Kanchenjunga Trek Difficulty

Kanchenjunga Trek Difficulty

Kanchenjunga Trek is one of the mainstream trekking adventures in Nepal that explores the foothills of the third-highest mountain in the world. This iconic trekking expedition on the eastern side of the Himalayas is known for the uncharted wilderness, breathtaking mountain views, fascinating high Himalayan settlements, and serene peaceful trekking opportunities away from the crowded routes.

If you are here it means that you are interested in this remarkable Himalayan quest and wondering about the Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty. The Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty has been graded at a ‘moderate level’, although you don’t need any kind of previous trekking experience or technical skills to do this trek, it is still known as one of the demanding mainstream trekking adventures. Let’s check out what really makes this beautiful Himalayan exploration a moderately difficult adventure.

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Kanchenjunga Trek Difficulty Level Breakdown

Kanchenjunga Trek Difficulty Level Breakdown

Even though the Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty is at a moderate level there are several factors that contribute to the overall difficulty level of this Himalayan expedition. The difficult factors may affect every person differently, while some might have it easy to overcome some hurdles, it can be hard to deal with the remaining ones.

For example, some trekkers may do really well with the acclimatization process due to their enhanced physical abilities meanwhile others may find it hard to even complete the long trekking hours in the rising altitude. So, let’s break out the overall difficulty of this epic Himalayan adventure so you can have a better understanding of the overall Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty.

High Altitude

The Himalayan trekking adventures in Nepal are high-altitude adventures, these exciting trails that are carved at the foothills of the Himalayas easily cross the 4,000-meter to 5,000-meter altitude. So, when you are signing up for one of these adventures, you have to prepare for the high-elevation hurdles in your adventure.

The altitude gain is also one of the significant factors of the Kanchenjunga Trek, starting your adventure at the classical starting point of Bhadrapur at 670 meters (2,198 feet), you will move along the trekking overcoming the high elevation points. You will move across the high altitude regions in the trek like Gyabala (2,725 meters), Gunsa (3,415 meters), Kambachen (4,145 meters), Lhonak (4,792 meters), and the highest elevation point of the entire adventure Pangpema at 5,143 meters (16,873 feet).

As you move along the trekking trail to the higher altitudes, you will have to deal with the low oxygen level and thin air. There are risks for the human body to catch several forms of altitude sickness like Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), the more severe conditions of altitude sickness like High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) above the altitude of 2,500 meters. So, as you traverse across a significant altitude above 2,500 meters, you will have to be attentive to how well your body is adapting to the new environment and stay on the lookout for the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Some of the General Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Malaise
  • Shortness of breath

Trekking Distance

kanchenjunga Trekking Distance

For those of you who don’t know, Kanchenjunga is one of the longest and most demanding mainstream trekking adventures in the Himalayas. Obviously, the trekking distance is one of the hardest hurdles in the Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty, in this classical Himalayan expedition, you will cover an approximate distance of 220 km. In your trekking adventure that can last somewhere between 21 days to 26 days, you will cover a long distance over the rugged and remote trails of the Himalayas.

On average, you will trek about 8- 12 km of distance equivalent to 6- 7 hours of trekking distance during every day of the adventure. If you have done any Himalayan trekking expeditions previously, then you understand that these long days of trek are slow-paced adventures and are not that strenuous. However, in case you haven’t done any high-altitude adventures, you need to understand that trekking at a high altitude regardless of the walking pace is a very difficult job.

When you gain a significant altitude due to the thin air and low oxygen level in the atmosphere, it will be even more draining for you to do minor physical activities. And carrying your luggage in these long hours of trekking every day certainly isn’t an easy feat as you move along the diverse trekking route from the steep subtropical regions to the glacial moraines at the foothills of the Himalayas.

Climatic Conditions

One of the most suitable periods for trekking adventures and expeditions in the Himalayas is considered to be during the peak seasons like spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). However, what many fail to realize is that high altitude Himalayan region has a climatic zone of its own, it doesn’t take much time for a warm sunny day to be covered with snow clouds.

Even though there are low chances of rainfall and snowfall during the peak seasons, the probability isn’t at zero. Depending on the climatic conditions you might even have to deal with light snowfall or rainfall out of the blue during your trekking days. In case your adventure is during the off-season like monsoon (June to August) and winter (December to February), the condition can be even worse.

