Kanchenjunga North then South

Day Stage Hours:minutes Accommodation
1 Alternative 1A: Suketar-Lingkhim-Thiwa 7:30 Yes
. Alternative 1B: Taplejung to Mitlung 2:30 Yes
. Alternative 1C. Doban to Mitlung 5:00 Yes
2 Mitlung-Sinwa 1:45 Yes
. Sinwa-Thiwa 3:15 Yes
3 Thiwa-Lelep 3:15 Yes
. Lelep-Amjilosa 4:15 Yes
4 Amjilosa-Gyabla 3:15 Yes
. Gyabla-Phale 2:50 Yes
5 Phale-Ghunsa 1:00 Yes
6 Ghunsa-Khangpachen 4:00 Yes
7 Khangpachen-Lhonak 4:00 Yes
8 Lhonak-PangPema 3:15 Maybe
. PangPema-Lhonak 2:40 Yes
9 Lhonak-Khangpachen 2:25 Yes
. Khangpachen-Ghunsa 3:30 Yes
10 Ghunsa-SeleleCamp 3:30 Yes
11 SeleleCamp-MirginLa 1:30 No
. MirginLa-MisisayLa 1:15 No
. MisisayLa-SeleLa 1:00 No
. SeleLa-Cheram 1:30 Yes
12 Cheram–Ramchaur 2:40 Yes
13 Ramchaur–Okhordung 1:30 No
. Okhordung–Cheram 3:00 Yes
14 Cheram-Tortong 3:00 Yes
15 Tortong-LasiyaBhanjyang 3:00 Maybe
. LasiyaBhanjyang-(junction) 1:20 No
. (junction)-SherpagaonOR 2:10 Yes
. (junction)-Yamphudin 3:30 Yes
16 Sherpagaon-Mamanke 3:40 Yes
. Mamanke-PhungphungDanda 1:30 Yes
17 PhungphungDanda-Khesewa 3:45 Yes
. Khesewa-KandeBhanjyang 0:30 Yes
. KandeBhanjyang-Kunjari 1:00 Yes
. Kunjari-Simbu 1:00 Yes
18 Simbu-LaliKharka 2:00 Yes
. LaliKharka-DeuraliDeurali-Suketar 1:30 No
The notes below were provided by Sue and Howard Dengate (thanks!) and are in the process of being updated. Prices are listed as the room or bed price first, then db means dal bhat so (Rs300, dbRs500) means a Rs300 room and dal bhat is Rs500 (so a sort of "Big Mac" index for Nepal), and sections of this trek are very much a dal bhat trek. Above Ghunsa and between Yamphudin-Sherpagaon and Ghunsa there are no permanent settlements, no villages, so in other words the places between are lodges only and hence sometimes higher prices and closing during low seasons. Altitudes are from the Kanchenjunga trekking map, in metres. Height gain/loss per day is cumulative and rough, from a cheap altimeter but may help you know what is coming. Do carry snacks and ask where you can get lunch, and which places are open and closed to avoid a nasty surprise. Not all places have a light in the bedroom, bring a good head torch. Sue and Howard speak fluent Nepali and gave a positive tone on everything; updates will gradually muddy their delightful original text. Please add any and all updates in the comments section at the bottom of the page. There are several different starts possible and all converge at Thiwa (Chhirwa).

Alternative 1A. Suketar – Lingkhim - Thiwa 1250m↓ 7.5hrs

This is a good alternative if flying in to Suketar, and also if starting in Taplejung when it is hot as the route traverses around ridges staying above the valley base until reaching Thiwa. After flying in to Suketar you can get on the trail immediately or after an early lunch, probably reaching Phurumbu to overnight, then Thiwa the next day. If coming overland then you can start earlier from Taplejung and reach Lingkhim to overnight.

