Singalila Trek - 15 Days *
Some areas marked on this trek are currently out-of-bound due to the current political situation across the border in Nepal. However, a trek to this region is still permitted barring some points close to the borderline. Prospective visitors to this area may contact us via email for details to an alternative itinerary.
This recently opened trek route encompasses the area southwest of Dzongri and as defined by it’s name, includes several days of hike traversing the Singalila Range, the lesser mountain chain that rises from the northern hills of Darjeeling District and extends to converge with the Khangchendzonga (or Kanchenjunga) massif. The Singalila is also the divide that demarcates the western borders of Sikkim and Darjeeling with Nepal. As one traverses this razor-edged borderline ridge, spectacular views abound on both sides with rare species of rhododendron in bloom (at the right season), and an occasional herd of yaks with its herder will be your only source of contact with civilization for quite a number of days.
Day 01: Drive to Trekking Point
Transfer: Gangtok to Uttarey
An early departure from Gangtok by jeep to the trekking area in West
Sikkim. Six exciting hours through winding roads across valleys and
over hills clad with a variety of vegetation. We swoop down to cross
the wild Rangeet River before climbing steeply up to Pemayangtse (2,100
m.), perched dramatically on an airy ridge with a panorama of Himalayan
peaks ahead. After crossing some spectacular bridges to the road-head
at Uttarey (2,000 m.), we spend our first night in a trekking lodge
and meet the local people who will accompany us on our trek.
Day 02: Begin Trek
Trek: Uttarey to Chiwa Bhanjyang - 6 hours
For eight days we thread our way up and over the highest reaches of
the Singalila Ridge, which forms the border between Sikkim and Nepal.
We may meet the occasional yak herder but we are well beyond permanent
settlements. The names given to places around here however exotic it
may sound to your ear, are basically associated with their purpose,
such as high pastures, passes and ridge points. We pass through a rich
forest cover, swathes of rhododendrons, open ridges, sacred lakes and
remote passes. Our first day takes us to Chiwa Bhanjyang (3,100 m).
An easy trail rises gently through rainforest until a final steep ascent
for the last couple of hours bring us to the Nepalese border and our
Day 03: Chiwa Bhanjyang. Acclimatization Day
Trek: Excursion - 5½ hours
This is an attractive setting to acquire some essential early acclimatization.
A hike to the nearby Singalila Peak at 3500m will give us valuable acclimatization
and some excellent views.
Day 04: Dhor
Trek: Chiwa Bhanjyang to Dhor - 7½ hours.
A gentle uphill traverse through forest and then over a more exposed
hillside brings us to prayer flags adorning our first pass and views
of distant mountains - a taste of what is to come. As we gradually gain
height we will appreciate the previous day’s acclimatization.
The occasional yak herder’s hut is the only sign of habitation
as we look down far below to the rice fields and cardamom plantations.
Our camp is in a remote and sheltered hollow below the ridge.
Day 05: Pare Megu
Trek: Dhor to Pare Megu - 7 hours. Camp 3800m
Rising just before dawn, a five-minute walk onto the ridge may reveal
the spectacular sight of sunrise on both Everest and Khangchendzonga.
Throughout the day we descend and climb, maintaining a steady height,
spiraling from one side of the ridge to the other until a rough steep
ascent takes us across a pass. Beyond, the trail wends its way steadily
through rhododendrons and past several Hindu shrines where a second
easier pass drops down to our camp close to a shepherd’s summer
settlement. Look out for the Blue Sheep on the high craggy mountainside.
Day 06: Lam Pokhari
Trek: Pare Megu to Lam Pokhari - 4½ hours.
We walk easily on a good trail through woods until we begin a steady
rise up a broad valley where we catch our first closer view of the entire
Kabru range dominated by Mount Pandim (6,691m). A further 2 hours of
ascent will get us to our camp with Everest and a host of other Khumbu
giants dominating the distant skyline. An afternoon of rest and acclimatization
for the following day’s foot slogging.
Day 07: Gomathang
Trek: Lam Pokhari to Gomathang - 6 hours. Camp
Now we are in high mountain country and the forests lie far below. For
the past two days we have been walking in Nepal and today we pass the
sacred lake of Lam Pokhari, which marks our entry back into Sikkim.
