Everything You Need to Know About Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

2022-11-09 | Published By: Bold Himalaya

Discover the Ultimate Adventure: Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

A Journey Through the Majestic Nepal Himalayas

  • Overview: The Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek, also known as the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek, is one of the most spectacular treks in the Nepal Himalayas. This trek includes visits to both the south and north base camps of Mount Kanchenjunga.
  • Geographical Highlights: The trekking trails run along Nepal's mountainous borders with Tibet and India. At 8,586 meters, Mount Kanchenjunga is the third-highest peak in the world.

Location and Historical Significance

  • Eastern Nepal: Kanchenjunga is situated on the extreme eastern edge of Nepal, near the border with Sikkim, a small Himalayan state in northeastern India.
  • Historical Perspective: Until the mid-19th century, Kanchenjunga was believed to be the tallest mountain in the world. The region was off-limits to trekkers until the mid-1980s.

Permits and Conservation

  • Special Permits Required: A special trekking permit is required because the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area protects this region.
  • Conservation Efforts: These restrictions help preserve the area's stunning and unique flora and fauna in their pristine condition.

The Trekking Experience

  • Challenging Adventure: The Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek is challenging but offers the best way to explore the natural splendor of the region.
  • Breathtaking Beauty: Trekkers can experience the surreal beauty of the region by covering both the Southern and Northern base camps of Kanchenjunga.

Embark on the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek for an unparalleled adventure through some of the most remote and breathtaking landscapes in the Nepal Himalayas.

Highlights of the Kanchenjunga Trek: Key Information for Trekkers

Kanchenjunga North Base Camp Altitude

  • Altitude: 5,143 meters

Kanchenjunga South Base Camp Altitude

  • Altitude: 4,780 meters

Highest Altitude Reached

  • Altitude: 5,143 meters

Trek Duration

  • Average Number of Days: 19-23 days

Required Permits

  • Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit
  • Protected (Restricted) Area Permit

Difficulty Level

  • Level: Fairly difficult

Trekking Route

  • Starting Point: Taplejung
  • Ending Point: Taplejung

Trekking Experience

  • Type of Trek: Combination of local tea house and camping with minimal services

Explore the beauty and challenge of the Kanchenjunga trek, a journey that promises stunning landscapes and a true adventure.

Highlights of the Kanchenjunga Trek: Key Experiences for Trekkers

    Explore the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area and Beyond

    Kanchenjunga is one of Nepal's most isolated and under-explored locations, offering pristine natural beauty free from human misuse. This untouched wilderness ensures that you'll feel a sense of awe throughout your entire journey. Additionally, you’ll encounter various unique animals, plants, and trees that you wouldn't see elsewhere.

    Discover Diverse Cultural and Ethnic Communities

    Trekking through the Kanchenjunga region allows you to experience its rich cultural and historical heritage. The lower part of the region is home to the Rai, Gurung, and Limbu groups, as well as the Brahmin and Chhetri communities. In the higher parts, you'll find warm-hearted Sherpas who adhere to Tibetan culture and way of life. Explore nearby villages and engage with locals to learn about their traditional lifestyles.

    Enjoy Views of Magnificent Mountains

    The Kanchenjunga region offers spectacular views of Nepal's four largest mountains:

    • Lhotse (8,516m)
    • Everest (8,848m)
    • Kanchenjunga (8,586m)
    • Makalu (8,481m)

    In addition to these peaks, the area features beautiful valleys such as Tamor Valley, Ghunsa, Ramche, Lhonak, and Khambachen. Notable glaciers in the region include the Tso, Nyukla, Ramdung, and Kumbhakarna Kanchenjunga Glaciers. The Kanchenjunga trek is a must for anyone looking to appreciate this incredible region's natural sights and surroundings fully.

Best Time to Trek in the Kanchenjunga Region: Optimal Seasons and Conditions

Optimal Trekking Seasons

For the best trekking experience in the Kanchenjunga region, plan your trip from mid-October to late November or early March to mid-May. During these periods, you’ll experience the region's most favorable weather conditions, making your trek more enjoyable and less challenging.

