Sandakphu – See four of the tallest mountains in the world
Sandakphu, being the highest peak in West Bengal, offers grand views of the world’s tallest peaks. Lhotse and Makalu, the fourth and fifth highest peaks in the world stand tall at 8,516m and 8,463m, trying to outdo the world’s tallest peak. But how can they? After all, the Everest stands between them, towering over everything! On the other hand, Kangchenjunga, the third highest peak, stands with its family at 8,586m.
The Kanchenjunga cluster is famously called The Sleeping Buddha, thanks to its appearance. Mt. Kumbhakarna forms the head and face of Buddha, while Kanchenjunga forms the upper body. The other peaks that make up The Sleeping Buddha are Kokthang, Rathong, Frey, Kabru South, Kabru North, Simvo, Mt. Pandim, Tenzingkhang, Japanu, Narsing.
The route of this trek lies along the border of India and Nepal. In fact, one constantly moves in and out of Nepal during the trek. The mighty mountains, of course, know no boundaries. They stretch through Nepal, India, Bhutan and further.
This trek can be done in two seasons, each providing a unique experience. The months of October and November offer crystal clear mountain views and you can enjoy glorious sights of sunrise from Sandakphu and Phalut. If you trek later in winter, you can even experience fresh snow at Sandakphu! Trekking on this route in the spring gives you colorful forest vistas, interspersed with rhododendrons and magnolias.
Day 1: 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. 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
- Time taken: 4-5 hours drive from NJP. Pick up from NJP station at 9.30 am
Day 2: Jaubhari to Tumling
- Altitude: 6,400 ft to 9,450 ft
- Time taken: 6-7 hours, 11 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 to 10,400 ft
- Time taken: 6-7 hours, 13 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 Kangchenjunga family of peaks opens up, taking your heart away.The peaks that you can see from the left are Kumbhakarna, Kangchenjunga and Simvo in the background. Below Kangchenjunga 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
- Altitude: 10,400 ft to 11,950 ft
- Time taken: 3 hours, 6.5 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.
- 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: Sandakphu to Sabargram
- Altitude: 11,950 ft to 11,807 ft
- Time taken: 7-8 hours, 14 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.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Sandakphu, as water is scarce on this route. Sabargram 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 Sabargram 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 Sabargram.
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: Sabargram to Gorkhey via Phalut
- Altitude: 11,807 ft to 7,546 ft via 11,950 ft
- 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 Gorkhey 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 Kangchenjunga while trekking to Phalut.
The trail from Sabargram 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 Gorkhey.
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, Japanu, and Narsing through the openings. Continue on this trail for around 10 km to reach Gorkhey. 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 Gorkhey (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: Gorkhey to Sepi via Samanden and Ramam. Depart from Sepi
- Altitude: 7,546 ft to 6,234 ft
- Time taken: 4-5 hours, 15 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 Gorkhey and proceed to Sepi via Ramam. The trail from Gorkhey 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 NJP. Vehicles can be arranged on demand. You will reach NJP at 7.00 pm.
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.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60 minutes before the start of the trek
The Sandakphu Phalut 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
Phalut to Gorkhey day has an entire section of 3-4 km with steep descents. It is mostly under forest cover and you will need to watch your step as you descend. This 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 Sandakphu trek
- Trekking shoes: You will need trekking shoes with good grip. Sports shoes will not be comfortable for this trek. You can watch this video to learn how to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential, especially during the months of April and May.
- Three warm layers: You will need at least three warm layers (two light layers such as fleece or woollen and one padded jacket) for this trek. Add another layer during winter. A hollow full sleeve windproof jacket/down jacket will help enormously because Sandakphu is a very windy trek.
- Three trek pants: Wear one pair and carry two pairs.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry two. 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. From December to March, carrying this is mandatory.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. 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 sunburns.
- 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. This helps to keep your ears and neck covered protected from cold winds.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks to wear while trekking, 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.
- Poncho: Given its geographical location, Sandakphu is prone to rainfall almost throughout the year. It’s always wise to carry a poncho along with you.
- 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. If you plan to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you do not leave the used wipes/tissues back in the mountains since these are not biodegradable. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used 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 compartmentalise things and carry a 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)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- 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)
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
- Medical Certificate – Download PDF
- Disclaimer- Download PDF
If you’re shopping or packing for the trek, you can download this quick and simple checklist for offline use.
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 Jaubhari and return from Sepi to NJP)
- 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 inclusive of tax. Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- 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 Jaubhari to the end of the trek at Sepi.
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 Jaubhari in shared cabs.
3. Transport: Transport from NJP to Jaubhari (Rs.3,500 per vehicle) and return from Sepi to NJP (Rs. 5,500 per vehicle) can be arranged by us – participants are expected to share the cost of the cab. 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 – Rs. 350 per day inclusive of tax. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys duffel bags will be allowed.
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 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 Sabargram/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/Sabargram 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/Sabargram, it is better to proceed on to Gorkhey.
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/Sabargram, it is better to proceed on to Gorkhey.
