|Our treks||Expeditions||Contact us||About us||Old photos & Diaries|
Kanchenjunga Trek - Sikkim
See Our treks for current treks
As the glow of Kanchenjunga
When the whistle of the Toy Train
In My heart I still shall cherish
- Jan Morris 1996
At the far end of the Himalaya from our summer trekking routes in Ladakh lies Sikkim, a former independent kingdom which has only been part of India since 1975. Sandwiched between Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, its history and people, like all the Himalayan Kingdoms we visit, has a variety of cultures and ethnic groups which are a result of its position on both trade and pilgrimage routes.
Kanchenjunga was the first of the 8000m giants to become familiar to the British, sunrise on the peak being an obligatory part of any visit to Darjeeling, one of the hill stations the homesick Brits established to escape the heat of the plains, and to have a 'real Christmas' with snow and holly.
This short but splendid trek is a great combination of the fascinating culture and history of both Sikkim and British India, with a stay in the atmospheric Raj era Windamere hotel in Darjeeling and the Himalaya in Kalimpong.
The Goecha La - Joel
The Dzo in the snow, the glowing crimson Himalaya, the
Nutella, the spoon, comparing Patagucci gear, the camaraderie, the
Thanks so much, for helping put together another fabulous trek.
John S, Sikkim Kanchenjunga 2007 lead by Joel
Fitness and trekking experience
We are asked many questions about fitness levels for the treks and our guidelines are basically that you should be healthy, active, adventurous and spend time in the outdoors. Past trekking experience isn't necessary, although it will help you understand what a 'trek' involves. The most important factor for enjoying the trek is a positive attitude, and a sense of humor.
Note that the trekking itinerary and campsites may vary slightly depending on trail and weather conditions and the various trekkers' acclimatization rate.
Day 1 - Arrive Delhi
Our drivers will be on hand at the airport to meet you, look out for the sign with your name on. You will be driven to your hotel in downtown Delhi - all your transfer details will be in hand.
Day 2 - Fly to Bagdogra and drive to Kalimpong
The flight this morning heads north and then turns to fly parallel with the Himalayan barrier. Nanda Devi, Annapurna, Everest and Makalu are among the peaks we see. After 90 minutes in the air, we touch down in the cooler air of Bagdogra, where Tega, our Sikkimese guide, meets us, then on for an early lunch and take a five hour drive - in easy stages - to our hotel in Kalimpong, the legendary Himalayan Hotel, founded by one of the early Sikkim trade agents, David Macdonald, and still run by his descendants. Joel, en route from Nepal, will meet you in Bagdogra or here.
Day 3 - Drive Yuksam 1770m
We drive in easy stages through the beautiful forested countryside of Sikkim, arriving at our Swiss alpine style hotel at Yuksam, the site of the Kanchenjunga park headquarters and the roadhead. Here we meet our crew, and after dinner an early night; breakfast at six!
Day 4 - Trek to Tshoka camp 3000m
Time to get the kinks out after all that sitting in planes and jeeps! Our trail leads through dense, and normally misty forest and Rhododendron. The trail winds up for three hours before crossing the Prek Chu to begin what the locals call the real climb, another three to the small campsite at the Lepcha settlement of Tshoka. Here we settle in to our gas lit and warmed dining tent, and you are introduced to your home for the next week, your comfy personal tent.
Day 5- Trek to Phodung 3550m
We climb again, through forest that seems always shrouded in mist; staircases and across logs put in by the forestry department to beat the summer mud, until four hours takes us to the clearing known as Phodung at 3550m.
Day 6 - Trek to Dzongri 3650m
An early start as we have a climb (again!) straight up the ridge below which we have camped to our first real views of the peaks, among them Nar Singh and Jopunu, both 6000m plus. The trail meanders through dense forest, and after four hours walking we drop into the cluster of huts se among high pasture known as Dzongri.
Day 7 - Trek to Dzongri top & Thangshing 3800m
Up at 4AM, tea and biscuits, and away to catch the views from the top of the ridge behind our camp; everybody feels the elevation as we climb 500m to the viewpoint. It was here that the Victorian explorer Douglas Freshfield signaled the news of his circuit of Kanchenjunga by building a huge fire on top - one wonders what his porters thought! After half an hours steep climbing we attain the ridge, with the ghostly images of the peaks that separate India from Nepal visible in the starlight, and the multihued horizon south colored by the approaching sun. If we are early enough it is possible to pick out the lights of Darjeeling. After two hours we reach the prayer flags cracking in the wind on top, and we have hot drinks as we watch Kanchenjunga and its sister peaks turn pink with the sunrise. With full light the massed ranges are revealed, summit beyond summit. Then down to a huge breakfast - we still have trekking to do! We climb steeply away from camp to contour around hillsides of spring flowers against snowy peaks, before dropping to the rest house at Kochu and another crossing of the Prek Chu, and a gentle climb to the wide pastures at Thangshing.
Day 8 - Trek to Lamoni 4100m
Now we are high and it is vital to take it easy - just four hours walk to our camp at Lamoni, and an hour up the full Kanchenjunga massif is in view again; we walk across glittering streams through air scented with the juniper that grows all around - all very reminiscent of the hills of Scotland - until you raise your eyes to the glittering snow giants all around. Lamoni is a pretty camp, just very windy by mid afternoon. We arrive in time to have tea and rest at this higher elevation; tomorrow is a long day!
Day 9 - Trek to Goecha La and Thangshing 3800m
3.30 in the morning is the time, with those extra layers, gloves, and head torch laid out ready the night before. Hot drinks, then we move. We follow the flickering torches of those ahead, gently rising at first and then steeply up glacial rubble. After two hours we see the big peaks, after three a viewpoint a lot of trekkers - but not us - seem happy with, from where we see the first light catching the peaks. Steeply down across the bed of what was once a lake, then up along a ridge, and there is the pass with the full mass of Kanchenjunga behind. And here we have time to take it in...snacks, hot drinks, and of course, cameras. Sinochuli, Kabru dome, this viewpoint is one of the best in the Himalaya. When we do leave, another lovely surprise, as we passed in the dark through some of the loveliest high pastures in the Himalaya...and now we see them with their sublime backdrop. By noon we are at Samiti lake, and an hour later, still high on all the beauty, a huge meal at Lamoni before heading down to Thangshing.
Day 10 - Trek to Tshoka 2900m
The same route down, but altitude fit now, contouring around hillsides and walking on air after our high points. By Late afternoon we are back at Tshoka, unbelievable that we have packed so much into just one week...
Day 11 - Trek to Yuksam
Down! over 1000m of it, through forest, the temperature rising as we descend...by three we are back at our hotel, hot showers and cold beers, and a special goodbye for our crew.
Day 12 - Spare trek day
For all those unpredictable's!
Day 13 - Drive Darjeeling & Windamere Hotel
A beautiful drive through tea plantations and forest against a stunning Himalayan backdrop. We aim to be at the Windamere by lunchtime, as all meals are included in this wonderful place and the food is superb. Established as a boarding house for bachelor tea planters in the 19th century, it was converted into a hotel just before world war two. It sits above the mall on observatory hill, and we first stayed there after our winter trek in 2007...a mixed group of Brits, Canadian and American, our trekkers all had the same opinion; it made for a wonderful finish to a wonderful trek.
Day 14 - Drive Bagdogra and fly Delhi
A last lingering breakfast, then a lovely drive through tea plantations to the warm plains, Bagdogra and our flight to Delhi.
Day 15 - Farewell
We drive you to the airport for your flight home - goodbye for now!