Mt. Kachenjunga (28,198ft & treasures of the snow) is the third highest mountain in the world and was first climbed by the British in 1956. Lying on the Nepal – Sikkim borders, the lush landscape of the Kanchenjunga area is an ideal environment for musk deer, blue sheep and the infamous Yeti. Few westerners have traveled to this remote area.
This region offers an endless variety of culture and changing countryside as it proceeds from terraced fields, forests of birch, bamboo and rhododendron that eventually turn to stands of fir and hemlock as one climbs higher into the mountains. Himalayan bear, barking deer and the lesser panda are among the rich animal and bird life that fill the area. Kanchanjunga, Makalu and the spectacular Jannu are among the peaks at the outset of the trek. Passing through villages of Brahmins and Chhetries, you enter almost exclusive Limbu territory with a scatter of Gurung and Sherpa settlements.
The trek runs through Kanchenjunga Conservation Area(KCA) in the eastern Himalaya. Trekkers can explore the traditional farming practices and see different birds and wildlife species. There are a number of high mountain lakes in Olangchung Gola. Through this route, we explore two of Nepal’s best-preserved protected areas – the Kanchanjunga Conservation Area. Through the route, one can also trek to the base camps of Mt Kanchanjunga. Similarly, the Tamor river can be the other attraction for tourists. The route encompasses alpine grasslands, rocky outcrops, dense temperate and sub-tropical forests, and low river valleys. Apart from natural beauty, trekkers can also explore the cultural heritage like monasteries, chhortens, temples and prayer walls. And to add to the flavor, the festivals of all of these people living in harmony only serve to make the native culture livelier.
The trek to Kanchenjunga is a long course and offers one of the best high altitude trekking trips, leading the famous peaks of eastern Nepal as Kanchenjunga and mysterious Jannu via the enormous Yalung Glacier. It also allows a trip to Lamsang La and Kanchenjunga glacier. The view of Kanchenjunga range and Kanchenjunga (8,556m) the third highest in the world, from the north base camp is simply breathtaking and unforgettable, as is the north face of Jannu, a worthy destination itself. The trail goes from the Sub Tropical lowlands up to the Yalung Glacier 5000m; enable the trekkers to experience a diverse cross section of topography, people, culture, fauna and flora. Set in a remote wilderness, inhabited by a few nomadic yak herders, this region has much to offer the adventurous trekkers who are looking for something different.
Olangchung Gola & It’s traditional cultures
Olangchungola is locally known as Walung, Their religion, language, dress and social patterns are Tibetan in derivation. The Futuk festival, during the Futuk festival, masked dancers enact various scenes, including a scene depicting a battle between the local Maksum Gyabo and the Gyabo of the neighbouring Thudam area. Walungs celebrate with great fervor the social and religious festivals of Lhosar, Neso, Futuk, Sakadawa, Dhukpachhesi and Ngyungnay. While the Walung themselves call it Holung or Walung. Gola means a market. As those living in Walung are slightly different as a group from the inhabitants of the adjoining areas of Nepal and Tibet, they have been regarded as a separate indigenous people. Among these villages, the largest settlement is Olangchung Gola itself. The language and script of Walungs like the other inhabitants of the northern region resemble those of the Tibetans, and the Tibetan language and script are prevalent among the Walungs. The birth, death, marriage and other ceremonies of Walungs are similar to the indigenous peoples living around them. The ceremonies following death like the lama reading sacred text over the dead body for three days, beautifying the body, cremating (burning) it and other related customs of Walungs are similar to those of other indigenous peoples of the Himalayas. The dress and food habits of Walung are similar to those of the Sherpas.
The Walungs traditionally had a local administrative post of Gobha to look into the various local administrative affairs of society, the practice of having the post of Gobha began two hundred years ago but the post of Gobha is no longer found today. The Walung follow the old Buddhist religion. They worship the Avalokiteshwara, who is known as Cherisi. The Walung also revere Padmasambhava. Along with a 90-ft tall monastery, there are many monasteries in the villages.
The first day trek starts from Fungling (1777m) – the headquarters of Taplejung district. Sherpa Tol is the gateway to this trek. The trek passes through beautiful cardamom fields and Alnus trees (Uttis) until Hangdewa VDC, which takes around two and half hours. Along the way, there are small teashops that can be used for alternative accommodation as they provide home stay facilities. After about 3 hours of walk, we reach Mitlung at the bank of Tamor rivier. Next three day, trek passes along the banks of Tamor River up to the Lelep village passing through mostly the Limbu villages i.e. Shiwa, Chirwa, Hellok & Tapethok but peoples living in Lelep village and above are mostly the Sherpas. From Pembu, it is an uphill climb for about two and half hours to Lelep (1687m) – our destination for the 3rd day. The KCAP headquarters is in Lelep. Similarly, there is a police station, some teashops, groceries and hotels. There are also some good camping sites in Lelep.
