The Complete Guide To Sandakphu Phalut Trek
See Four Of The Tallest Mountains In The World!
Sandakphu Phalut Trek is one of the few treks on earth from where you can see 8,000 meter peaks. Standing at an altitude of 11,950 feet on Sandakphu, on your left you can see the Everest cluster.
There is Lhotse and Makalu, the fourth and the fifth highest peaks in the world, trying to outdo the world’s tallest peak. And then there is Everest , effortlessly towering over everything.
On your right, is the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjunga, standing with its family of peaks. This family of peaks is famously called The Sleeping Buddha, thanks to its appearance.
While the Everest cluster will only be seen from Sandakphu and beyond, the view of the Sleeping Buddha starts from the first day and stays for a good 4 days in the trek!
Very few spots in the world can give you views of eight thousander peaks like this. Even fewer of them would be accessible via a moderate trek.
Just for these views, Sandakphu is a must do.
Use these pointers to navigate through this extensive trek guide:
- What I Like And Don’t Like About Sandakphu Phalut Trek
- Best Time To Visit Sandakphu Phalut
- Weather And Temperature On The Sandakphu Phalut Trek
- Is Sandakphu Phalut Trek Safe?
- How To Reach Sandakphu Phalut Trek
- What To Take On The Sandakphu Phalut Trek
- Frequently Asked Questions About The Sandakphu Phalut Trek
What I Like And Don’t Like About Sandakphu Phalut
For one, the tea house experience is unique. You don’t get it on any other treks in India. It is lovely to see the Nepali culture enveloping you in these tea houses.
The actual trek is a very long ridge walk, spread over many camps. So, from Tumling you can actually see all the way to Phalut. All along this ridge you are at a high spot so the mountain views are unobstructed.
But more than that there is always a bank of clouds below you on either side. The sun rises and sets on these banks of clouds. I think it is one of the most spectacular moments you will see on any trek, leave alone Sandakphu.
What I like about the Sandakphu Phalut Trek
1. The Sleeping Buddha
The Kanchenjunga cluster is something you see right from the main Darjeeling town. It fills you with anticipation of seeing this massif up close on the trail. You start seeing glimpses of the mountain from the first day. For three hours of the trekking day, the Sleeping Buddha plays hide and seek.
And when you arrive at Tumling, you get your first unobstructed view of Sleeping Buddha. The Sleeping Buddha is your companion for most days of the trek. It also gets closer and bigger each day. From Phalut, the cluster is so close, you feel like those mountains are a stone throw’s away.
2. The villages of Samanden and Gorkhey
The villages of Samanden and Gorkhey are picture perfect. Gorkhey village is in a small clearing surrounded by thick pine forest all over with a beautiful river cutting through it. Watch out for this village as you descend through the dense bamboo forest.
One hour out of Gorkhey is Samanden. A village filled with wooden huts, vegetable farms, beautiful gardens and small patches of pine trees. It’s the kind of village you hope to settle in.
3. The constant flirting with Indo-Nepal border
The Sandakphu trek offers the unique experience of walking in India and having your dinner in Nepal. Or having your lunch in Nepal and having your toilet tents in India.
Chittrey, on the first day of trekking, is the first spot where you’ll see pillars marking the India-Nepal border. This constant flitting in and out of Indo-Nepal border also makes this trek a unique cultural experience.
4. The long distance views
Sandakphu is one of the few treks that gifts you with long distance views. Not only do you see the far away Everest cluster, you also see the next four days of your trek stretched out before you. Such long distance views also make the sunset view absolutely stunning.
There aren’t many treks wherein clouds speckle the ground, not the sky. The sun sets below you.
5. Jaubhari, the base camp
Jaubhari is a tiny village with just 10 houses, two kilometres away from Mane Bhanjang, Sandakphu’s traditional starting point. We, however, start the trek from Jaubhari. It is a village that overlooks major parts of Darjeeling, Sikkim and Mane Bhanjang from there.
This is one of the prettiest base camps we have. If we have to assess it, we put it just after Aru, our base for the Tarsar Marsar trek. This is a big statement to make.
What I don’t like about the Sandakphu Phalut Trek
There are just two things that I wish Sandakphu trek could have done without.
1. The overlap of trail and road
On the Sandakphu trek, the road and the trail overlap many times on the first three days. The road sees quite a bit of land rover traffic which ferries people to Sandakphu. Though the traffic is not always next to you, the occasional vehicles are something that I don’t like too much on a trek.
2. Packaged goods for sale on the trail
The easy accessibility of Sandakphu has also made packaged goods easily available on the trek. I have always believed that a trek is meant to take you away from the clutter of our city lives.
Best Time To Visit Sandakphu Phalut
The Sandakphu trek can be done for about 8 months of the year barring only the rainy months of May to August.
The trek shows you a new flavour every season, starting with the Rhododendrons and magnolias in the spring to crisp golden views of autumn and finally the mild snowy setting of winter. You can see the views, the landscapes, the flora and fauna change season to season.
Unless you specifically have a choice to experience something like the flowers or clear views or snow, Sandakphu is a great trek to do all 8 months of the year when it is open.
Through the monsoon season, from May to August the trek remains closed to visitors.
Sandakphu Phalut Trek in Spring
As spring arrives in March, a different magic begins to unfold. Rhododendrons begin blooming.
The whole trail is speckled with various types of flowers. Red, pink Rhododendrons and white Magnolias dominate the landscape.
The flowers more than make up for the lack of views owing to frequent showers that come down on the trail.
By mid-April, the rains become more frequent. You might still be able to trek. But it’s not as much fun.
Sandakphu in Spring Views Occasional showers might turn the trail foggy or prevent the views of long distance peaks and ranges. Flora & Fauna Rhododendrons and Magnolias are in full bloom. This is the best time to see the flowers.
Sandakphu Phalut Trek in Autumn (September end to November)
Starting from the last week of September, Autumn in Sandakphu extends all the way to November.The air is crisp, the days are sunny, and views are clear. The rains subside and have washed away all the dust and pollution hanging in the sky.
Mountain views are the best at this time. Autumn in Sandakphu is also fantastic for its golden colors especially during the sunsets and sunrises.
This is also a great time to spot the varied varieties of birds in the national park.
The only flip side of trekking to Sandakphu in Autumn, especially October is the number of people on the trail. The Durga Puja holidays in October sees a big number of tourists taking the Land Rovers and coming to Sandakphu. It also sees a big spike in trekkers from Bengal usually trekking independently on their own.
To avoid the crowd and still get the best of Autumn, time your trek November or even early winter.
Sandakphu in Autumn Views The air is clear and the view of peaks far away are amazing. Crowds A popular time for visiting. Not just trekkers but also tourists on the trail. Flora & Fauna Easier to spot birds on the trail.
Sandakphu Phalut Trek in Winter
Sandakphu lies at a lower latitude as compared to western Himalayas.
The angle of the sun in winters and the altitude of the eastern Himalayas make a perfect canvas for colourful skies at dusk and dawn. Very few treks come close when we talk about skies at twilight.
In fact, Sandakphu is a trek known for its sunrises and sunsets. There aren’t many treks wherein clouds speckle the ground, not the sky. The sun rises and sets below you.
And then there is the attraction of snowfall during winter.
The good thing about snowfall at Sandakphu is that it is mild. Good enough to experience snow but not bad enough that trail gets blocked.
Moreover, there aren’t as many tourists on the trail so there is a greater sense of solitude in winters.
Sandakphu in Winter Views Views get even better. Sunrises and sunsets are out of the world. Some of the best twilight skies. Crowds Hardly any tourists as the roads become difficult to drive on and fewer vehicles on the trail. Snow Mild snowfall that doesn’t block the trekking trails.
Weather And Temperature On The Sandakphu Phalut Trek
There are 3 different seasons to do the Sandakphu Phalut trek. The weather differs in each season.
The most popular trekking season is autumn. The monsoons are over, the days are sunny and the air is crisp (October – November).
The next popular season is winter, when people flock to the trek to experience snow. The trek is one of those few where snowfall is mild. Therefore, rarely does the trail get blocked.
Sandakphu experiences a bit of rain in spring and the cloudy weather might block the summit view. But, it’s the time rhododendrons bloom and the whole trail turns colorful.
So what kind of weather can you expect in these seasons?
Autumn (Mid Sep – Mid December): Autumn is generally like winter. Nights can be nippy at slightly below zero at the highest camp. As you move towards late November, it is perceptibly colder. Higher camps are 2-3 degrees below zero. Though, at the lower camps the temperature will hang slightly above zero.
While trekking in autumn, day temperatures are pleasant at around 13 – 18 degrees, but any rain or slight drizzle brings down temperature rapidly to around 8 – 12 degrees. You need to keep a jacket handy with you always.
Winter (December – February): December brings in the snow. Along with it comes the winter chill. Even in lower camps the air is frosty with a sharp bite.
Expect sub zero temperatures even at your base camps in the evening in winter.
