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3 Summits – Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

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Duration: 29 days, 28 nights
Kanchenjunga
Minimum Age: Min Age : 15+
Max People : 12
Grade: 5 - challenging
Max Elevation: 16,950ft.
Accomodation: Tents

3 Summits for Nepal has rebuilt 3 schools in the Kanchenjunga region. We are rebuilding a fourth one this Winter. And then a boarding home for students from far-off villages next year. We invite you to join a trek with us this year to visit our schools and the Kanchenjunga region. $500 per person will be donated to the project and is included in the price.

There are two options for the Kanchenjunga trek. For those who have enough time, visit the Kanchenjunga North base camp, then cross the Selela pass to Yamphudin. Return is via the Pathibhara ridge. This would be a 28 day expedition. For those who cannot afford 29 days, check out the Pathibhara trek program. You would trek to the site of our new school at Solima and return via the Pathibhara ridge for a total of 17 days in Nepal. The Pathibhara ridge is remote and beautiful, offering jaw dropping views of the Kanchenjunga massif and of Makalu.

Kangchenjunga literally translates to “Five Great Treasures in the Snow.” There are five peaks within the Kangchenjunga range, and local people believe that each of the five peaks is a repository of different treasures: gold, silver, gems, grains and sacred texts. Kangchenjunga is a sacred mountain. In due reverence, the first summiteers stopped a few meters short of the summit in 1955. (This practice is no longer followed by today’s climbers!). Kangchenjunga is situated in the Beyul Demazong [beyuls are sacred valleys that were hidden by Padmasambhava, a much revered Indian saint who introduced Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century]. The purpose of beyuls was to provide sanctuaries for people seeking refuge from social and religious persecution. During our trip, Beyul Demazong will also allow us to experience its purpose as we seek refuge from the daily grind of our hectic social lives.

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Trip at a glance

Brief Itinerary

Day Description Overnight Altitude
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 2 Exploring Kathmandu Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 3 Kathmandu to Ilam Ilam
Day 4 Ilam to Taplejung Taplejung 1,441m/4,730ft
Day 5 Taplejung to Mitlung
Mitlung 920m/3,000ft
Day 6 Mitlung to Tapethok
Tapethok 1,270m/4,100ft
Day 7 Tapethok to Solima via Margem
Solima 1,600m/5,400ft
Day 8 Extra day in Solima
Solima 1,600m/5,400ft
Day 9 Solima to Amjilosa Amjilosa 2,300m/7,570ft
Day 10 Amjilosa to Gyabla
Gyabla 2,730m/8,950ft
Day 11 Gyabla to Ghunsa
Ghunsa 3,475m/11,200ft
Day 12 Ghunsa acclimatization day
Ghunsa 3,475m/11,200ft
Day 13 Ghunsa to Khangbachen
Khangbachen 4,040m/13,600ft
Day 14 Hike to Jannu Base Camp
Khangbachen 4,040m/13,600ft
Day 15 Hike to Lhonak
Lhonak 4,790m/15,700ft
Day 16 Lhonak to Pangpema
Kanchenjunga Base Camp 5,140m/16,900ft
Day 17 Descend to Khangbachen Khangbachen 4,040m/13,600ft
Day 18 Ghunsa Ghunsa 3,475m/11,200ft
Day 19 Trek to Selela Selela 4,480m/15,300ft
Day 20 Trek to Tseram Tseram 3,870m/12,700ft
Day 21 Descend to Torontan Torontan 3,010m/9,900ft
Day 22 Trek to Yamphudin Yamphudin 2,080m/6,900ft
Day 23 Half day trek to Upper Yamphudin
Day 24 Trek to Deorali Deorali 3,100m/10,200ft
Day 25 Neghung
Neghung 3,920m/12,850ft
Day 26 Pathibhara hill
Pathibhara hill 3,700m12,150ft
Day 27 Trek end at Pathibhara. Jeep to Phidim.
Phidim
Day 28 Drive to Bhadrapur. Fly to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 29 Final Departure
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1Arrival in Kathmandu

Arrive Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel Tibet or similar. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner. Overnight Hotel Tibet or similar. (Dinner)

Day 2Exploring Kathmandu

Visit Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Here, you’ll probably witness a Hindu cremation along the banks of the Bagmati River.

