• Sikkim
  • Sikkim

Sikkim… the Last Shangri La

Back Track Adventures is delighted to announce we will be undertaking a 2018 high altitude trek in the north east Indian state of Sikkim.

A slow pace of life, super friendly people and outstanding natural beauty has earned Sikkim the well-earned title of ‘The Last Shangri La’. The clean mountain air, lush forests and stunning mountain scenery combine to deliver an unforgettable trekking experience.

Tibetan style monasteries dot the landscape, terraced rice paddies plunge hundreds of metres from atop lofty ridges into deep river gorges and, as we’ll be there in the Spring season, you’ll see rhododendron forests in full, glorious bloom…this is Sikkim.

Overview

This thrilling adventure is a combination of two treks…

The first, Kanchenjunga Rhododendron trek, journeys along the Singalila Ridge which borders Nepal and India. With Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world; Kanchenjunga, third highest; and Makalu the fifth highest as a backdrop, this trek promises adventure plus beautiful scenery.

The second trek follows a rugged trail through dense forests eventually wandering above the tree line and past an enchanting high altitude lake to arrive upon Goecha La, an isolated mountain pass at 4940m. From here you’ll see an outstanding array of Himalaya peaks including close-up views of the mighty Kanchenjunga which towers 8598m above sea level.

Following the trek you spend two nights in the old British Raj Hill Station of Darjeeling to experience a short ride on the fabled Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, completed in 1881, and an optional visit to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute; a former Director was Tenzing Norgay, the first summiteer of Mt. Everest. Your journey begins and ends in Kolkata which by its former name of Calcutta, was the early capital of British ruled India. This vibrant metropolis is the centre of Bengali culture juxtaposed with stately British Colonial buildings.

Our style of travel

This trip, while physically challenging, will provide you with good quality accommodation.

The hotels have clean and comfortable rooms with attached bath and toilet with hot and cold running water.

On camping nights you’ll twin share in a sturdy A framed, North Face brand tent. Down sleeping bags and mattresses are supplied. Group tents include a large dining tent with tables and chairs plus a toilet tent with seat. For hygiene purposes we supply washing water and washing bowls. To give you the energy required for strenuous trekking, three nourishing meals per day plus snacks are provided.

All road transport is in reliable and comfortable vehicles. Transfers in Kolkata will use air conditioned mini coaches and inter-city drives will use air conditioned SUVs such as the Toyota Innova.

To enhance your travel experience, an Australian trek leader with extensive Himalayan experience plus a local, English speaking guide will accompany the group throughout your journey.

Costs & dates


TRIP DURATION 20 days from Kolkata

COST^ & DATES
  • 08 April – 27 April 2018
  • Land only from Kolkata $5190
  • Single supplement $935
  • Contact us for the BEST FLIGHT PRICES to India

GRADING Challenging

^Though we are not expecting any price increases from our suppliers, airline prices and/or taxes could increase. These increases will be added to our quoted holiday costs.

Itinerary overview

Day 1 Arrive KOLKATA. Transfer to the Peerless Inn.
Day 2 Fly to BAGDOGRA. Drive to PELLING. Overnight at the Elgin Mt. Pandim. BD
Day 3 Explore PELLING. Overnight at the Elgin Mt. Pandim. BLD
Day 4 Drive 1hrs to trek start at UTTAREY. Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at CHIWABHANZYANA. BLD
Day 5 Acclimatisation Day.Trek for 4/5hrs return to Phokteydara (3618m). Camp at CHIWABHANZYANA. BLD
Day 6 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at DHOOR BLD
Day 7 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at MEGUTHANG BLD
Day 8 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at LAMPOKHARI BLD
Day 9 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at GOMATHANG BLD
Day 10 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at TIKEP CHU BLD
Day 11 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at DZONGRI BLD
Day 12 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at THANGSING BLD
Day 13 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at LAMUNEY BLD
Day 14 Trek for 6/7hrs return to GOECHA LA (4940m). Camp at LAMUNEY. BLD
Day 15 Trek for 6/7hrs to camp at Tshoka BLD
Day 16 Trek for 5/6hrs to YUKSOM. Overnight at the Red Palace Hotel. BLD
Day 17 Drive to Darjeeling. Overnight at the New Elgin Hotel. BLD
Day 18 Exploration day in Darjeeling. Ride the Toy Train. Overnight in the New Elgin Hotel. BLD
Day 19 Drive for 3hrs to Bagdogra. Fly to KOLKATA. Overnight at the Peerless Inn. B
Day 20 DEPART KOLKATA. Transfer toKolkata Airport for flight departure. B
Meals included as indicated: B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner

Itinerary

Day 1: Kolkata airport to Hotel
Duration: 1.5hrs
Accommodation: Peerless Inn

You will be met and greeted on your arrival in Kolkata and transferred to your hotel. Kolkata was the former capital of India during the British Raj and is the current capital of West Bengal. This sprawling metropolis is immersed in history, culture, food, music and religion and is one of the most exciting cities in the world. We settle into our hotel today and, based on our time of arrival, we explore the city through a heritage walk later in the afternoon.

