Trail to Goecha La: Challenges, Thrills & Triumphs
Northeast India is a hidden treasure, full of culture, stunning scenery, and a deep connection with nature. Traveling here teaches you valuable lessons about life, people, culture, and the natural world. To truly experience the beauty of the Northeast, the Goechala trek in Sikkim is a fantastic choice. Sikkim in itself is a state of beautiful landscapes and mountains as 35% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and that’s where the Goecha La Trek is situated. It takes you through breathtaking landscapes with towering peaks, meandering streams, and expansive meadows.
Introduction to Goecha La
The Goecha La Trek offers a captivating encounter with Mount Kanchenjunga, the tallest peak in India. Beyond the views of Kanchenjunga, Goecha La reveals more than 10 other majestic summits that grace the trek. As the third-highest mountain globally, Kanchenjunga serves as a prime climbing destination for mountaineers aspiring to conquer an 8000m peak. Positioned on the border of Nepal and Sikkim, Kanchenjunga holds sacred significance for the locals of Sikkim & Nepal, preventing ascent from the Sikkim side. However, the Nepal side provides an avenue for climbers to embark on this sacred journey.
The journey commences from the picturesque Yuksom, a charming village that resonates with history. This village is rich in it’s Buddhist heritage, adorned with serene Monasteries which display its rich historical eras. This village which is known for it’s breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains and landscapes. It is also popularly known as “Gateway to Kangchendzongha”. From there, it ascends through dense alpine forests, embracing trekkers with the scent of Rhododendrons and magnolia flowers in full bloom.
The Trek covers a distance of about 90 kms with an average walking time of 6-7 hours each day throughout a period of 11 to 12 days depending on your itinerary.
The Trail: A Test of Grit
The journey to Goecha La commences from the charming village of Yuksom, known for its historical significance and serene ambiance. The Drive from Bagdogra to Yuksom is approximately a 6-7 hour which gives you a glimpse of how beautiful Sikkim is.
Day 1: Arrival and Drive to Yuksom
Catch stunning views of the Himalayas during the 6–7 hour drive to Yuksom. An Adventure-Pulse representative will meet you at the airport, arranging a comfortable private vehicle for the journey. The drive, passing along the Teesta River, may lead you to Yuksom by evening. Enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in a family-run guesthouse in Yuksom.
Day 2: Yuksom to Sachen (Altitude: 5700 feet to 7200 feet, 5-6 hours)
We begin this day by walking through the streets of Yuksom & ascend through the village, following the Rathong river gorge, and reach the Paha Khola Bridge. A small lunch break en route allows you to enjoy packed lunch amid lush surroundings. Sachen, nestled in a dense forest, becomes your first campsite.
Day 3: Sachen to Tshoka (Altitude: 7200 feet to 9650 feet, 6-7 hours)
Today we start walking through a dense jungle and pass aromatic viburnum plantations, cross the Prek Chu River, and hike uphill to Bhakim. The trail becomes steeper, descending to a bridge before ascending to Bhakim. There’s a small tea stall from where you can get yourself a cup of Tea or Coffee.
Bakim gives you panoramic views from the tea shop and gradually ascends to Tshoka, a beautiful settlement of Tibetan refugees. Adventure-Pulse helps you explore the serene surroundings, including a small monastery and a picturesque pond.
Day 4: Tshokha to Dzongri via Phedang (Altitude: 9650 feet to 12980 feet, 6-7 hours)
The Trek from Tshoka to Dzongri is the highlight of the Goechala Trek. We begin with a gradual ascent through the rhododendron forest of Tshoka. We will reach a flat ground in Phedang for a packed lunch, followed by a steeper climb towards Dzongri. Phedang also has a tea stall.
Enjoy the 180-degree panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga range from Dzongri. Adventure-Pulse recommends an extra day for rest and acclimatization.
Day 5: Acclimatization and Rest Day at Dzongri (12980 feet to 13,681 ft)
We hike upto ‘Dzongri Top’ for a panoramic view of the Singalila and Kanchenjunga ranges. We commence the hike early, witnessing a beautiful sunrise. The first rays of the sun hitting Mt. Kanchenjunga is a sight which shouldn’t be missed.
We spend the rest of the day hydrating and resting. Adventure-Pulse ensures a comfortable acclimatization day, utilizing it as a buffer day if required due to bad weather.
