Thursday, 19 April 2018

Darjeeling Sandakphu Trek

                                   Kanchenjunga Ramnge as seen from Phalut Top

Sandakphu Phalut Trekking in Darjeeling Himalayas 

Sandakphu Phalut Trek Route in Darjeeling is moderate to easy trek & is popular with first  time trekkers.The Trek route falls in the Singalila National Park in the Darjeeling Hills.Sandakphu at 3636m  is the highest point in the Singalila Ridge.The High lights of the Sandakphu Phalut Trek in Darjeeling is the unobstructed view of the Himalayan Range from  the highest  points in the singalila Ridge.During autumn One can get unobstructed views of Everest ,Makalu,Lhotse,three sisters,Kanchenjunga to the Jhomolari in Bhutan from Sandakphu and Phalut.Trekkers take to the Sandakphu Phalut Trekking trail in numbers to witness the view of the Himalayan Range from these two vantage points.Singalila Ridge in the Darjeeling Himalayas is the only place in the world from where one can view the four highest peaks in the world.Hence,It’s an Honor to stand on the highest point in the singalila Ridge and feast at the sight of the four highest mountains  in the world. Singalila National Park is also home to 58 Variety of Rhododendrons.Witness the riot of colors blanketing the entire hill sides during spring.

The Sandakphu Phalut Trek in Darjeeling starts with a short drive of 45 minutes to Manebhanjyang from Darjeeling & ends in Rimbik.On arriving at Manebhanjyang foreign trekkers will need to register with the 
Starting from Maneybhanjyang
Foreigners Registration office.Registration takes only about 30minutes.It is cumpolsary to hire trained & registered Guide from the Guides association.All visitors are required to register with the Park authorities and as well get the Trek Permit and pay the Park fees at the Park office. The Singalila National Park office is located at the far end of the town at the entrance of the National Park.

The 13Km Trek from Maneybhanjyang to Tongloo(3078m) starts with a uphill climb of 3Km till Chitray.Chitray is a small settlement on the Nepal side of the Trek route with a Buddhist  monastery and a school for the monks. A brief halt for a cup of tea after a steep climb seems to rejuvenate the
Tongloo Trekkers Hut
 sences.The 4Km  easy  trek takes us to Lameydhura the lunch spot for the day.Lameydhura is a collection of a couple of houses and three tea houses. Lamedhura to Megma is a gentle 4Km trek over rough jeepable Track frequented by the aged Land Rovers from the British Era.At megma Foreign Nationals will have to register with the Defense Post.The steep 3Km uphill Takes us to Tongloo(3078m).Tongloo is on a hill top and the Mountain scenery is worth the climb.The Trekkers hut at Tongloo provides Basic accommodation and Basic Food.

The days trek of 15Km. from  Tongloo to Kalipokhari(3001m) starts with a gentle downhill trek of 2Km  to Tumling.Tumling is on the Nepal side & has a number of lodges run by local families.A Kilometre further on is the National Park Check Post & Permits are checked here.There are two paths leading to Gairibas.One on the Indian Side and the other on the Nepal side.The Trek route on the Nepal side is shorter and more interesting.The Route passes through small HillSide village of Jaubari  and finally a 
Arriving at Kalipokhari
rough downhill 2Km  trek to Gairibas.A short rest for a cup of tea seems to help in easing the pain of the downhill trek.Foreign trekkers will have to register here too at the defence post.2Km of uphill and a kilometre of level ground leads us to Kayakatta our lunch spot of the day.Kayakatta is a collection of four or five houses where every household caters to the needs of the Trekkers.Gentle 4Km trek on a jeepable Track takes us to Kalipokhari.This place is named after a lake which is situated at the entrance of this small village.Kalipokhari  is a slightly bigger place with a number of lodges on the Nepal side of the border.There are no lodges or Trekkers huts on the Indian Side.Only a lone Defence post is  on the Indian Side and here too like in all other defence posts foreign trekkers will have to register their passport details.

It takes about 3Hours for an average trekker moving at their own pace to cover the distance of 6Km to Sandakphu(3636m) from Kalipokhari.First 2Km  till Bikhaybhanjyang is on level ground then the remaining 4Km
is uphill till Sandakphu.Sandakphu has three Trekkers huts run by the Gorkha Territorial Administration,three private lodges run by local families & three Government Guest houses.There is a fairly big concentration of defence post here in Sandakphu.Of the three private lodges two are on the Nepal side of the Trek route and one is on the Indian Side.Climb a small hill for the spectacular view of Sunset & sunrise on  the Himalayan Range.Sandakphu at 3636m is the highest point on the Singalila Ridge.Hence one can get unobstructed views of Everest,Lhotse,Makalu  to Kanchenjunga Range to the Jhomolari in Bhutan.The months of October,November & December are the best time to view these Majestic Himalayas.Sandakphu is the only place in the world from where one can view the four Highest Mountains in the world.

