Goechala – The Best Trek in India amidst Big Mountains
The biggest reason to do the Goechala trek is the grand views of big mountains that 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.
To see the big mountains you need clear views. It is only in Oct-Nov, with the haze out of the way, that you get the best views. The mountain views are razor sharp; the sunrises and sunsets jaw dropping. For photographers it is always Oct-Nov. Like any season, there are flip sides too. Oct-Nov is early winter in India. The air is crisp and cold. Temperatures dip to negative beyond Thansing. Early winter snow could block the final access to Goechala on some days. Yet, with all its flip sides, Goechala is best done in Oct-Nov.
Whom is the trek meant for?
If you are looking for adventure and beauty in equal proportions, the Goechala is for you. You get to trek into the lap of the mighty Kanchenchunga. So close that trekkers often stretch their hands out as if, in a daze, to touch this grand mountain.
Goechala is a difficult trek. You need to be very fit in order to complete this trek. Most days are long. Some begin at dawn and end at dusk. On the Goechala Pass day, you trek for over 12 hours. The climbs are steep and the altitude gained is significant. High altitude trekking experience is advised. The minimum age requirement for this trek is 10 years.
Foreigners on the Goechala trek
Foreigners must reach Yuksom, the base camp, 1 day before the regular reporting of the batch. This is required to obtain the foreigner trek permit from Gangtok. This is a Government of Sikkim requirement. The permit costs Rs.2,000. This amount is to be handed over to the Indiahikes representative at Yuksom, who will get the permit issued.
Foreigners have to register for the trek in a group of 2 and above.
Permits required for the Goechala trek
- The ILP (Inner line Permit or Sikkim permit) for foreigners. Check this link for more details – http://sikkim.nic.in/homedept/
ilpfaqs.htm. You can obtain these outside the Bagdogra airport or at the checkpost before entering Sikkim from Silguri. This has to be obtained by the trekkers.
- Trek permit for all trekkers – Obtained at the forest check post at Yuksom. Fee varies for students (id card required), regular Indian citizens (id proof required) and foreginers.
- Special trek permit for foreigners: Foreigners need to obtain a special permit at Gangtok to trek in Sikkim. Indiahikes can help you obtain this permit. Kindly reach Yuksom a day before the trek batch starts. The charges of obtaining the permit will be Rs.2,000 per person and has to be paid to our representative who will meet you at Yuksom.
Please look at the packing list for details about the documents to be carried.
Click here to read blogs on the Goechala trek!
Day 1: Reach Yuksom; 6-8 hours drive from NJP. Transport from NJP will be arranged at 9.30 am. Cost of cab – Rs.5,500 per vehicle.
Day 2: Yuksom (5,643 ft) to Bhakim/Sachen (8,654 ft); 5 hours
Day 3: Bhakim (8,654 ft) to Tshoka (9,701 ft); 4 hours
Day 4: Tshoka (9,701 ft) to Dzongri (13,024 ft) via Phedang (12,083 ft); 6 hours
Day 5: Dzongri (13,024 ft) to Dzongri top (13,778 ft) and back to Dzongri; 3 hours
Day 6: Dzongri (13,024 ft) to Thansing (12,946) ft via Kockchurang (12,152 ft); 6 hours
Day 7: Thansing (12,946 ft) to Lamuney (13,743 ft); 2 hours
Day 8: Lamuney (13,743 ft) to Goechala (16,272 ft), back to Kockchurang (12,152 ft); 12 hours
Day 9: Kockchurang (12,152 ft) to Tshoka (9,701 ft); 6-7 hours
Day 10: Tshoka (9,701 ft) to Yuksom (5,643 ft); 6 hours
Day 11: Drive from Yuksom (5,643 ft) to NJP. You will reach NJP by 5 pm.
Please note that you will be staying at a guest house in Yuksom. The stay on all other days is in tents (3 per tent).
Day 1: Reach base camp Yuksom
- Altitude: 5,643 ft
- Time taken: 6-8 hours. Transport will be arranged from NJP at 9:30 AM
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.
Day 2: Yuksom to Sachen/Bhakim
- Altitude: 5,643 ft to 7,200 feet/8,654 ft
- Time taken: 5-5.5 hours; 8-9 hours if Bhakim
- Trek gradient: Moderate-difficult. Gradual climb for 2.5 hours after which the trail becomes steeper up to Sachen. 45 minutes of level walk followed by a descent to a bridge leads to a trail that ascends steeply to reach Bhakim.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Yuksom. You will cross streams intermittently where you can refill your water bottles.
Note: Most trekkers like to trek from Yuksom to Tshoka in a day. This makes the trek very long and the altitude gain too much. A sensible way to trek is to break the trek at Sachen/Bhakim as described here.
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. The log hut a few meters below the trail. The hut has room enough for about 6-7 and a small area to cook. For a larger team, look for the clearing just above the trail opposite the shelter. The Prek, runs below campsite and is not visible to the eye, though you can hear it faintly rushing below.
Day 3: Bhakim to Tshoka
- Altitude: 8,654 ft to 9,701 ft
- Time taken: 3-4 hours; 5-5.5 hours if you start from Sachen
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial 40 minutes of ascent from Bhakim in a series of long switchbacks after which the trail eases off into a gradual climb.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Bhakim/Sachen
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. There’s also a flat camping area to the left of the trekkers hut. The trekker’s hut is a pretty long wooden building that has four rooms – enough space to house more than 20 trekkers. Alternatively, trekkers can stay at the Forest Rest House slightly uphill.
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. There are just a handful of Tibetan families living here.
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. You can climb a little higher to get wonderful panorama shots of the pond and the peaks.
Day 4: Tshoka to Dzongri via Phedang
- Altitude: 9,701 ft to 12,083 ft to 13,024 ft
- Time taken: 5-6 hours
- Trek gradient: Difficult. 30 minutes of steep climb followed by a gradual ascent, after which the trail again climbs steeply for 20 minutes to reach Phedang. 1 hour ascent from here followed by a gentle descent brings you to Dzongri.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Tshoka since it will be difficult to find a source on the trail.
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. During April and May, this stretch is ablaze with rhododendron blossoms – not just one but multiple varieties (Rh arboreum, rh falconeri, rh barbatum to name a few). Second, on the trail, suddenly the views open up to showcase the might of the highest mountains in Himalayas.
Like yesterday, 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.
Day 5: Dzongri to Dzongri Top. Rest day at Dzongri
- Altitude: 13,024 ft to 13,778 ft
- Time taken: 45 minutes climb to Dzongri Top
The day starts with a climb to Dzongri top. Dzongri top i.e at 13,778 ft, is the highest point from where you get the 180 degree panaromic view of the mighty peaks of the Singalila and Kanchenjunga ranges.
Dzongri top is a two hill climb from the Dzongri trekkers hut. The trek from Dzongri to Dzongri top takes about 45 mins. The sun rises at 5 am and you don’t want to miss seeing the first rays of sun hitting Kangchenjunga. Start your trek at 4.00 a.m with torch lights and you reach the top just as the dawn breaks.
As you climb up, the peaks of the Singalila range begin to open up and just at the bend before the top, the Kangchenjunga and its neighbours make their appearance. Witness an inspiring sunrise and spend time watching the mountains changing colours in the sun rays. Spot Thansing, the destination for the next day, Lamuney and Goechala peaks below you. On the other side, the green rhododendron slopes extend for miles.
Retracing your path to Dzongri takes 20 mins.
