Located in far-eastern part of Nepal and sharing the border with Sikkim, Mt. Kanchenjunga (8585 m) is the third highest mountain in the world. However, this is not only the reason why Mt. Kanchenjunga is immensely popular. It is believed to be a sacred mountain. To top it off, it is popular for its pristine beauty.
Yes, first-time trekkers might find it a lot challenging. The challenging journey draws avid trekkers in triumphing this spectacular beauty.
The wilder unexplored regions of Mt. Kanchenjunga has contributed to making it desirable.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is a lot peaceful in compared to Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp trek. You can actually enjoy nature in its best form and the serenity that you seek up in the mountains, here. A great place for introspection.
Three of the four climbing routes to the summit of this mountain lies in Nepal, the fourth from Sikkim. The routes are South West, North West, and North East and one from India is North East Sikkim.
The Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek is a daredevil trekking destination in Nepal. You can explore both the southern and the northern base camp of this mountain. You get to experience high passes with the most incredible views of the Pyramid peak, Wedge peak, the Twin peak, and Tent peak.
There are two ways to trek to the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Nepal, north to south and south to north. Both the trek begins at Taplejung after a 45 min flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur followed by a jeep ride to Birtamod finally a bus ride to Taplejung. A circuit trek, on the contrary, is a combination of both the south and the north trek.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp weather
Autumn has to be one of the best times to trek. It is still green in the lower terrain and the weather is just perfect. But as you ascend, the temperature will drop. In autumn, the sky is clear and you will enjoy the absolute blissful surrounding.
The weather and the temperature are right-on. But, prepare yourself for weather change, as the weather in the Himalayas is unpredictable. Snow or rainfall can be expected.
Spring is yet another time of the year when trekking to Kanchenjunga Base Camp is pleasant. The temperature is getting warmer after the bitter winter and is just right to witness the spectacular mountain.
The wildlife too comes out of hibernation to enjoy the sun.
However, summer or monsoon could be a bit risky due to the slippery roads. And in winters, the roads are covered with snow and you will need proper gear to attempt the trek.
Nepal, India, and Bhutan share the trans-boundary areas identified by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Kanchenjunga landscape. The Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (22,000km square) is shared by these three countries and has over 20 protected areas.
About 65% of the area is covered by rocks and ice. 14.1% is forest, 10.1% is a complete shrubland, 9.2% is a grassland and the rest 1.6% is agricultural land.
The landscape of Kanchenjunga is a tough terrain. The rocky terrain is usually covered with snow in the higher altitude. As you begin to ascend, you will see lesser greenery and more of the rocky terrain.
Except for the first few expeditions to the summit from Sikkim, there are rare cases of trekking from that side. The government lifted the trekking permit there. This is due to the dangerous path. The route from taplejung is just as challenging and there are three ways you can actually trek there.
Routes to Kanchenjunga Base Camp
There are two routes to reach the Kanchenjunga Base Camp, the north, and the south route. Or, if you are looking for a pinch of added challenge, the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek will proudly fulfill it for you.
Kanchenjunga North Base Camp Trek
The northern hike is a bit challenging when you compare it to the southern side. You will be reaching a higher elevation.
With 6-7 hours of walk every day, you will escalate gradually, everyday. Be sure to stay hydrated and take a slow yet steady pace. The natural beauty, locals that you meet on the way, their hospitality will keep you motivated.
At Pang Pema, you can witness the beautiful glaciers and the peaks of Kanchenjunga. Further at 3475 m above sea level at Ghunsa you will be more than happy to enjoy the facilities that you were deprived of.
You will take a 45 min flight to Bhadrapur and take a jeep ride to Birtamod. The second day is basically to prepare you for the trek. This day you will head to Taplejung and rest the day here. The actual trek starts here.
For three days you will walk for around 5 to 7 hours daily. This will get you from Taplejung to Chiruwa, Lepe and then finally to Amjilosa. The track at Amjilosa is quite slippery. From here you will trek to Gyabla and then Gunsa at 3475 m where you will stay for acclimatization.
