Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.
The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...
Providing you have sent us your arrival details, you will be met at the airport by a representative from the Kathmandu Guest House (look for their sign - they will be looking for you) and escorted to the guest house. Kim will book the extra nights for you, so your room will be ready.
Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1340m
You'll be met at the airport by a representative from the Kathmandu Guest House, so look out for a Kathmandu guest house sign when you leave the airport. They will bring you back to the Kathmandu Guest House, where your rooms are booked.
Kim will meet you at the guest house and introduce you to Thamel, the main tourist area of Kathmandu. Thamel is a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers. Over dinner we check your insurance details (please have a copy of your travel medical insurance policy with you), go over gear and get to know each other over a beer at New Orleans cafe ...
If you arrive early, some ideas for exploring exotic Kathmandu and the mythical Kathmandu valley.
Options: Climb the many steps to Swayambhunath (the monkey temple), with its commanding views of Kathmandu (at 1420 meters), its whitewashed stupas and its unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. In the midst of traditional gompas, and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, Boudhanath attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the stupa. Durbar Square, one of the old capitals of the Kathmandu valley, is a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist temples, stupas and statues, and is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies. Hindu Pashupatinath and its sacred temple complex on the banks of the holy Bagmati river. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating - when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees.
Day 2 - Fly Tumlingtar. Drive Chainpur 1260m
We'll head to the airport after breakfast for our scenic flight over terraced rice fields, high ridges and past Himalayan peaks to Tumlingtar in far eastern Nepal, the starting point of our trek through the Kanchenjunga region. Once on the ground, we'll have a two hour walk heading west to reach our staff who have arrived by jeep and are camping at Tumlingtar. We'll jump right into our vehicle for the bumpy drive to Chainpur where we'll camp for the night. We will introduce you to our 'Kamzang style' dining tent and your personal Marmot or North Face tents. Enjoy the lower altitudes, have a beer and watch Nepali life go by ...
Day 3 - Trek Nundhaki
The next few days until Chirwa and Sukethum are classic trekking through Nepal's lush, green and diverse 'middle hills' following shimmering rivers and contouring around precipitous ridge lines. The villages we pass through are both Hindu and Buddhist, and the architecture traditional mud-brick dwellings, rice paddies, terraced fields and fruit trees. If we're lucky we'll pass through villages celebrating some of the numerous Nepali festivals, very colorful and lively. We are following the GHT 'cultural route', a spectacular and interesting route through some of Nepal's most remote villages ...
Day 4 - Trek Samgu
Day 5 - Trek Dobhan 645m
Day 6 - Trek Siwan 980m
Following the large Tamor Nadi (river) it's a busy day of hill-trekking as we pass through numerous Rai and Hindu villages, surrounded by a patchwork of terraced fields.
Day 7 - Trek Chirwa 1270m
Day 8 - Trek Sukethum 1565m
Continuing to following the Tamor Nadi, we have the option of hiking along either bank of the river as we head along the classic Kanchenjunga Base Camp route. We're still quite low so the hiking will continue to be a bit hot for the next few days.
Day 9 - Trek Amjilosa 2310m
From Sukethum we trek northeast along the Ghunsa Khola (river), gaining altitude as we head towards Kanchenjunga South Base camps and the remote Tibetan villages of the Kanchenjunga region. Contouring around the high ridges, we'll have fantastic views on route north.
Day 10 - Trek Kyapra 2730m
Gaining altitude as we trek along the Ghunsa Khola, we trek to the traditional and beautiful village of Kyapra, with an old monastery and ancient Buddhist chortens, where we'll explore the village looking for a cup of salt-butter tea ...
Day 11 - Trek Phale 3140m
A similar day of trekking to yesterday, today's destination is the even more interesting Tibetan village of Phale, also with its own ancient monastery. We'll set up camp for two much needed nights here and set off to visit with the locals, perhaps stopping in some of the local homes to look for Tibetan blankets.
Day 12 - Phale
We've got a rest and exploration day in this wonderful Tibetan village. Enjoy!
Day 13 - Trek Ghunsa 3595m
We have a short day today, trekking past the intersection of the Yangma Samba Khola to Ghunsa. Take advantage of this day to acclimatize and after lunch, get out to explore the lively Tibetan village of Ghunsa, one of Joel's favorite villages, from where he used to pick up a variety of Tibetan treasures for me. Ghunsa was damaged in the 2011 earthquake in Sikkim, so will probably still be in the process of rebuilding. There are basic lodges and shops in Ghunsa were one could get a hot shower and a few beers ...
Day 14 - Trek Kambachen 4050m
Getting closer to Pang Pema, we finally crest the 4000 meter threshold today as we trek further north along the Ghunsa Khola, fed by the Kanchenjunga Glacier, to the campsite at Kambachen. The nights will start to get colder from now on, and the views more and more spectacular.
Day 15 - Kambachen (day hike Jannu viewpoint)
Take advantage of this acclimatization day to make the round-trip climb to the sublime Jannu viewpoint, to the east of camp along the northern ridges of the Kumbhakarna Glacier. Jannu, also called Kumbhakarna and a formidable climbing peak, is the 32nd highest mountain in the world, a Western part of the Kangchenjunga massif. From Wikipedia, "It is called Phoktanglungma in native Limbu language, (Phoktang means Shoulder and Lungma means Mountain), literally 'mountain with shoulder' and it is sacred in Kirant religion."