Avoid the Rainy Season

Trekking from late May to late September is particularly challenging due to the rainy season. Heavy rains can make trails slippery and difficult to navigate, increasing the risk of landslides and other hazards.

Winter Trekking Challenges

While it is possible to trek in winter, be aware that the weather can be unpredictable, and high passes are often covered in snow, making the trek more difficult. Additionally, most residents move to lower elevations during this time, reducing accommodation options.

Spring Blooms and Clear Skies

Spring, from early March to mid-May, offers excellent visibility and the added beauty of rhododendrons in full bloom. Various species flower in different hues, creating a stunning natural display.

Autumn Clarity and Trail Conditions

Autumn, from mid-October to late November, provides the clearest skies for spectacular mountain views. However, keep in mind that trails may have been altered by monsoon rains, requiring some itinerary adjustments.

Monsoon Season Caution

It is advisable to avoid the monsoon season from late May to mid/late September. The heavy rains can make trekking conditions hazardous and significantly less enjoyable.

By choosing the optimal trekking seasons and being mindful of seasonal challenges, you can fully appreciate the natural beauty and cultural richness of the Kanchenjunga region.

Preparing for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek: Physical and Mental Readiness

Physical Training

Aerobic Conditioning and Strength Endurance

  • Aerobic Exercise: This will help your body perform efficiently with less oxygen, crucial for high-altitude trekking.
  • Strength Training: Focus on strengthening your muscles to better handle elevation gains.

Hiking Practice

  • Start Easy: Begin with short, manageable hikes and gradually increase the duration and difficulty.
  • Build Stamina: Aim to reach a point where you can walk continuously for five to six hours.

Training Schedule (Twice Weekly)

  • Hiking: Go for long hikes or walks, ascending for 5–6 hours with short breaks. Opt for hilly, uneven terrain when possible, and carry your daypack.
  • Gym Workout:
    • Treadmill: 30-45 minutes at a leisurely pace or hill setting.
    • Stair Stepping: 10 minutes at 30-45 steps per minute.
    • Cooldown: Five minutes of steady, incline-free walking.
    • Strength Training: Three rounds of 20 lunges and 20 squats to build leg muscles.
    • Stretching: Ensure proper form and stretch afterward.

Mental Preparedness

Adjusting to Remote Alpine Conditions

  • Daily Routine: Prepare to walk uphill for 5 to 8 hours each day at high altitude, carrying a backpack.
  • Expectations: Understand that there will be limited amenities like Wi-Fi and air conditioning. Mentally and emotionally prepare for basic living and sleeping conditions.

Gathering Information and Bonding

  • Consult Experienced Trekkers: Talk to people who have completed the Kanchenjunga trek to learn about the routes and what to expect.
  • Connect with Trekking Partners: Build a rapport with your fellow trekkers to enhance your overall experience.

By incorporating these physical and mental preparation strategies, you'll be well-equipped to tackle the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek and fully enjoy this challenging yet rewarding adventure.

Essential Equipment and Gear for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Reliable Footwear

  • Waterproof Hiking Boots: Ensure they are sturdy and comfortable for all-day wear on uneven terrain.
  • Hiking Socks: Invest in good-quality socks to keep your feet comfortable and blister-free.

Clothing and Insulation

  • Insulating Jacket: A high-quality, practical jacket is crucial for staying warm in cold conditions, especially since there won’t be heaters in tea houses or along the trails. Only expect indoor fireplaces in specific cooking areas.
  • Sleeping Bag with Liner: Essential for staying warm during chilly nights at higher altitudes.

Hydration and Sun Protection

  • Water Bottle: A durable, sturdy water bottle is a must.
  • Sunglasses or Sun Hat: Protect yourself from intense sun exposure, which can cause headaches, rashes, and discomfort.
  • Water Purifying Products or Tablets: Necessary for ensuring safe drinking water, as availability is limited at higher elevations.

By ensuring you have these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek and can fully enjoy this incredible adventure.

