Goecha La or the Goecha Pass is a high mountain pass in the Himalayas at an altitude of about 16200 ft (4940m). The highlight of this Goecha La trek in Sikkim is the majestic view of the third highest mountain in the World, Mt. Kanchenjunga from View Point 1 at an height of about 15100ft.
About the Trail:
The trail starts from the quaint cosy village of Yuksom in West Sikkim at an altitude of about 5700 ft. On the days of clear skies, one can see the majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga from Yuksom. The village has few houses, restaurants, hotels / home-stays for the trekkers and comes to life during the trekking season.
The trail initially traverses through the village and then leads to the Kanchenjunga National Park which is also a Biosphere Reserve. The trail is through temperate and mixed forests and later the trail opens upto beautiful meadows with a marvelous sight of the snow clad mountains. The trail then meanders through meadows and then to the Samiti Lake at 14200 ft. And then the trails leads upto mountain ranges from where the South-west face of Mt. Kanchenjunga can be seen at View Point 1.
- Elevation: 16200 ft (4940 m)
- Best seasons to Trek: end of March – mid-April / end of Sept- early Nov
- Guide and Permits: To be taken at Yuksom
- Duration: 9 days
- Trek Difficulty Level: Difficult
- Trek Distance: 65 kms
- Accommodation: Trekkers’ Cottage or Tents
- Location: The trek starts from Yuksom, West Sikkim, India
- Nearest Train station: NJP, Siliguri, West Bengal
- Nearest Airport: Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri, West Bengal
- By Road:
- Siliguri, West Bengal to Yuksom, Sikkim (141 km)
- Day 1: Yuksom(5700ft)- Sachen(7200ft), 5 hrs, 6.7 kms
The trail passes through the village of Yuksom guiding one around the mountains and the lush green mountains to the gateway of Kanchenjunga National Park. The trail is laden with Oak, Fir, Maple and Chestnut trees. The mountainous trail then passes through 3 suspension bridges which leads to Sachen, base camp.
- Day 2: Sachen(7200ft)-Bhakim(8600ft)-Tshoka(9650ft), 4 hrs, 5kms
Starting from Sachen, the trail leads up to a bridge and then gets steeper and tiring around the mountains. In the monsoons, it could get a bit cumbersome as the trail becomes a bit slippery and mushy.
Bhakim is the final point of getting a good network coverage. After that it is an opportunity for one to soak in the network of Nature and other beings.
The final leg of the Day leads one to Tshoka, the view of the mountains is beautiful from out here. The trail from Bhakim to Tshoka is laden with wooden logs and it meanders through the forests where one can bask in the beauty of the Rhododendron trees. In the months of April and May, the trees are adorned with red and pink flowers.
- Day 3: Tshoka(9650ft)-Phedang(12050ft)-Dzongri(12980ft), 7hrs, 6.3kms
Tshoka happens to be a small settlement along the trail and it leads upto the next pit-stop, Phedang. The trek is a log trail and is a haven for Rhododendron trees and the trail through the forests ends here and Phedang gives way to splendid views of the mountains.
After a few steep ascents the vista opens upto the grandeur of the mighty Himalayan mountains. As the trail nears Dzongri, one can view the Mountain tops which can humble any being!
For many trekkers, Dzongri happens to be the last stop. This place has Trekkers’ cottages. One can stay out here or in the tents.
- Day 4:Dzongri Top, 3hrs
One can acclimatize in Dzongri which is about 12980 ft before embarking on the trek to Goecha La. It is best to catch the sunrise at Dzongri as one can see a 360 deg view of the mountains from out here. There are about 14 peaks which one can view and the Sunrise is quite a moment to be present at! The views are scintillating and gives one a mad rush of euphoria!
One can also hike to nearby meadows to get acclimatized to the altitude.
- Day 5: Dzongri(12980ft)-Kokchurang(12096ft)-Thansing(12894ft), 6hrs, 6.4kms
The vistas change from Dzongri as the trail moves ahead. Leaving the temperate forests behind, the trail opens up to lush green meadows and to beautiful mountainscapes in the distance. After quite a descent, the path meanders alongside the Prek Chu river. This is a balm to the sore eyes.
As one crosses Kokchurang across the Prek Chu river, it gives one a feeling of being one with nature alongwith the Mountains, Flora, Fauna, River and the Sky in all glory!
One can stay in the Trekkers’ Cottage out here in Thansing. Out in the looming distance stand two mountains opposite each other Mt. Pandim in the distance and a rocky mountain.
- Day 6: Thansing(12894ft)-Lamuney(13693ft), 1.5 hrs, 2 kms
Thansing to Lamuney is a hike of few kilometers along the meadows. Being the shortest hike, it is also a walk through the scintillating mountains and the Prek Chu River. The weather can get very bad out here. The temperatures get very low.
The walk can seem magical as the meadows are vast and beautiful. It feels as though you reached a land beyond your imagination!
