Kanchenjunga Region lies at the easternmost tip of Nepal. The massive chunk of snow, rock and ice that makes up Kanchenjunga (8,586m), the third highest mountain in the world, looms high over the region. The name Kanchenjunga is derived from the Tibetan word ‘Kanchendzonga’, which means ‘five treasures of the great snow’.
One of the least explored trekking regions in Nepal, it borders Sikkim, a former Himalayan kingdom which is now a part of India in the east and Tibet in the north.
A destination of dramatic landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty, Kanchenjunga Region is home to Limbu, Rai, Lepcha and Sherpa ethnic communities and rare Himalayan wildlife and vegetation. The trekking trails leading to this region lies within the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, a storehouse of biological diversity.
The Nepal portion of the Great Himalaya Trail begins from Kanchenjunga Region and ends in Humla in western Nepal. Covering a distance of 1,700km, the Great Himalaya Trail is one of the longest, highest and most challenging trekking trails in the world.
Unlike other trekking regions in Nepal, much of Kanchenjunga Region remains unexplored. Because of its difficult terrain, remoteness and few accommodation facilities en route few trekkers consider trekking in this region. With few human settlements along the trekking routes, the forests and the landscape remain pristine and untouched.
A trek in this region is ideal for those looking for a wholesome alpine trekking experience without the usual crowd of trekkers clogging the trail. Treks like the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek, Kanchenjunga Circuit, Milke Danda Trek etc. offers the best wilderness trekking experience in Nepal.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, established in 1998 and covering an area of 2,035 sq.km. protects the wide variety of wildlife and plants found in this region. The conservation area extends up to the Qomolangma Nature Preserve in Tibet and Kanchendzonga National Park in Sikkim.
Snow leopard, red panda, Asian black bear, snow cock, red-billed chough and other rare animals are found inside the protected zone. 200 different Himalayan plants, including 23 types of rhododendrons bloom on the hillsides of this beautiful region.
The first foreigner to visit Kanchenjunga Region was a botanist from Europe, Sir Joseph Hooker. In 1848 he visited this region in search of rare Himalayan flora and wrote about his journey describing this magnificent mountain region.
Because of its proximity to India and Tibet, Nepal government had barred outsiders from visiting this region. The ban was lifted in 1988 with the introduction of commercial trekking trails in the Kanchenjunga Region. However it still remains a protected zone and one needs a special restricted area permit in addition to other permits to visit this region.
At the base of the Kanchenjunga are two valleys located divided by the Sele La pass. These valleys, popularly known as the Kanchenjunga north and south base camps are two of the most popular trekking destinations in the region.
The mighty Kanchenjunga range, Makalu Barun, Jannu or Kumbhakarna range and Kirat Chuli are some of the Himalayan giants towering above the trekking trails. Stunning glaciers, rivers and waterfalls dot the landscape.
Though the Limbu and Rai villages en-route are some of the most developed and prosperous villages in Nepal, teahouse facilities are not as advanced as those provided along the developed trails of Everest and Annapurna. But trekking along the secluded and spectacular trail is rewarding enough.
Filled with incredible mountains views and unspoiled nature, a trek to the Kanchenjunga Region in Nepal refreshes your body, mind and spirit.