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.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Stay on all days of trek except at Sandakphu and Sabargram will be in tea houses. You will be sharing rooms with fellow trekkers. Stay at Sandakphu and Sabargram will be in tents. Each tent accommodates 3 people and will be shared accordingly amongst trekkers.
2. Will you provide us with tents and sleeping bags?
Yes, Indiahikes trekkers will be provided with tents and high altitude sleeping bags that can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. Sleeping bags will be provided on the 2 days that you will be staying in tents.
3. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Summer day time temperatures will range from 13-18ºC and night time temperature will range from 3-5ºC. Winter day time temperatures will range from 8-15ºC and night temperature could drop to -5ºC.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
You can expect to get snow on most parts of the trail in winter.
5. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.
6. How do we reach Jaubari?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from New Jalpaiguri railway station to Jaubari, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs 3,500 per vehicle. You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Jaubari will take 4-5 hours.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Sepi to NJP railway station. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee. The transport cost will be around Rs.5,500 per vehicle and it will take you 5-6 hours to reach NJP.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Sandakphu trek?
There are 2 seasons for this trek. Spring is best to make the most of the forest trail and to see rhododendrons in full bloom. Winters give you snow and great views of the mountains.
9. Are backpacks, raincoats and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
No. There are several websites that rent out trekking equipment. Indiahikes does not rent any equipment. You may purchase trekking poles and other equipment from the Indiahikes store.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Sandakphu is a trek of moderate difficulty. A first timer can do this provided they have worked rigorously on their physical fitness. You will be required to walk long distances on most days.
11. If not the Sandakphu trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
If you want to trek in the Eastern Himalayas, then Goechala and EBC are alternatives. However, these are both much tougher and EBC is also very expensive. If thick forest trails is what you’re looking for, then the Deoriatal Chandrashila trek is also a good option.
12. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.1,500 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Yuksom, the amount will be Rs.350 per day inclusive of tax. Partial offloading is not allowed. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. We suggest you read “5 Tips to make Carrying your Trekking Backpack Easy” before making a decision.
10. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
The minimum age requirement for the Sandakphu Phalut trek is 12 years. If your child meets this criterion and is physically fit, you can bring her/him along.
11. Who will be with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
12. What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
All tea houses will have concrete toilets. At Sandapkhu and Sabargram, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 to 4 of these toilet tents depending on the size of the group. A toilet tent will have a deep pit, where one can answer nature’s call. There will be a mound of soil and a shovel to cover it up. These are dry toilets, where you’ll have to use toilet paper. There will be a room freshener as well. It’s the most hygienic and convenient way to answer nature’s call in the wild. Please use plain toilet paper and refrain from using wet wipes since these are not bio-degradable.
13. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
14. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
You will get drinking water at all the tea houses and our campsites are pitched near water sources. For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. You will get water sources on all days except on Day 5, when you trek from Sandakphu to Sabargram.
15. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
You will get mobile network only at Jaubari, and then intermittently, after Gorkhey. So make sure that you finish your important telephone calls at Jaubari and inform anxious family members about poor connectivity during the trek. The tea houses at Kalipokhri and Gorkhey have electricity charging points – these come at an additional cost and you will have to pay them directly.
16. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. We recommend a pair of shoes that is water resistant. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters.
17. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
18. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
19. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
Day 1 – You will be picked up from NJP at 9:30 AM. The drive to Jaubari will take 5-6 hours
Day 2 – Jaubari to Tumling will take you about 6-7 hours, during which time you will cover 11 km
Day 3 – Tumling to Kalipokhri is a distance of 11 km, which will take you around 7 hours
Day 4 – Kalipokhri to Sandakphu is a short trek – around 3 hours, during which you cover 6 km
Day 5 – Sandakphu to Sabargram – you will cover 14 km in around 6 hours
Day 6 – Sabargram to Gorkhey via Phalut will take you about 6 hours to cover 17 km
Day 7 – You will cover the 15 km distance between Gorkehey and Sepi in about 5 hours
20. How do I manage the negative temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At high altitudes, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights.. For these extreme cold temperatures, you need to keep the rule of 3 in mind. The rule of 3 usually takes care of cold that dip to -10°C. It is a simple formula of wearing 3 layers of woolen, inners and lower wear.
Follow this guide:
Wear one thermal and two T-shirts, three layers of woolens (two sweaters and a jacket). For your lowers wear a thermal inner with two layers of track suit. If you are prone to more cold, just add a layer.
The temperatures dip only late in the evening and early mornings. During the day if the sun is out, then you may even be trekking in your T-shirts. Make sure you use your thermal wear only at night and not while trekking.
A woolen cap/balaclava and gloves are a must.
21. What all do I need to carry on the trek?
Click here to get the list of all the things you need to carry on the trek.
22. Can I leave traveling clothes behind and collect them after the trek?
The cab from Sepi to NJP usually goes via Jaubari. However, you will need to confirm this with your trek leader before leaving anything behind at Jaubari. You will also have to be mindful of any delays on the way that might prevent you from stopping at Jaubari.
23. Is it safe to trek with Indiahikes?
All high altitude treks come with their share of risks. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it. Before you go on the trek, make sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with the safety procedures followed on a trek.
