Kanchenjunga base camp trek
Mount Kanchenjunga is one of the world’s most spectacular mountains and the third highest mountain on the planet, reaching 8586 metres. The Kanchenjunga trek boasts a wide range of wonderful scenery from lush, tropical jungle through to rhododendron, chestnut and oak forests and high up into the glacial wilderness.
Spectacular views of the Kanchenjunga range from the summer retreat town of Darjeeling (in India) first raised the curiosity of early British explorers. Then due to a porous border, easy access to eastern Nepal from bordering Sikkim made adventures to the area possible as early as 1848 (whilst the rest of Nepal was closed to foreign visitors for another 100 years until the 1950s). For many years Kanchenjunga was considered the highest mountain in the world, until 1856, when Peak XV, (Mount Everest) was discovered. Kanchenjunga literally translates to "Five Great Treasures in the Snow." There are five peaks within the Kanchenjunga range, and local people believe that each of the five peaks is a repository of different treasures: gold, silver, gems, grains and sacred texts. Kanchenjunga is a sacred mountain, therefore the first summiteers stopped a few meters short of the summit in 1955.
This is a long and challenging trek going deep into the remote mountain ranges on Nepal’s border with Sikkim and Tibet. Experience a wide range of Nepalese culture and life-style from Rai and Limbus to Tibetan Buddhist villages, and the wonderful opportunity of seeing the impressive Kanchenjunga Glacier; the most famous attraction of Kanchenjunga. The trek is fully supported, staying in lodges part of the way and also camping.
The Kanchenjunga trek is moderately strenuous, the terrain can be rough and involves steep hills to climb, so good physical condition and trrekking experience is advisable.
We have been running treks to Nepal since 1996 and this wonderful Kanchenjunga trek takes a total of 26 days. The average group size is three to four and you will have guides and a team of porters to assist you all the way there.
Accommodation is in lodges which provide a wide range of western and Nepalese food and sometimes camping when our chefs will cater for you. The facilities for visitors are of a high standard, as is the food but in some areas we will also camp. The staff are very attentive and friendly, taking care of all the logistics so you can concentrate on immersing yourself in a slow and easy daily routine, with only the elements, the mountains and the quiet character of the people to accompany you.
From your first enquiry you will have experienced people to talk to in the UK office who will give you an honest appraisal of the trek. This personal service and warm welcome will also await you in Kathmandu where you meet Pasang Tendi Sherpa who runs Adventure Alternative Nepal. He has made nine expeditions to Mt Everest and also guides on Aconcagua. With a flight east from the capital, the start of the Kanchenjunga trek is the start of a great journey into the remote Himalayas.
For gear, we recommend reviewing our Nepal Trekking Kit List Guide so you know what you'll need for this epic journey.
- Arrival & Preparations in Kathmandu then fly & drive to trek start (days 1-3)
- Trek up to Kangchenjunga base camps (days 4-24)
- Travel back to Kathmandu, spare day and depart (days 25 & 26)
This is a long and challenging walk around Mount Kanchenjunga, visiting both the North and South Base Camps. The route begins by approaching the North side of Kanchenjunga where you will have great views of Tent Peak, Nepal Peak, Cross Peak and then at Base Camp, Kanchenjunga itself becomes visible. When approaching Base Camp, the exposure to altitude makes the walking harder and the likelihood of altitude sickness higher, so it's necessary to allow rest days and walk very slowly. The trek will have a wide range of temperatures depending on the altitude and the time of day. In the mountains between 1,000m and 3,500m, the nights will be cool, normally around 5ºc, and during the day temperatures sometimes rise to 25ºc. At higher altitudes temperatures range from about 15ºc to -20ºc. From Pangpema the trek returns to Ghunsa and then crosses Mirgin La pass over the south side of Kanchenjunga. Once over this pass, you follow the route through Ramche and Oktang where there are impressive views of the South West face of Kanchenjunga. The trek is strenuous and the terrain can be rough and involves steep ascents with the possibility of some rope climbing, so excellent physical condition and some mountaineering experience is advisable. It is important to mention that occasionally flights to and out of Suketar are cancelled or delayed because of bad weather, so it is not a good idea to book an international flight on the same day as the internal flight.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu.
Day 2 Rest day and acclimatisation to jetlag, sightseeing plus trek briefing.
