Kanchenjunga South Base Camp Trek – exploring the New & Shorter Trail


Mt. Kanchenjunga from Oktang (South Base Camp)

Exploring the new trail to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp
The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown was a disaster for travelers. We were locked up in our homes for months. We could not go out to places like normal times and traveling was out of the question. So as soon as things started getting back to normal and the lockdown was lifted, we, a group of three friends, prepared ourselves to trek after the Tihar of 2078 B.S. (2021 A.D.). This led us to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp in the far east corner of Nepal.

Mt. Sarphu and neighboring peaks visible from Phungling

Even though Province 1 has a lot of mountains and trekking destinations, the major issue was the trekking itinerary took way too long to complete within the time we could allocate and some lacked proper accommodations. Out of all possibilities, we had two options Makalu and Kanchenjunga Base Camp, both with appropriate accommodations as they are relatively popular destinations. The problem was, that it still took way more days than we had for both of those treks. Also, the trail to Kanchenjunga South involved a rather long uphill walk that goes through a huge landslide-prone zone. But luckily my friend Saroj Raj Sharma found some details about the newly built trail to KBC South that followed a river up to the base camp with a low difficulty level. This presented us with the opportunity to explore the trail while it was still unknown to the trekking community. My other friend Binay Poudel also decided to join us for the trek. We gathered all the required information about the trek and started our journey on the 7th of November 2021.

On the way to Ranipul (Tamor river)

We started our journey from Dharan. On the first day, we booked a microbus and reached Phungling, the headquarter of the Taplejung district. The next morning we went to the bus station to book a ticket to Ranipul, which is the starting point of the newly built trail. But our trip was delayed due to some problem in our vehicle. We were only able to leave by midday and it took us over 4 hours to reach Ranipul. The destination for the day was supposed to be Yasang which is around 3 hours walking distance from Ranipul. Since we arrived at Ranipul late that day, we decided to trek for an hour more and stay in a homestay at Lapsetar. The next day our destination was Torangden, which is the meeting point of the old trail and the new trail. We started our trek at sunrise, had some lunch at Sigedanda, and trekked through Yasang, which is the last village until we reach Torangden.

Looking at the dense forest of Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
Binay Poudel, me, and Saroj Raj Sharma from left to right

Kanchenjunga Conservation Area starts right after the village of Yasang. The trail after Yasang involves trekking through a thick forest with most of the section of the trail lying in the red panda zone and the beautiful gurgling sound of the Simbuwa river originating from the Yalung Glacier. We were also blessed with other mesmerizing waterfalls along the trail. We reached Lase Suspension Bridge by evening. After a short trek from there, we reached the meeting point of the Yasang-Torangden and Yamphudin-Torangden trails. Finally, at around 7 PM we reached Torangden and stayed at Torangden Guest House. We were really tired after the long trek and went to sleep after a heavy meal.

Waterfall after crossing Yasang village
Into the wild
Waterfall midway between Yasang and Torangden
Debris from the massive landslide in Lase Bhanjyang
Landslide of Lase Bhanjyang on the other side of the river
Newly built Lase suspension bridge
Simbuwa river originates from Yalung glacier

The next day we left for Tseram (also called Cheram) early in the morning. The trek on this day was pretty easy so we decided to take our time and walk at a slower pace while appreciating the view. At noon we reached Andhaphedi where we found a newly built teahouse. We had lunch there and headed towards Tseram. We reached Tseram at around 4 PM that day. Tseram had lots of hotels to stay but due to the impact of the lockdown all but one were closed. That single hotel was also fully booked by trekkers who had just arrived from the North Base Camp by crossing the Selele pass. Since all the rooms were packed, the hotel owner offered us the option to sleep in a tent. We accepted the offer and spent that night in a tent.

Almost symmetric cliff near Andhaphedi
A glimpse of Mt. Kabru from around Andhaphedi
Around Andhaphedi
Part of Mt. Boktoh and Simbuwa river
Tseram at night

Our plan for the next day was to reach the base camp i.e. Oktang and return to Tseram the same evening. We packed our bags with excitement to finally reach our destination. We reached Ramjer at 11 AM and had some breakfast. The peaks of Kanchenjunga massif started appearing one after the other right after Ramjer. On our way to Oktang, one of my friend suffered altitude sickness so we asked him to return to Ramjer. There was still some snow along the way resulting from the snowfall a few weeks before. This made identifying the trail a bit difficult but the snow poles helped us a lot to navigate the trail. We finally made it to Oktang (4780m).

Mt. Kabru and Mt. Rathong
Lapsang pokhari with Mt. Rathong in the background
On the way to Ramjer
Teahouse of Ramjer
Mt. Kanchenjunga
Mt. Kanchenjunga

We were surrounded by mountains, we could hear the cracking sound of the Yalung glacier and we even got to see blue sheep. The sky was clear and we got to enjoy the view of some of the highest mountains in the world.

Around Oktang
Oktang temple
Oktang temple and Mt. Kanchenjunga in the background
Mt. Kabru and Mt. Rathong up close


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