HIMALAYAN TREKS

It is said that trekking in India originated in Darjeeling as far back as eighty years ago. Trekking means foot travel on mountain trails. It is an experience that can never be paralleled. Darjeeling has perhaps one of the most spectacular treks to offer along the beauty of its magnificent hills. The charms of the Hamalaya along with its mysteries gradually unfold as trekkers traverse through the dense forests and verdant landscape, through miles of green carpeted meadows and sleepy halmets lost to times. The Singalila trek as it is popularly called will enable you to discover the sublime Hamalayan interiors unmarred by mankind.

TREKKING SEASON

The trekking season in Darjeeling generally begins at the end of March and closes around the middle of June. During April, May or June one should be prepared for an occasional shower which can be most refreshing. The summer haze is adequately compensated by the flowers in full bloom. The second season begins around the last  week of September and goes right to the first week of December. Visibility is excellent and generally one encounters very good climate during this period.

 GENERAL INFORMATION

Clothing: For the lower altitudes – light sweater, tee-shirt, comfortavle trousers for the higher regions – heavy pullover, wind – cheater, down jacket, woollen cap, gloves, woollen socks, muffler, light raincoat.

First Aid Kit : Essential.

Food: Trekkers must carry their own provisions. Although the tastes may vary from person to person, generally speaking the following is recommended Canned meat, peanuts butter, cheese, baked beans, rice, dal, noodles, instant tea or coffee, condensed milk, sugar, onions, potatoes, chocolates and dry fruits.

Shoes: A good durable, comfortable pair is recommended. Hunter voots or sports shoes are advisable.

Equipment : These following gear is essential: sleeping bag, foam mattress, rucksacks, torch-light , air pillow, tents (optional). These are also available on hire from local Trekking Agencies.

THE SINGALILA TREK

Destination: Phalut

This is the most popular and rewarding trek for trekkers with about a weeks’ time at their disposal.
The trek starts after an early morning drive of about an hour and a half from Darjeeling to Maneybhanjyang a small village inhabited by the Buddist-Sherpas. From here one can get a view of the trekking route which is an awesome, near vertical climb.

The first camp-site is at Tonglu which is 11 kms from Maneybhanjyang through dense evergreen forest and hillsides covered with wilds flowers. Tonglu at 3070 meters overlooking the entire Darjeeling Hills offers a breathtaking Mountains view of the incomparable Kanchenjunga and its incomparable peaks. On the southern side one gets a lovely look at Darjeeling, Kurseong and Sukiapokhri dotting the green Hills.
On the second day the ridge line leads one through bamboo glades and farmland with quaint little villages habited by warm and friendly people. The route is fairly level while one reaches Gairbas about 9 kms from Tonglu. From here one encounters a steep climb which is adequately compensated by incredible scenic beauty. This 4 kms climb bring one to Kalpokhri.  The dark crystal lake simmering in the breeze surrounded by alpine trees is a sight to behold. Another steep ascent for 2 ½ kms and a gradual walk downhill for 1 ½ km brings one to Bikhebhanjyang which stands at 10200ft.

The final ascent of 4 kms which is the most challenging in terms of steepness, through thick rhododendron and magnolia forests leads one to Sandakphu meaning the height of the poison plant, at an altitude of 11811 feet. It is here one encounters nature’s pristine glory at its magnificent best. The four of the world’s highest mountains all 8000 meters high towering over you at an incredible close distance presents you with a sight you will never forget.  The snow clad arc of the Eastern Himalayas with Everest Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Lhotse in all its majesty is worth every mile one has traversed to be here.

The third day is a relatively easier day trek-wise of about 21 kms. But in terms of scenic beauty it is the most fascinating. All along the route one is greeted by Rhododendrons of different hues, magnolias, chestnut oaks and emerging out of the mysterious mists- the stately silver fir. All along the imposing  Himalayas loom large on the western horizon. The final stretch is almost bereft of vegetation owing to the sweeping icy winds. The clusters of rhododendron trees standing at a maximum height of 6 feet look like magnified bonsais.
Phalut – or the denuded peak is the destination. Here stands the tri-juncation of Nepal, Sikkim, and India. On day 4, we begin with a knee- wobbling descent downhill into the Rammam River Valley.

This trek through rugged terrain brings one to a spectacularly picturesque village –Samanden, better known as ‘the lost valley”. Standing at a plateau the in the middle of the dense forest this village is noted for its fertile lands. The will terraced flat land eith green vegetation is strikingly contrasted by the bright yellow flowers of the mustard plant.
A further walk of 2 kms brings one to Rammam – the camp – site for the night.

The fifth day walk to Rimbick at 2268 meters 19 kms away is another picturesque trek. The first 9 kms is through level paths through forests of flowering trees. Rare orchids present another wonderful sight. This stretch is also very well known for its birds. At Srikhola one can relax and enjoy one mid-day meal amidst the most romantic setting straight out of the picture post card.

From this point the road runs uphill at a gentle gradient once again through forest and fields and terminates in Rimbick. From Rimbick, a small bazaar, one get a superb view of Darjeeling.

The 6th day trek covers a stretch of 25 kms mainly through cultivated farm lands. The first 8 kms is a fairly steep descent to another small Lodhoma. The path levels out for a stretch of 9 kms to Jhepi village. From here a steady walk through similar terrain brings one to Bijanbari, a growing town which is the last stoppage of the trek. The next day one can take the jeep back to Darjeeling which is 36 kms away.

There are various combinations to this trek depending on the time at 
ones disposal. The alternative treks are as follows:

ITINETRARY NO. 1
Day 1: Darjeeling – Maneybhanjyang – Tonglu
Day 2: Tonglu – Sandakphu
Day 3: Sahdakphu – Phaulut
Day 4 Phaulut – Gorkha
Day 5: Gorkha – Rimbick
Day 6: Rimbick – Bijanbari or Darjeeling
Day 7: Bijanbari – Darjeeling

ITINETRARY NO. 2
Day 1: Darjeeling – Maneybhanjyang – Tonglu
Day 2: Tonglu – Sandakphu
Day 3: Sahdakphu – Rimbick
Day 4: Rimbick – Bijanbari or Darjeeling


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