Hilley-Singalila Round Trek
If you only have time for one trek in Sikkim, this would be it.
A combo of the Phoktey Dara and Goechala treks, this route is a showcase of Sikkim’s natural splendour at its best. Experience the Himalayan state’s gamut of microclimates, diverse forest zones, motley flora and fauna, lofty passes and perpetual sightings of rugged, snow-clad mountains gracing the Sikkim skyline. Wildlife sightings, from Sikkim’s official bird - blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus) and Himalayan paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi leucogaster) to the Himalayan musk deer (Moschus leucogaster) and endangered red panda (Ailurus fulgens), the State animal of Sikkim, are a possibility on this trek.
A high fitness level is a prerequisite for trekkers who embark on this long and arduous but rewarding route.
Season: April to May; October to mid-December
Duration: 16 days
Grade: Moderate to Difficult
Altitude range: 2750m-5000m
Costs: USD80 per person per day; minimum of 6 pax
Day 01: Pick up from airport/train station and drive to Hilley (2750m); 5 hours
Overnight in hotel or homestay.
Day 02: Hilley - Barsey (3000m); 2 hours
The trail meanders through the pristine forest of Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary with the majestic Khangchendzonga peaks as its backdrop. In Spring, this section of the trail is adorned with rhododendron blooms.
Day 03: Barsey - Achalley (2,700m); 4 to 5 hours
The 104sqkm-Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is a vital corridor that connects Kanchendzonga National Park to its north with West Bengal’s Singalila National Park to its south. From Barsey, you can spot Sikkim’s major peaks like Pandim, Rathong, Kabru and Kumbjakarna. The trail continues with a steep climb to Achalley camp.
Day 04: Achalley - Kalijhar (3,500m); 4 hours
The trek from Achalley to Kalijhar passes through mossy forest and traverses denser forests of rhododendrons and giant magnolias. You will amble across the vast, tranquil grasslands of Thulo Dhup (2,800m) where we can break for lunch. The trail continues on a steep ascend to Kalijhar, a campsite with alpine shrubs and panoramic views of the peaks on a clear day. Overnight at Kalijhar.
Day 05: Kalijhar - Phoktey Dara viewpoint (4000m) to Dhoor (3800m); 5 to 6 hours
Rise before dawn to hike up to Phoktey Dara viewpoint to catch the sun rising over the mighty Kanchendzonga massif. After savouring the jaw-dropping view, head back to Khalijhar camp for breakfast. After breakfast, we continue our journey on the Singalila Ridge to Dhoor. On a clear day from the ridge, you will see the stunning panorama of the “Sleeping Buddha” formation with four of the world’s highest peaks: Mt Everest, Mt Kanchendzonga, Mt Lhotse and Mt Makalu. The Ridge forms a natural border between Nepal and Sikkim. Overnight at Dhoor.
Day 06: Dhoor - Parey Megu (3965m); 5 to 6 hours
Due to the Ridge’s undulating terrains, we go through several descents and ascents and over a couple of passes before we set up camp at a sheep herders’ settlement. Overnight at Parey Megu, also known as Meguthang.
Day 07: Parey Megu - Lampokhari (4100m); 5 to 6 hours
We continue footslogging uphill to a vast valley to get a close-up view of the Kabru massif. Made up of a group of peaks ranging from 6585m (Kabru Dome) to 7395m (Kabru III), the massif extends south from Khangchendzonga on the Singalila Range and boasts the southernmost 7,000-m peaks in the world. A further two hours’ hike takes us to the banks of Lampokhari Lake, a campsite with jaw-dropping views of Everest and the Khumbu region in the far-flung distance.
Day 08: Lampokhari - Gomathang (3850m); 5 to 6 hours
Entering the alpine zone, we ascend higher and reach Dafeybhir La (4530m), known as the Pass of the Pheasant. The vista from Dafeybhir travels the length of Sikkim, and goes as far as Tibet and Bhutan. A steep descent takes us to the Gomathang campsite situated by the river.
Day 09: Gomathang - Pangding (4100m); 5 to 6 hours
Continue climbing through forests of rhododendron and silver fir followed by a steep ascent to Pangding where we will be greeted by a gorgeous spectacle of snowy, craggy peaks. Overnight camp at Pangding.
Day 10: Pangding - Dzongri (4200m); 5 to 6 hours
We will descend to Tikep Chu (3700m) river where big pine trees and rhododendron bushes abound and break for a snack or early lunch, followed an uphill trudge to Dzongri. On the hill above the Dzongri Trekkers Hut, you can savour the striking vista of Kabru, Ratong, Khangchendzonga, Koktang, Pandim and Narsing peaks.
Day 11: Dzongri - Thangshing (3800m); 4 to 5 hours
The trail from Dzongri climbs up along the banks of the river. After topping the hill, the trail plunges into the valley and crosses a bridge over the Prek Chu river. From late May till June, this trail is lined with rhododendron blossoms. An hour’s climb from the bridge, we reach Thangsing valley, located below the slopes of Pandim. Thangsing offers a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks. Overnight in Thangsing.
Day 12: Thangsing - Lamune (4300m); 6km; 3 hrs
An early start from Thangsing, the trail climbs gently up the valley for about an hour before we reach Onglathang where you’ll spot the south face of Khangchendzonga. The trail skirts a series of moraines and climbs steeply to Lake Samiti (4500m). We will rest at Samiti before continuing to Lamune campsite.
Day 13: Lamune - Goechala (4950m) - Thangsing; 7-9 hours
This is the longest and most challenging day of the trip, due to the high altitude and rough terrain. To catch the sunrise at Goechala viewpoint, we try to set out from campsite a couple of hours before sunrise. After a rough scramble over rocks and boulders, dragging our feet across moraines and steep ridge, we’ll arrive at Goechala. Overlooking the Talung valley, the pass is formed by depression between Pandim and the Kabru spurs. Savour the up-close view of the south face of Khangchendzonga. After the surreal experience, we descend to Thangsing to camp overnight.
Day 14: Thangsing - Tshoka (2950m); 6-7 hours
We retrace our steps and head back to Tsokha and Yuksom on the mostly downhill route and capture the incredible views that we may have missed on the way in. We will camp or stay at the Trekkers Hut in Tshoka.
Day 15: Tshoka - Yuksom (1875m); 5 to 6 hours
Overnight in Yuksom.
Day 16: Yuksom to airport/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