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Goecha La Trek: Sep to Nov 2017

Post Monsoon/Fall dates for Goecha La trek: 

30th Sep (Day 1) to 9th Oct’17 (Day 10)
14th Oct (Day 1) to 23rd Oct’17 (Day 10)
28th Oct (Day 1) to 6th Nov’17 (Day 10)

Goecha La trek brief Itinerary:

Day 1: NJP to Goecha La trek base Yuksom by car – 160 Km – 8/9 hours
Day 2: Trek to Sachen – 8 Km – 4 hours
Day 3: Trek to Tsokha – 7 Km – 4 hours
Day 4: Trek to Dzongri – 12 Km – 6/7 hours
Day 5: Rest and active acclimatisation day at Dzongri. Climb to Dzongri top and back.
Day 6: Dzongri to Lamuney– 14 Km – 7/8 hours.
Day 7: Trek to Goecha La (View Point 1) and back to Kochurang – 16 Km – 8/9 hours.
Day 8: Kokchurang to Tsokha – 18 Km – 6/7 hours
Day 9: Tsokha to Yuksom – 15 Km – 5/6 hours
Day 10: Return to NJP/Bagdogra by car – 160 Km – 8/9 hours (by 6 pm)

*** Trekkers need to reach on their own to NJP/Bagdogra on Day 1 morning (by 10 am) or the previous night. Return to NJP/Bagdogra on Day 10 evening (by 6 pm). Arrange your tickets for inward journey and back to home from NJP accordingly ***

Goecha La Trek Cost: Rs 14500 (Yuksom to Yuksom)+ 9% Service Tax

(Book for 3 persons and get a discount of 5%; Book for 5 or more to get a 10% Group Discount)

Download PDF Brochure FOR BRIEF ITINERARY, COST INCLUSIONS AND EXCLUSIONS.

TO BOOK CLICK HERE

Customised Goecha La trek:

If the dates above don’t match or you want a separate private tour for your group then fill up the Customise Your Trip form with correct details. Expect a similar rate that of our scheduled departures if you are at least 6 persons or above.

Goecha La trek Highlights:

Length: 8 days of trek; Walking from Yuksom to Goecha La and back to Yuksom around 95 Km. New Jalpaiguri (NJP)/Siliguri to NJP in 10 days.

Access: New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is well connected by train from New Delhi and Kolkata. There are several overnight trains from Kolkata to NJP. Nearest airport is Bagdogra which is 10 Km from Siliguri. Flights are connected to New Delhi and Kolkata. The trek base Yuksom is 160 Km from NJP railway station.

Highest Point: Goecha La ~ 4950m/16200 ft.

Grade: Moderate & Strenuous

Seasons: April/May and  October/November

Further Option: From Dzongri one can add a 3 days side trip to Chawrikhang which is the base camp of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) or from Chawrikhang proceed to Singalila round trek and move out to Uttarey or Barshey in West Sikkim

About Goecha La trek:

There are very few trekking trails in India which are popular to both Indians as well as people all over the world. Goecha La trek ranks pretty high on the list if not a chart topper. The trail blends typical Eastern Himalayan moist and almost evergreen forests with truly majestic view of Kanchendzongha and a host of high Sikkim peaks almost looming in. Entire Goecha la trek trail runs inside Kanchendzongha National Park in West Sikkim, a UNESCO heritage site (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1513) The route climbs steadily to cross a ridge at Dzongri, then proceeds north to the Olathang Valley to reach the high altitude pass , Goecha La at its head. The trek splits in two parts. First half till the high point of Dzongri. Dzongri top offers amazing panorama of high peaks in Sikkim and Nepal. Few to mention are Kanchendzonga Range, Kabru North, South and Dome, Pandim, Rathong, Kokthang and Siniolchu. In the later half trail enters into the scenic wide open valleys and finally ends up in moraine ridge at Goecha La. The route has very thick vegetation, along with hundreds of bird species, butterflies and wildflowers, especially different varieties of Rhododendrons.

