With a height of 11,929 feet above sea level, Sandakphu is the highest summit in the famous Singalila National Park. Compared to other treks in the region, Sandakphu trek difficulty, is considered easy. However, the high altitude can cause problems and weather conditions may change frequently. Therefore, you need to take necessary precautions. It’s highly recommended to plan your trip with a professional tour operator.
Sandakphu Trek Difficulty
In order to explain the Sandakphu trek difficulty level, we thought it would be best to share a sample itinerary with information about the route. The journey starts from Jaubhari, which is considered to be the most scenic basecamp. The closest railway station is in New Jalpaiguri, while the nearest airport is in Bagdogra. A drive from both these locations takes you through mountain roads, villages bordering Nepal and several tea estates. It takes about 5 hours to complete the journey.
Jaubhari to Tumling – This route takes you through level walks and steep ascends. A few rocky trails and muddy areas make the trek quite difficult. You even have to walk through meadows. In this part of the route, a Sandakphu trek guide definitely helps. From your stay in Jaubhari, start climbing the main road, and you’ll notice a trail leading up to Chitrey. A steep climb of approximately 3 km, you can finish the journey within 3.5 hours.
Nearing the end of the trail, the walk will get steep for about 10 minutes. Against two small shops, there’s an upward motor road, and a trail leading up to Chitrey Monastery. You’ll be able to notice the Buddhist prayer flags from quite some distance.
From here, the difficulty level increases and the trail goes uphill. Until Lamyadhura, you’ll even find steps for the climb. On reaching Lamyadhura, the forest gives you clear views of a meadow. It’s one of the most scenic parts of the Sandakphu trek route. In order to reach Meghma, you’ll have to follow a steady incline, with some motor roads and leisurely walks.
In about 1.5 hours, you’ll reach an SSB check post. After getting your permits checked, you can walk straight to the Buddhist Monastery. A short walk from here brings you to a fork. The straight road goes up to Tonglu via Meghma. It’s a flat walk on a motor road, which takes you to Tumling, right on the Indo-Nepal border with some guesthouses.
Tumling to Kalipokhri – From Tumling, you can either choose a motor road or a hiking trail. If you want to minimize Sandakphu trek difficulty, take the motor road, and reach Garibas via Jaubari (different from the basecamp). The hiking trail is a lot more scenic with meadows and dense forests.
Garibas is about 5 km from Tumling through the forest. The trail gradually climbs and takes you to a high point in Sandakphu. From this point, it descends for about 10 minutes, and takes you through a beautiful meadow.
On the right hand side, you can see India, while Nepal is on the left hand side. With a 40 minute descend, you’ll reach Garibas. After a short break, you can proceed to Kaiyakatta, which is about 2 km away. It’s a steep climb of 1.5 km. You can even take the motor road to soak in the scenic views of Nepal.
After reaching the top, your Sandakphu trek guide will ask you to descend for about 10 minutes. Here, you can stop for lunch. From Kaiyakatta, Kalipokhri is about 4 km. It’s a level motor road where vehicles aren’t allowed. It’s one of the most scenic routes, and you’ll reach Kalipokhri lake within 2 hours.
Kalipokhri to Sandakphu – After reaching Bikheybhanjang, you should take a short break. From here, Sandakphu trek route is a very steep incline of about 4 km. The entire stretch is zigzag, and you need to choose between two routes. The left one is longer, but takes you through gradual ascends. The right one is shorter, but has steep ascends.
Assuming your fitness level is adequate and considering the shorter route, you’ll have to walk for about 15 minutes before India and Nepal’s trails converge and break-up. Tea stalls and huts are abundant in this region. You can soak in the panoramic views of the Himalayas.
Sandakphu to Sabargram – Since you need to cover a lot of distance, it’s important to start early in the morning. If you’re wondering about Sandakphu trek difficulty on this stretch, you’ll be walking through meadows and through ridges. There are a few slopes with strong winds. During April and May, the entire trail is lined with rhododendrons.
In the north-east direction, you’ll have to descend for about 20 minutes, before a 10 minute ascend takes you to another descend. Over 2 to 3 hillocks will have gradual descends and ascends. Within 1.5 hours, you’ll reach the Thukumb checkpost.
Sabargram to Gorkhey via Phalut – From Sabargram to Phalut, it takes 2.5 hours to cover a 7 km zigzag stretch. After every 15 minutes, you’ll notice level walks and gradual descends. Post this, you’ll have to cover a steep 1 km climb. After a while, you’ll notice the trekkers’ hut. From here, Phalut is a steady climb of approximately an hour.
Phalut only has an SSB camp, a Forest Department guest house and a GTA trekkers’ hut. From this point, you can get clear views of the majestic Himalayas. If the weather permits, your Sandakphu trek guide will ask you to proceed to Gorkhey on the same day.
From Phalut, the descent begins and takes you through the forest. In about 10 km, you’ll reach Gorkhey, which is a steep ascend to the village. It takes you through some fields and meadows with multiple openings.
Gorkhey to Sepi – To reach Sepi, you can take the route via Ramam. The stretch takes you through steep ascends and forest areas. On the trail, you’ll pass Samamden, which is a beautiful village with lush fields and wooden huts. Next to the SSB check post, you’ll find a tea house, where you can take a break.
From the dense forest, the stretch from Ramam to Sepi takes you through several descends. After crossing a wooden bridge in Srikhola, you need to walk on the motor road for about 40 minutes. After a lunch break, you can leave for New Jalpaiguri. With a professional tour operator, vehicles for your departure will already be available. If you’re looking to plan Sandakphu trek, you can get in touch with our seasoned trekkers and support staff. Please click here.