November 1 — 17, 2013
From New Delhi, India
Overview: Situated on the border with Tibet, Sikkim was a small independent kingdom until recently. It is an extraordinary place to visit because of its natural beauty. One of the wonderful things about Sikkim is its deep untouched forests. This trek also offers amazing close-up views of the high Himalaya.
This is a moderate-to-difficult trek with an optional climb to 16,200 feet along the way. We designate this as a moderate trek because, while it is short in length and there are no pass crossings, the hiking is strenuous. The greatest challenge is the fast elevation gain at the start of the trek. The uphill climb during the first few days can seem relentless but there is soon an inspiring reward for the hard work - some of the most spectacular mountain vistas in the entire Himalaya. Most people realize that it is worth the effort to ascend the heights! Ideally, trip participants should be in good physical condition with some previous hiking experience.
Leadership: Our Leader is Marin Johannsson. She holds a B.S. in Recreation with a special emphasis in Outdoor Leadership. Marin has taught rock climbing, snow camping, rafting and canoeing. Trained in first aid, she has led many treks for us since 1990. When not on the trail, Marin also is a rafting guide and collects Tibetan Thangka paintings. Marin works closely with our local guide and dedicated staff members (cook, porters and assistants) to make this special trip a complete success. Ask us for references if you would like to talk to people who have traveled with them.
Sikkim Kanchengjunga Day-To-Day Itinerary Detail:
Pre Trip Days: Time in transit from your home country to arrive in New Delhi, India (often connecting via Bangkok). Please note that you must arrive in New Delhi, India by November 1, 2013. You will be met at the New Delhi Airport at your arrival time. If you prefer to arrive early (or depart late), we can help arrange additional transfers, services and accommodations for your visit. As us about the details!
Day 1: Once you arrive in New Delhi our driver will be waiting just outside the Customs and Immigration hall once you have completed arrival formalities. Departing the airport we have just a short drive of about 20 minutes to arrive at our guest house. Make sure to get a bottle of water. Drink as much as you can to help rehydrate from the flight and get some sleep. (No included meals on arrival day.)
Day 2: Meet for breakfast by 6:30 am so we can transfer to the airport at 7:30 am for our morning flight to Bagdogra. On our arrival, we then drive to Gangtok — a scenic five to six hour road trip. We'll stop for entry formalities at the Sikkim border located at 1,256 feet. Once we have entered Sikkim, we continue along the beautiful Teesta River to Gangtok, the capital, located at an elevation of 6,000 feet. Here we will check in to our hotel, designed with a typical Sikkimese decor and holding good views of Kanchengjunga (28,169 feet) — the third highest mountain in the world and the area's most sacred peak. Get ready for delicious Tibetan and Chinese food. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 3: If you wish, you can enjoy a beautiful sunrise view of Kanchengjunga right from the hotel. Today we'll visit the local market and tour the local sights. Places of interest include Enchey Monastery. "Enchey" means "place of solitude." About 90 monks are in residence here.
It is important to our hosts that we are respectful when we visit monasteries. Please check to see that your attire is acceptable and be sure to leave a small donation (20 to 50 rupees is fine). Most important, be sure to walk clockwise around holy objects such as mani walls (prayers carved in stone).
Later that afternoon we visit the Rumtek monastery, built to seat the 16th Karmapa Rimpoche after he fled from Tibet. We will spend a second night at our comfortable hotel in Gangtok. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4: Gangktok-Yuksam: Travel by Land Rover to Yuksam (6,000 feet). The nine-hour drive is picturesque, traveling up and down the green, undulating hills of Sikkim. Yuksam is just a small, sleepy town now, but as the former capital of Sikkim, it is the place where the first king was crowned. It is also the trailhead for our trek. Overnight at our hotel in Yuksam. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5: Yuksam-Bakhim Camp: The trek staff will be busy loading up the porters and or yaks as well as dealing with red tape. You may want to take a short hike to explore the interesting monasteries nearby. Our trek begins with a long but gentle climb along the Ratang Chu (river). It takes five to six hours to reach our camp. The trek meanders through forest all day with an occasional stream crossing on well-maintained bridges. Camp at Bakhim (9,020 feet). Today's ascent is over 3,000 feet. On trek all food including breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared by our own highly skilled camp cook. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6: Bakhim-Pethang: Today's four-to-five hour trek climbs steeply through forests of pine, magnolia and rhododendron, to emerge into the alpine country for views of many high Himalayan peaks: Pandim (22,000 feet), Tenzing Khang, Jupono and Narsingh. The panorama is awe-inspiring.
