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Sikkim Kanchenjunga Trek & Tour
Darjeeling & Sikkim Tour combined with Goecha La Trek  
 

Kanchenjunga Adventure - 17 Days

Combining Sikkim's ultimate trekking adventure together with visits to the must-see places in the region - Darjeeling, Gangtok, Pelling/Pemayangtse and Kalimpong.

Day 01: Darjeeling
Transfer: Arrive from Bagdogra - 91 km / 4 hours
From Nepal, Bhadrapur Airport - 132 km / 6 hours

Meet at the airport and transfer to Darjeeling.
The road follows the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway gently ascending from the Terai foothills it meanders up past sprawling tea gardens into the rarefied Himalayan air. Along the way you can see the Toy Train chugging slowly but steadily clocking no more than a few kilometers per hour.

Darjeeling is one of India’s most beautiful hill stations, and affectionately known as ‘Queen of Hills’ to its admirers since the days of the Raj. The enchanting town perches majestically on a ridge overlooking a magnificent view of the Himalaya.

Arrive Darjeeling and check in at hotel for dinner and overnight

Day 02: Darjeeling Sightseeing
Full day in Darjeeling
After breakfast, a walking tour of Darjeeling in which we first visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute – its museum has an interesting collection of memorabilia of past Everest and Kanchenjunga expeditions. Our next stop in the same locality is the Himalayan Zoo where a very successful Snow Leopard breeding program has been going on since the early 1990’s. We then proceed to the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center which was set up in 1959 as an income generation source for refugees arriving from Tibet. Its workers produce excellent carpets, woodcarvings, and other traditional craft. Before returning for lunch we also visit the Bhutia Busty Monastery, which has a good collection of idols, thangkas and a collection of Buddhist scriptures.

Afternoon: Free
Vehicle at your disposal for local transportation
All meals and overnight at the hotel

Day 03: Gangtok
Transfer: Darjeeling to Gangtok: 95 km. / 3 to 3.5 hours
Early morning drive to Tiger Hill, 14 kilometers from town (alt. 2,590m/8,482ft) for a magnificient view of the sunrise over the Eastern Himalayas. Peaks visible from here are Khangchendzonga, Makalu, Jannu, Kabru, Pandim, Siniolchu, Frey’s Peak, and even a speck of Mount Everest. On our way back, visit Yiga Choling Gompa, a Tibetan Monastery of the Gelugpa set in Ghoom.

After breakfast drive to Gangtok the Capital of Sikkim. Situated on the flanks of a ridge (alt 1,540m/5,500 ft), the town's unique ambiance comes its beautiful hilltop location overlooking the Himalayas and the deeply felt presence of Buddhist monasteries, prayer flags and stupas. The commercial drag of town itself is very ordinary, lacking in both character and charm because of an unplanned building boom in recent times with the rapid flow of money since Sikkim’s merger with India in 1975.

Arrive Gangtok and check in to your hotel room, followed by lunch
Rest of the day free
Vehicle at your disposal for local transportation
Dinner and overnight at the hotel

Day 04: Gangtok Sightseeing
Full day in Gangtok with excursion to Rumtek Monastery
After breakfast, visit the Enchey Monastery where it is said that the great tantric ‘Lama Druptab Karpo’ flew in from Maenam Hill to build a shrine where the monastery stands today. See the Flower Show enroute and continue towards the Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom, a training center for traditional arts and craft where you can see artisans at work and also purchase interesting souvenirs to take home. Some of the popular items they produce are foldable tables (chokchi) with wood carvings, Tibetan carpets, hand-woven cloth and blankets, traditional dress, masks, lampshades, dolls and daphne paper. Driving further downhill, we arrive to a tranquil hillock, site if the Dodrul Chorten, Gangtok’s most revered Buddhist shrine. Nearby is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, it’s museum houses an interesting display of rare statues, old thangkas and a collection of Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts.

Afternoon: Excursion to Rumtek to visit the famous Karmapa monastery.
All meals and overnight at the hotel

Day 05: Pelling
Transfer: Gangtok to Pelling: 112 km. / 5 hours
After breakfast drive to Pelling via Rabongla.
Enroute, we break the journey to visit Kundragling monastery at Kewzing, the only Bon monastery in Sikkim. Bon is the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet.

Arrive Pelling and check in to your hotel.
Pelling lies saddled astride a ridge below Sikkim’s premier Nyingmapa monastery, Pemayangtse, overlooking the magnificent Khangchendzonga range. Till a few years back Pelling was an insignificant roadside hamlet one kilometer beyond Pemayangtse but with the rise in visitors arriving there and surging demand for more hotel rooms, this lonely ridge-top settlement is rapidly spreading further and further downhill along the road to Yuksam.

Vehicle at your disposal for local transportation
Dinner and overnight at the hotel

Day 06: Yuksam
Transfer: Pemayangtse to Yuksam: 56 km / 4 hours
(incl Khecheperi detour)

After an early breakfast, a short drive/hike to Sangachholing Monastery high above Pelling. This spot commands a lovely panorama of the hills, valleys and villages of West Sikkim. Next, we visit the Rabdentse Palace Ruins and continue onwards to Pemayangtse, Sikkim’s premier Nyingmapa monastery.

On return from sightseeing, check out from hotel and drive to Khecheperi Lake (a.k.a Khecheodpalri), the wishing lake 24 km/75 minutes away. This unusually calm lake, located in the midst of a dense forest is very sacred to Buddhists. Concluding our visit to the lake and its nearby village, we proceed to Yuksam, the take off point of your trek. Yuksam is the historical site where the first king of Sikkim was crowned in 1641 and we shall visit the coronation site in the late afternoon.

Arrive and check in at Hotel Tashi Ghang for lunch, dinner and overnight.