How to get to Base Camp- Jaubhari
New Jalpaiguri → Jaubhari
Jaubhari is an extremely pretty, quiet village in West Bengal 2.5 km after Maneybhanjan. Maneybhanjan is the usual starting point of the Sandakphu trek. From Maneybhajan taxi stand, 2 roads fork out – the upper road leads to Sandakphu and the lower, to Jaubhari.
Pick up will be arranged from NJP to Jaubhari at 9.30 am. The cost of each cab is approximately Rs 3,000.
Trekkers taking a flight to Bagdogra Airport need to 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 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
More details can be found on www.indianrail.gov.in
Sepi → New Jalpaiguri
The trek ends at Sepi. Indiahikes arranges transport from Sepi to NJP at an additional cost. It costs Rs. 5,500 from Sepi to NJP. It takes approximately 6-6.5 hours to NJP. You will reach NJP by 7 pm.
IMPORTANT In case you are booking return tickets for the same day, it is advisable to book tickets for flights/trains/buses that leave post 9 pm.
Here is what our trekkers have to say about the trek!
“I had a bittersweet experience with the trek. The trek itself, and the way it was handled by the team, was just fabulous. However I had to cut it short due to a sprained ankle, and it caused me a lot of grief to leave it half way. On this point I would like to commend the way my trek leader (Dushyant) helped me deal with the situation. Not only did he provide me with medical assistance, he walked with me for a long time and kept my mind off the pain. He has a wonderful capability of making small talk without it being boring. So overall I had an absolutely great time and will definitely choose India hikes for future treks.
On other accounts also, the trek was good. The planning was meticulous and the guides were really friendly. I have memories of Buddha Bhaiya and Subhash and Gopal Bhaiya and Geet (the assistant trek lead) to cherish for a long time to come.” –Shailja Agarwal, batch of November 2016
“It was an amazing and unforgettable trek for me because of a lot of reasons. I found so many friends in this trek and learnt a lot about trekking. So I have lot of memories that I can share with my folks. I enjoyed every minute of my trek; The trek was filled with so many emotions. From now, I will be going on treks with Indiahikes alone.” –Phanindra Kumar, batch of October 2016
“The Trek was just amazing,the care taken by Indianhikes is just so adorable..Would love to do more treks with Indiahikes.” –Vinod Varma, batch of October 2016
“I’ve learned to be a stronger person both mentally and physically. I’ve started interacting more with people after coming back. It takes nothing from you but it makes you richer from inside as a human, a nature’s creation.” –Sayantani Ash, batch of May 2016
“I loved the trek – the trail, the people I met, the way it was conducted. Though not seeing the Everest was a minor disappointment but I was expecting that in April. I would like to put a word here for the core India Hikes team for the trek, from Prathima to Ankit, to Buddha, Subhash and also Schering. I think all of you were wonderfully warm people. The competence and local knowledge of the core team also inspired confidence. And i will never forget the wonderful birthday celebration you guys made possible for me at Kalpokhri. It was totally unexpected, and extremely heart-warming.
I would recommend Indiahikes because they are competent, professional,have good ties with the locals and also very cost effective – I would say fabulous value for money”.-Shailja Singh, batch of April 2016
“I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed the trek. This was my first time trekking with Indiahikes and I was highly impressed with your professionalism and how well things were managed. I felt everything went smoothly and even if there were any problems, the trekkers didn’t have to really worry about it.
About the trail itself, Sandakphu trek was absolutely divine with its dense ever green forests, looming mountains and strange misty fogs. The beauty of the trek cannot be over stated . Although I am a tad bit disappointed to have not seen Mount Everest, but the Kangchenjunga sighting thanks to Budda ji did ease the pain a little. Personal highlights of this 6 day long arduous trek would be-
1) making it to the Sandakphu summit (the highest point of the trek)
2) playing cricket 10,000 ft above the ground !!
3) entire group cosying up in the lunch room at Sabargram, while the hail storm hit relentlessly on the outside.
4) eating momos and pasta at gorkhey village, at which point my heart failed cause of happiness overload
5) euphoric moment that we all felt when we found out missing lamb. The hospitality of the lodge owners will be appreciated and remembered. Shout out to Subhash bhai, Shering bhai and Buddha ji, who were absolute gems , always ready to help out and guide, and their patience and knowledge of the trail, made it a pleasurable experience for us. A big thanks to Ankit and Prathima , who were fantastic trek leaders. Thank you for being there at all time, I mean literally 24×7 and for taking such extraordinary efforts to make sure that the group remains safe and taken care of at all times. Kudos to Indiahikes for organising such a wonderful trek, and I hope this is my first of many more to come.”-Anirudh Shetty, batch of April 2016
“The trek per-say was marvellous, the weather though played a bit foul. But then I think that was the best thing to happen ever as we saw some sights which we would have other wise missed. I could pay attention to some details of the landscape which I would have missed if i had majestic sights of the Sleeping Buddha at every turn. The management was excellent. All praises for Ravi and his team, Worth mentioning are efforts of Subhash and his galley team for the lovely and mouth watering food. My special regards to the Lady of the tea house at Goth (near Sandakphu), what lovely Chowmein, and Gulabjamuns we had! Never did I have such delicious and soft Chowmein in my life till then! Not to forget the guide GK jee and John!
