Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek: Detailed 22 Day Itinerary [2023]

The Kanchenjunga Circuit trek is one of the best treks in Nepal, that takes you to both the north and south base camps of Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. As this trek explores a remote area, it is advisable to have a good level of fitness and some prior trekking experience. However, despite its seclusion, trekkers are rewarded with a look into the local way of life and have the opportunity to visit the serene Ramtang and Oktang Monasteries.

Along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by a breathtaking landscape adorned with meandering rivers, cascading waterfalls, lush green meadows, vibrant rhododendron forests, enchanting birch and pine woods, as well as the awe-inspiring Yalung Glacier. The magnificent mountains serve as constant companions throughout the journey.

This guide will give you the ins and outs of the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek, as well as I detailed Ininerary for the 22 day trek!

Quick Facts About the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

View of Kanchenjunga, Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek
  • Starting point: Taplejung  
  • Ending point: Khamdime
  • Trek Region: Kanchenjunga  
  • Transportation: Flight
  • Duration: 22 Days  
  • Trip Grade: Strenuous Difficulty
  • Max Altitude: 5143 m / 16873 ft (Pangpema)  
  • Accommodation: Tea House

History of Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Situated on the far eastern side of Nepal, near the border with Sikkim, Kanchenjunga was once believed to be the highest peak in the world until the mid-1800s.

Initially closed off to trekkers, this region opened its doors in the mid-1980s. Today, it is safeguarded by the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, and a special trekking permit is required. These restrictions have helped preserve the pristine condition of the area’s remarkable flora and fauna, making it a haven of natural beauty.

In addition to the towering Kanchenjunga, there are four subsidiary summits surpassing 8,000m, with Kanchenjunga West, also known as Yalung Kang (8,505m), being the most prominent. The region also boasts around twenty peaks surpassing 7,000m, including Kambachen (7,903m), Janu (7,710m), Jongsong (7,483m), Kabru (7,353m), Tent Peak (7,365m), and the Twins (7,350m).

Moreover, the area boasts numerous peaks exceeding 6,000m, along with five major glacial systems. While the Zumu, Talung, and Rathong glaciers flow into Sikkim, the Kanchenjunga and Yalung glaciers make their way into the mighty Tamor River of Nepal.

With the recent addition of the Great Himalayan Trail to the trekking map, tourism is gradually being promoted in this and other remote regions. This has led to the establishment of more tea houses along the route, benefiting local communities. However, now is an opportune time to visit Kanchenjunga before it becomes widely discovered by an increasing number of trekkers.

Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek: Day-By-Day Itinerary

Here is a quick outline for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek:

  • Day 1: Depart Kathmandu for Bhadrapur (Flight) and continue to Ilam by road
    Ilam – 1677 m / 5501 ft – 5 hours
  • Day 2: Drive from Ilam to Taplejung
    Taplejung – 1820 m / 5971 ft – 5 hours
  • Day 3: Trek from Taplejung to Chirwa
    Chirwa – 1270 m / 4166 ft – 6 hours
  • Day 4: Trek from Chirwa to Lelep
    Lelep – 1860 m / 6102 ft – 7 hours
  • Day 5: Trek from Lelep to Amjilosa
    Amjilosa – 2510 m / 8234 ft – 5 hours
  • Day 6: Trek from Amjilosa to Gyabla
    Gyabla – 2730 m / 8956 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 7: Trek from Gyabla to Ghunsa
    Ghunsa – 3595 m / 11794 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 8: Acclimatization day in Ghunsa
    Ghunsa – 3595 m / 11794 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 9: Trek from Ghunsa to Kambachen
    Kambachen – 4100 m / 13451 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 10: Acclimatization day in Kambachen
    Kambachen – 4100 m / 13451 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 11: Trek from Kambachen to Lhonak
    Lhonak – 4785 m / 15698 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 12: Day trip to Kanchenjunga North Base Camp from Lhonak
    Lhonak – 4785 m / 15698 ft – 8 hours
  • Day 13: Trek from Lhonak to Ghunsa
    Ghunsa – 3595 m / 11794 ft – 7 hours
  • Day 14: Trek from Ghunsa to Sele Le
    Sele Le – 4390 m / 14402 ft – 5 hours
  • Day 15: Trek from Sele Le to Cheram
    Cheram – 3870 m / 12696 ft – 8 hours
  • Day 16: Day trip to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp from Cheram
    Cheram – 3870 m / 12696 ft – 6 hours
  • Day 17: Trek from Cheram to Torongding
    Torongding – 2080 m / 6824 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 18: Trek from Torongding to Yamphuding
    Yamphuding – 1980 m / 6496 ft – 8 hours
  • Day 19: Trek from Yamphuding to Khebang
    Khebang – 1910 m / 6266 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 20: Trek from Khebang to Khamdime
    Khamdime – 1500 m / 4921 ft – 4 hours
  • Day 21: Drive from Khamdime to Bhadrapur
    Bhadrapur – 93 m / 305 ft – 10 hours
  • Day 22: Fly from Bhadrapur to Kathmandu

