Flanked by Nepal on its west, Bhutan on the east and Tibet on the north, Sikkim, despite being a little state in the Eastern Himalayas, stands tall in terms of height. Mount Khangchendzonga, third highest peak in the world and tallest in India with the height of 8598 mts adds feather to its hat. Sikkim is famous for its flora and fauna. Altitude here varies from the plains to 28000 ft. Biodiversity is mentionable here at Sikkim. With more than 400 species of Orchids and around 700 types of Butterflies, Marmots, Red Panda, Blue Sheep and the rare Snow Leopard, it’s a place worth visiting.
Sikkim is also known as Trekkers Paradise. Dzongri – Goechala – Samiti Lake route is being fantasized by trekkers since decades. A very popular yet semi difficult route, which attracts thousands of trekkers from different parts of the Globe.
Goecha La (4940 m.) is a high mountain pass in Sikkim in the Himalaya range. The pass gives a view of the southeast face of Kanchenjunga, its the base camp for all those aspiring to scale the Kanchenjunga.
The trek to Goecha La starts from the town of Yuksom, where the motorable road ends at an altitude of 1770 meters. Khangchendzonga National Park and Sanctuary, Yuksom in western Sikkim is the gateway to the trek to Goechala pass, one of the eight toughest treks in India. The main halting points in the way are Bakkhim, Tshoka, Phedang, Dzongri, Kokchurong and Lambi. The trek in the initial days is through dense forest cover, followed by Bugyals and finally totally rocky terrain. The route offers glorious sights of verdant flower covered valleys, glaciers, high passes and beautiful views of mountain peaks in ethereal atmosphere. It is a veritable feast to the eyes of the onlooker to come acrossmany varieties of Orchids, Rhododendrons, Magnolia, Lilly andother flowers, which are in full bloom in spring.
Day 01: Kolkata/Delhi- Pelling
Reach Bagdorga Airport, the nearest one for this area. If you have opted for Train, the nearest Rail head is New Jalpaiguri. You have to take a car/Jeep from either airport or Rly Stn to reach Pelling the same day. It will take around 6-7 hours. So, prefer morning flights to avoid stay at Siliguri.
Day 02: Yuksom
Early morning hike to Sanga Choling Monastery situated at the top of a ridge, after breakfast visit Pemayangste Monastery and Rubdantse ruins. Afternoon drive to Yuksom, if possible cover Khechopari Lake during your journey. A beautiful lake within the mountains, locals says that birds do not allow to let the fallen leafs stay in the lake and picks the leafs up.
Day 03: Yuksom
Visit the Oldest Monastery of Sikkim, the Dubdi Monastery and the Coronation Stone. In the afternoon enjoy the beauty of this small village while acclimatizing for the trek.
Day 04: Yuksom-Bakhim (2743meters or 9000ft.)
The trail now runs through rice wood hills abounding in flora and fauna going, as it does, through moss-laden forests of oak, spruce, chestnut, fir, pines, giant magnolias and rhododendron- botanist’ paradise. Not to be outdone, the naturalist’s cab views hundreds of varieties of exotic of birds, butterflies and orchids. Among the animals are the Himalayan brown beer, black beers, barking deer. Samber, marble cats, Blue sheep, Tibetan antelope, wild ass, Himalayan wild goats, red pandas and musk deer at various altitudes. It takes six hours before the Bakhim forest Bungalow. Enroute Tshoka, you will have to stop more than once to take close looks at the flowers especially Cobra Lilly. The distance to cover during this climb is 14 kms. Many trekkers prefer to stay at Saachen for the first day and then proceed to Tshoka directly avoiding stay at Bakhim. This is to acclimatize yourself with the local weather as the trek to Saachen is fairly easy, trekkers often prefer to start doing the easiest one at the beginning and then picking momentum. It all depends on your physical and mental ability but make one thing ensured that you must not strain or drain yourself at the beginning. Judge how much you can take and then decide your stays.
Day 05: Bakhim-Dzongri (4030meters or 13,221ft.)
Today you have to cover eight kilometers which will expectedly take around six hours, each steps to Dzongri leads to the world of the gamed Khanchenjunga massive. The steady climb passes through gullies laid by grazing yaks and mountain sheep through Tsokha, a Tibetan resettlement centre, and the last village passed on the way. Now, one begins to get the initial views of the Sikkim snows. It is time for lunch and one has reached a picturesque spot and meadow, Phithang after which the trail leads up right amidst an exclusive and bewitching forest of rhododendron to Deorali Dara’ – literally meaning ‘man meets mountain. If you visit the route in spring, rest assured, you will receive warm welcome by the Rhododendrons, orchids and cobra-lilies throughout the entire route. If necessary, spend another day to aclimatize here at Dzongri. Many feel high altitude sickness at this stupendous height, so before your tour gets ruined, its better to keep pace with your ability and not get overrunned with enthusiasm only.
