Khangchendzonga National Park, also known as the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve, is the epitome of natural splendor. Recently enlisted into UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list, Khangchendzonga National Park is one of a handful of high-altitude national parks in the country. Besides Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world, that towers over the park and its surroundings, the area encompasses fantastical glaciers, pristine lakes, lush valleys, and a variety of endangered flora and fauna.
What to see
Explore Lake Menmecho where coniferous trees surround the waterbody adding to its magical charm stare in wonder at the sharp crevices of Mt. Rathong waits patiently for the fog to lift and witness the 26 km long Zemu Glacier, one of the largest on the continent. The Famrong Waterfall falls with mysterious graceful intensity, and the guardian of the park, Mt. Kanchenjunga sits silently viewing her children.
The geographical wonders mentioned are just a few of the natural sights of the National Park. If you’re trekking in the area, keep an eye out for the Himalayan blue sheep, the Asiatic wild dog, red pandas, and musk deer, to name a few. If you’re really lucky a snow leopard sighting will surely make your day. The National Park is birdwatcher heaven what with the recently discovered Himalayan Forest Thrush and a plethora of endemic avifauna like the Tibetan snowcock, Himalayan griffon, bearded vulture, among others.
When to reach
Most travelers plan their trip between the months of March and May. when the temperature floats around 10°C, results in clear skies, spectacular mountain views, and pleasant treks. However, there is something mysterious about viewing the Kanchenjunga, and its surrounding mountains, and the frozen lakes in winter. Covered in a blanket of snow with sub-zero temperatures, the Khangchendzonga National Park transforms into a winter wonderland from October to February. Make sure you carry heavy woolens to brave the piercing cold. Between June and September, heavy rainfall makes trekking an impossible venture and you should not plan your trip to Khangchendzonga National Park during these months.
How to reach
Khangchendzonga National Park is around 50 km from Gangtok. The journey to Khangchendzonga National Park is all about ‘the road less traveled.’ While the ride is bumpy, the natural beauty of the park makes it all worthwhile. The historical town of Yuksom is a popular trekking start-point. Treks from here can vary depending on where in Khangchendzonga National Park you’d like to go. Yuksom to Dzongri is a popular trekking route and from Dzongri Base Camp you can walk along the Rathong-Khangerteng route.