Sikkim, North-East India
2290m - 5782m
Moderate to Difficult
April-June & October-December
The foothills of the world's third highest mountain Kangchenjunga, views of some of the highest peaks in Nepal, Bhutan and India, diverse assemblage of Eastern Himalayan flora and fauna that includes 660 orchids, 631 butterflies and nearly 600 birds
Tucked away in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is sandwiched between Tibet to the north, Bhutan to its east, Nepal to its west and West Bengal to the south. At 7,298 sq km, the hilly state is the second smallest in India, measuring only 112 km in length and 64 km wide. Yet, this tiny land is home to many natural wonders, rich flora and fauna and a diverse ethnic population.
This strenuous trek takes you along the Singalila ridge that separates Sikkim from Nepal, starting from the southern end and climaxing at Goechala (5000 m) opposite the massive Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. The undoubted crowning glory of this tiny hill state, the peak is revered as the guardian deity of Sikkim. The trail offers panoramic views of the highest peaks in the world - from Mt Everest in Nepal to Mt Chomolhari in Bhutan and passes through pristine and isolated rhododendron forests & mountain lakes.
The rich fauna harbours 81 species of mammals and 600 species of birds like pheasants, teal, partridges, cuckoos, babblers and thrushes. Wild asses and yaks abound in the north, while bears, lesser (red) pandas, silver foxes and leopards can be found in the tropical forests. With 660 species of orchids and 20 species of bamboo, Sikkim is also a botanist's delight. The lowest parts are dominated by wet sal (Shorea Robusta) forests, which give way to tropical evergreen mountain and rainforests (tree ferns, epiphytes, bamboo, oak, beech, chestnut, giant magnolia, rhododendron, firs and pines) up to the tree line. The alpine forests at 12,800-16,400ft/3,900-5,000 m are characterized by beautiful flowering plants such as primulas, gentians, blue poppies and wild strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb. Nearly 631 species of butterflies are an added attraction.
Day 01: ARRIVE DELHI
Arrive IGI airport Delhi, complete customs, immigrations formalities and exit to arrival hall meeting lounge to be met by 'Wild World India' representative. Transfer to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 02: DELHI
After breakfast combined tour visiting important sites of New and Old Delhi - Qutab Minar a 12th century tower and one of the tallest of its time, Humayan's Tomb considered to be one of the forerunner of the Taj Mahal and evening drive pass President House, India Gate and other colonial buildings. In Old Delhi visit 16th century Red Fort the ultimate symbol of Mughal power in India, take a cycle rickshaw ride in the narrow alleyways of Chandni Chowk which once served as royal market, Jama Masjid one of the biggest mosque in India built during the same time as Red Fort and the Raj Ghat. Overnight at Hotel
Day 03: FLY to BAGDOGRA, DRIVE to DARJEELING
In time transfer to the domestic airport to board the morning flight for Bagdogra. Arrive at Bagdogra airport and board the awaiting vehicle for the scenic drive to Darjeeling (93 km/3 hrs.) through heavily forested mountainsides, steep terrace fields and rivers twisting through the bottom of the gorges. Straddling a ridge in the Sikkim Himalayas at 7,001ft/2,134m and surrounded by tea plantations, Darjeeling has been a popular hill station since the British established it as a Rest & Recuperation (R & R) centre for their troops in the mid 1800s. Exploration of the hill town in the evening followed by overnight stay at hotel
Day 04: DRIVE to MANEYBHANJANK, TREK to MEGHMA (5 hrs.)
After a drive of about 1Â½ hrs you begin the trek at Maneybhanjak. The trail passes quite steeply uphill on a good path through evergreen forest and bamboo glades. You stop for lunch at Chitray (8,284ft/2,525m) where there is a 70-year-old monastery belonging to the Nyingmapa sect. You continue uphill for about 2-3 hours until you reach camp at Meghma. Camp overnight
Day 05: TREK to KALIPOKHARI (5-6 hrs.)
From Meghma it is a beautiful walk along a well defined undulating path with views of Kanchenjunga at every bend. The path passes tiny settlements and the little village of Kanyakatta to Kalipokhari (10,453ft/3,186m); a fairly easy walking day. Camp overnight
Day 06: TREK to SANDAKPHU (2Â½ hrs.)
