Goechala: a romantic high altitude trek in the Himalayas


Trekking in Sikkim is very different from trekking in any other part of the Indian Himalayas. The mountains, the trails, the people and the culture is in such sharp contrast to the rest of the country that for any trekker the Goechala trail is a must-do.

The Goechala trek in Sikkim is also one of the most romantic trails the Indian Himalayas has to offer — the enchanting walk through the Tshoka Rhododenderon forests, the vast Dzongri and Thansing meadows, the startling blue waters of Samiti lake, the looming presence of Kanchejunga and Pandim, the icy trail to Goechala make lots about the trek very romantic.

 

Goecha la trek : Yuksom, where your trek starts

 Goecha la trek : Yuksom, where your trek starts

Day 1: Getting to Yuksom, drive from NJP to Yuksom (6 hrs)

The Goechala trek starts at Yuksom, a fairly large settlement in West Sikkim. It was once the capital of Sikkim, so the culture in the town shows. It is also a nice quaint hill station and for those who want to avoid the hustle bustle of Darjeeling, Yuksom is a nice gateway. There are plenty of hotels in various budgets so staying is not a problem. A decent room with a shared bath works out to about Rs 300. The costlier rooms are around Rs 1,500.

If you are on the Goechala trek there are two important things to do at Yuksom. One, make an entry at the police station. For this you need a photo identity proof with three photo copies. Two, you need to pay the permit fees at the forest check post (usually trekkers do this in the morning when they are starting the trek). The fee to be paid is broken down into small elements like tent, porter, yak and other charges. It can get somewhat confusing, but the net amount will boil down to about Rs 700 per person.

Foreigners have it slightly more difficult. First, foreigners cannot trek alone; they need at least a partner. Two, they need to get a trekking permit from Gangtok (which usually their trekking agency will organize). Three, foreigners have to do the trek with a trekking agency – they cannot trek on the trail by themselves. Finally, once they enter Sikkim from any highway, their papers are going to be checked at the border.

Yuksom is also the last place to buy provisions for the trek. So stock up well before you start the trek. You get almost everything at Yuksom so there really isn’t any need to buy things at Siliguri, Kolkata or Gangtok.

Day 2: Yuksom (5,700 feet) to Sachen (7,200 feet). 4 – 4 ½ hours.

Note: Most trekkers like to trek from Yuksom to Tshoka in a day. This makes the trek very long and the altitude gain too much. A sensible way to trek is to break the trek at Sachen as described here.

 

Goecha la trek: The trek starts just behind the houses at Yuksom

Goecha la trek: The trek starts just behind the houses at Yuksom

From Yuksom, the Goechala trail starts just behind the houses after the forest check post. Cross the last few huts of Yuksom and skirt around the fields of Yuksom to enter the V shaped valley of the Rathong river (many mistake it for the Prek – earlier Prek and Pha Khola merge to form the Rathong).

The trail, though passing through the fringes of the forest is exposed for about half hour. Midway through the exposed trail, look for a shelter on your right. From here onwards it is half hour to the first bridge over the Pha Khola.

By the time the trail gets to Pha Khola, you are well into the thick of the forest and the coolness envelopes you at all times. The gently undulating trail climbs gradually.

Goechala-dzongri-trek

Goecha la trek: The trail through thick forests

The next hour and half is a pleasant walk through the moist jungle until suddenly on your left the Tshushay Khola falls in a series of mini waterfalls joining the Prek below. 50 meters later a large iron bridge spans the Tshushay Khola. After the bridge the trail begins to climb more noticeably.

An hour later watch for another small cement bridge over the Mentogang Khola (you won’t find a board telling you the name). You are already at 7,100 feet and it is only twenty minutes from here to the log hut of Sachen.

 

Goecha la trek: Sachen - if you are a big team, make the flat ground to the right of the trail your campsite. The loghut area to the left may run out of space.

Goecha la trek: Sachen – if you are a big team, make the flat ground to the right of the trail your campsite. The loghut area to the left may run out of space.

Sachen at 7,200 feet is a small clearing where a single log hut and a shelter on the trail exist. The log hut a few meters below the trail. The hut has room enough for about 6-7 and a small area to cook. For a larger team look for the clearing just above the trail opposite the shelter. The Prek, is many feet below Sachen and not visible to the eye, though you can hear it faintly rushing below.

Day 3: Sachen (7,200 feet) – Tshoka (9,650 feet). 3 ½ – 4 hours

This is a short trek, but the altitude gain is considerable. Trekkers love the initial amble through the forest – it gives them a chance to loosen up before the stiff climb to Bakhim from the bridge over Prek.