Loved the stretch from Sandakphu to Phalut, nice and windy with some best views we had on the trek.
I would certainly recommend IH to fellow trekkers. I find the management of the treks by IH very thoughtful. Attention has been paid to smaller details, on the needs and wants of the trekkers. This was my second trek with IH and I noticed that safety of the group has always been given due importance by the trek leaders and guides.”-Milind Tambe, batch of April 2016
“The trek was amazing, first two days were cloudy and bit gloomy, suddenly it was sunny on third day and entire landscape changed, it was beautiful and pleasant sight, we got a clear view of Sleeping Buddha and Mt.Everst at Sandakphu and Goat, we later moved to Phalut and the village of Gorkhey was amazing. The arrangements (Food, Stay, Cabs) were really good, thanks to team (Ravi, GD, John). I would recommend Indiahikes because they have well thought treks and trek routes, co-operative staff/team.”-Bharat Prasad S, batch of April 2016
“It was my first trek and a very memorable one. Thanks to our wonderful trek leader Mr.Ravi who ensured everything was perfect.The breakfast,lunch and the dinners including the arrangements at the homestays was superb. Indiahikes makes everyone feel at home.”-Dharmananda Banai, batch of April 2016
“The trek was a wonderful experience and I loved every part of it. Indiahikes is not a company but a community. They share a lot and allow sharing. Conducting treks is incidental and even that is setup with utmost care. Kudos to the entire team from bangalore to all the cooks and staff all the way.” –Jayanth, batch of April 2016
“Now that I have returned to my ‘regular’ life at lower altitudes, it is difficult to not reminisce about the mountains and forests of Sandakphu. I was apprehensive about doing an organized trek with a large group, but all those doubts evaporated the moment I met the trekkers and especially the Indiahikes trek team. While everyone will repeat ad nauseam about how amazing the Indiahikes staff were, there really is no other choice! Ankit, the trek leader, was professional, very friendly, funny and was ever willing to share his vast experiences and stories. The trek staff (Gajen the guide, Subhash the cook and Surja the ‘sweeper’ + the mule handlers) were ever-smiling, extremely hard working and took care of us like their own family. Their never-ending repertoire of Nepali songs were just the icing on the cake. Copious amount of hot, piping homely food in those difficult mountain terrain (including poha for breakfast!) were a pleasant surprise. I am definitely looking forward to my next trek with Indiahikes.
Indiahikes was very professional right from the time i sent an inquiry about the trek to Sandakphu. The trek was superbly organized, with a camaraderie-like feel throughout the 7 days. Add to it the Green Trails initiative and some of the other amazing work being done at the base camp at Jaubhari village, and what you have is a professional set-up with a deep concern for the ecology they operate in.”-Rishi Shankar, batch of March 2016
Prithvi Chandra, from 27th March 2016 batch writes: I absolutely loved every bit of the trek. I witnessed some exhilarating views, met brilliant people and learned so much more on the way. As Indiahikes rightly put it, Sandakphu is the holy grail of Indian trekking. It just has to be done. Indiahikes is doing a great job at the Eco friendly front too. The trekking trails are impeccably clean- just how they are supposed to be. Indiahikes is doing whatever it takes to restore the beauty of our pride- the Himalayas.
Indiahikes is a highly organised and an extremely efficient trekking community. I couldn’t think of going on treks with any other group but Indiahikes.
“We had a TERRIFIC trek. Everything went off so smoothly.Walks seemed never ending but in retrospect it was fantastic. Our trek leader Ankit was a wonder man…A young guy but was in total control of everything..We had a proper briefing daily and he made sure he checked on each one of us…Indiahikes you are lucky to have this guy in your team. Our special thanks to the ground staff Gajendra, Subhash, John and the others…they always made sure that the trekkers were comfortable.We loved the home stays too.
Thank you once again IH for a memorable trek…am planning the next one soon.”-Simran Gupta, batch of March 2016
“Just wanted to convey my heartfelt admiration and warmest thanks to Ankit and all his wonderful team for taking us through this long and arduous trek without any mishaps and with pure enjoyment!
About our TL: With a good sense of humour and the most infectious smile, his straightforward, cool and calm temperament draws people to him.He revels being in the mountains and in the company of the hardy mountain folk. He is highly knowledgeable about the various cultures of North Eastern India. He is committed to delivering a high value customer experience and would go to any length to ensure that.
Thanks to Ankit, his support staff,Sandakphu and the fabulous group members, I have to say this was just one of the most memorable treks ever.. Exotic views, wonderful friendships, able TL,,ever gracious and helpful staff, all made the experience so much fun and easier and our entire group really loved the trek with the most sylvan surroundings we could ever hope to see. We recommend it to everyone.”-Shubha, batch of March 2016
“I loved the entire trek – the teahouses, the tents, the people and the trek staff. The view from Sabhargram was phenomenal!
