Goechala Trek Sept 29 – Oct 8 ’17
Goechala trek is gaining immense popularity for its immeasurable natural beauty. We get a full view of Kanchenjunga and 14 other summits in the Greater Himalayan ranges. It is arguably the best trek in India amidst big mountains. Like all our treks we have curated this trek with our local partners in Sikkim to ensure the authenticity of the experience.
It is not just a trek in Sikkim, it is an insight into the beautiful state and their way of life.We ensure small group sizes as we strongly emphasize on every individual having a personalized experience on our treks. We are committed to maintaining the cleanliness and beauty of the trail. We are continuously in the process of designing and encouraging more sustainable forms of tourism in the area. Come be a part of our trek and give back to the region as you trek.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Tough
Group Size Small Group
Goechala is high altitude trek that offers the adrenaline rush of an intense climb and the best of the Himalayan beauty. Here you have the opportunity of climbing upto a whooping 16,300ft . The trek quite literally takes you to the lap of the Mighty Kachenjunga.
- 1. Accommodation during the trek (camping)
2. All meals – vegetarian (starting from dinner at Yoksum on Day 1
ending with breakfast at Yoksum on Day 10)
3. Trekking permits and forest camping charges
4. Trekking equipment (tents,
5. Safety equipment
6. Services of an expert trek leader
7. Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- 1. Transport to and from the base camp ( NJP to Yoksum and
2. Food during transit to and from the base camp
3. Backpack offloading charges on slope offloading. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgssuitcases/strolleys/
duffel bags will not be allowed.
4. Stay at NJP/Bagdogra on the last day
5. Personal expenses of any kind
6. Anything apart from the inclusions.
Reach base camp Yuksom
Transport will be arranged from NJP/Bagdogra ( as decided by the group beforehand) at 9:30 AM. It is a 6-8 hour journey to reach Youksum.
The Goechala trek starts at Yuksom, a fairly large settlement in West Sikkim. It was once the capital of Sikkim, so the culture in the town shows. It is also a nice quaint hill station and for those who want to avoid the hustle bustle of Darjeeling, Yuksom is a nice getaway. There are plenty of hotels of various budgets so staying is not a problem. A decent room with a shared bath works out to about Rs 300. The costlier rooms are around Rs 1,500.
If you are on the Goechala trek, there are two important things to do at Yuksom. One, make an entry at the police station. For this you need a photo identity proof with three photo copies. Two, you need to pay the permit fees at the forest check post (trekkers do this in the morning when they are starting the trek). The fee to be paid is broken down into small elements like tent, porter, yak and other charges. Camera charges are extra. It can get somewhat confusing, but the net amount will boil down to about Rs 700 per person.
Foreigners have it slightly more difficult. First, foreigners cannot trek alone; they need at least a partner. Two, they need to get a trekking permit from Gangtok (which usually their trekking agency will organize). Three, foreigners have to do the trek with a trekking agency – they cannot trek on the trail by themselves. Finally, once they enter Sikkim from any highway, their papers are going to be checked at the border.
Yuksom is also the last place to buy provisions for a trek. So stock up well before you start the trek. You get almost everything at Yuksom so there really isn’t any need to buy things at Siliguri, Kolkata or Gangtok.
Yuksom to Sachen/Bhakim
From Yuksom, the Goechala trail starts just behind the houses after the forest check post. Cross the last few huts of Yuksom and skirt around the fields of Yuksom to enter the V shaped valley of the Rathong river. Many mistake it for the Prek – earlier Prek and Pha Khola merge to form the Rathong.
The trail, though passing through the fringes of the forest is exposed for about half hour. Midway through the exposed trail, look for a shelter on your right. From here onwards it is half hour to the first bridge over the Pha Khola.
By the time the trail gets to Pha Khola, you are well into the thick of the forest and the coolness envelopes you at all times. The gently undulating trail climbs gradually.
