A Kanchenjunga Adventure: Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
View of Kanchenjunga from Pangpema (Photo: Jwalant Gurung)
A Kanchenjunga Adventure (29 days, 28 nights)
In the world of adventure, before there was Everest – there was KANGCHENJUNGA!
Clear and spectacular views of the Kangchenjunga range from the summer retreat town of Darjeeling (in India) raised the curiosity of early British explorers. Moreover, easy access to eastern Nepal from bordering Sikkim also made adventures to the area possible as early as 1848 (while the rest of Nepal was closed to foreign visitors for another 100 years until the 1950s). In fact, for some time, Kangchenjunga was even considered the highest mountain in the world – i.e. until 1856, when Peak XV was announced as the highest point on Earth and named 'Mount Everest'.
Kangchenjunga literally translates to "Five Great Treasures in the Snow." There are five peaks within the Kangchenjunga range, and local people believe that each of the five peaks is a repository of different treasures: gold, silver, gems, grains and sacred texts. Kangchenjunga is a sacred mountain. In due reverence, the first summiteers stopped a few meters short of the summit in 1955. (This practice is no longer followed by today's climbers!)
Kangchenjunga is situated in the Beyul Demazong [beyuls are sacred valleys that were hidden by Padmasambhava, a much revered Indian saint who introduced Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century]. The purpose of beyuls was to provide sanctuaries for people seeking refuge from social and religious persecution. During our trip, Beyul Demazong will also allow us to experience its purpose as we seek refuge from the daily grind of our hectic social lives.
The highlight of our adventure is, no doubt, Mount Kangchenjunga. From Pangpema, the magnificent view of the north face of the world's third-highest peak is unparalleled. We will marvel at the great mountain rising for more than 3,500 meters before us: from its base at the Kangchenjunga Glacier below 5,000m – to its summit at 8,586m.
But just as interesting will be our journey to and from Kangchenjunga. We will traverse a region that is geographically spectacular and culturally fascinating. Our elevations will range from 'low'-lands at 360 to 800 meters where tropical sal trees flourish (this tree species is commonly found in the Terai region around Chitwan) to a high of 5,150m at Pangpema where the elusive snow leopard roams and herds of blue sheep abound.
'I must be content to do what I can, to record with all emphasis I am capable of, my conviction that nowhere else on earth's surface can there be found, within so small a radius, a combination of tropical luxuriance, sylvan beauty, and mountain sublimity equal to that which meets the traveler's eyes among the valleys and highlands of ...... Eastern Nepal.' Douglas W Freshfield - Round Kangchenjunga (1903)
We will also encounter various ethnic groups during our journey – Rai, Limbu, Bahun/Chhettri in the mid-hills, and Sherpa/Bhutia in the high mountains. These different communities, who have adapted their lifestyles to their environment, will allow us to experience part of the cultural mosaic that makes trekking in Nepal such a delight.
Much of our adventure will be in the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area – Nepal's first 'Community Conserved Area' (handed over to the community by the Government of Nepal in September 2006). Here, we will be able to experience the many conservation actions implemented by the community themselves.
In short, with a range of bio-geographical terrain, cultural diversity, conservation experiences, and philanthropic activity, our Kangchenjunga Adventure will be one beyond the ordinary.
Day 01 (Oct 15) - Kathmandu
Arrive You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. In the early evening, we will gather for a trip briefing where we will also get to know each other. Welcome dinner is a 15-minute walk-away in the tourist hub of Thamel. Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner. (Dinner)
Day 02 - Kathmandu
Bodhnath Stupa (Photo: Claudine)
Full day sightseeing in Kathmandu. You will be accompanied by our in-house cityguide. In the morning, visit Bodhanath, the Stupa of a million dew drops, to watch monks and devotees circumambulate the largest stupa in Nepal. Then visit Pashupatinath, Nepal's most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Drive to Patan for lunch in the garden of the Patan Museum Café. After lunch, visit the well-maintained Patan Museum. Drive back to Kathmandu. (All meals)
Day 03 - Kathmandu to Ilam
Fly to Bhadrapur. Board a chartered vehicle for a 5 hour drive to Ilam. Overnight local lodge (All meals)
Day 04 - Ilam to Taplejung
Drive to Taplejung. (6 hours). Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 05 to Day 08 - Taplejung to Amjilosa
Trek through relatively low altitude (between 3,000 and 6,000 ft.) Limbu villages through Chirwa, Sekathum and Amjilosa. The forests are lush and the trails are typical of those in Nepal - you ascend steeply only to descend to the river later. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Red Panda (Photo: Jwalant)Day 09 to Day 11- Amjilosa to Ghunsa (3,427 m)
