Dzongri Top Trek – Gateway to Kanchenjunga
The trek to Dzongri is a beautiful one, taking you through dense forest trails inside the Kanchenjunga National Park. The view of the Kanchenjunga range, Mt. Pandim and Mt. Kabru from Dzongri is unmatched.
The Dzongri Top trek starts at Yuksom, a fairly large settlement in West Sikkim. It was once the capital of Sikkim – this shows in the culture of the town.
There are two things that you need to do at Yuksom before the trek begins. One, make an entry at the police station. For this you need a photo identity proof with three photo copies. Two, you need to pay the permit fees at the forest check post (trekkers do this in the morning when they are starting the trek). The fee to be paid is broken down into small elements like tent, porter, yak and other charges. Camera charges are extra. It can get somewhat confusing, but the net amount will boil down to about Rs 700 per person. Your Trek Leader will help you with this.
If you’re a foreigner, different rules apply. The details are mentioned at the end of this page.
- Altitude: 5,643 ft
- Time taken: 6-8 hours drive from New Jalpaiguri
Day 2: Yuksom to Sachen/Bhakim
- Altitude: 5,643 ft to 7,200 feet/8,654 ft
- Time taken: 5-5.5 hours; 8-9 hours if Bhakim
- Trek gradient: Moderate-difficult. Gradual climb for 2.5 hours after which the trail becomes steeper up to Sachen. 45 minutes of level walk followed by a descent to a bridge leads to a trail that ascends steeply to reach Bhakim.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Yuksom. You will cross streams intermittently where you can refill your water bottles.
Note: Most trekkers like to trek from Yuksom to Tshoka in a day. This makes the trek very long and the altitude gain too much. A sensible way to trek is to break the trek at Sachen/Bhakim as described here.
From Yuksom, the trail towards Dzongri starts just behind the houses after the forest check post. Cross the last few huts of Yuksom and skirt around the fields of Yuksom to enter the V shaped valley of the Rathong river. Many mistake it for the Prek – earlier Prek and Pha Khola merge to form the Rathong.
The trail, though passing through the fringes of the forest is exposed for about half hour. Midway through the exposed trail, look for a shelter on your right. From here onwards it is half hour to the first bridge over the Pha Khola.
By the time the trail gets to Pha Khola, you are well into the thick of the forest and the coolness envelopes you at all times. The gently undulating trail climbs gradually.
The next hour and half is a pleasant walk through the moist jungle until suddenly on your left the Tshushay Khola falls in a series of mini waterfalls joining the Prek below. 50 meters later a large iron bridge spans the Tshushay Khola. After the bridge the trail begins to climb more noticeably.
An hour later, watch for another small cement bridge over the Mentogang Khola (you won’t find a board telling you the name). You are already at 7,100 feet and it is only twenty minutes from here to the log hut of Sachen.
Sachen at 7,200 feet is a small clearing where a single log hut and a shelter on the trail exist. The log hut a few meters below the trail. The hut has room enough for about 6-7 and a small area to cook. For a larger team, look for the clearing just above the trail opposite the shelter. The Prek, runs below campsite and is not visible to the eye, though you can hear it faintly rushing below.
Day 3: Bhakim to Tshoka
- Altitude: 8,654 ft to 9,701 ft
- Time taken: 3-4 hours; 5-5.5 hours if you start from Sachen
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial 40 minutes of ascent from Bhakim in a series of long switchbacks after which the trail eases off into a gradual climb.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Bhakim/Sachen
This is a short trek, but the altitude gain is considerable. Trekkers love the initial amble through the forest – it gives them a chance to loosen up before the stiff climb to Bhakim from the bridge over Prek.
The trail out of Sachen undulates but maintains an even altitude, in fact gaining a few feet until 45 minutes and 2 kms later you drop down to the bridge over Prek. The clear water of the Prek is worth savouring. However, you don’t meet the river on this trek
The wooden bridge over Prek sways when you walk over it. Adorned with multitude of prayer flags wishing success to the expedition — it signals the start of the real climbs of the Goechala trail.
