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Kanchenjunga Trek

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24 days, 23 nights
Availability : April - June and October - November
Min Age : 15+
Max People : 12

KANCHENJUNGA TREK (Lodge Trek)

This Kanchenjunga trek is a lodge-to-lodge trek which visits both the North and South Base Camps and allows participants to get up-close with the third highest mountain in the world. Check out our Kanchenjunga Base Camp Tent trek if you are interested in a longer camping trek. On the lodge trek. we will carry some food to supplement what’s available in the local lodges. We will also carry tents so you may opt to sleep in tents in some of the places.  A shorter program would be to only visit the North Kanchenjunga Base Camp at Pangpema.

Kangchenjunga is a sacred mountain and the word Kanchenjunga literally translates to “Five Great Treasures in the Snow.” There are five peaks within the Kangchenjunga range. And each peak is believed to be a repository of different treasures: gold, silver, gems, grains and sacred texts. Consequently, in due reverence, the first summiteers stopped a few meters short of the summit in 1955. However, today’s climbers no longer follow this practice. On the Kanchenjunga trek, we will be trekking through a Beyul. The purpose of beyuls is to provide sanctuaries for people seeking refuge from social and religious persecution. Read some facts about the Kanchenjunga region here.

We have built five schools in the region through our giving arm 3 Summits for Nepal. We’d be glad to organize a visit for you to these schools.

THE TREK

The trek begins with an hour-long flight to eastern Nepal. Board a jeep/bus for a 9 hour drive to Taplejung where the trek begins. Ascend steadily through the Ghunsa river valley to the North Base Camp. Return to Ghunsa and cross over Sinion La to the Kabeli river valley. Hike up to the South Base Camp and begin descent to Yamphudin. Drive back to Bhadrapur for a flight back to Kathmandu.

ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS

The Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is a lodge trek. This means you will sleep and eat meals in local lodges along the trail. The lodges on this trek are quite basic. Meals are not as varied as on the Everest or the Annapurna treks but options do include rice with veggies, noodles, local breads etc. On this trek, we will carry some food to supplement what’s available at the local lodges.

BEST SEASON

Like most treks in Nepal, the best seasons for the Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek are Spring (March-May) and Autumn (October-November). It is also possible to trek to Kanchenjunga Base Camp in December but obviously it will be very cold with temperatures dipping to -20 C/, -4 F or slightly lower.

TREK RATING

The Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek is rated “CHALLENGING”. It is rated 5 on a rating scale from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging). The highest overnight altitude reached is at Lhonak (4,790 m/15,700ft) and the highest elevation reached is at Pangpema (5,140m/16,900ft). There are two acclimatization days to allow for proper acclimatization. Trekking to Kanchenjunga Base Camp involves average daily hiking of around 6 hours with a few longer days of around 7-8 hours. Also, this is a relatively long trek in a remote area. Regardless of the rating, it is important to prepare for any trek in Nepal. Read our advice on training for treks.

WHY TREK WITH US?

The Kanchenjunga Trek is a private trek for a minimum of two participants. We do NOT nickel-and-dime on services – inclusions and exclusions are clearly listed in cost details. Some companies will advertise trips for very low prices but they have a lot of exclusions that is usually not clear. With over 30 years of experience, most of our trekkers are either repeat clients or referrals. We employ the most professional and friendly staff. We are also proud to give back to our community through our giving arm – 3 Summits For Nepal – managed by Crystal Mountain Treks staff. In the Kanchenjunga region, we have built four schools and two girls hostels. On this Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek, we will have the opportunity to visit one of the school in Yamphudin. Contact us to learn more…

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 Taplejung Taplejung 1,441m/4,730ft
Day 4 Taplejung to Sekathum
Sekathum 1,600m/5,400ft
Day 5 Sekathum to Amjilosa Amjilosa 2,300m/7,570ft
Day 6 Amjilosa to Gyabla
Gyabla 2,730m/8,950ft
Day 7 Gyabla to Ghunsa
Ghunsa 3,475m/11,200ft
Day 8 Ghunsa acclimatization day
Ghunsa 3,475m/11,200ft
Day 9 Ghunsa to Khangbachen
Khangbachen 4,040m/13,600ft
Day 10 Hike to Jannu Base Camp
Khangbachen 4,040m/13,600ft
Day 11 Hike to Lhonak
Lhonak 4,790m/15,700ft
Day 12 Lhonak to Pangpema (5,140m/16,900ft) to Lhonak
Lhonak 4,790m/15,700ft
Day 13 Descend to Ghunsa Ghunsa 3,475m/11,200ft
Day 14 Trek to Selela Selela 4,480m/15,300ft
Day 15 Trek to Tseram Tseram 3,870m/12,700 ft.
Day 16 Trek to Ramche Ramche 4,580m/15,100ft
Day 17 Explore South Kanchenjunga Base Camp and return
Ramche 4,580m/15,100ft
Day 18 Descend to Torontan Torontan 3,010m/9,900ft
Day 19 Torontan to Yamphudin Yamphudin 2,080m/6,900ft
Day 20 Yamphudin to Khebang
Khebang  
Day 21 Drive to Ilam.
Ilam  
Day 22 Drive to Bhadrapur. Fly to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 23 Kathmandu Sightseeing Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 24 Final Departure    
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1Kathmandu

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 2Kathmandu

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.

