Singalila Ridge

Singalila Ridge

 Day 01: The journey kicks off at our Delhi hotel. Today is yours to discover the city or unwind post-flight; rooms might not be ready until noon, but usually earlier. Our guide will provide a trip briefing. Remember to bring four passport photos for permits and checkposts.

Day 02: We switched to the local airport terminal for our flight to Bagdogra. Upon arrival, we regroup using our transportation and proceed towards Gangtok. The journey diverges from the plains, crossing the Teesta River at Sevoke and ascending into the Doar Hills. At Rangpo, we pause for border formalities into Sikkim, requiring a passport and one photograph. Continuing upward, we finally arrive at Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, nestled at 5,510ft (1,680m). Typically, the drive spans about five hours (78mi/125km), but it could extend to 10 hours due to landslides from heavy rain. Your leader will keep you informed if such delays are expected.

Day 03: Nestled amidst the hills, Gangtok offers breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga from our hotel on clear days. The morning is yours to explore, with the Mall Road as the heart of the town and the nearby indoor vegetable market adding charm to your stroll. Choose to wander solo or join your guide for sightseeing. A short walk from the hotel leads to Enchey monastery, founded in 1840 and rebuilt in 1908, offering panoramic vistas of the town. On your return, visit the Flower Show to glimpse local orchids and handicrafts at the nearby centre. After lunch, we embark on a one-hour drive to Rumtek monastery, the largest in Sikkim, rebuilt by the 16th Karmapa. A further 30-minute drive takes us to Martam, a serene Himalayan village in East Sikkim.

Day 04: Today, we explore Martam, a charming village renowned for its dairy production, particularly butter. With a population of around 10,000, Martam is home to Bhutia and Nepali communities. Our morning begins with a scenic hike around the village, offering breathtaking views. We can visit the Nyingma Institute, offering advanced Buddhist studies to monks, along with a small monastery and a Krishna Mandir. After lunch at our hotel, the afternoon is open for leisure activities.

Day 05: Departing from Sikkim, we journeyed to Darjeeling, tracing a winding road alongside the Testa River until we reached West Bengal. Nestled in the hills, Darjeeling awaits our arrival by midday. This afternoon, we delve into the rich history of this renowned British Raj hill station. Originally under the shoals of Sikkim, it later came under Gurkha control before being returned to Sikkim rule by the British East India Company. The inception of Darjeeling as a hill station stemmed from the chance encounter of two British soldiers with the serene Dorje Ling Monastery. Today, Darjeeling thrives as a vibrant town, retaining its Victorian allure along the Mall. Our itinerary includes visiting the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, established by Tenzing Norgay, where legendary Sherpa climbers honed their mountaineering prowess. En route, spanning 50 miles (80 km), our journey may extend to four hours, contingent upon potential delays caused by heavy rainfall-induced landslides. Rest assured, your guide will keep you informed of any such circumstances.

Day 6: Experience the breathtaking sunrise over Kanchenjunga by waking early on a clear morning at our hotel’s rooftop. Following breakfast, embark on a scenic 40-minute journey aboard the toy train to Ghoom (availability subject to Day 13). Enjoy picturesque stops along the way, including the Batasia Loop. Upon reaching Ghoom, transition to our vehicles for a four-hour drive to Rimbik, our trek starting point at 7,500ft (2,286m). Trek through enchanting rhododendron forests, reaching our camp at Manedara for our first night’s stay under the stars. Behold mesmerizing views of Kabru Dome and Kabru South peaks as we approach the village.

Day 7: Today marks the beginning of our journey along a gentle path, meandering past quaint cottages and verdant fields. We’ll stroll for approximately two hours, enveloped by the serene beauty of the forest, until we reach Shepi village. From there, we’ll descend to the banks of the Gurdum Khola River, crossing it via a sturdy bridge. Following an hour’s challenging ascent, we’ll arrive at Gurdum village, where our camp awaits, nestled amidst the tranquil surroundings, ready to welcome us for the night.

