About the Goechala Trek
There are not so many trekking trails in India which are popular to both Indians as well as people all over the world. Goecha La trek ranks mostly on the top of the list. The trail is a mixture of typical Eastern Himalayan moist and almost lush evergreen forest with a truly magnificent view of Kangchenjunga up close.
This trail inside Khangchendzonga National Park is a UNESCO Heritage Site which is a must to do “Bucket-list” trek for all trekking lovers and hikers.
The route climbs very slowly to cross a ridge at Dzongri, then proceeds to the north of the Olathang Valley to reach the high altitude pass, Goecha La at its head. The trek splits in two main parts.
First half starts till the high point of Dzongri. Dzongri top offers some of the amazing high peaks in Sikkim and Nepal and also some picturesque and scenic views. Kanchendzonga Range, Kabru North, Pandim, Rathong, South and Dome, Kokthang, Tinchen Khang, Jopuno, Siniolchu are notable.
During the later half of the trail, it enters into the eye-catching wide open meadows and Prek Chu river valley and finally ends up in a beautiful moraine ridge at GoechaLa. The route has a very thick variety of vegetation, along with hundreds and thousands of bird species, butterflies and wildflowers, especially of different varieties of Rhododendrons.
Who can Trek to Goechala?
Goechala is a trek for experienced and well trained hikers having fairly good physical fitness and body. Technically it’s not a difficult trek but one may get into trouble if not prepared well. Let’s have a look into the following facts:
- Goechala is a “Moderate” level trek while it sometimes requires hard work at the same time.
- Continuous walk of more than 80 km over a span of 8 days.
- Total height gain is of almost 3000m which is 10000 ft of which the climb to Dzongri is a rigorous one.
- Multiple mesmerising nights of camping at or above 4000m/13100 ft.
- Day 1: NJP/Bagdogra to Yuksom (1710 m/5600 ft) – 160 Km taken by car – 8/9 hours. Lodge accommodation.
- Day 2: Trek to Siachen (~ 2200 m/7200 ft) – 8 Km – 4 hours. Twin sharing tent required.
- Day 3: Trek to Tsokha ( 2960 m/9700 ft) via Bakhim – 7 Km – 4/5 hours. Almost a half day walk. Tent.
- Day 4: Trek to Dzongri – 12 Km – 6/7 hours via Phedang. Adventurous day due to sustained climb. Tent.
- Day 5: Rest and active day at Dzongri. Climb to Dzongri top and back. Tent.
- Day 6: Dzongri to Lamuney (4150 m/13700 ft) – 14 Km – 7/8 hours. A moderate day. Tent.
- Day 7: Trek to Goecha La (View Point 1, ~ 4600 m/15,100 ft) and back to Kochurang – 16 Km – 8/9 hours. Long day. Tent.
What is the Best Time for a GoechaLa trek?
Especially like most of the high altitude treks, there are two seasons for GoechaLa. The first begins with the Spring during April to May – the so called blooming season. The latter, Autumn or Fall, is well-known for clear weather and majestic mountain views during Oct to November.
Situated in the Eastern Himalayas this area observes a longer monsoon period. Clouds start to float over from April and draw out till October begins. There are major two distinct seasons when this year trek is at its best:
Spring or Summer Trek during Rhododendron Bloom:
April and May are spring time, which means blooming time. Flowering starts as early as March in the lower period, and till towards the end of spring on higher altitude. Rhododendron and Giant Magnolia are two most famous animals along with several other flora and fauna species. Cloudy or misty atmosphere is pretty common during the Spring season. Though clear mountain views are hard to capture, especially during morning. Especially for bird watching, this is certainly a perfect season to visit.
Fall or Post Monsoon for Clearer Weather:
In the beginning of October clouds start moving out all around from this region and the weather becomes clearer. November is mainly known for its crystal clear views of the gigantic mountains. From the end of November it becomes quite cold at Dzongri and higher. Also being very high altitude the chances of snowfall is very high.