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Kanchenjunga Base Camp Treks

South face of Kanchenjunga

Kanchenjunga Base Camp Treks

My love for the Kanchenjunga region began in 2012. That year, 3 Summits for Nepal, a charity I founded while doing graduate work at the University of Washington, Seattle, helped rebuild the Gaubari Primary School in Nepu village. The school had been destroyed by a 6.9 Richter earthquake that hit the region in 2011 and was dubbed the 2011 Sikkim earthquake. I stayed in the region for around 2 months helping with the build. While there, I also explored routes of the classic Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek. A few years earlier, my sister had also lived in the region working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). She had helped set up the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP).

Kanchenjunga from Pangpema
Kanchenjunga from Pangpema

Over the years, 3 Summits for Nepal has built/rebuilt 4 primary schools and 2 girl’s hostels in the Kanchenjunga region. My team and I have always been hands-on (literally and figuratively) in the construction of the schools and this has allowed us the opportunity to explore the region quite extensively. Our knowledge of the region has enabled us to design two trekking programs that offer the best experiences for trekkers to the Kanchenjunga area. Both programs visit the North and the South Kanchenjunga Base Camps.

THE TWO KANCHENJUNGA BASE CAMP TREKS:

1) KANCHENJUNGA BASE CAMP TREK
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek map
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek map (Purple dots are the camping spots)

The Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is a CAMPING trek. On CAMPING treks one sleeps in tents and eats meals prepared by a kitchen crew. This trek begins in Yamphudin which lies east of Taplejung (the district headquarters). The route then follows the Simbuwa khola (river) valley past Tseram and Ramje to Oktang. Here you can savor unimpeded views of the South face of Kanchenjunga. Return to Tseram to cross the Selela pass. Once over the pass, follow the route to Pangpema near the North Base Camp. Then return to Ghunsa and head over the Nango La pass towards Olangchung Gola. The trek ends with a short hike to the road head from where a jeep will pick you up for a bumpy ride back to Taplejung. We have two departures which are guaranteed to run in 2024:

2024 Departure Dates:

  • 07 October – 03 November (FULL)
  • 04 November – 01 December (GUARANTEED)

2025 Departure Dates:

  • 14 April – 11 May
  • 06 October – 02 November
  • 03 – 30 November

Write to us if you are interested in this trek: info@crystalmountaintreks.com

2) KANCHENJUNGA TREK
High altitude kitchen and dining room
High altitude kitchen and dining room

This Kanchenjunga trek is a LODGE TREK. On LODGE treks one sleeps in local family-owned lodges and eats meals prepared in those lodges. Trekking begins in the Ghunsa river valley at Sekathum where one would reach after two and a half days of driving. From here, first head up to Pangpema for views of the North face of Kanchenjunga. Return to Ghunsa and cross over the Selela pass to the Simbuwa Khola valley from where you would trek up to Oktang for views of the South Face of Kanchenjunga. This trek ends in Yamphudin.

While there are new lodges being built, the infrastructure is still very basic compared to those in other popular trekking destinations in Nepal. Hence, this trek is NOT recommended during the peak trekking month of October as it may not be possible to get a room. On this trek, we do carry tents if trekkers feel that the lodge accommodations are not adequate. And we do carry some extra rations to supplement those available at the lodges.

INCREASING NUMBER OF TREKKERS

Below is a table showing the number of trekkers in the Kanchenjunga region in 2023. We tried to get data for 2022 but it isn’t currently available. In any case, the number of trekkers in the previous years were lower than in 2023. While the number of trekkers to Kanchenjunga have been increasing steadily, it is nowhere near the numbers in the Annapurna region (70,000) or the Everest region (60,000).

Kanchenjunga trekkers number  – 2023
Nepali Month English Month Trekkers
Poush 2079 15 Dec 2022 – 14 Jan, 2023 8
Magh 2079 15 Jan – 14 Feb , 2023 18
Falgun 2079 15 Feb – 14 Mar, 2023 68
Chaitra 2079 15 Mar – 14 Apr, 2023 165
Baishak 2080 15 Apr – 14 May, 2023 132
Jestha 2080 15 May – 14 June, 2023 17
Asar 2080 15 June – 14 July, 2023 0
Shrwan 2080 15 July -14 Aug, 2023 0
Bhadra 2080 15 Aug – 14 Sep, 2023 42
Asoj 2080 15 Sep – 14 Oct, 2023 145
Kartik 2080 15 Oct – 14 Nov, 2023 319
Mangsir 2080 15 Nov -14 Dec, 2023 24
Total 938

 

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF:

Jeep to Sekathum
Jeep to Sekathum

The most painful part of treks in the Kanchenjunga region is the long drive to the trek start point. Both treks involve driving for more than two days on locally available SUV’s which have very small leg space. The drive is not long in terms of mileage but it is slow and on bumpy Nepali roads. To mitigate this, we will do our bit to charter the best SUV’s available by requesting our relatives to rent out their private vehicles.

Blue Sheep group
A herd of Blue Sheep

Kanchenjunga treks are CHALLENGING treks. While average daily mileage is around 8 miles, there are some days where you would have to walk over 12 miles at high altitude. The trails on some sections are rough and not as well maintained as those on the Annapurna or Everest treks. And you will be at high altitude for multiple days. Also, this region is quite remote without immediate access to medical facilities. And arranging a helicopter rescue can take longer than that on other treks in Nepal. Only those with extensive previous hiking and multi-day backpacking experience should consider participating on this trek.

Some attributes:

•⁠ These treks are very local – a good chance to see unspoiled Nepal
•⁠ ⁠remote – low availability of internet and in some cases power (mostly solar power) at higher elevations
•⁠ ⁠very different scenery from Everest and Annapurna – more rural, agriculture, and trees (at least in lower areas)
•⁠ ⁠solitude and quiet.

Camping ground
Camping site enroute to Base Camp

 

2 Responses
  1. David Phillips

    71 years old in good shape. (Hiked 2 12,000’ high passes in three days last fall, and did a 7 day sierra Club outing rated 4 stars out if 5) last May. If I’m ever going to do a trek un Nepal it’s now or never. What are your thoughts about me doing Annapurna or Manasalu circuits?

  2. Jwalant Gurung

    Our oldest trekker was 92 when she did a trek in the Annapurnas. Being slow but steady is key. We get lots of trekkers in their 70’s. And older trekkers fare better at high altitude.

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