Take the trail that begins to climb to the left of the bridge. The trail climbs sharp through a mixed oak forest until the wide switchbacks level somewhat half hour later at the sight of the first rhododendrons. The altitude gain is rapid and the air gets cooler perceptively. Soon the trail climbs to the ridge and stays there until you get to Bhakim another half hour later. From the Prek, it takes an hour to get to Bhakim. The total distance is only a kilometer but feels a lot longer.
Bhakim has a Forest Rest House and some trekkers like staying at Bakhim – simply for its view of the Yuksom valley. Finding the caretaker is a struggle and most trekkers move on to Tshoka which is another hour away.
Bhakim has a lovely tea stall where the owner dishes out some snacks as well. With a well deserved rest, start your climb to Tshoka. Follow the trail just behind the Forest Rest House. The trail again climbs in a series of long switchbacks, overlooking Bhakim until forty minutes later it dives around a ridge to move to the other side of the hill.
At over 9,000 feet high, rhododendron trees abound everywhere. The trail gets dark from the overhanging trees and meanders for another ten minutes. It suddenly pops out to a plateau and the trekkers hut of Tshoka. There’s also a flat camping area to the left of the trekkers hut. The trekker’s hut is a pretty long wooden building that has four rooms – enough space to house more than 20 trekkers. Alternatively, trekkers can stay at the Forest Rest House slightly uphill.
Spend some time exploring Tshoka. Slightly uphill are the cafes where trekkers can try the local malt beer Tumba. Ask the café owners for the keys to the monastery.
Follow the trail as it leads out of Tshoka, cross the small wooden bridge over the pond and head to the monastery. It is a quiet place worthy of a quick visit. There are just a handful of Tibetan families living here.
What will take your breath away is the view of the snow-clad peaks of the Kangchenjunga range stretching right behind you – with Mt Pandim dominating the skyline. For most trekkers this is the view of the day. You can climb a little higher to get wonderful panorama shots of the pond and the peaks.
Day 4: Tshoka to Dzongri via Phedang
- Altitude: 9,701 ft to 12,083 ft to 13,024 ft
- Time taken: 5-6 hours
- Trek gradient: Difficult. 30 minutes of steep climb followed by a gradual ascent, after which the trail again climbs steeply for 20 minutes to reach Phedang. 1 hour ascent from here followed by a gentle descent brings you to Dzongri.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Tshoka since it will be difficult to find a source on the trail.
For most trekkers this day is perhaps the highlight of the trek. Everyone looks forward to the trek this day. For one, they trek through some of the densest rhododendron forest India has to offer. During April and May, this stretch is ablaze with rhododendron blossoms – not just one but multiple varieties (Rh arboreum, rh falconeri, rh barbatum to name a few). Second, on the trail, suddenly the views open up to showcase the might of the highest mountains in Himalayas.
Like yesterday, climb up to the little pond leading to the monastery, and then follow the trail that runs to its right. The trail begins to climb sharply and within minutes Tshoka is a tiny hamlet below you. Red rhododendron trees spring up everywhere. If you are in season when the flowers bloom (May 1st/2nd week), then the entire slope lights up with a fiery red colour.
After a stiff climb for about 30 minutes, the trail evens out to a gradual climb. The trail changes to one paved over wooden logs. It is a delight with rhododendrons fanning the path. Little wooden benches line on either side of the trail – which makes the trail look like it is in a park. Sometimes mist filters in surreally through the rhododendron trees. Even in this magical setting the trail climbs throughout and trekkers feel the altitude. The log path gives way to a regular stony trail that climbs quickly to Phedang in 20 minutes.
Phedang, at 13,000 feet, is a large clearing with superb views of the snow-clad mountains. A log hut and a few wooden benches dot the landscape. Stop here for lunch and a well-deserved rest. The trail forks at Phedang with one that goes right, leading to Kockchurang.
