Distance: 103 KMS (64 Miles)
Avg.Time: 6-8 days
What to expect: Pure Awesomeness
I am a serious believer in the school of thought that we are not meant to just earn and pay our bills…and die. That is not life, nor is it my way of living. We were meant to be strangely wild, to be messy, to get mud under our nails, to walk barefoot on grass and to explore places where the wild things run free. Anyways mush aside, here is why GoechaLa trek is super epic.
Goecha-La trek had been on my mind for some time and I have to say, that this is my favorite Himalayan trek so far. Usually in most treks, you experience the OH-MY-GOSH-THIS-IS-MIND-BLOWING view at the highest point of the trek, however, this was not the case with Goecha-La.
Every camping site blew our minds away. The higher we went, the better it got. We were walking in the clouds with horses, yaks and baby yaks chilling next to us. Isn’t that what life is all about; bliss in the wilderness? We would be super excited to reach the next camping site and be even more excited to wake up early morning to see how beautiful everything looks when the first light hits the camping spot. It is a tough trek, but if you are fit, it is a walk in the park and super beautiful, not to mention super clean. You will not find trash/wrappers on the trail.
Here are a few things you should know before doing the trek:
- You WILL face bad weather. It comes with the terrain. Rain, hail and snow storms are frequent visitors on this trek. But don’t worry, you will also experience sunny days and clear skies. The weather is highly unpredictable, and nothing can prepare you for it, but the right clothing and shoes can help.
- You WILL be able to clearly see Mt. Kanchendzonga during the trek, the third highest mountain in the world, and it is pretty epic. Not just see it; you will most likely camp under the shadows of Mt. Kanchendzonga with its side-kick Mt. Pandim.
- Goecha-La trek has three viewpoints. You will most likely be taken to viewpoint 1, but that is not the actual Goecha-La peak view. You get the real view of Goecha-La peak from viewpoint 2, however, due to unknown reasons, the government is currently refusing tourists from heading to viewpoint 2 this year. But it’s always good to check. I don’t think viewpoint 3 has ever been open to tourists. And beyond that is China. You don’t want to walk that far.
- This trek can be done in almost all seasons. All you have to do- choose your best season to do Geochala for views that you love the most.
And here are details of the trail.
Day 1: Yuksom to Tshoka: 5840 ft -9650 ft
Distance: 17 KM
Avg.Time: 5-7 Hours
Trail: Not strenuous, gradual ascend at the beginning, majority of the path is uneven but more or less straightforward. The last 6 KMS is all uphill though, so heads-up.
The way to Tshoka is super gorgeous, full of bridges, waterfalls, blue rhododendrons, mist, clouds and beautiful birds. And of course the beautiful Himalayas in the background all along. Tshoka is basically a small village, you will see a few huts there, a monastery, a small lake, and a small shop. Overall, it’s a charming campsite and it will definitely win your heart over.
Although there are basic rooms available for rent there, I would recommend staying in tents and having a cup of tea while watching the sunrise.
Although the last 6-7 kms of the trail is all uphill, do stop at Bakhim for momos and a super gorgeous view. Bakhim campsite is 3-4 KM before Tshoka. You also get BSNL and Airtel network here, in case you need to make any important calls.
Day 2: Tshoka to Dzongri 9650ft- 12900ft
Distance: 9 kms
Avg.Time: 6-7 hours
Trail: Uphill ascend.
Prepare yourself, because this is going to be a tough day. The weather starts acting up from Tshoka, and chances of rain or hailstorm and even snow are relatively high. The way to Dzongri is all uphill but it is quite beautiful.
Some say it’s a steep climb, I even met people who referred to this climb as an “80 degree uphill climb” – don’t listen to them. It’s an easy climb, just take breaks when needed and before you know it, you will be at Dzongri.
Best thing about this day is, the views after Tshoka will just keep getting better and better.
It was raining the whole day, so I don’t have pictures of the trail, but we took plenty of pictures after reaching Dzongri.
Dzongri is one campsite where you are surrounded by mountains from all sides.
Walk around and take plenty of pictures because the background is jaw-dropping beautiful.
Day 3: Dzongri to Thansing 12900 ft- 12894 ft
Distance: 10 KMs
Avg.Time: 5-6 hours
Trail: Steep descend for more than half the trail and then its pretty much straight forward with slight ascend every now and then.
Thansing was one of my favorite campsites. It’s a place where you feel like you are walking in the clouds and you get clear views of Mt. Pandim and Mt. Kanchendzonga. Right after the descent, you will come across beautiful small bridges and if the weather is clear you will see Mt. Pandim in the background, and if it’s foggy, then everything will seem untouched and dreamy. So in either case, you will see beauty ahead of you.
It had started raining mid-way during our trek, and by the time we reached Thansing, it was cloudy and foggy, but beautiful. Sometime at night, the sky cleared up for 15 minutes and we got a sneak peak of Mt. Pandim. It felt like the mountains were playing hide and seek with us.
However, we were lucky the next day to wake up to clear skies and sunny weather. And of course we took some goofy pictures and had breakfast out in the open.
Day 4: Thansing to Lhamune 12894 ft – 13,693ft
Distance: 4 kms
Avg.Time: 2 hours
Trail: Straight-forward and easy-peasy.
This would be the most relaxed day of all for you. The trek is straight forward and barely took us an hour or two to reach the next camp site. Just put some music on and enjoy the walk.
We set up camp and trekked further to spend time at Samiti Lake (an hour from Lhamune @14,100 ft). Keep an eye out for wild blue deers, you’ll see them on the way to Samiti Lake.
Around 10:30pm, I got out of my tent to this beautiful view and it made all the efforts seem worth it. It was a full moon night, and the stars were out and about and we could see Mt. Kanchendzonga up close.
It almost stops your heart, the mountains when they make an appearance like that.
Day 5: Lhamune to Goecha-La view point 1 to Kockchrang 13,693 ft - 15,100 ft – 12,096ft
Avg. Time: 6 hours
Trail: Gradual ascend till the view point and then downhill.
We started early of course, in order to reach the viewpoint to watch the sun rise.
We started around 3AM and by 5AM we were at the viewpoint and saw the golden rays and the mountains lit up with the sun’s first touch. Stop and take a deep breath and take it all in before you start clicking away.
During our hike to the view point, every time I would look up and see the mountains start showing up, my heart would start racing and I had to look down. It was so beautiful, that your heart doesn’t know what to do, except bounce right out of your chest.
We then put up our prayer flags there, and sat there awhile to enjoy the view. It was extremely cold and our hands felt like they were about to fall off, but we still stuck around for an hour.
We couldn’t resist stopping at Samiti lake on our way back to the camp from the view point. It was a beautiful sunny day and the hard part of the trek was over and with the views we had seen the night before and early morning, we were all super giddy.
We took a nap back at Lhamune and had our breakfast and started our descend and camped at Kockchrang River side camp.
And of course the descent felt like a walk in the park, it was mostly downhill from there.
Day 6 and 7: Kockchrang to Bakhim and Bakhim to Yuksum 12-17kms 12,096 ft to 5840 ft
The rest of the trek was extremely easy and mostly fun. We were already used to the changing weather, it would rain every now and then and then it would clear up. We knew in our hearts that the hard part was over and it was time to descend safely and enjoy the rest of our time on the trek. We camped at Bakhim and had momos there on day 6 and made our way back to Yuksum on day 7.
Overall, it was a beautiful trek and we felt super spoilt by the views and the amazing food we got on the way. Take a book to read or your music player with you because you will have plenty of time on the trek.
“Open your heart and find your wild” – Atticus