Acclimatization day is an important part of a trek. This helps you adjust to the increasing altitude and minimizes the chances of having altitude sickness.
As the trek furthers, you will be trekking to Kambachen and Lonak. These are both places higher than 4000 m.a.s.l. From Lonak you will trek finally Pang Pema (5140 m) and then to Kanchenjunga North Base Camp and back.
On your way back you will mostly trace the same route back to Taplejung. The downhill is equally challenging. It tests one’s strength and endurance. Kanchenjunga Trek Training or basic trek training is recommended before you commit to any trek.
Kanchenjunga South Base Camp Trek
The Kanchenjunga South Base Camp trek is the preffered trekking trail over the northern one. Especially if you dare to share the ground with this mystical mountain as your first trek, the south base is suggested.
Though it is an easier trail, there is nothing compromised. The landscape, settlement, biodiversity or the scenery. Authentic Nepali culture at Yamphuding and Mamangkhe will amaze you. The hospitality and the local culture is unique and absolutely heartwarming.
Like the North Base Camp, the trek starts from Kathmandu till you reach Taplejung. The first two days will be great to prepare yourself for the trip.
On day 3, you will begin your trek from Taplejung to Simbu. As you commence in your journey, you will begin to ascend. You will be walking up to 8 hours daily, and depending on the terrain, the pace will be influenced.
From Simbu to Khesewa, Mamangkhe and Yamphuding will be your destination from day 4 to day 6. On day 7 you will acclimatize at Yamphuding (2000 m). Now the trail starts to get steeper and higher.
Then, trek from Yamphuding to Cheram (3800 m) to Ramche (4600m), and finally two more hours from Ramche till you get to the south base camp.
North or the southern side, both are equally exciting and challenging. The beauty and the scenery will keep you breathless. Will all the right gears, there should only be pleasant memories to take back. And of course a lot of souvenirs.
Ways to trek to Kanchenjunga Base Camp?
To break the ice, no solo treks to Kanchenjunga Base Camp is not permitted. But there are two ways you can manage this expedition.
You will need two permits for the trek. A $10 per person per week Restricted Area Permit is issued for a month and Kanchenjunga Conservation Area permit will be $20. The latter is issued by the Nepal Tourism Board.
With a group
Whether you travel with a group or trek privately, you will need to be accompanied by a licensed trekking guide.
The trekking trails on Kanchenjunga is sparsely populated. You could be walking for miles before you actually meet another trekker. With a group, you will feel a lot comfortable, especially when you get back to the tea houses. Sharing your side of the story and exchanging experiences is a great way to multiply it.
When with a group a minimum of 2 trekkers and an experienced trekking guide is crucial. Further, the guide will be assigned to you by a registered trekking company. This way everything is legal and organized. A maximum of 15 trekkers per group is manageable. Above that could be a bit overcrowded.
The company will manage and brief you well. The charges, trek costs, proper accommodation and good porters will be managed by them.
All you will be doing is enjoying your trek.
Likewise, private treks can be taken to the Kanchenjunga Base Camp. This involves a licensed trekking guide and a minimum two trekkers. If you want to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the mountains at your own pace, private treks are awesome.
According to Nepal immigration law, least one government authorized person has to accompany a tourist during their visit to a restricted area. Because both Nepal and India share this spectacular mountain, however, most of the trekking routes lie in Nepal.
Yes, you can only hire a licensed porter guide to accompany you and your friend. But, for better communication with the locals, factual information of the places you see and for emergency situations, opt to do it with a registered trekking company.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp may not be just as popular as the Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Base Camp, but it is equally rewarding. The trekking trails are less crowded and the culture here is authentic. It is less influenced by modernization and pseudo-culture.
Because it is absolutely dangerous to ascend this mountain from Sikkim, trekking from there is banned. However, trekking from the south is a lot more comfortable than the northern side. It is only a matter of choice.
Then again, once is not enough.
Circuit treks are a great way to enjoy views from both the sides. This is a long trek and will require a lot of endurance and patience. At the end of the day, a hot cup of tea and the sunset up in the mountains will do the job.
What a way to live life, right?