Take the path less traveled. If you want to avoid the crowds of trekkers, trek through Taplejung in the Kanchenjunga region to enjoy remarkable views of towering Himalayan peaks, one of which is the 3rd highest mountain in the world, Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586 m). Walk through verdant green hilltops, through resplendant rhododendron forests, remote villages and discover cultures that are unique to this region. You will be walking in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area that covers 2,035 sq. km. including two peaks of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
Opt for the sacred Pathibhara trail and get a Darshan of the wish-fulfilling Goddess. Or search deep into the valleys to see cultural treasures in the mountain settlements and ancient routes.
This is one of the most beautiful areas in the country in far-eastern Nepal bordering India in the east and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in the north. Alpine grasslands, rocky outcrops, dense temperate, sub-tropical forests, and low river valleys make up the area.
Nearby is the Tinjure Milke Jaljale ridge that forms a border between Taplejung, Tehrathum and Sankhuwasabha districts. This is an area well known for its bio-diversity including the world’s largest natural rhododendron forests with the highest number of rhododendron species in the world.
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The rich cultural heritage of Taplejung is reflected in the Buddhist gompas (monasteries) such as the 400-year old Diki Chhyoling Gompa of Olangchungola which has a life size statue of Avalokiteshwara. A butter lamp at the altar has been burning here uninterrupted since the construction of the gompa. The waters of a small stream outside the gompa continuously spin twelve prayer wheels with the prayer “Om Mane Padme Hum” inscribed on them.
The predominant people in the Kanchenjunga region are the Limbus, with the higher regions inhabited by Sherpas, Rais, Gurungs, Tibetans, Magars, Newars, Sunwars and Tamangs while Chhetris and Brahmins.who are devout Hindus bring cultural diversity to the region.
Cardamom farming, agriculture, animal husbandry, and tourism are the major means of livelihood for the people here. The Sherpa people, who arrived from Tibet more than four hundred years ago, live at the highest altitudes. The Sherpas of this region have a culture and tradition quite different from that of the Sherpas who live in the Solukhumbu district in the Sagarmatha region.
Kanchenjunga region falls in Taplejung district of Mechi zone.
Taplejung is connected to the rest of Nepal by the 227-km Char Aali-Ilam-Phidim-Taplejung road which meets the East-West Highway at Char Aali. There is an air link with Kathmandu and Biratnagar from the STOL airstrip at Suketar. You can also take a bus from Dharan to Dhankuta – Basantapur – Hile and start your trek from there. In the dry season, bus services are available from Birtamod, Jhapa in East Nepal and from Phidim up in the hiils of Panchthar district. Often an overnight stay is required; otherwise, it is a full day’s journey.
Tourist facilities are available in Phungling Bazaar and Suketar. Trekkers in this region take camping equipment like tents and food along as lodging facilities are inadequate. Trekkers can make use of lodges, teashops and campsites that are available on route to Kanchenjunga and Pathibhara.
Trekking in eastern Nepal especially the Kanchenjunga treks are rewarding as the culture and landscape is unique to this region and few other trekkers are encountered along the way. These treks are typically two weeks long and established campsites are available for camping, as lodges along these routes are not always open.