This trek was done in October of 2012. Our group was small with only seven trekkers. Kanchenjunga is in the far northeast corner of Nepal and the height of land of the massif is the border with India to the east and China is to the north. Our trip began with a bus journey that I will never do again – 30 hours in total; 18 hours on the “luxury” coach and then another 12 hours on a small bus that likely only traveled 80 – 100 km in that time. We climbed narrow, windy roads over several mountain ranges to finally arrive at our starting point of Suketar.
The trek took 23 days and was what would be called an extreme trek. We crossed several mountain ranges and descended to the bottom of valleys each time before we finally reached the area of Kanchenjunga. We approached the massif from the south side initially and then crossed over to the north side via three passes over 16,000 feet in one day! I asked my porter how long it would take to cross the passes and make it to our camp. He said “for me – 7 hours; for you 11 hours” and he was exactly right, and keep in mind he was carrying a 70 lb. load whereas I had my small day pack! Once on the north side we descended to the large village of Gunsha and rested there for one day. From there it was three more days to reach the base camp from the north approach. Kanchenjunga does not come into view from the north side until base camp. The long walk up the moraine beside the glacier ends at base camp and the valley takes a sharp 90 degree turn to Kanchenjunga. The view is certainly spectacular and we had clear weather!
Our return journey was back through Gunsha and then down the valley from there. We didn’t have to cross the high passes again! We ended the trek in Taplejung and bused to Biratnagar. From there we took the short one hour flight back to Kathmandu. A good trek for sure and not many trekkers along the way. We saw two other groups during the entire 23 days. I would classify this trek as mostly wilderness with some smaller amounts of culture in the villages.