Sikkim and Kanchenjunga Trek
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 Samiti sacred lake, we climb up to Goecha 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.
Day 01: Bagdogra - Darjeeling (2130m) by car.
Upon arrival at Bagdogra Airport meet our representative and transfer to Darjeeling. 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.
Day 02: Darjeeling - Pemayangtse (2080 m) in 5 h.
We visit Pemayangtse monastery, one of the oldest and most impressive Gompas in Sikkim.
Day 03: Pemayangtse - Uttarey (1960) in 5 h.
Jeep ride to Uttarey, small village located near the Nepali border.
Day 04: Uttarey - Chewabhanjyang (3200m) in 5 h.
Today is a steady climb up as we trek towards the international border of Sikkim and Nepal. We follow a good trail, heading through dense rhododendron forest.
Day 05: Chewabhanjyang - Dhor (3750 m) in 7 h.
After a steep climb through the rhododendron forest, the path switches between Nepal and Sikkim with spectacular views down either side of the ridge. It is obvious why the trail clings to the ridge top, there is simply no way down on either side, so dense is the rhododendron forest!.
Day 06: Dhor - Paharey Megu (3900m) in 5 h.
Spectacular views of the mountains ahead. We follow the ridge on a good path which once again switches from side to side along the ridge with many short ascents and descents. Camp on open grazing slopes.
Day 07: Paharey Megu - Camp before Daphe Pass (4100 m) in 5 h.
Steady climb on the west side of the ridge. The terrain becomes more open as we follow a wide valley, turning east, in the direction of a large waterfall. Camp by the holy lakes on the west side of the pass.
Day 08: Camp before Daphe Pass - Daphe Pass (4450 m) - Gomathang (3750 m) in 5 h.
Today is one of the most beautiful walks of the trek, as we cross a high mountain pass, offering spectacular views to the north, of the high mountains of Sikkim, including Kangchenjunga (8585m.), Kabru (7317m.) and Pandim (6691m.). We follow at first an easy trail which skirts the edge of two lakes, surrounded by prayer flags, then a steep zig-zag path that climbs to the pass. The walk down to the valley floor follows a good trail across open slopes at first and then down through the pine and juniper forest.
Day 09: Gomathang - Panding (4200 m) in 6 h.
Up and down through the rhododendron forest. After Yangshep (3900 m) we follow a steep path up to Panding.
Day 10: Panding - Dzongri (4020m) in 5h.
We head towards the north-east, descending at first to a river we cross on a plank bridge. Then we start the climb to Dzongri where we meet the original "Sikkim and Kanchenjunga trek" itinerary.
Day 11: Dzongri - Thangsing (3930m) in 4h.
We descend through rhododendron forest towards the glacial Prek river. We establish our campsite on the grassy pastures of Thangsing. The southern ridge of Kanchenjunga and the Onglakhing glacier are visible directly ahead and there are close-up views of Pandim.
Day 12: Thangsing - Samiti Lake (4200m) in 3h.
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 Samiti lake, reputed to be the sacred source of the Prek river. Ringed by prayer flags, the lake reflects Forked Peak, Kabru North, Goecha Peak and other snow-capped peaks.
Day 13: Samiti Lake - Goecha La (4940m) - Thangsing in 7h.
We have to leave quite early this morning, as fog and clouds descend on the pass shortly after sunrise. The track to Goecha La climbs steeply through moraines. From the pass, ringed with colorful prayer flags, we can see Kanchenjunga and beyond that, the Talung glacier.
Day 14: Thangsing - Lam Pokhari (4230m) in 5h.
After a steep descent, we climb through alpine areas and pass by tiny lakes.
Day 15: Lam Pokhari - Kasturi La (4500m) - Kasturi Odar (3500m) in 6h.
A steep ascent leads to the pass, from where we descend through a luxuriant tropical forest.
Day 16: Kasturi Odar - Labdang (2000m) in 6h.
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.
Day 17: Labdang - Tashiding (1740m) in 5h.
An easy walk, in an atmosphere becoming more humid and heavier as we descend.
Day 18: Tashiding - Martam by car (4h) - Gangtok (1h)
We visit the Tashiding monastery, one of the most isolated in Sikkim, perched on the top of a hill set between two rivers. En route we visit Rumtek monastery, reputed for its religious Tibetan art. Visitors are welcome to attend prayers. Afternoon at leisure in Gangtok. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 19: Gangtok - Bagdogra (by car)
Early morning after breakfast drive to Bagdogra and from here take flight for onward destination