Brief Itinerary For The Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

In order to assist you in organizing your adventure, we have an itinerary that outlines each of the 22 days you will be on this extraordinary trek.

Kanchenjunga Trek Trail, Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek
PC: Accent Himalaya

Day 1: Kathmandu to Bhadrapur (Flight) then drive to Ilam

Day 2: Ilam to Taplejung (Drive)

Trek time: 4 to 5 hours

You will start a scenic 4-hour drive through enchanting terraced fields and rolling hills to reach Taplejung. Upon arrival, you can explore the town and its fascinating Buddhist gompas. One of these gompas is renowned for its butter lamps that have been continuously burning for over 400 years. 

Day 3: Taplejung to Chirwa

Trek time: 5 to 6 hours

Day 3 marks the beginning of the trek. It’s a long day of predominantly downhill hiking, with a chance to catch your breath at Sinwa village nestled alongside the Tamor River. 

Day 4: Chirwa to Lelep

Trek time: 6 to 7 hours

Prepare for another lengthy day of trekking, approximately 7 hours in total. As you pass through Tapethok, you will enter the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. Here, permits are checked before crossing a suspension bridge and ascending to the village of Lelep.

Day 5: Lelep to Amjilosa

Trek time: 5 hours

From Lelep to Amjilosa, the trek takes approximately 5 hours. The trail is adorned with numerous waterfalls and suspension bridges, creating a picturesque and almost fairy-tail like environment. Along the way, trekkers encounter the first Sherpa village of the journey, Amjilosa. Although this village is primarily inhabited during the grazing season when yaks and sheep roam the pastures, a few families reside here throughout the year.

Day 6: Amjilosa to Gyabla

Trek time: 3 to 4 hours

After a hearty breakfast, the journey continues through diverse forests filled with pine, bamboo, rhododendron (Nepal’s national flower), and oak trees. As the landscape evolves, the villages and people start to exhibit a distinct Tibetan influence. Along the path, trekkers may come across yaks, sheep, goats, and a variety of enchanting bird species. Following a midday meal, the trail leads through dense forest coverage and across a wooden bridge, eventually reaching Gyabla, where the group spends the night.

Day 7: Gyabla to Ghunsa

Trek time: 3 to 4 hours

Continuing your journey, the trail meanders through forests and passes Phale Village, originally established as a Tibetan refugee camp decades ago. Today, it serves as a winter settlement. You will have the opportunity to explore the village, where local handicrafts are available for purchase. Eventually, you’ll reach Ghunsa, the largest village in the area, equipped with amenities such as a police station, health post, and the Kanchenjunga Conservation Office. Telephone and internet services are also accessible here.

Day 8: Acclimatization Day

Trek time: 4 hours

You will spend a day acclimatizing in Ghunsa. You can explore the village and take advantage of the amenities available in the village.

Day 9: Ghunsa to Kambachen

Trek time: 3 to 4 hours

The trail provides captivating views of the Jannu Himal as it gently ascends. Trekkers enter a lush glacier valley adorned with vibrant greenery, offering a chance to spot blue sheep and the elusive snow leopard. Along the way, a beautiful waterfall and a section prone to landslides demand careful navigation. Eventually, the group arrives at Kambachen, where they spend the night.

