Goecha La Pass
Goecha La Pass-A Mountain Trek for Grand View of Mount Kanchenjunga
Goecha La Pass in West Sikkim en-route to Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak; is known as one of the India’s best treks. The southeast face of the mountain is visible from Goecha La Pass, and it’s this view that is printed on INR 100 note by RBI. Fourteen other peaks including Pandim, Talung, Kabru and Rathong surrounding the Kanchenjunga are also visible during the trek. The pass is base camp for mountain climbers wanting to climb Kanchenjunga from Indian side. The pass is 51 km from Gangtok, capital of Sikkim. There are many trekking firms with registered guides who conduct these treks.
Passing through Kanchenjunga National Park, the 90 Km trek graded as moderate lasts up to 10 days. Ideally suited for adventure seekers; trekkers must be physically fit as there are many ups and downs due to change in altitude that may cause Acute Mountain Sickness. No trekking party is allowed to reach the actual pass or the frozen Goecha La lake, just before Goecha La Pass since 2017, after snow leopards were spotted around the area. A spectacular treat for eyesight, the trek is surrounded by huge rhododendron forests. A lucky few visiting the trek in March, April and May, trekkers can see red rhododendron in full bloom. Best time to visit the area is from April to June and September, October. Tourist/ trekkers can reach Yuksom via Gangtok from New Jalpaiguri railway station or Bagdogra Airport and Darjeeling by road.
Trek height averages from 3800 to 4800 mtrs and starts at Yuksom, West Sikkim. Trekkers must get permission from local tourist department for trek and make entry in local police station and pay fees (Rs 700/person) for trekking essentials like tent, camera, porter, yak and other charges. Foreigners can get Inner line Permit (ILP) for trekking from Gangtok tourist office or Bagdogra airport or at check-post before entering Sikkim for Rs.2000/person. On day 2, trek reaches Sachen/Bhakim along the Prek Chu river; trekkers here can enjoy beautiful sight of Tshushay Khola falls, a series of mini waterfalls. Trekkers are advised to take rest at Sachen or Bhakim, as after this point trek gets steeper. On day 3, trek moves to Tshoka through an oak forest where tourists can also see red rhododendron trees. At Tshoka trekkers can also enjoy Tumba, the local malt beer or visit nearby Tibetan monastery.
On day 4, trek moves from Tshoka to Dzongri meadows through Phedang. Phedang is a stopover before Dzongri meadows and is surrounded by peaks of Kanchenjunga mountain range. After Dzongri, only camping tents are allowed. All along the trek there are several places where trekkers can see Buddhist prayer fags fluttering in wind. On day 5, trek moves to Dzongri Top where trekkers can have panoramic view of Singalila and Kanchenjunga ranges. The view of sunrise and resulting changes in mountain colours due to shifting sunrays as day progresses is unique. On day 6, trek moves to Thansing via Kockchurang. This trek is filled with rhododendron forest that gives way to meadows at Thansing. Camping trekkers need to take precaution from biting cold.
On day 7, trek moves to Lamuney with view of Mount Pandim in the middle towards Lamuney. Trekkers can also trek to Samiti lake in Onglathang valley. The place of origin of Teesta river; it is mostly frosty but view of Mount Pandim’s reflection in its waters is mesmerizing. On day 8, trek moves to View Point 1, the best place for viewing Kangchenjunga. Trekkers need to get up at 3 am for a spellbinding view of sun rays falling on the mountain at sunrise. After feasting their eyes trekkers can come back to Kockchurang/Thansing. On day 9, trek heads back to Tshoka and ends on day 10 after reaching Yuksom via Bhakim/Sachen. While trekking birds like blood pheasant, woodpecker, bulbul, barbet, sunbird, flycatchers, magpie finch, accentors, grandala and other birds can be spotted. Trekkers can also spot animals like marten, mountain weasel, pika, Himalayan blue sheep, and a lucky few can see the red panda. The trek to be avoided during monsoon season is a dream come true for adventure seekers.