Goechala Trek

The closest you can get to Mt Kanchenjunga without climbing it

TREK DIFFICULTY

Moderate-Difficult

TREK DURATION

10 days

HIGHEST ALTITUDE

15,100 ft

The closest you can get to Mt Kanchenjunga without climbing it

The biggest reason to do the Goechala trek is the grand views of the big mountains you see. You don’t just see one summit — the Kanchenjunga — but 14 other big summits. That’s a lot for any trek — especially as close to the eyes as on the Goechala trek. It is no wonder that trekkers consider Goechala to be the closest to the big mountain treks of Nepal.

Before we dive into the details about the Goechala trek, here is a little backdrop of why Goechala is well-known among trekkers all over the world:

While the trail to Goechala is old, it wasn’t always so famous. The change that occurred during the Nepalese Civil War lasted from 1996 to 2006.

Disturbances in Nepal during this time shut the country to trekkers. Suddenly trekking to the highest mountains of the world was out of bounds. It was a massive blow to the trekkers, who frantically started looking for alternatives.

At that time, Goechala emerged as the closest solace. The trail promised a brilliant close-up of the third highest mountain in the world and offered breathtaking views of the Singalila range from Dzongri Top.

Sunrise on the Kanchenjunga Range

One of the biggest highlights of the Goechala trek is the sunrise scene on the Kanchenjunga range. Even though trekkers are not allowed to the actual Goecha Pass, the view from ViewPoint 1 and Dzongri is worth an arm and a leg!

Rhododendrons in April and May

The trail to Goechala is blessed with rhododendron forests. And come spring-summer months of April and May, they burst to life with pink and red flowers! It’s an enormously pleasant walk through the wooden-log trails of these jungles!

The Samiti Lake

Samiti Lake is another big attraction on the Goechala trek. The view of the still waters, and the reflection of Mt Pandim in the lake, especially in the early hours, is a visual treat.

The biggest reason to do the Goechala trek is the grand views of the big mountains you see. You don’t just see one summit — the Kanchenjunga — but 14 other big summits. That’s a lot for any trek — especially as close to the eyes as on the Goechala trek. It is no wonder that trekkers consider Goechala to be the closest to the big mountain treks of Nepal.

Before we dive into the details about the Goechala trek, here is a little backdrop of why Goechala is well-known among trekkers all over the world:

Goechala - Complete Trek Information

We have always wanted trekkers to be well-informed before they go on a Himalayan trek. Knowledge is the difference between a safe trek and a dangerous one. It’s also the difference between a wholesome experience and a superficial experience.

Use this section to learn about the Goechala trek. It has in-depth information about each day of the trek, what to expect, and how you need to prepare for it. Many years of expertise have gone into this content. Trekkers find that extremely useful.

Goechala Videos

Expert Speak

Sandhya UC, Co-Founder, COO

Sandhya UC, Co-Founder, COO

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map a few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the "Women of Worth" Award by Outlook Business in 2017. She believes in sustainable living just as she believes in sustainable trekking.

Here’s Sandhya talking about one of the well-known treks in our country.

What I Like and Don’t Like About the Goechala Trek

What I Like About the Goechala Trek

Sandhya UC, Co-Founder, COO

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map a few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the "Women of Worth" Award by Outlook Business in 2017. She believes in sustainable living just as she believes in sustainable trekking. Here’s Sandhya talking about one of the well-known treks in our country.

1. Dense jungle at 12,000 feet

There are very few treks with tree lines at such a high altitude. If you compare it with treks from Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh, the tree line skirts around 10,000 ft. But not on this trek which snakes through the Kanchenjunga National Park. And I found that exceptional. This is also one of the Best Himalayan treks for Bird Watching

Especially the thick canopy of Rhododendron trees which flower during the misty spring and are dark and cold during autumn.

Trekking through thick rhododendron forests is a walk you will remember for a long time. Picture taken by Vishal Gupta

2. Three suspension bridges

You will cross these suspension bridges over three deep gorges – Pha Khola, Tshushay Khola and Mentogang Khola –  through which the Prekchu river flows. I was taken aback by how suddenly the bridges appeared. And the experience of staring into the deep gorge from these suspension bridges is rare.

Kanchenjunga National Park is blessed with dense jungles, through which you trek the initial 3 days. You will also cross suspension bridges on your first day of the trek. Picture by Sarth Rastogi

3. A monastery at Tshoka

This happens on the second day. Now you are almost at 9,500 ft and there is a monastery here! Can you believe that?