During the day when the sun is out, it is quite comfortable to trek. The temperature is a balmy 8 – 12 degrees. If you are on snow, then the snow reflects, which makes it quite warm sometimes!
At Sandakphu, temperatures could fall below zero degrees in the night. As long as you are in your layers it is absolutely fine and inside a tea house is considerably warmer.
Spring (March – Mid April): The winter is receding but hasn’t totally left yet. The snow is still in patches on the ground. On the upper slopes, especially above 10,000 feet it is still snow bound.
Expect cold nights at your higher camps. Temperature during the night can drop to around zero but generally will hover around 1-5 degrees. The day temperatures are usually very pleasant on the trek at an average of 15 – 20 degrees. If the sun goes behind the clouds and there is a bout of rain, then the temperature can fall to around 10 degrees.
Is Sandakphu Phalut Trek Safe?
As India’s safest trekking organization, at Indiahikes, we ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow and in the equipment we carry. Here’s how we, at Indiahikes are ensuring that we make you trek the safest.
The good news is that there are no technical or tricky sections on the Sandakphu Phalut Trek. It is a great trek for beginners, and seasoned trekkers alike.
The trek climbs to an altitude of 12,000 ft and is one of the oldest trekking trails in India, so you can expect well laid out trails.
Moreover you can do this trek even without a tent or food. There are multiple tea houses along the way which offer food and board for the night. It is one of the classic tea house trek.
Having said that there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to safety
4 things you need to know about Safety on Sandakphu Trek:
1. Difficulty of Sandakphu Trek
2. AMS on Sandakphu Trek
3. Exit points on Sandakphu Trek
4. Closest Hospital on Sandakphu Trek
Difficulty of Sandakphu Phalut Trek
The Sandakphu Phalut trek is a moderate trek on a difficulty scale ranging from easy to difficult.
Starting from Jaubhari at 6,400 ft you’ll climb to Sandakphu at the highest altitude of 11,950 feet. Molley and Phalut also hover around a similar height.
From Phalut, it is a steep descent to Samanden at 7,500 ft and then on to Sepi at 6,200 ft where the trek ends.
The Sandakphu Phalut trek does not have big climbs and descents on a day to day basis. The trek however, makes you cover long distances everyday.
Here are a few of the challenges that you will encounter on the trek:
1. Long days on the trek: Almost each day on the trek is around 7-8 hours, and on some days even longer. On most days of the trek you cover over 11 km. This requires a lot of stamina. During winners, with severe persistent winds, this can become tougher.
| Safety Advice: Since you are spending so much time on your feet, and covering long distances, you must ensure that you have broken into your trekking shoes well. Make sure to break into them at least 2-3 weeks before your trek.
You need excellent ankle support as well. And most importantly ensure that your shoes are comfortable, and leave space for your feet to breathe.
2. Cold Weather on 2 Day of the trek: On the days you trek from Sandakphu to Molley, and from Molley to Samanden, via Phalut (which is a 20 km trek) it gets extremely cold. This is because you are on the wind wash side of the mountain for most part of the trek.
| Safety Advice: Make sure you layer up well for this trek. Carry a windcheater to help stay warm in the wind. In winters especially, you must be well layered as well.
Carry a minimum of 5 layers. The extreme winds on this trek also increase the chances of mild hypothermia, or even AMS.
AMS on Sandakphu Trek
The Sandakphu trek starts at an altitude of 6,450 ft and climbs to 11,950 ft. The steepest climb is on the first day taking you to 9,450 ft, giving you a 3,000 ft height gain. This quick climb along with the exertion of the trek and exposure to the cold can lead to the development of altitude sickness in some people.
If you do not feel well at any campsite, please inform your trek leader immediately. This will help us address the problem quickly. This way, your chances of trek completion stay high.
| Safety advice: The first thing you do even before you start the trek is to understand what AMS is and its causes, signs and symptoms. Go through everything there is to know about Acute Mountain Sickness.
Here’s a Complete guide to Acute Mountains Sickness:
- What Is Acute Mountain Sickness? A Quick Look At AMS, HAPE And HACE
- How To Treat Altitude Sickness – AMS, HAPE, & HACE
- How To Prevent Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), HAPE and HACE
- 3 Life Saving Drugs You MUST Have To Tackle Altitude Sickness – AMS, HAPE and HACE
While on the trek if you experience any symptoms of AMS even in the slightest start taking steps to treat yourself. Hydrate well and don’t exert yourself.
Check in the tea house if there is a Indiahikes team around and get in touch with Indiahikes trek leaders. They’ll definitely be able to offer advice and help. Even if you aren’t trekking with us.
Indiahikes trek leaders are trained and qualified outdoor professionals who are equipped to take care of any medical emergencies.
Here are some stories of Indiahikes trek leaders saving lives during emergencies in remote mountainous areas.
Exit points on Sandakphu Trek
Sandakphu is one of those rare treks where exiting the trail in case of any emergency is easy.
If a medical emergency occurs on the days trekking up to Sandakphu, evacuation is immediate and quick. This is because there is a motorable route as well, until Sandakphu.
On the other hand, if you’re at Sabargam and if there is a medical emergency, you will be evacuated to Rammam through Gorkhey. This is about 14 km away from Sabargam.
Closest Hospital to Sandakphu Trek
The nearest hospital on the trek is in Rimbik, before reaching Sandakphu. After you cross Sandakphu, the closest hospital is in Sukhia Pokhri. You will need to drive through Mane Bhanjang to reach this hospital.
How To Reach Sandakphu Phalut
To reach Sandakphu, you must first get to Mane Bhanjang (traditional starting point) or Jaubhari (Indiahikes basecamp; Read How an eco-village at Jaubhari triggered a major movement at Sandakphu), which is a further 2 km away. From here it is a 4 day hike to Sandakphu and a further 2 days to Sepi, where the trek ends.
Irrespective of whether you choose to start the trek at Jaubhari or Mane Bhanjang, the nearest railhead to Sandakphu is New Jalpaiguri (NJP). The closest airport is Bagdogra Airport. Here’s a guide to arrive at either of these places.
And here’s a guide to how to get to Sandakphu from the closest transport terminals or towns:
NJP to Jaubhari
NJP Railway station – Ghum – Sukhia Pokhri – Mane Bhanjang – Jaubhari
Right outside the NJP railway station you can find shared taxis going to Darjeeling. Get on any of them and ask to be dropped off at Ghum. It is a 2.5 hour drive costing Rs 200.
At Ghum, get a shared taxi going to Sukhia Pokhri. The journey will cost you Rs 50 and take 30 mins.
From Sukhia Pokhri, take a shared cab (usually an Omni) to Mane Bhanjang which will cost you 30 bucks and will take 45 minutes to 1 hour. The road is really bad, so brace yourself for the journey.
Jaubhari is a further 2 km from Mane Bhanjang. You can either hike this route or hire a private cab costing you Rs.100.
NJP Railway Station – Darjeeling Mor – Sukhia Pokhri – Mane Bhanjang – Jaubhari
An alternate way would be to take an auto from NJP railway station to Darjeeling Mor taxi stand. There you’ll find numerous shared taxis heading straight to Sukhia Pokhri (Rs 200, 3 hours).
From Sukhia Pokhri follow the same step as described earlier.
Bagdogra Airport/Siliguri to Jaubhari
Bagdogra Airport/Siliguri – Sukhia Pokhri – Maney Bhanjang – Jaubhari
If you land at Bagdogra or are staying in Siliguri, it is pretty easy to get to Jaubhari.
From Bagdogra International Airport take a shared auto to which will cost you Rs 100 to Bihar More or Siliguri More. From there, take a shared cab (Tata Sumo/Bolero, last cab at 7 pm) to Sukhia Pokhri, it will cost you around Rs. 350-400 and will take 5-6 hours.
Take shared cab (Omni) from Sukhia Pokhri to Mane Bhanjang which will cost you Rs.30 and will take 45 minutes to 1 hour because the road is really bad.
| Note: Few cabs go directly to Jaubhari but it’s subject to availability, as not many passengers going direct to Jaubhari. Try to communicate and hook up with passengers who are willing to go to Jaubhari.
Tip: While this cab hopping may sound cumbersome, we do it regularly at Indiahikes. It’s fun and a good way to know the real North Eastern India. You also get to meet very interesting local people. So while no one wants to miss a pick up, don’t be too disheartened if it happens. You may just experience one of your best travel moments!
What To Take On The Sandakphu Phalut Trek
Before you start shopping and packing for the high-altitude Sandakphu Phalut trek, watch this video to get a clear idea about what you need to take along.
Complete Video Playlist: How To Pack For Sandakphu Phalut Trek
- How to pack your backpack
- How to choose your trekking shoes
- Trekking shoes vs sports shoes. How are they different?
- How to layer up on a Himalayan trek
- Why you need a trekking pole
- How to manage sanitary waste on a trek
Mandatory Documents to carry On Sandakphu Phalut Trek
Carry an Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, a passport will do.
You will need to submit your identification to the forest department. Without these, you will not be allowed to trek.
| Tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack to prevent them from getting wet.
If you have registered with Indiahikes, you also need to carry the Disclaimer Certificate and the Medical Certificate.
For an exhaustive list of things to carry, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Sandakphu Phalut Trek
1. What is the Height of Sandakphu Phalut Trek?
Sandakphu is located at an height of 11,950 ft above sea level. Even if the altitude in itself might not seem impressive, what makes Sandakphu special is the mighty mountain ranges and peaks that you get to view on trek.
Of the 7 Himalayan Ranges, (Karakoram, Punjab, Garhwal, Kumaon, Nepal, Purvanchal and Sikkim) you trek through 3 of the ranges (Nepal, Purvanchal and Sikkim). Moreover, you’ll also get to view 3 of the highest mountains in each of these ranges – Everest in Nepal, Kanchenjunga in Sikkim and Choma Lahuri in Purvanchal.
This is what makes Sandakphu an extremely special trek.
2. How long is Sandakphu Phalut trek?
Sandakphu – Phalut trek is 65 km long. Starting from Jaubhari (6,400 ft) the trek takes you to the highest point in West Bengal – Sandakphu at 11,950 ft before heading down to Sepi (6,243 ft) over a period of 6 days.
Be prepared for long and at times steep ascents and descents. It is therefore essential that you physically prepare yourself for the trek by following a fitness regime. Here’s a guide on preparing for a trek as a beginner.
3. Is Sandakphu a trek for beginners?
Sandakphu Phalut is a good trek for beginners. But be prepared for the longish walks everyday. In 6 days you cover 65 km making it an average 11 km per day.
Your target should be to cover 5 km in 37 minutes comfortably by the start of the trek. Here’s how you can get fit for the Sandakphu Trek
Day 1 (Pick-up Day): Drive from Bagdogra Airport to Jaubhari (6,400 ft)
| Note: If you are trekking with Indiahikes, please make note of the following:
Your Pick-Up Points:
NJP: 9:30 am
Bagdogra Airport: 10.30 am
Darjeeling, Keventers Milkshake shop: 12:30pm
Bagdogra Airport/NJP to Jaubhari: Rs 3300/- per vehicle (5-6 seater).
Darjeeling (Keventers Milkshake shop)to Jaubari:Rs 1500/- per vehicle (5-6 seater).
Drive distance: 112 km
Drive duration: 4.5-5 hours
Route: Google maps link
Day 2: Jaubhari (6,400 ft) to Tumling (9,450 ft)
Stay will be arranged in Tea houses.
Trek distance: 9 km
Trek duration: 6-7 hours
Day 3: Trek from Tumling (9,450 ft) to Kalipokhri (10,400 ft)
Stay will be arranged in Tea houses.
Trek distance: 12 km
Trek duration: 7 hours
Day 4: Kalipokhri (10,400 ft) to Sandakphu (11,950 ft). Camp at Aal.
Trek distance: 6 km
Trek duration: 3 hours
Day 5: Sandakphu (11,950 ft) to Molley (11,080 ft)
Trek distance: 12 km
Trek duration: 7 hours
Day 6: Molley (11,080 ft) to Samanden (7,546 ft) via Phalut;
Stay will be arranged in Tea houses.
Trek distance: 16 km
Trek duration: 6 hours
Day 7 (Drive-back Day): Trek from Samanden (7,546 ft) to Sepi (6,234 ft); Drive from Sepi to Bagdogra Airport
Sepi to Bagdogra Airport/NJP: Rs 6000/- per vehicle (5-6 seater)
Sepi to Darjeeling: Rs 3300/- per vehicle (5-6 seater)
You will reach Bagdogra Airport by 7.00 pm.
Trek distance: 11 km
Trek duration: 5 hours
Drive distance: 126 km
Drive duration: 6.5 hours
Route: Google maps link
The stay on the Sandakphu trek is arranged at tea houses. You will be camping in tents on two days (Sandakphu and Molley). You can leave behind luggage (no valuables) that you do not require for the trek at the tea house in Jaubari and collect it on the way back from Sepi after the trek.
Food will be provided from Tea houses on all days of the trek.
What this itinerary means:
This Short Itinerary offers a quick glance at the Indiahikes route, the campsites, the altitudes, distances and time taken everyday.
We have chosen this route to give you the best experience of Sandakphu-Phalut trek. We’ve arrived at this one after many explorations and experiments on other routes. (We still continue to explore more trails in the region.)
This is part of why you trek with Indiahikes.
When you sign up for a trek with Indiahikes, you are signing for an experience beyond the trek. Our team works tirelessly to design an itinerary that gives you a transformative experience. We also focus on the safety aspect of the trail, the environmental impact and the information we have on the trail, which we share with you transparently.
Screenshot the itinerary and save it on your phone. It comes handy while planning your travel too.
It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.
We also arrange pickup from New Jalpaiguri railway station, subject to at least 5 trekkers opting for it as a pickup point in a batch.
An illustrated trail map of Sandakphu-Phalut trek:
Click here to download a KML file of the trail.
Day 1 (Pick-up Day): Getting to the base camp – Jaubhari
We believe that Jaubhari is our prettiest basecamp! New Jalpaiguri is the closest rail head and Bagdogra is the closest airport to Jaubhari (Read How an eco-village at Jaubhari triggered a major movement at Sandakphu). The drive from both the places takes you on mountain roads meandering through tea estates and villages bordering India and Nepal. The duration of the drive is 4-5 hours.
- Altitude: 6,400 ft (1,951 m)
- Time taken: 4-5 hours drive from Bagdogra. Pick up from Bagdogra Airport at 10.30 am
Day 2: Jaubhari to Tumling
- Altitude: 6,400 ft (1,951 m) to 9,450 ft (2,880 m)
- Time taken: 6-7 hours, 9 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Steep climb for the first 1.5 hours, followed by a gradual ascent and descent for another hour. Last 3-3.5 hours is a combination of gradual ascents and level walks.
- Water sources: Chittrey (1.5 hours), Lamyadhura (3.5 hours), Meghma (5 hours)
While this trek is categorized as easy to moderate in terms of difficulty, rain can make it more challenging. Hence, ensure you start on time to reach your destination by early afternoon and avoid the mountain showers, which typically arrive post noon. The trail today is a combination of gradual and steep ascents and level walks. There are a few rocky paths (gravel roads) with muddy sections and a few walks through meadows as well.
To begin the trek, climb up to the main road from the homestay at Jaubhari. Across the road, you will find a trail going up the hill to Upper Chittrey. This is a steep climb of 3 km, through a thick forest, and takes about 1.5 hours to reach.
As you climb higher, pause to take a look at the villages and mountains around through the small openings that you find in the forest.
Towards the end of this section, the trail becomes steep and an approximately 10 minute walk leads you to a meadow with two small shops. You will sight a motor road going upwards; a little below, towards the left, is the Chittrey Monastery with Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the wind. This is Upper Chittrey, where you can take a break.
From here, the trail gradually goes uphill. There are steps cut into the mountain to help locals and trekkers climb through the forest until Lamyadhura. At Lamyadhura, the forest opens up to a lovely meadow. The motor road can be seen constantly, with a few odd Land Rovers taking tourists to Sandakphu and Phalut. This can be used as a reference if you ever feel lost. This road goes till Phalut and you may even choose to walk on it. However, the mountain trail through forests is very beautiful, with a variety of wild flowers blooming in the spring.
Lamaydhura is a small village with a handful of Tibetan families that run a small tea shop. It is a cozy place to take shelter and enjoy a hot cup of tea and biscuits.
The trail from Lamaydhura to Meghma is a 3 km hike up a steady incline. It also has some leisurely walks over grassy terrain and motor roads. This is the easiest gradient of the day’s trek. Chimal and magnolia trees are scattered along the route and if you’re lucky and very quiet, you might be able to spot a red panda. Around 1.5 hours of walking brings you to a SSB check post (keep your visa/ID card handy for checks here). From this point, walk straight until you find a Buddhist monastery to your left. You can enter the monastery if it is open. A 4-minute-walk from the monastery will lead you to a fork. Take the road to the left and break for lunch at one of the tea houses.
The road going straight from Meghma leads to Tonglu. The trail from here to Tumling is a 2 km flat walk on the motor road, and takes 30–40 minutes. Tumling is on the Nepal border and has a few good private guesthouses on the Nepal side. This is where the day’s trek ends. If the clouds have not covered up the mountains in the distance, you will be greeted to views of the Sleeping Buddha as soon as you arrive at Tumling.
Day 3: Tumling to Kalipokhri
- Altitude: 9,450 ft (2,880 m) to 10,400 ft (3,170 m)
- Time taken: 6-7 hours, 12 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradual ascent for 1.5 hours followed by a 40 minute descent; steep ascent from Garibas for about an hour, followed by an easy descent. Level walks on the motor road for the last 2 hours.
