Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain, lies on Nepal's eastern border with Sikkim. It is a beautiful, unspoilt wilderness area which boasts some of the most impressive mountain scenery on Earth. The name Kanchenjunga means 'five great treasure houses of snow' in Tibetan which indicates the visual riches of this area.
The trek begins with a memorable flight to STOL airstrip at Taplejung and takes you on trails used only by the local people through fascinating Rai and Limbu villages and pristine forests to the awe-inspiring South Face Base Camp at Ramche (4360m). Crossing to the northern side of Kanchenjunga over Mirgin La, allows you to make an unforgettable glacial excursion around Ramche.
The trek returns along a river valley via the remote Sherpa village of Ghunsa, providing an easier path and even more spectacular scenery.
Very few trekkers take up the challenge to venture into this unspoiled wilderness area, making it an unforgettable journey into some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet.
BRIEF ITINERARY Day 01:
Flight from Kathmandu to Biratnagar Day 02:
Flight to Sukhetar - Taplejung then trek to Lali kharka [2220m] Day 03:
Trek to Keswa [2100m] Day 04:
Trek to Mamanke [2000m] Day 05:
Trek to Yamphudin [1650m] Day 06:
Trek to Lamite jungle camp [2920m Day 07:
Trek to Torontan [3080m] Day 08:
Trek to Tseram [3750m] Day 09:
Trek to Ramche [4360m] Day 10:
Ramche - Exploration Day 11:
Trekking beyond the Mirgin La [4600m] Day 12:
Trek to Gunsa [3475m] Day 13:
Trek to Kyapra [2300m] Day 14:
Trek to Sakathum [1600m] Day 15:
Trek to Chirwa [1180m] Day 16:
Trek to Phurumba [1000m] Day 17:
Trek to Taplejung - Suketar [2300m] Day 18:
Flight to Kathmandu via Biratnagar
DETAILED ITINERARYDay 01: Flight from Kathmandu to Biratnagar
This morning we fly to Biratnagar in the eastern Terai. It is one of Nepal's few larger cities and an energetic, bustling place. Day 02: Flight to Sukhetar - Taplejung then trek to Lali kharka [2220m]
We take the short 30 to 40 minute flight to Sukhetar/Taplejung, where the trek crew will be waiting for our arrival. After landing, we take a little time for refreshments and for the porters to prepare their loads before beginning our walk along the ridge line above Taplejung village. We then descend to Lali kharka (summer grazing pasture) and our first night's camp in the open grass land. Day 03: Trek to Keswa [2100m]
From our camp this morning, we can see the entire day's walk in front of us. After traversing the hillside for a short distance, we descend to the village of Pokara on the Phawa Khola and cross a suspension bridge before beginning the steep climb towards Kunjari. Our lunch stop will be somewhere below Kangaroo. The afternoon's walk then takes us up over the crest of the ridge to our campsite at Keswa. From here, we get our first views of Mt Kanchenjunga and we can clearly make out the south and main summits, along with Mt Yalung Kang. Day 04: Trek to Mamanke [2000m]
From Keswa, the path traverses the steep mountainside through terraced fields high above the Kabeli Khola, with some ups and downs as we cross several side valleys. There are many shady spots to rest along the way and after lunch at one of these, we pass the village of Anpan, before descending to cross the Khangwa Khola (river). Finally, we climb again through terraced fields to camp at the village of Mamanke. En route we have our first glimpses of the beautiful Mt Jannu away in the distance. Day 05: Trek to Yamphudin [1650m]
Beginning with an easy climb, the walk to Yamphudin contours around the hillside above the Kabeli Khola. We cross the ridges and stream beds that make up the valley sides and the trail eventually becomes level with the river a couple of hours before Yamphudin. Along the way, we can stop to bathe in one of the many clear pools in this beautiful river. It is a truly idyllic spot and after lunch by the river, we complete the day's walk to Yamphudin. Yamphudin is the most remote settlement in this area and the last habitation we will see until we reach Gunsa. Needless to say, it is a charming place tucked away beneath the ridge of the Deorali Danda, which we must cross next. Day 06: Trek to Lamite jungle camp [2920m]
Beyond Yamphudin, the trail ascends a steep spur before dropping again to cross the Omje Khola. Walking through beautiful and dense forest, we stop for lunch in a meadow atop this spur which commands fine views of the valley beyond Yamphudin to the south and of the Omje Khola Valley and Deorali Danda to the north. A steep descent to the river brings us to our campsite in a clearing in the Lamite forest. Day 07: Trek to Torontan [3080m]
From our campsite we ascend steeply for 3 hours through dense forest to the crest of the Deorali Danda. From the top, Mt Jannu is clearly visible and definitely closer! After crossing the pass, we descend across some fairly steep and exposed scree slopes before re-entering the forest, where we will stop for lunch. After lunch, a steep descent takes us down into the valley of the Simbua Khola and after crossing the 'interesting' wooden bridge, we arrive at Torontan. This campsite lies amongst the towering fir trees of what is now a mainly coniferous alpine forest. Day 08: Trek to Tseram [3750m]
This morning, we follow the right bank of the river, passing through pine and rhododendron forests. The valley climbs fairly steeply and, as the day progresses, the trees become sparser and more stunted, 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. We camp at Tseram where the night-time temperature plummets, reminding us that we are really gaining height.
