The north-eastern state of India, Sikkim, is blessed with natural beauty from beautiful snow-capped mountains to sprawling greens and bubbling brooks. The East Himalayan state offers different treks, among which Goechala trek is among the most well-known ones.
For veteran trekkers, the Goechala trek is like a beautiful homecoming to the folds and crevices of the evergreen Himalayan massifs. But the trail welcomes rookies and newbies with an open arm as well.
Sikkim is a habitat of numerous spectacular treks but Goechala trek stands out to be the most extravagant one with Goecha La at 15,100 feet that gives the magnificent view of the splendid Kanchenjunga from the top. Apart from the breathtaking view, this trek is quite popular and is loved my most travellers because of the extensive varieties of flora and fauna spread in the flourish lavish valleys with wonderful orchards, dense forests and the widespread charismatic and alluring beauty of North. This region is exclusively designated as the Kanchenjunga national park and along with the vertex, there?s a gushing Goceha lake flowing downwards.
While trekking the pass, trekkers usually witness one of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets of their lived with snowcapped massive Himalayas surrounding them and the gifted view of sixteen attractive peaks from the Dzongri top is one of its kind experience.
The state sees an influx of tourists in Summer and Autumn, which is considered the best for the Goechala Trek. The trek promises to take you beyond 15000 feet and give you a chance to take in the view of the mighty Kanchenjunga and 16 other summits from the Dzongri La top. Apart from the mountain peaks, you get to feast your eyes on the lavish valleys neatly tucked between these mountain ranges, which boast of different floras and faunas. Trekkers who have been on this Goechala trek have experienced one of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
About Goechala Trek
- Duration: 11 days
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Distance covered: 75 km
- Altitude: 15,100 ft
- Start and End Point: Yuksom
- Last ATM Point: Yuksom
- Nearest Airport: Bagdogra, West Bengal
- Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri Station
Your trekking journey starts from the former capital of Sikkim, Yuksom, a small quaint village in the west. Here you will have to acquire the necessary permits as the trek trail falls within the Kanchenjunga National Park, which is acknowledged as a World Heritage Site under UNESCO. If you are going with a registered organization or agent, then they are going to take care of the necessary permissions. But as independent trekkers, you would have to do it yourself.
Previously, anyone could gain entry just by submitting a photo ID and self-declaration at Yuksom Police Station. As per a new notice issued in July last year, every member of every visiting group, be it trekkers or otherwise (scholars, mountaineering students, filmmakers, researchers, etc.) would have to obtain and carry entry permits at all times. That includes the porters, guides, and travel agents who accompany the trekkers as well. The permission is to be acquired from the Office of the Sub Divisional, Yuksom.
You may have to shell out around 700-1000 rupees for permission fees, camping charges, trek guide fees, and any other charges levied by the Forest Department. You are advised to withdraw all the money that you need for the 11 days Goechala trek at an ATM here because there are no ATMs after this.
The following day is the beginning of the trekking journey where you march towards an altitude of 7200 ft by trekking for around 8 km to the Sachen. The next day is a 7km trek from Sachen to Tshoka which lies at 9700 feet. The following day holds a 9km long trek to Dzongri and you have to go via Phedang at an altitude of 12980 feet. The following day is a rest day to cool down your exhaustion and you can do a small hike to explore Dzongri if you want. On the sixth day, there's a 10km trek from Dzongri to Thansing standing at 12,900 feet and the trail crosses beautiful green meadows as you cross Kokcharang at 12,000feet. The seventh day brings to you a rather short 4km trek from Thansing to Lamuney at 13,650 feet and is an easy pathway to cover. However, the following day is a difficult trek as it goes to Goechala, the topmost point of the trek at 15,100 feet and back to Lamuney by crossing Samiti Lake. There are many steep ascents and tricky turns in this route but the view at the top is worth every step you take forward. The next day is the descent back to Tsokha through the spectacular rhododendron forests which is an easy walk towards, but the next day is a long trek of around 15 km to Yuksom that takes approximately 6 hours to finally reach the civilization.
Best Time to visit
Goechala trek best time is during the summer season between the months of April and June or late during autumn season somewhere between September and October. It is advisable to avoid the trail between June to September as the monsoon times makes it very prone to landslides and muddy tracks. Goechala trek December time is also a risky period as the heavy snowfall makes the trekking difficult and the temperature drops down as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius in certain regions. You can also do this trek during spring months of March and April as the rhododendrons bloom in all its glory and this is a sight to see.
The summer months of April and June and the autumn season stretching between October and November are the best time to go on Goechala Trek.