Take the trail to Dzongri that starts across the clearing. The trail starts to climb immediately along the dwarf rhododendrons that line the slope. The views start getting better with every step, but watch for a few muddy patches on the trail. After a bout of rain, you need to skip your way around them. It is a ridge climb, so the trail switches between the alternating sides of the hill. Watch for the view change between the Pandim ranges and the Kabru. An hour later, the climb tops at a shrine with multitude of prayer flags. This is the highest point of the days trek at 13,080 feet.
Take a brief rest at the shrine and follow the trail that gently descends towards Dzongri. For most parts the trail undulates with the first patches of snow lining the roots of the dwarf rhododendrons around you.
The Dzongri trekkers hut appears suddenly at the bend in the trail. A gentle clear stream runs by the side of the hut. There are plenty of camping grounds around Dzongri but the hut itself can take in 30 trekkers at a time.
Dzongri is a welcome sight for trekkers after the hard climb from Tshoka. At 12,980 feet trekkers feel the affect of altitude at the Dzongri meadows. Dzongri is a large cauldron, mostly meadows, surrounded in all directions by the mighty peaks of the Kanchenjunga range. In every direction is a snow peak to be looked at and admired. For most trekkers Dzongri is a reward on its own. Many finish their trek at Dzongri and head back the way they came.
Day 5: Dzongri to Dzongri Top. Trek to Tshoka
- Altitude: 13,024 ft to 13,778 ft to 9,701 ft
- Time taken: 45 minutes climb to Dzongri Top. 5 hours to Tshoka
Start the day early with a climb to Dzongri top. Dzongri top i.e at 13,778 ft, is the highest point from where you get the 180 degree panaromic view of the mighty peaks of the Singalila and Kanchenjunga ranges.
Dzongri top is a two hill climb from the Dzongri trekkers hut. The trek from Dzongri to Dzongri top takes about 45 mins. The sun rises at 5 am and you don’t want to miss seeing the first rays of sun hitting Kangchenjunga. Start your trek at 4.00 a.m with torch lights and you reach the top just as the dawn breaks.
As you climb up, the peaks of the Singalila range begin to open up and just at the bend before the top, the Kangchenjunga and its neighbours make their appearance. Witness an inspiring sunrise and spend time watching the mountains changing colours in the sun rays. Spot Thansing, Lamuney and Goechala peaks below you. On the other side, the green rhododendron slopes extend for miles.
Retracing your path to Dzongri takes 20 mins.
Pack up and immediately start for Tshoka.
Day 6: Tshoka to Yuksom
- Altitude: 9,701 ft to 5,643 ft
- Time taken: 6 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Continuous descent to Sachen, followed by an undulating trail to Yuksom.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Tshoka. You will cross a few streams where you can refill your water bottles.
Retrace your way from Tshoka to Yuksom. Its much faster and easier than your trek up. Sachen comes up quickly being a pure descent. From Sachen the trail goes up and down generally losing altitude. The last stretch has a few climbs which makes you wonder but its soon over and you find yourself back in the friendly Yuksom neighbourhood.
Foreigners on the Dzongri Top trek
Foreigners must reach Yuksom, the base camp, 1 day before the regular reporting of the batch. This is required to obtain the foreigner trek permit from Gangtok. This is a Government of Sikkim requirement. The permit costs Rs.2,000. This amount is to be handed over to the Indiahikes representative at Yuksom, who will get the permit issued.
Foreigners have to register for the trek in a group of 2 and above.
Permits required for the Dzongri Top trek
- The ILP (Inner line Permit or Sikkim permit) for foreigners. Check this link for more details – http://sikkim.nic.in/homedept/
ilpfaqs.htm. You can obtain these outside the Bagdogra airport or at the checkpost before entering Sikkim from Silguri. This has to be obtained by the trekkers.
- Trek permit for all trekkers – Obtained at the forest check post at Yuksom. Fee varies for students (id card required), regular Indian citizens (id proof required) and foreginers.
- Special trek permit for foreigners: Foreigners need to obtain a special permit at Gangtok to trek in Sikkim. Indiahikes can help you obtain this permit. Kindly reach Yuksom a day before the trek batch starts. The charges of obtaining the permit will be Rs.2,000 per person and has to be paid to our representative who will meet you at Yuksom.
