Ranked 10 among Places to Visit in Darjeeling
Time Required: 3-5 days
Sandakphu Peak (11,941 Feet) is the highest peak in West Bengal. The highest peak of Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district, almost near the border of Nepal, it is located very close to Singalila National Park.
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Approx trekking distance (Both sides) : 77 km
Base Camp :
Difficulty : Moderate Gradient
Highest point of trek : 3,636 m
Nearest Airport : Bagdogra Aiport, Siliguri, West Bengal
Nearest Railhead : NJP Railway Station
Snow : As the winter season begins, the snow starts to appear during the month of December.
Starting point of trek : Jaubhari
Day 1 : Darjeeling to Manebhanjang to Tonglu
Distance: 11 km , Duration: 5-6 hours
Reach Manebhajang early in the morning to begin your trek on time. It is a tiny hamlet located around 58 km from Darjeeling, about an hour and a half drive away. The village is inhabited mainly by Buddhist Sherpa Tribe. Make sure you grab some breakfast before the trek begins. Your destination for the first day of the trip is Tonglu (3,070 m), situated 11 km from the village and will take around 5-6 hours of trekking to reach there. The trail, in the beginning, is a beautiful one, comprising of fir, birch, pine and bamboo glides leading to yet another Buddhist settlement namely Chitre (2530m). Now you will ascend through a steep climb reaching a small village Meghna (2900m). Rest here for a while, have lunch, interact with the friendly villagers and resume trek. Now from here, you can either take a route towards Tonglu or Tumling, both the routes finally meet again at Tumling. A walk of 2 km will take you to Tonglu that offers a splendid view of Himalayan Mountains while a halt at Tumling gives you a chance to gaze at the clear sky twinkling with stars and glittering lights of Darjeeling, Pasupati and Siliguri. You will have both the options for accommodation: tents and home stay. Check
Day 2 : Tonglu to Gairibas to Kalipokhari
Wake up early to the spectator the first rays of sun peeking from behind the Himalayan range offering a magical view. After breakfast, descend the hill towards Garibas (2621m), a tiny hamlet located 9 km from Tonglu that will take you around 3 hours to reach. While on the way, you will cross few quaint hamlets witnessing their simple lifestyle, modest farmland and several bamboo glades. Make sure you break for lunch at Garibas and continue ascending up the hill to Kalipokhari (3170m). It will take you 3 hours to reach the place. The trail is beautiful during spring time when the forest is blooming with rhododendrons. As you arrive the place, you will witness a small dark coloured pong or Black Pond as it is called amidst pine trees and colourful prayer flags. For this route, you also have an option of arranging for the jeep ride which takes two hours to reach Kalipokhari from Tonglu. You can stay at pond site in either a tent or homestay. The jeep rides are organized at Manebhajang.
Day 3 : Kalipokhari to Sandakphu
Enjoy the morning hues and gear up for another of wonderful trekking day. Today you will be heading to Sandakphu, the best part of this Singalila Trekking route also referred to as paradise of trekkers. Begin early in the morning and descent down the ridge till Bikhebhajang or Valley of Poison. A steep climb of 4 km from here will lead you to Sandakphu. The ascent is way too steep, in fact, one of the steepest of the entire Singalila treks, to pain your knee joints but equally rewarding in the end. The trail takes you through a thick cover of magnolia and rhododendron forest that will take approximately 2-3 hours to cross and arrive at Sandakphu (Height of the Poison Plant). Both Bikhebhanjan and Sandakphu are home to the poisonous aconite plants in abundance, which are said to have harmed the cattle in the past, are named after this plant. Once you reach the summit, the view will leave in complete awe with a panoramic vista of the entire Himalayan belt. The mighty elevations in Nepal Mt. Everest, Lotse, Makalu and Mt. Kanchenjunga and Pandim in Sikkim offer a picturesque sight for your eyes. However, the rhododendron and the silver fir trees covering the surrounding hills is an incomplete contrast to it adding a charm to the scenic beauty. While at the top, you have an option of lodges, guesthouses and trekker huts for accommodation. If you find the uphill trek to Sandakphu tiring, then you can opt for vehicle ride from Manebhajang itself. The trip takes 4 hours by jeep and can prove to be quite adventurous. On your way back, you can opt between either a longer or a shorter way down the hill. By the end, you may take a shortcut via a dense cover of the forest and arrive at RImbik or head towards Phalut.
Day 4 : Sandakphu to Phalut
Wake up early to enjoy the rising sun gleaming on the snow-clad Himalayan Mountains. Resume your trek after a heavenly view, towards Phalut (3600 m). As you keep proceeding, the trail presents you with some of the most spectacular surroundings. The track passes through a dense rhododendron, pine and oak trees; however, the most beautiful of all landscape is the burned silver fir forest. If you get lucky might also spot Yak herds at the lake side along with some roofless stone houses adorned on a small hillock of Sabarkum. From here on the trek is easy walking along the ridge crest that will cross the Indo-Nepal border and arrive at Phalut. The total distance is about 21 km and will take you almost 6 hours to cover. You will notice how close Mt. Kanchenjunga appears from here as compared to the rest of the trek. You can call it a night at trekkers hut or camp here.
Day 5 : Phalut to Ramman
Distance: 14 km , Duration: 5 hours
Early morning view will surprise every time with a magnificent backdrop of mighty Himalayan range. The trail descends from Phalut down the hill and will lead you through a dense forest of pines, chestnuts, hemlock etc. Keep walking along the track till you reach Gorkhey Khola, a freshwater stream where two small rivulets meet. Take a plunge or two in the stream of fresh water rekindle your spirits and resume trekking towards Ramman via Samandin. You will be covering a total distance of 14 km today within about 5 hours. Rest at Ramman for the night at a local homestay, guesthouse or a camp.
Day 6 : Ramman to Rimbik
Distance: 19 km
The sixth day marks as the last of the trek when you will be covering a total distance of 19 km from Ramman to Rimbik. For the first 9 km, the trail is an almost flat walk and then begins to descend towards Sirikhola River. A climb from here will lead you to Rimbik, the trail passing through tiny hamlets and verdant farmlands. Accommodate at a hotel when reached Rimbik and go for leisurely walks in the evening. Next day, after a hearty meal at the hotel, drive back to Darjeeling or Siliguri.
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