The 21Km  long trek to Phalut(3582m) is gentle and passes through meadows.On a clear day this an interesting day for a trek as one gets 180Degree panaromic views of the snow clad Himalayan Range as one lumbers along the trek route till Phalut.After  every bend and turn one can expect  picture perfect  Himalayan vista for your eyes to feast on.It is advisable to start the trek after an early breakfast.First because the distance is long and secondly,It can
get a bit windy.The trek route from Sandakphu to Phalut is bereft of any tea houses. There is a Park office at Sabargram ,14Km from Sandakphu this works as an office and a Tea house for Trekkers.There is a lone trekkers hut 2Km below  Sabargram at Molley.One can even break the trek here and stay at molley for the night.On a clear autumn evening make it a point to climb the 30minutes uphill to the Phalut top.The colors of the setting sun painted on the Himalayan Range is spectacular.Likewise climb to the Phalut view point during sunrise you will not regret having taken up the trouble to trek up in the cold.Be prepared with a Goretex Jacket as it gets very windy at the top.

The 15Km trek to Gorkhay Village is all the way downhill through Rhododendron,Silver fur and Bamboo grove Forest.Gorkhay is a small agricultural village comprising of a collection of few houses on the fringes of the
Gorkhay Village
National Park at the border with Sikkim.Gorkhay is a warm place after the windy stay at Phalut.The warm food and a dip in the river nearby  rejuvenates the sences after the cold night at Phalut coupled with thelong trek downhill. There is Government Trekkers Hut and three lodges run by local families.The Rooms in the lodges are small but clean with attached washroom and restroom.Eden lodge is particularly friendly and clean.This lodge even has it’s own electricity by means of a small generator.

The Days Trek of about 14Km to Timburey from Gorkhay passes through small villages of Samamdin and Ramam.These are all agricultural villages on the fringes of the Singalila National Park.First 2Km of uphill through pine forest  leads us to Samamdin meaning “Lost Valley”.This place has been aptly named the “Lost Valley” as it lies in the middle of Jungle on a flat land of 2Acres only.There is a Government primary School and a lodge belonging to the forest Department.The National Park authorities have been encouraging sustainable tourism for the livelihood of the local people here.Hence,you will find a couple of homestays and a camping ground for the adventurous.
Next 2Km downhill till the riverbed and a gentle 4Km uphill trek through oak and walnut forest to Ramam.Ramam is basically a big village as compared to other villages on this Sandakphu Phalut Trek route.Lunch and a short rest at Ramam and then a gentle 8Km trek through Ramam village to Tumburey for the night.Timburey also on the fringes of the Singalila National Park is a small village comprising of a couple of house holds.The Park authorities have been encouraging sustainable eco tourism to these house hold.Therefore there are a couple of Homestays that caters to the needs of the Trekkers who happen to trek by.

The short 10Km/3Hours or so of trek to Rimbik with a 3Hours jeep drive back to Darjeeling ends the Sandakphu Phalut Singalila Ridge Trek in Darjeeling.The Drive back to Darjeeling leads us to Manebhanjyang and further on to Darjeeling.

To sum it all up.The Sandakphu Phalut Trekking in Darjeeling is an easy to moderate Trekking in the Eastern Himalayas.Views of the Majestic Himalayas are a treat to the eyes,especially from Sandakphu and Phalut.Accommodation in the lodges are basic (considering the circumstances) but clean with common restroom and washroom.Food is simple and only vegetarinian food is available on the entire trek route.There is no electricity in all the places of stay. Lodges have solar lightning. Camera batteries should be fully charged from the hotel in Darjeeling. The Trekkers hut in Sandakphu have provision for Charging the Phone and camera batteries for a sum of money.

Singalila National Park is home to the endangered Red Pandas. Red Pandas are bred in captivity in the Zooligical Park in Darjeeling.These furry and docile animals are then brought & rehabilated in the Jungles of Singalila National Park. Other animals are also protected in this Park.There are common Leopards,Himalayan sloth Bear,wild dogs and number of Deer living in the Singalila National Park. There is rehabilation centre for Red Pandas at Gairibas. Infact the rehabilation of the Red Pandas have been quite successfull in this National Park.

The Best time to Trek in the Sandakphu Phalut Region is from October to December.This is immediately after the three months of monsoons.Hence the skies are clear all day long and the Mountain views are splendid.Trekking can also be done from March to May.During this period one can see the profusion of colors from the flowering Rhododendrons all over the hill sides.The Singalila National Park is closed to visitors from 15th.June to  15th.September.This is because of the breeding season of the Red Pandas. 

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