Day 1 :- NJP to Yuksom 5,670 ft (6 hrs drive) (guest house)
Day 2 :- Yuksom 5,600 ft to Sachen 7,150 ft.
Day 3 :- Sachen 7,150 ft to Tshokha 9,700 ft via Bhakim 8,600 ft.
Day 4 :- Tshokha 9,700 ft to Dzongri 12,980 ft via Phedang 12,000 ft.
Day 5 :- Rest day in Dzongri.
Day 6 :- Dzongri 12,980 ft to Dzongri top 13,675 ft , then to Thansing 12,900 ft via Kokchurang (12,000 ft).
Day 7 :- Thansing 12,900 ft to Lamuney 13,600 ft.
Day 8 :- Lamuney 13,600 ft to Goecha La 16,000 f) via Samiti Lake 14,100 ft, then back to Thansing.
Day 9 :- Thansing to Tshokha via Phedang.
Day 10 :- Tshokha to Yuksom via Bhakim and Sachen.
Day 11 :- Leave Yuksom early morning and reach NJP by 4.00 - 5.00 pm
Day 1: NJP to Yuksom 5,670 ft (6 hrs drive) (guest house)
The Goechala trek starts at Yuksom. Yuksom is a beautiful and peaceful gateway into the trek. Yuksom is a township in Sikkim. Rich with culture and heritage it eludes its aura. It was once the capital of Sikkim. This is a nice place for people who do not prefer the travel via busy streets of the city of Darjeeling.
Enroot to Goechal trek through Yuksom one needs to get two things done. You have to take permission from the nearby police station to continue the trek this is a way to ensure safety throughout the trip. You will need photographs to attach onto the forms. So keep some handy. Second, permit fees at forest check post. It may cost you some money from your pocket anywhere between 600-700 rupees. It is a charge they take for local tents, yaks and various services provided.
In case you are a foreigner, your task becomes a little more tedious. You are not allowed to trek alone. Always have a partner along with you. The trekking permit must be obtained from Gangtok. Basically, this service will be provided by your respective tourist agencies. Once at Sikkim all the papers will be scrutinized at the gateway of the trek check post.
Also, Yuksom is the last hope for one to pick up some provisions for the trek. Yuksom plays host too many shops. So there is no requirement to stock items from Kolkata, Siliguri or Gangtok till this point.
Day 02: Yuksom 5,600 ft to Sachen 7,150 ft.
Many travelers like to cover the whole distance from Yuksom to Tshoka in a single day, but the idea is insane as at the end of the trip body looses all its stamina. So you wisely break it up to two parts. The first one is your destination for your day – Sachen located at 7200 feet above the sea level.
From Yuksom, the Goechala trail starts from the small huts beyond the check post you just encountered. You walk across the fields for some meters breathing in fresh air. After traveling a short distance, you come across a beautiful V shaped valley of the River Rathong.
Now you enter the part of trail that runs into the forest, occasional glimpses of sunlight that will give a feel like the sun is playing hide and seek with us. Half an hour through this trail you can see shelter to your right. In another half an hour you are assured to reach the first bridge- Pha Khola. By the time, the trail reaches Pha Khola you begin to notice that you are engulfed between gush of trees all around. The thick forest cover makes the sunlight almost invisible; always carry a torch in such cases. The trail gains height gradually.
Walking along the moist forest covers you find the fierce Tshushay Khola falls in a series of small waterfalls joining the Perk River. Next in about 50 meter you encounter the iron bridge spanning over Tshushay Khola. Now the altitude gain is more visible.
Next after an interval of about 1 hour you find a cement bridge over the Mentogang Khola River. Now you are at an altitude of 7100 feet above the sea level. Twenty minutes through you end up at your destination.
Sachen is located at about 7200meters height above the sea level. You can see the log huts spanning all along the way. These are situated a little below the trail track. If the trekkers are more in your group, then you can always opt for the bigger huts situated along the trail. Along the night, you can hear the gushing waters of Perk waterfall. This calm bit of nature's music puts you to sleep.
