Starts Early Morning from Darjeeling and reach Manebhanjang, your trek should start early in order to have fulfilling adventure tours and panoramic grandeur. This little village is 58km from Darjeeling i.e about 1.5 hours ride and is inhabited by modest village dwellers of the Bhuddhist Sherpa tribe. Foreign traveler you will need to make some entries in the Immigration Check Post here; have some breakfast at Maneybhangyang before starting the trek.
Maneybhanjang is a small town about 30 kms from Darjeeling. Apart from being the base for treks to Sandakphu, the town is also famous for its Land Rovers. These rugged beauties rule the mountain trail in this area. Some of the vehicles are more than 70 or 80 years old. Maneybhanjang is also a boarder town. While coming from Darjeeling, the houses on the left of the road belong to Nepal and the right side being India. Most trekkers start their trek at Maneybhanjang. There are a few trekkers huts and small hotels where one can put up for a night.
Today your will hike upto Tonglu (3070 m), it is 11 km from here and will take you 5-6 hours to reach. Enroute you shall pass through pine, fir, birch and bamboo glades and reach another tiny Buddhist settlement, Chitre (2530 m). It will be a quite steep uphill climb on a stoned pathway. Crossing Chitre you will reach a small hamlet Meghma (2900m). Take a break and have local lunch at Meghma and forget not to interact with the friendly villagers and resume trek after lunch.
You will have two choices now to halt either at Tonglu or Tumling as the route will bifurcate here but meets again at Tumling. If you want a good view of the mountains then head to Tonglu, just 2 km from here and command an excellent view of the entire Himalayan Mountains. If you halt in Tumling then in the clear night you will see dazzling night-lights of Darjeeling Kurseong, Pasupati town and Siliguri.
Overnight at a Guest House.
Wake up early and witness the magical golden sunrise behind theHimalaya Range. It is going to be a rewarding day today; you will enter the famous Singalila National Park (declared Indian National Park in 1992) and discover some exotic plants of the mountain and perhaps spot a red panda too. After breakfast begin you easy downhill trek to Garribas (2621 m). This small village is approximately 9km for Tonglu and will take you around 3 hours to reach. Enroute you will pass through the simpler walks of life, a quaint hamlet, their modest farmlands and lots of bamboo glades. Have lunch at Gairibas and gear up for a continuous uphill climb to Kalipokhari (3170 m). It is 6km form Gairibas which should take you around 3 hours of hike. If you are trekking in springtime then you will love this hike because you will pass though the blooming forest ofrhododendron. At Kalipokhari (Black Lake) as the name suggests you will find a small dark colored lake amidst tall pine tress and fluttering prayer flags.
Sandakphu, the highlight of the entire Singalila Trekking route also called the ‘paradise of trekkers’ is yours today. Sandakphu (3636 m) commands an expansive 360-degree view from the top and a spectacular vista of the entire Himalayan belt. The towering pinnacles in Nepal - Mt. Everest,Lotse, Makalu and Sikkim’s Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt.Pandim all appear at the horizon in a continuous arc. While the foreground valley is surrounded by hills covered with rhododendrons and silver fir trees.
The ridge trail descends till Bikhebhanjang (Valley of Poison) but from here it is a steep climb of 4 km till Sandakphu. It is the steepest slope of the entire Singalila trek ridge and perhaps the most tiring hike but it is equally rewarding as well. The route passes through thick magnolia and rhododendron forest and it will take you 2-3 hours to reach Sandakphu(Height of the Poison Plant). The poisonous aconite plants are found in abundance in the region and said to have harmed cattle in the past, hence both Bikhebhanjang and Sandakphu has been named after it.
Tonglu – If you have taken the road on your right at Meghma, Tonglu would be about 2 kms. Perched on top of a hill, Tonglu will mesmerize you with its view of the Kanchanjunga reflection on Tonglu Lake. Some trekkers to Sandakphu avoid the main trek route and start at Dhotrey which is about 5 kms from Tonglu. Although this is a less popular route, it leads to a saving of about 5 kms.
Overnight at a Guest House or Trekkers Hut.
Wake up early to see the golden rays of the morning sun shining on the white snow of Himalayas Mountains. You can stay for one more night atSandakphu and indulge in the heavenly atmosphere else resume your trek and walk towards Phalut (3600 m). If you think that nothing after Sandakphu might interest you as much then hold your thoughts. The trail form Sandakphu to Phalut is one of the most spectacular sights. You will cross through thick rhododendron, oak, pine trees but the burned silver fir forest makes the most of the beautiful and dramatic landscape. You will also spot some yak herds at the lakesides on the way and yes also a roofless stone house on a small hillock in Sabarkum.
The trek is easy and walking on the ridge crest you will cross the indo-Nepal border and reach Phalut. The distance is 21km and it will take you around 6 hours to reach. Mt. Kanchenjunga range appears much closer from here as compared to the rest of the trek.
Phalut further 7 kms from Sarbarkum is the second highest point in Bengal (3600 m). For most trekkers this is the last destination before starting back. Some adventure lovers may also continue towards Sikkim through Singali pass and Kalijhar. This route is little explored not suggested for general trekkers.
Halt tonight in the trakkers hut or camp.
Wake up early and witness the magical sunrise behind the prodigiousHimalaya Mountains. From Phalut the trail descends downhill and takes you though thick virgin forest of chestnut, pines, hemlock and more. After breakfast resume your trek, perhaps take some light picnic snacks too and walk till you reach Gorkhey Khola, this fresh water stream is where two small streams meet. Don’t hold back, jump into the running stream and bathe to devour the freshness of this fresh water. Enjoy you picnic lunch and resume trekking to Rammam via Samandin. The total distance covered is 15km today and will take you around 5 hours of walk.
Gorkey on the other hand is visited by a majority of trekkers on their way down. It is about 15 kms from Phalut. From Gorkey one can trek to Srikhola about 12 kms ahead.
Halt overnight at Ramman in a local homestay, guesthouse or camp.
Today is the last day of your trek; you will walk 10km form Ramman to Rimbik. Start your trek after breakfast, the road is almost level for 9km and descends down to reach Sirikhola (river). From here the road you will have to hike uphill for 1km and then reach Rimbik. Enroute you shall pass through quaint hamlets and their farmlands.
Ms Ashok Sharma,Priyanka Rai,Mahesh Baral,B.Chettri
Gurunanak Sarani,Near Hemkunt Apartment,Punjabi Para,Siliguri-734001, Head Office: Mahakal Dara Road,Kalimpong-734301, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India - 734301
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