I would recommend Indiahikes because they are very efficient and offer very well packaged treks.”-Shourav, batch of March 2015
“If you’re doing the Sandakphu & Phalut trek, then be prepared to deal with awesomeness and anticipation. Lots of them. Cross your fingers! All throughout your day there’ll be sunrise views, sunset views, mid-day views- everyday on the entire trek. In the distant horizon there is the sculpted-to-perfection Sleeping Buddha with the imposing Kanchenjunga as its centrepiece and Pandim at its fag end. On another side there is the distant Everest with its neighbours Makalu and Lhotse. And then there are the Three Sisters and countless others to wow you further. While the reputations of the famous peaks precede them and it’s a satisfying experience to finally see them, there is a thrill like no other in getting introduced to the other less famous peaks for the first time. There are those precious moments which one cannot get enough of- when the skies brighten up, the fog settles down, the clouds disperse and the peaks reveal themselves in all their glory. You believe it only if you see it!
The trails are worth every bit of the effort they put you through. Rewarding and tiring, all at the same time- grassy meadows and stony paths. It’s a pleasure walking through the dense forest trails of the Singalila National Park, spotting all kinds of birds. The forests abound with pines, bamboos and other Himalayan trees. Apart from the blooming magnolias and rhododendrons that dot the paths there are beautiful wildflowers sprinkled all around. Such a riot of colours!
At the end of the long hikes one wishes to rest for the night in a nice spot and get good food and hot beverages. I remember specifically well each of our teahouses and campsites at Jaubhari, Tumling, Kalipokhiri, Sandakphu Goat, Sabargram, and finally Gorkhey. At some places we had the luxury of fireplaces and at others we lit bonfires. Swell, ain’t it! Personally, the memories I bring back from this trek are twofold: first, the conversations we had and antics we did together as a group and second, the thrill of being all alone in the wilderness, soul-stirring music playing in the background, clicking macro-shots of flowers. Beat that! Finally, Phalut top deserves a special mention for what it is, how it is and where it is. Somethings are best left unsaid, rather it’s better to experience them firsthand. It came as a complete surprise to me and surely for everyone else who were there with me. Phalut, you beauty!”-Soumyajit Pradhan, batch of March 2016
“The trek in whole was a beautiful trek with lots of view of mountains, clouds, lakes, dense forests, meadows and twilight. It would be difficult to point just one section. This trek is a blend of almost everything any trek could have. Experiencing different weather, different types of accommodation, walking through different types of trails and plateaus. The view of Kanchenjunga and its adjacent peaks gets better and better as we come closer and closer day by day. Beautiful sunset can be viewed between range of mountains and clouds and can be beautifully captured in time lapse mode and as a Silhouette.
I would recommend Indiahikes for its safety standards.”-Jai Gupta, batch of March 2016
“The length of the trek made it more a test of endurance than skill/technique. But the wildlife in Singalila National Park, the green/dense forest cover post Phalut and the magnificent views of the four peaks made it enjoyable.
I would recommend Indiahikes because of the facilities in tents/tea houses; emphasis on keeping the mountains clean and the professionalism of the coordinator & THE TREK LEADER all combine to ensure a smooth sailing & pleasant experience.”-Aditya Avasare, batch of March 2016
“I have been trekking with Indiahikes since it was formed. It has always been great experience for me with the way the treks are planned, organized and continuous improvements incorporated. (Introduction of sleeping bag liner was a good idea). Specifically, on this trek, I would like to appreciate Ravi, who was our trek leader. His knowledge, resourcefulness, great attitude…on the whole great leadership. The trek route especially through the forest was fantastic.
Indiahikes is very passionate about treks. It has a passionate team who not only organize great treks but also want to share and expand trekking in India. They also care for nature through their Green Trail drive.”-Chandrasekhar G, batch of March 2016
“The trek was more beautiful than expected and it is organised very well. Trek leaders and supporting team have done a great job! It is professionally organised and takes care of participant’s health, comfort and safety etc., So i would recommend Indiahikes to my friends as well.”-K Ramesh Nath, batch of March 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the Kangchenjunga range view, sunrise and sunsets and Singalila National Park.
I would recommend Indiahikes for the overall perfection in organising the trek, food, simple things like giving fleece liners.” – Sandeep Suresh, batch of March 2016
“My trek with Indiahikes has been stupendous. Going alone for a trek ( my first escapade ) was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I took of late.
My journey through the woods, Climbing the rocky terrain, the cosy villages on the way, the breathtaking sightseeing, the majestic view of the Sleeping Buddha and above all the terrific support team (Uttam, John and Tsering) and a very well informed trek leader (Ankit Naithani) of Indiahikes made my expedition extraordinary.
The Sandakphu trek for sure has left me spellbound.