Day 06: Dzongri-Thangsing (3800 meters or 12,467ft)
Seven kilometers from Dzongri, the four hours’ trek leads through meadows and valleys down the burrow leads into the most beautiful valley of all situated at the base of Joponu peak. Surrounded on all sides by massive mountains here, the beautiful stream pierces the forest and presents an enchanting scene. To reach the camping grounds dwarfed in the giant valley, one has to cross a wooden bridge over the stream under the watchful eye of majestic Mt.Pandim. The enduring beauties of the Himalayas would fascinate you.
Day 07: Thangsing- Lake Samiti (4800meter or 15,748ft.)
Situated at the base of mighty Mt.Pandim, Samiti Lake, A glacial lake in the Onglathang valley which is a holy lake for the local people and even for far wandering pilgrims from the plains. . Prayer flags adorn the place as the Buddhists considers this a holy place and offers their prayer therat. It will take about three to four hours uphill walk to reach this beautiful lake. The trek upto Lake Samiti is flat and surrounded as it is by the mighty mountains inspires the trekker onward. The Sikkimese name for it is Sungmoteng. The inlet stream into the lake comes directly from Mt. Pandim which is right by its side. The outlet stream goes on the join the Prek Chu, which further joins the Rathong Chu to form the mighty Rangit river. When it’s cold, the surface of the lake freezes over
Day 08: Lake Samiti – Chemathang-Goechala – Lake Samiti (5000m or 16208ft.)
This day start early in the morning and trek towards Goecha-La. Chemathang is eight kilometers from Lake Samiti and takes 6 hours to trek. Walking towards the legendary Khanchenjunga, right through the giant Onglathang Valley the mystic awe of the surrounding mountains fills the trekker with wonder going past splendid glacial lakes and numerous glaciers as he walks amidst the legendary mountains of Sikkim… Still higher and more steps, the Goecha – La pass about 5 km away but taking a good three hours to cover. This is the northernmost and highest point of the trek. The climb will cover splendid views and the closest too, of the legendary God of Sikkim interlaced with glaciers, swift rivers flowing down from sacred lap. From Goechala record the splendid views of Goecha, Kabru, Pandim, Jupano, Lama and Lami.Ensure that you are very much ready physically today as its going to be a tough test throughout.
Day 09: Lake Samiti – Kokchu
In this return journey, you can catch glimpses of Blue sheeps and some rare birds, quite handy and comfortable trek down today aftre the strenous yesterday. Take your time and enjoy the route
Day 10: Kokchu– Tsokha
Today it is a full day walk towards Tsokha village. The route is mostly straight but few ups and downs all along the way. Take your lunch at Phithang enroute your trek back to the beautiful village of Tsokha. Note that if your body permits, you can cover the Lake Samiti to Tsokha distance in a single day itself.
Day 11: Tsokha- Yuksom
It will take around four to five hours to get back to Yuksom, so start accordingly. If you wish to get back to Pelling the same day, you will have to start early and it would be better to get your vehicle prearranged.
From this day onwards you can arrange your schedule depending upon the places you desire to visit, many prefers a side visit to Gangtok – Tshango Lake – Lachung Yumthang or Darjeeling – Kurseong.
- Porters for the treks can be found at Yuksom which is cheaper at the rate of Rs 250/- to 350/- per day or at Gangtok through many travel agencies who tend to overprice it up to $35 per day. Before settling with Guide, Porter and Yak, confirm no. of days he will charge for.
- Prefer middle aged guides as experience counts in this route.
- Ensure you have enough Ration for the whle trip, Do not overburden yourself, but check your ration regularly so that you do not get drained out.
- For stay at Huts, ensure you have proper permissions. You guide may help you out in this matter.
- Often I have seen trekkers who overstrains themselves by putting in more than what they can. And the fact of the matter is that most of the trekkers don’t prepare themselves physically before proceeding into this kind of a trek or rather any kind of trek. So, I once again repeat what I said many times before. Take only that much what your physique permits. Headeaches, vomitting, high altitude sickness are very very common in this kind of trekking, so, just try to aclimatize yourself, don’t just get into your sleeping bags immediately after you reach any place. Try to spend more time outside to get yourself aclimatized. I would appreciate if somebody comes up with the headache problem, as I use to have this regularly.
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