The trail out of Sachen undulates but maintains an even altitude, in fact gaining a few feet until 45 minutes and 2 kms later you drop down to the bridge over Prek. The clear water of the Prek is worth savoring. You don’t meet the river until three days later at Kockchurang.

 

Goecha la trek: The wooden bridge over Prekchu adorned with Prayer flags

Goecha la trek: The wooden bridge over Prekchu adorned with Prayer flags

The wooden bridge over Prek sways when you walk over it. Adorned with multitude of prayer flags wishing success to the expedition — it signals the start of the real climbs of the Goechala trail – climbs that stay with you until you get to Goechala.

Take the trail that begins to climb to the left of the bridge. The trail climbs sharp through a mixed oak forest until the wide switchbacks level somewhat half hour later at the sight of the first Rhododendrons. The altitude gain is rapid and the air gets cooler perceptively. Soon the trail climbs to the ridge and stays there until you get to Bakhim another half hour later. From the Prek it takes an hour to get to Bakhim (the total distance is only a kilometer but feels a lot longer).

 

Goechala trek: The cafe a Bhakim. A perfect place for a short break. Lovely views and you get almost all mobile signals!

Goechala trek: The cafe a Bhakim. A perfect place for a short break. Lovely views and you get almost all mobile signals!

Bakhim has a Forest Rest House and some trekkers like staying at Bakhim – simply for its view of the Yuksom valley. Finding the caretaker is a struggle and most trekkers move on to Tshoka which is another hour away.

Bakhim has a lovely tea stall where the owner dishes out some snacks as well. With a well deserved rest start your climb to Tshoka. Follow the trail just behind the Forest Rest House. The trail again climbs in a series of long switchbacks, overlooking Bakhim until forty minutes later it dives around a ridge to move to the other side of the hill.

 

Goecha la trek: The trail from Bhakim to Tsoka. Rhododendrons start appearing. The mix of forests and clearings make the trails enjoyable.

Goecha la trek: The trail from Bhakim to Tsoka. Rhododendrons start appearing. The mix of forests and clearings make the trails enjoyable.

At over 9,000 feet high, Rhododenderon trees abound everywhere. The trail gets dark from the overhanging trees and meanders for another ten minutes. It suddenly pops out to a plateau and the trekkers hut of Tshoka. There’s also a flat camping area to the left of the trekkers hut. The trekker’s hut is a pretty long wooden building that has four rooms – enough space to house more than 20 trekkers. Alternatively, trekkers can stay at the Forest Rest House slightly uphill.

Spend some time exploring Tshoka. Slightly uphill are the cafes where trekkers can try the local malt beer Tumba. The local Yak cheese is another delicacy but it takes time to get used to the taste. It is rock hard too! Ask the café owners for the keys to the monastery.

 

Goecha la trek: Tshoka monastry and the serene pond in front

Goecha la trek: Tshoka monastry and the serene pond in front

 

Follow the trail as it leads out of Tshoka, cross the small wooden bridge over the pond and head to the monastery. It is a quiet place worthy of a quick visit. But what will take your breath away is the view of the snow clad peaks of the Kanchenjunga range stretching right behind you – with Mt Pandim dominating the skyline. For most trekkers this is the view of the day.

 

Day 4: Tshoka (9,650 feet) – Dzongri (12,980 feet) via Phedang (12,050 feet). 5 – 6 hours.

For most trekkers this day is perhaps the highlight of the Goechala trail. Everyone looks forward to the trek this day. For one, they trek through some of the densest Rhododendron forest India has to offer, and second, on the trail, suddenly the views open up to showcase the might of the highest mountains in Himalayas.

 

Goecha la trek:The trail from Tshoka to Phedang -Its an out of the world experience - walking through a forest with only Rhododendrons

Goecha la trek:The trail from Tshoka to Phedang -Its an out of the world experience – walking through a forest with only Rhododendrons

Like yesterday, climb up to the little pond leading to the monastery, and then follow the trail that runs to its right. The trail begins to climb sharply and within minutes Tshoka is a tiny hamlet below you. Red Rhododendron trees spring up everywhere. If you are in season when the flowers bloom (May 1st/2nd week), then the entire slope lights up with a fiery red colour.

 

Goecha la trek: The wood paved trail through thick Rohododendron forest

Goecha la trek: The wood paved trail through thick Rohododendron forest

After a stiff climb for about 30 minutes, the trail evens out to a gradual climb. The trail changes to one paved over wooden logs. It is a delight with Rhododendrons fanning the path. Little wooden benches line on either side of the trail – which makes the trail look like it is in a park. Sometimes mist filter in surreally through the Rhododendron trees – but even in the magical setting the trail climbs throughout and trekkers feel the altitude. The log path gives way to a regular stony trail that climbs quickly to Phedang in 20 minutes.