Thank you Indiahikes! I am coming soon for another trek for sure!”-Parul Mehra, batch of March 2016
“The best thing about the trek is the tea house experience and Gorkhey village. With Indiahikes, you don’t need a reason. Above par hospitality, above par expertise, and no compromises.”-Nikhilesh Bachwani, batch of March 2016
“There are many things I loved about the trek- can’t list one. Tea house stay and interaction with their owners, picturesque view, walking amidst clouds and first experience of hailstorm at Meghma, mind-boggling view of sun rays on Everest and Sleeping Buddha, company of birds, rhodos and trek mates, charming Gorkhey village, drive from Sepi to Darjeeling and spotting of Khalij pheasant and wild boars, good-natured guides, composed, friendly and knowledgeable trek leader.
This was my first trek with India Hikes. I liked the combination of professionalism and friendliness displayed by Indiahikes staff throughout the trek.”-Rakhi Amarrnani, batch of March 2016
“There are many ‘best things’: a chance to witness sunrise in the company of four of world’s tallest peaks, the walk through super dense bamboo forest, tea house treks and many more. I’d recommend this trek for its amazing views!”-Dev, batch of March 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the grand views of the tallest mountains, the flora (many never-seen pretty flowers), the thrill of walking through a variety of jungles (amidst bamboos creaking, bird calls and lookout for red-panda).
Indiahikes support staff was amazing. Their enthusiasm and energy is partly the reason we could take on long rather difficult days.”-Hemanth S Kumar, batch of March 2016
“The Majestic Kangchenjunga Peak which was visible all along the trail on most of the days. Each day we walked closer to the peak and we were awed by its sheer magnificence.
IH was like a friend on the trek. They planned the trek very well. Be it food, the Green Trail or the timely aid for all the problem one faced in the trek. The trek leaders were friendly and encouraged us to enjoy the nature while they took care of all the logistics.”-Sailesh Vasa, batch of March 2016
“The view of the majestic mysterious auspicious giant Mt.Everest is one experience that goes down with you till your final resting place…it would NEVER go out from memory!
Indiahikes is very professional and well organized!”-Vikash Shaw, batch of March 2016
“The breath taking views of magnificent peaks of Everest and Kangchenjunga complimented by the Sleeping Buddha profile.
I would recommend Indiahikes to my friends as Indiahikes is more organised and structured as compared to the other organizations. They not only focus on creating an overall experience for the trekkers but also pay heed towards environmental factors.”-Akanksha Chauhan, batch of March 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the views of Kangchenjunga, Everest and the campsites.
Indiahikes is very well organised! For an amateur, there isn’t any need to worry.”-Suraj Sreenath, batch of March 2016
“The best thing about the trek was its excellent base camp, beautiful trails, thick forest trails, remote monasteries, trekking amidst breathtaking Singalila National park, steep hike to Sandakphu peak, trek in the morning covered with thick fog/mist trails, occasional snow covered trails between Sandakphu and Molley and amazing scenaries at Gorkhey village.
I would recommend Indiahikes for its trek leader and his team’s excellent services, healthy food, tents/huts at beautiful locations, narrating special features of trails, places, peaks etc., by well informed trek leaders/local guides, pre and post trek info system including travel arrangement from railway station to base camp and back, photo contest, inviting blogs from trekkers and excellent documentation of several treks in Himalayas.”-Guruprasad Halkurike, batch of February 2016
“The best thing about this trek was trekking in different climatic conditions like snowfall,thick fog,ghastly winds and in different terrains like forest,mountainous slopes with beautiful scenery etc. I would recommend Indiahikes for its excellent guides and a gentleman trek leader.”-K Venkanna Acharya, batch of February 2016
“This was my first trek and it was a wonderful lifetime experience to see nature from so close. I walked through dense forests of Singalila National Park which was very beautiful and adventurous.I witnessed snowfall at Tumling and first view of Kangchenjunga which makes me mesmerized and excited.The best part of the journey was the way from Kalapokhri to Sandakphu where I saw blankets of mystique snow and was feeling restless to jot down the experience.
I would recommend Indiahikes for its trek leaders and team. They were very friendly and co-operative.”-Nirupma Singh, batch of February 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the experience of all types of trekking i.e deep forest, rough trail, green meadow, snow path, steep ascents, steep descents, fantastic view of Kangchenjunga and Everest family of mountains. the trek was professionally managed with a small group consisting of decent trekkers from across the country.”-Ramesh B V, batch of February 2016
“The best thing about the trek was its versatility . It offers the breathtaking experience of viewing the mighty peaks, the pure solace of walking through the rich biodiverse evergreen forests, the long alpine meadows and along with natures surprises, it showers on you the hospitality and simplicity of the happy and modest mountain folks.
I would recommend Indiahikes for its perfect arrangement of trek – food accommodation route etc.”-Kasturi Sule, batch of February 2016
“Sleeping Buddha is the best attraction of Sandakphu trek. From Tumling to Phalut, beauty of Sleeping Buddha amazed me. It’s attraction is different during sunrise, daytime, sunset, night time. I strongly recommend this trek to everybody who loves trekking. At least once in your lifetime, visit Sandakphu and enjoy the beauty of Kangchenjunga.
