At first through luxuriant rhododendrons, pines, spruces and giants magnolias forests, then through green meadows and yak pastures, the trek leads us towards west Sikkim, close to the Nepali border. Along the Onglakhing glacier moraines and Samity sacred lake, we climb up to Gocha La pass, highlight of this magnificent itinerary, where we will savour the breath-taking scenery of the Talung glacier and the impressive east face of the third highest summit in the world, Kanchenjunga (8586m).
We are surrounded by Rathong (6679m), Kabru (7338m), Talung (7349m) to the south, and Kirat Chuli (7365m) and Pyramid Peak (7123m) to the north. The way back via a recently opened path, goes through lush green jungles overgrown with lianas and orchids
where you will be met and transfered to your hotel. (Hotel B & B)
A charming 4-hour journey, through Assam tea plantations and tiny villages takes us to Darjeeling. Built on top of a ridge, Darjeeling faces the Himalaya and is a popular destination for Westerners and Bengalis alike.
We could take an early trip to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise. Afterwards we visit the famous Ghoom monastery that enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha (the coming Buddha). Later on we can visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and tea plantations.
En route, we visit the Pemayangtse monastery, perched at 2800m, and one of the oldest and most impressive gompas in Sikkim.
The trail leads up the Rathong valley, through thick, semi-tropical forests. Afterwards a steep climb takes us to the tiny Tibetan village of Tsoska. The landscape has now changed into pine, rhododendron and magnolia forests. We get excellent views of the entire Himalayan range and Kanchenjunga.
A steep trail zigzags up through temperate forest and large clusters of rhododendrons, to the vast clearing of Phedang. During April and May, the spectacle is gorgeous, as the land becomes a mass of flowers (400 species have been listed so far). After 300m, we follow the ridge to Dzongri, a pasture area for Yuksam yaks from April to October.
Depending on the fitness of the group, we could head northwest to the Dzongri, where the panorama is stunning, over the Rathong glacier and further out towards the summits on the border with Nepal. Or we could also organize a shorter ascent towards the Dzongri Peak (4320m) and enjoy a great view of Kanchenjunga (8586m), the third highest summit in the world.
We descend through rhododendron forest towards the the glacial Prek river. We establish our campsite on the grassy pastures of Thangshing. The southern ridge of Kanchenjunga and the Onglakhing glacier are visible directly ahead and there are close-up views of Pandim.
A pleasant walk below the west side of Pandim, through dwarf azaleas and rhododendrons to Zemathang. We take our first footsteps on the Onglakhing glacier, and climb up to the shores of the Samity lake, reputed to be the sacred source of the Prek river. Ringed by prayer flags, the lake reflects Forked Peak, Kabru North, Gocha Peak and other snow-capped peaks.
We have to leave quite early this morning, as fog and clouds descend on the pass shortly after sunrise. The track to Gocha La climbs steeply through moraines. From the pass, ringed with colorful prayer flags, we can see Kanchenjunga and beyond that, the Talung glacier.
After a steep descent, we climb through alpine areas and pass by tiny lakes.
A steep ascent leads to the pass, from where wedescend through a luxuriant tropical forest.
Today we will walk in the half-light of the undergrowth, through a dense forest, where lianas tangle and moss and orchids hide tree trunks.
An easy walk, in an atmosphere becoming more humid and heavier as we descend.
En route, we visit the Tashiding monastery, one of the most isolated in Sikkim, perched on the top of a hill set between two rivers.
We visit Rumtek monastery, reputed for its religious Tibetan art. Visitors are welcome to attend prayers.
We will enjoy a visit of the amazing Orchid Sanctuary, where we can see a few of the 454 orchid species listed in Sikkim. To complete the day we will visit the Enchey and Do Drul monasteries, and the Tibetology Institute which houses one of the richest collection of thankas and religious works in the world.
Gangtok - Bagdogra (by car) - Delhi (by plane). (Hotel B & B)
Safety day for your international flight. (Hotel B & B)
Transfer to airport and fly back home.