Kanchenjunga South Base Camp Trek

This trek approaches the South Face Base Camp of the world's third highest peak, Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,598m) which lies in the eastern frontier of Nepal. Mt. Kanchenjunga, one of the world's most challenging peaks to climb, geographically lies on the Nepal-Sikkim (India) border. The trek begins right after landing at a STOL airstrip in Taplejung and goes through fascinating green, crop growing villages and solid forests to the awe-inspiring South Face Base Camp at Ramche at (4,360m), before crossing to the north side of Kanchenjunga via the Mirgin La, the highest pass at (4,663m). The glacial excursion around Ramche is truly an unforgettable experience. The return trek via Ghunsa is easier as most of the path passes along the river valley.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
The panoramic view of snow-capped mountain peaks welcome you at first as you enter Nepal. A representative and driver from our office will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. The representative will help you check into your designated hotel. At the hotel you will be briefed about your daily activities.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley is one of the richest cities of Nepal, both historically and culturally. It has always been a popular destination for tourists. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Buddhism and Western influence in the Valley. Western Influence because Kathmandu used to be hippies favourite place in the world during hippie era. Patan and Bhaktapur, its two major neighbouring cities bear immense historical, cultural and religious significances. There will be a half day guided tour to the famous and biggest Hindu shrine of Pashupatinath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal Boudhanath, the 15th century Palace of 55 windows and Swoyambhunath.

Day 3: Fly from Kathmandu to Biratnagar
We take a flight to Biratnagar from Kathmandu. On reaching Biratnagar, we make all the preparations for the forthcoming journey.

Day 4: Fly to Sukhetar, Trek to Lali Kharka (2,220m)
We take a 30 minute flight to Sukhetar, Taplejung from Biratnagar. Soon after refreshment, we head to Lali Kharka with the trekking crew. On the trails, we walk by rich pastures and wonderful settlements. After several descents, we arrive at Lali Kharka.

Day 5: Trek to Keswa (2,100m)
As we pass through along the steep route to Pokora village, fascinating terraced farmland unfolds soon after crossing a suspension bridge above the Phawa Khola. The route further leads to Kunjari where we stop for lunch. After lunch, we continue following the trekking trail. We get to see dense forests and sometimes a small village located on a hill, as we progress along the trail. On skirting along a gently sloping mountain path, after trekking for 5-6 hours, we reach Tambawa and later Bhanjyang, where we find several teahouses. At this point, we can capture mesmerizing sight of Kanchenjunga glowing against the late afternoon sun. After having trekked for 5-6 hours, we conclude the day’s trip.

Day 6: Trek to Mamanke (2,000m)
Leaving behind the terraced fields of Keswa, we follow an adventurous route leading to Nandeva Khola. After crossing the river, we trek along the glaciated mountain passes. Further ahead, the route winds through dense forest and the village of Loppoding. We come across shady areas where we can rest for a while after strenuous trekking. The winding trail then takes us to the right bank of the Kabeli Khola. After a while, terraced fields reappear and the village of Anpan comes into view. We continue ascending till we reach Ponpe Dhara. There are shady spots on the way where we can have a short rest. As we proceed along the trail, we see several villages and terraced fields stretch along the crest of the ridge. There is a resting area where we can stop for a while to relax in the fascinating sight of Mt. Jannu. We continue our descent along the winding path, as we pass through the village of Anpan and terraced fields along Khangwa Khola. We arrive at a suspension bridge. We cross the bridge and continue descending the undulating mountain passes till we reach the village of Mamankhe.

Day 7: Trek to Yamphudin (1,650m)
Beginning with an easy climb, the walk to Yamphudin along a trail which contours the hillside above the Kabeli Khola. We cross the ridges and stream beds that make up the valley sides and the trail eventually becomes level with the river a couple of hours before Yamphudin. Along the way, we can stop to bathe in one of the many clear pools in this beautiful river. It is a truly idyllic spot and after lunch by the river, we complete the day's walk to Yamphudin. Yamphudin is the most remote settlement in this area and the last habitation we will see until we reach Gunsa. Needless to say, it is a charming place tucked away beneath the ridge of the Deorali Danda, which we must cross next.

Day 8: Trek to Lamite Jungle camp (2,920m)
Beyond Yamphudin, the trail ascends a steep spur before dropping again to cross the Omje Khola. Walking through a beautiful and dense forest, we stop for lunch in a field atop this spur, which has fine views of the valley beyond Yamphudin to the south and of the Omje Khola Valley and Deorali Danda to the north. A steep descent to the river brings us to our campsite in a clearing in the Lamite forest.

Day 9: Trek to Torontan (3,080m)
From our campsite we ascend steeply for 3 hours through dense forest to the top of the Deorali Danda. From the top, Mt Jannu is clearly visible and definitely closer. After crossing the pass, we descend across some fairly steep and exposed screed slopes before re-entering the forest, where we will stop for lunch. After lunch, a steep descent takes us down into the valley of the Simbua Khola and after crossing an interesting wooden bridge, we arrive at Torontan. This campsite lies amongst the towering fir trees of what is now a mainly coniferous alpine forest.

