Standing on the border of India and Nepal is Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. The sight of the first rays of the sun falling on its peaks is an astounding sight to behold.
What a beauty! It is popularly considered to be a holy mountain. Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek Route is one of the most off-the-beaten and less-touristic treks in Nepal. The Kanchenjunga region is located in Beyul.
The Beyul is a sacred valley tucked in nature founded by the famous Buddhist monk, Padmasambhava.
The best way to explore the beauty of the Kanchenjunga region is by undertaking the adventurous Kanchenjunga circuit trek. It covers both the South camp and Northern base camp of Kanchenjunga and allows trekkers to explore the surreal beauty of the place.
Quick Facts about Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek
- Kanchenjunga North Base Camp Altitude: 5,143 meters
- Kanchenjunga South Base Camp Altitude: 4,780 meters
- Highest Altitude: 5,143 meters
- Number of Days: 25-27 days
- Required Permits: Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit, Protected Area Permit
- Difficulty Level: Fairly Hard
- Trekking Starting Point: Taplejung
- Trekking Ending Point: Taplejung
- Type of trek: Combination of local tea house and camping
- Required number of people for the trek: 2 minimum
Trekking into Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
The Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek is the amalgamation of the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek north and the Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek south. This trek allows tourists to explore the attractions of both these camps. Usually, this trek starts from the southern base camp route and slowly approaches the northern camp of Kanchenjunga. While exploring both routes, there's a third route, called the Mirgin La pass, at an altitude of 4480 m.
The Kanchenjunga trek takes about 25-27 days to be completed. Trekkers have to cover most of the journey on foot. While trekking the Kanchenjunga, one can enjoy spectacular views of other Himalayan ranges namely, Nuptse, Lhotse, Everest, and so on. The entire trek area falls under the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, a protected area rich in flora and fauna. The Kanchenjunga Conservation Area consists of varied ecosystems, ranging from Alpine grasslands to subtropical forests. Therefore, there are high chances of witnessing rare species of plants and animals while trekking along the route.
Animals that are often seen in this area are snow leopards, red panda, boar, black bear, musk deer, and many more. Similarly, there are different kinds of vegetative plants that are hardly seen anywhere else. The entire trekking journey presents a unique blend of adventure, local food, untouched nature, mountain panorama, and the Sherpa culture.
Best season for Kanchenjunga Trek
Not every month of a year is ideal to opt for the daring and challenging Kanchenjunga trek. If you are willing to experience this unforgettable journey, consider the period between October and November and March and May.
The period between October and November is the most preferred time among trekkers willing to undertake this journey because it's neither too hot nor too cold during that time. The sky remains clear in this period. It's a pleasant time of the year that brings out most of what this journey has to offer.
Trekkers must avoid planning between late May and late September because the monsoon period continues, making trekking highly risky and dangerous, and sometimes impossible. In fact, during the monsoons, people of that region shift southwards and accommodations and hotels mostly remain closed in the mountains. Trekkers will have a tough time getting a suitable place to stay during the monsoons.
The spring season between the months of April and May is the next best time when one can opt for this journey. This period enhances the beauty of the Kanchenjunga area as beautiful flowers like the Rhododendrons blooms to the fullest in a variety of shades. The aesthetics of the place simply gets better in the spring. The weather is expected to remain hot and humid at lower altitudes. But as you climb up the mountains, you would be blessed with surreal views of the mountains and skies.
Permits required for the Kanchenjunga trek
To enter the restricted Kanchenjunga conservation area, every trekker needs to have a permit. The permits are issued by the Immigration Department. Trekkers must apply through an authentic trekking company. At least two trekkers and a guide are needed to apply for a permit. Your authorized travel agency will apply for the permit beforehand to ensure you have it before undertaking the journey. The permit is valid for two weeks. It usually costs USD 30 per week. One also needs to get a Protected Area Permit for this trek. This permit costs USD 30.
How to reach the spot?
The Kanchenjunga trek starts from Taplejung, which is close to the Suketar airport. Hence, a lot of trekkers fly to Suketar from Kathmandu and drive to the meeting point. You can also fly to Bhadrapur and then reach Taplejung.
