Friday, 7 November 2014

Kanchenjunga Trek - Ghunsa to Taplejung

Ghunsa is the biggest and most progressive village on the trek so we decided to take a rest day here before heading up to the north base camp. There are several lodges to choose from and we stayed at the Ghunsa Guest House.

Taking advantage of the fast flowing Ghunsa River and its tributaries, there is a hydro electric plant just outside of town. Most of the lodges advertise electricity and hot showers. As of 2013, Ghunsa has a new water system flowing through it with a several numbered water taps throughout the village.

Our guesthouse had a menu, one of few on the trek. Our first order was pizza. It had a pancake type crust with cabbage, carrots, tomato and cheese and then steam baked. Quite different that what we're used to but still yummy!

Ghunsa is also home to the Snow Leopard Conservation Centre. In 2013 a snow leopard in this area was captured and fitted with a collar with GPS satellite technology and then released again in order to understand them better and ultimately save them. 
The village of Ghunsa. The potato harvest was already in, hence all the bare fields.
The Essential Oil Plant (making Juniper oil)

There were several mani walls at the edges of the village. Many beautifully carved and painted.
One of our rest day goals was to get some clothes washed early enough in the day that there was some hope of getting them dry. As soon as the sun hit the village (which wasn't until almost 10 am) Kumar and Andrew were hard at work. But apparently Andrew needs to work on his technique. Raj came and showed him how it's done! 

We were also hoping for a "real" hot shower but, alas, the shower wasn't working properly. But we each got a bucket of warm water from the kitchen and were thrilled to settle for a "bucket shower."

In the afternoon we went for a walk along the river and up to the Tashichhoeling Gompa (the lucky place of worship). Unfortunately the monastery is a bit run down and no longer in use but once apparently housed approximately 80 monks. It's set in a beautiful location!

Monastery along the river, just outside of Ghunsa
Entrance to one of the rooms of the monastery.
Painted ceiling of the chorten in the below photo.
Chorten near the monastery.

Gorgeous fall colours along the Ghunsa River
One of Raj's duties as our guide was to check in at the police check post so they could ensure all our trekking permits were in place. I can't imagine what one has to do to get such a luxurious posting!

From Ghunsa, we headed down the north side of the "loop" which makes up the Kanchenjunga trek. It was quite different than the south side and neither Andrew or I liked it as well. More of a trade route, it was much busier with many more local people going about their daily business, porters hauling local supplies, large camping trekking groups and their porters, and not as many "home stay" options. Raj advised that some groups simply go in and out this side, not having the interest or energy to go over the Selele La once they've been to Kanchenjunga north base camp.

Having said that, the terrain was quite beautiful and some of the forest area we passed through is home to Red Pandas. Despite looking, looking and looking we did not see any.

The Sherpa Hotel at Thangyam
After 21 days, the bustling city of Taplejung was our final stop before the long jeep ride back to Fikkal.
Making our way through the streets of Taplejung to our hotel.
See my other Kanchenjunga Trek posts. 

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