The next hour and half is a pleasant walk through the moist jungle until suddenly on your left the Tshushay Khola falls in a series of mini waterfalls joining the Prek below. 50 meters later a large iron bridge spans the Tshushay Khola. After the bridge the trail begins to climb more noticeably.
An hour later, watch for another small cement bridge over the Mentogang Khola (you won’t find a board telling you the name). You are already at 7,100 feet and it is only twenty minutes from here to the log hut of Sachen.
Sachen at 7,200 feet is a small clearing where a single log hut and a shelter on the trail exist.
Bhakim to Tshoka
This is a short trek, but the altitude gain is considerable. Trekkers love the initial amble through the forest – it gives them a chance to loosen up before the stiff climb to Bhakim from the bridge over Prek.
The trail out of Sachen undulates but maintains an even altitude, in fact gaining a few feet until 45 minutes and 2 kms later you drop down to the bridge over Prek. The clear water of the Prek is worth savoring. You don’t meet the river until three days later at Kockchurang.
The wooden bridge over Prek sways when you walk over it. Adorned with multitude of prayer flags wishing success to the expedition — it signals the start of the real climbs of the Goechala trail.
Take the trail that begins to climb to the left of the bridge. The trail climbs sharp through a mixed oak forest until the wide switchbacks level somewhat half hour later at the sight of the first rhododendrons. The altitude gain is rapid and the air gets cooler perceptively. Soon the trail climbs to the ridge and stays there until you get to Bhakim another half hour later. From the Prek, it takes an hour to get to Bhakim. The total distance is only a kilometer but feels a lot longer.
Bhakim has a Forest Rest House and some trekkers like staying at Bakhim – simply for its view of the Yuksom valley. Finding the caretaker is a struggle and most trekkers move on to Tshoka which is another hour away.
Bhakim has a lovely tea stall where the owner dishes out some snacks as well. With a well deserved rest, start your climb to Tshoka. Follow the trail just behind the Forest Rest House. The trail again climbs in a series of long switchbacks, overlooking Bhakim until forty minutes later it dives around a ridge to move to the other side of the hill.
At over 9,000 feet high, rhododendron trees abound everywhere. The trail gets dark from the overhanging trees and meanders for another ten minutes. It suddenly pops out to a plateau and the trekkers hut of Tshoka.
Spend some time exploring Tshoka. Slightly uphill are the cafes where trekkers can try the local malt beer Tumba. Ask the café owners for the keys to the monastery.
Follow the trail as it leads out of Tshoka, cross the small wooden bridge over the pond and head to the monastery. It is a quiet place worthy of a quick visit. But what will take your breath away is the view of the snow-clad peaks of the Kangchenjunga range stretching right behind you – with Mt Pandim dominating the skyline. For most trekkers this is the view of the day.
Tshoka to Dzongri via Phedang
For most trekkers this day is perhaps the highlight of the Goechala trail. Everyone looks forward to the trek this day. For one, they trek through some of the densest rhododendron forest India has to offer, and second, on the trail, suddenly the views open up to showcase the might of the highest mountains in Himalayas.
Like the previous day, climb up to the little pond leading to the monastery, and then follow the trail that runs to its right. The trail begins to climb sharply and within minutes Tshoka is a tiny hamlet below you. Red rhododendron trees spring up everywhere. If you are in season when the flowers bloom (May 1st/2nd week), then the entire slope lights up with a fiery red colour.
After a stiff climb for about 30 minutes, the trail evens out to a gradual climb. The trail changes to one paved over wooden logs. It is a delight with rhododendrons fanning the path. Little wooden benches line on either side of the trail – which makes the trail look like it is in a park. Sometimes mist filter in surreally through the rhododendron trees. Even in this magical setting the trail climbs throughout and trekkers feel the altitude. The log path gives way to a regular stony trail that climbs quickly to Phedang in 20 minutes.
Phedang, at 13,000 feet, is a large clearing with superb views of the snow-clad mountains. A log hut and a few wooden benches dot the landscape. Stop here for lunch and a well-deserved rest. The trail forks at Phedang with one that goes right, leading to Kockchurang. Water is available from a spring slightly lower on the trail to Kockchurang. The spring is 10-15 minutes away on a lower trail.