Since the Suketar airport is located at a high altitude, flights are often canceled due to adverse weather conditions. Therefore, tourists are advised to reach Bhadrapur and then drive to Taplejung, especially if their schedule is packed. To reach Taplejung from Bhadrapur, one can take the local buses available or book a private jeep.
If the travelers have enough time, another option could be to drive to Taplejung from Kathmandu and return the same way after the trek. This route offers a scenic drive enjoying the view of the vibrant landscape, lush forests, green meadows, terraced fields, rivers, lakes, and picturesque towns and villages. Although this mode of traveling requires a total of two more extra days for both ways, it is ideal for travelers who love long road trips and will also help you save extra costs if you are traveling in a group.
The difficulty level of the Kanchenjunga trek
Trekking the Kanchenjunga range is not everyone's cup of tea. This is definitely a tough trek and would pose a lot of challenges. But if you have the right spirit and determination, this trek would give you a lifetime of experiences and unforgettable memories.
The elevation of the Kanchenjunga range spans from 200 meters to 5,143 meters. Therefore, the weather, temperature, humidity, and air pressure are extremely unstable and hard to predict. There are a few tips that every trekker must be aware of before starting this journey. Also, if they follow certain basic rules this trek wouldn't be too difficult. The best part is trekkers do not require any previous trekking experience or mountaineering skill.
However, some people might suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness while trekking. To prevent this from happening, we suggest the trekkers to participate in outdoor activities like hiking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and other physical activities. Before undertaking this trek, it also could be ideal to take a thorough health checkup and consult with your doctor about your health and fitness position.
What is a typical day like in Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek?
A typical day in Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek starts with a warm cup of tea/coffee and a healthy breakfast prepared from fresh food grown in the garden of the teahouse. After that, we will pack our things and hit the trail. We usually hike for 6-7 hours depending upon the route, trekkers, weather, speed, and other factors. We will be trekking through the off-the-beaten-track enjoying the tranquility of nature. This experience is truly surreal and it feels like the whole world belongs to you. In between the hike, we will stop by for lunch.
After a fulfilling lunch, we will make our way to another stop. We will click pictures and stop by where the view is astounding that one must stay for a while to admire it. After that, we will reach the tea house where we will enjoy the dinner that comforts the long day we had. We will also get opportunities to interact with the locals here. After dinner, we will discuss the whereabouts of the next day.
As there isn’t much to do during this time, the travelers can enjoy some quality alone time by reading books, enjoying the night scenery, journaling, or others. Since we had a long journey and will follow a similar schedule the next day as well, we will get to bed early as good sleep is very important.
Note: Somedays we might walk a little more a little less to capture mesmerizing views of certain areas, and sunsets or wake up a little early to enjoy the sunrise.
How much does the Kanchenjunga trek cost?
Tourists who are willing to take part in the Kanchenjunga trek must have an average idea of the expenses beforehand. Mode of transportation, accommodation, group size, additional activities, services, and facilities are some of the factors that matter for the cost of the trek. We have given a rough account of what kind of expenses tourists are likely to incur during this journey.
In Kathmandu, a wide range of accommodations from 5-star resorts, and standard hotels, to comfortable guesthouses, budget lodges, and homestays are available. In Bhadrapur, we can find hotels with air conditioning and other amenities. However, from Taplejung onwards, only tea houses with basic facilities are available. Since Kanchenjunga lies in a remote and isolated region, we really cannot expect modern facilities and luxuries.
Similarly, the travelers can also choose to do a camping trek from Taplejung onwards but since it requires extra manpower and other materials, it requires additional cost.
Note: We suggest the travelers carry their own sleeping bag during the trek whether it is tea house accommodation or a camping trek.
Tourists will have to select a suitable trekking company for this trek. Tourists will be under their guidance throughout. Most of the arrangements are done by the company. Different companies offer different package rates. The package includes expenses related to accommodation, service, transport, and food.
If you have chosen an expensive package, intending to get the best accommodation and food, you must do your research properly before booking and making the payment.
Your personal costs such as laundry, dining, tips, shopping, flight costs, etc. are not included in the package. During the trek, drinking water, hot showers, and snacks while trekking is not included as well. Hence, your personal expenses will also depend on the cost of the trip. Make sure you have them ready before hitting the trails! Also, don't forget to carry extra cash with you for emergencies.
What kind of food to expect on the Kanchenjunga Trek?