We pass though Tsokha, a small Tibetan settlement with a monastery and a holy lake. After a day of steep uphill hiking, camp is at Pethang (11,972 feet) Today's ascent is about 3,000 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7: Pethang-Dzongri: Our two-to three-hour climb begins in deep forests and ends in high alpine yak-grazing country. The land is dotted with chortens — large domes containing religious relics. Tonight we camp at Dzongri (13,200 feet). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8: Layover at Dzongri: From Dzongri, we have intimate views of the Himalayas at arms reach. Towering above us are the snowy peaks Jupono (19,500 feet) and Pandim (21,950 feet). It is important that we rest today and drink plenty of water in order to acclimatize properly. Camp at Dzongri (13,200 feet). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 9: Dzongri-Thansing: A four-hour walk takes us past a series of cairns above the Prek Valley. From here you can view Kanchengjunga and the entire Prek Valley as far north as the Guicha La. La means pass in Tibetan. From the ridge there is a steep descent through rhododendron forests to the river bed. We head up the river bed to a bridge over the Prek River. Soon we reach the Thansing Meadow (12,890 feet), where we camp with clear views of Pandim and the east ridge of Kanchengjunga. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 10: Thansing-Sumati Lake: A short trek of two hours takes us through an area where we may find yaks and possibly some blue sheep. The land is open and windswept. Scenic high points are dotted with Buddhist prayer flags as you begin climbing up the lateral moraine. Enormous boulders rise above the scree. Overnight camp in the meadows below Sumati Lake (14,200 feet). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11: Day Hike from Sumati Lake: We'll be careful to make sure everyone is acclimatizing well. It's important to drink plenty of water and take frequent rests when hiking this high. Our optional day hike takes about nine hours and we must get a very early start in order to ensure clear views. We will climb to the dramatic Gorha-La viewpoint. Here we enjoy the most spectacular view of "Kangchendzonga." This is how the local people refer to this majestic mountain. The British found this too hard to pronounce and the standard transliteration is now Kanchengjunga. We are so close, it feels like we can reach out and touch the mountain! We return back through Samati and continue on downhill to Thansing. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 12: Thansing-Choakchrung: Our camp tonight is at Choakchrung. Today we plan to assess our group schedule and well-being. Be prepared to be flexible at this point as we will want to "play it by ear." It is only a two-hour hike down from Thansing to Choakchrung (10,000 feet) so we have plenty of time to enjoy the beauty around us. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 13: Choakchrung-Tsokha: We take a new trail through deep green virgin forests of rhododendron, white fur and blue spruce. Today's walk takes five hours and has led us into a different drainage. We ascend 1,000 feet today to enjoy the sounds of the forest. Hiking below moss-covered branches, we are surrounded by birds and butterflies. Camp at Tsokha (10,000 feet). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 14: Tsokha-Yuksam: Now we are retracing our steps as we return downhill to Yuksam. It is a steep 4,000-foot descent and takes about seven hours. Overnight at our hotel in Yuksam (6,000 feet). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 15: Yuksam-Darjeeling: After about a two-hour drive, we stop for an early lunch and visit Pema Yangtse, the premier monastery of Sikkim built in the 17th century. The unique feature of the monastery is the wooden structure depicting "Sangthokpalris", the heavenly abode of Guru Padmasambhava (the Buddhist lama who is credited with converting Sikkim and Tibet to Buddhism). Visitors are welcome and there's no objection to our sitting in on a prayer and chanting session.