Take the trail to Dzongri that starts across the clearing. The trail starts to climb immediately along the dwarf rhododendrons that line the slope. The views start getting better with every step, but watch for a few muddy patches on the trail. After a bout of rain, you need to skip your way around them. It is a ridge climb, so the trail switches between the alternating sides of the hill. Watch for the view change between the Pandim ranges and the Kabru. An hour later, the climb tops at a shrine with multitude of prayer flags. This is the highest point of the days trek at 13,080 feet.
Take a brief rest at the shrine and follow the trail that gently descends towards Dzongri. For most parts the trail undulates with the first patches of snow lining the roots of the dwarf rhododendrons around you.
The Dzongri trekkers hut appears suddenly at the bend in the trail. A gentle clear stream runs by the side of the hut. There are plenty of camping grounds around Dzongri but the hut itself can take in 30 trekkers at a time.
Dzongri is a welcome sight for trekkers after the hard climb from Tshoka. At 12,980 feet trekkers feel the affect of altitude at the Dzongri meadows. Dzongri is a large cauldron, mostly meadows, surrounded in all directions by the mighty peaks of the Kanchenjunga range. In every direction is a snow peak to be looked at and admired. For most trekkers Dzongri is a reward on its own. Many finish their trek at Dzongri and head back the way they came.
Dzongri to Thansing via Kockchurang
Altitude Gain: 13,024 ft to 12,152 ft to 12,946 ft
Thansing is a meadow almost at the same altitude as Dzongri. The trail from Dzongri to Thansing descends a 1,000 ft to Kockchurang and then climbs a 1,000 ft to Thansing.
Take the trail heading right from the Dzongri trekkers hut and go to the top of the ridge.It is a kilometer and 20 mins to the ridge top. From the ridge top, you get to see Kangchenjunga, Pandim and the other peaks to the right ,towering over the meadows. Descend through the rhododendron shrubs to the meadows. The meadow gently slopes down. The walk through the Dzongri meadows in the lap of the mighty mountains is as breathtaking as the view from Dzongri top.
In half an hour, rhododendron shrubs occupy the slopes again. The gentle to medium descent continues over 2 hours. The rhododendron shrubs suddenly give way to rhododendron forest. The descent becomes steep and you lose more than 500ft. The forest is a good place to spot birds. Walk through silently and spot birds camouflaged in the browns and greens of the forest.
Kockchurang springs up at the end of the descent. Just there, find a route through the forest going right. It goes to Phedang. Kokchurang has a trekker hut but no real place to pitch tents. The Prekchu river flows next to the trekker hut 50 meters away. By the banks of the river, amidst the rocks, 4-5 tents can be pitched. The small campsite though feels lovely. In the evening, expect mist hanging over the river and the tents enveloped in the mist with the sound of the fast river below makes it a great camping experience.
The trekker hut at Kokchurang has two big halls on the sides capable of handling 10-12 trekkers each and a central hall which can serve as the cooking area.
From Kokchurang, walk down to the bridge across Prekchu. Spend some time on the bridge experiencing the cool breeze of the river. The water below looks icy blue. On the other bank, you have the rhododendron forest again. They flower in June but at any time, the moss lined trees with their branches spreading out in all directions make it a fairy tale walk. There is a trekking trail but no lined path. The gradient increases and it is an ascent through out. The distance between the bridge and Thansing is 2kms. By midway forests end and the landscape becomes rocky and barren. At the end of the climb is Thansing– a big meadow. There is a dilapidated trekker hut at the entrance of the flat meadow. The hut can be used as a kitchen but tents would be needed to stay. The open meadow can host any number of tents. You are right in front of Pandim and the left wall of Kangchenjunga here. Thansing can be cold in the night.
