10 Key Highlights of Goecha La Trek
Goecha La trek is a high altitude trek the state of Sikkim. Located at 16,200 ft., while the Pass is inaccessible due to the Forest Department’s ban, the trekkers go to the nearest available place called View Point 1 instead. The sight of huge North Eastern Himalayas, especially Kanchenjunga (locally called Kangchendzongha), is as breathtaking from here as it would be from the Pass. March & June and September-November are the best seasons to take this hike.
This 9-days Yuksom to Yuksom circuit, claiming around 65 to 70 kms on foot, is packed head to toe with stunners. Not just nature, you get a view of the cultural side of Sikkim as well. The list is long and delight guaranteed. Here are some significant ones:
Sunrise at Kanchenjunga: It is the reason you take this expedition. You see it in its full glory on Day-7 after the toughest and longest ascend of the trek. Over additional 12000ft. high from where you stand at View Point 1, snow laden Mt. Kanchenjunga (28,170 ft.), the third highest peak in the world, exalts majestic right in front of you. You hike in dark to see the sunrise from behind Kanchenjunga range, painting it gold. Mt. Pandim too looks august. It’s a sight that fills you to the brim and holds you in that moment. It touches people one to one. Everyone comes back changed.
Dzongri Top-14 Mountains View: Goecha La trek is a ‘big mountains trek.’ On Day-5, during the dark hours of early morning, you trek from the Dzongri camp (13,024 ft.) to Dzongri Top (13,675 ft.). The 360-degrees view of 14 big mountains, Kanchenjunga and Singalila (11,930 ft.) ranges and Kokthang (20,170 ft.), Rathong (14,370 ft.), Frey Peak (19,320 ft.), Black Kabur, Mt. Kabru (24,318 ft.), Tenzing Khang (19,717 ft.), Japnoo, Mt. Narsing (19,110 ft.), and Mt. Pandim (21,952 ft.), is surreal. The sunrise from behind the peaks, polishing them golden, is pure incredible to say the least.
Samiti Lake (13,800 ft.): On Day-6, your campsite is the vast meadow of Lamuney (13,743 ft.). You reach here in the first part of the day itself. Park your belongings here and climb up the rocks to reach this beautiful, placid, and crystal clear Lake Samiti. The reflection of Mt. Pandim in the water is just phenomenal. If you can manage an early morning hour trip to the Lake, you will find the mountain reflections staring back at you, all the more stunning. The setting fills you with unadulterated gratitude.
The Forests: Goecha La trek boasts of several thousands of years old dense and stunning forests of flowering trees like rhododendron & Mongolia and oak, pine, bamboo, & fir with wood log trails. During Spring, that is March and April, the rhododendron forests are laden with pink and red flowers. The trekking through this set up is a pure pleasure. You particularly walk through them on Day-4, when going towards Phedang (13,000 ft.). On Day-1 to you cross the thick forests of Rathong River Valley. Due to little sun filtering in, the ground may be swampy and slippery at places.
Yuksom (5,840 ft.): 7-8 hours’ drive from Jap Paiguri, Yuksom is a small, historical town in Sikkim. In ancient ages, it was the capital city. Now, it is the base for most camps, including Goecha La Trek. You have your first night halt here. If you arrive a little early in the day, you can check out local market; several ancient monasteries, including Dubdi, Tashiding, & Kartok; Khecheopalri Lake (6000ft.); and a statue of the Saint of Sikkim.
Rathong River Valley: You walk through this on Day-1 of this trek in India that starts from the Yuksom forest check post. Rathong River Valley is a thick forest. Due to little sun filtering in, the ground may be swampy and slippery at places.
Tshushay Khola Waterfall: This is the highlight of Day-1. It is a set of several small yet rapid falls meeting into the River Prek. You will see several log huts around the life giving river.
Tshoka (9,845 ft.): On Day-2, crossing Bhakim and dense Rhododendron forest, you land at a plateau nurturing a small hamlet called Tshoka, located in Kanchenjunga National Park in India. Try the popular local malt beer Tumba (Tungba) here. Some Tibetan families live around Tshoka Monastery. Your highlight of the day is a clear view of massive Kanchenjunga (28,170 ft.) range and Mt. Pandim (21,952 ft.). This incredible place is your second camping site too.
Thansing (12,946 ft.): On Day-4, trekking through rocky patch, you reach beautiful green and vast meadows of Thansing. You set up your fourth camp here.