Kanchenjunga Circuit – Yamphudin to Kande Bhanjyang

Final couple of days hiking the epic Kanchenjunga Circuit in Far East Nepal, three weeks walking around the third highest mountain in the world. When the head cook originally walked the circuit 15 years ago it took 33 days, taking 6 days to walk to where we stayed the first night at Mitlung. We did it in 19 days, with the potential in future years to take more days off as the road gets ever further into the valleys. Then it was almost entirely camping, now it is quite possible to walk the whole circuit staying in guest houses. Things are changing fast in the Himalayas.

We left Yamphudin walking through the village, a rather pleasant place.

It was less pleasant descending a steep 4WD road.

At the bottom our guides lost their way for the first time in three weeks, with things having changed since they were last here three years ago pre-Covid. Luckily a local walked and was able to direct us in the right direction, though it was a pretty sketchy, and clearly little used track.

We soon joined onto the proper track though, passing through attractive fields of cardamom.

There were some great views today, walking high above the valley.

The terraced fields looked idyllic in the afternoon light.

I’d seen these memorials to loved ones before but never so many in one day, reflecting the size of the villages we walked through.

Mamankhe was a large place, and the original destination for the day, but we decided to push on for a couple more hours to make the last day easier. The village had a huge school, easily the biggest seen on the whole circuit.

Another day, another dodgy bridge. This one sloped rather alarmingly, and I’m not sure that the branches weaved into the sides were that reassuring.

We camped on a couple of terraces in Phumphe Danda, with views of the sun setting on Jannu and other mountains we’d recently been close to.

Our final day of walking was similar to the previous, with big valley views and passing through a few villages to reach the road end at Kande Bhanjyang.

The expansive village across the valley was Mamankhe, I recognised the distinctive turquoise coloured school.

The road has nearly made it to Phumphe Danda, as we walked along a rough 4WD road to start the day.

Thankfully we soon headed off the road onto more interesting paths, with waterfalls, fields, and more memorials.

There was a small temple / shrine in one of the villages passed through.

People clearly take some pride in their houses, judging by the decoration and care shown. It’s a basic life but they live in a pretty beautiful part of the world.

There were big views along the valleys.

After about five hours walking we finished the circuit, arriving at our final campsite, a lovely spot at Kande Bhanjyang.

This was the first actual sunset I’d seen the whole trip, previously I’d just seen the sun setting on the highest peaks, but as we were now relatively lower down (2,170m above sea level) there was some colour in the sky.

In the morning I dashed up the small hill in Kande Bhanjyang to visit the underwhelming shrine, though it had a nice view of the village.

Author: jontycrane

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