Essential Permits for the Kanchenjunga Trek

Restricted Area Permit

The Kanchenjunga Trek requires a Restricted Area Permit, issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This permit is essential for all treks in restricted areas of Nepal.

Trekking Company and Group Requirements

To trek in Nepal's restricted areas, you must apply through a recognized trekking company and travel with at least two other people, including a guide. Ensure you have these requirements met before embarking on your journey.

Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit

In addition to the Restricted Area Permit, you need a Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit. This is essential for accessing and trekking within the conservation area.

Permit Handling by Bold Himalaya

Bold Himalaya, a reputable trekking agency, will handle all necessary permits for your Kanchenjunga Trek. Contact them in advance to ensure all permit requirements are met and to facilitate a smooth trekking experience.

By securing these permits through the appropriate channels, you can ensure a hassle-free and legal trek in the Kanchenjunga region.

Elevation and Weather Considerations for the Kanchenjunga Trek

Altitude Range

During the Kanchenjunga Trek, you'll ascend from an average height of 200 meters to a high of 5,175 meters. This significant elevation gain presents unique challenges and unpredictable weather conditions.

Weather and Temperature Variability

The weather and temperature can vary greatly throughout the trek due to the vast altitude range. Be prepared for fluctuating conditions and ensure you have the appropriate gear for both warm and cold climates.

Trekking Safety and Preparation

While the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is demanding, it can be manageable with basic safety precautions. No prior hiking or climbing expertise is required, making it accessible to most adventurers.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

One of the major challenges on this trek is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). It's crucial to acclimatize properly and recognize the symptoms of AMS to ensure a safe journey.

Unpredictable Weather

The weather in the Kanchenjunga region is notoriously unpredictable. Be prepared for sudden changes and pack accordingly to handle various weather scenarios.

By understanding and preparing for these factors, you can enhance your trekking experience and safely enjoy the stunning beauty of the Kanchenjunga region.

Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek (Including South and North Base Camp) Itinerary: Highlights and Detailed Plan

The Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek itinerary can be customized to fit your needs. Here is an average itinerary to help you plan your adventure:

Day 1: Kathmandu to Bhadrapur (Flight) to Ilam (Drive)

  • Altitude: 1,677 meters / 5,501 feet
  • Duration: 5-6 hours

Day 2: Ilam to Taplejung (Drive)

  • Altitude: 1,820 meters / 5,971 feet
  • Duration: 5-6 hours

Day 3: Taplejung to Chirwa

  • Altitude: 1,270 meters / 4,166 feet
  • Duration: 6-7 hours

Day 4: Chirwa to Lelep

  • Altitude: 1,860 meters / 6,102 feet
  • Duration: 7-8 hours

Day 5: Lelep to Amjilosa

  • Altitude: 2,510 meters / 8,234 feet
  • Duration: 5-6 hours

Day 6: Amjilosa to Gyabla

  • Altitude: 2,730 meters / 8,956 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 7: Gyabla to Ghunsa

  • Altitude: 3,595 meters / 11,794 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 8: Acclimatization Day in Ghunsa

  • Altitude: 3,595 meters / 11,794 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 9: Ghunsa to Kambachen

  • Altitude: 4,100 meters / 13,451 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 10: Acclimatization Day in Kambachen

  • Altitude: 4,100 meters / 13,451 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 11: Kambachen to Lhonak

  • Altitude: 4,785 meters / 15,698 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 12: Day Trip to Kanchenjunga North Base Camp

  • Altitude: 4,785 meters / 15,698 feet
  • Duration: 8-9 hours

Day 13: Lhonak to Ghunsa

  • Altitude: 3,595 meters / 11,794 feet
  • Duration: 7-8 hours

Day 14: Ghunsa to Sele Le

  • Altitude: 4,390 meters / 14,402 feet
  • Duration: 5-6 hours

Day 15: Sele Le to Cheram

  • Altitude: 3,870 meters / 12,696 feet
  • Duration: 8-9 hours

Day 16: Day Trip to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp

  • Altitude: 3,870 meters / 12,696 feet
  • Duration: 6-7 hours

Day 17: Cheram to Torongding

  • Altitude: 2,080 meters / 6,824 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 18: Torongding to Yamphuding