Day 6: Dzongri to Thansing via Kockchurang
- Altitude: 13,024 ft to 12,152 ft to 12,946 ft
- Time taken: 5-6 hrs
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Gentle descent for about 2 hours followed by a steep descent to Kockchurang. Continuous ascent from here to Thansing.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Dzongri. The only water source on the way where you can refill your water bottles will be at Kockchurang.
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.
Day 7: Thansing to Lamuney
- Altitude: 12,946 ft to 13,743 ft
- Time taken: 2 hours
- Trek gradient: Easy. Gradually ascending trail which suddenly becomes steep towards the end as you approach Lamuney.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Thansing. You will not require a refill since it’s a short trek today.
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.
Day 8: Lamuney to Goechala and back to Kockchurang/Thansing
- Altitude: 13,743 feet to 16,272 feet back to 12,152 ft
- Time taken: 12-14 hours
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Continuous ascent of 2 hours to reach view point 1. Short descent to Zemathang followed by 1.5 hours of climbing to reach Goechala. Continuous descent to Kockchurang/Thansing.
- Water sources: Stay well hydrated and carry 2 litres of water before beginning the summit climb as well as before the descent to Kockchurang/Thansing. There will be no water source on either stretch.
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.
Day 9: Kockchurang to Tshoka
- Altitude: 12,152 ft to 9,701 ft
- Time taken: 6-7 hours
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Relatively flat trail to Phedang for about 4 hours followed by descent to Tshoka.
- Water sources: Stay well hydrated and carry 2 litres of water from Kockchurang since there is no water source on the trail today.
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.
Day 10: Tshoka to Yuksom via Bhakim and Sachen
- Altitude: 9,701 ft to 8,654 ft to 5,643 ft
- Time taken: 6 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Continuous descent to Sachen, followed by an undulating trail to Yuksom.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Tshoka. You will cross a few streams where you can refill your water bottles.
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.
Day 11 :Yuksom to NJP
Leave Yuksom early morning and reach NJP by 4.00 – 5.00 pm.
How to get fit for the Goechala trek
Goechala has been graded as a difficult trek. On most days, you are covering 20 kms in high altitude. Trekking for 20 kms each day with a backpack on can tire out even the most hardy trekkers. This trek demands you to be in your top physical condition.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60 minutes before the start of the trek
On Goechala trek, you are trekking an average of 20 km each day in a terrain that is not too friendly. On the first three days of the trek, you have to cover an average of 11 km every day, gaining a good amount of altitude. That’s a long distance to cover, with steep ascents. This requires a good amount of endurance and stamina. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
In order to be prepared for a high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets. In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, you can phase out your targets in the following manner –
- Target completing 5 km in 35 minutes when you begin
- Gradually bring up your speed to do 5 km in 30 minutes
- Start increasing the distance you jog to get to 10 km in 70 minutes
Before the start of the trek, get to 10 km in 60 minutes. Your aim should be to cover 10 km in 60 minutes once a week and 7 km in 40-45 minutes twice a week for 4 weeks.
Strength – Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each
This is an important area you need to work on. At the end of this trek, you would have completed a 100 kms in 6 trekking days. For a trek like this, you must strengthen your core muscles. To strengthen your legs, start with 3 sets of squats with 15 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.
Flexibility determines the amount of movement your bones can make in any direction around joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.
It is an aspect that will help you trek comfortably. Stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and lower back muscles regularly, promotes relaxation in the tissues reducing the strain on your back. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, for a 100 kms trek can become a strain. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek.
Also consider HIIT training regime for a trek like this one.
What to take on the Goechala trek
- Trekking shoes: For this ten day long trek you need trekking shoes with good grip that won’t wear out. You can watch this video to help choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Three warm layers: You experience strong cold winds especially in the months of September and October. You will need at least three warm layers (two lights layers such as fleece and woolen and one padded jacket) for this trek.
- Three trek pants: Wear two pairs and carry one.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. These are more important in April and May. There might be snow at the upper campsites regardless of the season. So carry a pair of sunglasses.
- Suncap: The sun is intense at higher altitudes and a sun cap is absolutely essential to keep your face and neck safe from sun burns.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woolen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. If you plan to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you do not leave the used wipes/tissues back in the mountains since these are not biodegradable. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
- Original and three photocopies of government photo identity card- (Please note there is no place in Yuksom to get print outs and photocopies)
- Three passport size photos
- Foreigners need to obtain ILP (Inner Line Permit), which you can get outside Bagdogra airport or at the checkpost before entering Sikkim from Silguri.
- Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
If you’re shopping or packing for the trek, you can download this quick and simple checklist for offline use.
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
Video by Indiahikes trekker Ramesh Perumalsamy
Trek fee: Rs. 16,650/-*
*GST at 5% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (basic lodge at Yuksom and camping with 3 in a tent on the trek)
- All meals – vegetarian (starting from dinner at Yuksom on day 1 and ending with breakfast at Yuksom on the day 10)
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher, etc.)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport to and from the base camp (NJP to Yuksom and return)
- Food during transit is not included (to and from the base camp)
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 2,475 + 5% GST. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 335 per day plus GST of 5%. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything other than the inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforeseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
The cancellation charges are as under.
- Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
- Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
- Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
2.The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start of the trek at Yuksom to the end of the trek at Yuksom.
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from NJP railway station by 9 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to the base camp-Yuksom in shared cabs.
4. Transport: The transport is arranged in shared cabs. Transport from NJP to Yuksom and return from Yuksom to NJP can be arranged by us at an extra cost (One way costs Rs 5,500 per vehicle). Participants are expected to share the cost likewise. The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack carrying: Indiahikes 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.
Backpack offloading charges – Rs 2,475* plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 335 per day plus GST of 5%. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
6.Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency
7. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Cardiovascular training before a trek is critically important. Training must include strength and flexibility workout. We have laid out the eligibility criteria here. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
8. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
9. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
10. Safety Protocol:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to turn around a trekker if in the opinion of our trek leader they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.
Foreigners, please note:
- As per regulations, you need to obtain a special permit at Gangtok to trek in Sikkim.
- Indiahikes can help you obtain this permit. Kindly reach Yuksom a day before the trek batch starts.
- The charges of obtaining the permit will be Rs 2000 per person and has to be paid to our representative who will meet you at Yuksom.
- The ILP ( Sikkim permit). Check this link for more details – http://sikkim.nic.in/homedept/ilpfaqs.htm
- Trek permit from Gangtok
- Original passport + 1 photo copy
- 2-3 photocopies of Inner Line Permit
- 1 photocopy of visa
- 2 passport size photographs
What are the risks on the Goechala Trek?
The Goechala trek is a difficult one. And with every difficult high altitude trek comes a flurry of risks – altitude sickness being the biggest risk. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it.
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety:
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
But we strongly advocate the statement,”Prevention is better than cure.” Right from the time you decide to register for the trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below.
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have introduced an eligibility criteria for the Goechala trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Goechala trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually, especially something as difficult as Goechala.
2. Acclimatisation day at Dzongri
The fourth day’s trek to Dzongri involves a huge altitude gain and it takes time for the body to acclimatise to this altitude. So we have an acclimatisation day at Dzongri, so that your body gets a day’s rest before exerting further. Often, rest can be the biggest boon on high altitude treks to avoid AMS.
3. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Goechala trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required. Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health, wherein he will be entering details about his health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms he should look out for and what action he should take during emergencies. These Health Cards will be taken back at the end of the trek.
4. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will also be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine. Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high campsites for any emergency situations.
5. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain, where there might be too much scree or moraine.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
6. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Goechala trek
If you have registered for this trek, then here is some information that you must know in order to have a safe trek. At Indiahikes, we believe that as long as you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can survive easily at high altitude.
