Singalila Ridge to Kangchenjunga

  • Along the lower ridge from Sandakphu, early light - © William Mackesy
  • Mixed forest, lower ridge - © William Mackesy
  • First view of Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu - © William Mackesy
  • Sandakphu campsite - © William Mackesy
  • Sandakphu, evening light - © William Mackesy
  • Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu, evening light - © William Mackesy
  • Sandakphu, evening light - © William Mackesy
  • Sandakphu, evening light - © William Mackesy
  • Kangchenjunga from Sandakphu, early light, frosty ridgetop - © William Mackesy
  • Sandakphu, early light - © William Mackesy
  • Sandakphu, across Sikkim toward Jomolhari, early light - © William Mackesy
  • Kanchenjunga from the lower ridge trail - © William Mackesy
  • Grassy ridgetop - © William Mackesy
  • Everest group from Sabargram at dawn - © William Mackesy
  • Along the lower ridge to Kanchenjunga - © William Mackesy

Key information: Singalila Ridge to Kangchenjunga

    • A superb 20 day trek ascending through the magnificent forests of the lower Singalila Ridge, out above the treeline along the upper ridge with its outstanding views of the high Himalayas, including Everest in the distance.
    • Then cross successive ridges with ever closer views of the high peaks of the Singalila Ridge, rising to the vast, snowy bulk of Kangchenjunga (8,586m) itself. End up at the Goecha La pass, with stunning views of the heart of the massif.
    • The key middle section of this route is currently closed, so the hike cannot at present (2012) be made in its entirety.
    • This is a high, remote and very tough walk in mountains, on which you will have to be self sufficient: be prepared.


    • ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating87
  • Beauty35
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma35
  • Negative points3
  • Total rating87
  • Note: Negs: altitude

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 20 days
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,800m
  • Level of Difficulty: Difficult
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Everest group from Sabargram at dawn - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

The Singalila Ridge rises steadily form the steamy lowlands of the Indian plains the whole way to the majestic, icy vastness of Kangchenjunga, at 8,586m the world's third highest peak.

This route joins the middle section of the ridge, winding through superb high forests and banks of rhododendron and azalea, providing glimpses of the high Himalayas. As the ridge ascends, you emerge from the trees, and enjoy marvellous views, from Everest and Makalu to the west, to Kangchenjunga itself in the north-east.

This central section of the ridge is currently (2012) closed to visitors as a result of the sensitivity of the border with Nepal, which the path runs beside. PLEASE LET US KNOW IF THIS SITUATION CHANGES. Many people currently do a combination of the Lower Singalila Ridge and Goecha La.

The trail then drops off the Singalila Ridge, crossing a series of tough ridges above deep gorges, with ever closer views of the high peaks of the Singalila Ridge, rising to the huge, snowy mass of Kangchenjunga itself.

At Dzong Ri you join the popular circuit from Yuksom to your final destination, the 4,940m Goecha La pass. The views from this section of the Kangchenjunga massif, and the vast barrier of the Greater Himalayas, are stupendous.

The path then drops to the magnificent deep gorge of the Prek Chu River, climbing eventually to the snowy Goecha La, with its incredible views of Kangchenjunga. The path returns down the Prek Chu through deep, damp forest to the road head at Yukson.

You may stay in simple huts on the lower reaches of this walk, but thereafter you will need to be entirely self-sufficient until you join the popular Yuksom Circuit.

See our Kangchenjunga / Singalila page for further detailed information, including practicalities

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.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.

Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Books on this walk

Chapter in Trekking Atlas of the World – Ed. Jack Jackson;

Other books

Kangchenjunga – a Trekkers’ Guide – Kev Reynolds (Cicerone)

Maps

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. A good online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks). Also try www.mapsworldwide.com and www.trektools.com.

 

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.

Autumn (October – mid-November): cold nights, superb views.

Weather

Even in the best season, cloud comes down by late morning on most days. Start early and be prepared for long, cold afternoons in clouded campsites. Come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides.

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported to/from Yukson.

Permits are required, and can be difficult to get at the best of times: access to the upper Singalila Ridge is not ( as at 2012) permitted.

Route(s)

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See Walk Summary above.

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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·         Altitude: can affect some; potentially fatal. Acclimatize appropriately, come prepared to cope, be ready to evacuate people in extreme cases.

·         Mountain weather: cloud and cold are likely, and 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 boar, bear and stinging/biting insects. 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?

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Independent

You can do this walk independently (in theory), but you will need to be self-sufficient, so come fully prepared.

 

Guided/supported

Almost everyone will form or join organised/supported expeditions. As the route is currently (as at 2012) inaccessible, you will be unable to find organisers for such an expedition.

Classic Journeys (www.classicjourneys.co.uk) do this trek, in two separate parts, i.e. Lower Singalila and the Goecha La. Various other organisers probably do so. 

Accommodation

There are huts at strategic points along the Lower Singalila Ridge, but you may prefer to camp – and have to, in high season. You will have to camp elsewhere 

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Other information and tips

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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 this walk.

 

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Kangchenjunga from the west

Lower Singalila Ridge: often combined with To Goecha La

To Goecha La: often combined with Lower Singalila Ridge

Other activities

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). 

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

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.

Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu, evening light - © William Mackesy

OTHER ACCOUNTS
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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Mixed forest, lower ridge - © William Mackesy...
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