Please look at the packing list for details about the documents to be carried.
How to get fit for the Dzongri Top trek
Dzongri Top is a moderate trek. There are no technical sections to walk on. But it has a lot of steep ascents and descents. This requires a good amount of preparation.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60 minutes before the start of the trek
The Dzongri Top trek requires you to have a good amount of endurance and stamina. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
In order to be prepared for a high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets. In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, you can phase out your targets in the following manner –
- Target completing 5 km in 35 minutes when you begin
- Gradually bring up your speed to do 5 km in 30 minutes
- Start increasing the distance you jog to get to 10 km in 70 minutes
Before the start of the trek, get to 10 km in 60 minutes.
Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 15 in each set
The steep ascents and descents on this trek can be harsh on your knees and thighs. The muscles on your legs need to be strong enough to endure this patch. To strengthen your legs start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.
Trekking with a backpack requires some effort and agile muscles. For this, you can do stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed.
Here’s a chart to help you get fit for the trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
What to take on the Dzongri Top trek
- Trekking shoes: For this ten day long trek you need trekking shoes with good grip that won’t wear out. You can watch this video to help choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.
- Three warm layers: You experience strong cold winds especially in the months of October and November. You will need at least three warm layers (two lights layers such as fleece and woolen and one padded jacket) for this trek.
- Three trek pants: Wear two pairs and carry one. Denims/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. These are more important in April and May. There might be snow at the upper campsites regardless of the season. So carry a pair of sunglasses.
- Suncap: The sun is intense at higher altitudes and a sun cap is absolutely essential to keep your face and neck safe from sun burns.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woolen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
- Knee cap, if you are prone to knee injury
- Anti fungal powder
- Original and 3 photocopies of government photo identity card
- 3 passport size photos
- Original and 3 photocopies of Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Original and 3 photocopies of Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Original and 4 copies of ILP
- Original and 4 copies of passport
- Original and 4 copies of visa
- 4 passport size photos
- Original and 4 photocopies of Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Original and 4 photocopies of Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
Trek fee: Rs. 9,750/-*
*GST at 5% is payable on the trek fee.
- Accommodation during the trek (at tea houses and tents – 3 per tent)
- All meals – vegetarian
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher, etc.)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport to and from the base camp (NJP to Yuksom and return)
- Food during transit to and from the base camp
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1500*plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute on slope offloading during the trek will be Rs 350 per day plus GST of 5%. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from the inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc.), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount of the trek fee. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case you wish to cancel your trek, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
The cancellation charges are as under:
- Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
- Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
- Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (bank charges) from the total fee that you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start at Yuksom to the end of the trek at Yuksom.
2. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from NJP railway station. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Yuksom in shared cabs.
3. Transport: The transport is arranged in shared cabs. Transport from NJP to Yuksom and return from Yuksom to NJP can be arranged by us at an extra cost (One way costs Rs 5,500 per vehicle). Participants are expected to share the cost likewise. The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
4. Backpack offloading: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charge for the entire trek duration is Rs. 1,500/- plus 5% GST. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys duffel bags will be allowed. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
5.Emergency during trek: A medical emergency or any other emergency may arise during a trek. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (an unwell person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with the team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
6. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Cardiovascular training before a trek is critically important. Training must include strength and flexibility workout. We have laid out the eligibility criteria here. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
7. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gear, equipment or other belongings during the trek.
8. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
9. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
10. Safety Protocol:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in the Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and terrain are the reasons for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to send back a trekker if our trek leader finds that they will be unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.
What are the risks on the Dzongri Top Trek?
The Dzongri Top trek is graded moderate. If you have registered for this trek, then here is some information that you must know in order to have a safe trek. At Indiahikes, we believe that as long as you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can survive easily at high altitudes.
The Dzongri Top trek is a long trek. Although there are no technical sections, this high altitude trek comes with several risks. It climbs rapidly from Tshoka to Dzongri (4,000 ft).
