Darjeeling to Kanchenjunga Trek
Altitude: 4900 mts
Best time to visit: mid march to may & September - november
Nestled at an elevation of 2,045 meters on the Lesser Himalaya, Darjeeling, which is often dubbed as the queen of hill stations in India, is visited by thousands of tourists and adventurers from all over the world. The majestic view of the Kanchenjunga range at dawn from Tiger Hill and the sprawling valley bedded with a rich verdure captured from the Mall Road simply attest the eyes and minds of every traveller. Nonetheless, the fresh aroma emanating from the vast tea garden that rolls down the hill simply makes the day inspiring and rejuvenating. The Darjeeling to Kanchenjunga Trek, which is one of the alpine treks in the Indian Himalayan region on the Eastern Himalayan belt, heels the itinerary with two beautiful treks in two different and contrasting regions.
The popular Sandakphu - Phalut Trek traverses through the rich verdure of the Singalila range and cuts through the thick forest of rhododendron and pine trees en route several tribal villages tucked in the mountains. It also allows you to get acquainted with the wilderness of the Singalila National Park after crossing Tonglu, which is at an elevation of 3,070 meters. The trek to Sandakphu - Phalut commences from Manay Bhanjang, which is at 2,134 meters, and thereafter it leads to Garibas at 2,620 meters via Tonglu and turns to Sandakphu at 3,640 meters. From Sandakphu to Phalut, it's a gentle walk and one can catch the panoramic view of the Himalayan range from Mount Everest to Kanchenjunga. The trek downhill leads to Rimbik via Raman and thereafter wheels to Pelling in Sikkim. Pelling is approximately 111 kilometers by road. From Pelling, the Darjeeling and Sikkim trekking tour heads to the Pemayangtse monastery, which is nestled at an elevation of 2,800 meters, and thence the tour leads to Yuksom that is approximately 40 kilometers from Pelling. Yuksom is the erstwhile capital of Sikkim and is the base point of the popular Dzongri - Goecha la trek in Sikkim. From Yuksom one can pay a visit to the Tashiding Monastery and thereafter steer to Martam. The journey leads off at Gangtok via Rumtek Monastery.
Arrive Delhi, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. (Hotel B&B).
Day 02: Delhi - Bagdogra (by plane) - Darjeeling (2130m) by car.
Arrive Bagdogra Airport and drive to Darjeeling, charming 4-hour journey, through Assam tea plantations and tiny villages takes us to Darjeeling. Built on top of a ridge, Darjeeling faces the Himalaya and is a popular destination for Westerners and Bengalis alike. Overnight in Darjeeling.
Day 03: Darjeeling visit.
We could take an early trip to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise. Afterwards we visit the famous Ghoom monastery that enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha (the coming Buddha). Later on we can visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and tea plantations. Overnight in Darjeeling.
Day 04: Darjeeling - Manay Bhanjang ( 2134m. 1h 30) by car - Tonglu (3070m)
Early morning drive from Darjeeling to Manay Bhanjang. The trail overlooks the Bengali plain south, and we have tantalising glimpses of Kanchenjunga ahead, as we zigzag through rhododendrons.
Day 05: Tonglu - Garibas (2620m) in 4h.
We take a mossy paved path, that snakes through a succession of forests and hamlets, giving way, from time to time, to spectacular mountain sceneries.
Day 06: Garibas - Sandakphu (3640m) in 4h 30 min.
We steadily climb to join the ridge trail towards Kalpokhari. Afterwards we start a long and steep climb onto the Singalila ridge that leads us to Sandakphu. A remarkable 360 ° view from the top.
Day 07: Sandakphu - Phalut (3600m) in 6h.
We walk to a prominent viewpoint for the magnificent sunrise over the Kanchenjunga, Jannu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyo. Throughout the day, there are ever-changing views: yak herds, silvery pine forests, tiny lakes ringed with grass, and the snow-capped Himalayan range in the background.
Day 08: Phalut - Raman (2560m) in 5h.
A pleasant descent through the woods takes us to Gorkhey (2500m) then we climb up towards Raman.
Day 09: Raman - Rimbik (2280m) in 4h.
We pass through numerous villages and cross the Sri Khola over a remarkable suspension bridge.
Rimbik - Pelling by car (9h)
Day 11: Pelling - Pemayangtse - Yuksam by car (2h).
2.5 km from Pelling, we will visit the Pemayangtse monastery. Perched at 2800m, it is one of the oldest and most impressive Gompas in Sikkim.
Day 12: Yuksam - Tsoska (3030m) in 6h.
The trail leads up the Rathong valley, through thick, semi-tropical forests. Afterwards a steep climb takes us to the tiny Tibetan village of Tsoska. The landscape has now changed into pine, rhododendron and magnolia forests. We get excellent views of the entire Himalayan range and Kanchenjunga.
Day 13: Tsoska - Dzongri (4020m) in 5h.
A steep trail zigzags up through temperate forest and large clusters of rhododendrons, to the vast clearing of Phedang. During April and May, the spectacle is gorgeous, as the land becomes a mass of flowers (400 species have been listed so far). After 300m, we follow the ridge to Dzongri, a pasture area for Yuksam yaks from April to October.
Day 14: Dzongri - Thangshing (3930m) in 4h.
We descend through rhododendron forest towards the glacial Prek river. We establish our campsite on the grassy pastures of Thangshing. The southern ridge of Kanchenjunga and the Onglakhing glacier are visible directly ahead and there are close-up views of Pandim.
Day 15: Thangshing - Samity Lake (4200m) in 3h.
A pleasant walk below the west side of Pandim, through dwarf azaleas and rhododendrons to Zemathang. We take our first footsteps on the Onglakhing glacier, and climb up to the shores of the Samity lake, reputed to be the sacred source of the Prek river. Ringed by prayer flags, the lake reflects Forked Peak, Kabru North, Goecha Peak and other snow-capped peaks.
Day 16: Samity Lake - Goecha La (4940m) - Thangsing in 7h.
We have to leave quite early this morning, as fog and clouds descend on the pass shortly after sunrise. The track to Goecha La climbs steeply through moraines. From the pass, ringed with colorful prayer flags, we can see Kanchenjunga and beyond that, the Talung glacier.
Day 17: Thangshing - Lam Pokhari (4230m) in 5h.
After a steep descent, we climb through alpine areas and pass by tiny lakes.
Day 18: Lam Pokhari - Tashiding (1740m) in 5h.
An easy walk, in an atmosphere becoming more humid and heavier as we descend.
Day 19: Tashiding - Martam by car (4h).
We visit the Tashiding monastery, one of the most isolated in Sikkim, perched on the top of a hill set between two rivers.
Day 20: Martam - Gangtok by car (1h).
En route we visit Rumtek monastery, reputed for its religious Tibetan art. Visitors are welcome to attend prayers. Afternoon at leisure in Gangtok.
Gangtok - Bagdogra (by car) - Delhi (by plane). (Hotel B&B)
Day 22: At leisure in Delhi.
Safety day for your international flight. (Hotel B&B)
Transfer to airport and fly back home.