A little past Amjilosa, the landscape starts to change - from lush green low-land to alpine country with shorter pine and rhododendron trees. The inhabitants of this region are Sherpas and Bhotes who continue trade with Tibet which is about a two days hike. The traders take yak and locally grown herbs to sell in Tibet. On Day 11, you reach Ghunsa which is the largest Sherpa village on this trek. A rest and acclamitisation day is planned here. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 12 and Day 13 - Ghunsa to Khangbachen (4,092 m) and hike to Jannu Base Camp
The trail today is along the Ghunsa river with pastures along forests of rhododendron trees and juniper. Past the bridge over the Ghunsa river, it is a steep climb past a landslide. Descend to Khangbachen. The next day is another acclimatization day with optional hike to Jannu Base Camp. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Crystal Mountain crew at Pangpema (Photo: Jwalant)Day 14 to Day 16 - Hike to Pangpema and Kanchenjunga Base Camp (5,152 m)
Today you hike to Lhonak. Look out for blue sheep along the trail from Khangbachen to Pangpema. Blue sheep are the primary prey of snow-leopards. So keep a look out for this elusive beauty. Lhonak is a BEYUL (blessed land) and one of the most beautiful places in Nepal. The next day, hike to Pangpema (Kanchenjunga Base Camp). Kanchenjunga is visible only when you almost get to Pangpema. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 17 - Ghunsa (2,730 m)
Return to Ghunsa. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 18 - Trek to Selela (4,660m)
Ascend steeply to Selela. The hike is around 3 to 5 hours. The pass from Ghunsa to Ramje involves crossing five passes - Tamo La (3,900m), second pass (4,115m), Mirgin La (4,663m), Sinion La (4,660m) and the final pass (4,724m). Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 19 - Trek to Ramje
The views from the pass are breath-taking. Makalu (8,481m) is also visible towards the west. Descend to Tseram. Continue to Ramje. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 20 - Explore South Base Camp
Explore Base Camp. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 21 - Descend to Torontan
Descend at a slow pace to Torontan. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Kanchenjunga from Lamite (Photo: Jwalant)Day 22 - Trek to Lamite Bhanjyang
Hike steeply to Lamite Bhanjyang. The jungle around this area is teeming with wildlife. Pheasants, red panda, wild dogs etc. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 23 to Day 25 - Lamite Bhanjyang to Sinam
Descend to Yamphudin. Your trek ends at Sinam. Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Day 26 - Drive to Bhadrapur
Drive to Bhadrapur (around 7 hours). Overnight lodge in Bhadrapur (All meals)
Day 27 - Fly to Kathmandu
Fly to Kathmandu. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (Breakfast)
Day 28 - Kathmandu Sightseeing
Sightseeing in Kathmandu. (All meals)
Day 29 - Final Departure
Transfer to the airport for flight home. (Breakfast)
180 degree view of the Kanchenjunga massif from Pangpema. (Photo: Jwalant)
View from the Sinion la pass. Jannu is the most prominent peak. Makalu is West. (Photo: Jwalant)
- Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information
- Motivated staff; adequate equipment for staff and staff insurance (Read about our “redefining staff care ” initiative)
- All airport transfers; two full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments.
- 4 nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu.
- Airfare: Kathmandu - Bhadrapur - Kathmandu
- Chartered vehicle: Bhadrapur to Taplejung and Sinam to Bhadrapur
- All inclusive camping trek as indicated in the itinerary
- All meals
- Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Fee
- Trekking Permit
- Gamow Bag (High altitude pressure chamber)
Price does not include:
- Your international airfare
- Nepal Visa
- Tips and Gratuities
- Personal equipment (a suggested list will be mailed to you)
- Your travel insurance (Required)
- And other expenses of a personal nature
TO BOOK THIS TRIP:
Download and complete application form. (Participants will be screened)
Email it as an attachment to email@example.com
After acceptance to the program, a $500 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot. Balance payment is required upon arrival in Kathmandu either in US$ cash, Traveler's checks or by credit card (VISA card only).
The $500 deposit is non-refundable.
There will be no refunds once the trip begins.
If for security or other reasons, we need to cancel or postpone the trek, you may apply the deposit and final payment toward any other trip we offer in Nepal, Tibet, India or Bhutan.
This trek does involve sleeping and hiking at high altitude. We will, as we do for all high-altitude treks, provide a GAMOW bag for this trip. A GAMOW bag is a portable hyperbaric chamber that looks like an inflatable extra-large sleeping bag. The effective altitude inside the inflated GAMOW bag is about 5000 feet lower than the altitude you are at; it has been very effective in the past in relieving headaches and other symptoms of altitude sickness.
This trek is rated challenging and involves trekking at high altitude; highest elevation reached is near Pangpema which is at over 17,000 ft. The entire trip involves a lot of up and down (there could be an elevation change of up to 3,000 ft in a day) and involves crossing several passes at over 16,000 ft. The Selelela (Sinion la) pass is one of the longest passes in Nepal but this will be done in two days. There could be snow on the passes. A Gamow Bag will be provided.
Participants must be fairly strong hikers to participate on this trek. However, no technical climbing experience is required.
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