Alternative 1B. Taplejung to Mitlung, 950m↓ 2.5hrs

If you arrive early in Taplejung you may walk down to Mitlung in the afternoon. However if overnighting in Taplejung then with a smart start it is also possible to walk to Thiwa in one day. Start at the north eastern end of Taplejung and follow a tractor road through cardamom plantations to Asahangpati (~1550m, 45mins). Continue on the tractor road until a steep descent starts at ~1400m. The trail makes a lot of shortcuts to avoid zigzags and drops through terraced fields and scattered houses. Cross a suspension bridge and continue the steep descent to arrive at Mitlung, 1.5 hrs The comfortable **Mitlung Guest House is run by an experienced guide (Krishna Shrestha 9814367998), at top of village on left (Rs500, db Rs300). Sleep well on white sheets to the sound of the Tamur Nadi.

Alternative 1C. Dobhan to Mitlung 300m↑ 100m↓ 5hrs

If coming from Chainpur, Tumlingtar or Basantpur you trek to Doban, where this description starts. It may also be possible to take a jeep down to Doban from Taplejung in the near future. Being low, close to the Tamor, this is a relatively hot route. From Doban on the west side of the river cross the Tamor Nadi (Tamur River) on a suspension bridge, immediately turn left on a tractor road then after 15-20mins drop to the river on an unlikely loose track to find paddy tracks up- river. Cross to bustling Handrung (700m) after 30mins.Those bales of cardamom the porters are carrying are worth about $US1000 each. An alternative is to stay on the true right from Dobhan to Handrung – there are footings in for a vehicle bridge and road construction has started on the true right. From Handrung, head up-river on a new road and after about 500m drop onto tiny paddy tracks for 2hrs through rice harvesting, threshing and haystack building at this season. Enter a horror stretch of jungly rockfall, the track scarcely visible in the tall grasses, very up and down and sometimes very muddy through cardamom plantations, emerging into rice paddies after 2hrs. Drop and climb steeply to a welcome house and from here it is less than 30mins to the quiet string of white and ochre Chhetri houses of Mitlung (900m) with a avenue of frangipani trees. Just before the village join a broad trail and turn left. The track from the right comes down from Taplejung.

2. Mitlung to Thiwa 500m↑ 200m↓ 5hrs

Follow road for 30mins then climb on steps over a bluff for 75mins, and down to busy Sinwa (1055m) with three lodges (Tamor Khola, Paudel, Sinwa). After a total of 3hrs we found an isolated farmhouse with views down the wild Tamor valley. Lunch included ginger dal, fat brown local rice and the inevitable saag. Continue up and down, up and down (this is Nepal!), heading for the obvious right hand skyline ridge, at the base of which lies the pretty thatched village set in a huge rockfall of Thiwa (1200m, Chirwa, Chiruwa ‘corner’) after 1.5hrs. 45mins before Thiwa is a swing bridge from whose southern end a track climbs to Lingkhim (1466m) and thence to Suketar (2420m) if you choose to exit this way. Hotel Tamang (Rs500, db Rs250) and Hotel Kangchenjunga vie for your custom opposite each other, with verandahs overlooking the main track.

