Sandakphu is the most preferred trekking destination in North Bengal and Sikkim and rightfully so. It lies at an altitude of 3636m or 11,930ft and from this vantage point offers a pristine and breathtaking view of four of the five highest peaks in the world – Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu from its summit. The view of Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu presents itself as a hallowed sight that resembles a reclining Buddha and the sight is famously known among the locals as the “Sleeping Buddha”.
It is the highest point of the Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district on the West Bengal-Nepal border and during the trek, you will also enter parts of Nepal(Ilam district).
The trek starts from Manebhanjan and is divided into the following four legs:
- Manebhanjan to Meghma (2600 m): This is a 4-hour trek through the lower forest. The route goes via Chitre.
- Meghma to Gairibans (2621 m): There are two alternative trekking routes. They respectively go via Tonglu (3070 m) and Tumling (2900 m). From Tumling, a shorter trail cuts through Nepal and Jaubari (2750 m). Jaubari is ward no 07 of jamuna VDC ilam.
- Gairibans to Sandakphu (3636 m):
- Sandakphu to Phalut (3600 m): It is a one-day trek via Sabarkum (3536 m) covering 21 km.
- Retracing the way back to Manebhanjan.
- A steep descent to the village of Sirikhola on the banks of the River Sirikhola, via Gurdum (2300 m), and from there to Rimbick.
Best Visiting Seasons:
Except for the months of monsoon, the trek to Sandakphu will always guarantee to be great escapade. However different seasons provide different experiences:
- April – May: If you are interested in the viewing the pleasant sights of Rhododendron covering the forests of Sandakphu with their beauty and aroma, then the months of April and May is best suited for you. And if you are interested in Rhododendron wines, then also this is the cheapest time to get the best quality wines. Aside from the beautiful flora, you will also see a great variety of birds and animals. If you are lucky you may get to see rare and exotic bird species like scarlet minivet, kalij phesant, blood phesant and over a hundred bird species. Also if you are extremely luck you may get a rare glimpse of the illusive red-panda. But whenever you go, you will always hear the bells of domesticated Yaks ringing in the silent beauty of the hills as well as the horses roaming around in the lush beauty of the mountains.
- September-November: If you are interested in the clear crispy view of the mountains accompanying you in every step of your trek, then the perfect time for you to visit is during the months of September, October and November. The weather is also moderately cool during this time of the year after the monsoons and it provides the best photographs of the mountains and also give you the chance to capture some amazing night photos. By going during these months you will be guaranteed of the crystal clear sights without the threat of fog and clouds.
- December – February: Visit during the months of winter if what you desire is to travel through the unreal white paths made by the snow. Snowfall and snow is an experience that can only be enjoyed first hand and cannot be expressed. So if you want snow, then the months of December, January and February are perfect for you.
Jeep Safari with Landrovers:
During your trek, you will continue to see nostalgic looking LandRover, travelling up and down the steep stone roads of the mountains.
If you want you could book a Landrover through the entire 60 Kms of Uphill and Downhill journey. Prices typically start from around Rs. 3600
- Pre-Booking Hotels and Hiring Guides: Hotels are very scarce and far in between and because of the domestic as well as the international demand, it is very important to pre-book your hotels. Also, a guide is readily available and it may be a good idea to hire one though not mandatory. There are paths made out of rock and trails readily available, but some of the trails may be used by the locals for foraging and you may be left wandering in the forest if you follow them.
- Almost non-existent mobile network: Mobile networks are practically non-existent, although you may get Airtel and Vodafone network in “some” spots. So prepare accordingly.
- Charging point scarcity: There are no charging points and may be sparsely available in the hotels because of the remoteness. It is of utmost importance to carry your power banks and extra batteries for your cameras.
- Extra bottles of water: It is advisable to carry extra bottles of water because shops are very rare to find on the trekking trail. There are a few natural springs in the path but it is not advisable to drink directly from them (Note: I always drink from the springs directly during treks, but am not advising it.)
- Carrying warm clothing and a hand towel: The weather can get extremely cold during the night and it is mandatory to carry extra warm clothing. You may trek in your t-shirts during the day but as the evening set in, it brings the chill along with it. By this time you will be drenched in sweat and would not want to carry on in the cold with your wet clothes, as you will lose your body heat at an accelerated rate in wet clothes. So you need to change to your warm clothes and carry on.
- Flash Light and Ear plugs(guard): The trek usually lasts till late in the evening and depending on your pace, you might also reach your hotel after sunset. Flashlights will be extremely useful during such conditions. Also as you climb higher the wind starts blowing at an increasing pace (the wind-speed feels maximum at Kalpokhri). The ferocity of the wind combined with the chill could in some cases cause your ear to start aching. The ear guards are available in abundance at Manebhanjan (starting point of the trek.)
Safety and Precautions:
Sandakphu is a very safe place and although there are rumours of wild animals, the only animals you will encounter are domesticated Yaks and grazing horses. If you get extremely lucky during the spring season, you may catch a glimpse of Red-panda in the wild.
The locals are very friendly and will go at lengths more than necessary to help you. You will be very safe in Sandakphu unless an unforeseen mishap occurs. In case of accidents or fatigue, you can be transported to the nearest place of help in a LandRover.
Our Basic Package:
We charge a nominal fee of Rs. 2500 and included in the package are the following:
- Food: Breakfast and tea, Veg/Non-Veg Lunch, Evening Tea and Snacks, Veg Dinner.
- Accommodation: Furnished room with attached bathrooms.
- 1 Guide/Porter: Our Guide will accompany you throughout your trek and provide personalised assistance.
Book through our Facebook Page Below:
Panorama of Peaks seen from Sandakphu and Phalut
Baruntse ( 7220m ), Chamlang ( 7319m ), Chomo Lonzo ( 7818m ), Lhotse ( 8516m ), Machhapuchhare ( 6993m ), Makalu ( 8462m ), Mount Everest ( 8848m ), Nuptse ( 7861m ), Kanchenjunga ( 8586m ), Talung ( 7349m ), Rathong ( 6679m ), Kabru N ( 7353m ), Koktang ( 6147m ), Simvo ( 6812m ), Frey ( 5853m ), Kabru S ( 7318m ), Kabru Dome ( 6600m ), Kabru Forked ( 6100m ), Pandim ( 6691m ), Tenchenkhang ( 6010m ), Jupono ( 5650m )
Villages Seen: Gorkhey, Bhareng, Gairibas, Meghma, Maneybhanjyang, Rammam, Srikhola, Sepi, Molley, Gurdum