Day 03: Sachen 7,150 ft to Tshokha 9,700 ft via Bhakim 8,600 ft.
The trek you are to travel a short distance today but the altitude gain is considerably huge. The terrains of the forest make the journey pleasant and help you store some energy to climb the next part Bakhim from over the bridge on River Perk. Now the walk is over an even terrain out of Sachen for about 45 minutes you walk through this trial until your each the bridge over River Perk. The waters of Perk are truly pure and are crystal clear to savor the beauty. You do not see this river until 3 days from now.
The wooden bridge over Perk River hangs and sways as you walk along it. Prayer flags can be seen at a distance. This is the indication of the start to the Goechala trail. Now the trail starts to gain altitude and forever gains till your each Goechala.
You must take the trial that begins to climb to the left of the bridge. The trail climbs steeply through a combination of oak forest until your each the wide part which is about half hour later from the point you can view Rhododendrons. The gain in height is fast, and the air temperature cool down substantially. Soon the trail will lead to the hill, and it will continue until you reach Bakhim which you will reach after more half an hour. From Prek, it takes about an hour to get to Bakhim.
There is a forest rest house at Bakhim and some trekkers love staying at Bakhim – simply for its view of the Yuksom valley. Bakhim has some awesome tea and snack stalls where you can relish it with ease. As you will be tired enough, so go and take some rest, and then start your trek to Tshoka. The path, which is just behind the rest house, must be followed, and it will lead to the destination. There are some ups and downs as some high climbing can be experienced overlooking Bakhim after forty minutes later it will be down somewhere lost in the steep slope. Later again some steep slope will be seen which will lead to the other part of the hill.
About 9000 feet above sea level, Rhododendron trees are found everywhere. The trail gets engulfed in woods and goes on and on for some more ten minutes. You can suddenly see out some trekkers hut and a plateau of Tshoka. There is also a flat camping area at the left of the trekkers hut. The trekker's hut is quite huge wooden building that has multiple rooms, and every room is big enough to host 20 trekkers at a time. Altenatively, trekkers can also reside at the forest rest house that is little further away.
You will have to follow the trek as that will help to lead out Tshoka, a small wooden bridge must be crossed which is over the pond with some chilled water. It is a peaceful spot worthy of a quick look. The x- factor of the place is a picturesque view of the snow clad peaks of the Kanchenjunga range stretching right back of you – with Mt Pandim dominating the others, touching the sky. For most of the travelers, this will make their day.
Day 04: Tshokha 9,700 ft to Dzongri 12,980 ft via Phedang 12,000 ft.
This day is going to be a main part of the Goechala trail for most of the trekkers. Everyone looks forward to this day. Like yesterday you will have to climb to a pond which will open up way to the monastery. After reaching this destination, there will be two ways, and you must lead towards the path leading right. The terrain is very steep so proper precautions must be maintained while climbing. Within minutes, you will be climbing several feet, and you can see that Tshoka is left way far behind down somewhere. There trek will be surrounded with Red Rhododendron trees all around. During the spring season, the entire slope lights up with a fiery red color making the mood around as romantic.
After a stiff climb for about half an hour, the trail spreads out to a gradual climb. The trail changes to a paved one with wooden logs. It is a delight with Rhododendrons taking over the trek. Both side of the path will be covered with wooden benches giving a feel like a park With such a scenic beauty it is a bit difficult for you to neglect the steep slope which making a hard time for your legs and knees. It will give an opening to another trail full of stones and pebbles hat is supposed to be climbed quickly to reach Phedang in next 20 minutes. It is located at some 12,000 feet from the level of the sea, and this can be a perfect location where you can take some rest and have some delicious lunch. After taking a rest and regaining the energy lead the path which goes towards the right. This path leading for some will meet to Kockchurang. The source of water is available from a stream which is located slightly lower on the path of Kockchurang.