Phedang at 12,000 feet is a large clearing with superb views of the snow clad mountains. A log hut and a few wooden benches dot the landscape. Stop here for lunch and a well deserved rest. The trail forks at Phedang with one that goes right, leading to Kockchurang. Water is available from a spring slightly lower on the trail to Kockchurang.

Take the trail to Dzongri that starts across the clearing. The trail starts to climb immediately along the dwarf rhododendrons that line the slope. The views start getting better with every step, but watch for a few muddy patches on the trail. After a bout of rain you need to skip your way around them. It is a ridge climb, so the trail switches between the alternating sides of the hill. Watch for the view change between the Pandim ranges and the Kabru. An hour later the climb tops at a shrine with multitude of prayer flags. This is the highest point of the days trek at 13,080 feet.

 

Goecha la trek: The climb after Phedang. Watch out for colourful birds in the Rhododendrons.

Goecha la trek: The climb after Phedang. Watch out for colourful birds in the Rhododendrons.

Take a brief rest at the shrine and follow the trail that gently descends towards Dzongri. For most parts the trail undulates with the first patches of snow lining the roots of the dwarf rhododendrons around you.

The Dzongri trekkers hut appears suddenly at the bend in the trail. A gentle clear stream runs by the side of the hut. There are plenty of camping grounds around Dzongri but the hut itself can take in 30 trekkers at a time.

 

Goecha la trek: An aerial view of Dzongri trekker huts

Goecha la trek: An aerial view of Dzongri trekker huts

Dzongri is a welcome sight for trekkers after the hard climb from Tshoka. At 12,980 feet trekkers feel the affect of altitude at the Dzongri meadows. Dzongri is a large cauldron, mostly meadows, surrounded in all directions by the mighty peaks of the Kanchenjunga range. In every direction is a snow peak to be looked at and admired. For most trekkers Dzongri is a reward on its own. Many finish their trek at Dzongri and head back the way they came.

 

Day 5: Dzongri (12980ft) to Dzongri top (13681ft)

 

Sunrise from Dzongri top on the Goechala trek

Sunrise from Dzongri top on the Goechala trek

 

Dzongri top is the highest point from where you get the 180 degree panaromic view of the mighty peaks of the Singalila and Kanchenjunga ranges. Dzongri top is a two hill climb from the Dzongri trekkers hut. The trek from Dzongri to Dzongri top takes about 45 mins. The sun rises at 5 a.m and you don’t want to miss seeing the first rays of sun hitting Kanchanjunga. Start your trek at 4.00 a.m with torch lights and you reach the top just as the dawn breaks.  As you climb up, the peaks of the Singalila range begin to open up and just at the bend before the top, the Kanchenjunga and its neighbours make their appearance. Witness an inspiring sunrise and spend time watching the mountains changing colours in the sun rays. Spot Thansing, the destination for the day, Lamuney and Goechala peaks below you. On the other side, the green Rhododendron slopes extend for miles. Retracing your path to Dzongri  takes 20 mins.

 

The view from Dzongri top on the Goechala trek

The view from Dzongri top on the Goechala trek

 

Dzongri (12980ft)  to Thansing (12894ft)  via Kockchurang (12096ft). 5 – 6 hours

Thansing is a meadow at the same altitude as Dzongri. The trail from Dzongri to Thansing descends a 1000ft to Kockchurang and then climbs a 1000ft to Thansing.

 

Arial view of Thansing below Mt. Pandim from Dzongri meadows on the Goechala trek

Arial view of Thansing below Mt. Pandim from Dzongri meadows on the Goechala trek

 

Take the trail heading right from the Dzongri trekkers hut and go to the top of the ridge.It is a kilometer and 20 mins to the ridge top. From the ridge top you get to see Kanchenjunga, Pandim and the other peaks to the right towering over the meadows. Descend through the Rhododendron shrubs to the meadows. The meadow gently slopes down. The walk through the Dzongri meadows in the lap of the mighty mountains is as breathtaking as the view from Dzongri top.

 

Dzongri meadows on the Goechala trek

Dzongri meadows on the Goechala trek

 

In half an hour Rhododendron shrubs occupy the slopes again. The gentle to medium descent continues over 2 hours. The Rhododendron shrubs suddenly give way to Rhododendron forest. The descent becomes steep and you lose more than 500ft. The forest is a good place to spot birds. Walk through silently and spot birds camouflaged in the browns and greens of the forest.