You begin by ascending for about 4 km as far as Bikhebhanjang (10,977ft/3,346m). You will now reach the magnolia and rhododendron forests around Sandakphu (11,928ft/3,636m), from where you will get a magnificent view of some of the world's highest mountains, including Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga and Makalu. Today is quite a short day to help you acclimatize. Camp overnight
Day 07: TREK to MOLLEY (6 hrs/14km)
The trail follows along the Singalila Ridge through chestnut, oak and silver fir, with commanding views of the Himalaya all along the route. Molley (11,155ft/3,400m) is a small village in the alpine like forest. Camp overnight
Day 08: TREK to SAMADEN via PHALUT (7-8 hrs.)
The trek to Phalut (11,810ft/3,600m) is uphill, but very scenic and here you get a real feeling of being on a ridge. Phalut is your lunch spot for the day, again with fantastic views of the high peaks. The descent to Samaden (8,136ft/2,480m) is glorious and takes about 4 hrs from Phalut. You walk through forests of pine, oak, conifers and rhododendrons to the next campsite, which is a beautiful spot in a small settlement with stunning views. Camp overnight
Day 09: TREK to RIMBIK (7 hrs.)
A lovely and interesting walk as you pass several villages of mixed inhabitants of Rais, Sherpas and Tamangs. Terraced fields and villages dot the landscape and you are likely meet friendly local people. Descend to Sirikhola for lunch after which you cross the suspension bridge and continue for another 2Â½ hrs through more villages to Rimbik (2,020/6,627ft) - a large Sherpa village and the road head. Overnight camp
Day 10: DRIVE to YUKSOM (9 hrs.)
A lengthy, but varied and interesting drive through the foothills and along river valleys takes you to Yuksom (5,840ft/1,780m), the first capital of Sikkim. In 1641 three learned lamas came from the north, west and south to this place and consecrated Phuntsog Namgyal as the first Chogyal (king) of Sikkim. The name 'Yuksom' means the meeting place of three Lamas and the Norbugang Chorten nearby still bears evidence of the consecration ceremony in the form of stone seats and a footprint of the head lama on a stone. Dominated by tablelands of apple and barley, Yuksom is the scenic base for mountaineering expeditions and treks to higher Kanchenjunga ranges. Overnight at hotel
Day 11: TREK to BAKHIM (8 hrs.)
From Yuksom, you walk gently uphill, following the Rathang river gorge, through dense, rich untouched forest with ferns and many varieties of orchid. After an hour's walk you cross the Paha Khola suspension bridge (5,685ft/1,733m) and enter rhododendron country. There is a swimming spot by a waterfall after two hours and you can stop for lunch by a bridge over a stream. Passing by sweet smelling viburnum, you cross the Prek Chu River before ascending steeply for 2-3 hours to arrive at the lodge at Bakhim (8,350ft/2,545m). This is a long trekking day and you will be quite tired by the time you reach Bakhim.
Day 12: TREK to DZONGRI (7 hrs.)
Again, this is a long day's walk with considerable ascent. You begin by trekking for about an hour up to the picturesque village of Tshoka, home to a small monastery set beside a holy lake. A fairly steep climb above Tshoka takes you into beautiful rhododendron forests and along a well defined, uphill path to Phedung (about 2-3 hrs from Tshoka) - a good lunch spot. A further climb of around 2 hours takes you to the trekkers' lodges at Dzongri (13,202ft/4,024m). A brief climb beyond brings you to a meadow where we can pitch camp at a site with views of the lofty Koktang (20,167ft/6,147m), Kabru (24,075ft/7,338m), Kangchenjunga (28,169ft/8,586m), Simvo (22,359ft/6,815m), Pandim (21,952ft/6,691m) and Ratong peaks.
Day 13: REST DAY
Today is a chance to explore the area and to climb the small peaks near the campsite for stunning views of peaks. This is particularly worthwhile in the early morning and the evening. While you can rest if you wish, there will be a short acclimatization walk around the local area to help prepare you for the next few days.
Day 14: TREK to THAMGSING (5-6 hrs.)
