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This trek follows the famous Singalila ridge, a prominent spur of high ground that lies at the Southern end of a long crest, which runs down from the Kanchenjunga massif and form the border between Sikkim and Nepal. This trek along this ridge, passing through small settlements, is perhaps the most scenically rewarding in Himalaya. There are spectacular panoramic views of Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Everest, Lhotse and a host of other peaks all seen in one stretch.
The Singalila National Park covers an area of 108-sq. km. and lies in the tri-junction of Darjeeling, Sikkim and Nepal with the highest point at Sandakphu (3636m). It houses exotic fauna and some endangered species as well as 80-90 species of mammals, about 500 species of fauna and 600 species of Butterflies. Some of the endangered species are the Snow Leopard, Red Panda and the Musk Deer. This park is virtually a bird watcher’s paradise with about 30% of the birds found in the Indian subcontinent. In the lower altitudes, the species that are abundant are the Pheasant, Hill Partridge, Scarlet Minuets, Parakeets, Emerald Dove and the Maroon Monal etc.
The flora is the richest found in the world. It has a vast diversity of floras scattered over the temperate (1525 – 300 m) to the alpine (above 3000m) zone. In the temperate zone, the flora consists of Magnolia, Chestnut Oak, Laurel, Pines, Alders, Junipers, Bistort, ferns, mosses and Lichens, The flowers range from Orchids, white roses, and magnolias to Lilies, Primulas, Cotoneaster and the poisonous Aconitum. Another speciality is the Rhododendron – of which 26 varieties in various shades of Red, White and purple with varying heights are found. E.g., Rh.Grande is about 40 feet tall and Rh.Nivale grows a few inches above the ground!
There are many versions of this trek. The loop suggested below is the most easiest route and advisable for first time trekkers.
Highest Point: Sandakphu 3636 m
Season: March – May (for flowers) and October – December (mountain views) are best. Low altitude makes trekking possible in winter.
Restrictions: None. Although the nights are mostly spend on the Nepalese side of the border, Foreigners do not require extra permit/ visit. They need to enter their passport details at the Check post in each village on the Indian side of the border.
Bagdogra Airport/ New jalpaiguri Train station
By 1400 hours on Day One
Reach Bagdogra airport by 1300hours. Met on arrival and drive to Darjeeling. The road is very interesting as it winds its way through tea estates. On the main highway, there is a narrow gauge railway line running parallel to the road and criss-crosses it a number of times.
After an early breakfast, drive to Dhotrey, the starting place for our trek to the Singalila Ridge. After a short break, we set off on the first day of our walk, a nice uphill walk through the lovely rhododendron forest up to Tumling. Today, we climb around 1000m to the ridge top settlement of Tumling.
One can wake up early to get the beautiful views of Kanchenjunga massif with an early sun flooding its light all over the mountains. Today’s trek is mostly downhill through a picturesque Nepalese village, where we take lunch. After lunch, it is back to the ridge for a short but challenging climb to the village of Kalpokhri where there is a small lake.
We start the long climb up on to the Singalila ridge. It is a long, steady pull but the reward is a remarkable panoramic view of Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Everest, Lhotse, Mt. Pandim and the other lesser peaks of Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet and Eastern Nepal.
We wake up early to catch the sunrise over the mighty Kanchenjunga range spreading over to the Everest group of peaks and towards Bhutan – the 360-degree panorama is breath-taking! After breakfast a steep descent through beautiful forest to reach Gurdum. If you are lucky, you may see the rare Red Panda on this trail.
Downhill again today through cultivated fields and crossing of the ShiriKhola (river) where we join the dusty trail to Rimbik. We bid farewell to our trekking staff and drive on onward destination. Drop at Darjeeling/ Siliguri. (No other services at the destination).