Kanchenjunga Conversation Area, Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Day 10: Acclimatization Day

Trek time: 2 hours

Another acclimatization day is planned in Kambachen, with a shorter trekking time of about 2 hours. This day allows trekkers to further adjust to the altitude before the visit to the North Base Camp. As part of the acclimatization routine, the group can ascend another ridge, granting breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga and the surrounding scenery.

Day 11: Kambachen to Lhonak

Trek time: 3 to 4 hours

The trail primarily traverses moraine formations derived from the Kanchenjunga Glacier. Trekking amidst imposing boulders, trekkers are treated to magnificent views on both sides. The area is known to be within the territory of the elusive snow leopard, making it an exciting possibility to spot this rare creature. While settlements are absent along this route, the area is utilized as summer yak pastures. The group spends the night in Lhonak.

Day 12: Day Trip to Kanchenjunga North Base Camp

Trek time: 8 hours

On this day, a day trip to Kanchenjunga North Base Camp is planned, with a trekking time of around 8 hours. Starting from Lhonak, the group treks across moraine formations from the Kanchenjunga Glacier, gradually ascending. Upon reaching the North Base Camp, trekkers are surrounded by awe-inspiring mountains and fluttering Buddhist prayer flags. Here, they can savor the tranquility, enjoying hot beverages and snacks. The return journey leads back to Lhonak for the overnight stay.

Day 13: Lhonak to Ghunsa

Trek time: 7 hours

Trekking over the moraine, the group returns to Kambachen Village for a midday break. From there, they head east along the Tamor River. The landscape begins to exhibit greener vegetation as they retrace their steps to Ghunsa, where they settle for the night.

Day 14: Ghunsa to Sele Le

Trek time: 5 hours

The trail leads through a forest and along a grassy ridge, offering sweeping vistas of Ghunsa and Phole villages, as well as the distant Mt. Makalu.

Day 15: Sele Le to Cheram

Trek time: 7 to 8 hours

Starting early, the journey continues toward Kanchenjunga South Base Camp. The trail includes crossing the Sinion La pass (4,450m) and follows a ridge, eventually reaching the Sinelapche La pass (4,830m). From this vantage point, trekkers are treated to breathtaking views of Mt. Kanchenjunga and its valley. Descending along a narrow path, they arrive at Cheram, the only settlement on this route, where they spend the night.

Day 16: Day Trip to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp

Trek time: 6 hours

A day trip to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp is planned, with a trekking time of approximately 6 hours. The group treks to Ramche for lunch and continues for around 40 minutes to reach Kanchenjunga South Base Camp. Situated on the edge of the glacier and adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, the Base Camp provides an extraordinary experience. After immersing themselves in the serene ambiance, the trekkers retrace their steps back to Cheram for the night.

Day 17: Cheram to Torongding

Trek time: 4 hours

The trail primarily descends through a gorge. However, the final section involves a steep uphill climb, passing through forests and an area prone to landslides. Accommodation is available in a few teahouses in Torongding.

Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Day 18: Torongding to Yamphuding

Trek time: 7 to 8 hours

After breakfast, the group begins the descent, initially downhill and later ascending steeply for an extended period. They navigate a landslide-prone area, stopping for lunch at a solitary teashop in Lasiya Bhanjyang. Continuing the trek, they descend through more forests until they reach the sizable village of Yamphuding.

Day 19: Yamphuding to Khebang

Trek time: 4 hours

With the lower altitude making the journey easier, trekkers encounter captivating villages and terraced fields along the way. The path leads them to Khebang, where they spend the night.

Day 20: Khebang to Khamdime

Trek time: 4 hours

On the final day of the trekking adventure, the group hikes for approximately 4 hours from Khebang to Khamdime. This day marks the transition to vehicular transportation, preparing for the journey back.

Day 21: Khamdime to Bhadrapur (Drive)

Drive time: 10 hours

Day 22: Bhadrapur to Kathmandu (Flight)

Flight time: 50 minutes

Embarking on an early morning journey, we head towards the Kanchenjunga South Base Camp, crossing the Sinion La pass (4,450m) and following a ridge to the Sinelapche La pass (4,830m).

Trekking Insurance for Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

It is mandatory for all trekkers to get trekking insurance for any treks in Nepal.