Today you ascend gradually over open hillside for a mile or so to a low ridge visible from the camp site (13,500 ft/4,115m). From here, you get fabulous views of Kangchenjunga, Pandim and some chortens on the skyline. You then descend, at first traversing down towards Pandim on the far side of the valley, then dropping steeply on a good path through rhododendron forest to the Prek Chu River at 12,300 ft/3,749m for lunch (3 hours). There is a new trekking lodge here which the crew may use for cooking. You cross the river and ascend gradually for 1Â½ hrs through pine forest to reach the grassy campsite at Thamgsing (12,602ft/3,841m), beneath the shapely unclimbed peak of Pandim. A new hut has been built here, which may be available for cooking or even sleeping. Camp overnight
Day 15: TREK to SAMATI LAKE (2Â½ hrs.)
Today's walk is fairly short to give plenty of opportunity to rest before tomorrow's big day. You begin by continuing parallel to the Prek Chu River, Samati Lake (14,100ft/4,298m) is beautiful, holy and emerald green nestling behind brightly coloured, wind-torn prayer flags. Camp overnight
Day 16: TREK to GOECHALA, RETURN to THAMGSING
You set off in the early morning climbing the hill behind the lake before traversing the moraine and then descending to the sandy bed of an empty lake. The whole area above Samati Lake is called the Chemithang Plateau. You cross this under the shadow of Pandim and then ascend the moraine to a height of 15,700ft/4,785m, where you rest above a frozen lake dotted with snow and icy pinnacles. The Goechala Pass is a further hour away across the lake, up a scree slope and then on a well-trodden path lined with brightly coloured prayer flags. There are stupendous views of the east flank of Kangchenjunga as well as mountains and valleys in the distance. Returning down the valley, there will be a welcome meal for you at Samati Lake for a short rest before setting off to walk gently downhill for 1Â½ hrs, to reach Thamgsing (16,350ft/4,984m). Those who do not wish to attempt reaching the pass can stay in camp and relax or walk to the viewing point (about 1Â½ hours walk above Samati Lake) and return to camp for overnight stay.
Day 17: TREK to TSOKA (7- 8 hrs.)
It's worth getting up early to make the short hike to the ridge behind camp. From here there are fantastic views of Kangchenjunga and one can look back up to Goechala. Leaving Thamgsing, you take a different route back, avoiding the long climb to the Dzongri Plateau. Descending to the Prek Chu river, you contour round through jungle, with some ups and downs to emerge at Phedung again. From there it is a steep walk down to Tsoka where there is the new trekking lodge passed on your way up; hopefully we will be able to use their facilities. This, of course, saves a day on the return march, but does involve quite a long day. Camp overnight
Day 18: END TREK at YUKSOM (5-6 hrs.)
Today you descend steeply back down to the Prek Chu River, following the route taken on the first day, and then contour gradually downwards to reach the village of Yuksom (5,840ft/1,780m). Overnight at hotel
Day 19: DRIVE to DARJEELING
Today is an early start as the sun breaking over Kubru South is too good a sight to miss. You drive 6-7 hours to Darjeeling, a fascinating journey which ends with a steep climb up the tea estates. For almost 150 years Darjeeling has been the darling of East Himalayan travelers, where ailing British bureaucrats crossed paths with uncouth Tibetan traders and disguised explorers and spies prepared for passage to the Walled City of Lhasa. The modest town drapes itself along a 2,100m/6,890ft ridge and down the north facing slope. The lofty Kangchenjunga is flanked by Talung, Kabru, Ratong and Kumbakarna to the west and Pandim, Simvo and Siniolchu to the east, each rising above 6,000 m/19,685 ft. Darjeeling's narrow lanes zigzag up 60 degree slopes planted with gabled Victorian bungalows and stately boarding schools; roses, poinsettias, petunias and gladioli splash colour across English gardens and lanky trees shade yawning mansions. The sprawling Planters' Club and Gothic churches are just some of the relics of the British Raj.
Day 20: FULL DAY SIGHTSEEING IN DARJEELING
For early risers there is a trip to Tiger Hill to experience dawn over Kangchenjunga with Darjeeling in the foreground and Everest and Makalu on the horizon. This is an opportunity not to be missed and a photographer's dream. The rest of the time is free to relax or explore the fascinating town. Overnight Windamere Hotel. It is over 120 years old having made its maiden trip in September 1881.
Day 21: DEPART FROM DARJEELING
You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Oberoi Grand Hotel for your last night in India.
Trekking Tours in India:
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, Maneater of Mohan Trail
Corbett to Nainital Trek
, Nanda Devi Trek
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, Sandakphu and Goechala Trek
Snow Leopard Trek India
, Tawang Trek Arunachal
Valley of Flowers Trek