The winter in the Himalayas is known as the coldest and most freezing season, not only you will have to deal with the snow-covered trails the high Himalayan freezing gush of wind and the occasional blizzards are the popular guests of the season. Although it is possible to do this trek during the winter season with the right clothes and equipment, doing the Kanchenjunga Trek in the monsoon is out of the question. The slippery trails, continuous heavy downpours, transport blocking and natural disasters like landslides and flooding don’t really go well with the outdoor adventures.

Acclimatization Days

Acclimatization Days

In any kind of high-altitude adventure, 500 meters is the recommended altitude gain during every single day of the adventure. After going over the altitude of 1,000 meters, an acclimatization and rest day is recommended for the human body to properly acclimatize to the new altitude. However, depending on your itinerary package, the number of trekking days may be limited which can elevate your Kanchenjunga trek difficulty level.

If you have done any high-altitude adventure, then you understand the importance of the acclimatization day in your adventure. Even in the Himalayan expedition, with the greater number of acclimatization days, the success rate of the summit also significantly increases. Although most of the trekking packages have enough acclimatization days and are designed for a slow-paced adventure, if you switch to a shorter adventure just because it is cheap, the overall experience can be really draining.

Not only you will have to cover a greater distance during each day of your adventure, but it also increases the chances of you falling sick during your adventure and without enough acclimatization period the risks of altitude sickness are also seriously high.

Remoteness

Yes, the Himalayan trekking adventures are a remarkably exhilarating experience that provides you the opportunity to relish in the magnificence of the majestic peaks. However, what you need to understand is that it is also a remote exploration that takes you to the secluded and isolated part of the high Himalayas. With the remoteness hurdle in your Kanchejunag trek difficulty, you will have to deal with the infrastructurally underwhelmed region, also comprising on technological and luxurious front.

During your Kanchenjunga trek, you will have to make do with the moderate level of services at the teahouses and it would be folly to expect any kind of top-tier amenities like an exotic vacation destination as local natives run the teahouses in the region. The same goes for the technological part, the services like the internet and electricity are limited to the lower region, and natives at the higher region are reliant on solar power. As for health facilities, there are only a limited number of institutions along the trail, and in case of any kind of emergency, you will have to depend on helicopter rescue operations.

Is Kanchenjunga Trek Right for You?

Is Kanchenjunga Trek Right for You

Considering the overall Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty, you might be wondering whether this classical mainstream trekking adventure in the Himalayas is the right choice for you or not. Well, rest assured this this moderately difficult expedition is suitable for anyone with a basic level of fitness and good health condition.

You don’t need to be in top shape like for a mountain expedition or need to learn the technical skills to do this trek. Even if you have a basic level of fitness with the right amount of training and preparation you will be able to easily complete this expedition. In case if you have any kind of medical condition you should consult your physician and trekking guide about the expedition.

The success rate of the Kanchenjunga trek is 98%, which means that if you prepare right, the rate of success is pretty high. However, to do the Kanchenjunga Trek which is the longest among the mainstream trekking routes and is even considered a very demanding adventure you will need to make an adequate preparation.

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How to Reduce the Kanchenjunga Trek Difficulty?

How to Reduce the Kanchenjunga Trek Difficulty

Although this beautiful Himalayan expedition is among the one challenging and demanding mainstream adventures in the country, it doesn’t mean that its difficulty level cannot be minimized. With the right measures, you will be able to significantly rescue the overall Kanchejung trek difficulty level.

Training and Preparation

When it comes to reducing the Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty, training and preparation are a very crucial part of the process. Normally, it is recommended that you should start your preparation at least 4- 8 weeks prior to your Himalayan expedition. However, if you are an athlete or physically active you can determine the training period after assessing your physical abilities.

As you will move across several steep segments in your adventure, it is recommended that you emphasize your training on strength, endurance, and cardiovascular exercises. Here are some of the training exercises that you can include in your training program.

Strength and Endurance Training

  • Push up
  • Pull up
  • Plank
  • Deadlift
  • Weightlift
  • Squat
  • Calf raises
  • Lunges
  • Bench press
  • Overhead press
  • Face pull
  • Dip
  • Barbell curl
  • Dumbell row
  • Leg curl
  • Leg extension
  • Step up

Cardiovascular Training

  • Cardio
  • Aerobics
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Burpee
  • Cycling
  • Rowing
  • Humping ropes
  • High knees
  • Jumping Jack

Mental Preparation

Although you should emphasize the physical preparation to minimize the overall Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty, you shouldn’t overlook the mental preparation as well. Besides being physically capable, you also need to have the right mindset to overcome the remote rugged trails of the Himalayan region that throw challenges your way.