Day 2: Kolkata to Bagdogra to Pelling
Duration: 1hr flight and 5-6hrs drive
Altitude: 2100m
Accommodation: Elgin Mt Pandim Resort

We are transferred from our hotel to Kolkata Airport for our flight departure to Bagdogra where we meet our road crew for the drive from West Bengal into Sikkim. This is our day of transition from the plains to the hills with six exciting hours through winding roads, across valleys and over green hills clad with a variety of vegetation. The road crosses the Teesta and Rangeet Rivers and climbs steeply before arriving at Pelling, a village perched dramatically on an airy ridge with a panorama of Himalayan peaks in view.

Day 3: Layover day at Pelling
Duration: 2hrs
Altitude: 2100m
Accommodation: Elgin Mt Pandim Resort

There is a necessary layover day in Pelling while our Protected Area Permits are being prepared.  Numerous opportunities exist for exploration of the surrounding area. Nearby are the ruins of Rabdentse, the former capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim, and the Pemayangsta monastery; one of the oldest in the area.

Day 4: Pelling to Uttarey to Chiwabhanzyana
Duration: 1.5hrs drive and 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 3100m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

The drive out of Pelling brings us to Uttarey (2320m) from where we start our trek. On today’s trek we thread our way up and over Singalila ridge, which forms the border between Sikkim and Nepal. We may meet yak herders as we pass through swathes of rhododendron, along open ridges, past sacred lakes and through passes. An easy trail rises gently through rain forest until a final ascent for the last couple of hours brings us to the Nepalese border and our first camp.

Day 5: Chiwabhanzyana (acclimatization excursion)
Duration: 5hrs trek
Altitude: 3100m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

Along with outstanding sunrise and sunset views, today’s trek will provide some essential early acclimatisation. A hike to the nearby Singalila peaks of Phokteydara (3,618m) and Singalila top (3,650m) will give us breathtaking 360 degree views including Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and towering views of the massive Kangchenjunga Range.

Day 6: Chiwabhanzyang to Dhoor
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 3800m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

A gentle uphill traverse through forests and then over a more exposed hillside brings us to prayer flags adorning our first pass and views of distant mountains – a taste of what is to come. As we gain height we will appreciate the previous day’s acclimatisation. We look down far below to rice fields and cardamom plantations. Our camp is in an isolated and sheltered hollow below the ridge.

Day 7: Dhoor to Meguthang
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 3900m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

Rising just before dawn, a five minute walk unto the ridge may reveal the spectacular sight of sunrise on both Everest and Kangchenjunga. Throughout the day we descend and climb, maintaining a steady height, spiralling from one side of the ridge to the other until a rough, steep ascent takes us across a pass. The trail winds its way steadily through rhododendrons and past several Hindu shrines, where a second, easier pass drops down to our camp close to a shepherd’s summer settlement. Be on the lookout for Blue sheep on the high craggy mountainsides.

Day 8: Meguthang to Lampokhari
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 4300m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

We walk easily on a good trail through woods until we began a steady ascent up a broad valley where we catch our first close up view of the entire Kabru Range dominated by Mt. Pandim (6,691m). A further two hours of ascent will get us to our camp with Everest and a host of other Khumbu snow peaks dominating the distant skyline.

Day 9: Lampokhari to Gomathang
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 3800m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

Now we are in high mountain country and the forests lie far below. A little snow underfoot can be expected as we climb to our first high pass, the Danphey Bhir (Pass of the Pheasant) at 4,530m. From here it is possible to see almost the whole of Sikkim with the view stretching out well into Tibet and Bhutan. A further hour contouring along a ridge and a small ascent reveals the Kag Bhir La, (the Pass of the Crow) where we may be lucky enough to get the closest view of the panorama of the Himalayan peaks including the majestic Kangchenjunga. The trail then makes a steep descent to our riverside camp at Gomathang.

