Sandakphu Travel Guide: More than a Trekker’s Wonderland

Sandakphu – Not far from the renowned hills of Darjeeling, in the sublime northern mountains of West-Bengal, precariously close and sometimes interspersing the borders with Nepal, exists a pristine region of eastern Himalayas.

Read more details here

Harmoniously spread majorly in West Bengal, Sikkim and partly far-western Nepal, the Singalila Ridge, stretching north to south, separates the ranges of Bengal from the other east-Himalayan ranges west henceforth. Enveloping this rolling mountainous ridge with untouched perennial greenery and sheltering some immaculate wildlife within, prevails the Singalila National Park.

Harmoniously spread majorly in West Bengal, Sikkim and partly far-western Nepal, the Singalila Ridge, stretching north to south, separates the ranges of Bengal from the other east-Himalayan ranges west henceforth. Enveloping this rolling mountainous ridge with untouched perennial greenery and sheltering some immaculate wildlife within, prevails the Singalila National Park.

Read more details here

About

Sandakphu, literally means ‘Peak of the poison plants’. The nomenclature can be accredited to the bloom of some poisonous genus of plants nearby. One is the ‘Aconitus’, a perennial shrub, the roots of which have been used as medicine since time immemorial while its bright purplish-blue flowers and leaves can be lethally toxic if consumed imprudently.

About

Sandakphu, literally means ‘Peak of the poison plants’. The nomenclature can be accredited to the bloom of some poisonous genus of plants nearby. One is the ‘Aconitus’, a perennial shrub, the roots of which have been used as medicine since time immemorial while its bright purplish-blue flowers and leaves can be lethally toxic if consumed imprudently.

Read more details here

What is so special?

Onn a clear morning, especially at the wee hours when dawn breaks, 4 out of the 5 highest peaks of the world can be seen as part of an unworldly 180° panorama. All five lofts of the Sleeping Buddha (Mt. Kanchenjunga, 28,169 feet, third highest), Mt. Everest (29,029 feet, highest), Lhotse (27,940 feet, fourth highest) and Makalu (27,838 feet, fifth highest) are visible sparkling spectacularly in the golden hue at sunrise.

What is so special?

Onn a clear morning, especially at the wee hours when dawn breaks, 4 out of the 5 highest peaks of the world can be seen as part of an unworldly 180° panorama. All five lofts of the Sleeping Buddha (Mt. Kanchenjunga, 28,169 feet, third highest), Mt. Everest (29,029 feet, highest), Lhotse (27,940 feet, fourth highest) and Makalu (27,838 feet, fifth highest) are visible sparkling spectacularly in the golden hue at sunrise.

Read more details here

Is trekking the only option to get in Sandakphu?

No. It is motorable too. But there is a catch. It is not any smooth tarmac that anybody can drive on. The gravel-boulder track is tricky and only doable on a sturdy 4×4 SUV. Full of loose boulders, precarious bends and steep accents, it would also require exceptional driving skills.

Is trekking the only option to get in Sandakphu?

No. It is motorable too. But there is a catch. It is not any smooth tarmac that anybody can drive on. The gravel-boulder track is tricky and only doable on a sturdy 4×4 SUV. Full of loose boulders, precarious bends and steep accents, it would also require exceptional driving skills.

Read more details here

The Route Upward

The trek upward is 32 kilometers from Manebhanjan to Sandakphu, which is covered commonly over 3 days. Experienced trekkers manage it in a day less.

The Route Upward

The trek upward is 32 kilometers from Manebhanjan to Sandakphu, which is covered commonly over 3 days. Experienced trekkers manage it in a day less.

Read more details here

Manebhanjan

At an elevation of 7050 feet, Manebhanjan is a non-descript little roadside hill-town. The conventional trek starts from here. This is the place where one has to get an entry permit for the Singalila National Park. Also, the ‘Highlander Guides and Porters Welfare Association’ is located bang on the bazaar, from where the mandatory guide and porters require to be hired.

Manebhanjan

At an elevation of 7050 feet, Manebhanjan is a non-descript little roadside hill-town. The conventional trek starts from here. This is the place where one has to get an entry permit for the Singalila National Park. Also, the ‘Highlander Guides and Porters Welfare Association’ is located bang on the bazaar, from where the mandatory guide and porters require to be hired.

Read more details here

Tonglu

At slightly more than 10k feet, Tonglu takes 6-7 hours to reach on foot. The trail at its beginning is quite steep till the quaint little settlement of Chitre. It gets quite windy and chilly at nights in Tonglu, even in the peak summer months. Tonglu is a preferred halt for the first night for trekkers.

Tonglu

At slightly more than 10k feet, Tonglu takes 6-7 hours to reach on foot. The trail at its beginning is quite steep till the quaint little settlement of Chitre. It gets quite windy and chilly at nights in Tonglu, even in the peak summer months. Tonglu is a preferred halt for the first night for trekkers.