Enjoy captivating scenes of paddy fields and orange groves as we drive five hours via back roads to Darjeeling. Our hotel is a delightful older establishment with gardens, views and fireplaces. There will be some free time to relax and settle in before an optional short evening stroll around the Mall. Darjeeling was originally established by the British as a hill station in the mid 1800s. People come up here to escape the heat of the plains. Pleasantly surrounded by tea plantations on all sides, we can absorb magnificent views of snowy peaks including Kanchengjunga. Overnight at our hotel Darjeeling. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 16: Darjeeling: Today we will visit the famous Ghoom Monastery, which enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha (the coming Buddha). A small donation is customary. The monks are friendly and will probably invite us to join them for a cup of the famous, salty, Yak Butter Tea (think of it as a light soup or broth as you drink it).
We may enjoy a short but memorable ride 4.5 miles back to Darjeeling from Ghoom on the famous "Toy Train". Completed in 1882 this railway connected Darjeeling with the rest of British India. Our ride, although short, will give us a chance to admire the Bastasia Loop, one of four complete loops and five switchbacks maneuvered on this feat of engineering. After lunch, we will visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Zoological Park and the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center (a popular place to shop for arts and crafts). We will spend a second night at our hotel in Darjeeling. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 17: Darjeeling-Delhi: After breakfast, we proceed to Bagdogra to catch the afternoon flight back to Delhi. This flight arrives in Delhi in about two hours to reenter the modern world. Alternatively you can divert to Nepal via taxi and flight to Kathmandu or explore Bhutan via Land Rover. Your group leader will depart from the group today. If you don't depart today, inquire about booking additional nights in Delhi, as well as many additional options to enhance your visit. (Breakfast)
Post Trip: Be sure to check in at least three hours early and save money for your departure tax. Morning departures mean a same day return date for Americans crossing the international date line — to arrive home about midday. A dreamy day filled with wonderful memories — vignettes of new faces, places and friends you'll never forget! If you are staying on in Delhi you can relax, shop or explore. Delhi is very historical and has excellent museums and ancient ruins. Consider an extension to visit the majestic Taj Mahal or ancient Agra Fort — there are many places to enjoy and explore.
Important Note: This itinerary is only meant as a guide to the plan of our trek. Changes can occur as we go and are based on local conditions, acclimatization, health and fitness levels, etc. Times and elevations noted here are all rounded off. There can be abrupt weather changes, rustic toilet facilities and exposure to the elements. All of the areas to be visited are remote and there will be no reliable sources of medical care outside of Delhi. Your group leader is well-trained in first aid and carries a first aid kit. This will be an amazing experience if you enjoy nature and prepare for physical activity and the outdoors.
Travel Details: If you are making your own arrangements, note that you must arrive in New Delhi, India no later than November 1, 2013 and that you should not depart earlier than November 17, 2013. Ask us about bookings for a room should you have an overnight stopover on the way. You are welcome to travel early or stay late. We can arrange additional accommodations, tours or transfers in New Delhi or Darjeeling. The cost is low with comfortable deluxe rooms with attached bathrooms, telephones, room service, laundry service, a free safety deposit box and ample luggage storage. Please refer to the booking information section of our application form for more information.
Sikkim & Kanchenjunga Trek • Administrative Details:
(+) Land Cost (land cost as itinerary has described):
(+) In-Trip Airfare Estimate (air during itinerary program):
(=) Total Program Cost (Land & In-Trip Air costs combined):
Trip Deposit (submit with application):
Single Supplement (optional single accommodation):
Maximum Group Size:
Other Cost & Need Considerations:
Passport, Visa(s), Physicians Visit, Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance, Travel to/from New Delhi, Meals Beyond Above Itinerary, Beverages, Spending/Personal Money.
Moderate: Usually involves hiking an average of four to six hours each day — with some trekking time being spent at high altitude. Accommodations consist of evenings spent at tea or guest houses and tent camping along the trail.
September 1, 2013 ($100USD late fee thereafter)
The Sikkim & Kanchenjunga Trek Printable Itinerary:
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