- Water sources: Garibas (2 hours), Kaiyakatta (4 hours)
Wake up early for a brilliant view of the Sleeping Buddha bathed in the first rays of the sun. The Everest cannot be seen from here, but the entire Kanchenjunga family of peaks opens up, taking your heart away.The peaks that you can see from the left are Kumbhakarna, Kanchenjunga and Simvo in the background. Below Kanchenjunga are Koktang, Rathong, Frey, South Kabru, North Kabru, Kabru Forked, Goecha and the ridge of Pandim just ahead of Simvo. The depression between the ridgeline of Goecha and Pandim is the Goecha La, which is a popular and beautiful trek in Sikkim.
As you proceed from Tumling to Kalipokhri, you enter the Singalila National park. You can choose between a hiking trail and a motor road. The motor road goes into Nepal and reaches Gairibas via Jaubari (not the base camp), both villages in Nepal. We suggest you take the hiking trail, which passes through dense forests and meadows, and is much more scenic than the motor road.
This route will take you directly to Gairibas, 5 km away from Tumling. Through the forest, the trail climbs to a flattish top from where you can visually trace the route all the way to Sandakphu, which stands tall before you.The trail then descends from this point and a 10 minute trek will land you in a beautiful meadow with majestic views of wide valleys. To your right is India, and to your left is Nepal. You will also find a border stone there.
Another 40 minutes of descent from here will bring you to Gairibas.
Gairibas is a small village with a few hotels and guest houses on the Nepal side. On the right side of the road is India’s SSB camp and Singalila National Park Entry Check Post. You will need to pay the entry fee here to proceed with the trek.
It is advisable that you take a break here since the next stop, Kaiyakatta, is 2 km away and the trail to reach there includes a steep climb of 1.5 km. There are steps cut into the mountain for trekkers. One also has the choice of trekking on the winding motor road, which gives fantastic views of the Nepal side. Once you reach the top, descend a bit and in 10 minutes, you will be in Kaiyakatta, where you can stop for a hot Nepali lunch.
Kalipokhri, your final destination for the day, is 4 km from Kaiyakatta. The trail goes on a level motor road. Vehicles are not allowed on this stretch. This is a beautiful trail on which you can encounter many kinds of birds. After 1.5-2 hours, you will reach a bean-shaped black lake surrounded by waving Buddhist prayer flags. This is Kalipokhri, which translates to Black Lake. There is a small Buddhist temple at the opposite end of the lake. Note that you are actually standing on the border between India and Nepal. A 5 minute walk from this point will lead you to your tea house. The motor road that you find running behind the shed near the lake goes to Ilam district in the interiors of Nepal, which is the district town for all the Nepali villages on this trek.
Find a small shed and a motor road running behind the shed. That road takes you to the interiors of Nepal, to Ilam district, which is the district town for all the Nepali villages on this trek. With a short walk of 5 minutes, you are done for the day. Rest here for the night.
Day 4: Kalipokhri to Sandakphu. Camp at Aal.
- Altitude: 10,400 ft (3,170 m) to 11,950 ft (3,642 m)
- Time taken: 3 hours, 6 km (to Goat campsite)
- Trek gradient: Easy – moderate. Gradual ascent for the the first 30 minutes followed by a steep ascent for about an hour, and finally, an undulating path on the motor road. This is known to be a windy campsite in winters.
- Water sources: Bhagsa, Bikheybhanjang, both of which are reached within the first hour of trekking. Ensure you refill your water bottles before proceeding from here.
Take a break at Bikheybhanjang and look out for Sandakphu, which lies ahead of you. The trail from here to Sandakphu is a steep incline of 4 km and zigzags up the hill. You can choose between two routes here – the left one which goes via Nepal and is a longer trail with a gradual ascent, or the more popular shorter route with a steep ascent.
An hour’s steep ascent on the second route followed by around 15 minutes of level walk brings you to a place where trails from Nepal and India converge and further break up. You can sight huts and tea stalls dotting the Sandakphu landscape.
The main attraction of this spot is the 180-degree panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks, one of the world’s most coveted panoramas. Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, Nuptse, Baruntse, Chamling, Chomolonzo, Machapucchare and other peaks of the Annapurna range spread out towards the west. Three sister peaks stand tall towards the north and of course, the Sleeping Buddha lies before you. Towards the east, you see the highest ranges of Bhutan, where Chomolhari the highest peak, rises above all the others.
Faint mobile network is sometimes available at the highest point in Sandakphu. Your campsite is a 20 minute leisurely walk from here, and is situated at a slightly lower level.
In the winter months, the Sandakphu campsite is covered in snow. The temperature here dips to sub-zero levels after sunset, November till March.
Day 5: Aal to Molley
- Altitude: 11,950 ft (3,642 m) to 11,080 ft (3,599 m)
- Time taken: 7-8 hours, 12 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Begins with a gradual decent followed by a combination of gradual and steep ascents and level walks. Rocky path (gravel roads) with few muddy sections and forest cover. Will get tricky if it rains. This is also known to be a windy campsite in winters.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Sandakphu, as water is scarce on this route. Molley has an open pond close to the Forest Post.
Start early as there is lot of distance to be covered. The trails are the best you will encounter on this trek in terms of scenery and diversity of flora and fauna. You will walk on ridges and through meadows, and maybe even run down a few slopes with the wind blowing through your hair. This route, in April and May, has an immense concentration of rhododendron in full bloom, and you will also have yaks for company in some places.Proceed north-east, following the logical trail. A 20 minute descent is followed by a 5 to 10 minute ascent and another short section of an easy descent. Gradual ascents and descents over 2 to 3 hillocks and you join the road again. This section takes 1.5 hours as you reach Thukumb Checkpost. Get your entry tickets checked here.
The trail to Molley is towards your right while the Nepal road goes via the left trail. Take a left via the Nepal trail and walk for 10 minutes till you reach a hut. Another 15 minutes on the same trail will connect you back with the trail to Molley.
This stretch takes around 3 to 4 hours till you find yourself at Forest Check Post of Sabarkum. This will be your campsite for today.
Day 6: Molley to Samanden via Phalut
- Altitude: 11,080 ft (3,599 m) to 7,546 ft (2,300 m) via 11,950 ft (3,642 m)
- Time taken: 6 hours, 16 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial descent followed by a combination of gradual ascents and descents to Phalut. Level walks to Samanden except for the final hour of steep descent.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. You can refill your water bottles from a stream ahead of Phalut.
You will get the best views of Kanchenjunga while trekking to Phalut.
The trail from Molley to Phalut is a 7 km zigzag route, which will take you about 2.5 hours to cover. There are a series of gradual descents and level field walks, each coming in intervals of 15 minutes. After this is a 1/2 km flat meadow walk followed by 1 km of steep climb, which can be negotiated by taking shortcuts.Look out for the trekkers’ hut on your way. From this point, you will reach Phalut by climbing steadily for about half an hour. The view point is on the hillock to your left. Reach there early to get magnificent views of the entire panorama of mountains and peaks.
Phalut is a small grassland with minimal or no vegetation. There is only a SSB camp, a forest guest house which can accommodate 8 people, and a GTA trekker’s hut which can accommodate 18 trekkers. Though this is a remote place, you get the closest views of the entire panaorama.
If the weather is not clear on this day, you might have to head straight to Samanden.
From Phalut, you begin to descend. The trail passes through forests, with several openings. In the initial stretch of the descent, you will be able to view Pandim, Tenzingkhang, Jubanu, and Narsing through the openings. Continue on this trail for around 10 km to reach Samanden. The final stretch to reach the village is a steep descent through fields.
While you’re at Gorkhey, make sure you walk through the village, across the bridge on the Gorkhey river to enter Sikkim. This will better enable you to absorb the beauty of the place.
Alternate trek routes from Phalut to Sirikhola: Route 1: Phalut to Samanden (15 km), to Rammam (9 km), to Sirikhola (4 km), total distance – 24 km. This is a longer route but very scenic. Experienced trekkers may want to take this route.
Day 7 (Drive-back Day): Samanden to Sepi via Ramam. Depart from Sepi
- Altitude: 7,546 ft (2,300 m) to 6,234 ft (1,900 m)
- Time taken: 4-5 hours, 11 km
- Time difficulty: Easy, mostly level walks interspersed with a few ascents and descents.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water with you today. You can refill your water bottles at Ramam, where you will reach a little over an hour into your trek.
Start early from Samanden and proceed to Sepi via Ramam. The trail from Samanden to Ramam is through a forest with gradual and steep ascents. On the way, you will pass Samamden, a very pretty village with quaint wooden huts and lush fields. There is a tea house at Ramam, next to the SSB post, where you can take a break.
The route from Ramam to Sepi is mostly made up of descents through dense forest. Just before Sepi, you will cross a wooden bridge at Srikhola. To get to Sepi (our final destination), walk up the motor road for 30-40 minutes. You will reach Sepi around 1.00 pm.
After a hot lunch, depart for Bagdogra. Vehicles can be arranged on demand. You will reach Bagdogra Airport at 7.00 pm.
Plan your travel for the Sandakphu Trek
It is great to see you going on the Sandakphu-Phalut Trek, see four of the tallest mountains in the world. While it is a great trek to do, you need to get your travel plan worked out perfectly. Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do next. Use this guide and nothing else to plan your travel.