Day 4th, the trek runs along the bank of Tamor River through dense forest that offers good habitat for different wildlife species. You can see some wild species if you are lucky. After crossing a suspension bridge, and a monastery and gradually descends after about half an hour and we reach Gowatar (1800m). Near the village, there is a big stone and it is believed that only the religious people can move them. After a walk of around half hours, that offers spectacular views of two waterfalls about 100 meters tall. Another 1-hour walk will take us to our camping site at Ela Danda (2051m). The place offers a panoramic view of snow capped peaks including the Small Kasturi Peak and Tamor River. Trek to Olangchung Gola (3,208m), is the 2nd longest day 7 – 8 hours walk passes through Ulnus and Rhododendron forest. The trek passes through dense bamboo groves (spread over around 5 hectares). This place is popular among trekkers as the habitat of the Red panda. If you are lucky, we might catch a sight of red panda from the trail itself. After a total walk of three and half hours from El Danda, we reach Maguwa (2435m) probably for the pack quick Lunch. About walking of 3 and half hours, we caught the first glimpse of Olangchung Gola, After a climb of about 40 minutes, we finally reach at Olangchung Gola (3208m). Olangchung Gola is a beautiful Sherpa village with around 45 houses, a 465 years old monastery with golden manuscript and KCAP office. There is also a sub-health post, a primary school and a border police station at Olangchung Gola. Here we take an extra day for the exploration of the local town and probably the oldest Buddhist monastery in Nepal.
Now our trek turns towards to the Mt. Kanchenjung base camp, next day we stay overnight at a all most NO houses village called “Thasa” and crossing the Nangola Pass (4,776m), we finally get into the Ghunsa valley area. Ghunsa is a most beautiful Sherpa village with around 30 houses, an old Buddhist monastery and again KCAP office. There is also a sub-health post, a primary school. There are few nice guest houses accommodation with hot shower etc. Peoples are friendlier with the tourist. After spending an extra day at Ghunsa, now we proceed towards to the Mt. Kanchenjung base camp, passing through the small Sherpas villages Khambachen and Lhonak, we finally catch up the awesome and unbelievable views of several mountains i.e. Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586m), Mt. Jannu (7,771m), Ramtang peak (5700m), and more other peaks. NOW, we take retrace back to Ghunsa, trek to another Sherpa village with few teshouses Amjilosa. Another two long trek days to Chirwa and Taplejung.
Day 1Arrival in KTM, transfer to hotel and short briefing
Day 2Sightseeing tour in Kathmandu, Packing and Preparations
Day 3Fly to Suketar/ Taplejung and trek to Mitlung (909m)
Day 4Trek to Chiruwa (1,246m), 4 hours
Day 5Trek to Lelep (1687m), 5 hours
Day 6Trek to Ela Danda (2051m), 4 hours
Day 7Trek to Olangchung Gola (3208m), 2nd longest day 7 – 8 hours walk
Day 8Attend on Futuk Festival
Day 9Attend on Futuk Festival
Day 10Trek to Thasa (3440m), 5 hours
Day 11Trek to Ghunsa Village (3,427m) via Nangola Pass (4,820m) – Most Longest day of the trek (9 – 10 hours of walk)
Day 12Ghunsa, monasteries & village exploration day
Day 13Trek to Khambachen (4,050m), 4 hours
Day 14Trek to Lhonak (4780m), 4 hours
Day 15Visit to Pangpema Kanchenjunga Base Camp (5,143m) and return to Lhonak, 6 hours
Day 16Trek to Ghunsa, 6 hours
Day 17Trek to Thyanyani (2400m), 5 hours
Day 18Trek to Sekathum (1576m), 4 hours
Day 19Trek to Tawa (1170m), 4 hours
Day 20Trek/drive to Suketar/Taplejung, 6 hours
Day 21Fly to KTM via Biratnagar/Optional drive to Fikkal and O/N there
Day 22Free day in KTM/Drive 2 hours and fly to KTM
Day 23Take international flight for home
This kind of trek is challenging but doesn’t really require previous trekking and mountaineering experiences and also doesn’t require any technical experience. But if you have any previous experiences would be really helpful. Your fitness is really important for this trek; therefore we strongly suggest preparing yourself in good physical condition. You need to be trained at least for about 3 to 5 months to prepare yourself as strong candidate. You can go to fitness center every morning for about 1.5 hours, do hiking every weekend with increasing weights on your pack, manage some time for cycling for couple of hours for 2 or 3 times a week. However at the high altitude, there might be little symptoms of altitude illness like mild headache, fatigue etc. but take it as normal and just drink enough water (4 – 5 liters) every day.On this trek, youneed to be able to hike 4 – 8 hours over hilly terrain up to 5,500m of altitude with daypack.
If you have any previous experiences of similar grade trek would be helpful, but if you don’t have is also not really important matter of issue. This trek will introduce you about high altitude trekking in the Himalayas and also about the local cultures, traditions and local people.
Even if you are around the age of 65 years, you can be a candidate for this trek.
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