Day 3 Kathmandu – Biratnagar
Flight to Biratnagar which takes around 1hour and 30 minutes.
Day 4 Biratnagar – Suketar – Mitlung (5 – 6 hours) 921m
Flight from Biratnagar to Suketar (airfield above Taplejung). It is possible to fly direct to Taplejung, however, at times flights to Biratnagar can be delayed due to bad weather. After the flight, it is quite an easy day of trekking to Mitlung along the Surke Danda ridge.
Day 5 Mitlung – Chirwa (5 hours) 1270m
Quite a challenging day beginning on rough paths high above the river. The route passes through the villages of Sinwa, Tawa and Porke and the valley narrows while passing over old landslide debris. The trail then descends across the Thiwa Khola River on a wooden bridge and follows a few more ups and downs before arriving at Chirwa. The village of Chirwa, set among huge boulders and houses made from bamboo, has a bazaar and a few shops where you can buy souvenirs.
Day 6 Chirwa – Sekathum (5 – 6 hours) 1660m
The day begins by follwing the Tamur River and climbing steeply before descending to the Simbua Khola (the river that comes from the Yalung Glacier on the south of Kanchenjunga). The trail then crosses a ridge and joins the steep and narrow Ghunsa Khola Valley and on to the Tibetan village of Sekathum, for an overnight stay. From here you will have incredible views of the high Himalayas, including Jannu.
Day 7 Sekathum – Amjilossa (5 – 6 hours) 2510m
Another day of following a steep and narrow trail, up the north bank of the Ghunsa Khola to the Tibetan village of Amjilossa.
Day 8 Amjilossa – Gybala (5 hours) 2730m
On leaving Amjilossa, there is a short ascent through oak, bamboo and rhododendron forests offering a great view of the south western side of Kanchenjunga. The route makes numerous steep climbs and short descents and passes a beautiful large waterfall before the final steep climb up to Gybala.
Day 9 Gybala – Ghunsa (4 – 5hours) 3595m
From Gybala, the trail carries on to the village of Kyapra and then climbs easily up the right bank of the river. The trail crosses a large meadow past few villages and ascends a gentle hill before descending across the river into beautiful village of Ghunsa. This Tibetan village has several lodges, gompas and shops where you can buy a few souvenirs.
Day 10 Ghunsa – Khambachen (5 – 6 hours) 4100m The route climbs gradually along the south bank of the Ghunsa Khola, through beautiful rhododendron and pine forests, passing many mani walls, colourful prayer flags and chortens along the way. The trail climbs steeply up scree slopes to reach the Tibetan settlement of Khambachen, providing wonderful views of the huge north face of Jannu.
Day 11 Rest day at Khambachen.
A day of rest and relaxation after a week of trekking. There is an optional day walk to the high ridge behind the village for impressive views of the surrounding Himalayas.
Day 12 Khambachen – Lhonak (5 hours) 4785m
From Khambachen the trail climbs up through exposed rocky fields to the village of Ramtang and then crosses North West of the Kanchenjunga Glacier and past large stone huts to the village of Lhonak. From Lhonak there are impressive views of the Himalayas, including Wedge Peak (6750m), Mera Peak (6344m), Nepal Peak (6910m) and Twins (7351m).
Day 13 Lhonak – Pangpema (Kanchenjunga north side base camp) (5 hours) 5143m
An early start for the trek the Kanchenjunga north side base camp at Pangpema (5143m), for majestic views of Tent Peak, Nepal Peak, Cross Peak, the Twins and the impressive Kanchenjunga, and returning to Lhonak for an overnight stay.
Day 14 Lhonak – Ghunsa (5 – 6 hours) 3595m
Return to Ghunsa, following back along the same path for around 5 hours.
Day 15 Ghunsa – High Camp (5 hours) 4100m
From Ghunsa, the trail climbs a steep 500m to a high camp, for an overnight stay in preparation for the trek to Mirgin La Pass.
Day 16 High Camp – Mirgin La Pass 4663m – Tseram (5 – 6 hours) 3870m
For impressive views of the Himlayas the route crosses five passes, first Tamo La (3900m), an unnamed pass (4115m), Mirgin La (4663m), Sinion La (4660m) and another unnamed pass at 4724m. From this last pass there is a steep descent of 1000m to the small settlement of Tseram, high above the Simbua Khola.