Season for Goecha La trek:

Eastern Himalaya observes longer monsoon than its western counterpart. Clouds start forming in April and monsoon may arrive as early as mid/late May. Monsoon normally recedes by end of September and occasionally stretching first week of October.  There are two distinct seasons when this year trek is particularly beautiful:

1) Spring/Summer for Rhododendron trek: April and May is spring time,  blooming time. Flowering starts as early as March in the lower elevation, and gradually towards end of spring on higher altitude. Rhododendron and Giant Magnolia are two most famous along with several other wild flower species. Cloudy or misty atmosphere is common during Spring. Though clear mountain views are not uncommon, specially during morning.

2) Fall/Post monsoon for clearer weather: From mid October to January. In the beginning of October clouds start moving out from this region and weather becomes clearer. November is  particularly known for its crystal clear views of the mountains. From end of November it becomes very cold at Dzongri and further. Also being very high altitude the chances of snowfall is high.

Goecha La trek temperatures:

Sikkim Darjeeling and surrounding region is known for its moist weather, almost year around. At higher altitude dampness adds on top of the natural cold conditions.

Usually the minimum temperature of a place is attained early in the morning, 3 to 5 am. During Goecha la trek, there are couple of days (one being the Dzongri top and the other to Goecha La) when you have to leave camp early in the morning. During spring expect the minimum temperature to be around 0°C at Dzongri and Lamuney. In October the temperatures will be similar and temperatures plummet further in late October/November. In November temperature may go down as low as -5°C at Dzongri/Lamuney. Do account strong wind at times which in turn can make you feel colder. This is the wind chill factor and feels like temperature can be as low as -10°C. Temperature inside tent will be around 10°C warmer than that of outside. During daytime the temperature will be cooler and can vary from 10°C to 25°C depending upon season and altitude.

Access to Goecha La trek base (Yuksom):

You need to reach NJP(by train) or Bagdogra (by flight) around the city Siliguri in West Bengal for your Darjeeling or Sikkim trips. Kolkata is well connected to Siliguri through flights and overnight trains and busses (road from Kolkata to Siliguri is not in good condition and may take 15/16 hours!) . 

Click here for detailed information on how to reach NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri

Do carefully check for the latest arrival timings on Day 1 of the itinerary (latest by 10 am) before you book your train or flight tickets.

Depending upon the trek members we can arrange a pickup and drop from NJP/Siliguri to Yuksom and back. This will be shared by the team members on actual basis and you pay directly to driver/owner on spot. Typically a Tata Sumo/Mahindra Maxx type Jeep charges Rs 5000 one side which can accommodate 6 to 8 people. Tempo Traveller type vans are not available in this route.

If you want to reach Yuksom independently (by public transportation) then:
  • you must reach Siliguri Junction/Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus/SNT (Sikkim Nationalised Transport) terminus latest by 9 am. Its a transportation hub on Hill cart road, Siliguri. From NJP you get shared auto rickshaw service outside the Railway station (ask Siliguri Junction or simply Junction, Fare 20 Rs).
  • Take a shared service for Jorethang, South Sikkim.This is the entry point to West Sikkim, specially who are directly reaching from NJP/Siliguri. Expect that it will take time for the service vehicle(s) to get full. This will drop you at the centralised parking lot (called Plaza) at Jorethang. Yuksom Service is available on top floor of the Plaza.
  • There are 2/3 shared vehicle services from Jorethang to Yuksom everyday. Basically these are the vehicles serving Yuksom to Jorethang in the morning and returning from Jorethang early in the afternoon. So it is best that you reach Jorethang latest by 1 pm. Otherwise there are standard lodges (Rs 800 for a double bed) where you may check in. The fare per is currently Rs 180-200 per person.
  • Seldom you may get direct shared vehicle from Siliguri Junction/SNT to Yuksom. But don’t rely on, as these are irregular ones occasionally returning to Yuksom as per their suitable timing.