Now you will have to lead the path which will go towards Dzongri. Gain you will experience some of the high steep climbing all along the way making you very tired, but proper precautions and grip must be maintained along the way. There can be some muddy patches to distract you from the path which can be neglected. After around an hour of climbing you can see many prying flags all around you. Those flags are present as worshippers pray to god and hoist their flags down here. By the end, you will be reaching some 13,080 meters which is too much. You can suffer from some headache as there is some lack of oxygen in such surrounding. After a small break at last, you will have some steep slope, and you can traverse very easily and quickly. The trees will still follow you to give a very mystic feeling. As the trail bends, you can see some huts all of a sudden. At about 12,980 feet, you will get the feeling of such altitude and meadows, and trees with Snow Mountains will be covering you all around. Next day you will just take rest which is very needful.
Day 05: Rest day in Dzongri.
This day is dedicated for rest. Your body needs to recoup. The altitude gained all this while needs some adjustment in the systems of the body. Move around nearby and drink in the beauty of the nature and convert it to celluloid.
Day 06: Dzongri 12,980 ft to Dzongri top 13,675 ft , then to Thansing 12,900 ft via Kokchurang (12,000 ft)
It is a 5-6 hour mixed walk where you descend from Dzongri to Kockchurang and then climb 1000 feet to Thansing. The trail from Dzongri descends through the Rhododendron shrubs to grass fields. This undulating drop continues for 2 hours. Afterwards you will find Rhododendron forest full with beautiful colored birds. At the end of the descent, Kockchurang will appear from nowhere. The trail follows from Kockchurang to the bridge over Prekchu River. The distance from bridge to Thansing is around 2 km. in the middle of the path the forest turns into a landscape barren and rocky. Thansing is situated at the end of the climb.
Day 07: Thansing 12,900 ft to Lamuney 13,600 ft
Thansing is nothing but a meadow exactly at the same altitude you are in at Dzongri. To move towards Thansing will have a descent slope of 1000 ft. and after that you will have to cover the altitude by climbing another 1000 ft. from Dzongri. You will lead the path which will go towards the right of trekkers hut and reach the top of the hill. It is not more than one km so you will reach within half an hour. From the peak of the ridge, you can clearly take the glimpse of Pandim, Kanchenjunga and other peaks towards right. Descending through the Rhododendron shrubs and lead yourself towards the meadows. As you move the terrain or meadow, ahead will slope down and will give a breathtaking view from the Dzongri top.
After half an hour of trekking, you will again see the Rhododendron shrubs are occupying the slopes. After this point, your legs will be a bit relaxed as the slope will continue for next 2 hours and you can traverse quickly, and it will lead to a thick forest having some huge Rhododendron trees all around. Beautiful tiny little birds will welcome you to the forest all along and sounds the make will please your ears. The slope is now considerable, and you will descend another 500 ft within minutes. Along the way, you can spend your time by spotting beautiful birds resting on the trees.
Your last stoppage for the day is clearly visible to you by the end of the descent. Kokchurang has trekkers hut but not enough space to put up your own tents. The Prekchu River flows next to the trekker's hut about 50 meters far. Banks of the river can be a perfect location to pitch up four to five tents. The space is not unlimited, but you can enjoy yourself in the confined place. As you spend the whole day travelling, give your body some rest so that you can complete your trekking successfully. During the evening, you can hear the water flowing in the river with great speed and various sounds from birds which will turn out to make your complete day more pleasing.
From Kokchurang, you will walk down to the bridge spanning towards Prekchu. You can enjoy the cool breeze on the bridge a view the icy cold water flowing in the river. On the different side of the river, you can again see the forest of rhododendron trees. During spring seasons, they bloom and give a feeling in walking under the spread branches all around you. The path will have a gradual increment in height which you will not feel. Total distance between Thansing and the bridge is about 2 km. Rocky and climb will start from the midway of your prescribed path and the beautiful forest will be left behind. The meadows present over there give an open invitation to set up your tents as there is plenty of space. You should be well packed inside your blankets as the night is going to be very cold.
Day 08: Lamuney 13,600 ft to Goecha La 16,000 f) via Samiti Lake 14,100 ft, then back to Thansing.
