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The name Sandakphu means the 'Height of
the Poison Plant', a direct reference to the profusion of
the poisonous aconite plants that grow near the peak. The
loftiest peak of the Singalila Range, it is the culminating
point of many trekking routes in the Darjeeling-Sikkim
At an altitude of 3,636 m, Sandakphu is
located at a distance of 58 km. from Darjeeling. Trek to Sandakphu
starts from Maneybhanjan, a small town near Darjeeling.
Maneybhanjan can be reached from Siliguri
via Ghoom / Darjeeling. After necessary entries in the Immigration
check post and the last minute shopping and meal, the trek
begins. You may also opt for overnight stay at Maneybhanjan
to start the trek early next day.
Sandakphu epitomises the wild elemental
grandeur of the snows. Nature here is at her pristine best,
and the vista at the top is worth all the hardship endured
on the way. Aptly called the Paradise of Trekkers, the peak
is a vantage point from where one can see four of the world's
five highest peaks - Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Lhotse
- in a continuous snow-clad arc.
The place is resplendent with the ethereal
beauty of magnolias, rhododendrons, primulas and other sub-alpine
flowers. It also contains more than 600 varieties of orchids,
the largest to be found in a single geographical area in the
world. Maneybhanjan, at an altitude of 2134 mtr, is the gateway
to the Sandakphu region. You can visit here any time of the
year. The monsoon months of July-August is not suggested.
Description of the trek / Places on the
You can start your day either at Darjeeling,
Maneybhanjang or at Chitrey. If you stay overnight at Darjeeling,
you should start early and drive to Maneybhanjang to start
Maneybhanjang is a small
town about 30 kms from Darjeeling. Apart from being the base
for treks to Sandakphu, the town is also famous for its Land
Rovers. These rugged beauties rule the mountain trail in this
area. Some of the vehicles are more than 70 or 80 years old.
Maneybhanjang is also a boarder town. While coming from Darjeeling,
the houses on the left of the road belong to Nepal and the
right side being India. Most trekkers start their trek at
Maneybhanjang. There are a few trekkers huts and small hotels
where one can put up for a night.
Chitrey – If you want to
avoid the steep climb immediately on start of the trek, you
may drive a couple of kms further from Maneybhanjang and reach
Chitrey. The route passes quite steeply uphill through lush
greenery of pine, fir, birch forests and bamboo glades. It
takes about an hour and half to reach Chitrey (2530 m). As
for the entire trek route, you will be passing through the
Indo-Nepal boarder here. The road being on the Indian side
and the small human settlement on the Nepal side. There is
a homestay / trekkers hut here as well. So one may even decide
to reach Chitrey for overnight stay and start the trek from
here. There is also a large monastery at Chitrey which is
worth a visit.
Lamey Dhura – About 3 kms
ahead of Chitrey is the small settlement of Lamey Dhura. Between
Chitrey and Lamedhura you will be trekking through a ridge.
Here there are only a couple of cottages selling hot tea and
other knickknacks for the trekkers.
– Another 3 kms from Lamey Dhura is the location
of Meghama. This is a relatively larger settlement. The trail
bifurcates at Meghma. The right uphill route leads to the
trekkers hut at Tonglu (3070m) in India. The trail in the
left passes through Nepal. The roads meet again at Tumling
(in Nepal). There is a large SSB (Security Agency) camp at
Meghma, there is also a monastery and a primary school.
Tonglu – If you have taken
the road on your right at Meghma, Tonglu would be about 2
kms. Perched on top of a hill, Tonglu will mesmerize you with
its view of the Kanchanjunga reflection on Tonglu Lake. Some
trekkers to Sandakphu avoid the main trek route and start
at Dhotrey which is about 5 kms from Tonglu. Although this
is a less popular route, it leads to a saving of about 5 kms.