- Click here to get a quick view of your travel plan (Skip to section)
- Click here to plan onward air/train booking (Skip to section)
- Click here to plan return air/train booking (Skip to section)
- Click here to plan hotel booking (Skip to section)
- Click here to learn how to reach Jaubhari on your own (Skip to section)
1. Here’s a quick view on how to plan your travel.
Day 1 (Pick-up Day): Bagdogra International Airport to Jaubhari drive. It is a 3-hour drive from NJP Railway station. Jaubhari is the basecamp for your trek.
We organize transport to Jaubhari from NJP Railway Station or Bagdogra International Airport. Our vehicles leave at 9:30 am sharp from NJP station and at 10.30 am from Bagdogra Airport. It costs Rs 3,300 per vehicle (shared between 5-6 trekkers).
Day 2: Trek Jaubhari (6,400 ft) to Tumling (9,450 ft); 9 km, 6-7 hours
Day 3: Trek Tumling (9,450 ft) to Kalipokhri (10,400 ft); 12 km, 7 hours
Day 4: Trek Kalipokhri (10,400 ft) to Sandakphu (11,950 ft); 6 km, 3 hours
Day 5: Trek Sandakphu (11,950 ft) to Molley (11,807 ft); 12 km, 7 hours
Day 6: Trek Molley (11,807 ft) to Samanden (7,546 ft) via Phalut; 16 km, 6 hours
Day 7 (Drive-back Day): Trek Samanden (7,546 ft) to Sepi (6,234 ft); 11 km, 5 hours.
Depart from Sepi after lunch. It takes 6-6.5 hours to reach Bagdogra. Indiahikes arranges this transport for Rs.6,000 to Bagdogra, which will have to be shared by trekkers. You will reach NJP by 7.00 pm. Book return train ticket to Howrah from NJP (Kanchan Kanya or Paharia Express) Or
Day 8: Book direct air ticket from Bagdogra for the next day.
| Important Points To Note
- While getting to Jaubhari, we recommend you arrive a day earlier and stay at NJP/Siliguri (Day zero). Our vehicles can pick you up on Day 1. Staying at NJP/Siliguri gives you a well-deserved rest for the night. Plus some bonus sightseeing.
- On your return from the trek, you can get off at Bagdogra International Airport. You reach Bagdogra International Airport by 7.00 pm.
It costs Rs 6000 per vehicle on the way back as the drive from Sepi increases the distance by another 45 kms.
2. Planning your onward flight/train booking
Click here to plan your return flight/train booking.
If you are travelling from Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai or any other city, book your
air tickets for Day Zero, which is the day before Day 1 on the itinerary. If your trek start day is 25 August, book your air tickets for 24 August to either Kolkata/Bagdogra.
There are three options.
Option 1: Fly directly to Bagdogra.
We recommend this. It gives you an added rest day at NJP/Siliguri. However, if the cost of the flight ticket to Bagdogra is too high, book to Kolkata and connect to NJP by train.
|Tip: From Bagdogra International Airport take a shared Auto to Siliguri (frequently available till evening), it will cost you around Rs. 250-300. Taxis are also available from the airport (plenty). Airport taxis are expensive. Look for shared auto to Siliguri. Plan your stay at Siliguri.
Pro Tip: If you want to save real money don’t take an auto direct to Siliguri, take an auto to Bihar more, from Bihar more catch a bus to Siliguri. (Auto will cost you Rs. 100, bus will cost you Rs. 10)
Next morning, the Indiahikes pickup is at 9.30 am. Contact your driver by 9.00 am. The number of your transport coordinator will be shared with you a week prior to your departure.
Option 2: Fly to Kolkata and take a train to New Jalpaiguri.
Flying to Kolkata may be a lot cheaper than getting to Bagdogra. Make sure to book a flight that reaches Kolkata before 6.00 pm. You must arrive in Kolkata on Day Zero and not on Day 1.
|Note: If you notice the difference in air ticket prices between Kolkata and Bagdogra less than Rs 1000 then book directly to Bagdogra. The rest and shorter travel time is worth the difference.
Next, book yourself in Kanchan Kanya Express to NJP (Train No: 13149). It leaves at 20:30 hrs from Sealdah and gets to NJP at 7:30 am in the morning. If tickets are not available try for Uttar Banga Express( Train No: 13147), leaves Sealdah at 19:45 hrs and gets to NJP at 7:00 am in the morning.
At Bagdogra International Airport, the Indiahikes pickup at 9.30 am. Contact your driver by 9.00 am. The number of your transport coordinator will be shared with you a week prior to your departure.
| Note: There can be a pickup arranged at NJP railway provided there are at least 4 trekkers opting for this.
Option 3: Take a bus from Kolkata to Siliguri/NJP
You get both government (NBSTC) and private transport volvo buses from Esplanade, Kolkata to Siliguri. Fares are from Rs. 850 to Rs. 1000. Board the bus around 7.30pm on Day Zero to reach in time for your pickup.
3.Planning your return flight/train booking
Booking your return tickets require some thought. First, keep some buffer time in mind before booking tickets. You are scheduled to reach Siliguri around 7pm, book your onward bus or train tickets only after 9 pm. In case you are stuck in traffic or get delayed at your lunch spot, you will have some buffer time to catch your bus/train.
Next, if your onward flight departs from Bagdogra/ Kolkata, then book flight tickets for Day 8.
Option 1: Fly from Bagdogra
On Day 7, you will be back to Bagdogra International Airport by 7 pm. Plan your stay at Siliguri, the next day take a flight back to your home city from Bagdogra.
If flights are expensive from Bagdogra, book flights from Kolkata the next day (Day 8).
Option 2: Train to Kolkata and then onward flight to your city
Take an overnight train from NJP to Kolkata, book yourself in Kanchan Kanya Express to Howrah(Train No: 13150). It leaves at 20:30 hrs from NJP and gets to Sealdah at 8:20 am in the morning.
Note: Sometimes trekkers worry if they can book an early morning flight out of Kolkata on Day 8. Yes, you can. But book flights that depart only after 8 am. Do not book any flight between 6.00 and 8 am. You may not reach Kolkata in time.
Pro-tip: Buses in Kolkata are very cheap, try travelling by bus in Kolkata to the airport.
Option 3: Bus to Kolkata
This is not a good option for Day 7 as the buses depart between 6pm to 7pm.
You can look at this option on Day 8 after taking some rest either at Darjeeling or Siliguri.
4. Planning your hotel/stay
For stay, look for hotels in Siliguri on Day Zero and after Day 7 of your trek. There are quite a few options available online and it is not difficult to find last minute hotel booking.
|Note: Avoid booking stay in New Jalpaiguri (around 1km radius of railway station) as the places here are poorly maintained.
Hotel options near Bagdogra airport
➤ Marina’s Motel: This is located right outside the airport and will be a convenient option to stay overnight as your pickup on the next day will be in Bagdogra airport at 9.30am.
The fare is a little steep at Rs. 3000 per room.
Hotel options in Siliguri
➤ Hotel Debjyoti: Set in a bustling commercial area, this modest hotel is an 8-minute walk from Siliguri Junction Railway Station. Average cost Rs 800 – 1500 per bed. Rooms start at about Rs 1,200 (for online booking).
Booking online at least before 2 days.
Ph: 0353 251 1201
➤ Shivanand Lodge: Situated in the best location, it’s 11km away from the Bagdogra Airport. It has all the basic facilities Free wifi, AC, Room Service. This is a budget option with an average cost of Rs. 500 – 1000 per room.
Book online at least before 2 days. Offseason you get rooms on the spot.
Ph: 085840 75074
➤ Anjali Lodge: Located in a quiet place, rooms are neat and pretty decent. Room rates are nominal Rs. 1000 – 1500 per room.
You can get on the spot rooms here as this hotel is not listed on online platforms.
Ph: 089428 44715
➤ Lemon Tree Hotel: If you are looking for a fancy stay, go for this one.It’s a 3 star hotel with all amenities. Rooms are very clean, hotel service is prompt. This will cost you around Rs. 4000 – 6000 per room.
Reserve in advance at least before a week or you won’t get rooms.
Ph: 0353 395 2600
There are quite a few AirBnB options in Siliguri (and Darjeeling)
Some AirBnBs that trekkers recommend:
➤ Sang Cottage: Good ambience, comfortable for 4 guests. It’s a bit far from the city, but it’s a place with good ambience. The Bengal safari is 10min away. Also lot of monasteries in the vicinity to see. Costs Rs. 1500-1800
4. What if you miss the Indiahikes pickup? Getting to Jaubhari on your own.
If you miss the Indiahikes pick up from Bagdogra International Airport. Here is how you can get to Jaubhari base camp on your own.