First thing you should know is that Goechala is a Very High Altitude trek. It climbs up to an altitude of 16,000 ft. So it comes with its fair share of risks – altitude sickness, lack of easy exit points, unfriendly terrain and extreme altitude gain.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS is one of the biggest dangers on a high altitude trek such as Goechala. AMS occurs when your body isn’t acclimatising to its surroundings. It can accelerate very rapidly, so it is important to identify the symptoms as soon as you see them. Before you read further, watch this video to understand the symptoms of AMS.
Where on the Goechala trek is AMS likely to affect you:
Over years of conducting the Goechala trek, we have noticed that there are some campsites where trekkers are most prone to be hit by AMS. Let’s take you through the trek so that you know where it is likely to occur and what precautions you can take.
On the first two days of the trek, at Yuksom and Bhakim, it is safe to say that you will not experience any symptoms. They are at fairly low altitudes, with Bhakim just touching the border of high altitude (8,630 ft)
On the third day, at Tshoka, a few trekkers begin to feel queasy. Tshoka is at an altitude of 9,650 ft, which is relatively low compared to the rest of the trek. If you’re hit by AMS at any point on the trek, Tshoka would be the ideal campsite to descend to.
On the fourth day, you climb from Tshoka to Dzongri, that is 9,650 ft to 12,980 ft. Dzongri is the biggest playground for AMS. Around 25% of the trekkers complain of headache and fatigue upon reaching Dzongri.
What to do if you feel symptoms of AMS at Dzongri
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the video below to understand how to treat and prevent AMS. The information in this video is rare to find. With this knowledge, you can probably save your own life or another’s trekkers life.
As a first step, your trek leader will run you through the Triple One Test – One Disprin, One litre of water and One hour of rest. If you’re suffering from dehydration, this will solve the problem and you will be fine in one hour. If the symptoms don’t go away, then he’ll begin to treat you for AMS, perhaps with a course of Diamox. If you’re already on a course of Diamox, your trek leader is likely to increase the dosage.
The increased dosage of Diamox usually takes care of the Acute Mountain Sickness. In addition to that, the acclimatisation day at Dzongri helps trekkers get enough rest before gaining more altitude. We have noticed that around 90% of the trekkers get acclimatised by the end of the acclimatisation day.
If you’re not at your 100% at the end of Day 5, then again, report to your Trek Leader. He will make you descend to Tshoka, where you will be fine. This is the only campsite where exit is possible quickly because Tshoka is the previous campsite. After you cross Dzongri, exit becomes extremely difficult. The next campsite is Thansing. Coming down from Thansing involves a 10 km flat walk above 12,000 ft till Phedang and then a descent to Tshoka. By the time you cover the 10 km at an altitude above 12,000 ft, AMS can escalate and turn into HAPE or HACE.
After Dzongri on Day 6, Thansing is the next danger zone. The campsite is at an unfriendly attitude of 13,693 ft. Although you are given a day in between Dzongri and Thansing to acclimatise, you might feel the weight of the altitude bearing down on you.
If you face any of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness, don’t take them lightly. Report them to your trek leader immediately.
If Diamox alone doesn’t work, he might administer Dex or Nifedipine, or perhaps oxygen, depending on the circumstances.
Especially on the Goechala trek, AMS is very common. While AMS can be treated with medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours. And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Exit points on the Goechala trek:
The safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. On the Goechala trek, exit is extremely difficult. The ideal campsite to descend to would be Tshoka (9,650 ft), and if possible all the way down to Yuksom (5,700 ft). There are no exit points after Tshoka.
It could take more than a day’s trek to reach the closest road head (Yuksom), whereas any affected trekker should be brought to lower altitudes within a few hours. Descent is the single most effective cure for AMS, HAPE and HACE, and unfortunately, it is difficult on the Goechala trek after one point. So the only solution is to be very vigilant.
For any advanced treatment, Geyzing is the closest well-equipped hospital in the area. It is a 90 minute drive from Yuksom. Vehicles will be available at Yuksom.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life-saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker.
If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
The video below will help you understand what medicines to administer when and how much. Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about HAPE and HACE. Here, you can learn about the advanced symptoms are and how to tackle them.
It is a myth that fit and experienced people are not affected by Acute Mountain Sickness
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Stay in Yuksom on Day 1 and Day 10 will be in a guest house, where you will share rooms with fellow trekkers. The stay on all other days will be in tents. Each tent will accommodate three trekkers. Apart from this, Indiahikes will also put up toilet tents alongside each campsite.
2. Will you provide us with tents and sleeping bags?
Yes, Indiahikes trekkers will be provided with tents and high altitude sleeping bags that can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC.
3. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Day time temperatures will range from 13-18ºC and night time temperature will range from 3-5ºC in May. Expect temperatures to be lower by a few degrees in October/November.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
The stretch after view point 1 could be under snow in early May. Snow eases out by June. Light snow cover can be expected in September and October on the higher reaches.
5. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.
6. How do we reach Yuksom?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) railway station to Yuksom, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs. 5,500 per vehicle (5-6 seater). You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Yuksom will take 7-8 hours.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Yuksom to NJP railway station or Bagdogra airport. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Goechala trek?
Goechala is also called the Rhododendron trek because of its forests of Magnolia and Rhododendrons in are in full bloom in April and May. Mid September to October end is also a good time for the trek – the views during these months are crystal clear.
9. Are backpacks, raincoats and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
No. There are several websites that rent out trekking equipment. Indiahikes does not rent any equipment. You may purchase trekking poles and other equipment from the Indiahikes store.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Goechala is a difficult trek. We recommend that you have prior high altitude trekking experience before embarking on this one. Irrespective of your prior experience, this trek requires high levels of fitness.
11. If not the Goechala trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
The Pin Bhabha pass trek would be a good option for seasoned trekkers since that’s a difficult one. The recently introduced Annapurna Base camp trek could also be an alternative if you’re okay with trekking in Nepal.
12. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.2,475 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Yuksom, the amount will be Rs.335 per day + 5% GST. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. We suggest you read “Why carrying a trekking backpack is not difficult” before making a decision.
13. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
If you wish to bring children along we suggest the Deoriatal, Kuari Pass or Kedarkantha treks. Although the minimum age for this trek is 10 years, we wouldn’t recommend it for children. Prior high altitude trekking experience and high levels of fitness are mandatory requirements.
14. Who will be with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
15. What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest house at Yuksom will have concrete toilets. On the other days, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 to 4 of these toilet tents depending on the size of the group. A toilet tent will have a deep pit, where one can answer nature’s call. There will be a mound of soil and a shovel to cover it up. These are dry toilets, where you’ll have to use toilet paper. This the most hygienic and convenient way to answer nature’s call in the wild. Please use plain toilet paper and refrain from using wet wipes since these are not biodegradable.
16. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
17. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
Our campsites are pitched near water sources. For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. The only days when you are likely to find a water source on the way are Day 2 – Yuksom to Bhakim and Day 6 – Dzongri to Thansing via Kockchurang. It is important that you drink sufficient quantities of water at the campsite to stay well hydrated through the day.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
Jorethong, on the way to Yuksom, is the last place where you’ll get mobile network. Make sure you finish your important telephone calls before reaching Yuksom and inform family members about poor connectivity on the trek. Yuksom, if at all, might have charging points, provided there is electricity.
19. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. We recommend something that is water resistant. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters. In case you need to buy new trekking shoes, this video will help you choose the right pair.
20. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
A trekking pole provides stability and balance, and also reduces fatigure. We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
21. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
22. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
Day 1 – You will be picked up from NJP. The drive to Yuksom will take 6-8 hours.
Day 2 – The trek to Sachen will take 5-5.5 hours. This will be a continuously ascending trail.
Day 3 – Trekking from Sachen to Tshoka will take about 5.5 hours. Most parts of the trail will be ascending.
Day 4 – Reaching Dzongri from Tshoka will take 5-6 hours. The trail ascends continuously as you climb over 3,000 ft.
Day 5 – This is a rest day at Dzongri. Hiking up to Dzongri top will take you about 45 minutes.
Day 6 – Getting to Thansing from Dzongri will take you 5-6 hours. The trail is slightly easier than the one from Tshoka to Dzongri.
Day 7 – Thansing to Lamuney is an easy 2 hour trek.
Day 8 – This is a very long day as you trek to Goechala and then head back to Kockchurang. Expect to be on your feet for 12-14 hours.
Day 9 – 6-7 hours of descent to reach Tshoka
Day 10 – 6 hours of descent to get to Yuksom
Day 11 – Head back to NJP/Bagdogra
You can take a look at the trek itinerary for more details.
23. How do I manage the negative temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At high altitudes, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights.. For these extreme cold temperatures, you need to keep the rule of 3 in mind. The rule of 3 usually takes care of cold that dip to -10°C. It is a simple formula of wearing 3 layers of woolen, inners and lower wear.
Follow this guide:
Wear one thermal and two T-shirts, three layers of woolens (two sweaters and a jacket). For your lowers wear a thermal inner with two layers of track suit. If you are prone to more cold, just add a layer.
The temperatures dip only late in the evening and early mornings. During the day if the sun is out, then you may even be trekking in your T-shirts. Make sure you use your thermal wear only at night and not while trekking.
A woolen cap/balaclava and gloves are a must.
Watch this video for tips on how to stay warm on a high altitude trek.
24. What all do I need to carry on the trek?
Click here to get the list of all the things you need to carry on the trek.
25. Can I leave traveling clothes behind and collect them after the trek?
Since the Goechala trek begins and ends at Yuksom, you can leave some luggage behind. However, ensure that you do not leave any valuables – Indiahikes will not be responsible for any loss or damage of goods.
26. Why is there a rest day in the itinerary? Can I skip this?
We have introduced a rest day at Dzongri (Day 5) on the basis of our past experience. Dzongri is more that 3,000 ft above the previous campsite of Tshoka. Getting here involves a long and difficult climb. The rest day is built into the itinerary to help your body to recover and prepare for the difficult days of trekking ahead. Do not skip it.
27. Is it safe to trek with Indiahikes?
All high altitude treks come with their share of risks. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it. Before you go on the trek, make sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with the safety procedures followed on a trek.
How to get to the basecamp – Yuksom
Delhi → NJP Railway Station → Yuksom
The Goechala trek starts from Yuksom. Yuksom is a nice quaint hill station and for those who want to avoid the hustle bustle of Darjeeling. Yuksom is 85 km away from Darjeeling.
Indiahikes will organise transport from New Jalpaiguri to Yukson. Pick up will be from NJP Railway Station at 9.30 am on Day 1. The cab cost will be Rs.5,500 per vehicle. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
You will reach Yuksom at around 5.00 pm.
To reach Sikkim
- North East Exp — Train No 12506 (Departure – 6.45 am; Arrival at NJP – 8.20 am)
- Brahmputra mail — Train No 14056 (Departure – 23.40 pm; Arrival at NJP – 4.55 am the next day )
From Kolkata [Howrah]
- Kamrup Exp — Train No 15959 (Departure -17.35; Arrival -6.15 am)
- Uttar Banga Exp — Train No 13147( Departure – 19.35; Arrival -7.00 am)
- Darjiling Mail — Train No 12343 (Departure – 22.05 ; Arrival – 8.00 am)
- KanchanKanaya Exp — Train No 13149 (Departure – 20.30 ; Arrival – 7.30am)
Yuksom → NJP Railway Station → Delhi
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs to drop trekkers to NJP railway station The transportation cost from Yuksom to NJP is additional, to be shared among trekkers and paid directly to the driver. The approximate cost per shared cab is Rs.5.500/- Expected arrival time at NJP is 5.00 pm. Book train/flight tickets for your onward journey for late in the evening.
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
“The trek was the most challenging one I’ve done till date. This was a learning curve for me, where I learnt my strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly I learnt more about safety and health issues in the mountains and how to overcome them.” – Md Amjad Hossain Khan, batch of November 2016
“The trek was amazing. The trails were beautiful, and so were the landscapes. Though our group was small, we had great fun, as everyone was helping out each other. The morning walk to Dzongri top remains one of best days of this trek. The sight of first light of hidden sun hitting Kanchenjunga blew my mind. Before this, I hadn’t seen anything so spectacular. In that moment, I thanked myself for having taken the decision to do this trek. This is my third big trek, but I must say that the greenery of this trek is just unbeatable. I have never seen such green landscapes.” – Pushpam Singh, batch of October 2016
“I really enjoyed the scenic route of this trail. I also liked the food prepared during this time. Got some nice information regarding the trail, trekking and geography from our Trek leader. Support staff was also very friendly and mingled with the trekkers.” – Thejaswi, batch of October 2016
“I can say that the trek was the most amazing experience that I have had in the past few years. Still, this is an understatement. Our Trek leader was really professional all the time during the trek, be it leading the trek helping others, motivating those who were lagging behind carrying extra bags and all this when he was suffering from high fever and evening when in the tents we had a gala time. I don’t remember the last time I was without my phone, talking to random people about random topics which was the second best part of the trek. It’s hard to describe the trek in just words. You have got be there to experience it. Lucky for us, the sky was always clear and we got amazing views. Everything was really well organised by Indiahikes and the food was delicious! I never imagined getting pasta, noodles and gulab jamun at such remote places. The Green trail initiative is amazing. Thank you Indiahikes for an amazing trek, good friends, conversations and views. Will be looking forward for some more treks with you.” – Naveen Kumar Bharti, batch of October 2016
“My first Himalayan trek in 30 years was an awesome experience! And it was not just the challenging terrain or the magnificent views. It was the holistic experience – physically, mentally and deeper within – that left an everlasting impact.” – Surya Mahadev, batch of October 2016
“The trek was quite good. The weather was not with us for most part of the trek, but that is how weather in the mountains is, unpredictable. The arrangements by Indiahikes, the trek group and of course the trek leader was remarkable to say the least. Indiahikes rocks. Saranbir Singh rocks.” – Sayan Banerjee, batch of October 2016
“The trek experience was awesome thanks to the Indiahikes team and an amazing Trek leader who helped the group bond quickly with his genuine and friendly nature. The group members were also fun and a major reason I enjoyed the trek.” – Gaurav Pandit, batch of October 2016
“Everything about this trek was great except the weather. Trek leader Karthik was exceptional and his energy and enthusiasm infected everyone on the trek. The support staff were wonderful and the group was just phenomenal. We encountered rain 7 out of 10 days with mist and clouds hanging around much of the time. We did have short glimpses & views of the mighty peaks that made the entire trip worthwhile.” – Gopal Katragadda, batch of October 2016
“It is a tough trek, but the most memorable one. We faced lot of difficulties due to bad weather. But our guide handled them with great efficiency. We had a great team and enjoyed every moment of the trek. The trek trail was fabulous specially the route from Dzongri to Lamuney.” – Himadri Sekhar Paul, batch of September 2016
“The trek was a brilliant experience for me. Though I did find it quite challenging physically, there was a great sense of acheivement at the end at having managed it. We were incredibly well looked after by the entire team supporting us. Everything was done with a smile and nothing was too much trouble. the food was exceptionally good!”-Camilla Pearse, batch of May 2016