Often It is difficult to reach Yuksom from NJP/Siliguri in one day because of the delays in trains and connecting services.

Permit requirements to enter and trek in Sikkim including Goecha La trek:

Sikkim has some restrictions regarding travelling and special permits are a must to obtain. It is a good space to write the details regarding the different permits and fees required by the administration. Also we hope that this section will help those people who want to reach independently to Sikkim. Indians may skip this section if you don’t have a travel plan specifically in North Sikkim.

(A) For Indian Nationals: Trekking permit is required inside Kanchendzongha National park and the local police verification at Yuksom police outpost. Two recent passport size photos, One personal photo ID card with address proof in it (Aadhar/Driving Licence/Voter ID/Passport) along with photocopies of the same are to be submitted along with a self declaration at Yuksom police outpost. Below is a handy guide for those having plan for additional holidays/destinations in Sikkim. Even Indians need Protected Area Permit (PAP) for visiting North Sikkim or Nathu La.
http://www.sikkimtourism.gov.in/Webforms/General/faq.aspx

(B) For Foreign Nationals:

Any foreigner (some relaxation to Nepalese and Bhutanese citizens) will require Inner Line Permit which is recently renamed as Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter the boundary of Sikkim.

http://www.sikkimtourism.gov.in/Webforms/General/Essential%20Information/Entry.aspx

  • Nationals of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nigeria and China can only apply for ILP/RAP through Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.
  • Any other foreign national’s with the strength of valid Passport and Indian visa can obtain the ILP (RAP), Free of cost, at the below check points while entering Sikkim.

1) Assistant Director– Tourism Department , Melli, Near Melli Police Check Post, South Sikkim, Mobile No: 9775453611, 03595-248536, PLS NOTE: ILP issuing time is from 8 am to 8 pm everyday (Though we struggled to keep them stay after 6 pm!)- On the way to West Sikkim (Yuksom, Pelling, Hilley, Uttarey etc)
2) Assistant Director, Tourism Department, Sikkim Tourism Office, Rangpo, East Sikkim phone no: 03592-240818 – On the way to Gangtok and East/North Sikkim.

  • If you produce a proper itinerary (additionally if any supporting booking documents) then the authority will usually issue an ILP up to 30 days initially. It can be extended to another 30 days but you to get an extension we need to exit Sikkim and apply again when you re-enter.
  • Travellers who arrive initially in Darjeeling (state of West Bengal) has to get the permit from the above two check posts. There is shorter route from Darjeeling to Jorethang via Jamuney (40 Km, 2 hours maximum)  but foreigner’s are not allowed to enter Sikkim along this road. You have to go via Darjeeling – Jorbanglow – Teesta route.
  • You may obtain an ILP online, but that doesn’t make much sense. This is a document valid only when it is signed physically in any of the above two offices. It takes 10/15 minutes to process the ILP at Melli/Rongpo with the strength of your valid passport and Indian visa.

Foreign national tourists who wish to trek to Dzongri/Goecha La, Singalila/Phoktey Dara (Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary), Round Singalila Dzongri (Uttarey to Dzongri) will require an additional permit called Protected Area Permit (PAP, often referred as Trekking Permit). This is issued to a minimum group of 2 persons or more from the following office on strength of signed and valid  ILP/RAP.
Adventure Cell of Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of Sikkim, Gangtok
http://www.sikkimtourism.gov.in/Webforms/General/pdf/RAP.pdf

(Note: Green Lake trek in North Sikkim requires Alpine Mountaineering Expedition permit, which in turn needs more approvals and time)

If you (foreign nationals) book Goecha La trek or any other with us (HT) in Sikkim then:

  • We will require at least one additional day to process the PAP/Trekking Permit. This can’t be processed in advance and we can only apply once we receive your signed copy of ILP. This means that you can’t start the trek very next day you enter Sikkim. We would recommend a couple of days in advance.
  • Tourist’s who are having plan to visit other places in Sikkim can obtain the ILP as mentioned and send the same to us for processing the Trekking Permit.
  • We charge an additional Rs 3000 as Service Charge per person to process the Trekking Permit and to counter the differential of various permit fees inside Kanchendzongha National park for Non Indian nationals. It is indeed expensive to send someone to Gangtok for processing the Trekking Permit and get it back at the respective trek base like Yuksom, Hilley, Uttarey etc.

