Sandakphu trek, rightly called the highest peak in Singalila National Park, is a scenic wonder. It offers stunning views of the four tallest mountains in the world, i.e., Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Everest. On this trek, you can soak in these amazing experiences under clear skies. Your Sandakphu trek guide will make necessary arrangements and provide you with all the help to explore this beautiful region. Sandakphu attracts backpackers and trekkers from around the world, and gives you a chance to build lifelong memories.
From several viewpoints on the trail, you can get clear views of the Kanchenjunga Range. Since it’s the third highest peak in the world, you can be assured of amazing views, including the famous ‘Sleeping Buddha’, which is a cluster of peaks forming the shape of a sleeping Lord Buddha. In this cluster, Mt. Kumbakarna gives an impression of a human face with a well-defined nose structure, and Mt. Pandim looks like the feet. With a professional tour operator and a guide managing everything, you don’t miss such details on the trek.
Singalila National Park has several species of flora and fauna. Throughout the journey, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of rhododendrons, magnolias and orchids. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to spot Red Pandas, a rare species. Sandakphu trekking is not just a usual trekking experience, but takes you close to nature in an unparalleled manner.
A lot of guides planning and organising treks are informed about certain spots where Red Pandas can be sighted. You may even be able to capture a few photographs to take back home. It’s worth mentioning that the entire trail is located on the Indo-Nepal border, and you will be crossing sides quite a few times. Though Sandakphu is a long trek, it’s relatively easy. In fact, it’s considered to be one of the easiest treks near the Himalayas. However, you should still consult an experienced Sandakphu trek guide.
Highlights of Sandakphu Trek
During the trek, you will cover several snow-covered trails, forest areas, grasslands and monasteries. Locals will greet you with smiling faces, and huge snow-capped mountains will form the perfect backdrop for everything. According to seasoned trekkers and backpackers, post-monsoon season is the perfect time to visit Sandakphu, but we’ll get back to this later in this detailed Sandakphu trek guide.
To give a brief, the month of September allows you to have clear views without any rains. The weather is also favourable, and makes it easier for you to complete the trek. The period between February to April is also an ideal choice to plan a visit. During these months, rhododendrons are in full bloom, and the entire region looks like a sheet of pink and red. Spring season is also the perfect time to spot Red Pandas. Here’s an overview of the key highlights of Sandakphu trek.
Stunning Views of Snow-Capped Peaks – On a trek to Sandakphu, you’re able to soak in all kinds of experiences. To reach the basecamp, you even pass the ancient Old Silk Route. Moreover, you can’t miss the impeccable hospitality of the people of Sikkim and Nepal. Beautiful teahouses and trekkers’ huts are visible along the trail. The dense grasslands and forest areas of Singalila National park will keep you mesmerized throughout the journey. Panoramic views of snow-capped peaks in the Annapurna and Kanchenjunga ranges will be one of the key highlights.
The amazing views of Mt. Makalu will look stunning. At 28,838 feet above sea level, it’s one of the highest peaks in the world. From Sandakphu summit, you can view this range close to Mt. Everest. Sunset is the best time to stop for a view. Lhotse, the south peak, is an integral and a beautiful part of the Everest Range. It even forms a well-defined Sandakphu trek route.
The highest peak in the world, Mt. Everest, is visible over other snow-capped peaks. Carrying your binoculars will be a good idea. It will allow you to catch close-up views of the mountains. Apart from these, several other peaks will look breathtaking and mesmerizing. You’ll be amazed at every step, looking at the untapped nature, and getting respite from your usual life.
View the Kanchenjunga – The high peaks in the Kanchenjunga Range are a cluster of snow-clad mountains. Every morning, when sunshine drops, each peak looks different and amazing. The magnificence of this beautiful range can’t be explained in words. One look outside your camp will reveal the beauty of the ‘Sleeping Buddha’, a cluster of snow-capped peaks in unending glory. Your Sandakphu trek guide will help you spot the right peaks at the right time.
According to experienced trekkers, sunshine makes the peaks change colours from gold to amber. This gives you a beautiful panoramic view of the Himalayas. One of the most scenic treks, Sandakphu is the perfect opportunity for beginners to feel nature up-close, and experience the beauty of trekking in the mountains.
