For Something Different, Try Trekking to Kanchenjunga in Eastern Nepal

Kanchenjunga, Sikkim
Kanchenjunga, Sikkim

Want to trek around one of the highest mountains on earth? Want to be blown away by fantastic Himalayan landscapes and cultures? Want to challenge yourself on a multi-week odyssey through an ancient world? And all this without the crowds and congestion of typical Nepal treks?

Then consider trekking to Kanchenjunga at the eastern end of the Himalaya. Straddling the Nepal–India border and rising to a stunning 8,568 m (28,110 ft), Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain on Earth.

The eastern Himalaya is quite different from the central and western portions of the range, where the bulk of Nepal trekkers go. For starters, the jungle-filled valleys we trek through are more lush—a result of the greater rainfall in the east. You’ll wander past verdant grazing pastures and magnificent rhododendron forests, the striking snow-clad massif of Kanchenjunga as a backdrop to all you see.

Cheram to Tortong, Kanchenjunga region. |  <i>Michelle Landry</i>

Eastern Nepal also has several of ethnic groups that are quite different to the inhabitants of central and western Nepal, notably the Rai and Limbu people. Both of these subsistence agricultural groups have complex social systems and death rituals. They have their own religions that worship local dieties and ancestors, although their beliefs are influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. Interestingly, experts have identified 28 independent Rai languages.

The people living along our trekking routes rely on a variety of agricultural activities for income. Most are subsistence farmers and stock growers. They often terrace the sides of valleys to grow rice. Some raise yaks and sell the milk and butter, or the yaks themselves. Some rely on weaving, and the Rai are known for their expert carpet weaving.

Our trek to Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek is a three-week odyssey in the eastern end of the Himalaya, following the glacial torrent of the Tamur and Ghunsa Rivers to their source on the north west side of the Kanchenjunga Himal. Dwarfed by an alpine grandeur in almost every direction, peaks such as Pyramid Peak, Jannu, the Twins and of course Kanchenjunga dominate the setting. It is no less dramatic on our southern traverse of the mountain on the return journey by way of the Mirgin La Pass (4500m). This is a challenging trek through a region that is rarely visited.

Trekking near Kanchenjunga |  <i>Michelle Landry</i>

The Kanchenjunga Exploratory trek—also a three-week trek—is the first stage of our inaugural Great Himalaya Trail and passes through stunning mountain scenery under the immense north face of Kanchenjunga before turning towards the west where we cross the Nango La, before looping back to our starting point at Suketar.

Our Kanchenjunga treks are somewhat harder and longer than the classic Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek and the classic Annapurna circuit in terms of difficulty, but they are fully achievable by any trekker who’s interested and willing to put in the prep work.

Basking in the sun in Lhonak |  <i>Michelle Landry</i>

All our Kanchenjunga treks include three complete meals per day made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and cooked by a private cook, fully serviced wilderness camps, porters who carry all your personal and group gear, a bilingual guide, and a medical kit.

One thing you’ll notice on these Kanchenjunga treks is the low number of trekkers. Very few westerners visit the eastern Himalaya, so trekking here feels like trekking the Everest region in the 1970s. Join us soon to explore this spectacular and little-visited region of Nepal.

Nepal trekking, Kanchenjunga trekking, Kanchenjunga tour, Kanchenjunga trip, Rai people, Limbu people

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