- Goechala Trek in Summer:
- GoechalaTrek in Autumn:
One of the best times to trek Goechala is from April to June. However, there will be lots of leftover snow from the last winter. Trekkers will get completely white scenery. But at the same time, April end will see the first blooms of red rhododendron. The chirping of birds, endemic to the Kanchenjunga National Park, such as Eurasian tree sparrow, green-tailed sunbird, and pied bush chat, can also be heard. The weather during these months can be bright and sunny during the daytime but can get really cold at night.
Autumn is a favourite time for most mountainous treks as the monsoon retreats, leaving the sky clear blue and the meadows lush green. Embark on the Goechala trek in autumn if you want to experience the dazzling views of Kanchenjunga, grounds covered with dark red rhododendrons, a gust of cold winds, and chilly Goechala weather at high altitudes. If you are considering winter season, remember to carry pro gear, proper shoes, tents, and other required items. Keep in mind the issues of breathing problems and lack of freshwater sources as well.
Weather and Temperature in Goechala Trek
March to May marks the summer season in Goechala. During this month, the Goechala temperature ranges from 11 degrees to 19 degrees Celsius during the day, and at night, it drops to 2 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius. It is considered to be one of the best seasons for Goechala trek.
The monsoon season stretches from June to August. The Goechala temperature ranges from 15 degrees to 22 degrees during the day. At night, the temperature stays between 7 degrees to -1 degrees Celsius. Monsoon season should be avoided for Goechala trek because the trek becomes risky due to slippery slopes, muddy trails, and landslides.
The temperature recorded at Goechala during the day ranges between 6 degrees to 12 degrees Celsius, whereas, at night, it gets chilly, as the temperature ranges between 5 degrees to -3 degrees Celsius. The majority of the trekkers pick the autumn season for the Goechala trek because of the pleasant weather and the beautiful scenery and flowers that await them.
Goechala remains quite cold almost throughout the year, but during winter, it is enveloped in snow. The highest temperature recorded during the day is 7 degrees, and at night, it dips to -5 degrees. Goechala trek December offers a pristine white view, but it is incredibly challenging to scale Goechala in winter. The harsh weather, slippery snow, frozen lakes, and streams make many opt out of the Goechala trek in December.
How to Reach Goechala
You can take a direct flight from Delhi to Bagdogra, West Bengal which is the closest airport from Gangtok and can then take a taxi till the same. You can also take a train from either Delhi or Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri station. Some tourists also travel through road if coming from Darjeeling, Siliguri or Kolkata as per their preference.
Yuksom, the starting point of the Goechala trek is well connected to almost all regions of India via air, rail, and road. The nearest airport, the Bagdogra Airport, and the nearest railway station, the New Jalpaiguri Station are both about 150 km away while well-maintained roads connect it to different parts of the region.
- By Air
- By Rail
- By Road
The Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, West Bengal, is the nearest airport and is well connected to other metro cities in the country. All major airlines fly to Bagdogra Airport, with regular direct flights from Kolkata, Delhi, and Guwahati and connecting flights from other major cities as well as weekly international flights from Bangkok. It also has regular helicopter services to and from Gangtok in Sikkim. Several shared, as well as private taxis and jeeps, are readily available from the airport which will transport you to Yuksom in 6-7 hours.
Now that Sikkim has its own airport, the Pakyong Airport, which is around 35 km away from Gangtok and will have direct connectivity with the major Indian cities, reaching other parts of Sikkim like Yuksom will be even easier once it is fully operational.
The nearest railway station to Yuksom is New Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. NJP Station is extensively connected with all important cities in India such as Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Guwahati, and Bihar among others and several trains are available at different times. From there, you may hire a private or shared cab that will take you to Yuksom in about 6-7 hours.
To reach Yuksom by taxis or jeeps you may choose one of two routes if travelling from Siliguri. The first is a direct route to Yuksom where you may hire a shared or private car from Bagdogra airport, NJP station, or from the taxi stand near Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminal. The second route is via Jorethang, which is a town near Yuksom. This is a faster and more reliable route as the Jorethang road is in better condition than other roads.
Regular buses to Yuksom are available from Kolkata, Siliguri, Gangtok, and Geyzing. The West Bengal Surface Transport Corporations offer overnight luxury buses plying from Kolkata and Siliguri. These are a great option since the journey may take about 12-16 hours.
When travelling by cabs or jeeps, it is advisable to start early and not to travel after dark as some roads to Yuksom are not well lit.
Attractions of Goechala trek
Yuksom: The very first capital of Sikkim, Yuksom is a charming old village overflowing with culture and history. It is surrounded by beautiful monasteries and towering mountains and still houses the ancient coronation site. Known as the “Gateway to Kanchenjunga” this picturesque little village serves as the starting point for several treks and is a pioneer in promoting eco-tourism.