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow, and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
Right from the time you decide to register for the trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below:
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have introduced an eligibility criteria for the Dzongri Top trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Dzongri Top trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Dzongri Top trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required.
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health, wherein they will be entering details about their health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms one should look out for and what action should be taken during emergencies. These Health Cards will be collected back at the end of the trek.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine. Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high altitude campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
5. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Dzongri Top trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At 13,024 feet the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness cannot be ruled out.
Dzongri are the highest campsites on the trek. Trekkers tend to develop symptoms of altitude sickness here. The ascent to Dzongri is rapid.
Do not proceed to Dzongri if you have symptoms of altitude sickness. Inform your trek leader about your condition. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to Tshoka. Although if you feel symptoms of AMS at Phalut/Sabargram, it is better to proceed on to Bakhim.
This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours. And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
** Being a tea house trek, alcohol tends to be available easily on this trek. Although prohibited on our treks, some trekkers make the mistake of sneaking in a drink. Nothing can be deadlier than this. Alcohol multiplies the chance of being hit by AMS by several times.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have symptoms of AMS?
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the below video to understand the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. In this video, Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes will also tell you the protocol to follow when you see someone showing symptoms of AMS.
Exit points on the Dzongri Top trek:
he safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. On the Dzongri Top trek, exit is extremely difficult. The ideal campsite to descend to would be Tshoka (9,650 ft), and if possible all the way down to Yuksom (5,700 ft). There are no exit points after Tshoka.
It could take more than a day’s trek to reach the closest road head (Yuksom), whereas any affected trekker should be brought to lower altitudes within a few hours
For any advanced treatment, Geyzing is the closest well-equipped hospital in the area. It is a 90 minute drive from Yuksom. Vehicles will be available at Yuksom.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life -saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker. There are three life-saving medicines that we suggest you always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, do not administer these to anyone without consulting your Trek Leader. If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Also ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the trek and do not skip any meal.
You can watch the video below to learn about HAPE and HACE and how to tackle them. In the video, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema, what the symptoms are and how to tackle them.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then your trek leader will be able to take steps at the right time.
Acute Mountain Sickness
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
How to get to the basecamp – Yuksom
Delhi → New Jalpaiguri Railway Station → Yuksom
The Dzongri Top trek starts from Yuksom. Yuksom is a nice quaint hill station and for those who want to avoid the hustle bustle of Darjeeling.
Indiahikes will organise transport from New Jalpaiguri to Yukson. Pick up will be from NJP Railway Station at 9.30 am on Day 1. The cab cost will be Rs.5,500 per vehicle. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
You will reach Yuksom at around 5.00 pm.
Trekkers taking a flight to Bagdogra Airport must reach a day prior to the start of the trek. We do not organise airport pick up on the day the trek starts. You can stay overnight Siliguri, which is 30 minutes away from the airport. There are plenty of local transport options to reach Siliguri from Bagdogra airport. Meet the pick up vehicle the following morning at 9.30 at NJP railway station. It takes 15 minutes to get here. Auto rickshaws are easily available from Siliguri to NJP.
Delhi to NJP
- 12506 North East Exp ANVT 6.45am – NJP 8.20am
- 14056 Brahmputra mail DLI 23.40pm – NJP 4.55am
Kolkata to NJP
- 15959 Kamrup Exp HWH 17.35 – NJP 6.15am
- 13147 Uttar Banga Exp SDAH 19.35 – NJP 7.00am
- 12343 Darjiling Mail SDAH 22.05 – NJP 8.00am
- 13149 KanchanKanaya Exp SDAH 20.30 – NJP 7.30am
Yuksom → NJP Railway Station → Delhi
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs to drop trekkers to NJP railway station The transportation cost from Yuksom to NJP is additional, to be shared among trekkers and paid directly to the driver. The approximate cost per shared cab is Rs.5.500/- Expected arrival time at NJP is 5.00 pm. Book train/flight tickets for your onward journey for late in the evening – after 9.00 pm.