In easy words it is not difficult to get the required permits to trek inside Sikkim (apart from Green Lake trek) if you (minimum of a group of 2) have couple of additional days to spend in Sikkim before the trek; There are plenty of these places :-) .

Do carry multiple copies (both hard and soft versions) of your recent passport size photos and photocopies of your documents (Passport/Visa/ILP) to avoid a showstopper on mountains!

Detailed Goecha la trek itinerary:

Day 1: Drive from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Yuksom – 150 Km – 7/8 hours

Note:  If you plan to reach Bagdogra on Day 1 and hire a reserved vehicle, arrive latest by noon. People willing to reach Yuksom independently must reach NJP latest by 7 am (detail is given above on how to reach Yuksom by public transportation). It is often handy to fly to Kolkata and take the overnight trains to NJP which reach latest by 10 am or you may fly directly to Bagdogra on Day 0. Due to ongoing road construction work between Melli and Jorethang, it takes more than 3 hours to reach Jorethang. Yuksom is another 75 Km on hilly road from here and is another 3 hours. Also you need a break (preferably a lunch break at Jorethang). Yuksom is a small stretch of Bazaar (where the lodges and restaurants are clustered) and sleeps as expected on mountains latest by 9 pm.

Pickup from New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) in the morning and reach the trek base Yuksom (~ 1780m, 5850ft) which was the first capital of Sikkim. The distance is around 160 Km and may take 7/8 hour including a lunch break. The road goes via Teesta, Malli, Jorethang and Tashiding. Yuksom is a typical small and laid-back Sikkimese town with one strip of Bazaar area in the centre. The village is spread out with the Himalaya and the monastery in the backdrop. The first king of Sikkim, His Holiness Funchook Namgyal was crowned here by His Holiness Gyalwa Latchen Chembo, the same man who brought Buddhism to SIkkim in 1641. There are several hotels and lodges ranging from premium to budget type. Also there are few restaurants offering veg and non veg food in the Bazaar area. All the major mobile networks work here and has a small internet cafe. Night stay in tourist lodge.

goecha la trek base yuksom

Prayer flags at Yuksom

A small monastery at coronation site, Yuksom

A small monastery at coronation site, Yuksom

Day 2: Trek to Sachen – 8 Km – 4 hours – Can be further to Bakhim – another 5 Km – 2/3 hours

Day 2: We start our 8 days of strenuous but astonishingly beautiful trek from today. To start with an easy day, while spending time and gaining some height on the mountain for Sachen (~ 2200m, 7200ft). We  take the trail from the main road in Bazaar area and walk inside Yuksom while crossing primary school, Forest Huts and then to the Check Post. Your permits for Kanchendzongha National Park will be processed from here. In another 10 mins we reach the other side of Yuksom called “Colony” and look for sign stating “Satellite phones are not allowed in this route”. From here our trek will start on the Goecha la trail for next 8 days :-)

