Popularly called the ‘Paradise of Trekkers’, a Sandakphu trek by car takes you through several valleys, meadows, forest and grasslands to the highest peak. From here, you can soak in the mesmerizing views of the four tallest mountains in the world. These include Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Makalu and Mt. Kanchenjunga.
One of the most popular and scenic treks in the state of West Bengal, Sandakphu is at a height of 11,930 feet above sea level. It’s considered to be the highest trekking route in West Bengal. A trip to Sandakphu makes you realize the grandeur of the Himalayas. In this region, nature has a different meaning, and the hardship you endure to complete the journey will be worth the effort.
Unlike other trekking routes in the region, this one is relatively easy. It’s not only covered by young adults, but even older people with good fitness. Though road condition isn’t very good, Sandakphu is still accessible in a Jeep or a 4×4 car. The trek takes you through Singalila National Park, home to the rare species of Red Panda. While following the mountain ridge, you stay right on the Indo-Nepal border.
Meaning ‘Height of the Poison Plant’, Sandakphu has been given this name due to the presence of poisonous aconite plants growing near the peak. A Sandakphu trekking experience is unmatched, and allows you to explore the region at your own pace. With the backdrop of the north-eastern Himalayas, you’ll be definitely mesmerized.
Sandakphu Trek by Car
In order to cover Sandakphu trek by car, you’ll need to consult a professional tour operator. With an experienced trekker and guide, you won’t have to worry about logistics, such as entry permits, tickets, stay, guide, vehicle etc. Everything will be organized for you, and you’ll be picked up from either Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri railway station, depending on your convenience.
However, if you want to manage everything on your own, it’s better to visit Manebhanjan, which is about 4 hours from New Jalpaiguri/Bagdogra, and 1.5 hours from Darjeeling. Your journey to Sandakphu/Phalut will start from here. You can easily get a pre-paid taxi from the airport or the railway station.
It will take you straight to Manebhanjan. To cut cost, you can even hire a shared taxi, which requires a transfer at Sukhia. Sandakphu trek route is pretty straightforward, and you wouldn’t experience any major issues. On reaching Manebhanjan, you can hire a 4-wheel drive for the journey to Sandakphu and Phalut.
During peak season, it can be quite difficult to find a decent accommodation. Thus, it’s important to book your stay in advance. Once again, if you’ve booked a package with a tour operator, you won’t have to worry about these things.
In order to enter the forest area, you need to take a permit from the Forest Department’s office. Near Tumling, the Sandakphu trek route passes through Singalila National Park. The Forest Department’s office is on the roadside before an uphill road starting from Manebhanjan. You need to pay an entry fee to trek through this trail. The permit can also be taken from the park’s entrance near Tumling.
Fares & Costs
For Sandakphu trek by car, you need to consider certain expenses. We’ve tried to give you an idea about approximate fares and cost you can expect. From Bagdogra or New Jalpaiguri to Manebhanjan, a small car will cost around INR 3,000. If you’re travelling from Darjeeling, it will take INR 50 for a shared Jeep ride. A small car from Darjeeling will cost about INR 1,200.
From Manebhanjan to Tumling – A Land Rover for a round trip will cost INR 1,800 plus night charges
From Manebhanjan to Sandakphu – A Land Rover for a round trip will cost INR 4,800 plus night charge
From Manebhanjan to Phalut – A Land Rover for a round trip will cost INR 7,500 plus night charge
Night halt charges for a Land Rover will be approximately INR 1,000 per night. The entry fee for the park is INR 100 for Indian nationals, and INR 200 for foreigners. The vehicle entry charge is INR 100. To take a still digital camera, you’ll have to pay INR 100, and for a video camera, charges are INR 400.
Along the route, you’ll find several places to stay. Trekker huts and lodges are abundant in Phalut, Sandakphu, Gairibas and Tonglu. You can even book a private lodge or trekker hut in Sandakphu, Kalipokhri, Gairibas, Jaubhari, Tumling and Meghma. Most trekkers plan to stay overnight in Tumling. Most lodges and guesthouses in this region give stunning views of the peaks. Moreover, it’s a great stop enroute Sandakphu trekking.
It’s important to understand that most accommodation options in Sandakphu offer basic facilities. There’s no electricity, and solar power can only provide enough energy for some hours at night. You shouldn’t expect facilities like TV, phones etc.
If you plan to book a bed or a room in a GTA lodge, you need to visit the GTA tourism office. Most tour operators book your stay in a private lodge. Moreover, the package also includes transport and meals. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can get the trip customized.
Clothes to Carry
Sandakphu and Phalut are located at high altitudes. Thus, they remain pretty cold throughout the year. During early spring and winter season, temperature can drop below zero without any fair warning. It can be freezing and chilly. Therefore, throughout the Sandakphu trek route, you need to take necessary precautions. Depending on the time of travel, you need to carry woolens and warm clothes. A jacket, windcheater, trekking shoes, cap and raincoat are a must.
If you’re looking to plan a Sandakphu trek by car, our team of seasoned trekkers and support staff will be happy to help. We have been conducting and organising tours to Sandakphu for quite some time. Depending on your requirements, we can customize the perfect package for you. To get in touch, please click here.