Day 6: Dzongri to Thansing via Kokchurang (Altitude: 12980 feet to 12894 feet, 5-6 hours)
We start by leaving Dzongri behind and traverse through meadows with the distant mountain peaks visible through the clouds. We then enter into a forest where we descend downhill to reach
Kokchurung. We stop at Kockchurang’s trekker’s hut for rest and cross a small bridge to reach the relatively flat area of Thansing.
Day 7: Thansing to Lamuney (Altitude: 12894 feet to 13693 feet, 2 hrs)
Today we enjoy a 2-hour hike from Thansing to Lamuney, the last campsite on the Goecha La trek. The scenery getting inspiring as the mountains draw closer. Today is just a 2 hour walk to Thansing which is pretty flat. We rest and acclimatize at Lamuney camp,
with the option of an excursion to Samiti Lake. We recommends focusing on rest to prepare for the early climb to Goecha La pass.
Day 8: Lamuney to Goecha La, Back to Thansing (Altitude: 13693 feet to 16400 feet and back)
Today is the longest and toughest day of the Goechala Trek. We start early at 03:00 am and start walking towards the Samiti Lake . After a couple of hours of walking we reach thebeautiful Samiti Lake. After the lake the hike starts getting steeper before reaching Goecha La for a magical sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjunga. With another 3-4 hours of hiking we reach the Goecha La Viewpoint 1 which is the highest point of the trek & this is the closest we get to Mount Kanchenjungaand enjoy the beautiful views of the range. Later we descend to Samiti lake, rest, and continue the descent towards Thansing. We ensure a brunch at Lamuney before the journey back to Thansing.
Day 9: Thansing to Tshoka (Altitude: 12894 feet to 9650 feet, 7 hours)
We begin the long descent back down the valley. The journey includes two phases: from Thansing to Phedang, bypassing Dzongri, and a trek through the rhododendron forest from Phedang to Tshoka. Its a comfortable yet long descend down to Tshoka and we reach Tshoka by around 4 in the evening.
Day 10: Tshokha to Yuksom (Altitude: 9650 feet to 5700 feet, 7-8 hours)
We retrace your way from Tshoka to Yuksom by passing through Sachen and enjoying the last stretch to Yuksom. We celebrate the last day with dinner and an overnight stay in a guesthouse.
Day 11: Departure from Yuksom
Today we depart from Yuksom, marking the end of your trek.
Weather & Climate
The weather at the Goecha La Trek changes every two days. Trekkers experience cool to cold temperatures, with the possibility of snowfall or rain, especially as the altitude increases after Tshoka. The climate can shift rapidly from clear, sunny days to foggy, misty conditions.
The Temperatures at Sachen & Tshoka will be around 15-20 Degrees during the day and 10-15 Degrees during the night.
After Tshoka the temperatures starts dropping by 5-10 Degrees as you gain more altitude.
The chances of snow at Dzongri, Thansing and Lamuney is quite high because it falls above 13000 ft.
Lamuney will be the windiest campsite as it is an open campsite with less mountain cover around it.
Trekkers need to be well-prepared for these weather variations and sudden temperature changes by having the right gear. From our side, we make sure to provide you with the right camping equipment which will help you sustain this weather from good quality tents, sleeping bags, liners and mattresses.
If you want to know more about your stay & food arrangements, you can go the blog below :
Triumph of Spirit: The Goecha La Summit
At an elevation of about 16,000 feet, Goecha La is the ultimate triumph for many. The final ascent, although demanding, unveils one of the most majestic and spellbinding panoramas in the Himalayas. Trekkers stand in awe as the Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, presents itself in all its grandeur, bestowing an unparalleled sense of achievement and wonder. Besides Mount Kanchenjunga you get to witness other mountain peaks like Mount Kokthang which stands at a height of 6148 m. You also get to see the Singalila Ridge which is a north–south mountain ridge running from northwestern West Bengal through Sikkim in the Indian part of the Himalayas. Frey Peak, Rathong peak which stands at a height of 6682 m & Kabru peak which stands at 7412 m are amongst the other peaks that you get to see from the Goecha La summit.
Conclusion: Memories of a Lifetime
The journey to Goecha La goes beyond reaching a destination; it’s an exploration of diverse landscapes, a test of endurance against the elements, an encounter with nature’s marvels like Samiti Lake and the Perk River, and a ultimate reward with the breathtaking view of India’s tallest mountain, Kanchenjunga. Goecha La is more than a trek; it’s an unforgettable expedition marked by challenges, moments of awe, and splendor.