You need to keep yourself motivated and determined to overcome this iconic Himalayan adventure preparing yourself for the hardship and challenges in your journey. Here are some tips on the mental preparation part for the Kanchenjunga Trek.

  • Practice controlled breathing to stay
  • Lower your expectations
  • Learn to leave your comfort zone
  • Stay positive
  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Stay focused
  • Visualize the steps in your adventure
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Learn about your fears and work toward them

Do the Trek in the Peak Season

Do the Trek in the Peak Season

In order to reduce the weather hurdles of your Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty, it will be best if you choose the peak season for your adventure. Unlike the off-seasons like winter and monsoon which don’t have stable climatic conditions, peak seasons like spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are known for their most pleasant weather conditions.

You will be able to enjoy trekking on dry fresh trails without any obstructions enjoying clear weather and picturesque views of the Himalayan vistas during the peak seasons. Even among the peak seasons, spring is known as the blooming season in the Himalayas, you will find your entire lower trails covered with greenery and wildflowers.


Furthermore, you will also have a high chance of witnessing the Himalayan flora and fauna in this season, making also the most perfect window frame for wildlife photography. The temperature of the Kanchenjunga region hovers around 15°C to 21°C during the daytime in spring and can drop to 5°C during the early morning and night.

As for autumn, the most popular season for Himalayan expeditions and trekking adventures due to its moderate temperature for outdoor adventures is another suitable period to do this trek. The fresh landscapes washed by the monsoon rain, cool and chilly morning and evening temperatures, clear and stable weather conditions, and unobstructed views of the Himalayas make the trekking adventure really rewarding in this season.

Furthermore, the autumn season also celebrates some of the grandest festivals in the country like Dashain, Tihar, and Chhath making it a perfect time to include cultural prospects in your adventure. The temperature of the Kanchenjunga region averages around 14°C to 18°C during the autumn season. If you are doing this trek during the late autumn, the high-altitude region above the 4,000 meters sees occasional light snowfall as winter closes in. So, make sure to pack right to make the journey a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Stay Hydrated and Eat a Balanced Diet

First of all, while doing this trekking adventure, you need to understand that it is not a race, you should enjoy a slow-paced trek. Rushing the trekking doesn’t only put your life at risk on the unfamiliar high-altitude terrain but also puts your body at risk of altitude sickness. So, make sure to enjoy the adventure relish the magnificence of the surroundings, and most importantly take it slow.

The same goes for staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet, you are recommended to drink at least 3- 4 liters of water during your Kanchenjunga Trek. As you cover a long hour of trekking you lose a significant amount of water level from your body, so keeping yourself hydrated with the recommended limit will help you keep the water level in your body balanced. This way, you won’t feel burned out during the long hours of trekking and will have enough energy to spare even at the end of the day. Furthermore, staying hydrated also helps you to properly acclimatize to the rising altitude.

On the other hand, as you ascend to higher altitudes, there is a high chance that you will feel a loss of appetite due to the elevation jump. At such time, instead of switching to canned food, it is recommended that you force feed the first few bites, and your body will gradually start accepting the food. Eating a balanced diet and getting enough rest is a must in your adventure, your body needs enough fuel and you to be in perfectly good health to overcome the Kanchenjunga Trek difficulty. If you fall sick due to a healthy balanced diet, you may have to forgo your Himalayan adventure.

Find the Right Package

One of the most crucial factors to reduce the Kanchenjunga Trek’s difficulty is finding the right package that accommodates all your needs. Instead of going for cheap packages with rushed itineraries and no acclimatization day, you should look for the best value package without compromising on the quality. You don’t want to choose a trekking package that is cheap and compromises the integrity of the services, you may end up getting sick or not being able to enjoy the experience at all.

Similarly, the short trekking packages are rushed without enough acclimatization days, which means you will be pushing your body to its limit every day of the adventure without giving yourself enough time to rest. This will only put your body at risk of altitude sickness and other health hazards. So, the best thing here is to go for a comfortable and enjoyable package, you can check out the itinerary, and day-to-day activity to see how well it suits your needs.

In case if you want an even more comfortable experience, you can request for custom-tailored itinerary packages for your adventure. This way you will have complete control over your Kanchenjunga Trek and will be able to decide the trekking face, quality of services and amenities, number of acclimatization days, and even highlight the exploring part of your expedition.

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Prakash Devkota

Trekking and Peak Climbing Expert in Nepal

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