Day 10: Trek to Tseram (3,750m)
This morning, we follow the right bank of the river, passing through pine and rhododendron forests. The trail is fairly steep and, as the day progresses, the trees become sparser and more stunted, giving us glimpses of the snow-capped giants ahead and of the massive snout of the Yalung Glacier. Just before Tseram, the towering heights of Kabru and Rathong peep over the moraine. We camp at Tseram, where night-time temperature falls, reminding us that we are really gaining height.

Day 11: Trek to Ramche (4,360m)
A relatively short day's walk today to our next camp at Ramche. The scenery is magnificent as we ascend past the snout of the Yalung Glacier and into a series of ablation valleys. A frozen lake, crystal clear streams and magnificent views of Kokthan, Rathong and Kabru are the highlights of this walk into Ramche which is situated on a broad, flat ablation zone.

Day 12: Ramche - Exploration
Leaving our camp at Ramche, we take a packed lunch and set off very early for our first close encounter with Kanchenjunga. Following the valley around its sweeping curve, we come across the vast southern wall of Mt. Kanchenjunga. The ridge forms a cirque which is over 15 kms long and not less than 7,500m high. Along this ridge lie the three main summits of Mt. Kanchenjunga at 8,420m, 8,586m, and 8,474m. These three summits overhang into the sky presents a really grand sight. Proceeding further towards Oktang (4,630m), we descend onto the glacier and cross it to a point below Talu from where we can see the panoramic view of the mountains in the area. Especially impressive is the eastern part of Khumbakarna Glacier flowing from the east face of Jannu (Kumbhakarna being the local name for Jannu). We then return to our camp at Ramche.

Day 13: Trekking beyond the Mirgin La (4,663m)
Leaving our campsite, we trek down the valley, passing the small settlement of Lapsang, before turning off towards the Mirgin La - the pass we must cross in order to reach Gunsa and the north side of Kanchenjunga. As we descend from the Mirgin La, the views, in particular of Mt. Jannu, are simply magnificent. Our campsite will be somewhere beyond the pass.

Day 14: Trek to Gunsa (3,475m)
A steep descent from our campsite brings us to Lamba Sumba Kharka where there are more splendid views of the awesome south west face of Mt. Jannu. From here, the going is easy. Descending on an excellent trail to the village of Gunsa, where we camp in the fields by the river. Gunsa is a Tibetan village with a tiny gompa and prayer flags fluttering atop the wooden houses. It comes as a welcome sight after the rigorous walk of the previous days and provides an excellent opportunity to visit a strange local hostelry and sample the 'tongba' (alcoholic beverage fermented out of millet).

Day 15: Trek to Kyapra (2,300m)
From Gunsa, we take the route out of the mountains follows the beautiful Gunsa and Tamur Khola (rivers). The trail passes through spectacular forests of rhododendron, conifer, birch and oak. The valley sides here are steep and the trail follows the river as it flows downwards. We pass through Kyapra, the last of the Tibetan villages, and, an hour or so further on, we camp in the forest at a spot called Tang.

Day 16: Trek to Sakathum (1,600m)
Heading for the village of Sakathum, our route follows an undulating trail for the first couple of hours until we reach Amjilasa. From here, there is a long steep descent from which we can see the Gunsa Khola Valley stretched out before us. We camp in the fields of Sakathum.

Day 17: Trek to Chirwa (1,180m)
Leaving Sakathum, we head to Chirwa. En route we meet the union of two rivers, Simbua Khola and Gunsa Khola. At this point we get to witness the most magnificent view of the two rivers uniting into Tamur Koshi. On following the trail along Tamur khola, many other small tributary streams come our way. After trekking for about 4-5 hours we enter the wonderful village of Chirwa.

Day 18: Trek to Phurumba
The route further leads to cultivated land and rich pastures. On reaching Mitlung, we stop for a healthy lunch. Then our trail zigzags through the path of steep stones. After climbing for about 4 hours we come to the valley of Phurumba. We camp at Phurumba for the night.

Day 19: Trek to Taplejung - Suketar (2,300m)
As we leave the valley, we continue ascending along the ridge for about 3 hours to Taplejung village. We can wander around the village getting familiar with village life, cultural richness, custom and village people. Thereafter, after leisurely ascents for about 2 hour, we finally reach the airstrip at Suketar where we conclude the trip of the day.

Day 20: Fly to Kathmandu via Biratnagar
We fly back to Biratnagar and then take a connecting flight to Kathmandu. There will be transfer to the hotel upon arrival.

Day 21: Depart Kathmandu
Our representative will take you to the airport for Final departure.

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Peace Land Travel is a wonderful travel agency. We have used their service for over 9 year and would never think of going to anyone else! Most highly recommended!!

Miami Tibetan Studies Abroad Progarm
Dept. of Anthropology
Miami University