The monastery is not exactly at Tsokha. You will need to take a trail that goes out of the campsite and cross a wooden bridge over a pond. It’s such a peaceful setting. I’ve always seen mountains as a place where you can meditate. And so I was elated to find this monastery plonked into the Goechala trek.

Tshoka is a unique campsite with a monastery at almost 10,000 ft, and a small pond close by. Picture by the Indiahikes team

4. Dramatic changes in scene

The first one is from Tsokha to Dzongri. Initially, the trail meanders through rhododendron and pine trees. But on reaching Phedang, the dense forest cover suddenly gives way to a barren terrain. The change is startling.

Another dramatic change in scenery is from Kokchurang to Thansing. Here the Prekchu river, which you had seen flowing deep in the gorges, suddenly cuts through the jungle. Yes, now you are with the river.

And it lends such a mystical ambience to the setting. The shift in scene, with a wooden bridge going over the river, was surprising.

The wooden bridge that connects the trail from Kokchurang over the Prek Chu river gives you an eerie feeling when the clouds sweep low. Picture by Bhaskar Debnath

5. First sunrise on Kanchenjunga from Dzongri Top

This is the acclimatization day where you stay at Dzongri. Early morning, wake up at 4.30 am and head to Dzongri top at 13,670 ft. It is a steep climb. But worth it.

I still remember the first time I saw the morning rays lighting up Mt. Kanchenjunga. The mountain changes colour as the morning progresses. And you get a panoramic view from the Dzongri top. It was a different feeling altogether. An unforgettable sight that has stayed with me.

The first light of the sun on Kanchenjunga makes it up for all the hard work you have done to reach Dzongri Top Picture by Prasath

6. Camping at the foot of Mt Pandim

Thansing is the most picturesque campsite on the trek. It is a stark meadow on the riverbed of Prekchu. And it lends itself to a unique experience. At Thansing, I pitched my tent just at the foot of Mt. Pandim, right next to Prekchu. Sitting next to the river, watching Mt Pandim for long moments was a magical experience for me altogether.

Thansing campsite lies right at the foot of Mt Pandim, with the view of Mt Kanchenjunga far ahead in the valley. Picture by Sourav Mukherjee

7. A perfect challenge for endurance

I have always leaned towards treks that test my endurance. And Goechala does that beautifully. On this trek, you cover 65.7 km in 10 days. And that too with a considerable ascent. Here, although the trails are well-laid, the altitude gain and long days put your endurance to the test.

The approach to Viewpoint 1 is one of the longest and hardest of all our treks. Doing the trek requires solid physical preparation. Picture by Nikhil Agarwal

8. The sunrise on Kanchenjunga from View Point 1

Finally, my favourite memory of the treks begins with waking up at 1 am for ViewPoint 1. Initially, I was grumpy about the unearthly hour start. But once we got to ViewPoint 1, everything changed.

Watching the first rays fall on Kanchenjunga is an ethereal experience. It lights up the world’s third-highest mountain along with others with a magical light. I was spellbound. My eyes welled up with tears, just watching the magnificent sight.

And then, on the way back I saw the beautiful Samiti lake. That lake, with its deep turquoise waters, was the perfect finish to the summit day.

The view of sunrise on Kanchenjunga stays with you for a very long time. Picture by Ashish Bhatt

What I Don't Like About the Goechala Trek

1. The cramped campsite at Sachen

The campsite on Day 1 of the trek, Sachen is a really small flat land in the middle of the forest inside the Khangchendzonga National Park. There is enough space for just 5-6 tents at a time.

This makes it extremely cramped when compared to the campsites on our other Himalayan treks.

While the lush green atmosphere gives you a feeling that you're somewhere inside a thick rainforest, the lack of space can be a bummer at times.

Trek Trivia

Things Nobody Tells You About Goechala

Did You Know about the Chogyal Community of Sikkim?

Yuksom is known as the meeting place of three monks. A long time ago, three monks travelled down here from Tibet. They crowned the first king of that region and named the community ‘Chogyal’. Since then, all those who were crowned kings belonged to the Chogyal community. In 1642, the first Chogyal king, Phuntsog Namgyal established Yuksom as the first capital of Sikkim. The Chogyal dynasty ruled there for over 300 years.

The Chogyal community, today too, plays an important role in their society. They banned any expedition in the mountains in the region from the Sikkim side. They considered it a dishonour to their Gods. After putting pressure on the government for some time, the central and state government both finally banned climbing from Sikkim in the early 2000s. That's why Kanchenjunga cannot be climbed from Sikkim and has to be climbed from Nepal.