Day 10: Gomathang to Tikep Chu
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 3700m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

We leave our camp to ascend through forests of sweet smelling silver fir and rhododendrons. Soon we are in high mountain terrain again. Look out for the brightly coloured Impeyan pheasant, which nests in the high crags around Kamsey La, 4,200m. As we drop down into the meadows of Kokling, we can gaze up to see our next pass of 4,300m. A steady ascent of a steep crag takes us up to the skyline dominated by the dizzying pinnacles and icy cliffs of Kangchenjunga. Once again we end the day’s hike with a steep descent to our campsite by the Tikep Chu, which has its source on Mt. Rathong (6,679m).

Day 11: Tyabla/Tikepchu to Dzongri
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 4300m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

Today our route joins the regular trail up to the Goecha La. A steady climb through ancient forests of fir, juniper and rhododendrons gradually opens out at the summer pastures of Dzongri. We have another high camp but should be well acclimatised by now. A walk to the high vantage point of Dafla Khang in the early hours of the morning provides one of the most magnificent views of the mountains and the whole range of peaks can be seen.

Day 12: Dzongri to Thangsing
Duration: 4-5hrs trek
Altitude: 3930m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

Today’s trek is notable for the fine mountain views, particulary of Pandim (6691m). The trail climbs high above the Prek Valley to rock cairns which mark a ridge top. From here, descend on a steep trail through rhododendron forest to the valley floor then follow the Prek River through boulders to our campsite at Thansing meadows. From here we get views of the massive ridgeline descending south from Kanchenjunga.

Day 13: Thangsing to Lamuney
Duration: 3-4hrs trek
Altitude: 4200m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

Today’s trek takes us through groves of rhododendron and dwarf azalea before reaching the Onlakthing glacier. Ascending slowly up beside the glacier we reach the level area of Lamuney, an ideal site for our camp. We arrive early enough in the day to explore the surrounding area; particularly the serene Samitti Lake, situated at the base of Pandim (6691m).

Day 14: Lamuney to Goecha La to Lamuney
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 4200m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

We plan to leave camp before dawn with the aim of reaching the pass of Geocha La (4940m) at sunrise to catch the breathtaking display of the morning sun lighting up the snow peaks. The trail follows the shores of Samitti Lake before ascending steeply over glacial moraines. Goecha La is bedecked by colourful prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. From here there are stunning views of many Himalayan peaks including Kanchenjunga (8598m), the third highest mountain in the world. We retrace our tracks back to our campsite at Lamuney for a well-earned rest after a tiring but exhilarating day among the mountains.

Day 15: Lamuney toTshoka
Duration: 6-7hrs trek
Altitude: 3050m
Accommodation: Tented Wilderness Camp

We retrace our steps beside the Onlakthing glacier. As we descend, the lower altitude and warmer temperature will be much appreciated following the exertions over the preceding days. After leaving the glacier the trails winds through forests to our campsite at Tshoka.

Day 16: Tshoka to Yuksom
Duration: 5-6 hrs trek
Altitude: 1780m
Accommodation: Hotel Red Palace

This seems to be a never ending day as we trek along a trail that descends through beautiful rhododendron forests. The trail crosses over four bridges before reaching Yuksom. This large, historic village is home to significant Buddhist monasteries and sites and is a significant cultural and religious centre for the local inhabitants. Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel.

Day 17: Drive to Darjeeling
Duration: 5-6hrs drive
Altitude: 2000m
Accommodation: The New Elgin Hotel

There’s no rush today so after a leisurely breakfast we board our vehicles for the drive from Sikkim back into India and the famous Hill Station of the British Raj era, Darjeeling. The scenery today is dominated by vast tea estates. The world famous Darjeeling tea is the main cash crop in this area. Expect warm and moist weather during the drive today. We’ll stop for lunch en route. Our accommodation for our two nights in Darjeeling is the heritage listed New Elgin Hotel which dates from the British Raj.

Day 18: Explore Darjeeling
Ride the Toy train on the World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Accommodation: The New Elgin Hotel

A much relaxed day to take a ride in the World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, popularly called the Toy Train, as it runs on a 2 feet narrow gauge rail. We shall also visit one of the tea gardens and give you the opportunity to buy some of the specialty teas of the region.

Day 19: Drive to Bagdogra Airport and fly to Kolkata
Duration: 3hrs drive and 1hr flight
Accommodation: Peerless Inn

Depart Darjeeling for a road journey to Bagdogra. We then take a flight to Kolkata and settle into our hotel. Spend the evening visiting some of the heritage sites.

Day 20: Hotel to Kolkata airport and onwards journey
If you are departing Kolkata today you will be transferred to Kolkata Airport for flight check-in.

Responsible tourism

Responsible Tourism

So what is responsible tourism? In a nutshell it is a company’s commitment to ensure that their impact on the environment and the local culture is as low as possible, whilst helping to generate income and employment for the local people.

