Kangchenjunga / Singalila
Key information: Kangchenjunga / Singalila
- The vast, snowy beauty of Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain, dominates the border between Nepal and India's Sikkim, which are divided by the high Singalila ridge. Unsurprisingly the Kangchenjunga/Singalila area has some of the world's finest trekking.
- The most exceptional route - if you have time - is to approach Kangchenjunga from Nepal along the Ghunsa Khola valley, although linking up the Lower Singalila Ridge with the trek to Goecha La is also outstanding for its combination of forests, gorges, hillsides, high pastures and mountain people, and panoramic views of some of the world's highest peaks.
- Tough, high walks in remote mountains. Come prepared.
ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!
Walkopedia rating(Top 100)
- Walkopedia rating92
- Natural interest17
- Human interest8
- Negative points5
- Total rating92
- Note: Neg: high altitude
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: 5,150m
- Level of Difficulty: Difficult
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
The vast, snowy beauty of Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain, dominates the border between Nepal and India's Sikkim, which are divided by the high Singalila Ridge. Kangchenjunga is one of the world's most beautiful - and magnificent - mountains, and, unsurprisingly, the Kangchenjunga / Singalila area has some of the world's finest trekking, with several iconic treks and a multitude of shorter walks.
Approaching from Nepal: Nepal's western approaches to Kangchenjunga's North Base Camp, and the more southerly one via the Kable Khola valley to Tseram, make for some of the world's finest (some would claim its most beautiful) high mountain trekking. Enjoy truly incredible scenery, with lovely flora and fauna and Tibetan villages lower down. The North Base Camp (at 5,150m), with its astounding position under vast snowy peaks and glaciers, is unforgetable.
An alternative is to cross the grain of the ridges to ascend the Kabelia and Simbua river valleys to the south east, up beyond Tseram, to view the great Yalung glacier and Kangchenjunga's south face - and then cross a high ridge (extraordinary panoramic views again) to Ghunsa, to follow the Ghunsa valley to North Base Camp.
People with less time can turn back from the Tseram area, for a shorter round trip.
The direct route takes days upward, the longer alternative 25 or so. The trek to the Tseram area and back should be around 2 weeks.
Singalila Ridge: This is a delightful walk through wonderful forests, gaining superb views of the high Himalayas. Wonderful flowers in spring, but the best views are in Autumn. The Singalila Ridge rises steadily from the steamy lowlans of the Indian plains to the majestic, icy vastness of Kangchenjunga. Climb up forested ridges to the lower end of the long Singalila Ridge, which you follow for a few days, then drop back to the road-head in the valleys below. You will pass teahouses and villages, but are usually above inhabited land here, while passing through high, summer grazing meadows. You can stay in simple mountain huts on this walk, or camp.
Goecha La/Zongri: The Goecha La is perched on a high ridge a mere 5km from Kangchenjunga's east face, a miraculous place of huge views and prayer flags. The 7 to 9 day trek there and back is tough, rising (steeply in places) to 4,940m.You can stop to Zongri, at around 4,000m, making for 90% of the excitement for less altitude struggle and less time (5-6 days).
Singalila to Kangchenjunga: Linking up the Lower Singalila Ridge with the trek to Goecha La by road connection is outstanding for its combination of forests, gorges, hillsides, high pastures and mountain people, panoramic views of some of the world's highest peaks and their glaciers and snowfields, and views straight into the heart of Kangchenjunga itself. The alternative option is this long, tough, marvellous but currently unavailable connecting trek, which follows the Singalila Ridge for several days before cutting across the grain of the land to meet the extraordinary views into the heart of Kangchenjunga, at Goecha La.
To Green Lake: is also a superb trek into the heart of the Kangchenjunga massif.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Kangchenjunga – a Trekkers’ Guide – Kev Reynolds (Cicerone)
Chapter in Trekking Atlas of the World – Ed. Jack Jackson, or the Singalila - Goecha La Trek.
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
Spring (April – June): you won’t get the finest views, but you will wind through whole hillsides of flowering rhododendron and azelea in the lower reaches.
Autumn (October – Nov or December depending on how high you will go): cold nights, superb views.
Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights.
Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported to/from agreed roadheads.
Check the permit position. Permits can be difficult to get at the best of times on the Singalila to Kangchenjunga walk.
See Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Altitude: can affect some; potentially fatal. Acclimatize appropriately, come prepared to cope, be ready to evacuate people in extreme cases.
- Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change rapidly. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
- Harmful animals,including snakes, stinging/biting insects and plants. Take all appropriate precautions.
- This is remote country: you will have to carry all your food and other supplies and help will be hard to get if things go wrong.
- Health risks: this is a relatively undeveloped country, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill. Come prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.
- Be sensitive about photographing people: don’t without permission. Ask permission if in doubt about whether they would mind.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
You can in theory do some of these walks independently, but you will need to be self-sufficient, so come fully prepared.
While some of these walks can in theory be done independently, most people form or join organised/supported expeditions.
www.greatwalks.net does the “long” route from the west in around 18 days’ walking.
www.kanchenjungatrekking.com does a 2week trek to the Tseram area.
www.himalayanglacier.com does the “long” route from the west in 25 days walking.
www.themountaincompany.co.uk do a “full monty” of both North Base Camp and the Tseram area.
Explore! - www.explore.co.uk - reputable and experienced organisers.
Classic Journeys do this walk – including in combination with the Groecha la trek – www.classicjourneys.co.uk
Very little, generally: camping is the norm. Check the situation for your intended trek.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
·www.wikipedia.org: As usual, a good starting place.
·Try www.flickr.com for pictures of these walks.
Other things to do in the area
Shopping, if you must
We are not a shopping website. But, there are beautiful and interesting things to be found, and anything bought from local people must be of some help to this desperately poor area. So, wallets out! (And don’t try to extract the very last cent when bargaining)
COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS
Posted on: 01/05/2008
I just adored the walk to Goecha la. It was my most favourite walk whilst visiting India.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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