 

Kockchurang springs up at the end of the descent. Just there find a route through the forest going right. It goes to Phedang. Kokchurang has a trekker hut but no real place to pitch tents. The Prekchu river flows next to the trekker hut 50 meters away. By the banks of the river, amidst the rocks 4-5 tents can be pitched. The small camp site though feels lovely. In the evening expect mist hanging over the river and the tents enveloped in the mist with the sound of the fast river below makes it a great camping experience.

 

The trekker hut at Kokchurang has two big halls on the sides capable of handling 10-12 trekkers each and a central hall which can serve as the cooking area.

 

 

Prekchu flowing at Kockchurang on the Goechala trek

Prekchu flowing at Kockchurang on the Goechala trek

 

From Kokchurang, walk down to the bridge across Prekchu. Spend some time on the bridge experiencing the cool breeze of the river. The water below looks icy blue. On the other bank you have the Rhododendron forest again. They flower in June but at any time, the moss lined trees with their branches spreading out in all directions make it a fairy tale walk.  There is a trekking trail but no lined path. The gradient increases and its an ascent through out. The distance between the bridge and Thansing is 2kms. By mid way forests end and the landscape becomes rocky and barren. At the end of the climb is Thansing a big meadow. There is a dilapidated trekker hut at the entrance of the flat meadow. The hut can be used as a kitchen but tents would be needed to stay. The open meadow can host any number of tents. You are right in front of Pandim and the left wall of Kanchanjunga here. Thansing can be cold in the night.

 

Thansing on the Goechala trek

Thansing on the Goechala trek

 

Day 6: Thansing (12894ft) to Lamuney  (13,693ft). 4.2 kms 2 hours

The trek from Thansing to Lamuney is an easy one. Walk through the meadows heading closer to Goechala. The trek is inspiring because the mountains come closer and closer. The meadows tend to get rockier as you move ahead. The flat gradient suddenly gives way to an ascending trail and that’s the farthest you can camp. The ascending trail heads to Samiti lake where camping is no longer allowed.

 

Excursion to Samiti lake 14100ft 45 mins moderate climb and back to Lamuney

 

Blue waters of the Samiti lake

Blue waters of the Samiti lake

 

You may choose to trek further to Samiti lake and spend an hour there. The trail ascends from Lamuney and it is a 45 minute stiff climb to the Samiti lake. Notice the terrain being rocky all through the ascent. The climb suddenly flattens out and the deep blue waters of the lake come into the picture. Move closer to the shore of the lake and the blue does not change. If  it is windy, the lake has waves too. Take a walk around the lake and sit besides its serene waters. The Samiti lake shores are home to mountain goats and blue birds which you are most likely to spot.

 

 

Samiti lake at 14,100ft

Samiti lake at 14,100ft

 

Day 7: Lamuney (13,693ft) to Goechala (16,000 ft) and back to Kockchurang. 10 – 12 hours

This is the longest day of the trek and so start your day really early at 3 a.m to give you multiple advantages.

 

- A 3 a.m start ensures that you reach the first view point or the sunrise point right in time to see the first run rays hitting Kanchenjunga.

- It also makes it easier to walk on the morains that you find after the sunrise point as the snow is still hard.

 – The probability of getting good views are higher in the mornings.

- Lastly gives you enough time to go all the way to Goechala and return to Kockchurang.

 

Do not plan to leave earlier than 3 a.m as it is mostly not required and the lack of sleep can tend to tire out people unnecessarily.

 

A lot of people would misguide you saying it is impossible to go further if you are late but these are not really true. Even a 5 a.m start from Lamuney can take you all the way to Goechala but you will miss out on the sunrise.

 

Goechala sunrise point or the first view point at 15100ft

Goechala sunrise point or the first view point at 15100ft

 

The trail to Goechala goes behind Samiti lake and beyond. Mt. Pandim is always to your right and the left is also lined by huge snow walls. Climb to the ridge on top of Samiti lake and then traverse right on the narrow trail on the flank of the mountain. A bit more of a climb and you reach the sunrise or the first view point of Goechala in less than two hours from Lamuney. Mt. Pandim and to your right and Kanchenjunga raises just in front. Spend a few moments here before starting your descent to Zemathang. Zemathang is a sand bed covered with snow and gravel. From Zemathang Goechala is a climb of  about one and a half hours.

 

Sunrise on the mountains at Goechala

Sunrise on the mountains at Goechala

 

Retrace your path to Lamuney, and then head to Kockchurang with your belongings. Stay at the trekker hut or pitch tents by the river at Kockchurang.