Samiti Lake: Located at an altitude of 4,200 metres (little more than 13,700 feet), the Samiti Lake is a glacial lake near Lamuney, which is another campsite on the trails of the Goechala trek. Its clear turquoise waters surrounded by lush meadows with majestic snow-capped mountains visible in the distance lends it an ethereal quality making it a favourite site for many.
Sachen: Situated at an elevation of 7,130 feet, Sachen is the largely unexplored base camp near Yuksom. Surrounded by dense forests of tall alpine trees such as fir, oak, and birch, its proximity to the Rathong and Mentogang rivers and the Perk waterfall makes it a perfect camping site.
Tshokha: Tshokha is a refugee settlement and the only settlement within the Kanchenjunga National Park. Home to very few people but many exotic Himalayan birds, it is also one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. Its inherent natural beauty, the peaceful Tshokha monastery, and trails paved with wooden slats are just a few of the attractions of this place.
Dzongri: Located at 13,675 feet above sea level, the Dzongri viewpoint offers a stunning panoramic view of the entire Himalayan range. It is aptly named as “the meeting place of men and mountains” and is one of the key features of the trek.
Thansing: The Thansing valley offers mesmerizing views of the Pandim and Kanchenjunga peaks and is famous for its numerous monasteries that you can visit.
Goechala: At an elevation of 15,100 feet with trails leading to the summit through rhododendron forests and abundant with glacial moraines, Goechala is hands down the main attraction of the trek. Trekkers can enjoy a breathtaking view of the sun rising over the Kanchenjunga range from ViewPoint 1 since they are not allowed to travel into the actual Goecha Pass. Regardless of this fact, the distance does not diminish the divine beauty of the sunrise in the least making it the top highlight of the trek.
Other than these, the Kanchenjunga National Park itself is an attraction of the trek. Rich with pines, birches, deodars, cedars, and several other conifers rising above your head, this forest is home to a large number of endemic flora and fauna. Rhododendrons are the most common among them. If you visit during the right time of late spring and summer, you will find patches of the forest-covered in absolute blood red of the rhododendrons.
Frequently Asked Questions About Goechala Trek
1) Where is Goechala?
Goechala pass is a mountain pass located at 15,100 ft height in West Sikkim. It sits amidst the Himalayan ranges around 60 km away from Jorethang, the border between West Bengal and Sikkim. It can be accessed from the town of Yuksom. The pass is used as a base camp for trekkers who are going to scale the Mountain Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain range in the world.
2) Is Goechala Trek Safe?
Yes, Goechalapass trek is safe even though it is difficult. To make it even safer for trekkers, Yuksom authorities have made it compulsory for trekkers to be accompanied by a guide. It is important to be prepared with all the right trekking gears and shoes to avoid any accidents and mishaps because the Goechala trek height is at 15000 ft and there are some steep walks, if not too many. It is also recommended to carry medicines with you and warm clothes for the night.
3) How difficult is the Goechala trek?
Professionals rate the Goechala trek to be difficult. However, both beginners as well as veterans can attempt the trek. Check your BMI to ensure that you are fit enough to embark on this trek because it is quite challenging. The steep climb and the 15000 ft Goechala trek height mean low oxygen levels, which can be difficult for people who have asthma or other heart problems.
Goechala Trek is relatively easier than some other treks of similar altitude. This is because of the gradual accent of the trail. However, anyone can be prone to AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness or suffer from deoxygenation if too exhausted. Hydrating frequently is important. Since the trek lasts for 11 days at least, a lot of endurance and willpower is also needed to reach the summit and come back.
Health and Safety
- For any Himalayan Trek, Ideal BMI for a trekker should be 18.5 to 24.9
- To keep a check of this please calculate BMI here
- Below given Safety checks should be done to get prepared for any Himalayan Trek.
- Balance : As well said a balanced mind and body gives out best in every condition and that too works in Himalayan treks as well.
- Legs Strength : Body and Legs Strength is required to carry body weight as well as the backpack while trekking in uneven multi terrains. Generally, a good strength on legs works out good in any Trek. One can gain legs strength by doing simple Squats.
- Muscle Flexibility : While trekking in Trans Himalayan region with a flexible body one can easily achieve full range of movement and this can be really helpful for trekkers as well as trek leads. A good flexible will be an advantage while walking on trails, climbing and river crossing etc. Flexibility can be achieved by simple stretching, yoga etc.
- Cardiovascular Endurance : Cardiovascular endurance is defined as the ability of lungs and heart to transmit oxygen to the body muscles. All Himalayan treks are basically ascending descending the slopes and for this trekkers should be having a good cardiovascular endurance. Anyone planning for a Himalayan trek can attain this capacity by doing any cardio exercise like running, swimming, cycling etc.
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