Sandakphu – Darjeeling internationally acclaimed as one of the best hill resorts is also a veritable paradise for trekkers and adventure seekers. Trekking in Darjeeling is an experience which no lover of nature should miss. It takes one to places where nature is yet in her primeval majesty. It brings one face to face with the sublime grandeur of the Himalayas.
Sandakphu has a small village on the peak with few hostels. Four of the five highest peaks in the world, Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu can be seen from its summit. From Sandakphu the best view of the mountain Kangchenjunga is possible, which is known as the Sleeping Buddha or the Sleeping Shiva.
Sandakphu is a wonderland for the trekkers. It’s located at an altitude of 11,929ft (i.e. 3,636 meters) in Darjeeling district and on the north west of Darjeeling hill town. The trek to Sandakphu goes all along the Singalila range. There are over 600 varieties of orchids in this area, the largest concentration in any single geographical area in the world. One can see them bloom in spring.
The trek route passes through the Singalila National Park all the way to the summit. So your trek journey is further complemented with the Singalila National Park that has some of the most fascinating rare animals like Red Pandas and Pangolins.
Sandakphu can be reached in two different ways, either by car or by trekking. The trekking starts from Manebhanjang via Chitire, Meghma, Tonglu, Tumling, Gairibas, Kalapokhri, Bekhe to Sandakphu. From Manebhanjang one can hire 1950’s made Land Rovers which climbs up to Sandakphu and Phalut. The journey on Land Rover is not quite smooth on the rough mountain roads.
What is the best time to visit Sandakphu?
There are two ideal seasons for Sandakphu trek. One is Spring, i.e., from mid-March to May. The temperature during this time ranges from 8 Degree Celsius to 15 Degree Celsius. Spring is the ideal time to witness the aesthetic and divine appeal of Sandakphu.
The second one is the Fall. It starts in October and lasts until early December. It’s an ideal time to trek if you like to get an unobstructed view of the snow-decked peaks and experience the occasional snowfall. The temperature during these months range from 5 Degree Celsius and drops down to -5 Degree Celsius.
How do I get to Sandakphu?
If your intention is to explore the natural splendor of the place, then trekking ensures you the best of everything that you wish to unfold. If you want to experience a scenic drive, you can hire one of the vintage land rovers introduced by the British centuries ago. However, the motorable roads in the region are rough. So, you can rather expect a bumpy ride than a steady drive.
The trekking expedition starts from Maney Bhanjyang. You can hire vehicles from Darjeeling to reach the origin spot of the trek. For the ones unwilling to scale the abrupt ascent, you should further proceed ahead with the jolting ride.
Is Sandakphu Trek Difficult?
Unlike the typical Himalayan expeditions, Sandakphu trekking is moderate. The entire trail comprises of uphill grades and the routes pass through the enchanting woods and serene meadows.
The beginners who are physically fit and strong can easily finish the trek. Any skilled climbers and experienced trekkers surely will find Sandakphu trek extremely easy. Despite the uneven rugged landscapes and the slopes, the natural scenic appeal throughout the tracks makes your trek worth the climb.
How do I get to Sandakphu from Siliguri?
If you’re commencing your trekking/trip to Sandakphu from Siliguri, you can hire a cab till Maney Bhanjyang. It is the origin point of Sandakphu trek. If your purpose is to trek, you can begin your trek from this pleasant destination. Once you reach Tumling from the starting point, you’ll hold your journey for the day. Tumling is one of the breathtaking peaks en route. It falls under the Singalila Range. Remember, on an average scale, you’d be covering the minimum distance of 5km/day. Trekkers huts are available throughout the en route and trails.
Next day, post breakfast, another full day trek traversing the enchanting woods and meadows. You’ll be delving deeper and passing through Singalila National Park to reach Kalpokhri region. Kalpokhri Lake comprises as one of the intriguing en routes to Sandakphu. The small settlement in the region provides homestay facilities, trekkers huts, and other primary comforts. Kalpokhri region is the closing en route to your intended point. An overnight stay in Kalpokhri trekkers hut provides the restful stay and acumen into the rustic life of the locals.
Start early the next morning. Ensure you eat your breakfast. The scenic trek covering 4km will finally reward your effort. You’ll be standing on the remarkable and exotic Sandakphu Peak- the highest point in Darjeeling and West Bengal. From here, you’ll be able to catch the unhindered glimpse of the major peaks in the world including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga, etc.
Finally, an overnight stay at Sandakphu. The descent begins the next day. Start early cover the first half to reach Gurdum, and the other half to reach Sri Khola. Stay overnight at the GTA lodge. Next day, you can hire a vehicle that will drive you to Siliguri. Thus, your journey ends.
Details About Sandakphu Climate & Weather
Sandakphu experiences extreme cold weather throughout the year. The winters start from the month of November and last till mid-March. It’s during these months the entire place remains enveloped underneath the pristine white snow. As the snow begins to melt, Sandakphu awakens in its utmost sheen. Spring, starting from March to May extends an ideal opportunity to witness the aesthetic beauty of the place. The region turns green. The Rhododendrons and the wildflowers bloom at their utmost charm turning the place into an earthly paradise. Monsoon starts from the month of June to September. The place experiences continuous downpour. The trekking expeditions mostly remain closed during this time, in order to avert the trekkers from inconveniences.
The adventure resumes with the arrival of the Fall. It starts in October and lasts until early December. The cloudless and azure skies apparently ensure best views of the snow-decked mountains, brownish slopes, and the starlit night skies.
You can plan your trek as per your preference. Be it Spring, Fall, or Winter, you should carry along adequate warm clothing and shoes to knock the harsh mountain wind.
Accommodation Facilities & Hotels Near Sandakphu
Sandakphu is an offbeat destination. Due to it’s isolated and rustic nature, the place lacks modern conveniences. Anyone traveling to the region should adjust with basic things. As accommodations are concerned, few hotels and homestays are available in the region. The double bedded or dormitory type accommodation is feasible.
Food and Safe Drinking Water During Sandakphu Trek
There are few local homestays en route to the peak that provides vegetarian meals and safe drinking water. Besides, we recommend you to carry snacks and drinking water to satiate your thirst and cravings during the climb. Don’t forget your first-aid kit.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) On Sandakphu
There are two perfect times to visit Sandakphu. One is Spring or the flowering season (mid-March to May).
The second is Autumn (October to early December), which is ideal for a distinct view of Mount Everest and other peaks. You can even go for short treks and enjoy seasonal snowfall.
Sandakhphu can easily be accessed from Darjeeling, Siliguri. The antique and unique Land Rovers from British Raj still ply to Sandakphu. The roads are not in good condition, so you can expect a bumpy ride up the hill. If you plan to trek, you can drive up to Maneybhanjyang – the actual trekking starts from here.
Yes. You can get a clear and closer view of Mount Everest and it’s adjoining mountains ridges from Sandakhphu.
The level of Sandakphu trek is moderate. The seasoned trekkers can easily accomplish the trek. The beginners who are not acquainted walking on the mountain slopes should practice brisk walking before actually going for the trek.
Yes. Sandakhphu experiences seasonal snowfall during Winters. The Snowfall occurs from November and lasts till Mid of March.