Walk starts from Yuksom

Walk starts from Yuksom

goecha la trek starts

Easy trail to Sachen

Leaving the last houses and a nursery we hike on the easy trail, at some stretches stoned/paved. The trail follows a narrow river valley while the river is running inside the gorge. We slowly ascent going through the thick vegetation of sub alpine evergreen forest of Sikkim. It runs through moss-laden forests of Oak, Spruce, Chestnut, Fir, Pines, giant Magnolias and wide variety of orchids. Shades of Green change seasonally. Our trail now enters into Kanchedzongha National Park. This Biosphere reserve is a Botanist’s paradise and rich with exotic birds, butterflies and mammals. We have to cross 3 bridges on the river today, referred  as 1st, 2nd and 3rd bridge. We continue our gradual ascent to a clearing we reach, which is our campsite of Sachen for the day. There is a Kitchen Hut built by the Forest Department on the left of the trail and the camping ground is above the trail on the right. The site is full of different bird species including Thrushes and Laughing Thrushes. It may take around 4 hours and we cover a distance of 8 Km. Camp for the night.

Typical forest cover in Eastern Himalayas, en route Sachen

Typical forest cover in Eastern Himalayas, en route Sachen

Sanchen camp of goecha la trek

Kitchen Hut of Sachen

Day 3: Trek from Sachen to Tsokha – 8 Km – 5 hours 

We start gradually for first half an hour and then descend to the 4th bridge on the river Prek Chu (Chu means River in Nepali), the last of the four but most significant. After crossing the bridge, the trail turns to left and spirals up. This is the first half of climb for today and continuous one with steady height gain. We climb through the often misty forest and slowly the valley widens up on our left. Slowly climbing for an hour and half we reach at the top of this ridge and suddenly turning to right we see the Forest Bungalow of Bakhim at our left and house with a coffee shop on the right. The Bungalow with concrete exterior and wooden interior suffered during the earthquake in 2011 but still serves the night halt for the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute students. A cup of tea or coffee looking at the valley down under should not be missed. On a clear day one can see Yuksom and the hill station of Pelling from this viewpoint.

4th Bridge on Prek Chu

4th Bridge on Prek Chu

a small coffee corner at Bakhim

a small coffee corner at Bakhim

 

We start our second phase of climb for the day after our break. The trail continues to zigzag and the Rhododendron forest grows denser. During spring we can see the red and the white flowers particularly in abundance. There is a short cut on the right of the main trail but it is better to stay on the well defined track. We turn right and reach a clearing in the forest. From here we continue our climb and  until we reach our destination Tsokha (~ 2900m, 9500ft) a table top on top of the hill. The camping ground of Tsokha is on the right of the trail and is a delight. The wooden Trekkers Hut is adjacent to the camping ground and well equipped with rooms and a big dinning hall. We get the first view of the snow capped mountains behind the Trekkers Hut. Magnificent Mount Pandim is standing straight along with Jopunu and Tenzingkhang. Tsokha used to be a settlement for the Tibetan refugees but recently the people are rehabilitated at Yuksom. There are few private guest houses and a shop still operating. Also there is a monastery few turns up on the left of the trail with a shallow pond in front of it. In the afternoon it is worth to visit the monastery and the lone shop which serves tea, coffee and sells woolen clothes, gloves and shawl. Tsokha has mobile networks working and you can talk with your near and dear ones for the last time on this trail. Total distance we cover is 7 Km and may take upto 4 hours. Night stay in tent.