From Bagdogra International Airport take a shared auto to Bihar More which will cost you Rs 100. From Bihar More take a shared cab(Tata Sumo/Bolero, last cab at 7 pm) to Sukhia Pokhri, it will cost you around Rs. 350-400 and will take 5-6 hours. Take shared cab (Omni) from Sukhia Pokhri to Mane Bhanjang which will cost you 30 bucks and will take 45 minutes to 1 hour because the road is really bad. From Mane Bhanjang the upper road leads to Sandakphu and the lower, to Jaubhari. Walk to Indiahikes Jaubhari Campsite, its 2 Km from Mane Bhanjang.
|Note: Few cabs go directly to Jaubhari but it’s subject to availability, as not many passengers going direct to Jaubhari. Try to communicate and hook up with passengers who are willing to go to Jaubhari.
|Tip: While this cab hopping may sound cumbersome, we do it regularly at Indiahikes. They are a fun and a good way to know the real North Eastern India. You also get to meet very interesting local people. So while no one wants to miss a pick up, don’t be too disheartened if it happens. You may just experience one of your best travel moments!
How to get fit for the Sandakphu trek
Sandakphu is a moderate trek. There are no technical sections to walk on. But it is an extremely long trek. This requires a good amount of preparation.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
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.
Things To Take On The Sandakphu Trek
- A list of everything you need for the trek (Skip to section)
- Useful videos to help you with your gear (Skip to section)
- A list of medicines for your trek (Skip to section)
- A list of mandatory documents (Skip to section)
First, The Most Essentials. You cannot do the trek without these.
1. Trekking Shoes
Sandakphu requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have good grip, have ankle support and can handle snow. Here is a quick video on how to choose your trekking shoes.
| Buying Tip: The Trek series and MH series are good options by Decathlon. They are tried and tested. There really isn’t any necessity to buy the higher-priced models. Here is a list of other budget shoes that trekkers are using.
| Rental: We have the Trek series and the MH series by Decathlon available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are already broken into and in good condition. Rental shoes are not dirty or unhygienic. This is how they are kept clean.
For a trek like Sandakphu, you need a 50-60 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.
| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.
| Rental: The 48 litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack.
Wearing layers is the mantra in the mountains. Layers give you maximum protection from all elements. And when the weather changes in the mountains (as it happens every few hours), you take take off or put on layers as required.
Base layer: 3 T-shirts
Wear one T-shirt and carry two. Carry full sleeve dry-fit T-shirts (preferably collared). These prevent your arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trek, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn you in no time.
Dry-fit T-shirts quickly dry your sweat, they are easy to wash and in case of a rainy day, they dry quicker. Round neck T-shirts are ok, but collared ones are better.
| Buying tip: You can get dry-fit T-shirts from Decathlon. Also, stores like Reliance Trends, Max have dry-fit T-shirts. They don’t usually cost much.
| Cotton or Synthetic? As Indians, we love cotton. Down in the plains when the heat is a blistering 40°C it makes sense to wear cotton. But it takes a long time to dry when it gets wet. In the mountains, where it is cooler, synthetic is what you wear. They wick sweat rapidly and keep you dry. (But they do tend to smell quickly, so carry a roll-on deodorant with you.)
| Pro Tip: If you are extra susceptible to cold, you could get a set of thermal inners. In our experience, wearing two T-shirts over another works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space, since you’re already carrying them.
3 Insulation layers
The highest altitude you reach on this trek is 11,950 ft. At these altitudes it can get freezing cold even in the middle of summer. You will need at least 3 insulation layers for this trek.
You will need 2 light fleece layers, 1 full-sleeve light sweater. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
Winter: During Dec to Feb. 4 insulation layers.
You will need 2 light fleece layers, 2 full-sleeve light sweater. Or 2 light fleece layers, 1 full-sleeve light sweater and 1 thermal top. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
1 Outer layer
A padded jacket serves the purpose here. You don’t really need a water resistant material. But you need an outer padded jacket that keeps the wind and cold out. Ensure your padded jacket has a hood as well.
Do you need a down/feather jacket? Not really. A regular padded/shell jacket will do. This video here will help you to learn more about the difference.
| Note: Down/feather jackets are really not available these days. Many jackets masquerade as down/feather jackets. They are essentially fine polyester-filled jackets. They mimic the function of a down jacket but are usually expensive.
| Rental: Padded jackets made by Fort Collins are available on rent at the Indiahikes store. They are custom made for Indiahikes and trekkers find them terrific, even in winter.
Two trek pants
Two pairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry one just in case it rains. Trek pants with zippered cut offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon in case of small stream crossings / rain.
Winter: During Dec to Feb
Two pairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry one just in case it rains. Trek pants with zippered cut offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon in case of small stream crossings / rain. Take an addition pair of thermal pants to keep you warm.
| Buying tip: Go for pants with zippered pockets. They come in handy to keep your phone, handkerchief or pocket snacks.
| Track pants or trek pants? Stretchable track pants make a good backup and can double up as your thermal bottoms. But track pants are not trek pants — so don’t use them as your main outerwear. Keep them only as a backup.
Mandatory Accessories, without these too you won’t be able to do the trek.
These accessories are mandatory. Don’t go to Sandakphu without them. Trekkers generally put off purchasing / borrowing the accessories for the last minute. We suggest the opposite. Start gathering these accessories first.
Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. On a trek like Sandakphu, especially during end Dec to Jan expect to walk on long stretches of snow. A small overexposure to direct sunlight on snow can lead to snow blindness (about a half hour’s exposure). That’s because fallen snow is like thousands of mirrors that reflect direct UV rays. So you need sunglasses with UV protection.
Tip: Try getting sunglasses that wrap around instead of those that have openings on the side. Even peripheral UV ray exposure is not a good idea.
Wear sunglasses if the trekking day is bright and sunny (on open sections, meadows). On a snowy section you must absolutely never take off your sunglasses until the section has been fully crossed.
If you wear spectacles: If you wear spectacles, you can get oversized sunglasses that you wear over your regular glasses (available at Decathlon). If that is cumbersome, photochromic lenses work equally well. Here’s a quick guide on managing sunglasses with spectacles.
Contact lens users: If you use contact lenses, you can use them on the trek too. The lens solution will not freeze. You will also not face any problems in changing your lens in your tent. Just carry enough cleaning solution with you to clean your fingers well. Wear your sunglasses over your contact lens.
A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sun strokes, quick dehydration and a sharp drop in trekking performance.
| Tip: In the mountains, the general rule is to keep your head covered at all times. During the day a sun cap protects you from the harsh rays of the sun (it is doubly stronger with naked UV rays). A sun cap keeps your body temperature in balance. In the evening/early morning, the reverse is true. Your head loses your body heat quickly. A woolen cap prevents heat from dissipating from your head.
| Pro Tip: Sun caps with flaps are a blessing for trekkers. They cut out almost all UV leaks. They prevent sun burns in every possible way. They are a lot more effective than sunscreen lotion. A wide brimmed sports hat also helps to prevent sunburn in a big way.
3. Synthetic hand gloves
On a trek like Sandakphu especially during Dec to Jan you are going to be handling snow quite a bit. You’ll need gloves to grip something or to steady yourself in snow. You also want the gloves to keep you warm. Get synthetic hand gloves that have waterproofing on the outside and a padded lining on the inside. If you find the combination difficult to get (not likely), wear a tight-fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove. Hand gloves are mandatory on this trek.
4.Woollen cap or Balaclava
Ensure these cover your ears. In the cold mountains, you lose maximum heat from your head, not from your hands, feet or the rest of your body. Which is why you need to keep your head protected, especially when the sun is down. Early mornings, late evenings, a cold trekking day are when you must use your woollen cap.
Your ears are sensitive too, so a woollen head cap that covers your ears is absolutely essential. A balaclava is a modern version of the woolen cap. It covers your ears, neck and parts of your face as well. Do not get a woollen cap that only covers your head.
5. Socks (3 pairs)
Apart from two sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks. Sports socks give you cushioning plus warmth. Again the mantra is to wear synthetic socks or at least a synthetic blend. Cotton socks soak in water and sweat. They are very hard to dry. As for woollen socks, they help you to keep warm and snug in the night. If you cannot get woolen socks, wearing two sports socks serves the purpose as well.
Trekkers are often confused about whether they need to get a headlamp or a handheld torch. You need to get a headlamp because it leaves your hands free to do other activities. On the Sandakphu trek you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.
Ensure your headlamp covers a wider area and is not too focused as a single beam. On a trek, your headlamp must help you see around you as much as ahead of you.
Sandakphu trek there are steep ascents and descents. A pair of trekking poles will make the difference between a comfortable and a strenuous trek. In India we tend to use a single trekking pole. However, two trekking poles give you greater stability and balance. They also increase your walking pace.
| Rental: Imported side-locking trekking poles are available on rent on the Indiahikes store.
On a trek, the weather can change quickly. A bright sunny day can turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. Carry a poncho or a rain jacket to tackle this. A poncho is a big rain cover with openings for your arms and your head. It is extremely effective because it covers both you and your backpack. It is extremely light and weighs next to nothing.