Read more details here

Tumling

A small flat elevated piece of land almost bang in the middle of the little village of a handful brightly colored, sloping tin-roofed houses of the ethnic ‘Gurungs’ of Nepal, serves as a viewpoint with a few park benches to sit and gaze at the heartwarming view of primarily the Sleeping Buddha. The Sandakphu peak can also be visible depending on the conditions.

Tumling

A small flat elevated piece of land almost bang in the middle of the little village of a handful brightly colored, sloping tin-roofed houses of the ethnic ‘Gurungs’ of Nepal, serves as a viewpoint with a few park benches to sit and gaze at the heartwarming view of primarily the Sleeping Buddha. The Sandakphu peak can also be visible depending on the conditions.

Read more details here

Kalipokhari

13 KMs from Tumling and 15 KMs from Tonglu, Kalipokhari at 10,400 feet is a day’s trek (7-8 Hours). As the name indicates, the greatest feature of the place is a not too large lake containing black water. The locals say the water never freezes too.

Kalipokhari

13 KMs from Tumling and 15 KMs from Tonglu, Kalipokhari at 10,400 feet is a day’s trek (7-8 Hours). As the name indicates, the greatest feature of the place is a not too large lake containing black water. The locals say the water never freezes too.

Read more details here

Sandakphu: The Final Accent

The trek from Kalipokhari to Sandakphu may only be 6 KMs, but undisputedly the most excruciating of the entire stretch. Trekking over the altitude of 10k feet is never easy. The air gets thinner which exhausts the hiker’s stamina easily, making it all the more difficult. The graceful Sleeping Buddha will welcome you with a smile.

Sandakphu: The Final Accent

The trek from Kalipokhari to Sandakphu may only be 6 KMs, but undisputedly the most excruciating of the entire stretch. Trekking over the altitude of 10k feet is never easy. The air gets thinner which exhausts the hiker’s stamina easily, making it all the more difficult. The graceful Sleeping Buddha will welcome you with a smile.

Read more details here

Sandakphu – Phalut

The gravel path goes on from Sandakphu till Phalut, which is the second highest peak of the Singalila Ridge at 11810 feet. The distance is 21 kilometers north of Sandakphu. Trekkers cover the distance in about 10-12 hours, mostly over an easier gradient. The route passes through picturesque vistas and for most of the journey, the Kanchenjunga keeps a watch on you.

Sandakphu – Phalut

The gravel path goes on from Sandakphu till Phalut, which is the second highest peak of the Singalila Ridge at 11810 feet. The distance is 21 kilometers north of Sandakphu. Trekkers cover the distance in about 10-12 hours, mostly over an easier gradient. The route passes through picturesque vistas and for most of the journey, the Kanchenjunga keeps a watch on you.

Read more details here

Location and Altitude

The region of the Singalila Ridge including the Singalila National Park is located partly in West Bengal, India, and Ilam, Nepal. The borders are just nominal with no restrictions for Indian tourists. Even foreigners with an Indian Visa will face no hindrance. The altitudes vary from 7000 to 11,150 feet.

Location and Altitude

The region of the Singalila Ridge including the Singalila National Park is located partly in West Bengal, India, and Ilam, Nepal. The borders are just nominal with no restrictions for Indian tourists. Even foreigners with an Indian Visa will face no hindrance. The altitudes vary from 7000 to 11,150 feet.

Read more details here

Best Season to Travel

Apart from the three months between mid-June to mid-September when the Singalila National Park is officially closed owing to Monsoons, a trip to Sandakphu can be done anytime in the remaining time of the year. However, the months of March-May and then October-December are considered the best durations to make a visit.

Best Season to Travel

Apart from the three months between mid-June to mid-September when the Singalila National Park is officially closed owing to Monsoons, a trip to Sandakphu can be done anytime in the remaining time of the year. However, the months of March-May and then October-December are considered the best durations to make a visit.

Read more details here

Permits and Guides

The entry permits can be obtained either at Manebhanjan or at the entry gate of the park shortly after Tumling. Visiting Tonglu, Tumling, and Srikhola independently would not require any permits. Taking one guide per group is mandatory and can be hired from the Highlander Guides and Porters welfare association outlet at Manebhanjan.

Permits and Guides

The entry permits can be obtained either at Manebhanjan or at the entry gate of the park shortly after Tumling. Visiting Tonglu, Tumling, and Srikhola independently would not require any permits. Taking one guide per group is mandatory and can be hired from the Highlander Guides and Porters welfare association outlet at Manebhanjan.

Read more details here

Nearby Utilities

There are no ATMs in the route, even none at Manebhanjan. The closest is a sole SBI ATM at Sukhiapokhri. Mirik has 3-4 ATMs besides many at Siliguri. Carry all your required cash from these places. Manebhanjan has a health center and the nearest hospital is in Darjeeling.

Nearby Utilities

There are no ATMs in the route, even none at Manebhanjan. The closest is a sole SBI ATM at Sukhiapokhri. Mirik has 3-4 ATMs besides many at Siliguri. Carry all your required cash from these places. Manebhanjan has a health center and the nearest hospital is in Darjeeling.

Read more details here

For further information and accommodation options and their contact details, do visit

,