3. Thiwa to Amjilosa 1400m↑ 200m↓ 7-8hrs

This is a day of bridges from large to very informal, with some steep up and down. After 15mins take the lower river track and after 1hr cross a wooden swing bridge on a side stream, then after another 1hr cross the Tamor Nadi to the true right on a swing bridge at Tapethok (1322m, Taplethok). There is checkpost for those entering but not for those leaving the area. The track for several hours is now on well-laid flagstones, walking through lovely cardamom groves in the early morning shade with the river roaring below as you climb over a bluff for 1hr. There’s a welcome teashop with bananas to reward you. Make a final short climb into Lelep (1650m) which is headquarters for the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area with a pleasant courtyard and excellent dalbhat at the Lelep Guesthouse. Continue through the houses and take the middle path in a bamboo grove to drop about 150m and cross the Tamor Nadi for the last time on a long swing bridge to Hotel Handurung in 15mins. The village of Sekathum (1650m) is to the left but not visible and the remote Tibetan village of Olangchunggola (Walungchungkhola) is further up the same valley. Rather than the final climb to Lelep you can bypass it and go direct to Hotel Handurung but may not find it open for lunch. 10mins further on there is another lodge. From here upwards the track follows the Ghunsa Khola, draining from the Kangchenjunga and Kumbhakarna (Jannu) glaciers and the major tributary of the Tamor Nadi. Turn right onto a rough riverside track just after the hotel. After 15mins don’t take the wooden swing bridge but 10mins later take the metal swing bridge to the true left then 10mins later cross back to the true right. 15mins after the bridge climb up, still on flagstones, past bluffs where we sighted two musk deer right on the track. After 1hr, cross to the true left – we sighted monkeys on the true right above the bridge. There’s another 1hr of up and down including some exciting riverside trails and informal bridges before the last bridge of the day crosses to the true right and climbs steeply for 400m in 1hr, traversing right over several ridges to Amjilosa (2400m). The **lodge is the third building with comfortable 12 beds in 3 rooms and Tibetan hospitality (Rs800, db Rs300). It claims to be open year-round. A common vegetable on both sides of Kangchenjunga at this altitude is the tutsi karela, a sort of small bitter gourd that grows on vines and features in most meals.

4. Amjilosa to Phale 1200m↑ 400m↓ 6hrs

This is a day of waterfalls. Sidle the huge visible slip with some exposure and climb further to round a bluff, then descend up and down across rockfalls set in dense bamboo to arrive at a teahouse after 1.5hrs. Look out all day for the red pandas reputed to be in this area. After 1hr cross a substantial wooden bridge near the third waterfall, 20mins to another wooden bridge and the fourth waterfall, then climb steeply 30mins in a nasty wet gully to arrive in Gyabla (2725m) with 9-bed lodge and expensive Rs500 dalbhat. Descend to the roaring river confined by cliffs and continue up and down on a rocky path. Black bears have been sighted in broad daylight across the river. After about 2hrs arrive at a pleasant sandy beach then climb, cross a slip then an extensive slip and exit at the top of a third slip onto a terrace of yak pastures. It is a very pleasant walk through juniper and rhododendrons to the Tibetan refugee village of Phale (3125m) about 1hr above the beach. While it is only another hour to the food, shops and bathing delights of Ghunsa, this atmospheric village offers a glimpse of authentic Tibetan culture with two active gompas, carpet-weaving and traditional lifestyle. We stayed at the friendly **Kangchenjunga Folay Hotel (Rs500, db Rs300) and there are at least two other good homestays with private rooms. People were very welcoming. It is possible to continue to Ghunsa the next day early enough to do washing and take a rest day, particularly as the sun is in Ghunsa only from 10am-4pm, a much shorter day than in Phale. Many people in Ghunsa have a house in Phale for the winter.

5. Phale to Ghunsa 200m↑ 1hr

A very pleasant walk through pines, rhododendrons and the deciduous larches for which this area is famous, although most have lost their colour and needles by the end of November. Look up left after the next bridge to the route to a yak hut just under Nango La (4795m), by which it is possible to reach the ancient village of Olangchunggola (~3000m) in two days. This village is reputed to be the original village settled from Tibet more than 600 years ago but there is no accommodation at present. Later there is a memorial to the many wildlife people killed in an horrific helicopter crash near Ghunsa in 2006. Pass the ancient Tashi Choding Gumba (which welcomes visitors but is usually locked) before crossing a swing bridge into Ghunsa (3415m). The Ghunsa houses are charming, with rocks holding down shingles on roofs, dark weathered pine walls, a forest of prayer flags and juniper burning in the morning. Yaks, dogs, goats and chickens roam the main street. Fresh milk and dahi (yoghurt) may be obtained in season. Ghunsa can be busy with people coming and going all the time, but in the last 10 days of walking in 2012 we met only 23 ‘teahouse trekkers’ in total, in 8 groups. There were also 6 large camping groups. In 2013, being later, we met only one German and five Russians although there had been many more just weeks earlier. In order from the bottom of Ghunsa, there is the Snowline Lodge (R), Kangchenjunga Guest House (L), Selele Guest House (L), Sherpa Guest House (L), Ghunsa Guest House (L), Yak Hotel (L down lane), Peaceful Guesthouse (R), and another closed lodge (R). In 2012 we chose the **Peaceful Guesthouse (Rs250 single, Rs500 double/triple, db Rs400) with a lovely family and a warm bucket shower. In 2013 we stayed at the **Kangchenjunga Guesthouse (Rs500, db Rs500) and were very comfortable with a good toilet, shower, food and family. Phones are available, as well as reliable hydroelectricity and several well-stocked shops. In 2012 we took a rest day here the next day to wash clothes, and by afternoon it was snowing.