“Goechala is a beautiful trek and so is Yuksum – loved the challenge and people :)” – Pratul Gautam, batch of May 2016
“It was well organised. The meticulous planning and effort helped us have a great trek experience.”-Bharathy Venkateswaran, batch of May 2016
“I really enjoyed the trek . It was well put and planned. The local staff were amazingly kind and nice as always. Ankit as well did his best.”-Kritika Pandey, batch of May 2016
“Trek was good , but personally I think this could have much more better , like there should have one more trek guide for 24 people , so that one guide leading the trek from the front and one from bottom , but person like me who was in the middle sometimes faces problem and there was no one to guide me, apart from this during the trek one of my co-trekker fall sick with bad stomach and really need medical help , but didn’t got the same. I was expecting more encouragement from our trek leader.”-Tanmoy Kanungo, batch of May 2016
“Well, we all get out there for the love of mountains and in that sense, the trek was absolutely absolutely rewarding :)” –Ramyamanasa Kada, batch of May 2016
“The trek was filled with surprises and each passing day made me fall in love with the trail and the camp sites. The guides were very helpful and friendly, and also a special mention goes to the kitchen staff who are the real heroes of the trek, they prepared some brilliant food for us and made us feel at home.”-Sunith Kumar, batch of May 2016
“This was my first multi day trek in Himalaya’s and i just loved it. But it could have been better if the group size is lesser, the group size was really big considering the number 26 trekkers with only one trek leader. it was really difficult for the leader to manage and focus individually. In 3rd trek I had really tuff time had stomach infection but there was nobody to check my status. Within the group I got support from other trekkers. Which could have been better with a small group. The food was superbly oily and tasty but I couldn’t relate that I was on a trek lots of fried stuff etc. just like a luxury Indian vacation.”-Manoranjan Nayak, batch of May 2016
“Trek was awesome & beautiful with abundance of flowers ,birds and beautiful thick jungle .At the same time it was one of the longest and quite difficult trek .Rains ,hail storm , snow fall ,cloudy whether and steep climbs and long walks made the trek more adventurous & Majestic and a lifetime experience . It is an endurance trek definitely not romantic. Excellent trek in case we want to practice for stok Kangri or other endurance treks. Trek lead Ashis was one of the bestvtrek leads I came across in Indiahikes. He deserves special mention for handling and leading the huge crowd and ensuring safe trek. He is very articulate & informative with excellent leadership skills.”-Prajakta, batch of May 2016
“I absolutely loved the service provided by India hikes!! From trek leader to cook to his helpers to Sherpa to guide, all of them were polite to talk to. They together made the whole trekking experience a memorable one!! I eat Jain food and cook prepared Jain meals carefully though it was his first time!!”-Amisha Shah, batch of May 2016
“Loved it. Goechala makes you want to give up and keep going all at the same time. It is challenging without doubt but also worth every bit of the effort and difficulty that goes into doing it. In terms of the relevance Indiahikes brings to it, it is definitely a learning experience for every aspiring trekker. I would recommend something about the mention of difficulty level that further clarifies to first timers how this isn’t for the faint hearted. It would help to convey this to people who would take this up in the hope of making a milestone without understanding what it actually involves.” –Archana, batch of May 2016
“The trek has a beautiful trail and it was thoroughlly enjoyable. The camp-sites were at good locations. The trek lead (Kamal) did a great job by leding the team effectively during the summit day, because of which 14 people could make it View Point 2. However, on the rest of the days he should have focused more on the trek team as a trek leader.”-Kishan Harwalkar, batch of May 2016
“All the arrangements were perfect.”-Venugopal, batch of May 2016
“Congratulations to him for a job well done. I found the trek challenging especially because my lower back issue played up on day 3 and the length of the trek was arduous to everyday walking. Having said that my experience was magical . The sunrise on Dzongri top, the stillness of the Lake Samiti, the gushing of the swollen rivers and the mystical jungles made it all worth it .”-Sangita Unni, batch of May 2016
“The trek was awesome. The trek leader Mr. Aashish was too good , his instruction , his technics help us to go our trek very smooth. The kitchen staff has served us motherly . The tast of food was also very good . All other staff of IH was always helpful and very polite.it was wonderful experience trekking with IH and learned a lot as it was my first Himalayan trek .”-Falguni Chheda, batch of May 2016
“Mere words cannot suffice how good the trek was. The 8 days flew by and I would definitely want to visit Goecha La again. The guide and the Sherpas from Yuksom were top notch in terms of the logistics and bsict nitty gritties. The food they served was exceptional as well given the challenges.”-Raj Gopal R, batch of May 2016
“Goechela is indeed a very beautiful trail. Enjoyed every bit of it. As it rained heavily we got no views of Kanchenjunga or Pandim starting from Thashing. Just wanted to check if the dates can be somehow adjusted so that the chances of getting views are higher? Just a suggestion as I do not have clear idea about the trek window we get. The reason I am raising this is I spoke to couple of my friends who had done Goechela (unfortunately after booking for the trek) in different batches and years in May and they all told me the same thing that they did not get any views. Above said, I simply loved the trek. :)” –Sourabha V, batch of May 2016
“It was a wonderful trek and very interesting one.we started as scheduled and everything went right apart from the weather but we managed to keep up and do the right things and in the end 10 of our 20 team member(including me..lol) have reached the viewpoint 2. Special thanks to our local staffs and local guides and off course our trek leader Mr Kamal Das with out whom it won’t be possible.. Overall it was a very exciting trek.”-Arijit Maitra, batch of May 2016
“Tough but excellent trek. Changing terrains – forests, shrubs, boulders breaks the monotonous nature. Great team from Indiahikes – Kamal, Dawa and the support staff. I couldn’t stop wondering the breed of local staff – amazing hardwork – they start 45mins after we set out to the next camp and these guys are there 45mins before we reach. wow !! while we just dash into our tents, the support staff has lot more to take care – like preparing food etc. Overall, it was a memorable trek for all the great time and views. The information, maps and details published on the website are self explanatory and saved us from lot of time and effort. Every night, we were briefed about the next day plan – which was good. Since, I went along with 11y old son, I was too worried about the safety measures – until I saw the oxygen cylinder and walkie-talkie.”-Vidhyadhar Kottisa, batch of May 2016
“The trek is good, the logistics part is not. Vague communication(no clarity on stop point on day -1 Sachen/Bhakim/Tshoka), organization could do better(stop points are so planned that some days have 1 hr trek, some days 5-6 hours), food was pathetic, supplies weren’t necessarily proper(no guide had a spare Aspirin on the day before the summit), group size was beyond the optimum(dynamics are understandable, but 20 is too much to be held together).” –Vamsi, batch of May 2016
“It was second trek with indiahikes.Unique in itself.Was really tough walk than expected and compared with indiahikes.Bad weather spoiled our summit day.But in wall loved the trek and team.” –Dr Vaibhav Dangat, batch of June 2016
“My experience was very good.” –Neerja Rastogi, batch of June 2016
“Great experience. Stand out were the guides and the helpers. Always an inspiring scene to see their cheerful faces at all times. They were extremely helpful and made things very easy for us. Everything was literally available at our doorstep. The stay was great. Awesome tents and great location. Very sociable guides with whom I was able to connect at a personal level. The trek was totally worth all the effort I put in with a view to die for.”-Bharath, batch of June 2016
“It was a great and tough trek. The terrain was quite tough but the good part was that trek lead was good and he kept motivating team. The arrangements by India hikes were good. The views were amazing after reaching Thansing.”-Anjali Goyal, batch of June 2016
