Darjeeling Sandakphu Trek
One of the most popular trekking routes in Eastern Himalaya, the Sandakphu route sits on the Singalila Ridge, a ridge on the southern end of a long crest that extends from Khangchendzonga massif. The ridge runs from northwestern West Bengal to Sikkim, carving a border between Sikkim and Nepal.
The view on this trek is second to none - from the majestic Mt Khangchendzonga in Sikkim to the mighty Everest in Nepal and the mythical Mt Chomolhari in Bhutan. From the highest view point on Sandakphu (3645m), your eyes sweep across some of the world’s highest peaks. Trekkers' huts or guesthouse are dotted along this route hence camping is not required.
This itinerary includes a stopover in the picturesque hill station of Darjeeling to check out its Tibetan monastery, mountaineering institute and tea plantations.
Season: April to May; October to mid-December
Duration: 9 days
Altitude range: 2135m-3645m
Costs: USD80 per person per day; minimum of 6 pax
*Family-friendly; please see FAQ for details
Day 01: Arrival at airport/train station and transfer to Darjeeling; 4 to 5 hours
A scenic four-hour drive through bucolic tea plantations and quaint villages takes us to Darjeeling, the hill station framed by Khangchendzonga’s snowy peaks and famed for its world-class Darjeeling black tea. Overnight in Darjeeling.
Day 02: Explore Darjeeling
Before dawn, head to Tiger Hill to gawk at the sun rising over the majestic Khangchendzonga range. Visit the renowned Ghoom or Yiga Choeling monastery, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery erected in the Darjeeling region. Built in 1850, the monastery houses the 15-feet tall statue of Maitreya Buddha, or the Future Buddha. Drop in at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, post-Everest ascent, served as HMI’s Director of Field Training to equip thousands of Indian youths with mountaineering skills. Cap off the day with a visit to the famous Darjeeling tea plantations. Overnight in Darjeeling.
Day 03: Darjeeling - Mane Bhanjang (2135m) -Tonglu (3070m); 5 to 6 hours
Early morning drive from Darjeeling to the small mountain town of Mane Bhanjang, the gateway to Sandakphu trek. The trail meanders through forests of pine, birch and fir, climbs uphill on steep gradients and offers peeks of the Khangchendzonga peaks along the way. Break for snacks or lunch at Chitrey, a small hamlet on the Singalila Ridge. The footslogging continues for a few hours until we reach the top of the Ridge at Tonglu where we will put up at the Trekkers Hut. On a clear day, enjoy a spectacular sunset on the Khangchendzonga Range from the balcony.
Day 04: Tonglu - Garibas (2650m); 4 hours
The trail descends gradually and winds through mossy forest and tiny hamlets, again with the occasional glimpses of snow-clad peaks in the backdrop. Garibas is the gateway to Singalila National Park. Overnight in Garibas.
Day 05: Garibas - Sandakphu (3645m); 4 to 5 hours
A gradual ascent takes us to the ridge trail towards Kalpokhari from which we begin a long and precipitous climb to Sandakphu. The reward: a 180-degree panoramic view of the majestic Khangchendzonga massif and some of the world’s tallest peaks. The snow-capped range of Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal, over 300km in length, with Khangchendzonga and its attendant peaks, Kabru, Jannu and Pandim grace the skyline. 160km away, Mt Everest (8848m), peek from the northern horizon with Lhotse on its left.
Day 06: Sandakphu - Phalut (3600m); 6 hours
Catch the sublime spectacle of the sun rising over the imposing 8000ers (eight-thousanders) - Kangchenjunga (8586m), Everest, Lhotse (8,516m), Makalu (8,485m) and Cho Oyu (8188m).
The trail from Sandakphu to Phalut, via Sabargram, is one of the highlights as you pass pastoral meadows and rhododendron forest flanked by views of Khangchendzonga range on your right and Everest on your left. An open grassy patch, Sabargram is a lovely spot to take a short break amidst the mountain vista. The final stretch to Phalut is a short 1-km steep ascent. A flat, bare patch, Phalut straddles the borders of Nepal, Sikkim and West Bengal. Although Khangchendzonga is 48km away, the lofty mountain towers above in its grandiosity.
Day 07: Phalut - Ramam (2560m); 5 hours
A pleasant descent on the long ridge takes us to Gorkhey (2500m) as we trudge pass forests of rhododendrons, spruce, oaks, giant magnolias and hemlock and the Gorkhey Khola stream, a tributary of Ramam river. The route also passes the scenic plateau of Samanden before reaching Ramam Valley, a rest spot for shepherds travelling from Nepal to Sikkim. Overnight in Raman.
Day 08: Ramam - Darjeeling; 5 hours
After breakfast, transfer to Darjeeling and stay overnight in Darjeeling.
Day 09: Darjeeling to airport/train station; 4-5 hours
Departure to airport/NJP train station
Trekking costs include:
1. Transportation to and from the closest airport or railway station.
2. Accomodation on arrival day and after the trek.
3. All necessary permits and taxes for the trek.
4. All meals during the trek and in Utteray and Pelling, support team, experienced trekleader/guide, pack animals.
1. Air fare
3. Tips, alcohol and beverage
4. Travel Insurance or any personal expenses