Magnolias and Rhododendrons – As mentioned earlier, Sandakphu trek allows you to witness different colours of spring. White magnolias and pink-red rhododendrons are abundant in the entire region. Whether you’re ascending, descending or walking on level trails, you’ll see beauty at every step in the Singalila National Park. All the colours form the perfect palette to give you a festive feel. Therefore, spring is one of the best seasons to visit Sandakphu.
Spot Red Pandas – Naturally shy, Red Pandas are spread across Singalila National Park. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot a few. These charming but elusive animals hop around the forest, and you can spot them on trees. An experienced Sandakphu trek guide can help you spot them during spring season.
Kalipokhri – Popularly called the Black Lake, Kalipokhri is a small settlement. The beauty of this place is mesmerizing, and gives it the tag of being a picturesque location on the trek. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and Kanchanjunga in the backdrop, the view will be etched deep in your memory. It’s one of the most beautiful stretches on the Sandakphu trek route.
It’s worth mentioning that Kalipokhri is located in Nepal. The region is occupied by Buddhists, and provides you with solace and peace. You’ll be able to notice Buddhist prayer flags from quite some distance. This location should be a part of your Sandakphu trekking package.
Unlike most treks in the Himalayan region, Sandakphu trek has a mixed terrain. It’s a relatively easy trek, with several simple ascends and descends. However, you should take necessary precautions to ensure your overall safety. You should even prepare yourself for altitude sickness. Prior to leaving for the trek, you should work on improving your fitness level for at least a week.
Sandakphu Trek Difficulty
According to most trekkers, difficulty is a subjective concept. In most cases, it depends on weather conditions, fitness level of the trekker, terrain and other factors. If you consider various factors for Sandakphu trek, you’d notice that it’s easier compared to other treks near the Himalayas. The average distance of the trek is 32 km, if you complete the entire circuit. However, this trek is also doable in a car or a Jeep, which cuts off several kilometres from the total distance.
Just like any other high altitude trek, it’s important to get acclimatized. Therefore, once you’ve reached the basecamp, it’s better to rest for a day or two. Needless to say, this trek will also test your stamina and endurance. With proper guidance and right approach, you won’t experience much issues. Your Sandakphu trek guide will always be there to help.
Sandakphu Trek Best Time to Visit
As mentioned earlier, Sandakphu is the highest peak in the beautiful and famous Singalila National Park. Thus, Sandakphu trek weather is a crucial factor in ensuring a good trip. Though the trek is open throughout the year, two periods are considered to be amazing to plan a visit. During summer season, nature lovers should plan a visit, while the autumn season is perfect for viewing high peaks under clear skies.
From the month of April to June, the region sees orchids, magnolias, rhododendrons and other species of flowers in full bloom. Thus, the entire valley is covered in a sheet of pink and red. On the other hand, clear skies give a huge advantage from October to December. It allows trekkers to see high peaks without any obstruction.
Every year, tourists start visiting this scenic wonder from March. In the summer season, temperature remains close to 15 degree celsius. If you plan a visit in this season, it allows you to avoid freezing cold temperatures. However, if you like snow, January or February is the ideal time to plan trekking with a Sandakphu trek guide.
If you’re planning a visit in winter months, it’s important to make necessary preparations. You should carry the right kind of trekking gear, clothing and footwear. According to experienced guides and trekkers, beginners should plan a trek during summer months. It offers a comfortable and a safer trekking experience.
Sandakphu trek is the perfect mix of several scenic wonders. It’s one of the most scenic and exciting trekking experiences. Some beautiful villages and towns you’ll visit on the trek include Jaubhari, Gairibas, Bikheybhanjan, Kalipokhri and Manebhanjan. Your Sandakphu trek guide will help you throughout the trek. The average duration of the trek is 7 days.
By Flight – In case you’re planning to visit the region via flight, Bagdogra will be the nearest airport. Located about 100 km from Darjeeling district, it’s near a beautiful town called Siliguri. To reach Darjeeling from Bagdogra, you’ll need about 2.5 hours. Bagdogra airport is connected with major cities via regular flights.
Major airlines, such as Spicejet, Jet Airways and Air India operate flights to Bagdogra. It’s worth mentioning that schedules can vary, and you need to book a ticket in advance. Once you reach the airport, you’ll be able to find a cab without any problems.