Thansing to Lamuney
Altitude Gain: 12,946 ft to 13,743 ft
The trek from Thansing to Lamuney is an easy one. Walk through the meadows heading closer to Goechala. The trek is inspiring because the mountains come closer and closer. The meadows tend to get rockier as you move ahead. The flat gradient suddenly gives way to an ascending trail and that’s the farthest you can camp. The ascending trail heads to Samiti lake where camping is no longer allowed.
You may choose to trek further to Samiti lake and spend an hour there. The trail ascends from Lamuney and it is a 45 minute stiff climb to the Samiti lake. Notice the terrain being rocky all through the ascent. The climb suddenly flattens out and the deep blue waters of the lake come into the picture. Move closer to the shore of the lake and the blue does not change. If it is windy, the lake has waves too. Take a walk around the lake and sit beside its serene waters. The Samiti lake shores are home to mountain goats and blue birds which you are most likely to spot.
Lamuney to Goechala and back to Kockchurang/Thansing
Altitude Gain: 13,743 feet to 16,272 feet back to 12,152 ft
This is the longest day of the trek and so start your day really early at 3 am to give you multiple advantages.
– A 3 a.m start ensures that you reach the first view point or the sunrise point right in time to see the first run rays hitting Kangchenjunga.
– It also makes it easier to walk on the moraines that you find after the sunrise point as the snow is still hard.
– The probability of getting good views are higher in the mornings.
– Lastly gives you enough time to go all the way to Goechala and return to Kockchurang.
Do not plan to leave earlier than 3 a.m as it is not required and the lack of sleep can tend to tire out people unnecessarily.
A lot of people would misguide you saying it is impossible to go further if you are late but these are not really true. Even a 5 a m start from Lamuney can take you all the way to Goechala but you will miss out on the sunrise.
The trail to Goechala goes behind Samiti lake and beyond. Mt. Pandim is always to your right and the left is also lined by huge snow walls. Climb to the ridge on top of Samiti lake and then traverse right on the narrow trail on the flank of the mountain. A bit more of a climb and you reach the sunrise or the first view point of Goechala in less than two hours from Lamuney. Kangchenjunga rises just in front.
Spend a few moments here before starting your descent to Zemathang. Zemathang is a sand bed covered with snow and gravel. From Zemathang Goechala is a climb of about one and a half hours.
From Goechala, retrace your route back to Kockchurang.
Kockchurang to Tshoka
Take the diversion to the left inside the forest instead of climbing up to Dzongri. The trail remains mostly flat with small descents and ascents only to switch between mountains. Rhododendron trees line your way all along and the Prekchu flows below. Look left and at a number of places you get lovely views of Mt. Pandim and its neighbours. Phedang is 10 kms away and this is one of the longest trails between two known campsites. It takes about 4 hours to reach Phedang.
The first phase is new and interesting. The trail goes on the flank on the mountain all along and you move from one mountain to another to another maintaining a constant altitude of 12,000ft all along. Kokchurang, Phedang and most of the trail, are all at 12,000ft!
From Phedang you retrace the descending trail to Tshoka. The days trek takes about 6-7 hours on an average.
Tshoka to Yuksom camp overnight and depart to NJP
Retrace your way from Tshoka to Yuksom. Its much faster and easier than your trek up. Sachen comes up quickly being a pure descent. From Sachen the trail goes up and down generally losing altitude. The last stretch has a few climbs which makes you wonder but its soon over and you find yourself back in the friendly Yuksom neighbourhood.
Here we will be staying the night and leaving Yuksom early morning the next day to reach NJP by 4.00 – 5.00 pm.
Accommodation at yoksum hotel with basic facilities.
Accommodation during the trek (camping)
Every participant has to wear trekking shoes during the trek. You may carry a additional footwear for campsites.
Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
Trekkers are to have a backpack only. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/trolleys/duffel bags will be allowed. Trekkers are to carry a smaller day-pack in cas of offloading.
Madventures expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for
some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
If you have any further qeuries. Pick up your phones and feel free to reach us at the number given below.
Pranav : 7204897790
Shreyas : 994503733