 

Day 8: Kokchurang to Tshoka via Phedang. 6-7 hours

 

 

The days trek can be divided into two phases. The first from Kockchurang to Phedang – a direct trail by passing Dzongri and second, the Rhododendron forest trail from Phedang to Tshoka.

 

The trail to Phedang at Kockchurang on the Goechala trek

The trail to Phedang at Kockchurang on the Goechala trek

 

The first phase is new and interesting. The trail goes on the flank on the mountain all along and you move from one mountain to another to another maintaining a constant altitude of 12,000ft all along. Kokchurang, Phedang and most of the trail, are all at 12,000ft!

 

Take the diversion to the left inside the forest instead of climbing up to Dzongri. The trail remains mostly flat with small descents and ascents only to switch between mountains. Rhododendron trees line your way all along and the Prekchu flows below. Look left and at a number of places you get lovely views of Mt. Pandim and its neighbours. Phedang is 10 kms away and this is one of the longest trails between two known campsites. It takes about 4 hours to reach Phedang.

 

From Phedang you retrace the descending trail to Tshoka. The days trek takes about 6-7 hours on an average.

 

Day 9 : Tshoka to Yuksom via Bhakim and Sachen. 6 hours

 

Retrace your way from Tshoka to Yuksom. Its much faster and easier than your trek up. Sachen comes up quickly being a pure descent. From Sachen the trail goes up and down generally losing altitude. The last stretch has a few climbs which makes you wonder but its soon over and you find yourself back in the friendly Yuksom neighbourhood.

 

Day 10 :

Leave Yuksom early morning and reach NJP by 4.00 – 5.00 pm

Things to get

  1. Backpack (60 - 65 L) with sturdy straps and supporting frame.
  2. Day Pack (20 L ) -- optional. This is required if you want to offload your backpack on the trek. Useful for summit/pass day.
  3. Trekking shoes – no sports shoes. You need traction on snow and sport shoes with their PVC soles are hardly the choice. Ensure the shoes are well broken in before the trek. Forclaz 500, Forclaz 100 and Woodland are good choices. A guide on how to choose a trekking shoe is here. Note: You can buy Decathalon products here.
  4. Ladies with smaller feet size find it a problem to get a shoe. Forclaz 100 has special trekking shoes for women.
  5. Trekking pole is mandatory. You can buy a trekking pole from Decathlon or from Rediff.
  6. 3 pair of track pants (at least one should be synthetic (quick-dry) kind). Or 3 pair of cotton pants with lots of pockets. Track pants are light and we highly endorse them. Plus when things get cold you can wear one over the other.
  7. 3 cotton tees with collar. No bright colours like reds and fluorescents. Stick with lighter tones. There are plenty of birds to be seen on the trek and you don’t want to scare them with your sense of dress.
  8. 2 Full sleeve sweater. A fleece jacket would be an alternative.
  9. A full sleeve thick jacket or something similar.
  10. 1 pair of thermal inners (useful when we are on snow) but optional.
  11. 4-5 pair of usual sports socks, at least one woolen pair.
  12. Wind cheater (to escape a quick burst of rain). Or a light rain coat or a poncho.
  13. Woolen hand gloves + synthetic glove (water proof).
  14. Sun glasses – curved ones will cover your eyes well. No blue coloured sunglass — they don’t block UV. Blacks, greens, browns are fine. Avoid multi tone sunglasses. The brand of the glasses or the price does not matter. What matters is that they are dark and not blue in colour. Sunglasses prevent snow blindness. Sunglasses are mandatory for this trek.
  15. People who wear spectacles, choose one of these:
    1. Use contact lenses.
    2. Photochromatic glasses
    3. If either of the above is not possible, wear your spectacles and carry a big sunglass that can be worn over your spectacles.
  16. Sun cap and/or head-scarf. Special hiking caps with sun flaps that protect from UV is available with Indiahikes. They cost Rs 220. To order mail us at support@indiahikes.in
  17. Light towel (should be thin, quick drying kind).
  18. Chapstick or lip balm.
  19. Cold cream & sun screen lotion (SPF 40+). While sun screen help prevent sun burns, a better option is to stay covered.
  20. 2 Water bottles (1L each). Do not get any packaged water bottle like Bisleri, Aquafina and others.
  21. A plate, spoon and coffee mug.
  22. Torch with 2 extra set of cells. Buy LED torches. They last longer, are more durable and give good light.
  23. Personal toilet kit (minimal) and toilet paper.
  24. If you are a group of friends traveling together, you can share your medical kit - 1 for 3 people. Personal medicine kit containing:
    1. Crocin - 10 tablets
    2. Avomine - 10 tablets
    3. Avil 25mg - 10 tablets
    4. Diamox - 16 tablets
    5. Combiflam - 10 tablets
    6. Crepe bandage - 3-5 meters
    7. Band aid - 10 strips
    8. Digene - 10 tablets
    9. Gauze cloth - 1 small role
    10. Leukoplast - 1 small
    11. Cotton - 1 small role
    12. Dettol lotion - 1 small bottle
    13. ORS - 5 packets
    14. Betadine cream
    15. Moov spray
    16. Nebasulf/ Soframycine powder
  25. Slippers/sports sandals (for walking around campsite).
  26. Camera, memory-cards, batteries etc.
  27. While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags.
  28. Some trekkers feel loss of energy more than others. While there is adequate food provided on the trek, you can carry dry fruits or chocolates.