Organization, accommodation and food are the three basic things that you need to consider before going to a trek. In my opinion, Indiahikes covers all the basic things perfectly. The second reason to trek with Indiahikes is diversified trekking options. So, I always recommend Indiahikes for trekking.”-Subhashis Pal, batch of February 2016
“If talking about the best, nothing can beat the feeling at the campsite in Sandakphu. The night was so beautiful, the sky was full of glorious stars. The thing that came to my mind at that very moment was how would I ever be able to explain this beauty to anyone. Hell no.. I can’t explain it… it has to be experienced.
Indiahikes has a well trained and supportive team which gives you proper advice throughout the trek… they can also be a little flexible to add the fun element to the trek.”-Ujjwal Kumar, batch of February 2016
“The best thing about the trek is the view of the top four mountains as well as the amazing forests that we move through. The beauty of the trail is mesmerizing. It’s a great trek for beginners as we mostly stay in tea houses.”-Siddharth Chatterjee, batch of February 2016
“There are so many good things about it that it is actually difficult to choose one. The best part of the trek would be the view from highest point on Sandakphu and that long 21kms trek to Phalut.
Indiahikes’s arrangements for accommodation, food were really good. The trek leaders, guides, sweepers were all really cooperative and lastly, not to forget the ground coordinators who kept a continuous check on us all the time.”-Sundaram Shakti Shashank, batch of February 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the view of Big Four from Phalut and runner up is the green-white mix of Singalila national park resembling Narnia.
I would recommend Indiahikes for its balance between comfort and adventure plus its green initiatives.”-Padmanava Sen, batch of January 2016
“The sheer beauty of going through different climates in one single trek tests your endurance. Rainy for a while, bright sunshine sometime later and when you are at 9000+ ft, the white belt of snow mesmerizes your senses. The view of four of the five highest peaks in the world at Sandakphu and Phalut will make you forget all worldly pleasures.
The trek leads are a great company and make you feel really comfortable.”-Shreyans Jain, batch of January 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the view of the Sleeping Buddha as we trek, the beautiful snow in winter looking like pristine white flowers on the barks of the trees.
I would recommend Indiahikes for the fantastic arrangements with great attention to detail, for the Green Trails pledge, and for ensuring that everybody finishes the trek fatter than they were when they began the trek!”-Anil Bagri, batch of January 2016
“The best thing about the Sandakphu trek was the snow. It was my first winter trek and I still recall the cold crisp air, the wavering path to the icy top and hot black tea near the fireplace. The group I was with was an interesting and diverse lot. There are some truly wonderful memories that I shall carry with me forever.
I can give several reasons but if you like dessert after dinner you know you have made the right choice in going with Indiahikes.”-Aneesha Bhadri, batch of January 2016
“The best thing about this trek was its amazing natural beauty which even words cannot express. I was lucky to be with a good group and the young management of Indiahikes.”-Kaushik Shantilal Dalal, batch of January 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the epic view from Sandakphu. All the highest peaks at a glance appears so rich covered with a gold due to sun rays. All along the trek, at every step, we were approaching so close to Sleeping Buddha. Fascinating views at sun rise and sunset. Sunrise at Kalipokhri was a heaven like experience! Clouds over the valley spread as if they are touching the ground. Experience cannot be complete without mentioning about the first snow fall at Sandakphu and the decent walk on fresh white snow.
I would recommend Indiahikes for its good management of the itinerary, best food served and good trek leaders, guide.”-Ridhina Todankar, batch of January 2016
“The best thing about the trek was the views of the Everest and Kangchenjunga ranges along with two countries India and Nepal playing hide-n-seek with us.
I would recommend Indiahikes for it’s complete & all-round help towards every trekker, making the trek altogether easy, light and enjoyable.”-Ankan Hore, batch of January 2016
“The best thing about the trek was its sunsets and the possibility of witnessing snowfall at Sepi (I guess I was lucky enough). The beautiful village of Gorkhey and the (obvious best thing) view of the mountains (Everest and Kangchenjunga).”-Ritu Pant, batch of December 2015
“Hot lunch on the way during the trek in small tea houses was an amazing experience. I loved the camp sites as well, specially the forest guest house on the last day.
Indiahikes gives me the feeling of being at home as I have done most my treks with them :)”-Dr Sunita Kolke, batch of December 2015
“The view of the four tallest mountains is a treat to the eye!
I have done way too many treks with Indiahikes and now it feels like family. There is a comfort level.”-Shanthala Srinivas, batch of December 2015
“The best thing about this trek was the awesome view, awesome people and culture, beautiful nature.
You just need to pack your bag and leave everything on IndiaHikes.”-Apeksha Raut, batch of November 2015
(Read more about Apeksha’s experience here)
“Of course, the best thing about the trek was the view of four of the highest mountains of the world and if you are a wildlife lover, you will love the trek through Singalila National Park as well. It is magnificent.
Indiahikes is well organised, provides great food and is very professional.”-Sanhita Mukherjee, batch of November 2015
“The best thing about the trek is the fact that one can see four of the world’s five tallest peaks and the trail runs back and forth between India and Nepal.
Indiahikes treks are well organised and well documented.”-Sanchita Chatterjee, batch of November 2015
“Well I did the Sandakphu trek twice with Indiahikes. First it was in April when the full trail is covered with rhododendron flowers. Though I couldn’t get clear views of the mountains because of cloudy weather but the pink trail gave me immense joy.