Day 16 - Trek Lhonak 4780m
Reaching the source of the Ghunsa Khola, we'll stay on the left (north) side of the Kanchenjunga Glacier, hiking along a high plateau past the intersecting Lhonak Glacier to our left to reach the high, flat campsite at Lhonak. It's cold but the views are fantastic, surrounded by some of the highest snow-peaks on the planet.
Day 17 - Trek Pang Pema (Kanchenjunga North Base Camp) 5145m
Finally we head directly east following the same glacier on the northern ridges to our sublime campsite at Kanchenjunga North Base Camp, also called Pang Pema. This is one of the highlights of the trek, worth having the evening to climb a bit higher, gaze at the peaks and fully appreciate this spectacular setting.
Day 18 - Trek Kambachen
Returning the way we came, it's a downhill but longer day to return to our campsite at Kambachen.
Day 19 - Trek Ghunsa
Back to Ghunsa along the same route, with the afternoon again in Ghunsa to relax. Take a look at Tashi Choding Gompa if you didn't have a chance to on our first visit.
Day 20 - Trek Kharka (High Camp) 4160m
From the gompa, we head back south along the northern banks of the river until reaching the sumdo of the Yangma Samba Khola. From here, we turn right, heading northwest as we contour up this narrow valley. We have about 600 meters of steep climbing to reach our campsite at the local kharka, or seasonal settlement of the Ghunsa villagers.
Day 21 - Thasa Khola Camp (cross Nango La 4775m) 3430m
Our first pass day, so we're up early with a mug of steaming coffee before trekking north towards the Nango La (4775m). From the narrow crest we'll be treated to a panorama of Himalayan peaks before we head steeply down the pass. We'll pass the small dharamsala (rest house) from where we turn left (west) and follow the Thasa Khola valley to our camp at the intersection of this small river and the Yangma Khola.
Day 22- Trek Olangchun Gola 3190m
Staying on the west of the Yangma Khola, we trek down valley surrounded by steep valley walls until we reach the sumdo (intersection) of the Tamor River (which you will remember from the earlier days of the trek). From the intersection at Ramite, we trek northwest along this river to the sprawling village of Olangchun Gola, one of the most remote Tibetan villages in the Kanchenjunga region. There is lots to explore within the maze of traditional houses that comprise the village, and more shopping to do, so we've scheduled an extra day to relax and visit.
Day 23 - Olangchun Gola
A free day, enjoy! We'll have re-supplying to do so feel free to join Kim & Lhakpa around the village ...
Day 24 - Trek Magawa 2320m
Returning to the river sumdo, we turn right and head south along the Tamor River to the campsite at Magawa. It will be much warmer as we're well below 3000 meters again.
Day 25 - Trek Sukethum 1575m
More villages await us as we trek back into Nepal's vivid middle hills, past clusters of traditional Rai villages. We eventually reach Sukethum where the staff has already set up camp for us.
Day 26 - Trek Chirwa
Returning to Chirwa, we take the alternative route for most of the way ...
Day 27 - Trek Phurumbu
More idyllic (and hilly) middle hills trekking awaits us today as we take a new route, heading directly south and following high ridge lines to our camp at Phurumbu.
Day 28 - Trek Taplejung 1820m
Staying high and continuing to contour around ridge after ridge, with wonderful views throughout, we eventually reach the large town of Taplejung, which translates as fort of King Taple, an ancient Limbu king. Taplejung is the district headquarters of the district of the same name, a town which connects the high mountain regions of Kanchenjunga with the populous Terai further south. It is known for the Pathibhara Devi Temple, visited by Nepalis from all over the country on pilgrimage. We'll either camp or set ourselves up at a local lodge depending on time and conditions.
Day 29 - Drive Ilam & Bhadrapur
We jump into (hopefully) awaiting jeeps for the long, winding but incredibly scenic drive to one of Nepal's top tea-producing towns, Ilam. "Tea production in Ilam (as Nepal tea) started as early as 1863, when the Chinese government offered then Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana tea saplings that were then planted in Ilam. In 1868, the Ilam tea factory was established, and tea plantations covered over 135 acres of land. " - Wikipedia. From Ilam, we'll continue on to Bhadrapur near the border of India where we stay the night in a hotel to await our flight back to Kathmandu tomorrow.
Day 30 - Fly Kathmandu
Our trek in the wonderful Kanchenjunga region has ended. In the morning we'll board the quite reliable flight from Bhadrapur in the hot plains back to the Kathmandu valley.
Day 31 - Kathmandu
A free day in Kathmandu for shopping, some sun in the garden of the guest house, shopping, cafe-ing or perhaps a visit to Boudhanath for some 'koras' to give thanks for our safe journey back from the mountains. And sights we missed during the first few days in Kathmandu, we can catch today, and afterwards out for our last dinner together.
Day 32 - Friday, 19 April - Depart
We send you off to the airport for your international flight ...