DON’Ts

  1. Leave your denims behind – these are ill suited for treks.
  2. Snacks, colas, alcohol and personal food – No need to overburden yourself with food.
  3. Do not carry any disposable plastic bottles like (Bisleri, Aquafina), plastic wrapped/packaged items. Do not bring any non bio degradable material.
  4. Don’t get any sleeping bags. We are going to carry high altitude sleeping bags with us. We would also be carrying Alpine tents, ice-axes, and other equipment required for such treks.
  5. After packing, weigh your gear. It should be in the range of 8-9 kg – preferably on the lighter side. Anything heavier, you will need to iterate and remove what is not essential.
  6. Carry light and what is essential. As an example, toothpaste should be bought in small size (that can last you 10 days). If you are not sure you need to carry “XYZ” or not, ping us please at info@indiahikes.in This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  Along with the above list, please ensure you also carry the following documents
  • 1. An identification card (like driving license, voters ID card etc), along with a photocopy.
  • 2. A passport size photo.
  • 3. A medical certificate specifying the following points (Download pdf here).

Trekking Gears available with Indiahikes

It is often difficult for trekkers to find special trekking gears in India. Indiahikes has imported a few trekking gears that is available. These have to be ordered over email with support@indiahikes.in. On confirmation of availability, payment has to be made online and the gears will be sent to you by registered parcel. It usually takes 7-10 days for delivery. If you are close to the batch starting date email to support@indiahikes.in and check if gears can be sent to the base camp of your trek. Trekking poles: Duralumin 4-step telescopic anti-shock with basket. Rs 450/- Note: Please add Rs 70 for all items or any one item as registered parcel charges. Trekkers can buy premium trekking gear from Adventure Point. Indiahikes trekkers get an additional 10% discount over and above any promotions that are running at Adventure Point website. www.adventurepoint.in. Please email support@indiahikes.in for promo code.

How to get there

If you are using the public transport, take a shared taxi from NJP to Jorthang which you can get outside the NJP station.  It takes 3 hours to reach Jorthang and costs about Rs 120.  At Jorthang go to the taxi stand(anybody will guide you there) and take another shared taxi to Yuksom. Taxis leave to Yuksom twice a day, once between 6-7 a.m and next between 12 p.m and 1 p.m. A shared taxi charges Rs 100 per seat from Jorthang to Yuksom.   If you are taking a hired taxi, the route is pretty straightforward. You start on the Guwahati highway and branch off to Sikkim in half an hour. The 5 hour journey takes you through Jorthang, Legship before reaching Yuksom. On the way back, shared jeeps leave Yuksom to Jorthang at 6 a.m. Make sure to enquire about the vehicle and book a seat the previous evening. Note: Jorthang has the last ATM and you get phone network in Yuksom and also Bhakim. If you are joining our trek batch, we can arrange transportation for you from NJP to Yuksom and back. The mode of transport would be Sumos with six people sharing a Sumo. A sumo costs approximately Rs 3,600 from NJP to Yuksom. Trekkers would share the vehicle cost amongst themselves.

Reaching NJP:

You can choose to come to Kolkata and take one of the many trains to NJP. If you are coming from Delhi or northern India, try to take any north east bound train which directly goes to NJP by passing Kolkata. Flying to Bagdogra is another option that you can choose though flights to Bagdogra tend to be pricier than those to Kolkata.

Kolkata to NJP and back:

There are numerous trains which leave Kolkata in the evening 5 p.m onwards. Book on any of them preferably the ones reaching by 9 a.m. Our vehicles will be ready to pick you up from the station at 9 a.m. For the return, book any train that leaves NJP after 6 p.m. This gives sufficient time for you to reach NJP from Yuksom in leisure.  

Fitness Required

Minimum Age:

10 years

Past experience in trekking:

Useful but not essential.