Day 8: Today’s journey to the Singalila Ridge has been challenging yet fulfilling. Scaling steep paths, we emerge from the dense forest to a serene clearing. Passing through a mesmerizing rhododendron forest, we reach the pinnacle at Sandakhphu, standing at 11,929 feet, offering unparalleled views of the majestic Himalayas. The effort is gratifying, with Kanchenjunga dominating the horizon and glimpses of Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu in the distance. After a hearty lunch at Sandakhphu, we leisurely trek along a rugged jeep track to our campsite at Chandu.

Day 9: Currently, we’re traversing the Singalila Ridge, straddling the Nepal-India border, offering a unique experience of walking in both countries. The day presents stunning vistas as we follow the undulating trail amidst chestnut, oak, and silver fir trees, with panoramic views of the Himalayas throughout. Spring paints the landscape with vibrant hues of dwarf rhododendrons and primulas. Our wild camp tonight at Sabargam promises a breathtaking backdrop; hoping to witness magnificent sunsets and sunrises over Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and numerous other Himalayan peaks.

Day 10: We embark on an exhilarating day of trekking, navigating a meandering path that leads us to the summit of Phalut, from where we descend to Samaden. On clear days, we’re treated to awe-inspiring vistas of Kanchenjunga along the ridge. Though Everest looms distantly, Kanchenjunga dominates the scene. At 11,810ft (3,600m), Phalut boasts a breathtaking viewpoint just behind our lodge, offering a panoramic display of Himalayan peaks. The descent to Samaden is a picturesque journey through forests bursting with oak, conifers, pine, and rhododendrons, painting the landscape with vibrant hues in spring. Our night’s rest awaits in Samaden, a quaint settlement blessed with remarkable views.

Day 11: Our ultimate journey meanders through a cluster of petite hamlets (home to Rais, Sherpas, and Tamangs) until we reach Ramman, where terraced fields and hamlets dot the scenery. Descending via a jeep track to Sri Khola for a midday meal, we then traverse a suspension bridge and proceed for another 2 hours and 30 minutes along a thoroughfare, weaving through additional villages to Rimbik, a sizable Sherpa settlement nestled amidst the wooded terrain of Singalila National Park. Our lodging, a quaint lodge, offers magnificent vistas overlooking the valley.

Day 12: Today’s journey takes us on a scenic drive back to Darjeeling, meandering through charming landscapes and traversing ridges. Along the way, we stop at a tea plantation to discover the cultivation and processing of this renowned beverage. Upon reaching Darjeeling in the afternoon, the remainder of the day is spent at leisure, delving deeper into the history of this iconic hill station. Conveniently located near the Mall, our hotel offers the perfect opportunity for an evening stroll.

Day 13: We can utilize the morning to delve deeper into exploration. Should we have overlooked the opportunity to experience the toy train ride and visit Ghoom monastery, we can catch up on these activities this morning. Later in the day, we drive to Siliguri (approximately two to three hours) to catch the overnight train to Kolkata. Train schedules in India are subject to change, but typically, departure is around 8 pm or 9 pm.

Day 14: Upon reaching Kolkata at dawn, we embark on a journey to uncover the depths of this captivating city. Formerly the heart of British India, Kolkata bears witness to a tumultuous history pivotal in the fight for Indian independence. Its streets echo the stories of Bengali refugees who sought refuge in the early 1900s. Amidst its contrasting landscapes, the city offers an array of sensations – from striking visuals to potent aromas and a symphony of sounds, all emblematic of India’s diversity. If you prefer not to explore Kolkata solo, our leader can often arrange a brief guided tour (payment is local).

Day 15: After breakfast, the journey concludes in Kolkata. But for those seeking further excitement, why not extend your adventure with our five-day Golden Triangle expedition? Explore Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra, immersing yourself in a whirlwind of cultural wonders, including the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort of Akbar.

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