6. Ghunsa to Khangpachen 850m↑ 100m↓ 4hrs

Most people can climb to 3000m without getting altitude sickness, but the altitude gain this day is double the 300m per day suggested for safety. Watch for signs of altitude sickness and be prepared to rest or retreat if they emerge. Consider using Diamox and remember that there are no clinics or easy communications in case of trouble. You may want to spend a rest day in Khangpachen - see side trip notes below. Take the obvious track up through Ghunsa and cross a bridge, icy in the mornings. The autumn larches above are like sunlight along the Ghunsa Khola in October-November, one of the highlights of many visits to Nepal. Gentle pleasant walking through larch, rhododendron, silver pine and cedar forest, with yaks coming down loaded with potatoes and the valley ahead blocked by the huge Jannu terminal moraine. After 2.5-3hrs cross a cantilever bridge to the true right, circle two big slips with significant rockfall danger and striking views of Jannu (7711m, Kumbakarna) and climb steeply. Then stop and admire the best views of Jannu! Traverse and eventually cross a small stream into Khangpachen (4145m; Khambachen) with about 10 stone houses. The **Kangchenjunga White House run by welcoming Norbu Sherpa (Rs500 double, RS600 triple, db Rs595) has now 7 rooms with 16 beds, excellent food and is open September-October and maybe November depending on season, and April-May and maybe March depending on season. Call Norbu at +977.993242319 (Ghunsa) 993244578 or 993244579 (Khangpachen). Other places cater only to camping groups. The valley northwest up the Nupcha Khola calls out for an afternoon ramble. In 2013 we were privileged to arrive 2hrs after the first Nepal capture and collaring of a snow leopard, just above the hotel, and two days later glimpsed a female snow leopard in the same place. The World Wildlife Fund scientists told us there are about 18 snow leopards in the valleys above Khangpachen, feeding on the numerous blue sheep. An interesting side trip for a Khangpachen rest day will bring you closer to Jannu. Check in Khangpachen for the current location of a seasonal bridge over the Ghunsa Khola. Cross the meadow after the bridge and walk uphill on a trail to the northern side of the Kumbakharna (Jannu) Glacier. After about 2.5hrs reach a shrine (~ 4650m) marked by many prayer flags, bells, tridents, letters and other objects of worship. Rest and enjoy the view of Jannu and its neighbours. It is possible to continue for at least another hour but the ground is prone to landslides. Return to Khangpachen in about 2hrs. Elevation gain and loss is about 600m.