- Day 7: Lamuney(13693ft)- View Point 1 Goechala(15000ft)-Lamuney(13693ft)-Thansing(12894ft), 12 hrs, 9 kms
It is best to start early on the D-day as one needs to cross the Goecha La / Pass, say around 2:30 AM. The trail passes right next to Samiti Lake, at about 14200 ft. This happens to be a rocky terrain up the mountains. And then the trail run across the mountains and it is quite a steep hike to get to View Point 1. This is the point where one can catch a glimpse of Mt. Kanchenjunga glistening to the rays of the sun.
Further ahead, one can see the South-west face of Mt. Kanchenjunga from View Point 2 and also the Goecha Pass. But I gather these two points are currently closed for trekking.
On the way back across the splendid mountains, one can catch sight of the Samiti Lake( which was unable to view in the wee hours of the morning) and bask in its beauty. The trail heads back to Lamuney and then Thansing.
- Day 8: Thansing(12894ft)-Kokchurang(12096ft)-Phedang(12050ft)-Tshoka(9650ft), 7 hrs, 9.9 kms
After quite a heartfelt success of reaching the View Point, the following couple of days would be a joy to march ahead without much toil of trekking up in the higher altitudes. One take a different trail from Kokchurang through the forests of Phedang and head back to Tshoka.
- Day 9: Tshoka(9650ft)-Sachen(8600ft)-Bhakim(7200ft)-Yuksom(5700ft), 7 hrs, 11.7kms
The hike seems calmer and lighter as one head backs to the start point, Yuksom. One can cherish the joy and effort of completing the Goecha La trek which would turned any trekker into a new person!
Things to pack /carry:
- Sturdy Backpack(50L-60L) preferable with wider shoulder straps as it should sit comfortably on your shoulder
- Hiking Shoes( to suit the Mountain terrain) and socks
- Water bottle / Water pack -2 bottles of 1l each
- Sun Cap and Woollen / Fleece Cap
- Sunglasses – Black or Brown
- Trekking pole
- Comfortable trekking pants and tees
- Wind and Rain jacket /poncho depending on the season
- Sweater / Fleece Pullover depending on the weather
- Small first aid box
- Regular medication if any
- Fleece Gloves and Rain Gloves
- Sunscreen Lotion – SPF to suit the Higher altitudes
- Toiletries- Basic and much needed ones
- Dry fruits or Energy Bars
- Head torch
- Sleeping bag
- A small notepad and pen
- Essentials: Wallet, ID card
- Mobile phone, chargers, Powerbank
- Cameras and Batteries
Highlights of the Trek:
- Yaks and Mules- They are constant companions on the trail up until Thansing / Lamuney! They are a riot too when they come in huge numbers. It is always best to give them the way before you can amble along the trail.
- Rhododendron trees– A walk along the forests laden with Rhododendron trees is a sight to behold. It is quite a joy to feel your heart skip a beat as you cherish these pink or red flowers staring at you.
- Dzongri Top– It is quite a treat to bask in the view of gigantic, majestic mountains especially when the first rays of the Sun adorn the peaks with a golden hue.
- Lush green Meadows– The Meadows around Thansing, Lamuney is quite the wonder. A walk / hike along these trails leaves you dripping with ecstasy!
- Snow clad Mountains– As one reaches Thansing, the mountains are your neighbours towering high up and compelling you to be humble! But the majestic views of the Mountains leaves one gaping of the wonder!
- Samiti Lake- This is a Glacial Lake at an altitude of about 13700 ft. The shimmering colors of Turquoise, Green adorn this lake. It is a gorgeous sight to any trekker at such an altitude.
- View Point 1, View of the third highest mountain Mt. Kanchenjunga– One can catch the Kanchenjunga glistening to the first rays of the Sun and the be awed by the wonder that it is!
Pre-requisites for the Trek:
- Please read about the Trek and the weather conditions prior to planning.
- Having a good exercise routine is a must to embark on Himalayan treks – Ensure that you do the required preparation for the trek, ideally 1 year prior to the trek.
- Research about the trek- Plan on how you wish to trek; Through a Trekking Agency or by yourself.
- If you are trekking by yourself with a group of friends, ensure to take a Guide along at the starting point of the Trek and plan your Trek accordingly. This option should be considered only if you have some experience in Trekking and have taken the necessary precautions and adhere to the protocol of Trekking in Himalayas.
- If you are unable to complete a Trek, that is totally fine. Mountains will always be there but not us. So, make sure you do not compete with others or yourself in the madness to reach the destination. Take it Slow always!
- Plan your finances accordingly for the Trek and have a Plan B if you stop the Trek midway or some unforeseen circumstances hold you back.
- Mountains always have the last say, remember this always!
Considering the COVID-19 Pandemic, ensure that you adhere to the protocols of the situation and the Place of the Trek.
Hope you have a wonderful adventure out in the Himalayas!
PS: If you want to read more about my experience on the Goechala trek, here it is – GOECHALA