The clearing on the trail to Tsokha

The clearing on the trail to Tsokha

Tsokha campsite and hut on goecha la trek

The campsite and Trekkers Hut at Tsokha

Day 4: Trek from Dzongri via Phedang and Deorali – 12 Km – 7/8 hours 

If the weather remains clear, you can see the sunrise on the backdrop of Mt. Pandim, standing from the Tsokha camping ground. Being on the mountain for 3 days, our body is supposed to get acclimatised by this time. Today we gain significant height while most of the climb is moderately steep but climbing continously. The walk can be divided into 3 parts, climb till Phedang (~ 3650m, 12000 ft), then further ascent to Deorali Top (~ 4100m, 13500ft) and finally a gradual descent to our destination for the day Dzongri (~ 3950m, 13000ft). We leave Tsokha after crossing the monastery and turn right as the trail to start the steep climb for about half an hour. Then the trail is eases with paved wooden logs as rain turns it pretty muddy by the movements of Yaks and Horses. This trail is surrounded by dense Rhododendrons trees bloomed in different colour ( flowering season is mid April to mid May) and conifers. This is perhaps one of the best jungle trails on the Himalaya and takes away the tiredness of body. Often cloudy, the misty scent of the trail is unforgettable. After climbing another hour we reach to a small clearing where we take a rest and enjoy the silence of the jungle. From this point climbing for little more than an hour we reach the top of this hill, a wide open area of Phedang. There is a Kitchen hut and small sitting arrangement for the tired trekkers. The area remains cloudy mostly after midday and can be damp and cold.

A birds eye view of Tsokha on the trail to Phedang

A birds eye view of Tsokha on the trail to Phedang

A small clearing en route to Phedang, amidst Rhodendrons

A small clearing en route to Phedang, amidst Rhodendrons

The trail splits from this place as the straight one goes to Dzongri and the trail on the right leads to Kokchurang. After a much needed replenishment we start for the 2nd half of our climb. The trail climbs steadily again zigzagging while we climb slowly as can can feel the altitude resulting into headache. Here the Rhododendron trees have turned it bushes aligning more horizontally. Climbing for two hours we reach the top of Deorali, a sacred place having a Chorten and prayer flags. There are spectacular views of the Sikkim mountains and its peaks from here. We start descending from this point and after crossing a clearing on a meadow we climb a small hump. From this hump we gently descend and traverse to the meadows of Dzongri. Walking around an hour we reach the Trekkers Hut and the camping side. The wooden hut consists of four rooms, a dinning hall and a separate setup for kitchen. The camping ground is on the left side of the hut along the narrow stream which flows in front of the hut. We camp or stay in the hut. Total distance is 12 Km and may take 7/8 hours. we camp for the night.

Phedang on goecha la trek

Phedang

Looking back towards deorali

Looking back towards deorali

Day 5: Rest and active acclimatisation day at Dzongri. Climb to Dzongri top and back

We wake up very early in the morning around 4 am and prepare to go to the top of Dzongri which is the sunrise point and offers majestic views. It is essential to climb to the Dzongri top as the hill straight in front of Dzongri restricts the views of the mountains. A good 45 minutes to an hour climb gaining a height around 210m/700ft will take us to Dzongri top. The panorama from Dzongri Top is simply breathtaking during sunrise when peaks are tinted in the softest of hues. It is almost an 150 degree panorama, from right Jopunu, Mt. Pandim to our left the Kabru group of peaks. Straight ahead is Kanchendzongha, the third highest peak in the world standing with massive glory. Local people offer prayers and incense of cryptomaria Japonica shrubs to the Chorten at the top. After clicking photographs we descend to the base  for the breakfast. In the early afternoon you may walk towards Dzongri La (Dzongri Pass) on the trail to Chowrikhang, HMI (Himalayan Mountaineering Institute) base camp for couple of hours. However a round trip to Dzongri will take 6/7 hours and is out of scope. Camp for the night.

