Singalila Ridge & Goecha La Trek
From Darjeeling hills where tea plantations stretch as far as the eye can see, to Sikkim, an ancient Himalayan kingdom of Tibetan culture, this trek offers breath-taking views of the Himalayan range from Cho Oyo to Kanchenjunga. The Singalila range is one of the rare spots on earth where the view embraces five summits rising above 8000m, amongst them Everest, Makalu and Lhotse.
On these 19th century English Lords trails, you will trek on easy narrow paths along the Indo-Nepali border, sometimes at the edge of the jungle, sometimes through rhododendron forests.
The visit of the main Sikkim monasteries (Pemayangtse, Tashiding, Rumtek) provide a touch of culture and make of this journey a rare venture.
Day 1: Bagdogra (By Plane) - Darjeeling (2130m) By Car.
Upon arrival at Bagdogra airport meet our representative and transfer to Darjeeling. At first we drive through flat rice field and tea plantation, before the road ascends to the foothill of the Himalayan. We drive through more tea plantation, where the famous Darjeeling teas are grown. The main attraction is the steam toy train whose track zig zags through the main road all the way to Darjeeling just crossing over Ghoom at an altitude of 2440 mts. Darjeeling itself is at 2134 mts with a majestic background of the third highest peak in the world. Mt Kanchanjunga. Overnight stay at Hotel in Darjeeling.
Day 2: Visit Darjeeling.
Early wake up for the jeep rides to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise over the Kanchenjunga and Everest. On the way back to the hotel we visit Ghoom Monastery. All this is before breakfast. After breakfast we visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Zoo and the Tibetan refugee Center. Afternoon free to relax and look around the color full bazaars. O/n Hotel.
Day 3: Darjeeling - Manay Bhanjang (2134m. 1h 30) By Car - Tonglu (3070m)
It is a 26-Km drive to Maneybhanjang at 2134 meters, the starting place for our trek on the Singalila ridge. After an early breakfast and interesting drive into the Himalayan foothills, we set off on the first part of our walk, the relatively short, hike upto Tonglu. It is an unavoidable fact of trekking in the Himalayas that we must get up high to find the best views. Overnight at Trekker's hut.
Day 4: Tonglu - Gairibas (2620m) In 4h
In the morning after breakfast trek towards Garibas via thick forests of Rhododendron and Birch, giving way from time to time view spectacular mountain sceneries. Overnight at Trekker's hut.
Day 5: Gairibas - Sandakphu (3640m) In 4h30.
We steadily climb to join the ridge trail towards Kalpokhari. Afterwards we start a long and steep climb onto the Singalila ridge that leads us to Sandakphu. A remarkable 360 ° view from the top. Overnight at Trekker's hut/Camp.
Day 6: Sandakphu - Phalut (3600m) In 6h
We walk to a prominent viewpoint for the magnificent sunrise over the Kanchenjunga, Jannu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyo. Throughout the day, there are ever-changing views: yak herds, silvery pine forests, tiny lakes ringed with grass, and the snow-capped Himalayan range in the background. Overnight at Trekker's hut/Camp.
Day 7: Phalut - Raman (2560m) In 5h.
Leaving Phalut, we are temporarily saying goodbye to the views of Kanchenjunga and the eastern Himalayas, as we descend for most of the day through forests of Rhododendrons and Magnolias with isolated patches of farmland to Ramam. Overnight at Trekker's hut/Camp.
Day 8: Raman - Rimbik (2280m) In 4h
Downhill again today to the crossing of the Siri Khola passing through farmland and scattered villages. Then it's uphill through largely forested terrain to the village of Rimbik. Overnight at Trekker's hut.
Day 09: Rimbik - Pelling
In the morning after breakfast drive to Pelling. On arrival check in to hotel. Overnight stay at hotel in Yuksom.
Day 10: Pelling - Pemayangtse - Yuksam by Car (2h)
2.5 km from Pelling, we will visit the Pemayangtse monastery. Perched at 2800m, it is one of the oldest and most impressive Gompas in Sikkim. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 11: Yuksam - Tshoka (3030m) In 6h.
The trail leads up the Rathong valley, through thick, semi-tropical forests. Afterwards a steep climb takes us to the tiny Tibetan village of Tshoka. The landscape has now changed into pine, rhododendron and magnolia forests. We get excellent views of the entire Himalayan range and Kanchenjunga.
Day 12: Tshoka - Dzongri (4020m) In 5h.
The day begins with a steep start and the trail zigzags up through the mixed temperate forest and large stands of Rhododendrons to the large clearing at Phedang, where we stop for Picnic lunch. The view of Pandim, Narsingh and Joponu is fantastic. Another hour and half of steep climb takes you to Deorali and a ridge walk of up and down for 45 mins. Takes you to Dzongri (13320ft), set in a natural bowl on the ridge. O/n Camping /hut.
Day 13: Dzongri - Thangshing (3930m) In 4h.
We descend through rhododendron forest towards 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.
Day 14: Thangshing - 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 15: Samiti Lake - Goecha La (4940m) - Thangshing 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 16: Thangshing - Lam Pokhari (4230m) In 5h
After a steep descent, we climb through alpine areas and pass by tiny lakes.
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.
Day 19: Gangtok -Bagdogra (by car)
In the morning after breakfast drive to Bagdogra airport and from here catch a flight for onward destination.