By Train – If you want to take a train, New Jalpaiguri will be the closest railway station. It’s very well-connected with major cities in the country, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Kolkata. Several trains operate on these routes every day. On reaching New Jalpaiguri, you can even take a ride in the world-famous Toy Train.
By Bus – Most trekkers won’t recommend a bus journey in this region. It can be exhausting and tiring. However, bus services operate daily between Kolkata and Siliguri or Darjeeling. For shorter routes, a bus journey is fine, but for longer ones, it’s better to take a train, a taxi or a shared jeep.
By Jeep or Taxi – When you’ve reached Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri railway station, it’s easy to take a jeep or a taxi to reach Darjeeling. Most backpackers and trekkers prefer to take this mode of transportation. In case you’ve booked a Sandakphu trekking package with a professional tour operator, you won’t have to worry about logistics. Everything will be handled, and you’ll be helped in every way possible.
Via Darjeeling on Jeep with a Sandakphu Trek Guide
As mentioned earlier, one of the most comfortable and exciting ways to visit Sandakphu is in a Jeep. Once you’ve reached Kolkata, New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra, you can take a taxi or bus to reach Darjeeling. If you’ve booked a Sandakphu trekking package, professionals will take care of everything. In fact, they’ll even handle things related to permits and accommodation options.
When you’re travelling from New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra, you’ll be picked up by a professional Sandakphu trek guide to embark on a memorable and exciting journey. With help from a professional tour operator, you won’t have to worry about reaching Sandakphu in a hurry. Everything will be managed properly. However, if you still want to manage things on your own, it’s a straightforward journey. But it can be tiring and exhausting.
The base camp of the trek is in Manebhanjan. It’s a small village about 4 hours from New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra and 75 minutes from Darjeeling. From here, your trekking experience begins. You can even hire a pre-paid or shared taxi from New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra. Most trekkers prefer a shared-taxi, since it helps cut costs. However, a shared taxi requires you to change in Sukhia for a transfer.
After reaching Manebhanjan, you can simply rent a jeep or a 4×4 wheel drive, such as a Land Rover. It’s worth mentioning that Sandakphu is packed with tours during peak season. Therefore, it’s important to book an accommodation in advance. The region has plenty of sightseeing options, and your guide will help you choose a comfortable stay.
Fares & Costs
If you’re planning Sandakphu trekking by car, it’s important to consider a few expenses. In this section of the Sandakphu trek guide, we’ve tried to give a clear idea about costs. If you leave New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra to reach Manebhanjan in a small car, you may have to spend somewhere around INR 3,000. In case you’re travelling from Darjeeling, INR 50 will be sufficient for a jeep ride. A small car from Darjeeling costs around INR 1,200.
Manebhanjan to Tumling – Overnight cost for a Land Rover is around INR 1,800
Manebhanjan to Sandakphu – Overnight cost for a Land Rover is around INR 4,800
Manebhanjan to Phalut – Overnight cost for a Land Rover is around INR 7,500
Most tour operators charge around INR 1,000 per night for a Land Rover. You also need to consider the national park’s entry fee, which is INR 100 for Indians, and INR 200 for foreigners. Charges for vehicle entry are INR 100. If you want to carry a digital camera, you’ll have to pay INR 100, while a video camera ticket charges around INR 400.
On this entire route, you can find numerous places to stay. Lodges and guesthouses are abundant in several villages, such as Tonglu, Gairibas, Sandakphu and Phalut. You can also book trekkers’ huts in Meghma, Tumling, Jaubhari, Gairibas, Kalipokhri and Sandakphu. A lot of trekkers plan an overnight stay in Tumling. In this region, most lodges and guesthouses give amazing views of the high peaks. It can be the perfect stop on your Sandakphu trekking route.
It’s worth mentioning that most accommodations in Sandakphu offer basic amenities. Thus, you shouldn’t expect anything fancy. There’s no electricity, and everything runs on solar power. You won’t be able to enjoy facilities like phones, TV etc.
You can also book a room or a bed in a GTA lodge. In order to make the booking, you need to visit the GTA tourism office. A lot of tour operators book your accommodation in a private lodge. In addition to this, the tour package also includes meals and transport. Depending on the preferences and budget, you can even get the trip customized. Renok Adventures has been conducting tours to Sandakphu for quite some time. If you want to get in touch with our team of experts or an experienced Sandakphu trek guide, please click here.