In the afternoon, make final preparations for your Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek.

Overnight Hotel Tibet or similar. (Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 3Kathmandu to Taplejung

Today is a long day. If you do suffer from motion-sickness, a dramamine is recommended. Fly to Bhadrapur. Board a chartered vehicle for a long windy drive to Taplejung (9 hours). At first, we ascend steadily to the tea-gardens of Fikkal. Then make a descent to Mai-khola ascending slowly to Ilam and then to Rake from where the Kanchenjunga massif comes into view. We continue ascending to a little over 8,000 feet to Ranipauwa and then to Phidim, the district headquarters of Panchthar district. Then descend to the valley floor to almost 2,000 feet to cross the Khebang khola and then make another ascent to Gopetar at around 7,000 feet only to descend again to Hewa Khola from where we make our final ascent to Taplejung.

Overnight lodge. (All meals)

Day 04 and 05Taplejung to Amjilosa

It used to be a 5 day trek to Amjilosa from Taplejung. Now, a very rough jeep track has been built upto Sekathum. We board a jeep for a bumpy four hour ride to Ranipul (just below Lelep). The drive is through relatively low altitude (between 3,000 and 4,000 ft.) Limbu villages of Mitlung, Sinuwa and Chirwa. The forests are lush and 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. We stop at Ranipul to begin our short trek to Sekhathum. Cross a suspension bridge and make a short ascent to the small village of Sekhathum (basically only 4-5 houses).

The next day we cross several suspension bridges making short ascents and descents to arrive at the first Sherpa village of Amjilosa. Enroute, we cross the Rai village of Solima where we’ve helped build another small school.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 06 to Day 08Amjilosa 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. 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 09 and Day 10Ghunsa to Khangbachen (4,092 m) and hike to Jannu Base Camp

The trail today is along the Ghunsa river with pastures and 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 11Hike to Lhonak

Today you hike to Lhonak. The trail climbs gradually through open rocky fields along the Kanchenjunga moraine. Look out for blue sheep along the trail from Khangbachen to Pangpema. Blue sheep are the primary prey of snow-leopards. Lhonak is a BEYUL (blessed land) and one of the most beautiful places in Nepal. Lhonak is near a dry lake bed on an open, sandy plain.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 12Hike to Pangpema and Kanchenjunga Base Camp (5,152 m)

Today you hike to Pangpema (Kanchenjunga Base Camp) along the Kanchenjunga moraine. Kanchenjunga is hidden by other peaks and becomes visible only when you almost reach Pangpema. The hike can take around 4 hours. Return to Lhonak for the night. If all members of the group are doing well, you may camp at Pangpema. The guide will make this decision depending on the weather conditions and the health of the participants and the staff. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 13Descend to Ghunsa (2,730 m)

Descend to Khambachen and then to Ghunsa.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 14Trek to Selela

Ascend steeply to Selela. The hike is around 4 hours and begins with hiking through a thick forest of fir and rhododendrons . The pass from Ghunsa to Tseram 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 15Trek to Tseram

Begin the day with a steady climb towards Mirgin La Pass. Makalu (8,481m) is also visible towards the west. In the distance you will also see Baruntse and Chamlang. Follow the ridge for the final descent to Tseram which is in a large flat meadow.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 16Trek to Ramche

Today is a short half day of easy hiking (around 3 – 4 hours). From Tseram, ascend steeply crossing several temporary shepherd huts to a vast pasture with azaleas which are used as incense by the locals. There is a direct but more difficult pass (Lapsang La) which can be crossed from Ghunsa to arrive at this point. Tseram is another pasture with two huts and is near the lateral moraine of the Yalung glacier.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 17Explore Kanchenjunga South Base Camp

Again, Kanchenjunga isn’t visible until you get very close to Base Camp. Explore the South Kanchenjunga Base Camp. Descend to Tseram.

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 18Descend to Torontan

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

Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 19Trek to Yamphudin

From Torontan, it is a steady ascent on a switch-back trail to Lamite Bhanjyang. 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 local home. (All meals)

Day 20 and Day 21Trek end at Khebang. Drive to Ilam.