It will not be difficult to traverse from Thansing to Lamuney. You have to travel along the meadows which will head towards Goechala. The path can become more adventurous as at each steep mountain and ridge will be coming closer to you. The path will be a bit rocky as you try to trek more forward. Travelling I the same direction with some climbing will lead you to the camp. The trail, which gains more altitude, leads to Samiti Lake. Now camping in the lake is no allowed so you will have to stay down. If you want, you can trek and view the lake and return to the base.
Day 09: Thansing to Tshokha via Phedang.
Today is going to be your longest trek so far. So you have to wake really soon and pack your bags and leave Lamuney by 3am. The trek ascends from Lamuney, and it is just 45 minutes climb to reach the Samiti Lake. The path is rocky all along with sudden up the climb and flat plateau. Getting up and beginning your trek early will help you to view perfect sunrise that will indicate that the day is going to be just perfect. The ridge, which is on top of Samiti Lake, is supposed to climb with precautions the path is very narrow and is located on the side of a mountain. Some more altitude gain will lead to the perfect sunrise spot that should not take more than 2 hours after leaving from Lamuney. Enjoy the beautiful sunrise and watch Kanchenjunga and Pandim to glow in the morning sun rays before you descend towards Zemathang. Zemathang is a bed of sand and snow which you can traverse with ease. From Zemathang, it should not take 2 hours to reach Goechala.
Lead the same trek towards Lamuney and then move forwards to reach the destination for the day that is Kockchurang. You can choose to set up your tent near the bank of the river or you can also reside in trekkers hut.
Day 10: Tshokha to Yuksom via Bhakim and Sachen.
To reach Tshoka from kokchurang you will have to go via Phedang. To reach Phedang, the trail is direct and you will cross Dzongri. The trail is going to be very interesting as you will traverse from one mountain to another mountain maintain a constant altitude gain of about 12000 ft. The diversion will lead to the forest of rhododendron trees, and you will have to bypass the forest. There is no altitude gain in this point of the trek, and you can traverse quiet easily all along the way. As you move your eyes to your surroundings, you can see many lovely views of mountain Pandim. Phedang will be almost 4 hour's trail which is bit tiring as you will travel almost 10 kilometers in that time.
From Phedang, the same trail must be followed which was taken earlier to descent to Tshoka. Time can vary according to the speed you trek but on an average it should not take more than 6 to 7 hours.
Day 11: Leave Yuksom early morning and reach NJP by 4.00 - 5.00 pm.
Tracing the path back from Tshoka to Yuksom is much easier as you only encounter altitude loss here. Sachen can be reached very soon owing to the steep descent. The trail from Sachen goes up and down misting losing altitude. The last few meters have much small hillock climbs, and there you are – at the Yuksom Neighborhood.
High Altitude Treks: Risk and Response A high altitude trek calls for an adventurous attitude, but embarking on an adventurous trip without calculating the risks is utter stupidity. That’s why we have listed a few risks and the response planned by TTH to minimise or address the risks in the best possible way.
Response: If you feel any of these symptoms, inform the trek leader on priority and follow his instructions. Every campsite has as stretcher, fully equipped first aid kit, oxygen cylinders to address the situation.
Risk: Weather Weather is unpredictable in the Himalayas. Though we are always observant about the changing weather, no one can guarantee a snowfall, rain or Sun. Do understand that your security is of utmost importance to us and we will not proceed any further from the campsite if the weather is not favourable.
Response: The decision of the Trek Leaders and Guides to proceed or wait for the weather to get better will be final.
Risk: Injuries Often, while trekking over difficult terrains, you might have minor injuries like leg sprain, bruises etc. Serious injuries like fractures or major cuts are very rare.
Response: All our Trek Leaders are Certified Wilderness First Aid responders. They are trained to handle emergencies and can tackle minor injuries with a well-equipped first aid kit. In case of serious injuries, the patient is carried on a stretcher to the nearest road-head and is led to nearest medical centre.
Risk: Lack of communication devices In the remote areas of the Himalayas, mobile networks do not reach. On a trek, one is cut off from the world of calls, SMSs or watsapps.
Response: We rely on walkie-talkies and runners to communicate between the campsites and the base camps.