Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. It lies partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim, India. It rises from a section of the Himalayas with an elevation of 8,586 m. If Mount Everest just came to your mind, Kangchenjunga lies about 128 km (80 miles) east of it to be precise.
There are 5 peaks that constitute the Kanchenjunga - the main, central and south share borders with North Sikkim of India and the Taplejung of Nepal. The other two peaks lie in the Nepalese region. However, the Kanchenjunga region itself has 12 more peaks that are as high as 23,000 ft.
The landscape of Mount Kanchenjunga is shared by Bhutan, China, India and Nepal. It is home to a surprisingly large variety of rhododendrons, orchids and many endangered species like the snow leopard, Asiatic black bear, red panda, blood pheasant, chestnut breasted partridge and the Himalayan musk deer.
Who is it meant for?
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
The mountain is practically a trekker’s paradise. Especially, long form trekkers who enjoy the natural progression from the warm middle hills to the alpine areas. So if you’re looking for an exciting adventure, here’s all the information you need to know.
The trails are rough underfoot. There are sections during the trek that cross large landslide areas that experience occasional falling rocks. These are areas that are definitely dangerous and need care under expert supervision when crossing.
How can you reach Kangchenjunga?
There are 3 different itineraries available to reach the Kanchenjunga. The Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek, The Kanchenjunga North Trek and The Kanchenjunga South Trek.
You can explore the North and South Base Camp of Kanchenjunga as a part of the circuit trekking trail - Pang Pema and Oktang at 5143 m, and 4730 m respectively. The Kanchenjunga circuit covers both bases of Kanchenjunga via the Sele Le Pass.
You can view the Kanchenjunga Trek area here
What permits are you required to carry?
Restricted Area Permit: You are required to produce this permit at the Ghunsa and Thiwa checkpoints. The permit must be arranged through a registered trekking agent only. It costs about US $10 per week and $20 per week after 4 weeks.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit (KCA/KCAP): You can get this permit yourself from the Nepal Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu. It costs about US $30 and is much easier to arrange via an agent.
You are also required to carry your original passport with at least 6 months of validity, with a few printed copies of your passport sized photo.
It is advised that you take the trek in groups of minimum two people and authorized agencies can not be avoided.
What’s the best time to trek on Kangchenjunga?
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
While the weather of Kanchenjunga remains pleasant throughout the year, the trek is best done in September to November and March to May. The teahouses that serve the purpose of camping, which is much required, are closed during the off season.
How many days does it take to complete the trek?
The most popular route takes you from the south eastern corner of Nepal at an altitude of just 70m to the base camp. It is from the base camp, that the actual trek begins. You will need to set aside 27 days for the entire trip, out of which 23 days will be spent trekking and enjoying the beauty of the mountain.
Trip duration: 27 days
Trek duration: 23 days
Will you need a guide?
According to the rules laid down, your trek must be accompanied by a registered guide. Apart from that having a guide along side you, will help you get a holistic view of the cultures you’ll be trekking through.
Try finding a guide who speaks Tibetan, Nepali and a language that you’re comfortable conversing in.
How much would the trek cost you?
Costs for the trek vary based on the package you make for yourself. The costs vary accordingly based on the following factors - the location you’re starting from, the mode of travel you take to Kathmandu, the size of your group and the guide you’re taking along.
We suggest you go through a registered agency for a package that would include your flights, a detailed itinerary, all transport when you reach, the guide, camping, meals and other services.
What safety measures do you need to take?
Image Source: Prashant Ram/Flickr
The Kanchenjunga terrain is rough and we suggest to carrying trek gear that is suited to your body type. Visiting a adventure retail store and taking expert advice while selecting your gear is highly advised. If you have any medical conditions, notify your trip planner
Pro tip: While you need to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions - from hot lowland areas to wintery mountain areas, pack as little as possible. The lighter you travel, the easier it is to trek for longer distances. The Kanchenjunga trek is certainly not for the faint hearted! Give yourself time to prepare for the trek before planning the trip.