Day 17 Tseram – Ramche (5 – 6 hours) 4580m
The route passes the nose of the glacier into an ablation valley, offering magnificent scenery and views of all the peaks to the east along the India-Nepal border, such as Koktang (6147m), Rathong (6679m) and many more above 7000m. It then follows along a lake, meadow and stone houses to reach Ramche, for an overnight stay.
Day 18 Day trek to Oktang (4 - 5 hours) 4730m
Leave early in the morning and follow the ablation valley to Oktang for a view of the south face of the magnificent Kanchenjunga and the climbing route to the summit, first climbed in 1953. From Oktang, the views of the surrounding Himalayas are incredible; the whole cirque is above 7500m. After spending some time in Oktang, we trek back to Ramche to rest for the evening and stay overnight.
Day 19 Ramche – Lamite Bhanjyang (5 – 6 hours) 3310m
The trail descends steeply through rhododendron forest to Torontan, and then climbs up through mossy forest to reach the pass at Lamite Bhanjyang after around 5hours. From here, there are fantastic views of Kanchenjunga and Jannu.
Day 20 Lamite Bhanjyang – Yamphudin (5 hours) 2080m
The trek descends over 1000 metres today, beginning with a steep descent to Imja Khola, and then crosses along the Dubi Pass. From here there is a further descent for a couple of hours until reaching the village of Yamphudin.
Day 21 Rest day at Yamphudin.
Take a day’s rest and some time to explore this beautiful village, home to a mixed community of Sherpas, Gurungs, Rais and Limbus.
Day 22 Yamphudin – Ponphe (5 hours) 1900m
From Yamphudin, the trail descends steeply to the Kabeli Khola River and crosses a log bridge before reaching the village of Mamanke. From here, the trail then enters a side canyon and crosses a stream over a long suspension bridge, then climbs up steeply to Ponphe village for an overnight rest.
Day 23 Ponphe – Khunjari (5 – 6 hours) 1928m
The trail climbs high to two tea shops on the ridge above the village, and then crosses through a series of valleys and past numerous villages. The route continues down to Bhanjyang and crosses a ridge to descend steeply to the Limbu village of Khunjari, where you will spend the night.
Day 24 Khunjari – Suketar (4 – 5 hours) 2300m
The route descends to the Pha Khola and then climbs steeply through Pokhara and Shimu villages to Thenbewa. The trail continues through forest to Lali Kharka and on to a ridge, then follows a gradual descent to Suketar for an overnight stay and to prepare for the early flight to Kathmandu in the morning.
Day 25 Flight from Suketar to Biratnagar, then another flight to Kathmandu.
Day 26 Depart Kathmandu. If you leave in the morning it is possible to arrive in London the same day, or arrive home on day 27.
Kangchenjunga Base Camp Trek
- Airport transfers
- Accommodation in Kathmandu for 3 nights (twin)
- Accommodation in lodges/tea houses (twin rooms with beds and mattresses)
- All meals on trek, and hot drinks
- National Park Fees and special permit for Kangchenjunga area
- Sherpa guides (English speaking, trained in first aid)
- Staff food, insurance and equipment
Note: the figure above does include the internal flights but we ask that this payment is made separately to Adventure Alternative Nepal.
- International flight to Kathmandu (~550-700)
- Meals and drinks in Kathmandu (~50-100)
- Personal costs on trek, e.g cold drinks, laundry, hot showers, bottled water (~£50)
- Travel Insurance (~£50-100)
- Visa (90 days ~£75)
- Tips (~£60)
- Sightseeing Tours
A deposit of £250 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 4 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. We make payments as flexible as possible and you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.
NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY
Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive to run fewer trips and have our staff idle, but on the other hand we believe that running cheap trips that promote the practise of skimming budgets would result in the porters getting next to nothing, which is something we cannot consider.
Additionally we plan treks with sufficient rest days and with achievable daily altitude increases which gives good time to acclimatise. Reducing the number of days may make the price cheaper but the chances of successfully completing the trek also greatly reduce.
We include professional staff and a porter for each member. We do not operate kitties and we use an excellent hotel in Kathmandu with which we have built up a strong relationship over the years.
We have our own licensed company in Kathmandu, Adventure Alternative Nepal and full time staff to operate all our treks, climbs and tours in Nepal.
You must have an insurance policy which covers trekking at high altitude and helicopter rescue in the event of an evacuation.
