Trekking in Sikkim
Sikkim is perhaps the most hidden of all mountainous states in India. It is a land of high passes, mesmerising alpine lakes and the mighty Mount Kanchenjunga. The state has been relatively untouched by human civilisation; hence the surroundings in the mountains are quite unpolluted. All these factors make trekking in Sikkim a great way to explore what the region hides within itself.
• Topography and Elevation: Sikkim is perhaps the only state in India to not contain any plains within its boundaries. Even the southernmost part of it lies in the foothills of the Himalayas, making it an entirely mountainous state. Various sub-ranges of the Himalayas separate Sikkim from Tibet and Bhutan. The approximately 28169 feet high Mount Kanchenjunga is the highest point in the state.
• Weather: In the southern parts, sub-tropical climate governs the weather while the north has a subarctic climate. By some measure, Sikkim is among the most humid regions in the Himalayas. Heavy rainfall takes place between May and October, and the annual precipitation in the form of rain sometimes exceeds 5000 mm.
While planning trekking in Sikkim, you should opt for a Goecha La trek as it is an amazing journey. Goecha La is a high mountain pass, which acts as the base of operation for those who scale the Kanchenjunga peak. This excursion is not for the faint-hearted travellers as it will take you up to an altitude of 16000 feet. You will be required to walk for about 5 hours a day and even for 10-12 hours on the longest day of the hike. Yuksom, from where the expeditions begins, is in a picturesque valley at a moderate elevation. Your first camp will be in Sachen, which is a small clearing in the middle of thick mountainous jungles. You then travel through the meadow of Bakhim to the small village of Tshoka.
The way to Dzongri base camp passes through Phedang, which is another scenic montane grassland. Here you will get a day to acclimatise and gear up for the tougher sections of the trek. The next day you will climb to Dzongri top, and then make for Thansing via Kokchurang. Thansing is a meadow while Kokchurang is a beautiful valley; and both make excellent campsites. From Thansing, you will hike to the valley of Lamuney, and then from there to Goecha La. In Lamuney, explore the valley and get a chance to literally walk through the floating clouds.
Trekking in Sikkim gives you a wonderful opportunity to witness the variation in landscape, vegetation and wildlife. In Yuksom, you will see thick forests of pine, along with heavily-cultivated fields. Your campsite in Sachen will be surrounded by coniferous and deciduous trees. In Bakhim, en-route Tshoka from Sachen, you will see thick jungles of fern and rhododendrons. The village of Tshoka has lush coniferous forests of fir and spruce trees, which tower above this little settlement. Phedang is an enchanting meadow, containing lush grass, rhododendron bushes, spruces and firs.
Dzongri base camp does not have any trees due to its high altitude, and only grasses and shrubs grow here. Kokchurang also has coniferous vegetation, scattered across its rough river banks and rugged slopes. Thansing and Lamuney are also covered by alpine grasslands, with decreasing lushness and increased sparseness of grass. Goecha La is in the transition zone between the tree and snow lines, and nothing grows here. Some of the important birds and animals you can spot while trekking in Sikkim are snow leopards, brown and black bears, vultures, cats, deer and wild dogs.
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