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Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, West Sikkim Overview

Perched at an altitude of 10,000 ft, Barsey is best known for the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, a paradise for nature lovers. The sanctuary itself is a part of the West Sikkim and quite easy to access through road via Hilley, Dentam/Soreng from Geyzing. However, if you are planning a nice trekking trip, the idea is simply spectacular. The trail is enriched with varied flora and raw nature and proceeds from Hilley up the hill.

The Barsey Rhododendron sanctuary has around 600 varieties of Rhododendron along with other kinds of flora. Sprawled across an area of 104 sq. km, the place is renowned for being home to Red Panda and Black Bear, the rare Himalayan species. Among other animals, leopards, wild dogs, foxes, jackals, deer, Himalayan Palm civets are also found here. Nestled in the Singalila Range, the natural border with Nepal, the Rhododendron Sanctuary is perfect for those seeking solitude, a connection with nature and some adventure.

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Permit

Entry permit to Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is required to be taken from the wildlife check post at Hilley or from the Forest Secretariat in Gangtok, who could be contacted be contacted directly.

Barsey Rhododendron Wildlife Sanctuary Trek

The hike from Hilley to Barsey Wildlife Sanctuary is a short trek of about 4 km. The route is easy and can be covered in 1-2 hours. Most tourists start early, reach Barsey, explore the forests and return on the same day. The trail inclines gradually through the colourful Rhododendron forest. In the short walk, one will walk past many glacial streams. The slightly wider streams have wooden bridges over them. The forest explodes with a burst of colours with the pink and white flowers dotting the entire route.

With changing landscapes, the grassy trail ascends and descends slightly and on the way, one gets to witness a beautiful view of the Kanchenjunga range which is the major highlight of the trek. A camping ground on the premises of the Guras Kunj is where seasoned trekkers prefer to camp overnight. A small trek to a nearby hillock can also be undertaken to witness a spectacular sunrise.

Best Time to Visit

To see the Spring bloom, March and April are the best months to visit Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in West Sikkim. The rainy season, that is, from July-September is advised to be avoided as the damp forest houses numerous leech colonies and it is not a pleasant time to visit the sanctuary during that time.

How to Reach Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

There are three access points to reach Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. They are Hilley, Dentam and Soreng. Out of the access points, Hilley is the most preferred point because it can be reached by a motorable road. One can then trek to Barsey Wildlife Sanctuary which is 4 km from Hilley. One can also take a state transport bus or shared jeep from Jorethang. From Jorethang, take another jeep or taxi to reach the sanctuary.

Tips

1. Make sure you carry warm clothes irrespective of the fact that what season you are travelling in.
2. Carry your own trekking gear and equipments and be always prepared.
3. Carry a medical aid kit and your usual medicines for the way.
4. A good pair of trekking shoes is a must.
5. Carry raingear no matter if you are travelling during monsoon season.
6. Make sure you obtain all the permits well in advance required for trekking in the region.
7. Make sure you carry spare batteries as there will be no electricity supply.
8. A well informed and trained guide is very important and do make sure to sort out all trivial things well in advance to avoid misunderstanding.

How to reach Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

  • Rail: New Jalpaiguri serves as the nearest railway station to Okhrey lying at a distance of about 130 km. One can easily hire a taxi from there.

  • Road: Okhrey, a village in the trekking district of West Sikkim, lies just 51 km from the capital city of Gangtok. Jorethang is easily accessible via several main cities including Siliguri.

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About Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

Base Camp : Hilley

Difficulty : Easy Gradient

Highest point of trek : 12125 ft

Nearest Airport : Bagdogra

Nearest Railhead : 130 km

Region : West Sikkim

Starting point of trek : Hilley

Itinerary

Day 1 : New Jalpaiguri to Hilley

Reach Hilley from New Jalpaigurirailway station lyingabout 130 km from Okhrey.

Day 2 : Hilley to Barsey

Distance: 10500 ft , Duration: 4 hours

Reach Siliguri in the morning and take a shared jeep till Jorethang, which serves as the gateway to West Sikkim. It will take about 3 hours to reach and will cost you around Rs. 80-100 per head depending upon the season. From Jorethang, you have to further arrange for the jeep that will take you to Hilley costing about Rs. 1,200. There is also an option of shared jeep, if you are looking for a cheaper option. The road trip will take another two and half hour. Make a pitstop to have lunch at Somebaria for there is no place in between till Hilley to eat. At Hilley, there is a home stay run by a Sherpa family that can also arrange lunch for you but it will be a bit costly. They will also arrange the gate pass for the sanctuary. Do make sure to strictly follow all the rules and regulation inside the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary such as do not litter around, do not touch the flowers or disturb any wildlife. Barsey is 4 kms from Hilley and the trail is one of the most beautiful passing through a dense forest of rhododendrons, bamboo and various fern mosses etc. The trek is pretty simple and can be completed in 2 hours straight. Continue further to reach the Barsey hilltop to get a picturesque view of the lush green vast forest.

Day 3 : Explore Barsey

On your second day, explore t wilderness of Barsey and trek through the forest beyond Barsey hilltop to get a perfect view of surrounding beauty. It can be your lucky day as well, if you will be able to spot the rare Red Panda, though plenty of them here, but are always in hiding mode. Apart from that barking deer, beer and plethora of exotic birds call this place their home. The pin drop silence adorned with chirping of birds adds charm to the beauty of the place.

Day 4 : Barsey to Upper Singling

Distance: 6400 ft , Duration: 4 hours

ItÕs time to say goodbye to the Barsey and descend down the hill through enchanting forest all the way to Upper Singling. Upper Singling is a tiny hamlet in West Sikkim perched at an altitude of 10,500 ft and is situated about a trek of 10 km away. Make sure to avoid the trek during monsoon as the trail gets a bit tricky. You will reach the village from Barsey in a little more than 4 hours. Make sure you make pit stop at Dhusan BhaiÕs home where you will be astounded with the arrangement considering the remoteness of the area. Campfire in the evening within home premises along with special tea from their own small tea garden is simply amazing.

Day 5 : Upper Singling to Jorethang

Have breakfast and descend down the hill towards Soreng from where begins the motorable road. The track is well laden and it will take you merely 30 minutes to reach. Once you have reached Soreng, take a ride from a shared jeep to Jorethang, costing Rs. 30 per person till Siliguri. Here ends you marvelous trek of Barsey Rhododendron.

Day 8 : ÊDrive back to New Jalpaigurirailway station or Bagdogra Airport.

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