“It was an amazing experience! The trek leader (Ashish) was wonderful and guided us so well during the trek. Thanks for the awesome time!”-Vishnu Vardhan, batch of June 2016
“It was a delightfully painful trail. The trail was physically taxing but it was worth going through the pain because with every ascent/campsite I was awe stuck with the mesmerising beauty of the mountains & the surrounding landscape, it acted as a balm to the physical pain. Walking at 15000ft and above one is not only challenged phyically but goes through a lot of mental exertion, it is here I saw how my love & passion for mountains held me together & helped me move ahead. This trek have accentuated my love for nature’s high rises, I have truly come out as a changed person, my addiction for trek increased manifold. Daily trek was evenly paced out and we had wonderful & friendly trek lead, backed by ever smiling and solid support staff taking care of us and pampering us like babies.”-Abhishek Duttagupta, batch of June 2016
“As always IH does a does a good job of oragansing the trek. The crew is ever helpful and even go to the extent of making it luxurious for the tired trekker at the end of the day. What I would like changed is the description on the trek. I think many people are fooled by the misleading ‘romantic trek’ and assume this to be a walk in the park which it most definitely isn’t!! I have seen people suffer (not part of IH) who couldn’t trek and had to be carried down by the guide. This is a difficult trek and should be graded as such. It would be best to mention that clearly on the site. Also going by the pics posted , it had me wondering if it was an easy trek. Only when I did get onto the trail and experience it for myself is when I truly knew it is indeed a difficult one!!” – Genevieve, batch of June 2016
“The trek was difficult one, specially on 1st day from Yuksom to Bhakim (around 14kms). Camp site at Bhakim require to be on any flat surface, because after a day long journey it was very difficult to move in slope when it was also raining. Thansing and Lamuney was fantastic. Kamal Sir, our Guids and all supporting staffs were cordial and supportive. On returning to Yuksom, we had to have tea snacks from shops, though dinner was served. Next day no morning tea, breakfast before start for NJP. Though you have mentioned in your Trek Inclusions “ending with breakfast at Yuksom on the day 10″ . Otherwise everything was good.”-Subir Kumar Saha & Sujato Saha, batch of June 2016
“Overall it was a unique experience. I have done at least 8-9 long treks before this but Goechala was different in terms of its route, its trail and its final day. This trek had something new to offer to me each and every day with changing trails, varying weather and its novelty in the fusion of different terrains in the same landscape. It was a well planned and equally distributed trek according to me and the schedule couldn’t have been better. Personally I think I would have enjoyed the trek better had it been a smaller group of people but even the current number was fine because we ended up having a chilled group. One thing I would like to point out however is that since this trek is marked as a ‘mediums difficult’ trek, inexperienced trekkers (especially first timers) should be discouraged from doing the trek. It would be good not only for them but also for the entire group as a whole if treks with increasing difficulty had at least moderately regular or at least experienced trekker. A few examples for this would be the understanding of ams, high altitude sickness symptoms, trek etiquettes etc. I would like to extend a special mention to our group leader Mr. Ashish Pathania and his entire team for going out of the way to make our experience a really memorable one. I am a very picky eater and usually have to survive on my own stash of nutri-bars etc because trek food isn’t that appealing, but this time Harka Ji made delicious food each day irrespective of what altitude we were at and this is the first trek in all my years where I haven’t missed a meal. I have trekked with a few other trek groups but my first trek with India hikes (this one) puts IH really high in regards with quality and value for money. Cheers to the entire team and I look forward to trekking with IH again.” –Yasha Khuthia, batch of June 2016
“Kamal was good. One or two Sherpas behavior was not good. Also in each tent if two people can be accommodated that would have been better. As with luggage it’s difficult in the tent and we can’t keep the same outside because of rain. Except that everything was fine.”-Salman Bagwan, batch of June 2016
“I loved the trek. No doubt about it. Arrangements from Indiahikes and the natural beauty, both made it a wonderful trek. This was my second trek with Indiahikes and knew well what to expect. And I was not disappointed.”-Ambrish, batch of June 2016
“Trek was good. First day was too tiring, but after understanding that there was no such good place to camp, choice is not left. Good leader, helpful staff and guide made it wonderful experience.” – Hemant Khuthia, batch of June 2016
“It was an easy early day, we had a lot of thinking time. The brain would be rather shut down on these days by working extra hard, but we had to rest the body too and hence were having a short day before the grand finale. It had snowed in the camp at 15000 odd feet today. A snow fall I was not glad of. Anything scared me. The evening fast approached, as we also experienced a giant cloud engulfing the camp site. The temperature has not dropped further but surely visibility was lost.” Read More – Tejaswi, batch of 2014
” Goecha La, the word brings a surge of happy emotions to my mind every single time it is mentioned. Being my first multi-day trek, I wasn’t sure what to expect, apart from the the fact that it was going to be difficult. However the trek surpassed all my expectations. The mountains were higher than I’d ever seen, the climbs harder than what I’d ever done, and the weather colder than what I’d ever experienced. However, these challenges made the trek an experience I’ll cherish for a long time to come. On days 1, 2, and 3 we did some moderate to difficult hikes to reach Sachen, Tshoka and Phedang respectively. Since we were trekking in the dry season (November 2013), we didn’t expect to see too many flowers on the way anyhow but the valley views from various vantage points en-route werent any less spectacular than the Rhodendrons would have been. From day-4 onwards each hour became a lesson in survival and adventure. From climbing the trecherous Dzongri top at 3am with flashlights, to criss-crossing frozen streams and rivulets; from surviving -5 degree nights in a million layers of clothing, to watching the zillions of stars and shooting stars in the night sky; from getting into the sleeping bag by sunset to fight the bitter cold, to watching spellbound the different hues of the Kanchenjunga with each additional ray of the sun at dawn it was all surreal. Though we could not make it to the Goecha La itself due to schedule and terrain issues, most of us did make it to what is called viewpoint-1 (mid-way between Samiti Lake and Goecha La at about 15000ft). Philosophically speaking, though we didn’t reach the final destination, the journey was as beautiful as it could have been. Indiahikes was good. The guide was helpful, knowledgeable, and wise while the support crew was professional. A trek highly recommended, though the only piece of advise would be to time your trek based on what you want to achieve. If you are after clear, pristine views of the mountains be prepared to brave the cold and go in October-November. However, if you are more after a more comfortable trekking experience and are not obsessed with the views of the mountains, go during May-September. The weather is a bit of a lottery during that time but I have heard the Rhodendrons are simply amazing and you will also avoid the minus 10 degrees cold that we had to endure! Finally, from personal experience, if you are into photography, do carry a tripod if you can and a lense hood. These things are absolutely essential to getting those great pictures. All the best!”- Sunil Jugulkar, batch of November 2013
