Exploring the new trail to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp
The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown was a disaster for travelers. We were locked up in our homes for months. We could not go out to places like normal times and traveling was out of the question. So as soon as things started getting back to normal and the lockdown was lifted, we, a group of three friends, prepared ourselves to trek after the Tihar of 2078 B.S. (2021 A.D.). This led us to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp in the far east corner of Nepal.
Even though Province 1 has a lot of mountains and trekking destinations, the major issue was the trekking itinerary took way too long to complete within the time we could allocate and some lacked proper accommodations. Out of all possibilities, we had two options Makalu and Kanchenjunga Base Camp, both with appropriate accommodations as they are relatively popular destinations. The problem was, that it still took way more days than we had for both of those treks. Also, the trail to Kanchenjunga South involved a rather long uphill walk that goes through a huge landslide-prone zone. But luckily my friend Saroj Raj Sharma found some details about the newly built trail to KBC South that followed a river up to the base camp with a low difficulty level. This presented us with the opportunity to explore the trail while it was still unknown to the trekking community. My other friend Binay Poudel also decided to join us for the trek. We gathered all the required information about the trek and started our journey on the 7th of November 2021.
We started our journey from Dharan. On the first day, we booked a microbus and reached Phungling, the headquarter of the Taplejung district. The next morning we went to the bus station to book a ticket to Ranipul, which is the starting point of the newly built trail. But our trip was delayed due to some problem in our vehicle. We were only able to leave by midday and it took us over 4 hours to reach Ranipul. The destination for the day was supposed to be Yasang which is around 3 hours walking distance from Ranipul. Since we arrived at Ranipul late that day, we decided to trek for an hour more and stay in a homestay at Lapsetar. The next day our destination was Torangden, which is the meeting point of the old trail and the new trail. We started our trek at sunrise, had some lunch at Sigedanda, and trekked through Yasang, which is the last village until we reach Torangden.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area starts right after the village of Yasang. The trail after Yasang involves trekking through a thick forest with most of the section of the trail lying in the red panda zone and the beautiful gurgling sound of the Simbuwa river originating from the Yalung Glacier. We were also blessed with other mesmerizing waterfalls along the trail. We reached Lase Suspension Bridge by evening. After a short trek from there, we reached the meeting point of the Yasang-Torangden and Yamphudin-Torangden trails. Finally, at around 7 PM we reached Torangden and stayed at Torangden Guest House. We were really tired after the long trek and went to sleep after a heavy meal.
The next day we left for Tseram (also called Cheram) early in the morning. The trek on this day was pretty easy so we decided to take our time and walk at a slower pace while appreciating the view. At noon we reached Andhaphedi where we found a newly built teahouse. We had lunch there and headed towards Tseram. We reached Tseram at around 4 PM that day. Tseram had lots of hotels to stay but due to the impact of the lockdown all but one were closed. That single hotel was also fully booked by trekkers who had just arrived from the North Base Camp by crossing the Selele pass. Since all the rooms were packed, the hotel owner offered us the option to sleep in a tent. We accepted the offer and spent that night in a tent.
Our plan for the next day was to reach the base camp i.e. Oktang and return to Tseram the same evening. We packed our bags with excitement to finally reach our destination. We reached Ramjer at 11 AM and had some breakfast. The peaks of Kanchenjunga massif started appearing one after the other right after Ramjer. On our way to Oktang, one of my friend suffered altitude sickness so we asked him to return to Ramjer. There was still some snow along the way resulting from the snowfall a few weeks before. This made identifying the trail a bit difficult but the snow poles helped us a lot to navigate the trail. We finally made it to Oktang (4780m).
We were surrounded by mountains, we could hear the cracking sound of the Yalung glacier and we even got to see blue sheep. The sky was clear and we got to enjoy the view of some of the highest mountains in the world.
After spending an hour we headed back as we had to reach Tseram that day. We had some lunch at Ramjer and reached Tseram at dusk. The other trekkers staying at the hotel had already left for Torangden so luckily we got the room and slept the night off.
The next day we left for Torangden after lunch. The trek to Torangden was shorter and we had the entire day so we decided to descend slowly as the next day involved a long walk and it was wise not to push our limits. We reached Torangden at around 3 PM. We talked with the hotel owners about the possibility of the new trail popularizing trekking in Kanchenjunga and attracting more trekkers. They there were hopeful about the possibility and envisioned Kanchenjunga being as popular as Everest and Annapurna.
The next day we left Torangden at around 6:20 AM after some breakfast. We had requested the hotel owner to pack some lunch for us early in the morning for the day. We enjoyed our lunch with the view of a waterfall between Torangden and Yasang. We reached Ranipul in the evening and booked an early taxi to Phungling for the next day.
The next morning we left for Phungling after having some breakfast. We reached Phungling at around 3 PM. We freshened ourselves and then booked tickets to go back home.
The next day we headed back home with the last view of Mt. Kanchenjunga from Pauwa Bhanjyang.
Day 1: Dharan-Phungling
Day 2: Phungling-Ranipul-Lapsetar
Day 3: Lapsetar-Yasang-Torangden
Day 4: Torangden-Tseram
Day 5: Tseram-Oktang-Tseram
Day 6: Tseram-Torangden
Day 7: Torangden-Ranipul
Day 8: Ranipul-Phungling
Day 9: Phungling-Dharan
- Nabin Karki (Phungling-Ranipul driver): 9842793146
- Suman (Phungling-Ranipul driver): 9860069747
- Dreams Hotel and Lodge (Ranipul): 9863981940
- Lapsetar Community Homestay (Lapsetar): 9842967693
- Torangden Guest House (Torangden): 9864184541/9866264048
- Kanchenjunga South Base Camp Hotel (Torangden): 9862168393
- Yalungkang Guest House (Tseram): 9862329305/9849602521
- Ranipul: https://goo.gl/maps/4FqDiAjDYZ93D4CY9
- Lapsetar: https://goo.gl/maps/hGZ1z6PMzxHKgD5W7
- Sigedanda: https://goo.gl/maps/2DwV4E2Z29noGKAa7
- Yasang: https://goo.gl/maps/9H7Vinix5WvCg1w68
- Torangden: https://goo.gl/maps/D5hzoebgPx6jgNw88
- Andhaphedi: https://goo.gl/maps/MriFSg7Fp5jtW3Zm7
- Tseram: https://goo.gl/maps/bPCks7kTaVpU98HC7
- Ramjer: https://goo.gl/maps/4R7CeB95VD43zZcj6
- Oktang: https://goo.gl/maps/tJ7KKi9YrtrmfDxC6
Information about the new trail was gathered from: