Ranging from the Bay of Bengal in the south to the Himalayas in the north, West Bengal houses a wide range of opportunities for trekking. And if we talk about Sandakphu trek, it is a standout amongst the most pleasant treks around Sikkim. The most noteworthy point in West Bengal, the trek offers a phenomenal perspective of the Himalayas. The valley enhances itself, with clear all-encompassing views of snow-topped mountains, as you begin your adventure from Mane Bhanjang towards Sandakphu. The fascinating thing is, you traverse India-Nepal border a dozen times because Sandakphu majorly lies between India and Nepal.
Sandakphu, as a town, is prominent on the grounds of West Bengal as it is the most elevated peak in the territory of that region. What makes it all the more astounding is its summit, from where you can see four of the five most elevated tops on the planet — Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu, in a sweeping perspective.
Highlights of Sandakphu Trek
- One of the most admirable rhododendron excursions; trek in spring to see the magnificence with your own eyes as you hike to the Sandakphu summit.
- Visit the amazing monasteries and stupas around; explore the lively Buddhist culture as you begin your trek from Chitre town.
- Don’t forget to do camping in Singalila National Park as the view from the camp is memorable. Appreciate the outdoors amid North East’s radiance; wake up to dawn on Singalila range to catch a glimpse of blue bamboos in the wilderness.
- Nestled on the bank of the river, Tumling lies on the Indo-Nepal outskirt where you can take a stroll to the numerous tea plantation land and also gander at the whole Sandakphu trail from Tumling.
- After Tumling, set your eyes on the journey, as you would see the pristine lake, Kalaphokri or Black Lake. Even during harsh winters, it refuses to freeze. The lake is believed to be holy, surrounded by prayer flags, fluttering with the wind.
- The magnificent perspective of Sleeping Buddha (Kanchenjunga and sister tops) and a 180 degree perspective of world’s most noteworthy mountains including Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, Nuptse, Baruntse, Chamling, Chomolonzo, Machapucchare, Chomolhari and different pinnacles of Annapurna run.
How To Reach Sandakphu Through Trekking?
- I started to trek from Chitre at a young hour in the morning after having a substantial breakfast. You can easily reach Chitre via a taxi from the railway station. I scaled through perfect pine forests and reached a viewpoint at a decent height. I halted for a 10-minute break to take a gander at the town of Darjeeling below. All along the up-and-down hike, I kept continuing with vigor and simultaneously gaze the snow-peaked crests on my right side in the north. I took some pictures against the stunning background, and then trekked down and crossed two little slopes. Toward the end of this walk, I reached a stunning viewpoint Tonglu/Tumling that lies on the India-Nepal outskirt. I stayed overnight in this beautiful little town.
- Desiring to see the ravishing dawn, I woke up at the first light to watch the mesmerizing sun peeping out from Mount Kanchenjunga. Post a delightful breakfast, I left for my adventure and descended till the town of Joebari. From here, the trail was steep, and in around 1.5 hours, I reached border check-post in Gairibans. Post lunch, I proceeded with the trek for around 2.5 hours along a trail that was steep, and achieve the town of Kalapokhari.
- Don’t forget to see the reflection of the breath-taking sunrise from Kalapokhri Lake. After a delightful breakfast, I started the trek to Sandakphu, which was around 6 KM from Kalapokhri. Hiking constantly for around 2 KM, I halted at a place called Beekaybhanjan and took a break to breathe the fresh air.
- After unwinding at this quiet spot, I resumed the trek to Sandakphu crest. As the climb from here would be sharp, you would need to take breaks at regular intervals. The final route to the peak would be quite difficult and grueling, as the trail keeps changing into a criss-cross pattern. However, when you will reach the top, the awesome view would shoo away all the tiredness of the extreme trek. Take a gander at the perspectives from up here and bear in mind to take photographs.
- In the morning I had a tea at the edge of the mountain and took a panoramic vista of the entire sleeping Buddha-range. After a scrumptious breakfast, I took my belongings and started walking towards Samandin Village. Explored the beautiful town and proceeded towards the town of Rammam. Then, I descended towards Srikhola and stayed overnight to retain back my energy. After a good breakfast early in the day, I drive to NJP/Bagdogra airport. Your fabulous trip will finally come to an end here and you will return home with some wonderful memories.
An alternative way to Sandakphu: The Motorable Road
There is also a motorable road, a 33 km track from Maneybhanjung to Sandakphu. The most convenient way to access the road is through a ride in the British-era land rover that adds drama to your journey. You can hire it easily for around 3000 INR. Since the roads are in bad shape, the ride can be quite bumpy. It is utilized by the locals, the carriage of merchandise/supplies, nearby neighborhood travelers and vacationers.
When travelling through road, the journey could be discomfort for many due to acclimatization reasons. It might get you to Sandakphu in 7/8 hours but many individuals might feel sudden altitude gain. Breathing issues, headache and feeling too much cold are general indications. So we suggest you choose trekking as an alternative or take your time to get your body to adjust to the higher elevation.
Information on Permits, Guides and More
You needn’t bother for any permits to do this trek, however having an individual guide (who take about ₹800 every day) is compulsory within the Singalila National Park, which begins after you cross Tumling, towards Sandakphu. Hire one from GTA Tourist Reception Centre or Mane Bhanjhang.
Maximum height: 12,000 ft.
Trek Time: 6 Days
Distance Covered: 48 km
Start/Finish: Chitre and Srikhola
Nearest Airport: Bagdogra airport
Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri Railway Station
Best Time To Trek Sandakphu
A trek to Sandakphu is reachable throughout the year apart from the rainy months. April is the best period as during this time the rhododendron flowers add life with a blush shade to the trek. Not only rhododendrons, but you also get the chance to see numerous rare birds and diverse animals.
On the off chance that you luck out, you could even come across the slippery red panda! September, October and November offer clear mountain perspectives to appreciate sublime sights of dawn from Sandakphu and Phalut. If you wish to trek later in winter, the path could be quite challenging, however, the experience of early snow at Sandakphu is impressive!