Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Kangchenjunga Trek Nepal | North and South | Road Construction

The Kangchenjunga group including Jannnu on the left and Kabru in front seen from a ridge above Ilam on the drive to Taplejung
A South Col team recently did the Kangchenjunga trek in Nepal in November 2019. A detailed day by day schedule and route will follow on this blog but in this post we deal with the roads now being used  on the approach to the Kangchenjunga trek.

We found that dirt track roads suitable for four wheel drive vehicles have been built on the approach to both treks north and south. These roads  are fair weather - hence it is doubtful if during heavy rain in the monsoon months they would be clear for traffic. However, we were informed by our jeep drivers that from middle October to middle May these roads are operating and can be used by trekkers to shorten their treks by 2-3 days. The journey, of course, like most Nepal dirt track roads is bone rattling but it does shorten 2 days walking into a four hour jeep journey.

North Side
The traditional approach on the North side was to trek the first day from Taplejung down to Mitlung and then walk the second day to Chiruwa. The road now goes from Taplejung via Suketar to Taplethok  beyond Mitlung/Chiruwa  where there is a KCAP checkpost and permit checkpost. There is a new hotel at Taplethok where the jeep stops to pick up passengers - Hotel Tamar +977 98526 60240. The hotel owner can also make jeep bookings with the driver.
We travelled to Taplethok on our trek and the description of the journey is below:

We reached Taplejung before noon and had to change into a four wheel drive vehicle. We also had to stop for lunch.  We saw the peaks of Sharpu II and III from Taplejung From Taplejung we climbed uphill to the airstrip of Suketar 2400 metres  which took around 30 minutes where there were a number of nice lodges and we stopped at the Everest lodge for lunch. Suketar is the base for the Pathibara temple pilgrimage and receives  a lot of local visitors including tourists from Darjeeling and Sikkim.

The blue line indicates the dirt track road from Talpejung to Taplethok - click to see in full screen
From Suketar we started around 2 pm and proceeded directly north. The road was now no more than a dirt track with rocks, boulders and rushing streams all of which had to very skilfully navigated.  It was one of the most bone rattling drives and you need to hold on for dear life to avoid being flung out of your seat! The road  started losing altitude immediately from 2400 metres and in 45 minutes reached the village of Gadee. It continued to drop into the valley and then passed through the village of Phurumba. In about an hour and 20 minutes cross the Yafre Khola bridge over the river. Soon after reach the road reaches the village of Linkhim. From Linkhim it is a long haul to Chiruwa reached around 5 pm and then another 30 minutes to the check post of Taplethok where there is a new lodge Hotel Tamur with three rooms which we occupied.
The jeepable road which we used and saved 1.5 days walking is not the same track as the walking trail. In case you are walking from Taplejung you should go down to Mitlung in about 2-3 hours and the next day walk from Mitlung to Chiruwa.  The road also would remain operational during the dry season only mid October to possibly mid May - the onset of the rains would bring with it landslides and mud rendering the road inoperable. Our permits were checked at the Taplethok  KNP check post and we also got the Kangchenjunga National Park permits here ( Rs 2000 for foreigners and Rs 500 for Indians ).  Nepal Telecom mobile fully working at Taplethok.
Taplejung  1808 metres  27 21 19N  87 40 13E to Suketar 2400 metres 20-30 min; Suketar to Chiruwa 3 hours - 3 hours Chiruwa to Taplethok  1362 metres 27 28 10 N 87 44 7 E 30 min.

We later learnt that this road has been extended to a place called Ranipul  15 minutes below Sekathum and there are some jeeps that run here as well. If it is possible to hire a full jeep from Taplejung then it should be possible to drive just below Sekathum as well.

South Side
On the South side the dirt track road goes from  Tellok and Hapu Khola all the way down to Ilam which is around 6-7 hours. Out of this drive two to three hours will be on a dirt track and then balance on a black top road. This will join the Taplejung to Ilam road before Phidim at Ganesh Chowk.

The blue line indicates the road down from Tellok / Hapu Khola to Ganesh Chowk on the south base camp trek - click image to see full screen
For more information on our treks and workshops do visit

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  1. Very useful information as I am planning on doing this trek in 2021. I look forward to reading the day to day blog once it is posted. Thanks very much for taking the time to publicise this info.



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