The second time I visited Sandakphu during November. This time the grand view of sleeping Buddha, Everest and other mountain ranges was mesmerizing. Also the stretch from Sandakphu to Phalut is very scenic and beautiful…
So to sum up my experience the Sandakphu-Phalut trek will always remain special for me because it was my first trek and it made mountains my second home!
I would recommend Indiahikes for the facilities offered during the trek!”-Wriju Bhaduri, batch of November 2015
“The best thing about the trek is the stunning views of the highest mountains in the world and the opportunity to visit remote villages on the borders of India and Nepal.
I would recommend Indiahikes as they were well organised and professional, created a great atmosphere on the trek and the food was great!”-Eleni Maria Nikolaidou, batch of November 2015
“The best thing about the trek- What else other than the beauty of great Mt Everest!!!! And the stunning view of entire Sleeping Buddha rage.
The entire trek was very well planned and organised. Accommodation, food etc was fairly good. Guides were having adequate knowledge and were helpful as well. If you are not a professional trekker, Indiahikes may be a good choice.”-Akhil Balagopalan, batch of October 2015
“Well, the best thing about the trek is that is an all in one. You get spectacular views of the three peaks, and in the right season also get to see plains carpeted with Rhododendrons in full bloom. You get to do some steep climbs, and also get to do tranquil ridge walks. You get to walk on some barren stretches and you also get to go through dense forests – and if you’re lucky – spot a red panda or two. Most importantly, it is a very accessible trek, and makes an excellent one if you are new to trekking, but won’t disappoint avid trekkers also. So as I said- All in one. The most spectacular stretch of the trek is the one between Sandakphu & Phalut, for two reasons. First – you finally lose the jeep trail. The tourists that load up on the land rovers from Siliguri do not venture in this part, so it is much more pristine and untouched. Secondly, it is a largely horizontal walk over ridges & valleys, and you get to witness some of the greatest sights you can possibly see in the himalayas. And you alternate between ridges & valleys, walking through the green meadows that you usually see on calendars.
I would recommend Indiahikes for its professionalism. At no point we felt we were in the hands of amateurs. Our guides knew the terrain like the back of their hands, kept us well fed & dry throughout the hike and fulfilled all our annoying demands throughout the trip, without ever losing that smile on their face. One of us fell ill and had to abandon the trek before the last day, and one of the guides accompanied him to the roadhead. We knew we were in good hands.” – Rajdeep Bhattacharya, batch of April 2015
“The best thing about the trek was view of four mesmerizing mountain peaks,scenic trail,rhododendrons and small water bodies along the way.
I would recommend Indiahikes for a very helping staff on and off field. Indiahikes makes you feel safe and secure at every point of trek.
If you are going with guide Budha then you are very lucky. Budha will do anything to make your trek comfortable and memorable. I celebrated my birthday at Sandakphu last year. When we reached Sandakphu, it was raining heavily and was very cold. By dinnertime, Budha managed to get a homemade rawa cake with very typical homemade icing on it. He didn’t forget to write my name on it with jam😊….this BIG gesture of his made my trek unforgettable.”-Aarti Kalode, batch of April 2015
“The best thing about this trek is the fantastic view of Kangchenjunga!
I would recommend Indiahikes because they are punctual, authentic and cost-effective.”-Jimmy John Manimalatharappel, batch of April 2015
“The best things about this trek was that it is easy as a first trek and for the majestic view of the Sleeping Buddha.
Indiahikes staff are helpful and they take care of every participants properly, making the trek a memorable one.”-Arka Mukherjee, batch of April 2015
“This trek gave us an opportunity to see the highest peak in the world very close with a trail which is easy.
I would recommend Indiahikes for the service. The people working in Indiahikes are friendly and knowledgeable.”-Pranavsrivan, batch of April 2015
“This trek made me test my maximum endurance. It has extreme wind with low temperatures. The top class views on this trek made it a memorable one.
I would recommend Indiahikes because they are reliable, not money minded.They also have a good trek leader and safety standards.”-Ganesh Rangaswamy, batch of March 2015
“The best thing about the trek was the view of the top four peaks of the world, different terrain, moving in and out of Nepal and beautiful bamboo forests. Indiahikes is very professional with good arrangements for food and stay and experienced guides. IH takes care of you well.”-Ravishankar Angadi, batch of February 2015
“We did the trek in winter so the experience was more thrilling. The temperature used to be below -10° And yes we saw Sagarmatha(Mt.Everest ) along with Lhotse, Makalu, Kangchenjunga, Bhutan Himalayas. I would say Phalut is much better place than Sandakphu as it gives you closest views of total Himalayan ranges of Nepal, India and the Bhutan Himalayas.
Sandakphu is a great trek as you cover monastery, lake, snow-covered mountains, alpine forest trail, rhododendron are amazing on the trail.
It was good to be a part of Indiahikes trek at Sandakphu-Phalut. Indiahikes gives a great opportunity to people who want to experience real adventure. The Trek leaders are really friendly & caring.”-Tanmay Angre, batch of January 2015