Continue descent from Yamphudin to Khebang where we camp for the last night. The next morning we board a chartered bus to Ilam. The road until Gopetar is bumpy on jeep track. Then we rejoin the main highway that we took to Taplejung.

Overnight local home. (All meals)

Day 22Drive to Bhadrapur. Fly to Kathmandu

We leave early and drive to Bhadrapur (around 3-4 hours) where we board a flight back to Kathmandu.

Overnight Hotel Tibet. (Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 23Kathmandu sightseeing

Full day of sightseeing in Kathmandu: visit Swayambhunath, the monkey temple. Then drive to Bhaktapur, the city of Devotees, for lunch and a tour of the royal palace square.

A farewell dinner is planned for the evening.

Overnight Hotel Tibet. (All meals)

Day 24Final departure

Transfer to the airport for flight home. (Breakfast)

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Detailed Cost Information

Per person price (valid until 31 Dec, 2023) – Lodge Trek

2 persons: $ 3,800 USD per person

3 – 4 persons: $ 3,420 USD per person

5 or more persons: $ 3,040 USD per person

Single Supplement: $300 

Please inquire for quote in GB£ or Euros.

  • Book this trek for any date in 2022 or 2023 by Dec 31, 2022 and get US$ 200 per person discount. All our treks are private treks for two or more participants and can be arranged for a date of your choosing.

Payment policy:

  • A 20% non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking.
  • Balance is payable a week prior to departure or on arrival in Kathmandu.

Cancellation policy:

  • Deposit is non-refundable. But if you cancel a month prior to trek start date, your deposit will be applied to any trek you undertake with us anytime in the future.
  • No refunds for unused services once trek begins.

Price Includes

  • Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information 
  • Motivated, well-cared-for staff 
  • All airport transfers 
  • Two full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments 
  • 4 nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet (3 star) in Kathmandu 
  • Airfare: Kathmandu to Bhadrapur and Bhadrapur to Kathmandu 
  • Chartered vehicle: Bhadrapur to Taplejung and Sinam to Bhadrapur 
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Lodge trekking as indicated in the itinerary 
  • Three meals a day on the trek
  • Boiled water for your bottles three times a day 
  • Guide and staff wages, equipment and meals 
  • Guide and staff insurance
  • Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Fee and trekking permit 
  • Gamow Bag (High altitude pressure chamber)
  • Satellite phone.

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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Map
Photos

Options

Similar lodge treks that involve crossing a high Himalayan pass include the following:

But if you are interested in the Kanchenjunga trek but don’t have 24 days, there are many other shorter circuit treks that can be arranged. During the course of building three schools in this region, our staff are very familiar with this area and we can arrange a trek that will best suit your time. Some shorter options include:

  • North Kanchenjunga Base Camp only (20 days): Ascend and descend via the Western route (Mitlung, Hellok and Ghunsa)
  • South Kanchenjunga Base Camp only (18 days): Ascend via the Western route (Mitlung), cut through to the Eastern route via Yasang (the site of another of our schools) and visit the South Base Camp.
  • Lower altitude Pathibhara circuit (15 days): Trek to Yamphudin and return via Pathibhara (a holy temple dedicated to a goddess revered by both Hindus and Buddhists) and Suketar. Great views of the entire Kanchenjunga massif from a ridge reached a day before arriving at Pathibhara.

On the other hand, if you have more time, we can organize a longer circuit trek visiting both Kanchenjunga base camps and then crossing the Lumba Sumba pass into the Makalu region.

We are happy to customize a trek for two or more participants. Please do write to us!

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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

When is the best time to do the Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek?

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 Base Camp 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). This trek is slightly more difficult than our Kanchenjunga Circuit Camping Trek.

How should I prepare for the Kanchenjunga Base Camp 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 Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek?

The lodges on the trek have basic food. Mostly Daal/bhat and noodles. We will carry additional food so as to add to the variety.

What kind of gear do you provide for 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 operator what they provide for the staff. Are they provided meals or are they responsible for their own meals?

We provide snow goggles, mittens, gore-tex parka, water-proof pants and good water-proof hiking boots (mostly Lowa GTX renegade) 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. All our staff are insured. And we will bear the cost of a helicopter evacuation in case of an emergency.

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.

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

Toilets are very basic – mostly squat toilets. Some lodges will have showers but that is quite rare.

What gear do I need for the trek? Can I rent 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.

Will you provide tents and mats?

This is a lodge trek. So you will mostly be sleeping in lodges.

But we will also 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. This is in case you prefer to sleep in tents.

We have lately been providing Exped air mats. Check them out here.