Taplejung - Olangchung Gola - Yangma exploration - Kanchenjunga north BC
Wild! This is an alternative take on the adventurous best of the Kanchenjunga region. We head up a remote valley to the Tibet border then backtrack and cross to the main Kanchenjunga North Base Camp trek, and with an optional double-wild extension, head to the south side as well.
This is a trek of variety, from jungle to the alpine. We begin in the sweaty, green middle hills but soon enter wild forest and cooler country as we gain altitude towards the remote and unusual village of Olangchung Gola, which was once a major trading post with Tibet. Rather than continue to the Tibetan border closest to them (as we did on a past trek), we continue north to even more isolated Yangma village, and head up to the border from there, to the top of a now little-used 5746m trading pass. This is a real snow leopard area, so plenty of blue sheep and other wildlife and a series of stunning turquoise lakes, which we have time to explore.
We briefly backtrack, glittering peaks either side, and cross the stunning Nango La (pass) over to friendly Ghunsa, the main village on the Kanchenjunga North Base Camp route. Now well acclimatized, we trek north and from Khambachen have the options of staying in the lodges and taking a day trip to Jannu Base camp for that in your face view of its sheer pink granite face, or if you are game, we sleep out rough there, and last time we did that, we saw two snow leopards and cubs!
From Lhonak we can either visit Pangpema in a day trip or stay overnight then scramble a delightful, familiar 6000m viewpoint for an even higher view of the Kanchenjunga massif. Seeing is believing.
We head down on the standard village trekking route to Chirwa and Taplejung, a quicker exit than it used to be.
Alternatively, if you have more time and energy, from Ghunsa we cross the rolling passes of Selele to the south side of Kanchenjunga and have a poke up to the Indian border at the Khang La, which is an alternative start for the Nepal section of the Great Himalaya Trail and a little unfinished business for Jamie. Our route back is south down to the road to Tharpu, skipping Taplejung.
This 30 day/36 day trek is a little shorter than our previous 7 x 42 day treks exploring up there (!!!), but incredible trekking all the same, and is our first hybrid trek. We start with a full expedition-style crew, a cook team and kitchen, and our comfy dining tent system, perfect for the super-remote first half of the trek, then once back on the main trail, most of the crew return, only a few porters staying with us. Then we stay and eat in the local lodges that are rapidly improving, and we will perhaps move a little faster.
We know and love this region, join us for what is truly the trek of a lifetime!
+ balanced middle hills start
+ remote, friendly Olangchung Gola village
+ even more remote Yangma village
+ remote Tibet trade route pass
+ stunning Nango La high route
+ snowy mountain views
+ Pangpema-Kanchenjunga North Base Camp
+ 6000m panoramic Kanchenjunga viewpoint
+ Jannu viewpoint
+ Jannu sleepout, if you are game
+ wildlife spotting
+ no other trekkers for first half
The huge north face of Kanchenjunga from Pangpema, the world's third highest mountain - Jamie
Crossing from Khambachen to the Jannu BC side; the bridge is a little wider now - Jamie
Saving data; use your phone in landscape to see the detailed itinerary and more photos.
Dawa drinks a tungba, the local millet beer around here - Jamie
The green middle hills - Jamie
Clive, Catherine and Paul climbing up the Drohmo Ri West viewpoint for magnificent Kanchenjunga - Jamie
We love exploring, truly exploring and have many true trekking firsts to our credit, and many amazingly successful, fun treks too. From 1998-2006 we explored the greater Kanchenjunga region with 7x 42 days treks (!!) then since 2008 have been opening routes of the the Nepal Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) and assisting with the GHT map series and various guidebooks.
2018 Ganesh Himal GHT - we worked out the most direct GHT route across, sticking closest to the mountains, with two new routes and Jamie finished his personal Nepal GHT, finally!
2017 'Kanchen Gola' - As well as returning to the the remote Ghari/Kang La, we discovered two passes near there unmarked on maps, and Jamie and Esther also solved cairn riddles to the top of the other Khang La, an alternative GHT start on the border with Sikkim.
2016 Upper Dolpo & Mu La - getting to Bhijer wasn't as hard as we expected, and we finished our Mu La exploration from 2014, crossing this last somewhat enigmatic pass in front the Dhaulagiris.
2012 GHT Wild West exploration - we broke trail to be the first trekkers ever to trek Darchula
to Simikot between Api and Saipal, staying completely in Nepal ... !
2011 GHT Dolpo Wild exploration - we were the first commercial trek team across the Lakyap/Kekyap passes (thanks, Paulo Grobel), rerouted the GHT near Bhijer saving a 5368m pass crossing and crossed the tough high route between Dolpo and Mugu without
2010 GHT Mustang & Saribung Wild - we traversed from Upper Mustang to Nar-Phu and climbed Saribung 6328m with 100% team success, then traversed around Manaslu
2009 GHT Makalu Wild - we were the first trekkers to cross Chyangtang to
Makalu Base Camp the direct way.
2008 Limi-Saipal - Jamie discovered the crucial pass near Saipal for the
2012 trek after guiding James Vlahos writing for Nat Geo; thanks Nepal Trust.
2007 Manaslu Wild - we explored the Tsum Valley to the Tibet border, and also explored the peaks and passes above Samdo.
2005 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to cross the Lumba Samba,
ie Kanchenjunga to the Makalu region, crucial for the GHT.
2004 Nangpa La exploratory - trekking to the Tibet border in the Everest region for the guide book Trekking in the Everest Region.
2003 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to the top of Olangchung Gola's Tipta La after Joseph Hooker in 1848, and in 2017, we found out no other trekkers ever went there after us; now there is a road across it.
2002 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to Yangma's 5746m Ghari La
2001 Kanchenjunga Wild - first trekkers to the Chabuk La, virgin peak ascent, a climb of Tengkoma peak and saw snow leopards, see Wanda's diary.
2000 Manaslu High - we explored Manaslu's Tsum valley prior to Tsum being opened (!) and climbed Chulu Far East.
1999 Kanchenjunga-Makalu - 42/75 day trek (!) and when we couldn't cross Sherpani-West Col, we returned to Tumlingtar in plastic boots.
1998 Wild Kanchenjunga - the trek that started the Kanchenjunga exploration series; we didn't meet any other trekkers.
1998 Churen Surprise - a trek to Churen Himal base camp above Gurjagoan, a trek that still few people have ever heard of.
Behind, the huge pale granite face of Jannu - Jamie