7. Khangpachen to Lhonak 750m↑ 100m↓ 4.5hrs

Again this is double the 300m per day altitude gain suggested for safety. Watch for signs of altitude sickness and be prepared to rest or retreat if they emerge. Climb past the chortens above Khangpachen then steadily on the true right bank with beautiful icy rocky peaks all around, though big areas of sea-buckthorn that fruit prolifically in October but are not harvested locally. There are at least two large flocks of blue sheep. At times there may be avalanche snow across the track that can make crossing streams problematic and recent snow in 2013 made the going icy at the finish. The last 30mins traverses a loose and exposed gully wall at length, crosses a rude bridge and then a sandy plain to seven scattered huts of Lhonak (4792m). One hut has a triple bed room, and two dark twin bed rooms (Rs1000, db Rs700). This is a very atmospheric place, mountains walls about a plain of yaks, particularly at night when you seek the ‘open toilet’ – be careful what you shelter behind! Walk up towards the Lhonak Glacier for the afternoon but take your warm clothes. Visitors in the days before us in 2012 reported -24°C and -17°C at Lhonak but they were in tents and we found the hut at -4°C warm enough. 2013 was also very cold.

8. Lhonak to Pang Pema to Lhonak 350m↑ 350m↓ 6hrs

This day takes you deep into the mountains with time to enjoy and acclimatize but glacial retreat is collapsing the moraine terrace, meaning that some sections require considerable care and there is an ever-present risk of stonefall. About two-thirds of the walk is on grassy terraces. The views of Kangchenjunga and the glacier are stupendous. We also saw Himalayan pika (rock rabbits), a big covey of chukar (Himalayan snow partridge), and more blue sheep. There is a single hut in Pang Pema (5140m) which is open from September to sometimes mid-November and in April to May and sometimes March and serves noodles for lunch (Rs500). A limited number of people could sleep inside. We regret that we didn’t plan to spend a night here, although the altitude may make for a restless night. Pang Pema is generally regarded as the north base camp since it provides a complete view of the north face of Kangchenjunga, but it is possible to go further on deteriorating moraine walls – probably better to spend the time climbing the rocky ridge above Pang Pema for wider and wider views if you have the energy. Retrace your steps for a second night in Lhonak, usually into the up-valley wind after 10am.

9. Lhonak to Ghunsa 200m↑ 1600m↓ 7-8hrs

Very charming walk with full valley views of the golden larches in season. Retrace your steps down-valley to Khangpachen in 3-4hrs taking care on the icy bits. Lunch is available, then on to Ghunsa in another 3-4hrs, taking care on the two big slips which are now in the sun. The smell and sights of the forest are enchanting after the barren uplands. It is a 1600m descent today so watch your knees.

10. Ghunsa to Selele Camp 800m↑ 100m↓ 3.5-4hrs

This day and the next connect the north side of Kangchenjunga to the south side via a superb traverse smelling overwhelmingly, at altitude in autumn, of the honey-cinnamon of dwarf rhododendron. The traverse is remote and exposed to weather so consider a rest day in Ghunsa if the weather may spoil the views. Climb past the hydroelectricity station below Ghunsa and cross the Yamatori Khola to a sunny meadow, on the other side of which the track climbs on a beautiful rhododendron ridge for 1.5-2hrs to a viewpoint (known locally as Tama La) of Phale, Nango (Nangba) La which leads to Olangchunggola, and the terminal moraine under Jannu. Leaving the trees, circle on a very rocky track with mounting views. After another 1.5-2hrs take the short steep climb to Selele La with its pile of stones and prayer flags. Lie in the sun and soak up the views, then in 30mins through rockfalls arrive in **Selele Camp (4130m, Mani Bhuk) with 4 rooms and a total of 12 beds and the clearest stream running through the rocks on the flat (Rs1000 db Rs600). There is still no toilet so be careful of surprises behind the many rocks. This is a profoundly beautiful place, particularly towards evening as the valley clouds rise from below. The camp had been closed towards the very end of November but we arranged for Pasang to come up from Ghunsa and open it for us and cook for a small extra fee. Usually it is open September-November and March-May inclusive. If near the start or end of the seasons, ring Dawa and Pasang Sherpa in Ghunsa +977.994232334 and check.