Then drive to Bhaktapur, the City of Devotees, for lunch and a tour of the royal palace square. Bhaktapur is a medieval city in the Kathmandu valley and is least disturbed by modern life. Here, you can absorb the architectural splendor of the five-storied Nyatapola temple, or the sculptural delight of the Peacock Window. Overnight Hotel Tibet or similar. (Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 3Kathmandu - Ilam

Fly about 50 minutes east of Kathmandu to Bhadrapur. It’s best to sit on the left side of the plane because on a clear day Everest, Makalu and Kanchenjunga are visible. After exiting the Bhadrapur airport, board a chartered vehicle for a 5 hour drive to Ilam. The drive first starts in the plains of Nepal slowly ascending the winding roads through rice terraces and large tea plantations to Ilam.

Overnight local lodge (All meals)

Day 4Ilam to Taplejung

We start early as it is another long drive to Taplejung (7 – 8 hours). At first, we ascend steadily to deurali from where the Kanchenjunga massif comes into view. Soon we arrive at Phidim, the district headquarters. Just past the river, we stop for lunch.
After lunch, it is 3 hours of slow and windy ascent to Taplejung – which basically a jumble of houses along the hill.

Overnight lodge. (All meals)

Day 5 to Day 9Taplejung to Amjilosa

Chartered Jeep to Mitlung. Begin trek. Trek through relatively low altitude (between 3,000 and 6,000 ft.) Limbu villages through Chirwa, Sekathum and Amjilosa. The forests are lush and the trails are typical of those in Nepal – you ascend steeply only to descend to the river later. All along, there are cardamom plantations which are watered by sprinklers as cardamom grows in a damp environment. Cardamom is one of the most profitable cash crop in Nepal. In between Tapethok and Hellok, at Margem, is one of the schools we’ve helped build.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 10 to Day 12Amjilosa to Ghunsa

A little past Amjilosa, the landscape starts to change – from lush green low-land to alpine country with shorter pine and rhododendron trees. The inhabitants of this region are Sherpas and Bhotes who continue trade with Tibet which is about a two days hike. The traders take yak and locally grown herbs to sell in Tibet. On Day 11, you reach Ghunsa which is the largest Sherpa village on this trek. A rest and acclimatization day is planned here.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 13 and Day 14Ghunsa to Khangbachena and hike to Jannu Base Camp

The trail today is along the Ghunsa river with pastures along forests of rhododendron trees and juniper. Past the bridge over the Ghunsa river, it is a steep climb past a landslide. This section experiences a landslide every year and the trail is quite sketchy. Descend to Khangbachen. The next day is another acclimatization day with optional hike to Jannu Base Camp.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 15 and Day 16Hike to Pangpema and Kanchenjunga Base Camp

Today you hike to Lhonak. Look out for blue sheep along the trail from Khangbachen to Pangpema. Blue sheep are the primary prey of snow-leopards. So keep a look out for this elusive beauty. Lhonak is a BEYUL (blessed land) and one of the most beautiful places in Nepal. The next day, hike to Pangpema (Kanchenjunga Base Camp). Kanchenjunga is hidden by other peaks and becomes visible only when you almost reach Pangpema. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 17 and Day 18Descend to Ghunsa

Descend to Lhonak, Khambachen and then to Ghunsa.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

DAY 19Trek to Selela

Ascend steeply to Selela. The hike is around 3 to 4 hours. The pass from Ghunsa to Ramje involves crossing five passes – Tamo La (3,900m), second pass (4,115m), Mirgin La (4,663m), Sinion La (4,660m) and the final pass (4,724m).

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

DAY 20Trek to Tseram

The views from the pass are breath-taking. Makalu (8,481m) is also visible towards the west. Descend to Tseram.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 21 and Day 22Trek to Yamphudin

Descend steadily along the river to Torontan where there is a single hut. The trail is beautiful through forests of Rhododendrons and Oak.

From Torontan, hike steeply along switch-backs to Lamite Bhanjyang. The jungle around this area is teeming with wildlife. Pheasants, red panda, wild dogs etc. Just before arriving at Lamite, there is a section that involves crossing a huge landslide. An alternative trail has since been built that ascends to the top of the ridge over the landslide. Lamite Bhanyang is a misty pasture along the ridge surrounded by thick forests of Douglas fir and Oak.

