Playground Outdoors

Goecha La

Set amongst the dense forests of Kangchenjunga National Park, the trail of Goecha La is a rare glimpse into the natural diversity that absolutely abounds in the state of Sikkim. Climbing through groves of oak, birch, maple, chestnut, magnolia, rhododendron and silver fir, to name a few, we pass abandoned huts rumored to be haunted, the bright-blue Samiti Lake, thick jungles and a view of the world’s third-highest mountain, Mt. Kangchenjunga on the border between India and Nepal, up close and personal.

Difficulty

SAC T4 Alpine Hiking

Path traces are not always present. Some sections require the use of hands. Grounds are relatively exposed, tricky grass slopes, craggy ground, simple firn fields and snow free glacier sections.

Duration

10 days

Delhi to Delhi
2 days travel & rest
8 days hiking & camping

Distance

90 km / 56 mi

Maximum Altitude

4600 m / 15100 ft

Price

₹1,15,000 $1600

Itinerary


From Delhi, or any other major metropolitan city in India, we will arrange your transport to Yuksom, the trailhead for Goecha La, depending on your preferences. Since Sikkim is a remote state, the best travel option is to reach Gangtok by flight, and take a car to Yuksom. The alternative is taking the train to New Jalpaiguri and then taking a car to Yuksom.

Right off the bat, we get a built-in walking tour of Yuksom as the trail leads us through the outskirts of the village, weaving through thriving crop fields until entering the Rathong River Valley Here we move through dense jungles with thick undergrowth, plunging us into a spotlit trail despite the bright morning sun. We cross over several iconic bridges, all decorated with prayer flags, above the Pha Khola and Tshushay Khola that flow below, with the Tshushay Falls cascading into the Prek River. Shortly after spotting several log huts, we reach our forested camp at Sachen for the night.

Today’s journey is characterized by the steep switchbacks that carry us from the Prek River into the small hamlet of Bakhim before we plunge back into the pink rhododendron forests. The end of this second climb brings us to a flatter section of trail where we find Tshoka, home to a few log huts, tea stall selling the local malt beer called Tumba and a monastery. From our camp tonight, we can see Mount Pandim towering in the distance.

We start the day with a constant climb through thick rhododendron forest, and if it is the season when the flowers bloom (first half of May), then the entire trail becomes splashed with color. We climb until we reach Phedang, a clearing where we get our first glimpse of the higher mountains that surround us, before rising once more toward a Buddhist shrine topping the climb in front of us. From here, we descend into the meadows of Dzongri, with the Kangchenjunga range looking spectacular in the distance.

Time to see sunrise on the world’s third-highest mountain. We wake and leave before dawn to climb the two-part hill, reaching the top at sunrise to catch the golden morning light hitting the 28,170 foot Kangchenjunga as well as the Sangalila Range. We celebrate here and lounge in the sun for a bit before heading back to Dzongri to pack our bags. From here, we will carry on toward Thansing, edging around the sloping grass mountainsides - with the snowcapped Mount Pandim front and center.

Today is a reward for yesterday’s hard work. After a tame 2-3 hour hike, we reach Lamuney, our camp for the night. From here, we’ll grab our day packs and make the trip to the royal-blue Samiti Lake wedged down in an elegant mountainous basin. After spending some time by the shore and having lunch, we will return to Lamuney for the night.

We leave in the middle of the night to give ourselves that coveted sunrise view. The sight of Kangchenjunga and Mt. Pandim from Goecha La (also called Viewpoint 1) are the best seats in the house, and the culmination of a long week’s worth of climbing. As we descend toward Lamuney, we again pass by Samiti Lake, which now reflects the clear morning sky and surrounding mountains on its surface.

A welcome descent after our previous days of climbing, we will begin our return journey toward Yuksom, stopping mid-way for the night in Tshoka again.

We make the final push in retracing our path back through the rhododendrons, over the prayer-flagged bridges and past the waterfalls to Yuksom, where it all began.

Time to head back to “reality” - we’ll arrange your journey by train of flight accordingly.

Playground Perks


Handcrafted & Curated

We don’t copy our itineraries off the internet. We scout and design all trip offerings personally. This ensures enough time to acclimatise at high altitude, explore around the campsite, and indulge in authentic local experiences so you don’t miss out on anything.

Everything Included

Honestly, everything. Internal flights, best-in-class travel insurance, personal camping equipment, and all meals - we’ll take care of everything that most travel operators will mark with an asterisk. You pay for nothing except personal purchases from the day your trip starts.

Equipment & Safety

4 season Mountain Hardwear tents and sleeping bags, emergency oxygen reserves & PACs to provide a safety net against AMS, UIAA Safety Label glacier rescue kits for technical trails, WAFA/WFR & CPR certified guides, best-in-class adventure insurance - we’ve always got a plan B.

Personalised & Bespoke

We curate bespoke adventures and trips every day because we recognise that everyone’s travel bug is unique. When it comes to adventure travel, there are different ways to experience the world’s most beautiful places, because every traveler is different - which is why we’ve stepped in to provide a space for environmental advocacy, cross-cultural connections, wellness and adventure to combine - all through travel.

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel starts with acknowledging that travel and tourism often contribute to the global climate crisis. We believe in the positive power of travel to transform mindsets & generate a sense of preservation towards wild spaces. We follow LNT Principles, minimise our carbon footprint, adopt regenerative practices & give back to local communities - from making sure our field staff are well equipped to higher-than-industry-standard compensation.

Self Guided & Operated

We’ll never hand you off to someone else - we run all trips ourselves. We minimise external contracting and only partner with people we know and trust personally. While we employ and collaborate with local guides and support staff for their unparalleled expertise and knowledge of the Himalayan ranges, our trips are led by one of our core team members so you always have a single point of contact.