11. Selele Camp to Cheram 850↑ 1100m↓ 4.5-5.5hrs

The sun arrives about 8.30am in winter. Steady climbing up valley, largely through silent boulders with the stream deep in the rockfall and mounting views. Late snowfall can remain on north-facing slopes, making icy the ascent to the windy prayer flagged notch of Mirgin La (4645m) in about 1.5hrs. The views of Jannu from here are as good as any available, together with Makalu, the long ridge of Chamlang and even a glimpse of Everest. From here, traverse two obvious watersheds on fallen rock, up and down noting Lion Rock on the ridge above and finally climb to a second pass with flags and stones after 1hr 15mins. People from Ghunsa call this the Misisay La (4645m, Sinelapche Bhanjyang on map) after the death 20 years ago of a Tibetan and two yaks at this point. Just after this pass a track drops steeply right past two blue lakes (Anda Pokhari) to Anda Phedi where there is now a lodge. Near here you can refill your waterbottle from the only flowing stream we saw. Keep traversing left with growing views down valley where it is possible to make out the huge slip near Lasiya Bhanjyang. After 1hr a steep climb reaches the chorten and prayer flags of Sele La (4720m) and spectacular views of the Kabrus, Rathong, Kokthang, Khang La and the Yalung Glacier. The best view is 15 mins below the pass and also includes a part of Kangchenjunga. Scramble down 30mins on loose rocks to a sacred lake then past a second sacred lake and a long long way down reach welcome Cheram (3868m, Tseram) in 1hr. Cheram is a crossroads with new lodges still being built. In 2012 there were two lodges open with 6-7 rooms and another big new lodge not yet open, plus about 100 people in four separate tent encampments. In 2012 we chose the **Yalungkhang Guest House (Rs250, db Rs450). There is electricity and there are well-stocked shops. In 2013 late in the season we were grateful to find that Da Chiring (+977.993242131 in Yamphudin) had kept open his comfortable **Blue Sheep Guesthouse (Rs500, db Rs 350) with 8 beds in 4 rooms, open March-May and September-November inclusive. In 2012 Cheram saw 250 teahouse trekkers; in 2013 400 teahouse trekkers total in both seasons. The naming of passes on the traverse from the sides of Kangchenjunga appears to depend on whether people come from Yamphudin or Ghunsa, not helped by the fact the historical names were sometimes wildly applied to totally wrong places (eg Hooker referred to Mirgin La as Choonjerma Pass, which actually goes into Tibet above Olangchunggola). We think we have sorted them out so email if you want details. Note that la, deurali and bhanjyang all mean pass or saddle in broad terms.

12. Cheram to Ramchaur 750m↑ 2-3hrs

Ramchaur is getting crowded in season and has only 3 rooms with 2 beds in each plus 10 on the floor in the dining room; ask ahead if you plan to stay but whatever you do don’t miss going up there, even for a round day walk which can be easily done in 5hrs. Head up through moss-hung pines and rhododendrons with a small clear stream, climb and cross a large loose gully and climb again into the seasonal yak pasture (kharka) at Yalung (wrong 3900m on map, probably 4100m). The Decherol Monastery with 6 monks, mentioned by Chandra Das in 1881, was located here but no trace remains of it or the surrounding village although a shrine is rumoured above. There follows a beautiful series of open ablation valleys, juniper, cinnamon-scented dwarf rhododendrons and moraines and lakes with the Kabrus, Rathong and Kokthang hanging above. Care will be needed crossing the many frozen streams and seeps. Watch out for yaks, some are totally wild, and for herds of blue sheep. The hidden stone lodge of Ramchaur (4610m; Ramche) is beautifully located and open March-May and September-November but ask in Cheram first at each end of these seasons. There is a reasonable shop (muesli, dried milk, Snickers/Mars). The food was excellent and the proprietor Pasang Sherpa very friendly (bed Rs300, db Rs500). Climb the nearby moraine wall for Yalung Glacier and mountain views and watch for snow pigeons. In 2012 a flock of 30 blue sheep came right to the kitchen that night for the salt found in urine from the ‘open toilet’ and the kitchen slops. It also snowed heavily, complete with thunder and lightning, and drifted into the room through the wooden shutters. The lodge was closed in early December 2013.