dzongri top

@ Dzongri top

Dzongri hut and camping ground on goecha la trek

Dzongri hut and camping ground from above

Day 6: Dzongri to Lamuney– 14 Km – 7/8 hours

After breakfast we take the trail on the right from the trekkers hut and it gently climbs on the top of the ridge. Take a left from the top and walk on the level ground of Dzongri meadow. We encircle and traverse the meadow while gently descending. The walk on this rolling meadow, dotted with red pygmy shrubs, wildflowers , Yaks grazing on both sides of the trail is a delight in itself. After an hour on the meadow, we start descending to the river bed through the dense forest. This trail is famous for Blood Pheasant, Sikkim’s state bird. Descending on the rock and gravel for about 45 mins we reach a level ground, Kokchurang (~ 3650 m, 12000ft). The place is a lovely camping ground with a Trekkers Hut and Prek Chu river flowing beside. From the hut we take a right turn to follow the main trail and cross a log bridge over a side stream. Then we turn left and go along the Prek for a while until we cross the bridge. From this point Prek is on our left and will remain till Samity lake ( though not visible most of the time). After walking along the river for a while we gradually climb a ridge covered with moist fern and moss laden trees and walking for another hour and half we enter into the the wide Thansing valley (~ 3930m, 12900ft). Total distance is around 10 Km and can take 5/6 hours. The valley is at the base of Jopunu peak and a clear view of Pandim is awe-inspiring. Pandim is considered sacred by the Sikkimese and mountaineers are not allowed to attempt it. Straight in front is the sheer ridge of Kanchendzongha all white, without any protruding a rock spur!  Thansing Trekkers Hut is renovated few years back and can host 40 trekkers easily. From here our today’s destination Lamuney (~ 4180m, 13700ft) is only 4 Km away and hardly a couple of hours time. The camping ground is beside the river Prek Chu with a lone kitchen hut. As there is no Trekkers Hut at Lamuney so it is mandatory to carry your camping equipment here.  Tree line ends in this valley with occasional bushes and shrubs. Prek chu flows on our left and the peaks of Jopunu, Tinchenkhang and Pandim on our right. This valley is very rich for avifauna including various species of Finch, Assentor, Laughingthrush etc. We camp beside the Prek. . Dinner is served early between 6 to 7 pm. It is a must that we sleep early today as tomorrow we need to start very early in the morning. Indeed another long and strenuous day.

Walking on Dzongri meadow

Walking on Dzongri meadow

Thansing valley, straight ahead is Kanchendzongha ridge

Thansing valley, straight ahead is Kanchendzongha ridge

Cakewalk through the valley to Lamuney

Cakewalk through the valley to Lamuney

birds during goecha la trek

Black-faced Laughingthrush

Day 7: Trek to Goecha La (View Point 1) and back to Kochurang – 16 Km – 8/10 hours

Two factors are important to decide that when do we start for Goecha La in the morning. First, do we wish to reach Goecha La View Point 1 (Sunrise point) before sunrise? Being in the east and altitude, normally sunrise is as early as 4:45 am during April/May. In October/November it is an hour late, around 5:30/5:45 am. Second factor is, how far we want to go? Goecha La as by the name, is essentially a pass (La means mountain p

ass in Tibetan) between Oglanthang and Talung valley. There are 3 significant points for Goecha La, (a) View point 1, which is a the sunrise point, offers stunning view of the high peaks during sunrise (b) View Point 2 – A glacial lake,which can be seen from the moraine ridge and (c) View Point 3 – which is the pass in itself. [Note: From spring 2017 Kanchendzongha National Park (KNP) authority is approving permits ONLY till First View Point (Sunrise point). None is allowed to go beyond this point. Recently night trap camera found evidences of Snow leopard in the area and this rule is enforced in accord to the fact.]. We have to start by 3 am latest that we reach View point 1 (sunrise point) before the dawn and return to Kokchurang camp by afternoon. Start with a torch (head lamp is preferred) and take the trail going towards north to reach Samity lake in an hours time. Till here the trail is along  very gentle gradient. We walk the lake in length and head straight on the ridge encircling the lake. Climb the well marked trail on a steady pace for 2 Km to reach View point 1 (~ 4600m, 15100ft). From here looming Kanchendzongha dominates the vista and a vast panorama of peak sweeping towards the south which are on our left. Several glaciers, streams, lateral and median moraine ridges can be seen on the left while a sheer ice fall sweeping from Pandim on our right. We continue further while descending on a loose scree zone and enter into the a kilometer long flat sand bed, named as Zemathang (~ 4500m, 14750ft). The porous bed is soft and water runs underneath. There is a sharp ridge on our left which also offers spectacular view from its top. From Zemathang the pass is another 5 Km. Crossing this zone enters into a boulder strewn terrain and we climb a moraine ridge which is like a semicircular arc. We continue on the last patches of grass and finally a steep climb on scree to reach 2nd View Point. There is a lake below the ridge on our left and named Goecha lake. View Point 2 is marked with prayer flags and a tablet in memory of a trekker. It takes another 3 hours to reach here. The Goecha La pass (~ 4950m, 16200ft) or 3rd View Point can be seen straight a kilometer ahead and half hour from here over boulders covered with snow and occasional ups and downs. The pass is a wide open one, almost ~ 300m/1000ft. From the pass Goecha peak is on our left and a rocky cliff to the right . Kanchendzongha looms in front and Simvo to its right. Another turquoise lake is on the other side of the pass called sometimes “Emerald Lake” and seen below. The return will also take a considerable time over this terrain. On our way back we trace trace the trail back and reach Samity lake (~ 4200m/14100ft). This turquoise water body is a medium to large size high altitude lake with an inlet and outlet. The outlet contributes to the river Prek. Mt. Pandim is towering on the right and Kabru group on left side of the lake while Kanchendzongha remains in the middle. Stagnant water on a clear weather casts spell bounding reflection. We continue the trail trail to Lamuney and further down to reach the campsite of Kokchurang (~ 3650m, 12000ft) via Thansing. Camp for the night. Total distance is 16 Km and can take 8 to 10 hours.