Fitness required:

You need to be in good physical condition before the start of the winter camp. You should be able to jog 4 kms in 30 minutes before commencement of the trekking expedition.

A word on fitness.

The Winter camp involves trekking on snow and skiing during harsh winter weather. It takes you to a high altitude of 12000ft  when walking on heavy snow.  At that altitude the air is thin and the conditions difficult. Your physical fitness is important for a successful completion of the trek. Training yourself to get to a jogging distance of 4 km under 30 minutes makes your lungs strong and gives it ability to process less air for more work. Here is an exercise schedule which will help you run upto 4 km in 30mins by 5 weeks

Week 1 :

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 2:

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 3:

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 350 meters (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 350 meters (or 3 minutes)

Week 4 :

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 400 meters (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 800 meters (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters(or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 400 meters(or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 800 meters(or 5 minutes)

Week 5 :

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/2 km (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters(or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 800 meters (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters(or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 800 meters (or 5 minutes)

Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility is the ability of the muscles and tendons to relax and stretch easily.  It determines the amount of movement your bones can make in any direction around joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.  Stretching improves your posture and helps to prevent low back pain.  Stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and low back muscles regularly, promotes relaxation in the tissues reducing the strain on your back.  On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Warm-up stretching exercises loosen tendons, increase blood circulation, and help prevent injuries during your workouts or any activity.  Cool-down stretching helps relieve muscle soreness and tightness. A good way to prepare for the trek is to follow the exercise charts on this website: http://www.bodyresults.com/s2hiking-programs.asp.

Photos from the trek

Here are some awesome clicks shared by our trekker Samujjwal Sahu who trekked in October 2013. Goechala trek Goechala trek
  Goechala trek
Goechala trek
View his entire album here...

Goecha la Photo Contest

First Prize: Shanker - Sept/Oct 2012 photo contest

Goechala trek

Second Prize: Arun - Sept/Oct 2012 photo contest

Goechala trek

Why Goecha la in Sikkim is a most romantic trek

Arjun Majumdar writes about the Goechala trek and tells why it is one of the most romantic trails in the country. I have never been as enamored by a trek as I have been of the Goechala. It is the most romantic trek that I have done. There are lots in the trek that make it romantic. On a long stretch between Tshoka and Phedang the trail climbs under a canopy of red rhododendrons in full bloom. Never have I seen a trail turning red the way it did on this trek. It was as if the trail was on fire! Rhododendrons bloomed in every direction I looked. Even the sunlight that seeped in was red through the filter of the flowers! Read more

Memoirs of the past --- A trek diary by Vinita Chhatwani

Goechala trek

Doing a well know trail has its own ups and downs.--- We initially planned to venture to Zemu glacier in Sikkim but because of permissions issues the plan had to be cancelled. Since we were just three of us we decided to do the well-known Goechala trek. I had been to Dzongri 9 years back in 2004 which was my first Himalayan trek and had wonderful memories of the trek. Several things have changed in the years but one thing that is still unchanged is the splendour and the profuse forests along the Goechala trail. In all Goechala is a wonderful trek, beautiful dense forest, waterfalls and magnificent views of Mt Khangchendzonga, Mt Pandim, Mt Tenzing , Mt Narsing, Kabru group of peaks and many more. Read more..

An Ode to Goecha la --- An amateur's trek diary

Goechala trek

Nagendra Kumar blogs about his experiences of Goecha la trek in April 2012. The steep descend tested the strength of our thigh muscles and took us to Kokchurang which was in a valley sort. Trekkers hut surrounded by tall pine trees and fresh water stream nearby was a scene of bollywood flick from eighties. After a rest for a while, once again we moved ahead and crossed to wooden bridges, stones and climbed further for an hour and half to reach Thansing. Read more


Trek inclusions

The trek fee Rs 14650  includes all costs of the trek from Yuksom to Yuksom. Specifically, the cost includes the following:
  • The trek fee
  • Vegetarian food as per menu on the trek
  • Forest camping charges
  • Trek permits
  • Tents
  • Sleeping bags
  • Safety equipment
  • Guides
  • Cooks
  • Porter charges
  • Services of a trek leader

Please Note:

  • Foreigners have to obtain a special permit at Gangtok to trek in Sikkim. Indiahikes can help you obtain this permit. You have to reach Yuksom a day before the trek batch starts. The charges of obtaining the permit will be Rs 1000 per person and has to be paid to our representative who will meet you at Yuksom.
  • Service Tax of 3.09% is payable on the trek fee.
Stay at base camp. Stay at base camp is organised in dormitory style lodges. Participants share the rooms. Men and women are housed separately.
Note: Consumption of alcohol and smoking is not permitted anywhere on the trek including at the base camp.