13. Ramchaur to Okhordung to Cheram 150m↑ 900m↓ 4-5hrs

Leave your rucksack behind but take a daypack with warm and windproof clothes for the upward leg, an easy gentle climb to a flagged cairn on a high moraine wall with views of the Yalung Glacier and the south face of Kangchenjunga, quite shapeless and foreshortened but undeniably massive. Okhordung (4740m, Oktang) is regarded as the base camp but the actual camp is another 2km/1hr/100m up on a track collapsing due to glacial retreat. We did not regard the extra views as worth the effort, but if you do add 2hrs to the day. Okhordung is certainly worth an hour or so soaking it up then it takes about 1hr back to Ramchaur. Pick up your bag and enjoy going downhill to civilisation at Cheram again.

14. Cheram to Tortong 900m↓ 3hrs

This descent by the Simbuwa Khola is one of the most beautiful walks we have seen in Nepal: the changing sounds of the river, a huge range of rhododendrons giving way to moss- hung forests with huge pines and larches, all mixed with various broadleafs turning with autumn is all very restful. In warm sun with a breeze there are few better places to be. Be careful of grazing yaks. After 30mins there is a beflagged Buddhist and be-tridented Hindu shrine with a snake shape in the rock, north of which there is supposed to be a prohibition on the killing of animals but there was maasu (meat) on the menu in Cheram. After another 40mins there is a new basic lodge at Anda Phedi, but closed in December 2013. Yaks from Yamphudin are taken for grazing by the track that heads up to Anda Pokhari from here. Another 40mins finds a yak kharka where you might get a meal or tea. We spent a memorable night among yaks there in 2013 as Tortong was closed for the season. Tortong (2980m, Torontan), 1hr further down, consists of two good lodges with separate rooms, well-stocked shops with Snickers and Mars and even electricity. In common with most places on the south side of Kanchenjunga, the dalbhat was superb, albeit with unrequested lumps of fatty pork. These lodges may be open from September-November and sometimes February then March-May inclusive although if demand increases so too may the length of the season.

15. Tortong to Sherpagaon 1100m↑ 2100m↓ 7-8hrs

Cross the Simbuwa Khola on a bridge, traverse and climb through old forest for 1hr then start a steep ascent for 1.5hrs with zig-zags and considerable yak damage to the track as they have been taken to and from pasture. There is a huge unstable slip to the right that needs to be climbed 150m above before a bypass drops to the grassy Lasiya Bhanjyang (3415m; Lassi or Lamite Bhanjyang). 200m on is a bhatti in which you may be able to sleep on benches around the walls if it is open; the proprietor is cheerful and friendly and the location beautiful but it closes when water runs out. Climb through silver pines up the hill behind the bhatti for distant blue hills through ancient pines plus a view of Mt Jannu (7711m, Kumbhakarna) to the northeast. We were in streaming cloud among the ancient rhododendrons and autumnal oaks the whole time we were here in 2012 but it was closed in December 2013 as there was no water. The track condition improves below as the yaks are taken another way, but the descending stepped track is endless and there is no water until Amji Khola. After about 1hr cross the open kharka of Chitre (2925m) then in 20mins there is a wooden seat chautaara at an important junction. For Yamphudin, which is not visible from here, go down left to a small camping site called Omje Kharka in the valley, drop through ancient rhododendrons on a muddy track to a new swing bridge across the Amji Khola at 2340m, climb over the bare saddle called Dhupi Bhanjyang (~2500m) visible to the south then drop to Yamphudin (1692m) down on the Kabeli Khola. For Sherpagaon, which you can see on the terrace to the south, go right and drop very steeply on a narrow trail to the Amji Khola at ~1500m through pretty autumn forests. After a welcome drink there is 1.5hrs of up and down, during which we saw two deer on the lonely track, to reach the pretty village of Sherpagaon (2000m, upper Yamphudin) with good views. The **Yamphudin Guesthouse (Rs400, db 350) has 5 rooms and 15 beds. +977.993244556; they run the Yalung Guesthouse in Cheram too. The alternative **Talung Guesthouse +977.993242124 at the other end of the village has a good reputation. Sherpagaon does not appear on most maps and is sometimes called upper Yamphudin. Yamphudin (1692m) is 300m below and has several comfortable lodges. In 2012 we stayed in the friendly and helpful **Yellow lodge (Rs200 per bed, db Rs150 with the tastiest bentah achar made of tamarillo, chilli, garlic, salt and ginger). There is a TIMS and permit check here.