Day 07: Tshoka - 3050 m
Trek: Yuksam to Tshoka - 7 hours
Overnight camping

We walk gently uphill, following the Rathong River gorge, through dense mixed jungle with magnolia, rhododendron, ferns and several varieties of orchids, brightly colored birds, and the occasional monkey. After an hour or so we cross the Paha Khola bridge (1,733m/5,685ft) where there is a swimming spot by a waterfall (for anyone eager to take a dip!) and after two hours we can stop for lunch by a stream. Passing through sweet smelling viburnum we cross the Prek Chu (river) and then ascend steeply for two or three hours to arrive at Bakkhim. A little higher up is the picturesque Tibetan refugee settlement of Tshoka where we set up camp. This is a long trekking day and you should expect to be pretty tired by the time you arrive at the camp.

Day 08: Phedang - 3760 m.
Trek: Tshoka to Phedang - 4 hours
Overnight camping

A fairly steep climb above Tshoka takes you into beautiful rhododendron forests, and you continue along a well-defined uphill path to Phedang. Today we will cover a shorter distance in view of the climb to rarefied air.

Day 09: Dzongri - 4320 m.
Trek: Phedang to Dzongri - 3 hours
Overnight camping

Another short day’s walking today as we are now treading above the 4,000-meter mark. We will be setting up camp by lunchtime and suggest that you spend a relaxed afternoon acclimatizing. A brief climb beyond brings you to a meadow where we can pitch our tents in a campsite with views of Koktang, Rathong, Kabru, Khangchendzonga, Simvo and Pandim. As usual on trek the choice of campsite depends on many variables, one of the most important is the close supply of water.

Day 10: Rest and Acclimatization
Overnight camping
Today we will explore the area, with the chance to climb the small peaks near to the campsite for tremendous views. This is particularly worthwhile in the early morning and the evening. While you can rest if you wish, there will be a short acclimatization walk around the local area to help prepare us for the next few days.

Day 11: Thangshing - 3800 m.
Trek: Dzongri to Thangshing – 5 to 6 hours
Overnight camping

Today we ascend gradually over open hillside for a mile or so to a low ridge visible from the campsite (13,500 ft/4,115m). From here, chortens and prayer flags overlooking fabulous views of Khangchendzonga and Pandim make ideal photo-comps. You then descend, at first traversing down towards Pandim on the far side of the valley, and then dropping steeply down on a good path through rhododendron forest to the Prek Chu River at 12,300 ft/3,749 m. for lunch (3 hours). There is a new trekking lodge here that the crew may use for cooking. We cross the river and ascend gradually for one and-a-half-hour, through pinewoods to reach a grassy campsite, beneath the shapely unclimbed peak of Pandim. A new hut has been built here, which may be available for cooking and even sleeping.

Day 12: Lamuney (near Samiti Lake) - 4298 m.
Trek: Thangshing to Lamuney - 3 hours
Overnight camping

Today’s walk is fairly short to give you plenty of opportunity to rest before tomorrow’s big day. You begin by continuing your walk parallel to the Prek Chu River. Sacred Samiti on the opposite side is a beautiful emerald green lake nestled in the midst of brightly colored wind-torn prayer flags.

Day 13: Goecha La
Trek to Goecha La (4,984 m.) and return to Lamuney
Overnight camping

An early start today to overcome the afternoon inclement weather conditions of Goecha La. Set off in the early morning climbing the hill behind the Lake before traversing the moraine and then descending to the sandy bed of an empty lake. The whole area above Samiti Lake is called the Zemathang Plateau. You cross this under the shadow of Mount Pandim and then ascend over a moraine to a height of about 15,700 feet where you rest above a glaciated lake mottled with snow and icy pinnacles. The Goecha La Pass is another hour away. We traverse the lake and proceed across a slope, and then on a well-trodden path to our objective, which is festooned with brightly colored prayer flags. The views of the east flank of Khangchendzonga and the mountains and valleys in the distance are stunning. We then return to our campsite at Lamuney.

Day 14: Tshoka - 3800 m.
Trek: Lamuney to Tshoka – 7 to 8 hours
Overnight camping

It’s worth getting up early to take a short hike to the ridge behind the camp. From here there are fantastic views of Khangchendzonga and one can look back up to the Goecha La. Leaving Thangshing, you take a different route, avoiding the long climb to the Dzongri Plateau. Descending to the Prek Chu, you contour around jungle to emerge at Phedang. Continue to Tshoka along another steep descent. This will save us a day on the return march, but does involve quite a long day.

Day 15: Yuksam
Trek: Tshoka to Yuksam –5 to 6 hours
Overnight in hotel

Today you descend to the Prek Chu following the route you took up on the first day, and then contour gradually downwards to reach the village of Yuksam our starting point.

Day 16: Kalimpong
Transfer: Yuksam to Kalimpong - 100 km. / 4 hours
After breakfast, check out from Hotel Tashi Ghang and transfer to Kalimpong. On the way, we stop at Tashiding visiting the monastery and then continue our journey exiting Sikkim from the check point at Melli.

Kalimpong was a prominent center for trade with Tibet till the 1950’s but following Indo-Chinese hostilities in 1962 it has seen very little growth then onwards, perhaps a good thing for the prospective visitor to enjoy its calm and peaceful environment.

Arrive and check in to your hotel, followed by lunch and afternoon sightseeing which includes a visit to the town’s open air market, Deolo View Point, Dr Graham’s Homes, and the Zangdogpaldri and Tongsa monasteries.

Dinner and overnight at hotel

Day 17: Bagdogra
Transfer: Kalimpong to Bagdogra - 85 km. / 3 hours
After breakfast, check out of hotel for airport departure.

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