Kanchenjunga, a Treasure Trove

Kanchenjunga in Nepali translates to ‘five treasures of snow, as it has five peaks in total. Three of them can be seen from India and two from Nepal.

The Goechala trek takes us through the Kanchenjunga National Park. The significance of this is that it is the first and one of the rarest UNESCO World Heritage Sites which is selected under the Mixed Category (Cultural and Environmental Significance). It has high cultural as well as environmental importance.

Some communities here, like the Lepchas, have traditional practices which are still maintained. The indigenous community of the Lepchas have deep knowledge of medicinal plants. They, along with many other local communities, consider mountains to be their gods. These mountains are seen as sacred and are worshipped. Dense vegetation and myriad flora and fauna can be found here. It is also the home of snow leopards.

The Myths of Kanchenjunga

A myth of this region is that there is supposed to be a valley to paradise somewhere in the lower reaches of Kanchenjunga. Once, a monk in Sikkim took many followers down this valley, and the whole lot of them were never found again.

Another story from local mythology tells us how Kanchenjunga is said to be the home of Yeti. It is a mythical creature that has never been seen. But folklore has identified massive footprints seen in the Himalayas as those of Yeti. This Yeti is said to be found in the lower reaches of the mountain.

There are stories of the war between the Lepcha community and Yetis too. If you catch hold of people from the Lepcha community, don't forget to ask them about this mythical war.

5 Reasons Why Indiahikes

We are India’s safest trekking organisation

When we brought out new trails in Indian trekking, safety came with us. Back in 2012, we were the first to introduce microspikes, and two years later, pulse oximeters became standard thanks to us. Nobody does safe treks like Indiahikes. In the mountains, emergencies don't care who you're with – everyone knows that when trouble hits, you look for the yellow tents of Indiahikes.

We are pioneers of treks in India

We are pioneers in trekking. Since 2007, we have brought out treks that have become India's most famous treks: Roopkund, Rupin Pass, Buran Ghati, Kedarkantha, Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar Marsar, Brahmatal, Phulara Ridge—the list goes on. In 2023 alone, we brought out five new treks in Indian trekking. We know treks better than anyone. This comes directly from the reason why Indiahikes was born: to bring out trek information and enable trekkers to trek on their own.

We are India’s largest trekking organisation

More than 25,000 people trek with us every year. We are the largest trekking organisation in India. 24% of our trekkers come back to trek with us every year. Over 4,000 students from the top educational institutions trek with us every year. Aside from this, families with children choose to trek with Indiahikes knowing that our treks are the safest. We have taken over 8000 children trekking so far, and the number continues to grow.

Our treks are transformative

We focus on designing transformative experiences. Our trek leaders conduct thought-provoking exercises that help you reflect and contemplate. This impact stays with you for a long time. Trekkers return feeling energised, more confident, or developing abilities to deal with difficulties. Many have changed careers, rethought their core values, become more humble, shown gratitude to others, or started a new fitness journey.

We are India's most sustainable trekking organisation

Since 2012, we have pioneered sustainable practices that have become standard in trekking. Using eco-bags, our trekkers have cleared over 120 tonnes of litter from the mountains. We do not carry packaged foods; instead, we serve freshly made food. We do not light campfires; we carry coal to light angethis to keep you warm. Our bio-toilets not only keep our toilets odour-free but also enrich the soil. When you trek with us, you leave mountains better.

Indiahikes Features

You’re guarded with our trek again philosophy

If you are unable to complete a trek, or if you love a trek, you can repeat it with us anytime. You don’t have to pay us for it. See our thoughts behind this here.

Daily 3-time health checks keep you safe at any altitude

Our thrice-a-day oxi-metre checks keep altitude sickness at bay, never allowing you to reach a point where you need evacuation.

Join any group, they are all women-friendly groups 

With around 30% of our trekkers being women, all women, including those travelling solo are comfortable to join any of our groups.

Request Jain/Vegan-friendly food

Our kitchen teams understand your needs as a vegan (or a Jain). We will take special care of your food, even in the remote Himalayas. 

Be comfortable and sustainable with bio toilets

We have specially designed bio toilets to ensure you have no sight or smell in toilets, at the same time making sure the toilets cause no harm to the fragile ecosystem we trek in.

Fresh, nutritious food at every camp

We’ll admit it. Our love for food surpasses our love for minimalism. Expect freshly cooked, multi-cuisine food at all camps, designed to meet your nutritional requirements and keep your taste buds happy!