Sikkim is a mystical land of abundant natural beauty. It is home to the magnanimous ranges of Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world. The pinnacle of this majestic mountain is perennially snowcapped. The Goechala trail of the Himalayan mountain will give you a mystifying experience like never before.
The awe-inspiring rich vegetation of mainly Rhododendron trees, along with orange and oak trees found on this trail makes the trek the ultimate destination for every trekker. The lakes, green landscapes and vistas of the entire valley from different peaks are bound to leave you arrested with awe of the entire experience.
Basic Details Of The Trek
Goechala is perched at an altitude of 16,200 ft and at a distance of 90 km from Yuksom, the start point of the trek. The entire trek will last for 11 days in total. For a person with really good trekking experience, the level of difficulty should be moderate to tough.
Trekkers need to be physically fit since it is a strenuous hike. The reduced oxygen availability also needs to be kept in mind, with regard to high altitude trekking. Hence, it is best to have a check up on the health before beginning the trek.
Best Time To Go On The Goechala Trek
Summer months of April to June will have temperatures ranging between 15 to 22 Degree C in the morning and between 7 to -1 Degree C in the night. While the autumn months of September and October will have 10 to 15 Degree C in the morning with a drop to 5 to -5 Degree C during the night. These seasons are the ideal time to conduct the Goechala trek.
Essentials For The Trek
Basics: Walking stick, head torch, backpack with rain cover, snacks (energy bars, dry fruits), medical kit, water bottles and toiletries.
Clothes to carry: Poncho, t-shirts and jackets (preferably fleece, or anything equivalent), wind and waterproof pant and jacket, thermal inner-wear, trekking pants. Accessories: Woolen cap, sun cap, sunglasses and neck gaiters.
For your feet and hands: Best quality trekking shoes, cotton and woolen socks, gumboots, waterproof and fleece or woolen gloves.
Let's Begin The Trek!
Day 1: NJP/Bagdogra Airport to Yuksom - 6 h drive
NJP is the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station located in Siliguri of West Bengal. Bagdogra Airport is also situated in the same city. The journey from Siliguri to Yuksom is a 6-hour drive, the day is complete with an overnight stay at Yuksom.
Day 2: Yuksom to Sachen (5,600 ft - 7,150 ft) - 5 h
The trek from Yuksom to Sachen is about 8 km. It starts by going across the clear fields of Yuksom to reach the gorges of river Rathong. After crossing this valley, the trail takes a turn towards the forested area, where you will witness beautiful fir, oak, rhododendron and pine trees on the way.
The forest gets denser as you keep trekking. You will reach an iron bridge where you can see the enchanting Tshushay Khola Waterfalls. From here you will come across another two bridges, after which the trek for the day will be done, where you will camp at Sachen.
Day 3: Sachen to Tshoka (7,150 ft - 9,700 ft) - 4 h
A relatively short trek, here a noticeable rise in the altitude occurs in Sachen which remains steady for two hours. You will reach Bhakim by now, from where the entire Yuksom valley can be viewed in all its beauty. Continuous and alternate ascents and descents can be observed in the path from here until finally, the trek drops near a ridge.
After long rows of rhododendron trees darkening your path, you will reach a clearing of Tshoka, the place of camping for the day.
Day 4: Tshoka to Dzongri (9,700 ft to 12,980 ft) - 6 h
Probably the highlight of the entire trek is the stretch from Tshoka to Dzongri through Phedang. The trek begins with a climb and after half an hour of climbing, it switches to a trail over wooden logs. You will reach Phedang which offers the view of the snow-capped mountains.
The trail divides in two, where you should choose the route to Kockchurang. After walking through the gaining altitude of this route, the trek drops towards Dzongri. It has beautiful meadows surrounded by the ranges of Kanchenjunga. Rest for the night.
Day 5: Rest At Dzongri
3 continuous days of trekking is bound to tire any trekker. Dzongri is the perfect break for the trek, where you'll be surrounded with mesmerizing views of green pastures of fields and breathtaking mountain ranges. Stretch, relax and revel in nature's womb.
Day 6: Dzongri To Thansing (12,980 ft - 12,900 ft) - 6 h
From Dzongri, you will first head to the peak of Dzongri which is at 13,675 ft and then descend to Thansing. From Dzongri top, you keep descending along the rhododendron forests where you will see unique bird species. After trekking downwards for 2 h, you will reach Kockchurang. You must then trek over the bridge of river Prekchu, which will finally lead to Thansing, the campsite for the night.
Day 7: Thansing to Lamuney (12,900 ft - 13,600 ft) - 3 h
This stretch should be the easiest trek out of the 10 days. The trek is just walking through meadows but the terrain is rocky. After some time of walking, you will find the beautiful Samiti Lake. You can rest there for some time before heading towards the steep trail once again. The rocky climb will last for another hour after which you will reach Lamuney. Relax and camp near the Samiti Lake of Lamuney.
Day 8: Lamuney to Goechala (13,600 ft - 16,000 ft) - 10 h to 12 h
With no doubt, this makes for the longest with 18 km to cover and the hardest day of the trek. You must leave at the earliest to start the trek. Your final destination is not Goechala, but you need to trek back to Kockchurang for camping.
The trek starts from behind the Samiti Lake. You will witness the magnificent East Ridge of the Kanchenjunga here. The pass might be misty and cloudy. Keep hiking through the far end of the lake by crossing a sandy part beside the Onglakhing Glacier, and finally through glacial debris or moraine. The Goechala pass can be seen from here, located at the tip of the valley.
The trek through this moraine might be extremely tiring, especially if there has been a snowfall recently, but completely worth it when you finally touch Goechala, bordering the peak of Kanchenjunga. It is dotted with numerous prayer flags which marks the end of the trek.
Rest for some time and take in the fantastic view of the whole valley. Return to Kockchurang and set up the camp near the river.
Day 9 - The Return Journey
This day would be the return from Thansing to Tshoka and Day 10 is the trek back from Tshoka to Yuksom through Bhakim and Sachen. Here, the colossal Goechala trek finally comes to an end! Day 11 will be the return from Yuksom to either NJP or the Bagdogra Airport.