Day 09: Trek to Ramche [4360m]
A relatively short day's walk today to our next camp at Ramche. The scenery is magnificent as we ascend past the snout of the Yalung Glacier and into a series of ablation valleys. A frozen lake, crystal clear streams and views of Kokthan, Rathong and Kabru are the highlights of this walk into Ramche which is situated on a broad, flat ablation zone. Day 10: Ramche - Exploration
Leaving our camp set up at Ramche, we take a packed lunch and set off very early for our first close encounter with Kanchenjunga. Following the valley around its sweeping curve, we are suddenly confronted with the vast southern wall of the mountain. The ridge forms a cirque which is over 15 kms long and never less than 7500 metres high. Along this ridge lie the three main summits of Mt Kanchenjunga at 8420m, 8586m, and 8474m. It is truly breathtaking. Proceeding further on towards Oktang [4630m], we may then descend onto the glacier and cross it to a point below Talu from where we can see all the mountains of the area in panorama. Especially impressive is the east part of Khumbakarna Glacier flowing from the east face of Jannu [Kumbhakarna being the local name for Jannu]. We then return to our camp at Ramche. Day 11: Trekking beyond the Mirgin La [4600m]
Leaving our campsite, we trek down the valley, passing the small settlement of Lapsang, before turning off towards the Mirgin La - the pass we must cross in order to reach Gunsa and the north side of Kanchenjunga. As we descend from the Mirgin La, the views, in particular of Mt Jannu, are simply magnificent. Our campsite will be somewhere beyond the pass, depending on the conditions of the day. Day 12: Trek to Gunsa [3475m]
A steep descent from our campsite brings us to Lamba Sumba Kharka where there are more splendid views of the awesome south west face of Jannu. From here, the going is easy, descending on an excellent trail to the village of Gunsa, where we camp in the fields by the river. Gunsa is a Tibetan village with a tiny gompa and prayer flags fluttering from the wooden houses. It comes as a welcome sight after the rigorous walking of the previous days and provides an excellent opportunity to visit a unique hostelry and sample the 'tongba' [local alcoholic beverage fermented out of millet and drunk hot!]. Day 13: Trek to Kyapra [2300m]
From Gunsa, our route out of the mountains follows the beautiful Gunsa and Tamur Kholas and is through spectacular forests of rhododendron, conifer, birch and oak. The valley sides here are steep and the trail follows the river as it cascades downwards. We pass through Kyapra, the last of the Tibetan villages and, an hour or so further on, we camp in the forest at a spot called Tang. Day 14: Trek to Sakathum [1600m]
Heading for the village of Sakathum, our route follows an undulating trail for the first couple of hours until we reach Amjilasa. From here, there is a long steep descent from which we can see the Gunsa Khola Valley stretched out before us. We camp in the fields of Sakathum. Day 15: Trek to Chirwa [1180m]
Today is an easy day and just beyond Sakathum, we come to the confluence of 2 rivers. Flowing in from our left is the Simbua Khola [which we followed up to Ramche] and from our right, the Gunsa Khola which issues from the still closed Walunchung Gola area. The 2 rivers combine to form the Tamur Kosi which we now follow. There are plenty of spots for bathing in the numerous small tributary streams which we cross before reaching the village of Chirwa. Day 16: Trek to Phurumba [1000m]
We continue walking through ever more populated and cultivated land and our route brings us to lunch at Mitlung. From here the trail starts a long ascent back and up towards our campsite along the valley floor of Phurumba. Day 17: Trek to Taplejung - Suketar [2300m]
From the valley floor we ascend the ridge for about 3 hours to Taplejung village. There is time to wander through the fascinating bazaar before the final 2 hour ascent to the airstrip at Suketar. Day 18: Flight to Kathmandu via Biratnagar
We fly back to Biratnagar and then take a connecting flight to Kathmandu.