There’s a quite a bit of adventure around the country, besides just Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan, the three best known destinations for visitors to Nepal. East Nepal is a region rich in culture, and it is where you’ll find Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world at 8.586 meters. So, why not embark on a Kanchenjunga trek this time around?
The trek is mostly inside the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) that was established in1997, and is in Tapeljung, an area that sprawls out over some 2,035 square kilometers. Although it’s a lot of space, the region has a pretty sparse population of Limbus, Sherpas, Rais being the major ethnicities. However, they have distinctive cultures and lifestyles, which could be interesting. While Kanchenjunga is certainly the jewel in the crown here, there are also ten other peaks that are over 7,000 meters. Besides these grand mountains, the wildlife can also pique your interest, consisting of elusive animals like the ferocious grey wolf, the magnificent snow leopard, the shy red panda, huge Himalayan black bear, beautiful blue sheep, and quite a number of musk deer, besides a wide variety of birds. Similarly the flora, too, is diverse, including twenty species of rhododendrons, the national flower.
Here’s how you begin this exciting trek. A plane takes you to Biratnagar, the second biggest city of Nepal (about 45 minutes only, plenty of flights through the day), and then a vehicle drives you to Dharan (some one-hour only, on excellent road), which was one of the two major cities for recruitment of Gurkhas for the British Army )Pokhara being the other). The following morning, the drive is on to a little place called Hile (50 km, 1,850 m), where even in summer you’ll need a pullover, and onwards to Basantpur (40 km, 2,200 m), where you’ll be getting ready for the start of an epic adventure (gearing up, in popular parlance).
A 50-minute hike slightly uphill takes you to Deurali (2,475 m), and after a further 60-minute hike from there, you’ll stop for a well-deserved lunch at Ghurbise (2,660 m). Lunch over, a little rest, and then it’s off to Chauki (1 h, 2,680 m), which is a good viewpoint for peaks like Makalu, Chomolonzo, and Chhamlang, and where you’ll be spending your first night on the trail (lodge accomodations). The next day, you trek to Mangalbare (35 min, 2,635 m), and from their you’ll be encountering a rougher trail, but it’s an important one. Known as the ‘rhododendron trail’, it goes through the Tinjure-Milke-Jaljale area for about two hours, after which time you’ll be halting for lunch at Gupha Pokhari (2,890 m).