Rain jackets are more streamlined and less cumbersome but weigh more. Rain pants are really not required. Dry fit trek pants dry quickly even if soaking wet.
| Rental: High grade ponchos are available on rent on the Indiahikes store.
8. Rain cover for your backpack
Backpacks are your life. You carry all your dry clothes, your warm gear in your backpack. It is important that your backpack stays dry at all times. Modern backpacks usually come with built in rain-covers. If your back pack does not have a rain-cover, ensure you get a rain cover by either (a) buying a rain cover (b) or cutting a large plastic sheet to the size of your backpack. You can roll the plastic sheet around your backpack and keep it in place with a string or elastic.
| Pro tip: It’s good practice to compartmentalise your clothes, accessories and other things in plastic covers inside your backpack. That way, even if it rains and your backpack gets wet, your things are water-proof inside the backpack.
9. Daypack (20-30 ltrs, optional)
Some trekkers opt to offload their bags to a porter on the Sandakphu trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer. Your main backpack that carries most of your equipment is accessible only at the campsites.
A daypack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not daypacks. Do not get them.
Other mandatory requirements
1. A toilet kit
Keep your toilet kit light. Carry just the basics — toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, toilet tissue roll, a small moisturiser, lip balm, and a roll-on deodorant. You will not be able to have a bath on the trek, so don’t overload on soaps and shampoos.
| Pro tip: Carry miniature-sized items. You will not need more than that. If you’re travelling in a group, share one toothpaste for all.
Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Sandakphu.
| For women: If you are likely to have your periods on your trek date, don’t worry about it. You can use your pads, tampons or menstrual cups on the trek. There will be toilet tents where you can get changed. Make sure you carry ziplock bags to bring back your menstrual waste. Don’t leave behind any waste in the mountains. Watch this video to learn how to dispose your sanitary waste.
Carry a lunch box, a mug and a spoon. Your lunch box must be leak proof. You are expected to wash your own cutlery. Trekkers often expect Indiahikes to wash their cutlery. When you allow Indiahikes to wash your cutlery, your cutlery becomes part of a mass washing system. You immediately invite germs, bacteria to settle on your cutlery. Incidence of stomach disorders rises exponentially.
| Pro tip: Carry stainless steel cutlery. Avoid fancy high grade plastic cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery is infinitely easier to wash in cold water. Grease is easier to remove and hygiene is at the highest. Watch this video on why steel cutlery is better than plastic.
3. Two 1 litre bottles or a 2 litre hydration pack
Sandakphu has long walking days. You need to carry two one litre water bottles to keep yourself hydrated over the distance. If you are used to a hydration pack, then that is ok too. If one among the two bottles is a lightweight thermos, then that helps you to store warm water on a really cold day or for late evenings and early mornings. Thermos is especially useful during winter from Dec to Feb.
| Rental: You could rent lightweight thermos flasks from the Indiahikes store.
4. Plastic covers
Carry 3-4 old plastic covers to keep your used clothes. You could use them even for wet clothes. Re-use old plastic bags for this and do not buy new ones.
Note: For winter treks Indiahikes will provide extra safety equipment like gaiters and microspikes for the snow walk. There is no extra charge for this.
Personal medical kit
Carry these medicines with you, easily accessible at all times. Do not take any medicine unless you have consulted your trek leader.
- Diamox (1 Strip): Be on a course of a half tablet Diamox starting from Delhi every 12 hours (125 mg). Carry on the medication until you descend down to Yamunotri. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Sandakphu trek.
- Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is a paracetamol. It helps to tackle fever, mild pain
- Avomine (4 tablets): Carry this especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop one half hour before the start of your road journey.
- Combiflam (5 tablets): Take a combiflam if you get a sudden twist of the leg or a muscle strain. It is a pain reliever. It also contains paracetamol.
- Digene (4 tablets): Take it if you feel the food that you’ve taken is undigested. Alert your trek leader immediately. It could be a sign of AMS.
- ORS (6 packs): Consume a pack of ORS water at least once a day, usually mid day when you are in the middle of your trek. It replenishes essential salts lost while trekking. Tip: It also makes cold water easier to drink.
- Knee Brace (optional): Carry this if you are prone to knee injury or have known issues of knee pain.
Our trek leaders carry a high altitude medical kit with them which also consist of Life Saving Drugs. If there is an emergency our trek leaders know how to tackle it. Meanwhile, contact your trek leader before consuming any of these medicines listed here.
| Pro tip: We find that these medicines by trekkers are rarely used. But you cannot do away with them. At the end of the trek please donate unused medicines to your trek leader. Some of these medicines get distributed to villages on the trek and some are added to the Indiahikes medical kit.
| Note: On the camping days, camping equipment like tents, sleeping bags and liners are provided by Indiahikes.
Mandatory Documents to carry
These are documents required for legal purposes by Indiahikes and the forest department. Without any of these, you will not be allowed to trek.
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, passport will do. This is required by the forest department for your identification.
- Disclaimer certificate. This is a legal requirement. Download the PDF, read carefully and sign it. This must be handed over to your Trek Leader during registration at the base camp – Download PDF
- Medical certificate. There are two sections in this. The first part must be filled by a practising doctor. The second part must be filled by you. Without the medical certificate the forest department will not issue permissions for your trek. It is also a requirement by Indiahikes – Download PDF
| Pro tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack. This keeps them from getting wet.
What are the risks on the Sandakphu-Phalut Trek?
The Sandakphu-Phalut trek is graded moderate-difficult. 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 Sandakphu-Phalut trek is a very long trek. Although there are no technical sections, this high altitude trek comes with several risks. Most trekkers are carried away by the road that goes along the trail. They often see jeeps and little carts alongside which makes them believe that they cannot be in any immediate danger. But the trek climbs very rapidly to the Sandakphu and Phalut campsites, and this is something that you should be extremely mindful of.
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 Sandakphu trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Sandakphu 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 Sandakphu 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.
The Sandakphu-Phalut trek is peppered with tea houses along the way and it can be tempting to make a pit stop for momos or magi. We strongly advise you against this since the salt content of these food items can dehydrate you.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Sandakphu trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At 11,929 feet the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness cannot be ruled out.
Sandakphu and Molley/Phalut are the highest campsites on the trek. Trekkers tend to develop symptoms of altitude sickness at these camps. The ascent to the Sandakphu is rapid.
Do not proceed to Phalut/Molley 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 Tumling/Jaubhari. Although if you feel symptoms of AMS at Phalut/Molley, it is better to proceed on to Samanden.
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 Sandakphu-Phalut trek:
The safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. For most months there is an open jeep trail until Phalut. This trail closes before Sandakphu in winters. For a safe exit, you must get down to Jaubhari . Although if you feel symptoms of AMS at Phalut/Molley, it is better to proceed on to Samanden.
For any advanced treatment, Darjeeling has the closest hospital. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach from Jaubhari. There is a smaller hospital in Sukhiapokhri too.
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.
The Indiahikes Special Covid Cancellation Policy
We understand the pain of cancelling a trek. As trekkers, we always look forward to treks, and after months of training and planning, if we have to cancel our trek, there’s no greater disappointment than that.
This is why we have one of the most trekker-friendly cancellation policies.
This policy is effective for registrations starting January 5, 2021.
| Face no cancellation charges any time before the trek date
– Cancellation upto 7 days before the start date of the trek — Get a complete cash refund (minus 4% transaction fee). The money is refunded to the same bank account, credit or debit card from where payment was made.
– Cancellation during the last 6 days before the start date of the trek, and not counting the day of the trek — Full refund with 100% of the trek fee in the form of an Indiahikes Trek Voucher. Valid for 1 year from date of issue. Can be used on any Indiahikes trek.
– Cancellation on the start day of the trek, or no show on the start day of the trek — Unfortunately, no refund.
Important note: The Trek Insurance amount is not refundable.
| In the rare event that we cancel a trek, this is the policy we follow:
We almost never cancel our treks. But in case we cancel a trek because of natural calamities (snowstorms, thunderstorms, floods, landslides, earthquakes) or unexpected political unrest, curfews, local riots, or government orders, Indiahikes will issue a voucher for the full amount of your trek fee (minus the trek insurance). You can redeem the Trek Voucher on any of our treks over the next one year.
Important note: The Trek Insurance amount is not refundable.
| The Indiahikes “Repeat My Trek” Policy (trekkers love this!)
There are some thoughts and ideologies that we hold close to our hearts.
1. As trekkers, there are times when we have to let go of a trek midway. Sometimes we fall ill, or get hit by AMS or at times simply fatigue pulls us down. At other times bad weather plays spoilsport, or the trail is blocked. It can happen that your Trek Leader sends you down due to a safety or health issue.
At Indiahikes we feel terrible when such an event happens.
Should such a situation occur that you have to drop out from this trek, we want you to know that we feel as bad as you do. You can always come back another time and finish your adventure. For this you do not have to pay Indiahikes any money.
