting the face against the snowfalls, heavy wind, direct sun, etc. we recommend you to have a cap or a hat, a synthetic woolen hat, a lightweightedbalaclava, glacier glasses having 100% UV protected lens with side shields and hard-sided storage, headlamp, ear muffs, neck warmer, etc. Ear muffs and neck warmers are not necessary but are up to your choice.

First Aid Kit– Though the trekking guides will be carrying a first aid kit box, we suggest you to have one as well. So, for this, you will need to have basic emergency equipment. You can discuss with us regarding what all to take along with you.

Personal care- The personal care products that you will require while trekking are tooth brush, tooth paste (biodegradable is preferred), towel, soap, hand wash, sanitizers, wet wipes, deodorants, crèmes, etc. along with your other needs.

Miscellaneous but important- These include valid passport, passport size photos, airline ticket (and its copy), luggage locks, thick garbage bags, water bottle, small bag for travel documents, passport, wallet/purse, etc., pocket knife, sunscreen lotion (SPF 40 recommended) and lip balm of at least SPF 20.

Extras- The extras include trekking poles, snacks, books, games, chargers, binoculars, batteries, camera, guide book, extra glasses (if you wear), notebook/pen, sleeping bag liner, hydration bladder with drinking tube, pee bottle for men and pee funnel for women, thermos, etc.

Note- Tight fitting clothes especially made out of fabrics like lycra, especially to women can be offensive to the local villagers. So, make sure that you pack something to wear on top of them if u want to pack them.

 

Brief itinerary

Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu!
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Arrive Taplejung, trek to Mitlung Mitlung (996m)
Day 4 Trek to Chiruwa Chiruwa (1,270m)
Day 5 Trek to Sekathum Sekathum (1,660m)
Day 6 Trek to Amjilossa Amjilossa (2,510m)
Day 7 Trek to Gybala Gybala (2,730m)
Day 8 Trek to Ghunsa Ghunsa (3,595m)
Day 9 Acclimatisation day Ghunsa
Day 10 Trek to Khambachen Khambachen (4,100m)
Day 11 Acclimatisation day Khambachen
Day 12 Trek to Lhonak Lhonak (4,785m)
Day 13 Trek Pang Pema (Kanchenjunga North Base Camp) Pang Pema (5,200m)
Day 14 Rest / Pang Pema day hike Pang Pema
Day 15 Trek to Khambachen Khambachen
Day 16 Trek to Ghunsa Ghunsa
Day 17 Trek to Sele La camp Sele La camp (4,130m)
Day 18 Trek to Cheram, over Sele La (4,720m) Cheram (3,868m)
Day 19 Trek to Ramche Ramche (4,610m)
Day 20 Day hike to Oktang (south base camp) Ramche
Day 21 Trek to Tortung Tortung (2,980m)
Day 22 Trek to Yamphuding Yamphuding (1,692m)
Day 23 Trek to Mamanke Mamanke (2,000m)
Day 24 Trek to Kesuwa Kesuwa (2,100m)
Day 25 Trek to Lalikharka Lalikharka 2,220m)
Day 26 Trek to Taplejung You may be able to depart same day or stay overnight
Day 27 Depart Kathmandu