Standing in the eastern border of Nepal and the Indian State of Sikkim, Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. Standing at 8,586m, it has 16 peaks of more than 7,000m. Interestingly, the name Kanchenjunga has a Tibetan origin and can be broken down as ‘Kang-Chen-Dzo-Nga’. In Sikkim [j1] it is translated as ‘Five Treasures of Great Snow’.
The Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is one of the longer treks in Nepal, being 25 days. It is also widely considered by trekkers to be the best trekking route in Nepal. Having only opened to trekkers in the mid 1980’s, the region is protected by the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. Being within a conservation area, which requires a special trekking permit, means the area remains unique in terms of wildlife and vegetation. Red panda, Snow Leopard, wild boar, various species of deer, small mammals, and birds thrive under these protected conditions. The majority of the people of this area are of Tibetan origin and this is widely reflected in both the culture and the architecture of the villages. There are monasteries to visit, monks to meet and butter lamps to light which brings a calming feeling to the trek.
The mountains are, naturally, glorious. In addition to the main peak of Kanchenjunga there are four subsidiary summits over 8,000m; for example, Yalung Kang at 8,505m. With those glorious peaks over 7,000m, you can imagine the wonderful skyline waiting for you on this trek. There are also five major glacial systems with Kanchenjunga and Yalung glaciers flowing into Nepal’s Tamor River, while the other three flow into Sikkim.
In addition to the mountains there are forests of Rhododendron and bamboo to discover and passes and viewpoints overlooking amazing scenery. With the warm hospitality of the locals, and the expertise of our trekking crew, this we are confident the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek circuit, will exceed your expectations, and without too much cost.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek Highlights:
- 50 minutes scenic flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur.
- Drive through tea plantations to the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek starting point at Suketar.
- Hike through beautiful hills, and forests of bamboo and rhododendron.
- Reach Octang - the best viewpoint for amazing views of Kabru, Rathong, Jannu, Kokthang, and the Kanchenjunga range.
- Visit Ghunsa village with its monastery showcasing Tibetan architecture and culture.
- Reach Sele La Pass, Mirgin La Pass, and Sinen La Pass with their panoramic views.
- Walk through amazing high altitude villages like Lhonak at 4,790m and Kambachen at 4,150m.
- There is an opportunity to see various unique animals and birds living in this area.
- Enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals and learn about their culture.
- Visit Kanchenjunga Base Camp, also known as Pang Pema, with its views of mountains like Kangbachen, Kanchenjunga, Kirat Chuli, Taple Sikhar, Ramtang Peak, and more.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek Route
Fly from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur in the east of Nepal, then drive to Taplejung. At Taplejung the trek begins by hiking through Mitlung, Chirwa, Sekathum, and Gelpa to Ghunsa. At Ghunsa there is an acclimatization day which we must take to protect our health. Moving on through Kambachen, and Lhonka, we reach Kanchenjunga Base Camp. After exploring base camp, we continue to Selele Base Camp and Sele La Pass. Crossing the Mirgin La Pass, reach Tseram, Ramche, Dorongdin, Sherpa Gaun, Phumpe Danda, Kade Bhanjyang, and Lalikharka. Finally, the trek ends at Suketar where we board a bus back to Bhadrapur for the flight to Kathmandu.
Please see the day to dayitinerary for more details and for an idea of the daily distance (given in mountain speak – hours rather than kilometres/miles).
Weather and Best Time to Trek
Like the majority of other trails, trekking in the Kanchenjunga region, whether the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek or the Kanjenjunga Circuit Trek to North and South Base Camp is best done in the spring and autumn when the temperature is moderate and the weather more consistent. We anticipate a beautiful autumn 2022 season and a glorious spring and autumn 2023 season. Here is a breakdown of the annual seasons:-
Spring - March to end of May: rain or snowfall is unusual at this time of year. Skies will be clear, with wonderful views.
Monsoon – June to mid September: expect lots of clouds and rain. The trails will be slippery and there is a likelihood of landslides. And do expect leeches.
Autumn – September to mid December: like spring, this is a great time to trek in Nepal. With its fresh air and clear mountain views, this Kanchenjunga base camp trek will be fabulous in this season.
Food and Accommodation on the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek Nepal
As this area is less visited by trekkers and is quite remote, the accommodation is quite basic. On trekking trails, the lodges are known as teahouses and this is what you will find on this trek. Normally the sleeping rooms will have two single beds, with blankets. They will not have attached bathrooms or heating. Hot water is at a premium and you will have to pay if you want a hot shower. As far as food is concerned, most of the teahouses have the same menu. Rice and curry (the Nepali dish known as dal bhat), noodles, potatoes, eggs, soup and vegetables are the standard. Breakfast and dinner will be taken in the teahouse we sleep in but lunch will mostly be taken on the trail. While accommodation and food is included in the package Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek cost, the cost of hot showers, charging your phone etc, alcohol and soft drinks are not.
In Kathmandu on the first and last nights of this tour, a 3-star hotel with breakfast is included in the package cost.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek Difficulty
This is a strenuous. Walking for a daily distance of 6 or 7 hours per day at altitudes higher than 3,000m is taxing for anyone. The weather can be harsh in high places with the blazing high altitude daytime sun and the freezing night-time temperatures. It should be noted that at heights over 3,000 – 3,500m it is likely everyone begins to feel the altitude. Altitude sickness can become a problem if we are not careful. Please note our guides are well trained to recognize symptoms and how to avoid them. Overall, a great level of fitness is required as is a positive mental attitude. We recommend our trekkers prepare physically as much as they can before coming to Nepal.
Things You Should Know Before Undertaking Your Trek
Is it necessary to have travel insurance for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek?
Yes, it is necessary to have insurance during the trek. Please ensure your insurance (which you have to purchase in your own country before coming to Nepal) covers trekking at altitude. Your insurance should cover you in case of altitude sickness, injuries and other illnesses and/or emergencies. It should also cover you in case you have to abandon your journey for whatever reason.
Is it safe to drink water on the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Route?
No. It is not safe to drink water from taps or streams. As more and more teahouse owners become aware of the environment, bottled mineral water might not be available during the trek. Please carry water purification tablets or a lifestraw with you.
What happens if there is a need for emergency evacuation while I am trekking?
Helicopter evacuations are available in case of an emergency. However, you need to make sure you have the insurance to cover the expenses of evacuation as the helicopter will not come out if there is not a guarantee of payment.
What permits are required for the trek? Can I trek solo?
You cannot trek solo in this, or any other, restricted area. A licensed trekking guide is required for this trek, and there needs to be the minimum of two trekkers on your trip. Regarding permits – you require a Restricted Area Permit and a Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit.