One of the most challenging and remote treks, you get close up views of Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain that lies on Nepal's eastern border with Sikkim. It is a beautiful, unspoilt and remote area where you see some of the most impressive mountain scenery in the world. Kanchenjunga means 'five great treasure houses of snow' in Tibetan.
Starting with one of the most scenic flights to Suketar, you trek on trails used only by the local people, passing Rai and Limbu villages and pristine forests to South Face Base Camp at Ramche (4360m). Crossing to the northern side of Kanchenjunga, you make an unforgettable glacial excursion around Ramche.
Trek Grade: Kanchenchunga South Face Base Camp Trek is a Grade 4 trek involving maximum altitudes around 5143m and involves days of up to 7-8 hours walking.
|Day 1||Fly from Kathmandu to Suketar (2420m), trek to Lalikharka (2265m, 4 hrs)|
|Day 2||Trek to Khesewa (2120m, 5-6 hrs)|
|Day 3||Trek to Mamankhe (1785m, 6-7 hrs)|
|Day 4||Trek to Yamphudin (2080m, 3-4 hrs)|
|Day 5||Trek to Torontan (2995m, 5-6 hrs)|
|Day 6||Trek to Cheram (3870m, 4-5 hrs)|
|Day 7||Cheram: Acclimatization and Rest|
|Day 8||Cheram to Ramchaur (Ramche) (4580m, 2-3 hrs)|
|Day 9||Ramchaur (Ramche) to Yalung Base Camp (4500m, 7-8 hrs), back to Cheram|
|Day 10||Cheram to Sele La (4290m, 6-7 hrs)|
|Day 11||Trek to Ghunsa (3595m, 5-6 hrs)|
|Day 12||Trek to Kambachen (4050m, 5-6 hrs)|
|Day 13||Trek to Lhonak (4780m, 4-5 hrs)|
|Day 14||Trek to Kanchenjunga Base Camp, overnight at Pangpema (5143m, 3-4 hrs)|
|Day 15||Pangpema to Lhonak (4780m, 4-5 hrs)|
|Day 16||Lhonak to Ghunsa (3475m, 7-8 hrs)|
|Day 17||Ghunsa to Amjilosa (2,308m, 7-8 hrs)|
|Day 18||Amjilosa to Chirwa (1,270m, 5-6 hrs)|
|Day 19||Chirwa to Phurumbu (1,549m, 4 hrs)|
|Day 20||Phurumbu to Suketar (3 hrs)|
|Day 21||Fly to Kathmandu|
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail condRead More...
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail conditions. The guide in charge of your trip may have to alter the schedule if necessary and any such changes are at the discretion of Royal Mountain Travel and your guide.
The trekking day
Your day starts with a wake-up call, followed by breakfast and baggage pickup. You are then driven to the start point of your trek. While trekking, your day starts with breakfast at the tea house where you are staying. You need to pack up your baggage before breakfast as porters usually set off early.
Normally you are on the trail by 8 am and stop for a leisurely lunch around noon, with the chance to stop along the way for short breaks. Lunchtime usually lasts a couple of hours to give you time to relax or to explore the village where you have stopped. The afternoon walk is shorter and you can expect to arrive around 4 pm to allow time for short excursions to nearby sites, monasteries, exploration of the village or for relaxing with a book or catching up on your diary. Dinner is generally around, 7 pm.
Everyone walks at different speeds and you should always go at the pace that is comfortable for you. The grade of the trek is only an approximate indication of what to expect, based on the altitude and the hours of walking per day. In general, the condition of trails is good as these are the main routes between villages.
What you carry?
Each porter carries 15kg so you should pack 7.5 kgs of baggage, sharing one porter between two persons. These things will not be available to you during the day as the porters usually leave early and do not walk with you. Your daypack should contain all that you need during the day. This should consist of warm clothes for when you stop, a water bottle, camera, sunscreen, lip salve and maybe waterproofs depending on when you’re trekking. Your guide will let you know each evening about any extra items you might need for the following day. You should take a comfortable daypack to carry just a few kilograms of things you need along the way.
Food and drink
No meals are included in your trek. These are available in tea houses, lodges and bhattis that may sometimes have quite limited menus. There are a lot of tea houses and lodges along the way while you are trekking. Meals are generally simple but filling, but you may wish to stock up on ‘trail munchies’ before leaving Kathmandu or Pokhara. Although mineral water in plastic bottles can be found along the way in many places, you should try to avoid using this. Plastic bottles are a serious problem on the trekking routes as there is no way to dispose of them. Instead, you should use water purification tablets, a water filter or ask for boiled water at the lodges. It is a good idea to bring a heat resistant, a water bottle which can double up as a hot water bottle when you go to bed at night too!
It is not recommended to drink alcohol at altitudes above 3,000m or so, where altitude sickness can start to have an effect.
Accommodation is in lodges and teahouses and is of a basic standard. Rooms may be twin or multi-share with basic shared toilet facilities. Hot showers are available in some places for a small charge. It is a good idea to pack wet-wipes to freshen up, especially useful when you reach high altitudes where the water can be very cold. It is not recommended to wash your hair when you are at higher altitudes and where the outside air is cold, as you run the risk of getting a chill when your wet hair takes a long time to dry.
Lodges usually have a common room where later in the day, when people start to arrive from their day’s trek there might be a stove that is lit to keep warm. Bedrooms, however, are not heated. The lodges provide clean bedding, but you may want to pack a sheet sleeping bag for peace of mind.
The main means of transport are on foot, or in some cases by horse, with mules or donkeys sometimes carrying baggage. On most trekking routes, your baggage will be carried by the porters. You should ensure that anything you might need during the day is in your day pack as you will not see the baggage that is being carried again until the end of each day.
You will be provided with government licensed, experienced trek guided assisted by the porters who transport your baggage with one porter for every two trekkers. The guide is in overall charge of the trek and looks after you. This is the person you should go to with any problems, concerns or questions. Our guides are highly trained in all aspects of trekking, conservation, high altitude medicine, first-aid and emergency procedures. They are professionals selected for their knowledge and passion for Nepal and its peoples. However, you should remember that they are local guides and their English may sometimes be quite basic and limited to trek related topics. Usually, porters will have a more basic understanding of English. Please try to speak slowly and clearly to make communication easier.
Trek grading and preparation
It is impossible to have a ‘foolproof’ grading system as everyone has different expectations and perceptions of their own fitness level. Remember that no trek in the Himalaya is a stroll as all involve going up and down, often at altitude. Altitude affects everyone differently, and even if it has not affected you much before, each time can be quite different in how it affects you.
Regardless of age or fitness, preparation, before you arrive, is a good idea. Aerobic activity, swimming, cycling or brisk walking is recommended or, at the very least, walking up and down stairs in your trekking boots to be sure that they fit well and are comfortable. Try to use hiking boots that you have already broken in to avoid blisters. Remember that the trek should be fun and you should go at your own pace.
It is best to bring cash in major currencies such as the US, Canadian or Australian dollars, Euros, or Pounds. Ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations. Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide, we suggest about USD 8 – 10 per meal in Kathmandu and Pokhara and USD 30 – 35 per day whilst trekking. If you drink or smoke you need to allow a bit more.
You should exchange enough money into Nepalese Rupees to last the entire time of your trek before leaving Kathmandu. You can find the money exchange counters near your hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara but there are no exchange facilities in villages along the way.
Communication: mobile phones and internet
Please note, as you will be often trekking through valleys and will not always be close to mobile towers, mobile phone reception can be very patchy. NCELL, the local mobile company has quite good coverage, but sometimes the signal can be very weak. Usually, lodges have powerpoint’s to recharge your mobile, although this sometimes can be at an extra charge.
Tipping is a personal and voluntary matter and is not included in the trip price. If you wish to reward the efforts of those who have worked to make your trek the best they can, we suggest the following: USD 4 per day for groups of 8+, USD 5 per day for smaller groups which will be shared amongst the whole staff, including porters.
Travel insurance is not included in the trip price. It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation (including helicopter evacuation) and personal liability. We also recommend that it covers cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Be careful to check the small print of your insurance regarding altitude as some policies only provide cover up to 2000m.
There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal. Your health condition must be sound as you will be climbing to above 4000m. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Nepal. Be aware that some drugs, including anti-malarial, have side effects at altitude. Please discuss this carefully with your doctor.
Please be aware that you will be in remote areas and away from medical facilities for some time during this trip. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses)
AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. The way to reduce the effects of altitude is to ascend slowly, 300 meters per day above 3,000 meters until you have acclimatized. Poor acclimatization can result in headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing and swelling of fingers and glands. The only cure for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude and your guide’s decision on this matter is final. There is a possibility of AMS in any trek that passes through altitudes above 4000 meters.
Although our routes are carefully planned to allow proper acclimatization you may feel some effects of altitude for the first few days or at higher altitudes. Breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease as your body adjusts. Maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.
Variation of climate is directly proportional to the altitude. For this trekking, trekking routes are often passed through a range of altitudes from 850m upwards. Between, about 2700m and 3000m a cool temperate climate prevails, and you should expect a cool summer and very cold temperatures in the winter. Above 3000m, even if the daytime is sunny and quite warm, the temperature will drop sharply as soon as the sun goes down.
The weather in the mountains is notoriously changeable, so always be prepared for a change in conditions and note that if severe or dangerous weather conditions occur your guide’s decision on any course of action is final.
Trekking permits are required for almost all treks and will be obtained by Royal Mountain Travel. The Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) is essential for the record of Nepal Tourism Board keeping in mind about probable hazards to occur. You need to provide your full name, nationality, home address, passport number, sex, date of birth and 2 photographs for each permit. Royal Mountain Travel also pays any fees required for entry to national parks, conservation areas or restricted areas.
Packing for your trek
You will need to bring a comfortable medium sized daypack to carry the things you will need during the day. This should have a waist strap or (better) a padded waist belt.
You should limit your baggage to about 7kg. You will find the following items useful.
Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.
Fly from Kathmandu to Suketar (2420m), trek to Lalikharka (2265m, 4 hrs)
After catching an early morning flight to Suketar in the east of Nepal, you start your trek to Lalikharka passing through lush green forests. The trail starts to climb gently up Surke Danda through a rhododendron forest. Crossing a ridge at 2580m, the trail branches north to Pathibhara temple, a pilgrimage site for Hindus. The trail descends and contours around the hillside to Lalikharka where there are a few lodges.
Trek to Khesewa (2120m, 5-6 hrs)
You pass the Limbu village of Tembewa and climb to a ridge. The trail then descends steeply through a couple of villages to a suspension bridge which you cross, climbing back up steeply to Kunjari, another Limbu village (1700m). Looping around to Sinchebu Bhanjyang, this is a Gurung village with several bhattis where the locals can drink tea (or raksi). From here, there are good views of Kanchenchunga and Kyabru. You have now entered the Kabeli Valley. You descend from here to Khesewa, a village that is scattered across the mountainside.
Trek to Mamankhe (1785m, 6-7 hrs)
After breakfast, you cross the Nadewa Khola and a landslide area to reach Phundruwa. Traversing to Yangpang, you continue up through a forest, past a big waterfall and down the valley to a ridge where you see two shops (1850m) before dropping down to Phumphe village (1780m). You then descend steeply through rice terraces and cross the Khalsewa Khola on a long suspension bridge. You climb up to Mamankhe, a prosperous Limbu village with a number of shops and a big school.
Trek to Yamphudin (2080m, 3-4 hrs)
Though today is quite a short day, you go mostly uphill on a trail following the Kabeli Khola. Yamphudin is at the junction of two rivers. It is a mixed community of Sherpas, Limbus, Rais and Gurungs. There is a Kanchenchunga Conservation Area check post where your entrance permit is checked.
Trek to Torontan (2995m, 5-6 hrs)
Climbing through bamboo and going through a forest of pine and rhododendron, you pass a pond and reach a ridge. Here you can see across to the Taplejung road far below. You descend through the forest and emerge above the Simbua Khola. Crossing the river, you reach Torontan.
Trek to Cheram (3870m, 4-5 hrs)
Starting in a deep forest, you cross a number of landslides to reach Tsento Kang, a goth (3360m). After another hour you reach a Buddhist shrine that is found in a cave. Climbing to Cheram, you see a large house in a meadow. You have Tuplung peak for the company for the most part of today’s journey.
Cheram: Acclimatization and Rest
You have a day here to help you acclimatize to the high altitude. There is a good a viewpoint for Kabaru and Rathong peaks. You can spend the day resting or exploring the areas around the Yalung Glacier.
Cheram to Ramchaur (Ramche) (4580m, 2-3 hrs)
You climb through forest to a landslide area, passing a mani walls and a stone house and climb along the side of the Yalang Glacier. The valley opens as you approach the glacier and you may see yaks in the high pastures. You pass a lake at Lapsang (4430m) and then walk through a high meadow at Ramche (4620m).
Ramchaur (Ramche) to Yalung Base Camp (4500m, 7-8 hrs), back to Cheram
Following the stream by the moraine, you bear right to climb onto the moraine. There is a chorten and from here you have a magnificent view of Kanchenjunga’s southern face. A little further and you can admire Jannu Himal. Climbing the rough moraine you continue towards Oktang Monastery and up to reach the Yalung Base Camp. The views from here are impressive: Kumbakarna (Jannu), Nyukla Lachung and other Himalayan peaks all seem very close. You return down to Cheram.
Cheram to Sele La (4290m, 6-7 hrs)
A strenuous day today, you cross four passes starting with Sinelapche Bhanjyang (4645m) and continue to the Mirgin La pass (4663m). The Sinion La pass (4660m)is not very far and finally, you ascend the Sele La pass (4290m). There are prayer flags strung across one of the steeper sections of the trail which is very near to the Sele La pass.
Trek to Ghunsa (3595m, 5-6 hrs)
Heading northwards you reach a chorten marked by prayer flags where the trail descends steeply through rhododendron, birch and pine forests to Ghunsa. This beautiful village has houses with dark and weathered pine walls that are decorated by Buddhist prayer flags. Gunsa is a Tibetan village with a tiny gompa. Here you can try the local ‘tongba,’ an alcoholic beverage made from fermented millet.
Trek to Kambachen (4050m, 5-6 hrs)
From Ghunsa, you continue north along the river, accompanied by magnificent mountain scenery. You pass meadows filled with beautiful wildflowers and go through rhododendron and pine forests. Crossing a bridge at Rampuk Kharka, you continue past a waterfall and cross the tricky section of a landslide area. You then see a spectacular view of Mt. Jannu.
Trek to Lhonak (4780m, 4-5 hrs)
Another challenging day and you start early today, first trekking through rocky fields and passing large boulders on the hillside, going along the river to reach a waterfall. You cross a bridge to reach Ramtang monastery. Taking care over a landslide section you descend to the river and finally arrive at Lhonak.
Trek to Kanchenjunga Base Camp, overnight at Pangpema (5143m, 3-4 hrs)
From Lhonak, you trek towards Kanchenjunga Base Camp (4950m) following the trail alongside the gigantic Kanchenjunga Glacier. After you pass Pangpema, you reach Kanchenjunga Base Camp. Here the views to Mt. Kanchenjunga, Jannu Himal and other Himalayan peaks are extraordinary. You descend back to Pangpema to spend the night.
Pangpema to Lhonak (4780m, 4-5 hrs)
From Pangpema you retrace back your steps down to Lhonak.
Lhonak to Ghunsa (3475m, 7-8 hrs)
From Lhonak, you descend all the way to Ghunsa via Kambache.
Ghunsa to Amjilosa (2,308m, 7-8 hrs)
From Ghunsa you go down towards Phale passing several mini walls and a monastery. Walking through juniper forests to reach Phale, from here it is a steady descent to Gyabla. Crossing a bridge over Chhundatangka Khola you pass a waterfall and then cross a suspension bridge over Sumbung Khola before reaching Amjilosa.
Amjilosa to Chirwa (1,270m, 5-6 hrs)
Passing a waterfall and then the small settlement of Solima, you cross a suspension bridge over Ghunsa Khola. You cross another suspension bridge before reaching Sukathum. Your trail now passes several villages beside Thunsa Khola before you reach Chirwa.
Chirwa to Phurumbu (1,549m, 4 hrs)
As you get lower you see larger villages. Your trail is now going through much more lush vegetation. You pass several villages before reaching Sinwa where you continue your descent to a bridge over the Sisne Khola. This is now on the Pathibhara Trek trail. Passing another village and crossing another suspension bridge, you finally reach Phurumbu.
Phurumbu to Suketar (3 hrs)
Our Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek ends today. You finish your walk on the Pathibhara Trek trail and take a much-needed rest after reaching Suketar.
Fly to Kathmandu
Flying back to Kathmandu in the morning, you have the rest of the day free. You might like to try out one of the many cooking classes or workshops on offer, go for some more sightseeing or do some last minute shopping.