This trek also offers amazing close-up views of the high Himalaya, including Kanchenjunga. On clear days you might even catch a sight of Everest. The people here are among the most friendly and peaceful in the world. If you are looking for an exotic adventure deep into the highest Himalayas – look no further.
You should be an active and very keen walker. There is no technical climbing involved, though there maybe exposed sections on ridges or high above river gorges. Some days may involve ascents/descents of 1000m+.
Trekking in Nepal is best suited for experienced walkers. This particular trek is ideal for novice Nepalese trekkers. Nonetheless completing the trek will be a challenge partly because of the altitude and the length of the trip. Participants need to be prepared for continuous trekking (up to 4-6 hours) across varied terrain. The route follows a good trail path and with the correct preparation and acclimatisation, any reasonably fit person can make the journey.
You will need to be in good health with a reasonably high level of fitness in order to cope with long days out on the hill with 4-6 hours of hiking on average.
You should get yourself into good physical shape before the trek. Any reasonable exercise is good, but especially walking. You should be able to walk for several hours on consecutive days without too much problem. Add to this some more aerobic activities such as cycling or running and you should be getting towards the kinds of fitness levels that you will need to really enjoy this journey.
Day 1: Delhi. You are met at the airport in Delhi and transferred to your hotel. The day includes a sightseeing tour of Sir Edward Lutyens' New Delhi, the garden city built in 1911 by the British. We also visit the Birla Mandir (Lakshminarayan Temple), the President's House, Humayun's Tomb (the forerunner of the Taj Mahal), and India Gate.
Day 2: Gangtok. We being our journey by flying to Bagdogra, the gateway to Sikkim from where we drive to Gangtok, the state capital, a scenic five to six hour trip. Check into our hotel and check out the good views of Kanchengjunga (28,169 feet), the third highest mountain in the world and the area's most sacred peak.
Day 3: Gangtok – rest day 1. Start the day with the spectacular sunrise view of Kanchengjunga right from the hotel. Places of interest include the local market, and Enchey and Rumtek Monasteries.
Day 4: Gangktok-Yuksam. Continue on by road to Yuksam (1850 m). 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.
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 (1,900 m). Today's ascent is over 900 m.
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 (7,095 m), 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 (3,860 m) Today's ascent is about 900 m.
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 (4,250 m).
Day 8: Layover at Dzongri – rest day 2. From Dzongri, we have intimate views of the Himalayas at arms reach. Towering above us are the snowy peaks Jupono (6,290 m) and Pandim (7,095 m). It is important that we rest today and drink plenty of water in order to acclimatize properly. Camp at Dzongri (4,250 m).
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 (4,160 m), where we camp with clear views of Pandim and the east ridge of Kanchengjunga.
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 (4,580 m).
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. We return back through Samati and continue on downhill to Thansing.
Day 12: Thansing-Choakchrung. Our camp tonight is at Choakchrung. It is only a two-hour hike down from Thansing to Choakchrung (3,225 m) so we have plenty of time to enjoy the beauty around us.
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. Hiking below moss-covered branches, we are surrounded by birds and butterflies. Camp at Tsokha (3,200 m).
Day 14: Tsokha-Yuksam. Now we are retracing our steps as we return downhill to Yuksam. It is a steep 1,400 m descent and takes about seven hours. Overnight at our hotel in Yuksam (1,930 m).
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. Enjoy captivating scenes of paddy fields and orange groves as we drive five hours via back roads to Darjeeling. 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.
Day 16: Darjeeling-Delhi. After breakfast, we proceed to Bagdogra to catch the flight back to Delhi. Afternoon at leisure in Delhi.
Day 17: Delhi. The tour ends today with breakfast and transfer to the airport for the flight home.
A note about the Itinerary.
This is a fair indication of the shape of the expedition. However, local circumstances, weather and safety considerations may oblige the group leader to make changes, even at the very last minute. There are also route variations and additions which may be taken according to the fitness and wishes of the group. This is a camping trek, fully supported by guides, a cook team and porters. You will be woken at 6.00 am each day with a cheerful ‘Namaste!’ and a cup of tea, followed shortly by a bowl of hot water for morning ablutions. Breakfast follows soon afterwards and by 7.30 you should be on your way for the first stint of the day with just a day-pack on your back. Three or four hours later brings a midday break - plentiful liquid replenishment and a cooked lunch – before setting off for the afternoon’s walk. The total walking time each day varies but you would normally to expect to reach the night’s resting spot between 4.00 and 5.00 pm. The Sherpa team will put up your sleeping tent (two to a tent) as well as the dining tent complete with table and chairs. By 7.30 you should be enjoying a three-course meal made with provisions carried from base supplemented by fresh locally purchased produce. It is likely that the camp will be in or just outside a small village many of whose inhabitants will welcome you into their homes.
Guideline price: £1,250 per person depending on dates & group size. This price includes: all guiding fees, all transport (excluding flights), all accommodation, all camping facilities and meals during expedition, all porterage costs, all costs and expenses for local guides and helpers.
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