Trekking in North-East, particularly Sikkim, is a totally different experience from trekking in the Northern Himalayas. Goecha La is an option in the North-East which would not make you think twice. With walks through Rhododendron and Pine forests, views of high mountains and friendly people. The southeast face of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain, is viewable from the pass and 14 other summits including Mt. Pandim (6691m), Jupuno(5650m) , Tenchenkhang (6010m), Kabru North(7353m) and more. The beautiful Samiti Lake, with still water and the reflection of Mt. Pandim is another major attraction on the this trek. Goecha La is nestled in the vibrant Kanchenjunga National Park, one of the greenest regions in the world. The rich flora and fauna is unmatchable. The dramatic changes in the weather combined with quick altitude gain makes it a moderate to challenging trek, suitable for trekkers with moderate experience and fitness. This is a protected area and it is an offence to litter or disturb the flora and fauna .
It takes one full working day to organize the permits for foreigners. Therefore, please keep this in mind when planning your trip. It is advised that you reach the base, Yuksom, at least one working day before you leave for the trek.
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On this holiday we will be at considerable altitude with Goecha La pass at 4600m. Therefore, it will help that you acclimatize well in order to make the best of the week. You will be advised by the UFO guide to rest and keep your body hydrated, walk slow and steady and eat well. You should be ready to walk an average of 5-6 hours a day and there is fair bit of gradient to be climbed every day. We would encourage you to do a bit of walking/running and breathing exercises to enjoy this trek. A decent level of fitness will help you enjoy the trekking holiday better.
UFO representative will pick you up from the Bagdogra airport at 12 noon and we will leave at 1 pm for our destination. Our destination will be Yuksom, which will take us at least 7 hours to reach from Bagdogra. The roads are perpetually under construction so be prepared for a pretty bumpy ride. Yuksom was the capital of ancient Sikkim kingdom and is a fairly large settlement. You will probably reach your group hotel in time for dinner by 8 to 9 pm. An early night will get us ready for the next day to start our trek.
The first day is reserved for acclimatization and you will be advised to rest and drink water as much as possible.
After early breakfast, we get on the trail for our first day of the trek. We head out towards Sachen which will be 4-5 hour walk. Keeping in mind that you have to acclimatize well for the trek ahead we will camp here, providing you ample time to rest on the first day. We walk through the town of Yuksom and nearby huts, to the gate of Kangchendzonga National Park. We walk all the way down to the bridge over Tshushay Khola. Then, there is fair bit of steep climb all the way to Sachen.
A fine day of walking through Rhododendron and Pine trees. It will take you about 2-2.5 hours to reach Bhakim at 2600m. It has a great view of the Yuksom Valley. There is also a tea stall which can offer a hot beverage and snacks. It will take another 3 hours to reach our campsite for the Tshokha. A former Tibetan refugee settlement, you will get your first views of the high peaks with Mt. Pandim and Japuno standing tall in the background. There is also a little pond a little uphill next to the monastery.
The first part of the day is beautiful walk on wooden plans through Rhododendron forest. If you are trekking in April-May, these will be blooming red and pink. Today will be the most difficult day yet of the trek. A gradual climb will get you to Phedang, an open meadow with a wooden hut and great views of the big mountains. Then an hour of steep climb will take you to a shrine adorned with flags. After a couple of ups and down, a 40 min walk will get you to Dzongri. Many people only trek till Dzongri and go back the way they came.
Get ready for a long day today. We get up at 4am to leave for Dzongri Top. After a hot cup of tea or coffee and a bite of biscuit, we leave for the top by 4.30am. It will take us about 40-45 minute to reach the viewpoint. If the weather gods are happy, and you have clear weather, you will get fantastic views of Kangchenjunga during sunrise. You can also see the Singalila range, which makes the border between India and Nepal. We spend about an hour/hour and a half depending on the cold and views and then head back down to our camp for a hearty breakfast. We then follow a thin trail traversing the mountain side on the Dzongri meadows and onwards towards our next campsite. Before you reach the hut at Kokchurang, there is a very steep descent of almost 500ft. The Prekchu river flows next the wooden lodge and the pine and Rhododendron trees hanging in mist, make it a stunning setting. Crossing the bridge over the river, Thansing is about 2-3 kms away and will take you almost an hour. The campsite is set on an open meadow with Mt. Pandim, Japuno and Tenchenkhang peaks giving you company.
Another beautiful day with a short walk. You will now notice the barren rocky cliffs and shrubs have taken over as we are now above the treeline. Today is an easy and lazy walk to Lamune, our basecamp for our early morning walk to the viewpoint 1. Walk slow and steady, drink lots of water and eat well. Once you reach Lamune, you have the choice to walk up till Samiti Lake , which will take another 45 min to 1 hour at a good pace. We have an early dinner at 6 pm and hit the bed early to wake up at 2 am for our walk to Goecha La . You will be advised to keep your daypack and necessary items you want to carry the next day ready for the early morning departure.
Finally, we get ready for the day we have been all waiting for. We get up early at 2 am and after a hot beverage and biscuit, head out towards Viewpoint 1 on Goecha La pass by 2.30 am. This will ensure that we have a good chance of catching the sunrise on Kanchnejunga. Also, the probability of getting the views is higher early morning. The first glimpse of the Kanchenjunga range basking in golden sunlight, is a moment you will remember for the rest of your life. On our way back we stop and take rest near the crystal waters of Samiti Lake. After spending 40-50 minutes by the lake, we head back to our camp for breakfast. Afetr breakfast, we start our descent to Kokchurang.
After an early breakfast, we head out back down to Tshoka. We will take an alternate trail from Kokchurang straight to Phedang, bypassing Dzongri. This quiet trail is a bird watching paradise and there is a great chance of you to spot the blood pheasant, the state bird of Sikkim. After Phedang it is downhill all the way to Tshoka. Evening at leisure.
After an early breakfast, we finally make it back to town life to Yuksom. We enjoy a hot shower and our final dinner in Sikkim at the group hotel.
We wake up on an easy note today . After breakfast, we can explore Yuksom a bit and get ready to leave for our 7-8 hour ride to Bagdogra. The group has the option of having an early lunch at 12 noon in Yuksom and then head out. We will reach Bagdogra late in the evening and the group can reminisce about the last 10 days spent together.
After breakfast, the group will be transferred to the airport by 11 am for your onward journey.