“The trek started with and ended with rain, but in between we were blessed with the best of the weather mother Earth has to offer. There are uncountable moments to remember. Among them here are my “Bloody Hell!” moments. Thanks to Indiahikes for this unforgettable trek and their incredible support and hospitality. Our first night camp at Sachen, it was drizzling outside, six of us were playing cards inside our tent(three in one tent is the calculation of accommodation) and suddenly we noticed that rain drops are leaking inside the tent, as time passed it started leaking more – Bloody Hell! Our trek leader came to rescue, he swapped his own tent with us and managed to sleep in the leaking tent as he was alone instead of three. It continued to drizzle heavily throughout the night, even I heard some thundering late night. We woke up in the morning and gazed outside the tent to see the frontline hill is bathed in sunlight and the dense cyclonic clouds gave away to a clear blue sky with few patches of white clouds here and there – Bloody Hell! Our second camp day-Tshoka. It’s evening time, we are done with our lunch already, after a brief visit to the monastry and the lake aside we were back at our campsite. Our campsite is on a hill cliff in front of which we had a valley view with layers of hills till the horizon and behind the snow capped peaks of Mt. Pandim, Mt Zapno, Mt.Tenzing and Mt. Lamalamuney greeting us. As time rolled on slowly our front view of valley below got engulfed with white clouds all the way till the horizon as if we are sitting in front of a sea of clouds and behind the snow capped peaks kept on changing colors with movement of sun as it’s inching down in the west sky. We were like confused where to gaze, such is the beauty of Tshoka. As one will start to think by now that it’s enough, then all of a sudden we first saw the Venus and then the cresent shaped moon aside in the south western sky above a hill line. The moon lasted for not more than an hour when it went below the hill line and as darkness rolled in, the sky glittered with billions and billions of stars all around, not a single patch of cloud. We can see the MIlky Way just above our head as a white patch of dust streched in a straight line. I have never seen a night sky like this in my entire life – Bloody Hell! Our fourth day morning, we are on our way to Dzongri Top at 3:00 AM. It was pitch dark and we all moved up in torch light and in a straight line under guidance of our trek leader and guides. I was way in the front of the moving line up in the valley and after almost an hour when we stopped to catch some breath and regroup the whole batch, I gazed down the valley to see the whole caravan of trekkers moving up in torch light in an otherwise pitch dark all around. Up above on my right hand side in the farthest end of the horizon the sky is lined up with dark pinkish color. We moved on and reached Dzongri Top at 5:00 AM. I was mesmerized by the view all around and it’s so overwhelming that tears rolled down my eyes and in the meantime I was gasping badly. At around 5:30 AM the first sun ray hit the top of Mt. Kanchendzonga and then it litted up the rest of the snow peaks and valley all around slowly. Bloody Hell! The same day when we leave Dzongri and moved towards Thansing through the beautiful Dzongri meadows and then past the super fast flowing Prekhu river at Kockchurang, that was the most pleasant, relaxing and scenic trek day for all of us. On fifth day after we reached Lamuney at 12:30 PM, some of us decided to trek to Samiti Lake as we had a long day still left. The Samiti Lake surprised us by it’s multicolor shades in the water, it’s dark blue in the middle and then faded into dark to light green in it’s banks. The water is visible to the bottom of the lake. We were all already feeling out of the world with this pristine beauty of mother nature, when our guide Suryaman calls silently and pointed us towards the lower valley on the far left bank of the lake. There were a group of wild mountain goats grazing, there was a little one of them, her mother always by her side with a keen eye all around, a big one with big pointed horns-the leader I think and others. We gazed them and shooted them for more than 30 mins. When I was gazing them I was thinking maybe if now from nowhere a snow leopard jumps in and chase these group and maybe hunts down one of them, at the same time our guide Suryaman who was sitting just beside me all the time when I was gazing the herd, told me that he had seen footprints of snow leopards here earlier. It took some time for me to understand, how come he knew what I was thinking. No, actually he was thinking exactly what I was. The very thought of our presence in a territory which these magical wild animals like snow leopard and mountain goats share is enough to erect all my spines throughout the body. Bloody Hell! Our final day trek to Goecha La, when we got up at 1:30AM and started at 2:15AM, resembles our fourth day trek to Dzongri top, but only that much. It was much more than that, the trek route passes by the Samiti Lake and move up the valley ahead, among rocks and boulders, we also had to pass some fast flowing swallow slippery streams, thanks to our guides for their extended hands. We reached the so called Viewpoint 1 at 5:00AM. Temperature 1 degree C, but the wind chill was unbearable, my hands were getting cramped inside my gloves, I had to move them out of my gloves and rub them hard to return them back in life. We took shelter behind a large rock face and waited for the sunrise. It was 5:30 AM again when the first sun ray hit the top of snow capped Mt. Kanchendzonga to turn it instantly from white to golden. Then slowly the whole range of peaks in front turned golden while the whole rest of the landscape remained black and white. It was like someone crowned mother nature with gold for beholding it’s eternal beauty. Bloody Hell! Soon after we left for Goecha La(so-called viewpoint 2) we had to come down a steep slope with loose rocks, our guides kept on shouting to come down carefully, we were all inching down the slope slowly when all of a sudden Madhan (one of us) misstep and fell, he kept on sliding down the rocky slope for not more than 5 secs desperately throwing his arms to grab hold on something and he suddenly stops. Our guides instantly jumped down the valley and caught hold of him in no time. Luckily he was not hurt and carried on. Bloody Hell! indeed. We all came down the valley slowly but safely, then we got past some really big rock faces to reach a plain landscape covered with sand all the way. It was like a desert. On the end of the plain there was a thin water stream which was frozen and we enjoyed breaking them with our footsteps like mirror. We carried on further, when we reached a rocky landscape with big mountain faces in front of us as if there is no way ahead. We had a brief rest there, regained some energy by having some food. Then carried on above towards the mountain faces to pass across a gully in between them and then what I saw got me stuck for a moment. The way through the valley goes straight up to a ridge, the ridge already got sunlight while where I was standing is in shadow and up on the ridge I can spot two or three guys, can’t recognize them as they are looking so tiny. I was feared for the first time in the whole trek, I controlled my breath, planned a strategy not to hurry, concentrated on every footstep, one after one, sometimes stopping to gaze all around and catch some breath, the route was sandy, filled with loose rocks, hence slippery, a sheer drop of almost 300 ft. on right and occasional strong breeze adding more adventure to this fun(fear) filled joyride. It was like walking meditation, I can clearly hear my every breath and my every heartbeat as all of my sense organs are concentrated at a single point. That was a terrific climb followed by a turn ahead and straight along the ridge to the Goecha La. Yes! I have done it. Bloody Hell! I have done it. Surely this is the closest you can get to Mt. Kanchendzonga without actually climbing it. I can’t control my emotions and tears rolled down my eyes yet again. There is also a lake below on opposite side of the ridge – Goecha Lake. That place was so heavenly. I can’t explain my feelings here in words. A sense of achievement followed me as we all hugged each other in joy. On our return at Tshoka, we played cricket using balls of foils Indiahikes used to pack our lunch. Indiahikes also arranged a grand dinner in the night, they made paneer, they made mushroom, they also made a cake on celebration of our successful trek, and they all tested great. After the dinner we also had a party where we all joined alongwith our porters, guides and trek leader. We all sang, danced and enjoyed. That was a memorable night for all of us. Bloody Hell!” – Kamal Das, batch of October 2013
” I have never done a trek before, so Goechala was my first trekking expedition. The team was a good combination of some novice and experienced trekkers. Myself being novice got several tips from team members regarding what to do and what not to do. The support staff were awesome, they even made a birthday cake at Tshoka for one of our team mates.” Chandra Dhayalan, batch of April 2012