Transportation:

The cost of transport from NJP to Yuksom and Bagdogra airport to Yuksom and return has to be borne by the participant. Indiahikes has arrangements with local transporters to pick up trekkers from NJP railway station and Bagdogra airport. The transportation from NJP/airport to Yuksom and return transport from Yuksom to NJP/ airport can be arranged by Indiahikes for you. The payment for the same will have to be made directly to the transporter. Transport is usually arranged in a Sumo and with 6 people sharing one Sumo.  In unusual cases a Sumo may travel with 4 or even 7 participants. Participants are expected to share the cost likewise.  

Pick-up Points:

1.NJP (New Jalpaiguri Railway Station) at 9 am. 2. Bagdogra Airport at 1 pm.

Cost of Vehicle:

The cost for the pickup has been revised:

1. NJP to Yuksom- Rs  5000/- per vehicle.

2. Bagdogra Airport to Yuksom- Rs 5500/- per vehicle.(capacity 6 trekkers, to be shared equally)

Most participants opt for the Indiahikes pick up – and we assume the same in your case. In case you do not want the Indiahikes pick up, please let us know at least 20 days in advance to the start of the trek. Intimation is by email only at support@indiahikes.in

Cancellation:

If for some reason you wish to cancel your trek, an email intimation needs to be sent to info@indiahikes.in. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone. However, you can phone to check whether your cancellation has been processed. The cancellation charges are as under: Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek -- full refund. Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek -- 50% refund. Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek -- no refund. Note: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstance (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike/bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a Trek Voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same or another trek in the next one year.

Drop out during trek:

If for some reason a participant has to drop out from the trek on any day  then Indiahikes will make arrangements for his/her return to the nearest road head. A porter will accompany the participant to the nearest road head. On the Goechala trek it is at Yuksom. From Yuksom you get vehicles to NJP/Siliguri. Vehicles are intermittent and may take a while to get and could involve stay at Yuksom. In case of dropping out of the Goechala trek transportation and stay cost at any location including Yuksom has to be borne by the participant.

Backpack carrying:

Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks with personal belongings. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge of   Rs 250 per backpack per day, not weighing more than 8 kgs

Who can trek at 50% concession:

1. Doctors:

At Indiahikes, safety of a trek comes first. You will experience it first hand on the slope. Your team is accompanied by experienced trek leaders, safety gears, high end trek equipment, high altitude first aid kits and most importantly the right information. As an initiative in this regard we want to encourage doctor trekkers to function as team doctors. If you are a doctor on the trek and would like to function as the team doctor let us know immediately. As a gesture of recognition, you will receive an Indiahikes trek voucher for 50% of trek fee after the trek is completed. The trek voucher can be used for other Indiahikes treks. The only conditions are that (1) you need to have done one another high altitude trek before and (2) only one doctor is allowed to be a team doctor. Apply to sandhya@indiahikes.in

2. Amateur photographers:

At Indiahikes, we also believe a trek is a lot more than walking in the mountains. We would like to encourage skilled amateur photographers to share their skills of photography with other members of the trek. If you are a skilled amateur photographer and would like to conduct a photography workshop send us a link to your photographs. If you are selected, you will be allowed to conduct a workshop for a select bunch of interested trekkers on the trek. As a gesture of recognition, you will receive an Indiahikes trek voucher for 50% of trek fee after the trek is completed. The trek voucher can be used for other Indiahikes treks.  Apply to Sandhya: sandhya@indiahikes.in.

Permit for Foreigners:

1. The ILP( Sikkim permit)

For more details about permits check out http://sikkim.nic.in/homedept/ilpfaqs.htm

2.Trek permit from Gangtok( with the help of IH representative, cost of Rs 1000/)

Foreigners have to reach Bagdogra/NJP/Silliguri 1 day prior to trek departure, during the office working hours( day time, well before noonatleast), please check timings on website) if the ILP has  to be issued in West bengal. Please ensure you reach Yuksom by 4 pm after the ILP is endorsed.

Please carry the following documents for foreigners-

Documents for Sikkim Permit/Innerline Permit:

1. Original ID-Passport

2.1 photocopy of passport

3. 1 photocopy of visa

4. 1 passport size photograph

Documents for Trek permit:

1.Original passport

2.1 photocopy of Innerline permit

3.1 photocopy of passport

4.1 photocopy of visa

5.1 passport size Photograph

Please read the risks and precautions associated with the Goecha la trek before registering.

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