Kangchenjunga: A Trekker’s Guide - Himalayas, Nepal
Kangchenjunga: A Trekker's Guide
by Kev Reynolds
A guide to trekking in the Kangchenjunga region of the Himalayas of Nepal. With its five summits, Kangchenjunga is the world's third highest peak. Includes the North Base Camp trek - considered to be the most beautiful walk in the world, Ghunsa to the Simbua Khola valley, southern approaches and trekking to Kangch from Sikkim. More...
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Mandala Productions ‘Latest Trekking Maps’ Dhankuta to Kanchenjunga, MT Everest, Makalu & Arun Valley. (1:192,500)
Mandala Maps Kangchenjunga Makalu (1:225,000)
Nepa Maps Kangchenjunga (1:175,000)
Notes on maps
“The adventurous trekker has much to be thankful for when
it comes to maps of Nepal, for much is left to the imagination.”
(Bill O’Connor: Adventure Treks - Nepal)
The Kangchenjunga region is covered by several maps available in Kathmandu, some of which are also obtainable in the UK. Bill O’Connor’s comment quoted above is true in regard to most of these, although for trekking purposes they are good enough. Names of villages, rivers and mountain peaks occasonally vary from one sheet to another, and different ways of spelling the same features abound.
Most sheets available are based on the Survey of India, dating from the 1920s, and have been redrawn at a different scale with some imagination. And when you bear in mind that the contour lines on some of these are spaced at 500 metre (1640ft) intervals, you’ll understand that a true picture of the country you’re wandering through should not be expected.
The three maps most easily found in Kathmandu that cover the region described in this guide are as follows:
1: Mandala Productions ‘Latest Trekking Map’ Dhankuta to Kanchenjunga, Mt Everest, Makalu & Arun Valley. This blue dyeline sheet is drawn to a scale of 1:192,500 with 500 metre contours. Altitude measurements are suspect and distances between villages questionable. Useful for general plotting of the route before you go, but note that sections of trail along the Tamur River are shown on the wrong bank, as is the village of Kyapra (Gyapra) between Amjilassa and Ghunsa.
2: Mandala Maps Kangchenjunga Makalu at 1:225,000 scale. Contours on this sheet are spaced at 250 metre intervals, main trekking routes are marked in solid red lines and, in common with the above-mentioned map, the route along the Tamur River is inaccurately marked. In addition the cartographer has conjured up a few villages that do not exist in reality. Again, distances given between some villages are pure fantasy.
3: Nepa Maps Kangchenjunga, drawn by Paolo Gondoni at a scale of 1:175,000. This is the most attractive of those readily available and, for everyday use, the most useful. It still contains plenty of errors, though, and with contours at 250 metre intervals, fails to provide any meaningful idea of the trek’s countless undulations. It also fails to show the important trail to Suketar airstrip above Taplejung.
A more accurate series of maps, surveyed by the Finnish Government aid organisation during 1992-95, and published in 1997 by HMG Survey of Nepal under the heading ‘Finnmap’, covers the Kangchenjunga region at 1:50,000. Unfortunately at the time of writing these have not yet become available, either in Kathmandu or in the UK. Cordee, the mountain map and book specialists of 3a De Montfort Street, Leicester LE1 7HD, plan to stock these as soon as they are available. It is probable that about four sheets will be needed to cover the same area contained in the above-mentioned maps.