The trek to Sandakphu, which is considered the highest point of West Bengal, takes you through dramatic paths, the wild Singalila National Park, not to mention wide array of flowers, wild life and scenic views all along the path.The starting point for this trek is a small sleepy place at the border of India and Nepal, called Maneybhanjan. You get almost all the things you need for this trek including your guides and porters in this small hamlet amidst the hills.
Day 1: NJP/Bagdogra to Manebhanjan
There are many options to reach Manebhanjan from NJP. You may hire a private vehicle from NJP or Bagdogra to drop you till Manebhanjan which is the most convenient of all options, as well as quite costly, especially so if you are not a group of 4 to 5 people. Shared cars are not available directly to Manebhanjan from NJP.
First option is to take a shared jeep to Darjeeling from NJP. Shared cars for Manebhanjan are available from the old taxi stand area of Darjeeling. You can also opt for a private drop from Darjeeling to Manebhanjan which will be a comfortable and time saving journey.Alternatively, you may take an auto or van to Darjeeling More from NJP. It will take roughly around 30mins from NJP. From Darjeeling More you get direct share jeeps to Manebhanjan, but they are subject to availability. You can also opt for a drop till Sukhia (much more readily available) and then take another drop to Manebhanjan from Sukhia (7kms only, will take not more than 30mins).Once you reach Manebhanjan, visit the Highlanders Guides and Porters Association office. Book your guide or Guide cum porter to start your trek early next day. You can also buy dry foods and other necessary items for the trek. Wafers or exotic dry fruits are not available and must be carried.Sleep well in the night to prepare yourself for the journey next day…To know more about accommodation or food availability in Manebhanjan kindly refer to the article on Sandakphu in the Travel Blogs Section!!!
Day 2: Manebhanjan to Tonglu or Tumling
Today start the trek from Manebhanjan. Guides generally suggest an early start to cover the road with ease and allow you more time. The first stretch of two kilometers till Chitrey is the most tiresome. Some may even think of giving up after this first 2kms of trek. Steep uphill climb till Chitrey is more or less balanced by a relatively less steep road to Meghma, another 7kms from Chitrey, crossing the village of Lamaydhura. From Meghma, the road splits. One goes to Tonglu, again one steep uphill of 2kms.Another 2km road goes almost plain with little undulations here and there straight to Tumling.Trekkers generally stop for the first night at either of these 2 places. There is only one GTA trekkers lodge in Tonglu. However, in Tumling, there are a few more options for lodging. Sikhar Lodge is easily the best.oth these places offer amazing views of the snowcapped peaks on a clear day. The peak of Sandakphu is also visible at a distance. Ask your guide to wake you up for a mesmerizing sunrise over the Kanchenjunga group of mountains, if the weather is clear.To know more about fooding and lodging in Tonglu or Tumling kindly refer to the article on Sandakphu in the Travel Blogs Section!!!
Day 3: Tonglu or Tumling to Kalapokhri
If you are lucky enough, enjoy the sunrise over Kanchenjunga. Relax for some time, have a leisurely breakfast and start the journey today. Today’s trek is comparatively easy. From Tonglu you climb down to Tumling and enter the Singalila National Park Region. You might as well take the permits from here if you have not arranged it from Manebhanjan. There are display boards right at the entry point to the park with pictures of various flora and fauna found in this region.The Trek to Gairibas from Tumling is mostly downhill, roughly 7kms in total. Ask your guide to arrange for a bamboo stick to help support tiring knees if you don’t have trekking sticks. Downhill walk is more strenuous and painful for the legs than uphill.You cross the beautiful Nepali village of Jhaubari on your way to Gairibas. After taking refreshments in Gairibas, continue your journey. 2kms uphill from Gairibas is Kayakatta. From Kayakatta walk on the gravel road for another 3kms to reach Kalipokhri, where most trekkers halt for the night.Alternatively you can also stay at Gairibas, which I personally did during my trek. Gairibas is a calm abode of greenery, hills covering almost from every side of it. The only accommodation option here is the GTA Trekkers Lodge. Not only is the stay very comfortable, but also the early morning trek next day through the forest might give you a better chance to see different rare animals and birds the region is so famous for, including the endangered Red Panda. But be prepared for a slightly longer journey next day to Sandakphu as you also need to cover the extra 5kms to Kalipokhri before climbing the end stretch to Sandakphu.For more information on Gairibas and Kalipokhri kindly refer to the article on Sandakphu in the Travel Blogs Section!!!
Day 4: Kalapokhri to Sandakphu
Today we trek the last stretch and reach Sandakphu by afternoon. If you spent the last night at Kalapokhri, today’s hike will be relatively easy except the last climb up from Bikeybhanjan. From Kalapokhri Bikeybhanjan is 2kms on almost level ground. The climb is toughest in the last stretch of 3 and half kilometers steep uphill from Bikeybhanjan. It is better to rest little and walk little during this uphill climb. The beauty of the hills around and valley below is breathtaking. Energy Tablets or drinks go a long way to provide that extra boost of energy.Enjoy the journey with slow and tiny steps and take rest after 10-15mins of hike. This is by far the most reliable method as I discovered during my own personal experience of the trek. Have light food to munch along on the way and keep sipping on some energy drink or plain water to avoid complete fatigue or breathlessness and dry throat. Enjoy mind blowing views of Mt Kanchenjunga and the neighboring peaks of Pandim, Kumbhakarna, Kabru, Simvo and Narsing. The entire sleeping Buddha is clearly visible. Other peaks you see upon the horizon are Mt Everest, Mt Makalu, and Mt Lhotse in the left and also the Three Sister peaks. Complete 180 degree views of snow covered peaks of the mighty Himalayas adorn the Sandakphu skyline, provided you get a clear weather.
For more information on Sandakphu kindly refer to the article on Sandakphu in the Travel Blogs Section!!!
Day 5: Sandakphu to Srikhola
We climb 15kms downhill today to reach the small village of Srikhola crossing the villages of Gurdum (10kms from Sandakphu) and Timburay. Srikhola is 5kms from Gurdum. The swift river Sri flowing through this village gives it a very picturesque touch. The entire stretch today is downhill through dense forests of the Singalila National Park. The chance of Red Panda sighting is high today as you cross dense bamboo forests.This stretch of 10kms up to Gurdum is continuous and with no halts in between. With melodies of different birds and animals the distance is easily covered. Have some delicious lunch at Gurdum before continuing to Srikhola.Various lodges and homestays are available at Srikhola as well as Gurdum.Trekkers visiting Phalut will cover a distance of 21kms from Sandakphu to Phalut. Downhill trek from Phalut takes one more extra night as you cannot cover the entire distance to Srikhola from Phalut in one day. You can stay one night at Gorkhey or Rammam and then come down to Srikhola the day next.Shared jeeps are available from Srikhola to Darjeeling. They depart at fixed time, 6AM and 11AM every day. The hotel owners in Srikhola can arrange this jeep for you. Private vehicle can also be arranged from Srikhola.