“Hiking this challenging trail around Mt Kanchenjunga yields rewards that more popular routes don’t, including stays in traditional teahouses that few foreigners ever see.” begins the article about the Kanchenjunga Trek on the BBC website.
I am not sure forgotten is the right word for this trek as up to 1000 or so people visit there per year.
But spread that number over a year and it might feel like it hiking with the trails to yourself.
The article says, “…likely due to the difficulty and expense of reaching the area. Kanchenjunga is well off the established tourist trail and reaching a trailhead requires several days of road travel or a costly flight. In addition, trekkers must have proper permits and be accompanied by a recognised guide company, generally arranged in Kathmandu.”
Hopefully Suketar airport will be open again soon, this is the airport that serves Taplejung, the main gateway for the Kanchenjunga Trek. I’ve trekked this area alone, although it is not a restricted area, it was easy to buy a KCAP permit and walk in. The local expectation with all trekkers in Nepal is that you need a guide, which not all people want. However in Kanchenjunga your going to get a huge amount more out of your trip by taking a guide that speaks English and translate for you. Then you’re going to be able to talk to locals you meet and have meaningful exchanges, share jokes, take better pictures and this have a great time. The trails are pretty challenging too – lots of short up, short down, on jungly riverside trails, so considering giving a guy a job and take a porter to carry part of your load.
Is Kanchenjunga earthquake affected, is it safe to trek?
The Kanchenjunga region is always affected by landslips due to the steepness of terrain and heavy rainfall in the monsoon time of year. But Kanchenjunga region – the Taplejung District – was far from the earthquake epicentre, and shook only gently and so has not been adversely affected.
You should always take care however.
I asked Kim Banister who’s been trekking Nepal for 15 years what she knew as during this period she was trekking the route over the Lumba Samba pass into the Barun national Park.
Where were you when the earthquake happened?
What did you feel?
Well there was no earthquake damage to houses. and we saw some rocks falling [no slopes]. On the way to Kapra, there is a bad section, you have to walk up a slide. It’s been there along time and there is muddy trail on to the side.
people were already out building, due to damage from last winter snows etc. So people were out, it was not surprising. Local man and woman were building. there were ok. So 10 mins after we passed, big rocks slide down there – it was expected on an existing slide. Across the river, we heard a kind of thundering, it felt the ground was liquifying a bit. Kapra has stone huts, but still had no damage. So there is nothing happening (in terms of housing damage) in that region, as far as I know of.
The next day we were in Phale, just an hour below Ghunsa. There we were dueing the second aftershock. The house just rocked side to side but was fine. Some rocks fell from the roof of a nearby building but all was fine.
So in summary, Kanchenjunga is still good to go. Kim has a warning though.
After Ghunsa on the way to Kampachen – just before you reach there, 30 minutes before, there there are huge rock falls coming down on the east side of the valley. It’s dangerous. They are making a trail on the West side now. It is under construction. Nobody will tell you about it unless you ask! No trekkers should go on the east side up to Kampuchen, ask around and keep west!