From Lamite, it is a steep descent to Yamphudin. Follow the trail to the left as we will be going to the village above Yamphudin where one of the 3 Summits’ schools is located. This school was rebuilt after the big earthquake that ravaged the Eastern Himalayas in 2009 (not to be mistaken with the earthquake in 2015). This village is inhabited by Gurungs who are all cousins.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

DAY 23Trek to Upper Yamphudin

Today is a half day (3 to 4 hours of trekking). Descend to the main village of Yamphudin. Then ascend steeply to Upper Yamphudin. This village is mainly inhabited by Sherpa people.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

DAY 24 to Day 27Trek to Pathibhara

Day 24 is a hard slog to Deorali involving an ascent of almost 4,000 ft. Once you leave Upper Yamphudin, ascend steeply to a thick bamboo forest. The trail slowly tapers but soon ascends through a thick forest to Deorali (small pass) where we camp for the night.

We then continue South West on a roller coaster trail along the Pathibhara ridge crossing several shepherds huts until we arrive near the Pathibhara hill.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 28 Trek end at Phedi. Drive to Phidim

Hike steeply to the Pathibhara temple. This temple is dedicated to the goddess Pathibhara who is believed to have super natural powers and is revered by both Hindus and the Kirat people. It is one of the few temples in Nepal where foreigners are allowed entry. Probably because it is an open air temple.

After paying respects to the goddess, descend to the base of the temple (Phedi). A chartered vehicle will drive you to Phidim or Ilam depending on time.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

DAY 29Fly to Kathmandu

Continue drive to Bhadrapur. Fly to Kathmandu. The day is free in Kathmandu. In the evening, a farewell dinner is planned. Overnight Hotel. (All meals)

DAY 29Final departure

Final departure (B)

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Detailed Cost Information

Per person price (valid until 31 Dec, 2019)

2 persons: $ 4,900 USD per person

3 – 4 persons: $ 4,410 USD per person

5 or more persons: $ 4,165 USD per person

Single Supplement: $300 

Payment policy:

  • A 20% non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking.
  • Balance is payable a week prior to departure.
  • Contact us for coupon code if you are eligible for a US$150 low season discount or a US$150 alumni discount. Only one discount is applicable.

Cancellation policy:

  • Deposit is non-refundable.
  • No refunds for unused services once trek begins.

Price Includes

All airport transfers, Two full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments.3 Nights Hotel Accommodation, Four nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet (3 star) in Kathmandu, Round trip airfare: Kathmandu to Lukla, Meals as indicated in the itinerary, Lodge trekking as indicated in the Everest Base Camp Trek itinerary, Three meals a day, Boiled water for your bottles two times a day, Use of Steripen to sterilize water, Guide and staff wages, equipment and meals, Guide and staff insurance, Sagarmatha National Park Fee, Gamow Bag (High altitude pressure chamber)

Price Excludes

Your international airfare, Nepal Visa, Meals not indicated in the itinerary, Tips and gratuities, Personal equipment (a suggested list will be mailed to you), Travel insurance (Required), Other expenses of a personal nature

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Trip Gallery

Options

For those who do not have 29 days to spare, we offer the shorter 17 day version to the site of the new school Solima and return via the Pathibhara ridge.

For those who would also like to visit the South base camp of Kanchenjunga, we can customize the trek accordingly. Add 4 days to the itinerary and US$ 300 per person to the cost.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

When is the best time to visit the Kanchenjunga area?

The Kanchenjunga region is one of the wettest areas of Nepal. There are two preferred seasons for the Kanchenjunga Trek: Spring (April through May ) and Fall (October through November). It is still possible to do the trek even in December if you are in good shape and don’t mind walking on snow. In the Spring, because this trek involves crossing a high pass, we wouldn’t recommend this trek in March as it may be too early and there may excessive snow in the pass.

Day time temperatures range in the 50’s and 60’s (10 to 15 Centigrade) while night-time temperatures are in the 30’s and 40’s (0 to 5 Centigrade). Expect night time temperatures of below Freezing near the Base Camp. Expect some late-afternoon showers in the Spring which is the season for rhododendrons, orchids and magnolias. October is historically regarded as the best month to trek with clear skies and better views of the mountains. The temperature is around 10 degrees Fahrenheit colder in the Fall season. If you plan to do this trek in the Winter, expect temperatures around -5F (-20 Centigrade) at night.

How fit do I need to be to do the Kanchenjunga trek?