  • Altitude: 1,980 meters / 6,496 feet
  • Duration: 8-9 hours

Day 19: Yamphuding to Khebang

  • Altitude: 1,910 meters / 6,266 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 20: Khebang to Khamdime

  • Altitude: 1,500 meters / 4,921 feet
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

Day 21: Khamdime to Bhadrapur (Drive)

  • Altitude: 93 meters / 305 feet
  • Duration: 10 hours

Day 22: Bhadrapur to Kathmandu (Flight)

  • Altitude: 1,300 meters / 4,265 feet
  • Duration: 50 minutes

Facilities on Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

Essential Information for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Food and Dining Options

Due to Kanchenjunga's remote location, dining options are limited. Commonly consumed basics include:

  • Thukpa
  • Chowmein
  • Daal Bhat
  • Quick Noodles
  • Breads 
  • Fried Rice
  • Thukpa
  • Thenduk

There are a few restaurants in the area where you can get various pasta dishes, including macaroni and spaghetti.


The region offers a range of lodges and tea houses. As you ascend, the options become more limited, but accommodations are still available. In recent years, the quality of life while trekking has significantly improved. Previously, explorers had to carry their supplies, including food and shelter.

Electricity and Internet

All hotels and lodges in the lower regions have electricity and Wi-Fi. However, internet services are not as fast as in Kathmandu.

Hot Showers, Laundry, and Drinking Water

  • Hot Showers and Laundry: Available in many hotels in the lower region, but you might have to pay extra.
  • Drinking Water: It is advised to carry water purification tablets as carrying plastic bottles is not sustainable.

ATMs and Banking

ATMs are available at the start of the trek. However, as you move towards higher regions, there are no such facilities. It's best to withdraw all the cash you need in the capital to avoid any problems, as ATMs might be out of service along the trekking route.

Essential Tips for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Follow Rules and Regulations

  • Adhere to Guidelines: During the trek, follow the established rules and regulations.
  • Avoid Littering: Refrain from throwing rubbish anywhere on the trail.
  • Respect Local Flora and Fauna: Do nothing that might harm the local environment.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: With many distinct racial and ethnic communities, respect their traditions and practices to avoid offending anyone.

Start the Trek from a Lower Elevation

  • Acclimatization: Begin your trek from a lower elevation to acclimate faster.
  • Climb High, Sleep Low: Spend time at higher altitudes during the day but sleep at a lower level for better acclimatization.
  • Scout the Area: After setting up camp, explore nearby hills to help your body adjust.
  • Climb and Descend: During downtime, climb and descend a few hundred vertical feet to aid acclimatization.
  • High Altitude Awareness: This guideline is crucial at altitudes of 10,000 feet and above as your body adjusts to lower oxygen levels.

Allow Extra Days for the Trek

  • Buffer Time: Include a couple of extra days in your itinerary to account for unforeseen circumstances and ensure a comfortable pace.

Highlights of the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Beautiful Scenery and Incredible Wildlife

  • Scenic Solitude: Experience a challenging yet rewarding trek with fewer tourists, offering perfect solitude.
  • Breathtaking Views: Marvel at stunning views of mountains, hills, colorful rhododendrons, highland forests, and picturesque villages.
  • Protected Area: Kanchenjunga is a protected area, home to diverse flora and fauna, including snow leopards, Asian black bears, and red pandas.

Local Culture and Tribes

  • Ethnic Diversity: Encounter the rich traditions and ceremonies of the Limbu ethnicity and other local tribes.
  • Majestic Peaks: Enjoy views of peaks like Jannu, Khabru, Kumbakarna, Kanchenjunga, and Rathong.
  • Cultural Immersion: The isolated lifestyle of local villages provides a complete picture of Nepal's cultural heritage.