Tumling – 2 kms ahead of
Meghma through the left route is the location of this small
Nepal village. Tonglu is famous for the view of the snow-capped
peaks of the Singalila and the Kanchenjunga range. Tumling
on the other hand is a salubrious night halt with assorted
lodges dotting its sedate green environs. The lights of the
towns of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Pasupati (Nepal), Siliguri
and other settlements can be viewed on a clear night.
The trek from Tonglu or Tumling towards
Sandakphu is rewarded with a wide variety of flora, fauna
and avifauna as you enter the Singalila National Park. About
a km ahead of Tumling you will find the forest check post
for Singalila National Park. Here you have to get the pass
for entry into the National Park. From the check post there
are three different routes taking you to Gairibans. There
is a hilltop ahead which you can avoid if you take the left
route through Joubari (Nepal) or the right route through India.
Alternatively you may decide to walk over the hill and come
down to Gairibans on the other side.
Joubari in Nepal is a settlement
with a police check post, do not continue on the road from
Joubari onwards as it enters deeper into Nepal, instead take
a right turn and cross the village to enter back into India.
There are several small shops at Joubari including some offering
overnight basic accommodation. Tumling to Joubari is about
5 kms and from Joubari to Gairibans is about 3 kms. The area
is the house of wide varieties of Rhododendron and the playing
ground of Red Pandas. Goiribans (2621 m) is rather down the
hills at a much lower altitude. There are a couple of trekker
huts here and those planning to reach Sandakphu in 2 days
often stay overnight here. The trek from Gairibans climbs
steep uphill for a couple of kms till you reach the top of
the hill. Continue anoth km or so to reach Kaiyakatta.
Kaiyakatta is another small
village where you can take a break a sip a cup of tea. In
Nepali language Kaiya refers to the non-Nepalese business
communities and Katta refers to cutting or killing. So Kaiyakatta
refers to some gory event of yore which no one seems to remember
now. From here the next village is Kalepokhri.
Kalepokhri (3 km from Kaiyakatta)
is a village in Nepal situated at an altitude of 3108 m. Being
relatively high in altitude and on top of a ridge, there is
heavy wind blowing through the village all times of the day.
There are a couple of trekkers’ huts here as well. The trek
from Tumling to Kalepokhri takes about 5 hours. At Kalepokhri
there is a small crystal lake surrounded by pine trees and
prayer flags. The dark color of the water in the lake leads
to the name of Kalepokhri (kale = Black, Pokhri = Lake). From
Kalepokhri, Sandakphu is just about 8 kms ahead.
Bikeybhanjan is the last
hamlet before you reach your final destination. Bikeybhanjan
is just 2 kms from Kalepokhri. Even though you have covered
most of the distance and Sandakphu is visible and just 5 kms
ahead, this is the steepest and the most difficult stretch
of your trek. After a tough trek for about 3 hours, you will
reach Sandakphu (3636m), the highest point in West Bengal.
A day's halt here allows trekkers to view the surroundings.
From Sandakphu there are several trekking
options available to the tourists. You can go down to Rimbik
directly by a shortcut route through dense forests. You can
move on to Phalut (3600m) from where you can further visit
to Molley, Rammam, Gorkey or Rimbik. Rimbik is the road head
on the other side of the trek. From here you will be taken
to your next destination. The main trek route through the
Singalila ridge goes on to reach Phalut through Sabarkum.
Sabarkum is a village on
the Indian side of the boarder and one of the highest points
in Bengal. It is about 15 kms from Sandakphu towards Phalut.
Most people prefer to continue the trek till Phalut for overnight
stay. Sabarkum is a destination on its own right with magnificent
views of the Kanchenjunga range. There is a train from here
that goes to Srikhola / Gorkey. On your way back from Phalut,
this might be your best route.
Phalut further 7 kms from
Sarbarkum is the second highest point in Bengal (3600 m).
For most trekkers this is the last destination before starting
back. Some adventure lovers may also continue towards Sikkim
through Singali pass and Kalijhar. This route is little explored
not suggested for general trekkers.