We would recommend the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek to seasoned hikers only. It is a long trek where you would be away from modern amenities for an extended period of time. Also the trail involves a lot of ascents and descents. Regardless, you must be able to hike up to 12 miles a day (mostly at high altitude) carrying a small pack. While this trek does not involve and does not require any technical climbing, you must have the mental and physical toughness to hike on sketchy trail with some objective danger – there are at least a couple sections where you would walk through landslides.

It is advised that anyone with a pre-existing condition consult their doctor before signing up for a trek. We rate the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek a 5 on a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging).

How should I prepare for the Kanchenjunga trek?

The more physically fit you are, the more you will enjoy the trip. There are three aspects to training for any trek. 1) Cardiovascular Training will make your body more efficient in using oxygen. Running, walking, swimming or biking, or any combination of these are great for cardiovascular conditioning. 2) Strength Training by either using free weights or machines at the gym will build hiking strength. Walking stairs, especially with a pack will simulate the hiking environment. We also recommend practicing squats. Trekkers will encounter low hanging obstacles to duck under, and many toilets are at ground level, which requires a low squat.
3) Endurance Training is where you build endurance in the months leading up to your trek, slowly increase your length of training sessions. By the time you are 2 weeks from the scheduled trek date you should be able to ascend 3,000 ft. in a 3-4 hour period.

In the end, the more your training simulates a trek, the better off you will be. So hiking 4-5 hours outdoors, uphill and downhill, about once or twice a week in addition to other cardio vascular training at the gym or at home will greatly benefit and prepare you for the trek.

What kind of food should I expect on the trek?

All cooking gear and food have to be carried in from Kathmandu. The cook will purchase fresh fruit and vegetables and rice/lentils from the villagers en route. You will be surprised as to what the cook can make on a small gas stove. In general, expect porridge (Oatmeal), toast, eggs (various style), muesli, hash browns, sausages etc for breakfast. And sandwich, pizzas, momos, noodles (dry and with soup), rolls, fried rice, Indian bread with vegetables or Daal Bhaat (Rice with lentils) etc for lunch and dinner.

Will you provide tents and mats?

Yes, we will provide good quality Mountain Hardwear Trango or North Face VE 25 tents for this trek. We will also provide a 2 inch foam mattress and an insulation pad. You can bring an additional pad if you wish. We will also provide all the kitchen gear.

What kind of gear do you provide the staff?

This is a challenging trek. Even for the hardy Nepali staff. Make sure your staff and porters have good gear and enough food to complete this trek. Ask your Nepali operator what they provide for the staff. Are they provided meals or are they responsible for their own meals? Our camp staff will not only cook for the participants, they will also cook for the staff including the porters.

We provide snow goggles, mittens, gore-tex parka, water-proof pants and good imported water-proof hiking boots (mostly Lowa’s) to the staff. Also, the staff and porters will be provided all meals on the trek. We’d be glad to provide references who can allude to our claims.

Is there mobile signal on the trek? Wi-fi?

There is mobile signal only at some of the villages at the beginning of the trek. Wi-fi is only available at Taplejung. We will provide a satellite phone for this trek for emergencies.

What are the toilets like on this trek? Will I be able to take a shower?

On camping treks, toilets are a hole in the ground in a small tent to allow for privacy. Showers are available during rest days and involve scooping out water with a mug from a bucket of hot water. On most days you can clean yourself with wet wipes. We will provide a small bowl of warm water with which you can wipe yourself with a towel.

What gear do I need for the trek? Can I rent gear in Kathmandu?

Layering is key. And it’s always recommended to trek with good branded gear. A good pair of hiking boots that’s been broken in is very important. Good top and bottom base layers, a mid layer (fleece or capilene), and an outer layer (Gore-tex or other material). If you tend to get cold quickly, bring a down parka especially for the evening at the lodge. On most days, you’d be hiking in a convertible hiking pant that can be converted into shorts and one or two top layers.

if you’re trekking with Crystal Mountain Treks, we provide a sleeping bag (rated to 0 degree F or -17 degree C), duffel bags, down jacket and Steripen for water purification to our clients for no charge.

It is possible to buy cheap and relatively functional gear in Kathmandu – convertible pants, down jackets, fleece, Gore-tex jackets. But remember, you get what you pay for. Wool gloves, hats, socks are available too.

There are quite a few branded stores too. North Face, Moutain Hardwear, Marmot and Sherpa. If you’re coming from Australia or Europe, items in these shops are probably cheaper than back home. But if you’re coming from the US, it’s better to buy branded gear at home.