Local Foods and Cuisines

  • Warm Hospitality: Engage with friendly locals who are eager to share their traditions.
  • Tongba Experience: Try Tongba, a fermented millet drink from eastern Nepal, to break the ice and strengthen your connection with the locals.

Mountain Viewing

  • Nepal’s Largest Mountains: See Lhotse (8,516m), Everest (8,848m), Kanchenjunga (8,586m), Makalu (8,481m), and other peaks.
  • Beautiful Valleys: Explore scenic valleys like Tamor Valley, Ghunsa, Ramche, Lhonak, and Khambachen.
  • Glacial Beauty: Witness notable glaciers such as Tso, Nyukla, Ramdung, and Kumbhakarna Kanchenjunga Glaciers.
  • Enticing Views: As altitude increases, the spectacular mountain views become even more rewarding.

Religious Places

  • Cultural Exploration: Visit local gumbas and religious sites to learn more about the local culture and traditions.

Why Choose Bold Himalaya for Your Trekking Adventure?

Guaranteed Departures

  • Reliability: Except for exceptional circumstances like epidemics, pandemics, political disturbances, natural catastrophes, and government restrictions, all our packages and adventure excursions are guaranteed to depart as scheduled.
  • Leading Expertise: As the undisputed leaders in hiking and climbing in the Himalayas, we ensure your trek goes as planned.

Personalized Vacation Packages

  • Tailored Experiences: We offer customized vacation packages for people of all ages, couples, families, and individuals.
  • Complete Autonomy: Enjoy total autonomy and selection with our personalized services.

Expert Knowledge and Experience

  • Well-Traveled Experts: Our experts have traveled extensively and possess a deep understanding of the area.
  • Custom-Tailored Trips: We tailor exciting and memorable trips to your specific interests and needs.

24/7 Support

  • Round-the-Clock Assistance: Our staff is available around the clock to respond to your inquiries.
  • Customized Responses: We tailor our responses to your specific preferences, needs, budget, and travel plans.

Importance of Travel Insurance for Your Nepal Trek

Health and Safety Protection

  • Health Coverage: Traveling to areas like Nepal can pose health risks due to unfamiliar cuisine and varying cleanliness levels. Travel insurance ensures you are covered in case of illness or hazardous health conditions.
  • Medical Evacuation: If you need to be evacuated for further treatment while trekking, insurance covers the costs.

Financial Security

  • Prevent Financial Catastrophe: Travel insurance can save you from significant financial losses due to unforeseen medical expenses or emergencies.
  • Cost Savings: It can save you money by covering unexpected expenses like medical treatment or evacuation.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction

  • Peace of Mind: Knowing you are covered in case of emergencies reduces stress and anxiety, allowing you to enjoy your trip more.
  • Emergency Assistance: If an emergency occurs during your trip, travel insurance ensures you can return home early and claim insurance.

Convenience and Efficiency

  • Time and Effort Savings: Travel insurance can help you save time and effort by providing quick assistance and covering necessary expenses.
  • Comprehensive Care: If you become unwell while traveling, your travel insurance may cover the cost of medical treatment or evacuation to a hospital that can provide the necessary care.

Some helpful tips for Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

Flexibility in Itinerary

  • Weather Changes: The weather in the Himalayan region can change unexpectedly, leading to potential flight cancellations or delays.
  • Acclimatization: Higher altitudes may require more time for acclimatization to avoid altitude sickness.
  • Exploration: You might want to spend additional time exploring the beautiful locations along your trek.

Porter Weight Limit

  • Government Guidelines: The Nepalese government sets a standard weight allowance for porters at 35 kgs (77 lbs), but this is not strictly enforced.
  • Trekking Company Policies: Reputable trekking companies typically limit client trek loads to around 10 kgs per trekker (22 lbs) to ensure the well-being of porters.
  • Beware of Overloading: Be cautious of dubious trekking agents who may expect porters to carry excessive loads.

By planning for extra days and understanding the Porter weight limits, you can ensure a more enjoyable and responsible trekking experience in the Himalayas.