2. On the other hand, there are times when you fall in love with a trek. So much so that you want to do it again, perhaps see it in another season. If you ever desire to do a trek again, please do so. You don’t have to pay Indiahikes any money for repeating this trek. Just inform your Experience Coordinator who will guide you through a special internal process.
Our only request: Just register for your trek in advance – you know how it is with our groups – they get booked in advance.
Note: The Indiahikes “Repeat My Trek” policy does not apply to our international treks.
If you cancel any rental gear from our store:
- Cancellation of rental gear 7 days before the start date of the trek — Get a full refund minus 4% transaction charges.
- Cancellation of rental gear less than 7 days before the start date of the trek — Get a voucher for the whole amount. This voucher is applicable on all our future treks.
If you cancel the offloading of your backpack:
The offloading fee will be refunded to your account with a 4% transaction charge.
If you choose to cancel your backpack offloading AFTER reaching the base camp, you will get a voucher of the offloading fee.
| How to cancel your trek:
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, follow these steps.
- Login to your Indiahikes Trek Dashboard using this link.
- Find your upcoming trek on your home page.
- Click on “Cancel Trek”
- Mention why you’re cancelling your trek on the form that appears.
- Choose either a voucher or a refund (where applicable).
- Click on “Cancel Booking”
How long does the refund process take?
After you have cancelled your trek, if you have opted for a refund, the refund amount will land in the same account that you have made the payment from. It will take 4-5 working days.
If you have chosen a trek voucher, it will land in your inbox within an hour. You will also be able to see it on your Trek Dashboard.
What is a Trek Voucher?
Trek Vouchers are credit amounts added to your Indiahikes account. You can redeem these on any of your future treks with Indiahikes. Every Trek Voucher has a validity of one year.
Important note: Indiahikes Trek Vouchers are non-refundable, not transferable to others or extendable.
How to use an Indiahikes Trek Voucher?
If you have received an Indiahikes Trek Voucher, you will automatically see it when you are making a payment for your next trek.
Once you click on the voucher and apply it, the system will deduct the voucher amount from your payable amount.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Experience Coordinator.
Here is what the trek fee includes
- Accommodation and meals – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 6 (Jaubhari to Samanden). You camp on two days of the trek and stay at tea houses on all other days. All meals from dinner at Jaubhari on Day 1 to lunch at Sepi on Day 7. Meals are simple, nutritious and vegetarian.
- Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
- Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc.
- Services of an expert Trek Leader – All our trek leaders are qualified in basic / advanced mountaineering courses.
- Services of an expert Trek Team – The mountain staff on this trek consists of well trained guides, cooks, helpers and porters.
The trek fee does not include
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from New Jalpaiguri Railway station and drop you back there from Sepi. This will cost Rs.3,300 per 5-6 seater vehicle on the way to Jaubhari and Rs.6,000 per 5-6 seater vehicle on the way back from Sepi. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to Jaubhari and return from Sepi.
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs. 1,500 + 5% GST for the full trek. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that there is no provision for last minute offloading.
- Anything apart from inclusions
In the event that you cancel your trek, this is the cancellation policy we follow:
– Cancellation 30 days before the starting date of the trek — Get your full trek fee back in an Indiahikes Trek Voucher OR get a monetary refund with 15% cancellation charges.
– Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days before the starting date of the trek — Get 80% of the trek fee in an Indiahikes Trek Voucher OR get a monetary refund with 50% cancellation charges.
– Cancellation less than 20 days before the starting date of the trek — No monetary refund, get 50% of your fees in an Indiahikes Trek Voucher
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. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. The trek has a long walk and gradual ascent on an everyday base. As a measure of your fitness, we require you to be able to run at least 5 km in 40 minutes by the time your trek starts. If you are 45 years or above, cover 5km in 45 minutes. This is a minimum, mandatory requirement.
If you prefer cycling over running, then cover 20 km in 60 minutes.
Unable to do so can make your trek difficult.
In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training and upload the fitness screenshots on your dashboard. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
Indiahikes has the right to reject trekkers who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
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 charges – Rs 250 per day plus GST of 5%. Please note that there is no provision for last minute offloading. You can opt for offloading directly your dashboard after your payment is done for the trek.
Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/trolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
Online offloading in advance is possible up to three days prior to the trek start date.
Indiahikes will organize transport to and fro the base camp Jaubhari, from New Jalpaiguri railway station, on the first day of the trek. This will be in 5-6 seater vehicles. The cost of each vehicle transport one way is Rs 6000. It will be shared among co trekkers in the same vehicle. The same thing applies to the return journey.
Repeat Trekker Policy
At Indiahikes, we believe that the mountains hold all the aces. The weather could play spoilsport, the altitude could mess with a trekker, the unpredictability of nature itself could turn against him. Whatever the reason might be, it is never nice to turn away from a trek midway.
In the event that a trekker has to come down without completing your trek, they can always head back to the mountain and do the same trek again. If this happens, trekkers don’t have to pay the trek fee. They have to just make the optional payment for the insurance amount.
On another note, it could also happen that you love a trek so much that you want to go back time and again. Trekkers don’t have to pay the trek fee for repeating a trek.
Note – The Repeat Trekker Policy holds good only for Indian Treks.
It is not valid for treks we run in Nepal.
If there is a group size of 10 trekkers and above, then we will waive off the trek fee charges for one person.
Note - There is no discount available if the group size is 9 or less than that.
You can register the entire group and send us an email. If the group is registering individually, then the primary participant needs to send an email to the Trek Coordinator with the list of trekkers from the same group.
If you want to make the payment individually, then individual registrations have to be done.
This will be the case for a group of 10 trekkers. So if you have a group of 20 trekkers, then we will waive off the charges for 2 trekkers.
What will the pick up point be? How is travel arranged? Can I be picked up from Bagdogra or Darjeeling if I want to?
Indiahikes will organize transport to and fro the base camp Jaubhari, from New Jalpaiguri railway station, on the first day of the trek. This will be in 5-6 seater vehicles. The cost of each vehicle transport one way is Rs 6000. It will be shared among co trekkers in the same vehicle. The same thing applies to the return journey.
We do organize a pick-up and drop from Darjeeling/Bagdogra on request.
They will be in 5-6 seater vehicles, like the Tata Sumo or Bolero.
The cost of one vehicle from Darjeeling to Jaubhari will be Rs 1500, and Bagdogra/Siliguri to Jaubhari will be Rs 3300.
Sepi to Darjeeling will be Rs 3300 per vehicle.
Sepi to Bagdogra/Siliguri will be Rs 6000 per vehicle.
If you are the only trekker from Darjeeling/Bagdogra or a group of 2-3, then the cost of one vehicle will have to be shared among you alone.
How do I prepare for the trek, it is my first trek. What is the difficulty level?
Sandakphu is considered a moderate trek. This is because the distance covered on most days is long, an average of around 10 km. This makes the ascents on the trek strenuous. It is a good trek for fit first timers.
You will need at least 4 weeks of solid preparation for this trek. You can begin preparation by going for brisk walks and then do brisk jogs to improve your cardio. Your target should be to cover 5 km in 35 minutes comfortably by the start the trek.
Is there an option to not carry my backpack and do the trek?
Yes this is called offloading your backpack. It means a porter or a mule will carry it for you. You will receive it at the end of the day at each campsite. It is at an extra charge of Rs 1575 and is for the entire duration of the trek. You need to book and pay for this beforehand online.
Can I bring luggage I do not require on the trek and leave them somewhere before the trek begins?
Yes we have an option of leaving behind extra luggage you do not need on the trek, at our base camp, Jaubhari. Ensure you leave no valuables (laptops, cash, electronics) in this luggage. There is no extra charge to leaving this luggage at the base camp, and you do not have to pre book it anywhere.
On the way from Sepi to Bagdogra Airport, at the end of the trek, you will be stopping at Jaubhari to collect back this extra luggage.
What do I need to bring on the trek, and what can I rent with Indiahikes?
You will need to bring everything mentioned on the things to take tab.
We have trek poles, shoes, backpacks and padded jackets on rent.
All rental gear needs to be booked and paid for online on your dashboard. It will be provided to you at the base camp before you begin the trek.
Here is what trekkers have to say about their experience at Sandakphu Phalut
The way to Jaubhari had beautiful view of tea gardens. The unique thing is that when you move towards Jaubhari one side of road is India and other side is Nepal. The way goes through Mirik and ManebhanjanRead full blog
Face no cancellation charges any time before the trek date
At Indiahikes we follow a 31-Point Safety Protocol to ensure that you remain safe even as you trek during the Covid times.
Having said that, we are also aware that travel rules are dynamic and lockdowns are not always predictable.
To address this, we have a very trekker-friendly Cancellation Policy. This cancellation policy allows you to cancel or reschedule your trek till the last day without losing any money.
- What the colours mean
Available:Registration is on.
Waitlist:The group is full, but cancellations are likely to happen. We have 5 waitlist slots for every group. You may register for the group. Waitlist slots confirmation chances are high if booked more than 30 days in advance.
Last 'x' slots:Indicates the number of slots available in a batch.
Full:Indicates the group is full. No further slots are likely.
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