GENERAL FITNESS REQUIREMENTS
You do need to be fairly fit for this trip. Some of the climbs are long and moderately demanding with some long days of sustained walking with a backpack. The effects of altitude will also reduce your level of strength.
You will also be walking on quite a number of consecutive days so you can't afford to get progressively more tired every day. Therefore, you will only really enjoy the trip if you are in good physical shape having exercised regularly and eaten nutritiously over at least the 6 months leading up to the trip.
As a guide, you need to be comfortable walking on fairly hilly terrain for more than 6 hours with a small pack of around 5kg. You also need to be able to do this for a number of days in a row.
The best preparation for the trip is to take as many walks similar to what is described above as possible. Other good training is general slow-burn cardiovascular activities such as jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing etc. Any specific strength work should be targeted at legs, hips, back and core. An approach of multiple repetitions and sets is preferable to short sets at maximum weight.
You do also need to be in good health as we will spend some time in locations that are many hours from professional medical care. Any pre-existing medical or dental conditions should be fully appraised by a doctor and their nature fully disclosed to your insurer and to ourselves.
TYPE OF TERRAIN
The trek is on established paths and generally they are in good condition and easy to walk on. As we are out in the wilderness however, there may be sections that are damaged, being repaired or affected by the elements. The paths generally follow the lines of the valleys, usually a little way up from the streams and rivers in their base. Where we do cross ridges or shoulders the way generally takes the path of least resistance. Though this can at times involve steep sets of rough steps.
On this trek we would not anticipate needing to walk on snow or ice of any sort. However, as this is the Himalaya, we can have a flurry of snow at any time of year. Should this happen, it is actually quite easy to walk on fresh snow as it sits on the path. Normal trekking boots are therefore suitable for this trek.
SKILLS & EXPERIENCED NEEDED
This trek is accessible to anyone with a good level of fitness and preferably experience of hill-walking at home. This experience will help you to enjoy the trip much more, as well as to keep you safe.
You don't need any particular skills for the trip other than good basic fitness, enthusiasm and a genuine thirst for adventure.
- The basic idea of the kit we will take is to keep you warm, dry, protected from the sun, able to move efficiently on the mountains and able to be comfortable in the evenings and night.
- There is a detailed list via the menu below and to the right but the main points to cover are as follows:-
- BAGS - Large Duffle bag/Rucksack ~80L (for a porter to carry) + Medium Daypack ~40L (carried by you)
- SHELL - Top and bottoms to keep off wind/rain
- INSULATION - Warm layered system to keep you warm- body hands & Head
- BASELAYER - Thin layers to wick away sweat and to strip down to when it gets hot
- FEET - Comfortable, Waterproof boots to support your ankles over rough terrain. Lighter footwaer to change into in the evenings.
- SLEEPING - Warm sleeping bag to get a good nights sleep at the lodges
- EATING/DRINKING - Water bottles & favorite snacks for during the day
- WASHING & MEDICAL - To allow you to wash and maybe stave off a headache or blister
Kathmandu has an area called Thamel which is full of hundreds of equipment shops, each one an emporium of new, used, quality and fake equipment all very reasonably priced for rental and buying. You can buy almost anything needed for any trek.
- All our guides are personally trained by Gavin Bate, Company Director and high altitude climber who has made six expeditions to Mount Everest
- You will get to travel with local guides who not only lead trekking groups but are experienced in high altitude expeditions and even Everest climbs.
- We offer small scale, authentic adventures, which support the local economy.
- We do not contract out our trips, we employ full time staff, offering job security and good benefits, and we are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- We follow the IPPG five guidelines on porter safety
- Porters' health and welfare is constantly monitored by local and UK trekking group leaders. Through Moving Mountains we consistently work to improve conditions for porters.
- All the staff in our UK office have been to Nepal so you can chat to people who understand what its like to go up for the first time, before you go.
- We are a fully registered operator with AITO and have financial bonding with ABTOT. We have all the relevant company insurances.
- We are members on Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
- We are a company founded and run by people who are passionate about trekking, climbing and exploring in the world's most beautiful wildernesses. We are equally passionate about having the opportunity to share these experiences with others
You can trek the Kanchenjunga Circuit from April to June, and October to December. If you have a small group who would like to trek at a different time to the scheduled dates then do speak to us about arranging a date to suit you.
- Duration 31 days
- Numbers min 3
- Altitude 5143m
- Challenge Moderate