Located at 11,929 feet above sea level, Sandakphu trek height is the maximum for any trek in West Bengal. Set in the beautiful Darjeeling district, the route starts from a small town called Manebhanjan, which is located at a height of 7,054 feet above sea level. Though the difference seems steep, it’s still considered to be an easy trek with several level walks, descends, and a few steep ascends. Manebhanjan is the gateway to Sandakphu and Singalila National Park.
From New Jalpaiguri, which is the nearest railway station, and Bagdogra, the nearest airport, it takes about 4 hours to reach Manebhanjan via road. The route takes you through Mirik. In case a direct taxi isn’t available from the airport or the railway station, you need to reach Mirik for a transfer.
It’s worth mentioning that shared taxis aren’t available at the Bagdogra airport. Manebhanjan is about 26 km from Darjeeling, and it takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to complete the journey in a taxi. Most trekkers reach Manebhanjan one day prior to the trek. This allows them to relax and stay overnight in a homestay or a hotel.
From Manebhanjan, the total distance to Sandakphu is 32 km, which can be covered within 3 days. If you’re able to trek for about 9 hours per day, you can even reach Sandakphu in 2 days. Most trekkers take 3 days to complete the journey, while soaking in panoramic views of the Himalayas.
Sandakphu trekking also allows you to trek further to Phalut, which is about 21 km away. This usually takes an additional day. Though the entire journey is easy, it can seem long and tiring. From Sandakphu, you can take the same route to return. However, most trekkers prefer an alternate route.
This one takes you through Gurdum and Srikhola before reaching Rimbik, where private and shared taxis are readily available for a return transfer. A lot of seasoned trekkers and hardcore backpackers proceed to Phalut, and soak in even more views and memories before returning home. If you’re planning a round trip or full circuit to Sandakphu, it will take about 5 days, depending on your fitness level and weather conditions. Despite the steep Sandakphu trek height, this one is suitable for anyone with above average fitness level.
Sandakphu Trek Height Impacts Your Choices
For a trek at such high altitude, you need to have a clear idea about weather conditions, essential clothing, food, medication etc. We’ve tried to give some information about these aspects to ensure you have a great time on the trek. The best season to visit Sandakphu is from April to May, when you can see orchids, rhododendrons and primulas in full bloom. Weather remains pleasant and clear skies allow you to view the majestic Himalayas without any issues.
The period from October to November is also quite popular among trekkers. During this period, it’s better to plan the journey with an experienced Sandakphu trek guide. Though visibility is good, occasional snowfall and bad weather conditions may cause some problems. A professional guide ensures your safety, and lets you have fun without experiencing any problems.
These days, Sandakphu trekking is a popular choice even in the winter season. From December to February, temperatures can be freezing, and you’ll need to pack heavy woolens, sleeping bags, snow boots etc. Usually, only seasoned trekkers and hardcore backpackers plan a trip during this period.
It’s worth mentioning that Singalila National Park remains closed from June to September. Animal breeding and monsoon season can cause serious trouble during this period. However, you can trek up to Tumling, a small and beautiful village, during these months. After a 1 km walk from Tumling, you can see the entry to Singalila National Park. Here are some other things you need to consider while planning Sandakphu trekking.
Clothing & Accessories – Due to Sandakphu trek height, it can be cold even in the summer season. Thus, you should carry jackets and woolens. During winter season, gloves, caps and heavy woolens are required. In addition to this, you should carry a raincoat, trekking shoes, extra pair of socks etc. You should also carry a trekking stick, and essential medication.
Lighting – Sandakphu is a remote area without any power or electricity. After Tumling, you’ll notice only a few villagers using generators and solar panels. Electricity is only consumed for some time at night, post which you need to use candles. Hot water is a very precious commodity, and should not be wasted. It’s provided in small buckets.
Food – Delicious but simple food will welcome you to the forest. Noodles, bread, dal, rice and a few light snacks will make a major portion of your meals. You shouldn’t expect anything fancy in this part of the world. However, bottled drinking water, packaged snacks and alcoholic beverages are available throughout the route.
Sandakphu Trekking Experience
In case you’re a beginner, you should go slow and save some energy for difficult ascends. It’s important to take a break every few minutes. Your Sandakphu trek guide will walk ahead of you all the time. This keeps you protected against wildlife and bad road conditions. Due to prior experience, your guide can predict changes in weather and other usual problems you might come across.
Some people believe that trekking downhill is easier. However, that’s not always the case. The downhill trail can have steep gradient, and you may find it difficult to dodge the tricky terrain. Thin ice cover in winter season and dry leaves in autumn can make the route slippery. It can even take a toll on your ankles and knees.
Last but not the least, consuming alcohol on Sandakphu trek route can cause several problems. Since you’ll be at an altitude of approximately 12,000 feet above sea level, your body needs abundant oxygen. Alcohol can cause problems like headaches and dehydration. It’s never a good idea to consume alcohol on a trek.
Renok Adventures has been conducting and organising tours to Sandakphu for quite some time. If you’re planning a Sandakphu trek or want to know more about Sandakphu trek height, our seasoned trekkers, guides and support staff will be glad to help you out. To discuss your specific requirements about the trek, get in touch. Please click here.