View Point 1/Sunrise point

View Point 1/Sunrise point

Kanchenjunga during goecha la trek

Reaching 2nd View Point

Goecha lake, 2nd View Point of goecha la trek

Goecha lake, 2nd View Point

Goecha La , the pass, highest point in goecha la trek

3rd View Point, i.e. the Goecha La Pass

Turquoise Samity lake

Turquoise Samity lake

Samity Lake on goecha la trek

Samity Lake from above

Day 8: Trek back to Tsokha via Phedang – 18 Km – 6/7 hours

From Kokchurang Trekkers Hut on the way back the trail bifurcates. We take the trail on our left to bypass Dzongri and reach directly to Phedang. The trail is on the level ground traversing one after another mountain keeping almost a constant height. The jungle is dense, serene, full with different types of Rhododendrons. The trail is ideal for bird watching as human movement is very sparse. At times it is only couple of feet wide and covered with fallen leaves. The 12 Km long trail takes 4 to 5 hours of traversing and leading into the opening at Phedang. From here we turn left and descend to Tsokha by the same way we came. Total distance is 18 Km and can take 6 to 7 hours. Camp or hut stay at night.

Kokchurang

Kokchurang

Rhododendron on goecha la trek

The trail is in full bloom during spring

Day 9: Trek back to Yuksom – 16 Km – 5/6 hours

Today is our last day on trail and we descend continuously to Bakhim and  4th bridge. From here clim 15/20 mins to hit the trail. Now its a gradual descent to Sachen and Yuksom. It will take around 5/6 hours for a distance of 15 Km. Accommodation in tourist lodge.

Day 10: Back to NJP/Bagdogra by 6 pm.

Additional stay due to Trekking Permit (For Non Indians): If you wish to spend a day or two around Yuksom while waiting for the the Trekking Permit, there are lovely nice walks around. You may visit Coronation Site, Yuksom Lake (Kathok Tso Lake, a medium sized lake nestled inside forest) and a hike to Dubdi Monastery. This is the oldest monastery in Sikkim and is a 3 Km uphill hike from Yuksom. If you have another day then you may prefer a car sightseeing to Pelling/Pemayangtse monastery/Rabdantse ruins (80 Km roundtrip).

P.S.: Distances and altitudes are approximate and may not be exact.

CLICK HERE FOR LIST OF THINGS TO CARRY IN Dzongri & Goecha La TREK OR DOWNLOAD PDF BROCHURE