16. Sherpagaon to Phungphung Danda 650m↑ 800m↓ 4-5hrs

This day includes crossing a grassy cliff at length with an exposed narrow trail where a mis- step would be fatal. If this is a concern it is possible to go via Yamphudin and up the main trail. Climb up past the Talung Guesthouse on a paddy trail to start a day of high traverses, dropping in and out of sharp valleys with waterfalls and forest and occasional houses. Yamphudin is visible below on the Kabeli Khola. A feature of the morning is a high, well-built but narrow track across a bare grassy and very steep face for 1hr. We found a delicious korella dalbhat lunch in a Limbu farmhouse just before joining the main track between Yamphudin and the pretty and neat Limbu village of Mamanke (1780m) which we reached after 1.5hrs. There are several teahouses with beds; tea with real milk but no coffee. Drop to a long suspension bridge over the Takshewa Khola and climb 300m to Phungphung Danda (1860m, Pumphe, Pumphe Danda) in about 1.5hrs. We very much enjoyed the **Phumphe Danda Teahouse (Rs400, db Rs350) with 4 beds in 2 rooms +977.9742625486, 024.680504 run by Gopi Bhattarai and his wife. The golbheeda (tamarillo) pickle was a winner and the dahi (yoghurt) was excellent. There is another lodge lower down. This is very settled and rich countryside that exudes contentment.

17. Phungphung Danda to Simbu 900m↑ 1100m↓ 6-7hrs

A pleasant day, cool in the shade with deep forests and lots of waterfalls. Climb on stairs with an excellent view of Jannu, make a long traverse and drop down to a welcome shady waterfall after about 3hrs. Climb more stairs for 400m 45mins for lunch on the lawn at Delok (upper) Khesewa (2125m). Fresh red cardamom (elanchai) is harvested at this season from the ginger-like plants under shade trees, at the risk of snake-bite to the labourers. Climb onwards over saddles through hot and steamy but very prosperous hamlets growing millet, maize and rice and traverse to Gurung Kande Bhanjyang (2130m, Sinchebu, Sinchewa Bhanjyang) with a 5-bed homestay in 30mins. Drop steeply to Kunjari (1800m) in 1hr where the lodge is adding two rooms which will improve overnights. Descend on an endless ridge, cross the Phewa Khola (1430m) and climb steeply to Simbu (1700m) in another 45mins. The **Aadamba Hotel with 4 beds and more being added was welcoming (Rs300, db Rs300) and served an unusual breakfast khaja (khaana jaane) of barley pancake with omlet. The village lights were like constellations over the silent hills at night but the roosters start at 3am.

18. Simbu to Suketar 1000m↑ 200m↓ 4-5hrs

Leave early to catch the cool as the trail is up on continuous stairs and awkward riprap, arriving at Lali Kharka (2266m) with a road now running through it after about 2hrs. More climbing on road and shortcuts to Deurali (2578m, Deurali Bhanjyang!) after 1.5hrs for an excellent classic dalbhat. The pilgrim-magnet Pathibhara Devi Temple (3794m) is a day’s walk to the right from here. Suketar (2420m), the runway clearly visible below, is a further 1hr on road and shortcuts to the left. **Hotel Everest View (Rs700, db Rs300) adjoins the airstrip.

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