A little snow underfoot can be expected as we climb to our first pass,
the Danphe Bhir La at 4,530 meters, the Pass of the Pheasant. From here
it is possible to see the whole of Sikkim with the view stretching out
well into Tibet and Bhutan. A further hour’s contouring and a
small ascent reveals the Kag Bhir La (the Pass of the Crow) where we
may be lucky enough to view a panorama of Himalayan peaks including
Khangchendzonga. Reluctantly, we then must head downhill making a steep
descent to our riverside camp.
Day 08: Tikip Chu
Trek: Gomathang to Tikip Chu - 8 hours. Camp 3850m
We leave our lovely meadow camp to climb through forests of sweet smelling
silver fir and rhododendrons. Soon we are in high mountain terrain again.
Look out for the brightly colored Danphe birds (Impeyan Pheasant), which
nest in the high crags around the Kamsey La, 4,200 m. As we drop down
into the meadows of Kokling, we are already looking up at our next pass
of 4,300 m. that we reach with a steady ascent up a steep crag to a
skyline dominated by the dizzying pinnacles and icy cliffs of Kanchenjunga.
Once again we end the day’s hike with a steep descent to our campsite
by the Tikip Chu, which has its source high on the Rathong mountains
Day 09: Dzongri
Trek: Tikip Chu to Dzongri - 3 hrs. 4,030 m.
Today our route joins the regular trail up to the Goecha La. A steady
climb through ancient fir forest, juniper and rhododendrons gradually
opens out to the summer pastures of Dzongri. Another high camp, but
we should be well acclimatized by now probably in contrast to some of
the trekkers we meet who could be on day 3 of their Dzongri Trek at
4,000 m., ‘the headache zone’!
Day 10: Lamuney
Trek: Dzongri to Lamuney - 6 hours. Camp 4,200
Down the hill to Kokchulang where we are likely to accost other trekkers
making us look back in retrospect towards really appreciating the peace
and solitude of our last few days. We move easily up the valley passing
the busy trekkers campsite of Thangsing to our own riverside camp a
short distance below the Samiti Lake.
Day 11: Zemathang
Trek: Lamuney to Zemathang - 4 hours. Camp 4,650
We walk steeply uphill to the crest of the ridge behind the lake and
emerge dramatically into a harsher world of higher Himalayan scenery.
In the foreground glaciers and snowfields suddenly look accessible and
behind, the gigantic snow peaks loom close, especially on nearby Mt.
Pandim, soaring over our heads. We move on more easily through this
spectacular alpine terrain into our final high camp nestled in a sheltered
green hollow, a little below the Goecha La.
Day 12: Goecha La
Trek: Zemathang-Goecha La-Thangshing - 10 hrs.
Camp 3,800 m.
We aim for the Goecha La (The Locked Gate), which lies at almost 4,
940 m., and begin well before sunrise in the clear cold morning air.
Around us is an awe-inspiring Himalayan landscape of tumbling glaciers,
pinnacled ridges and soaring peaks dominated by the mighty bulk of Khangchendzonga
towering above, but the view from our own ‘summit’ is equally
stunning. Reluctantly we return to our high camp for a welcome breakfast.
Thereafter, we head down to Thangsing where the air feels wonderfully
rich at just 3,600 m. A long day of around 10 hours depending of course,
on how much time we spend at Goecha La.
Day 13: Tshoka
Trek: Thangshing to Tshoka - 5 hours. Camp 3,000
On new ground today, we follow the traditional route back to the main
valley. Tshoka is an enchanting little Tibetan settlement perched on
a mountain spur. It will be our first encounter on this trek with permanent
village life, and the novelty of having a roof over our heads will add
a new dimension to the journey.
Day 14: Yuksam
Trek: Tshoka to Yuksam
Our final day, and freewheeling downhill almost all of the time. We
descend through rainforest rich with bird-life and flowers, across spectacular
bridges spanning cascading rivers whose sources are high in the mountains
we have so recently left behind. Tired and elated we arrive in Yuksam
and our charming traditional hilltop hotel. This will be our last evening
with the trekking crew so we will be celebrating our achievements, and
a final thank you to the local staff. Overnight Hotel Tashigang.
Day 15: Departure Transfer
After breakfast transfer to airport or proceed next destination