Gorkey on the other hand
is visited by a majority of trekkers on their way down. It
is about 15 kms from Phalut. From Gorkey one can trek to Srikhola
about 12 kms ahead.
Gurdum if your trek does
not go beyond Sandakphu, you may decide to trek down through
Gurdum. There is a direct downhill trek to Gurdum through
dense forests. The distance is about 12 kms and takes about
4 / 5 hours. Gurdum is a village with a couple of trekkers
Srikhola – Further couple
of hours trek from Gurdum will take you to Srikhola. This
is where the vehicular roads end. On the way between Gurdum
and Srikhola is another small village of Timbure which has
some homestay accommodations. From Srikhola you can drive
out through Rimbik and Maneybhanjan and back to Darjeeling
Distance and Altitude
||Distance to Sandakphu (in
||Altitude (in Feet)
naturebeyond organises treks to Sandakphu
on a regular basis. Our treks are customised as per guest
requirements. The trek is ideally organised for a group of
6-15 although smaller or larger groups can also be managed.
Duration : 6 - 11 days.
Things to carry : Warm clothes, a good pair of sneakers,
a rucksack and raincoat is all that you need to carry. Everything
else is arranged by us.
Food : The staple diet is rice and chapatti. Food is
sufficient and decent. For groups requiring different foods,
such as international travellers, cook and food is carried
with the group. All our tour are accompanied by highly experienced
guides and porters and almost in all cases the food is carried
along with the trek and cooked by trek support team members.
Here is a standard
itinerary for the Sandakphu trek. It covers the entire
route upto Phalut in 10 days.
If you are short on time, you may go for the trek in less
time and visit only upto Sandakphu. Here is a 6
Many people prefer to visit Sandakphu on Jeep. Here is a Jeep
Map for Trekkers
The founders of naturebeyond first trekked
to Sandakphu in 1989, Long before trekking to Sandakphu gained
popularity and even before our travel company was conceived.
Over the last two decades our members have trekked here innumerable
times. Often with international guests, but also with Indian
trekking groups and Jeep safaries. We have unmatched experience
and expertise in organising treks in Eastern Himalaya. From
tents to kitchen utensils, all the trekking equipment is our
own. Above all, our trekking guides are the best in the region.
Of course trekkers are not the only people
visiting Sandakphu. We also organise jeep Safaris on a regular
basis for domestic and international tourists. The Land Rovers
of Maneybhanjan can take you here on a single day. But be
prepared for a rough ride on the way as the road is mostly
stone paved and quite steep at stretches.
Budget for a tour
Your travel cost depends on 3 factors.
Duration of your tour, Group size and services taken. If you
are planning a trek on your own and travelling in a group
of 5 / 6 people, your cost may be Rs. 1000 per day per head
or even lower.
If you are trekking with naturebeyond, we
offer you 3 service levels to choose from. First is the basic
tour support where we providing you with a Guide and book
the trekkers huts. You agree to carry your own luggage and
there wont be any additional porter to carry extras. The cost
in such cases would be roughly similar to the cost of travelling
on your own. This service option is mostly opted by Indian
student groups or regular trekkers.
The second option is have a semi serviced
trek. Here we will provide you backup vehicle to carry your
luggage, trekking guide and all your accommodations will be
booked in advance. The cost in such cases may vary between
Rs. 1500 to 2000 per day per head. You will still be using
the basic infrastructure of trekkers huts.
A full service trek will include our service
in terms of porters, cook, guide. All trek support equipment
such as tents, cooking utensils, cutleries, toilet tents,
folding tables, chairs, food, Sleeping bags etc will be carried.
Depending on standard of tourist accommodations on the way,
we may accommodate you in trekkers’ huts or tents. The full
service treks may cost between 2500 to 4000 per day per head.
This are the support service we provide for international
trekkers as well as some domestic trekkers.
Cost of a Jeep Safari to Sandakphu varies
based on group size. Cost may vary between 7,000 to 10,000
per head for a group of 5 / 6 people.
Google Map of the Trek route