A lot of people might wonder about the kind of food they will get during this journey. If you too are anxious about that, you have come to the right place. Go through the list below to know what kind of food can you expect in a day.
During the trek, usually Nepali, Indian, Continental, Tibetan, and a few Western and Local cuisines are available. You cannot expect a wide variety of dishes but the teahouses there prepare meals from fresh and organic vegetables/grains from their garden which do not consist of harmful toxins and are full of nutrients.
If you are doing tea house trek with Himalayan trekkers, our team has a long experience of this destination so to make the trek easier and offer you more choices, our experienced guide will carry some food supplements along with him.
Tea and Coffee are available all time while in this journey. Soft drinks like Fanta and coke are also available in most of the places. A drink that you must try during the trek is Tibetan Tea. It is prepared using butter, salt and milk. Alcoholic beverages are available during the trek.
Regarding the drinking water, bottled water is available during the lower parts of the trek, but as you trek forwards, boiled Himalayan Spring water is available. You can also carry filtration tools and filter them by yourself.
People, culture, and lifestyle in Kanchenjunga Region
Interacting with the local people of Nepal and its various settlements is also an interesting aspect of this Kanchenjunga trek. This region is not only rich in natural beauty but also in cultural diversity. The original inhabitants of this region are Lepcha and Limbu. But we can also find Tamang, Sherpa, and Rai inhabitants. Animism is highly followed in this region. One can also experience the true Tibetan culture and traditions after reaching Gyabla, a Tibetan settlement.
Farming is one of the main occupations of the people of this region. While going to Ghunsa, trekkers will come across innumerable wheat, barley, potatoes, and buckwheat plantations. One can also see how terrace farming is being done on the slopes of the mountains. Similarly, people are also involved in the hospitality and service sector for livelihood. The entire journey is filled with so much to see, learn and experience.
Essentials to carry on Kanchenjunga Trek
It's extremely important for every trekker to carry appropriate clothing, medicines, and other essentials on this trek. Here's a list of all essential items that trekkers are advised to keep throughout this journey.
People are advised to carry a pair of trekking boots from home. These boots are so important that they can make or break your trek. Make sure they are durable and waterproof. We advise people to carry them from home so that they can pick the right size and be comfortable throughout the journey. If you wear the ones given by the agencies, the boots might not fit your size and you might not get a firm grip to climb rocky trails. This causes extreme inconvenience and obviously ruins your trekking experience.
Since this trek requires people to climb high altitudes, it's best to wear layers of woolen items to stay warm. Make sure to wear thermal innerwear for an extra layer of warmth. So, it's important to wear items that will absorb the sweat from your skin. Important clothing to carry includes:
- Hiking socks
- Trekking shirt and pants
- Fleece vest and jacket
- Down jacket
First Aid Kit
Your personal guide would carry a first aid kit but it's still advisable to carry your own kit. The injuries people might face while trekkings is sunburn and sprained ankles. Therefore, pack your first aid kit accordingly. If you are under medication, carry your medicines and take them from time to time. Apart from these, every trekker must carry the following items listed below:
- Imodium for indigestion
- Rehydration salts
- Antiseptic creams
- Bandages: Handiplast, Elastoplast
Why Choose the Kanchenjunga Trek Over any other Trek?
If you are an adventurous lover and love to take challenges, this Kanchenjunga trek would definitely satisfy your soul. Keeping in mind the various things this trek offers; it is a complete package.
This trek has a different essence altogether. From indulging in rich Tibetan cultures and traditions to witnessing such varied flora and fauna, you would be mesmerized. Photographers would definitely find it hard to resist capturing the views. For them, it would be really difficult to put their camera down because each of the sights, be it the forests of the subtropical range or the beauty of the mountain pass, are worth capturing. When the trek comes to an end after 22 days, trekkers leave the mountain with a heavy heart, though filled with experiences and memories. That's the beauty of this trek!
The Kanchenjunga circuit trek is truly worth your efforts, investment, and time. This is one of the highest treks around the globe. It takes you through the pristine mountain ranges of the Himalayas, besides giving you a glimpse of what mountain life is. The entire route remains covered in snow for the most part of the year. If you love to travel and are looking for an unforgettable experience, you must consider the Kanchenjunga trekking experience.