WHAT:  Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries where some of the top holiday destinations are amongst the poorest on the planet. These countries rely heavily on tourism but often the benefits bypass the needy and go straight back into the pockets of westerners. By using a company that is dedicated towards implementing responsible values you can succeed in having a positive impact on the destination you visit.

HOW:  As a traveller, you have an important role to play in travelling responsibly. Often travellers want to be responsible but are not aware of the issues and the appropriate codes of conduct. These guidelines we have provided are not intended to be exhaustive but to highlight a number of issues and provide advice that will help you to:

1. Ensure your own personal safety.
2. Show respect to the local communities, customs and values.

If you are unsure or concerned about anything ask your travel consultant, tour leader, guide or local hosts and respect their advice at all times. They are experienced professionals and are there to ensure you enjoy your experience but not at the expense of others or the wildlife you have come to enjoy.

ABOUT US:  Back Track Adventures has been leading trekking groups to Nepal since 1985. Our commitment to the tenets of responsible tourism is unwavering and we are deeply passionate about people and nature!

Keeping our passions close to our heart, we tailor make extraordinary trips to suit extraordinary people. Combine our well-designed trips with responsible travel practices and you have the most irresistible holiday package. We aim to exceed your expectations, with the utmost regard for your safety, minimising the impact on our environment and at the same time maximising contribution to the local economy.

Environment

WATER:  Minimise your water usage by reporting dripping taps, never leave the tap running and turn off tightly after use. Think before requesting clean bath towels.
Never contaminate natural water sources with litter, chemicals or human waste. Remember this could be someone else’s drinking water.

ENERGY REDUCTION:  Take hot showers only when the water is heated by renewable energy sources. An average shower heated by a wood-burning stove contributes to the destruction of local forest.
When lodge trekking, order the same meal at the same time as other trekkers.

WASTE MANAGEMENT: Where possible remove all unnecessary packaging before you leave.

In the Himalaya, trekkers leave behind approximately 100,000kg of water bottles per year. Plastic bottles CANNOT always be easily collected and recycled in India. Instead use a canteen, iodine purification tablets, a Steripen or alternatively fill up at one of the drinking water stations for a small fee.

Pick up your litter as you would at home. Not only is it unsightly, it can be deadly to wild animals.

WILDLIFE: Do not buy souvenirs made from endangered species, like ivory; doing so will only encourage the trade.

People

CULTURAL: Your trek leader, guide and/or local hosts will brief you on the cultural sensitivities specific to the area that you are visiting and how you can minimise potential negative impacts of your behaviour.
It is easy to appear an arrogant, rich foreigner in a small community, so be aware of the feelings of others. Learning even a little of the local language can help reduce these barriers.
Try to avoid extravagant displays of wealth. This can be an incitement to robbery, as well as accentuating the gap between rich and poor.

GENERAL ETIQUETTE: On the whole the Indians are a relaxed people. However, there are a few general etiquette points to be aware of.
• Pointing the soles of your feet at someone or touching someone’s head or cap is offensive.
• Take off your shoes before entering someone’s home.
• Public displays of affection, such as kissing and hugging, are considered offensive.
• Do not handle anybody else’s food, eat off another’s plate or drink from another’s glass.

RELIGIOUS ETIQUETTE:  Always ask for permission before entering a Hindu temple, taking photos of the temple or its surroundings. Take off your shoes before entering and always pass a prayer wall on your right or walk around it in a clockwise direction.

DRESS CODE:  Many of the people of India are becoming more westernised in the way that they dress; however many are still fairly conservative, especially in the villages. Dress as not to attract attention to yourself.

PHOTOGRAPHY:  Always be polite and respectful to local people by asking before taking their picture. If people seem reluctant or look away then don’t take the photo. When photographing children, ask for their parents’ consent first.
We strongly discourage payments being made for the privilege of taking a photograph, as this constitutes a form of begging.

DONATIONS & GIFTS:  The giving of money and sweets does not help in the long-term and only perpetuates an underlying problem. If you are able, make a donation to a local community development project in the area you have visited. Channel this through the trek leader or guide and it will go to the right hands and follow the correct process.

Economy

SOUVENIRS:  Buy locally made crafts and support local skills.

BARGAINING:   Bargaining for a lower price is often the accepted and expected custom, but don’t drive a hard bargain just for the sake of it.

FOOD: Try the local food and specialties. Many rural areas are under threat from a reduction in the agricultural base. Eating locally produced goods helps the local farmers and economy.

Map

Sikkim Map