Trekking insurance not only provides you with peace of mind and financial protection in case of any unforeseen circumstances during your trek, but also allows you to purchase the permits needed in Nepal to trek.

A comprehensive insurance policy should cover emergency medical expenses, evacuation by helicopter if required, trip cancellation or interruption, and loss or theft of personal belongings. Prioritize your safety and well-being by obtaining a reliable trekking insurance policy that aligns with the challenges and unique experiences of the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek.

Permits Required For Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

For the Kanchenjunga Trek, it is necessary to obtain the following permits:

  1. Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project Entry Permit (KCAP)
  2. Restricted Area Entry Permit (RAP) for the trail in Tapethok and Yamphuding VDCs.

Permit Fees of Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

The permit fees for the Kanchenjunga Trek are as follows:

  1. Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project Entry Permit (KCAP): NPR 2,000 per person. There is no time limitation for this permit.
  2. Kanchenjunga Restricted Area Permit (KRAP): USD 10 per person/ week.

Requirements for Kanchenjunga Trek Restricted Area Permit (RAP)

The following documents and information are required for the Kanchenjunga Trek:

  • Valid passport with a minimum validity of six months beyond the expiry date of the RAP.
  • Valid Nepal visa extending past the RAP expiry date.
  • Letterhead from the agency containing the following details:
    • Application information
    • Trek itinerary
    • Guide’s insurance details
    • Online submission ID provided by the agency
    • Details of dollars
    • E-copy of a passport-sized photo

Packing List for Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

Packing list for Trek in Nepal

When it comes to the packing list for the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek, preparation is key to ensure a comfortable and successful journey. As you embark on this challenging adventure, there are a few essentials you shouldn’t overlook. Start with a well-designed hiking backpack for comfort while walking, sturdy and waterproof hiking boots to navigate the rugged terrain. If you’re not sure what backpack is best for the trek, we have a blog to help you choose the best hiking backpack for your trek. 

Layered clothing is crucial to adapt to changing weather conditions, so pack a combination of breathable base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof outer shell. Don’t forget a warm down jacket and a reliable sleeping bag suitable for cold temperatures. 

Other must-haves include a trekking backpack, a headlamp with extra batteries, a sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a water bottle, and a first aid kit. To capture the breathtaking scenery, a good quality camera is a valuable addition. Lastly, pack some energy-rich snacks and a positive attitude, as you embark on an unforgettable adventure through the majestic landscapes of the Kanchenjunga Circuit.

Why do the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek?

By undertaking the Kanchenjunga Trek, you’ll not only experience an exhilarating adventure but also be rewarded with stunning natural landscapes, cultural encounters, and a profound sense of accomplishment. 

  • Discover the untrodden paths of Nepal’s Eastern mountainous regions
  • Stroll beside the renowned glacial lakes in the vicinity
  • Indulge in an awe-inspiring journey amidst the rich biodiversity
  • Engage in serene meditation at Ramtang and Oktang Monasteries, rejuvenating your weary self
  • Relish the blissful moments as you unwind in your tents, nestled beneath the majestic peaks

However, if you feel conquering the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek is quite ambitious, then you can check out our blog on Beginner Treks in Nepal for novice trekkers or families traveling with children. These treks are easy and offer as stunning and majestic views of the mountains.

FAQs: Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

1. Is Kanchenjunga trek difficult?

The Kanchenjunga trek stands out as a more challenging trek in Nepal.

Compared to other mainstream treks found in the Everest and Annapurna regions. Additionally, the level of difficulty experienced during the trek is contingent upon the capabilities and resilience of each individual participant.

2. How long is the Kanchenjunga trek?

Covering a distance of 220 kilometers, the Kanchenjunga trek is both lengthy and demanding, necessitating a commendable level of physical fitness. This arduous journey spans over three weeks, requiring participants to sustain continuous walking while carrying a light backpack.

3. How much does it cost to trek Kanchenjunga?

The total cost of trekking in Kanchenjunga is around USD $2,000 to USD $2,500. If you desire additional amenities and well-appointed accommodations, be prepared to allocate a higher budget for enhanced facilities.

4. Where is the starting point of Kanchenjunga trek?

The starting point for the Kanchenjunga trek is Taplejung, Nepal. 

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