One of the amazing place to visit in Sikkim is Goecha La. La in Tibetean means “Pass”. From this vantage point, one can see Kanchendzonga massif .
Duration : 11 days, 112 Kms. Trek starts from Yuksom.
Grade : Strenuous
Highest Point : Dzongri (Dabla Khang) 13,220 feet and Goecha La : 16,210 feet
Best time to visit : April – June ; Sept-Nov
Permits : Foreigners require permits and for Indians, they pay charges for Kanchendzonga National Park.
For Itinerary, click here
Day 1 : After landing in Bagdogra Airport, the car was ready for the pickup. After taking care of our luggage and equipment, proceeded to Yuksom, which was the erstwhile capital of Sikkim. After 5 hours of drive, we reached Yuksom at 9:00 pm and rested for next day trek.
Day 2: Early in the morning, it was time to meet up with my friend and tour organizer Surendra Pradhan, who had organized all the requirements in terms of equipments, yaks, guides and porters. Sanjay Limboo was our guide, a lean 26 year old Bhutia.
After breakfast, it was time to start towards Sachen which was to be our first stop for the day. En-route, we had to pickup our permits at the below office.
After obtaining the permits, we started our climb into Sachen and in an hours time, it started raining heavily and had to take shelter. After an hour time, it was time to start our trek in a wet but fun environment. We had never experienced anything like this before.
After a nice climb, by afternoon we reached Sachen a small hut was waiting for us. We were informed that the hut has been booked by ladies and hence we had to stay in tents at an elevation and it was a thrilling experience.
After dinner, was time to unpack luggage’s and lazy ourselves for the night and have a star gazing experience and unwind ourselves into a nice sleep.
We started walking uphill after breakfast, following the Rathong River gorge, through dense mixed jungle with magnolia, rhododendron, ferns and several varieties of orchids, brightly colored birds. We crossed Paha Khola bridge, (1,733m./5,685ft.). After a breathtaking walk we crossed Prek Chu River and then ascend steeply for couple of hours to and arrived at Bakhim where we stopped to take rest and also to see the Basic Mountaineering course training conducted by HMI.
After sometime, we started walking again over a steep ascent to reach Tshoka where the huts were ready to receive us. By the time we reached, it started raining and clouds started to gather. Our idea was to use mobile phones since this is the last place where mobile works, but then rains and fog ensured that mobile connectivity not being there.
We clicked some photos towards evening and then time to have dinner and sleep.
A fairly steep climb above Tshoka took us into beautiful rhododendron forests, and it had just snowed and the weather was classic. We started walking towards Phethang which was reasonably uphill on a well treded path. After reaching Phethang, we stopped towards the view point to see the mighty Kanchendzonga, Kabru and Pandim mountains, but then the weather changed drastically virtually closing the view point with fog.
After another uphill trek, we reached Dzongri and relaxed the evening in the tents which were pitched for us.
Day 5: Today, was more to do with lazing and acclimatization for our journey next day to Goecha La. Early morning at around 4 AM, we left to see Mt.Kanchendzonga, Mt.Pandim, Kabru, Mt.Simvo at the view point called Dabla Khang. It was indeed an amazing experience.
After walk of around 1 hour, we reached the Dabla Khang top. The sight from there was amazing. Eventhough, the temperature was freezing and sun just opening up, we could not stop ourselves from removing the gloves to take the photograph. Was challenging but also exciting.
In the afternoon, we played with snow ski and then discussed our strategy for next day where we were to start to Kokchuring early in the morning. As the day broke, we were informed that due to ice formation in Thangsing, we cannot take that route. Thus, we chose to go near Pandim mountain via Kabru dome and reach HMI hut at Bikbari.
Day 6 : We started the day with ascent to Bikbari. Took us around 3 hours to reach the top of the ridge where Mt.Pandim becomes visible. It was an amazing view.
By late afternoon, we reached Bikbari and the stream was a wonderful sight.
Day 7 : This day, we were to acclimatise as the altitude was 14,500 feet. After breakfast, we were to hike to HMI when the clouds started to fill the horizon. In no time, the sky was overcast and with that, we started our trek. It became hard to navigate but then was fun to walk. The oxygen level being low, we took break before going on top.
Day 8: This day, we were to reach back to Tshoka through Dzongri. The weather did not change a bit and we were to start back. As you can see the whole ground was covered with ice and made it very slippery. Infact, most of us slipped couple of times and was very scary indeed. To complicate further, there was almost zero visibility and very less oxygen. That means, we are going to get tired very easily and need to be hydrating a lot. The tents were filled up with ice and thus we decided to proceed and the baggage on animals would come once the weather clears. Since the ground was slippery we had a real tough time negotiating the valley deep below and making our journey back to Dzongri in time. The team did extremely well in keeping up the pace until Dzongri and to Tshoka to reach by 4:00 pm.
After lunch, we started our way back to Tshoka and spent time in discussing about the experience we had.
Day 9: This day was more of relaxation in terms of walking down to Yuksom Via Bakhim and Sachen. Reached Yuksom by evening and checked into Pemathang hotel.
Day 10-11: We spent the day in sightseeing at Yuksom by visiting Dubdi Monastery and trek to Khechuperi Lake which is considered as sacred by both Hindus and Buddhist. From the top view it looks like a footstep and legend says that Lord Shiva put a step here and from Buddhist point of view, Guru Padmasambhava blessed the place. Whatever it is, the lake provides a panoramic view of mountains with the lake flowing provides a soul stirring effect.
It was time to start our journey back to Bangalore via Bagdogra airport.
Thank you very much for reading.