Kanchenjunga North Base Camp (Pangpema) - Kanchenjunga South BC (Oktang)
Unspoilt and cultural, the Kanchenjunga region offers some
of the best trekking in Nepal. The trek begins in the warm middle hills,
whole hillsides of terraces and picturesque villages, and work our way up through
thick forests into the high alpine regions with valleys that just keep going and
going. No crowds, just mountains and more mountains, and bloody big too.
sight of Kanchenjunga, seen from both Oktang and Pangpema is unforgettable, as is the north
face of Jannu/Kumbhakarna, a worthy destination itself. Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain on the planet
but unlike Everest and K2, the trek to its base camps has been strangely neglected.
Kanchenjunga is the latest teahouse trek and is still far more rustic than the Everest or Annapurna regions, with a rough charm of trekking several decades ago. This trek requires special restricted area permits (included) and a minimum of two people, partly the reason we are offering this locally lead trek. And since the lodges are occasionally simple, and may fill up in October, we carry light tents just in case. This is slight overkill compared with the most budget approach however is good insurance.
This is an adventurous and particularly satisfying route, join us for what is truly the trek of a lifetime!
+ balanced middle hills start
+ incredible, huge mountain views
+ Oktang, "South base camp"
+ Pangpema-Kanchenjunga North Base Camp
+ Jannu viewpoint
twinshare 3 star hotel in Kathmandu with breakfast
twin share guesthouses as needed
domestic flights as per the itinerary
group transportation by private vehicle
entrance fees and permits as needed
Kathmandu group dinner
Lodge trek includes
experienced, qualified guide
portering, 1:1 porter-trekker ratio
lodge accomm and meals
one hot drink per meal
porter care: porter jackets, sunglasses
porters and local staff insurance
basic medical kit
Our service excludes
on trek: hot drinks, cold drinks, snacks
on trek: lodge rooms with attached bathrooms
insurance, Nepal visa, other meals in Kathmandu
additional hotel nights due to delays
international flights, equipment rental, alcohol, bottled water and soft drinks, laundry,
tipping and other items of a personal nature
Tips & extra cash
allow approx $30-50 per day for Kathmandu meals
allow more if you are a shopaholic
we suggest 5% of the trip cost per trekker for the crew tips pool
Jamie trekked this route in Nov 2017 and we ran four Kanchenjunga treks in 2018 so this itinerary is up-to-date; few on the internet are. That said, there is a variability about the trek start and end as roads are pushed further in. The itinerary here is conservative and you may save a day near the beginning, which is good to have "in hand" as the weather seems to have become more variable.
Day 0 - early arrival
Arrive early to recover from long flights.
Day 1 - Wednesday 30 October 2019 - arrive Kathmandu 1350m
We meet you at the airport and introduce you to Thamel. This evening, we have a briefing at our delightful hotel.
2 - fly Bhadrapur, drive Fikkal/Ilam
In the morning the permits are processed then we take the afternoon flight to steamy Bhadrapur and immediately begin driving to the cooler, scenic hills. It is a very long drive to Taplejung, better to break it up. Be warned, the accommodation at Ilam is simple!
3 - drive Taplejung
We finish driving and there is time to explore around the picturesque market town - or to stretch the legs and start trekking down the hill to Mitlung, if you have arrived early in Taplejung.
4 - trek Sinwa 980m / Chirwa 1200m
It is possible to take a jeep to Tiwa, however the road is VERY rough, it is more comfortable and certainly more scenic to walk.
5 - trek Sukethum 1560m
The road construction to Tibet now reaches near here, thankfully we branch off as the road construction continues up the main valley heading towards Olangchung Gola.
6 - trek Amjilosa 2460m
We are now on small trails and steadily gain altitude, so a good workout today.
7 - trek Gyabla 2800m
First the grass then the forest... If you are quick, we might make Phale today instead.
8 - trek Phale 3240m
Although this is a necessary acclimatization stop, it is also a delightful area.
9 - trek Ghunsa 3420m
A shorter day means time to explore or arrive early and wash in the main village of the region.
10 - rest Ghunsa 3420m
A full day here for acclimatizing to altitude is mandatory and it is a good break to wash clothes, and let the trekking legs recover.
11 - trek Kangpachen (Khambachen) 4100m
Oh, those deodar autumn colours!
12 - Kangpachen (hike Jannu viewpoint) 4100m
The more energetic can trek up to the stunning Jannu viewpoint on this mandatory acclimatization day. If you are a day ahead, staying an extra day here is a good idea.
13 - trek Lhonak 4760m
There is one particularly loose and dangerous slope to cross, keep a lookout above and beware of rockfall.
14 - Pangpema day trip, stay Lhonak 4760m
We take a day trip to Pangpema for stunning Kanchenjunga views. Neither sunset nor sunrise are spectacular here, so this middle of the day visit catches it in good light.
15 - trek Ghunsa 3420m
Heading down for lunch at Kangpachen then onwards to Ghunsa shows how much easier descending is.
16 - trek Selele camp 4220m
After yesterday's longer day, this is a half day walk. Snow leopard have been seen from this camp.
17 - trek Tseram 3880m
Crossing the passes, this is a particularly panoramic day - did you see Mt Everest?
18 - trek Ramche 4100m via Oktang
A longer day's hiking, do take plenty of snacks and water. The sunset can be good from Oktang but it is a long way back to the very basic lodge at Ramche.
19 - trek Torongtang ~3000m
An easy day descending, and without an alternative place to stay.
20 - trek Yamphudin (Sherpa Gaon) 2200m
This is a long, tough day with a big climb and descent. Start smartly, carry snacks and move steadily. There is a lunch place but order noodle soup; anything else will take an age. If we are a day ahead then a rest day here is best.
21 - trek Khebang ~1700m
We may stay here, or trek a little further.
22 - trek Happu Khola roadhead, trek Thumbeding
The "road" from Happu Khola is a horribly rough 4WD track and, depending, we might walk further to lessen the discomfort. As with the trek beginning, with the "road" being pushed further in, it is a case of assessing on the trail. In 2017 the "road" from Happu Khola was crazy-dangerous and very rough.
23 - drive Birtamode / Bhadrapur
The farther away you are, the bigger the Kanchenjunga massif looks, impossible though that seems...
24 - fly Bhadrapur-Kathmandu
Farewell to Kanchenjunga and welcome back to crazy Kathmandu.
25 - Saturday 23 November - depart
The huge north face of Kanchenjunga from Pangpema, the world's third highest mountain - Jamie
Crossing from Kangpachen to the Jannu BC side; you are lucky, the new bridge is a bit wider now! - Jamie
To see the detailed itinerary and more photos use a laptop/desktop browser or tablet in landscape (and hit refresh).
Tipping is your choice, however we suggest ~5% of the trip cost, taken in rupees and near the end of the trek, providing everything has gone well, pool the money yourselves, then divide equally or roughly equally between the staff and hand over on the last morning together. The staff are paid above average wages, however these don't go far in the capital, and so tips money is the bonus that allows them to send their kids to (relatively cheap) private schools or travel home for the holidays.
One day I might write a detailed itinerary, until then, here are a few memorable photos.
Dawa drinks a tungba, the local millet beer around here - Jamie