Kangchenjunga from Nepal
Key information: Kangchenjunga from Nepal
- Steady ascent up long valleys, through beautiful rice terraces, then virgin forest, before emerging to outstanding mountain scenery: snowy Himalayan giants, glaciers, monstrous cliffs and deep valleys all around.
- The final 3 day trek up to the Kangchenjunga base camp, surrounded by magnificent peaks, is outstanding, with the final view of the great snowy massif one of the finest to be found anywhere.
- This is a high, remote and tough walk in remote mountains in which you will have to be self-sufficient: come prepared.
ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!
- Walkopedia rating88
- Natural interest16
- Human interest6
- Negative points5
- Total rating88
- Note: Neg: altitude
- Length: 14-25 days
- Maximum Altitude: 5,150m
- Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Nepal's western approaches to Kangchenjunga's North Base Camp, and the more southerly ones via the Kabeli Khola valley to Tseram make for some of the world's finest (some would claim its most beautiful) high mountain trekking, with the huge advantage of relative remoteness compared to Nepal's most popular treks.
Enjoy truly incredible scenery, with lovely flora and fauna and Tibetan villages lower down.
The more direct westerly approach to North Base Camp
Assume 20 days (upward) walking for the round trip, starting in warm inhabited foothills before dropping into the Tamur and then Ghunsa valleys, which you follow the whole way up to the North Base Camp. It is gruelling in places, in a deep gorge with endless climbs from and drops back to the river and the travails of the increasing altitude. The transition to the Tibetan world is made, and the villages peter out at Khambachen, where the real visual fireworks begin. From here on it is a series of glorious views of snowy peaks, massive rock faces and countless glaciers. The North Base Camp (at 5,150m), with its astounding position under vast snowy peaks and glaciers, is unforgettable.
An alternative is to cross the grain of the ridges (initially through some of Nepal's most beautiful farmland, with huge rice terraces) to ascend the Kabeli and Simbua river valleys to the south east beyond Tseram, to view the great Yalung glacier and Kangchenjunga's south face and the high Singalila Ridge and then cross a high ridge via the Mirgin La at 4,570m (extraordinary panoramic views again) to Ghunsa, to follow the Ghunsa valley to North Base Camp. This is a tough proposition, but provides some astounding views.
People with less time can stop at Tseram, for a shorter round trip. (This trail to Tseram is "Trek 3" in the Cicerone.)
This longer route takes around 25 days. The trek to the Tseram area and back should be around 2 weeks.
See our Kangchenjunga/Singalila page for further information
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.
See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Kangchenjunga – A Travellers Guide – Kev Reynolds (Cicerone) – a must have.
Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya – Lonely Planet
Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail: A Route and Planning Guide – Robin Boustead/Trailblazer
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
March to May, September to early November.
Spring: you won’t get the finest views, but these are the best times for flowers.
Autumn (October – November): 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
Check position on permits: needed as of early 2012.
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, 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?
While this walk can in theory be done independently, almost everyone forms or joins organised/supported expeditions.
· www.greatwalks.net does the “long” route in around 18 days walking.
· www.kanchenjungatrekking.com does a 2 week trek to the Tseram area.
· www.himalayanglacier.com does the “long” route in 25 days walking.
· www.themountaincompany.co.uk do a “full monty” of both north base camp and the Tseram area.
· Happy Feet Travels Ltd. – http://www.happyfeetmountaineers.com
Very little accommodation anywhere. Assume you will have to camp throughout, except at the very start/end.
Hostelbookers usually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation.
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.
Other things to do in the area
Singalila to Kangchenjunga
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 poor area. So, wallets out! (And don’t try to extract the very last cent when bargaining…).
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.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more