“It is 4 45 A.M. All of us are standing in the viewpoint one, spellbound by the gorgeous Kanchenjunga, panting and waiting for the sunrise. Even now, while writing this trek report, a strange thought keeps coming to my mind. I should not have come back from there. Such was the beauty of the place. In middle of May, you will find red, pink yellow and white Rhododendrons blossoming. And if you like bird-watching, the whole journey will be a paradise for you. The Dzongri top is not to be missed as the unhindered 360 degree view is breathtaking during sunrise as the golden from the sky slowly melts into the white peaks of Kanchenjunga range. And once you reach Thangsing the whole landscape changes and suddenly you will find yourself in the middle of the mountains. You will get to see many blue Sheeps, and a few untamed wild Yaks in Lamuney. It is not suggested to very close to these Yaks. You can meet the saint in a cave near Samiti lake, can offer your prayer and take his blessings too. Wake-up by 2 A.M the next morning. Reach viewpoint one, crossing Samiti lake and enjoy the sunrise. Then crossing the Zemathang valley, reach viewpoint two, for a closer view of Kanchenjunga and Goecha peak. You can also have a glimpse of the green Goecha Lake, half-frozen. I can assure you, this day will remain with you for eternity, go experience it first-hand, as my words can never do justice to the mighty mountain landscape that you will walk upon and look into. Our experience with Indiahikes was superb, as the guide and all the trek-leads were very friendly. The whole co-ordination effort, since registering, was just perfect. The food offered on the trek was very healthy and tasty, and fitness activities we have undergone were indeed helpful. But the most charming were the cooks and the porters, and I am still not very much sure if they gave away both the cricket matches played at Thangsing to us to make us feel happier. No no, I think, we played better!”- Krishanu Majumder batch of May 2012
“There are many treks in Himalayas but the reason that made me pick Goecha La in particular is Mt. Kangchenjunga. What’s better than witnessing the World’s third highest peak from a distance of around 10km? I could not ask anything better. The trek started from Yuksom heading up to Goecha La Viewpoint 2 after which we returned back to Yuksom. Does that mean we took the same route for to and fro? Yes to some extent and No for almost. Though we have camped for 7 nights, Tshoka is the only place where we camped twice. So I don’t regret on this trail. Kockchurang is the heaven of Goecha La trail with beautiful goldish water streams around you. I was thinking Day 1 (Yuksom to Sachen) and Day 2 (Sachen to Tshoka) could have been merged to just one but realized how crazy that would be after we did Tshoka to Yuksom. I personally feel Days 1 and 2 are perfect. The gain in altitude is highest between Tshoka and Dzongri, so carrying a lot of water and food is advisable. The toughest part of the trek was from Lamuney where we started at 2am, reached Viewpoint 1 at 4:30am, Viewpoint 2 at 9am, back to Lamuney at 2pm, Thansing at 4pm and Kockchurang at 5:30pm. This part of the trail took 15 and half hours for the day (1 hour delay due to hailstorm) and you are at the highest altitude of the trail. Hence carry a lot of water (supplement for oxygen) and some food to survive for around 15 hours. The views that we got made us forget the time. The support team including porters and cooks was the best I could ever get. All you have to do is just enjoy the trek, everything else is taken care.” – Koteshwar Rao, batch of 2012
“The GoechaLa is a moderately difficult trek in Sikkim, being a good choice for trekkers in the east. Two things that should be kept in mind before planning this trek are, firstly, choosing the right time for it (late April to May) so as to be able to see the Rhododendrons in full bloom and avoid extreme temperatures and secondly, to have a high level of physical stamina in order to survive the 5 and a half days of tough climbing. The uphill climb goes from being moderate to tough with a set of steep climbs lined up from day 2 onwards. The two days of early morning climbing to Dzongri Top and GoechaLa viewpoints require a good climbing pace in order to avoid missing the sunrise. The downhill walks are definitely easier but longer. The trek begins to open up only from the second day with Tshoka offering a beautiful campsite and the first view of the snow-capped Pandim. Colorful rhododendrons and wild strawberries can be spotted on the trail here onwards. The two sunrise points are obviously the climax of the trek and it is advisable to start off well in advance on both days to catch the first glimpse of sun rays on the Kanchendzonga. The Thanseng and Lamuney campsites are the two most beautiful campsites but the wind and chill make survival tough here. Don’t miss playing cricket at Thanseng, the locals arrange the bat and ball for you. Save enough battery and camera memory for Samiti Lake. Great shots come effortlessly here. The Indiahikes team conducts the trek very efficiently and provides clean and healthy food. However, there was no provision for sufficient packed lunch which is desirable in future.
Chhang and momos are not to be missed in Yuksom along with some local sightseeing to Norbugang Chorten and Kathok Lake.
It’s good to stick to guide while walking as these locals know the place inside out and have a hundred anecdotes to tell.
Mosquito repellent cream and Zeoline are highly recommended as insect bites and hill diarrhoea are frequent on the trek.
Every trek has its own moments of beauty that are unmatchable. Goechala is abounding in such moments with its majestic views of snow capped peaks and the Samiti Lake. However, it must be noted that the trek starts getting beautiful only as the altitude raises above 9000 feet unlike some treks in the Garhwal which offer majestic views from the very beginning.” – Meghali, batch of May 2012
“Over all, It was an amazing experience for me. The trek has been fanastic. Our team was wonderful and co-operative. The highlights were obviously Dzongri Top and first view point on way to Goecha La. We could not go beyond first view point but there are no regrets as we were very much dependent on weather. The trail between Tsokha and Phedang, specifically the wooden section in between rhodedendrons on both sides was awesome. As far as camp sites are concerned, Sachen and Kokchurang were least satisfying and could be avoided if possible. I felt, may be we could have gone up to Bakhim on first day if we could leave earlier. I wish they renovate Kokchrang trekker’s hut and clean up surrounding area as it is critical junction for Phedang, Thansing and Dzongri. From Indiahikes perspective, it has been successful trek. We got great food along the way at almost all places. The guides / porters were very friendly and helpful. It is moderate to difficult grade trek, thus having an extra day at Dzongri would have been great to conserve energy and aclimatize better before we head for Thansing/Lamune. This is a lovely trek and I would definitely recommend to my colleagues and friends to go on this trek at least once.” – Vipul Jani, batch of May 2011
“This was my first trek of long spell and that too in the Himalaya’s. So I was in the mixed state of mind throughout the trek. Although the trek route was visited by many trekkers and we found many more enroute (to & fro), every moment was new challenge for me and that’s how I enjoyed the trek. For the first two days, I was moving ahead with my normal pace and found myself alone, well ahead of the group. Second day, Kailash, our cook, advised me to be with the group only and from that moment, I brought down my pace and decided to be part of support team extending moral support to the team members who are in need during the trek. I was happy doing this role as well. I found myself to be well supported by the team mates who are well versed and experience with such treks and really gave me confidence that I can do this. Overall I am happy with trek and whatever we could achieve during the trek is the foundation for the next event.” Bhupendrasing Rajputh
“The locations and campsites selected were beautiful also the trek routes were awesome. Our teammates were fantastic – I have never been in trekking with such a nice team. All basic arrangements were nicely planned and managed – particularly food, trek timings, emergency plans, safety cautions. Organizing team have done wonderful job starting from introduction mail to end of expedition.Only few things I would like to notify which may add more value:– camp site of first camp at Sachen was not good – we can think of exploring better camp site in nearby vicinity. Also treks for first two days were too short (only 2- 3 hours walk). I think we can reduce one day here and add one more day at Goecha La Pass.-I come to know from many local guys that it would be a better time to be at Goecha La during September compared to May.I personally believe that organization of such event is not easy task and can be improved step by step but above all it was nicely done!!”- Vijay Zala, batch of May 2011