Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary trek:

Barsey, also spelled Varsey (Location 27.1942° N, 88.1183° E) is a Rhododendron Sanctuary and a nature preserve inside West Sikkim.

At Hilley: Entrance to Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

You may have heard that the views of Kanchendzongha is breathtaking from Barsey. You will get full view of the major peaks of Sikkim including Pandim, Rathong, Kabru group (North South and Dome), Kumbhakarna (Jannu), Tinchenkhang and more. All though this 104 sq Km spread Rhododendron Sanctuary has more to offer than the high mountain views. According to Sikkim forest Dept ( it’s a vital corridor connecting the Kanchendzongha National Park (KNP, same as Kanchendzongha Biosphere Reserve) to its north with the Singalila National Park of West Bengal to its south.

Sunrise at Barsey

The gentle walk from Hilley to Barsey inside pristine jungle is probably one of the finest in Sikkim. More than 250 cm of rainfall and above 2000 m of altitude makes the prevailing climate of this area wet and cold and hence proved ideal for it’s dominant floral genus Rhododendron to grow rapidly and diversify. April and May are the best months to visit this place if Rhododendrons, a lots of them, fascinates you. With the onset of spring Rhododendrons start blooming all around the terrain and stays till mid May, till monsoon takes over.

Trail from Hilley to Barsey
Spring time, bloom time of Rhododendrons

When you visit a jungle, certainly you can expect to catch some of its wildlife. For birders this place is no less than a paradise. This sanctuary harbours one of the elusive species on earth, Red Panda. Consider yourself lucky though, if you come across one though. These shy creatures are not particularly fond of us to say the least, and try their best to stay away from any kind of human interaction!

Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary: Natural habitat of Red Panda

If you want a relaxed family vacation away from the touristy crowd with a pinch of adventure spread over it, this trip might be just what you’re looking for. Staying in simple village homestay or Trekkers Hut inside jungle are certainly not a luxury but indeed positive gateways than usual ones.

Road to Okhrey
Okhrey village

We also arrange multi day trekking trips crisscrossing this Sanctuary reaching the Singalila Ridge starting from Hilley and Uttarey. One such scenically mesmerising route is our Singalila Phoktey Dara Trek.


Hiking around Barsey: A walk to Lassuney (Photo: Rajarshi)
Barsey: A photographer’s delight

 Brief Itinerary: 

Day 1: Reach NJP/Bagdogra  and Drive to Okhrey via Jorethang and Sombaria. Homestay accommodation  – 130 Km – 6/7 hours
Day 2: Drive to Hilley – 10 Km –  30 min – trek to Barsey – 4.5 Km – 2/3 hours. Accommodation in Trekkers Hut.
Day 3: Explore around Barsey  – half day hike – 4/5 hours
Day 4 : Trek to return Hilley 4.5 Km – 2/3 hours and drive back to NJP/Bagdogra  – 140 Km – 7/8  hours

Note: You need to reach NJP/Bagdogra latest by 10 am on Day 1. Similarly you will return to NJP/Bagdogra by 6 pm on Day 4. Arrange of tickets accordingly.


  • This itinerary is intended to initiate knowing nature and it’s elements around you and growing interest to conserve. Its a wonderful opportunity for the families and kids to introduce themselves to nature in the Himalayas.
  • You can extend the itinerary to a week long holiday by adding less touristy places like Rinchenpong, Barmiok , Kewzing or popular destinations like Pelling, Gangtok or Darjeeling.
  • Our hiking trail is inside “Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary“. You can spend more days in sanctuary for bird watching or in Rhododendron flowering season. You can even add a tented accommodation at Barsey. Check with us for availability if you specifically wish to stay in a tent (regular dome or ridge shaped mountain tents, No Swiss tent or anything fancy).

 TREK FEE: 8,500 (Okhrey to Hilley) + 5% GST 

  • Above TREK FEE is applicable for a minimum of 4 members and you can choose any date for your trip. For 2 members the TREK FEE will be ₹ 9,950 + 5% GST per person.
  • TREK FEE includes homestay accommodation at Okhrey and 2 nights Trekkers Hut accommodation at Barsey.
  • All meals at Okhrey and Barsey.
  • Entry fee and permits for Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary and a local hiking guide to accompany you.
  • Transportation to Okhrey, Hilley and return are not included.
  • For detailed inclusions and exclusions check the COST INCLUSIONS tab.

 Seasons for Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary trek: 

Being in Eastern Himalayas (Sikkim/Nepal border) this area observes longer monsoon. Clouds start to hover from April and prolong till October beginning. There are two distinct seasons when this year trek is particularly beautiful:

1) Spring/Summer for Rhododendron season (Mar to May): From mid of March to Mid of May. Flowering starts from early March in the lower elevation, and gradually towards end of spring on higher altitude. Rhododendron and Giant Magnolia are two most famous along with several other wild flower species. Cloudy or misty atmosphere is common during Spring. Though clear mountains views are not uncommon, specially during morning.

At Barsey: Rhododendron bloom during Spring

2) Fall/Winter for clear weather (Oct to Feb): From mid October to January. In the beginning of October clouds start moving out from this region and weather becomes clearer. November is  particularly known for its crystal clear views of the mountains.

Magnificent Kangchenjunga, Kabru, Pandim and Jannu peaks from Barsey

From June to September, the sanctuary is closed due to Monsoons.

 Accommodation options inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary: 

From road head Hilley, Barsey is just 4 and a half Km walk.

At Hilley you will get couple of basic lodge to stay. These will also serve food. Charges can vary depending on season from ₹ 1200 to ₹ 1500 per person (including meals). Rooms are for sharing of 4/5 persons or dormitories. It is possible to reach a check in based upon availability. We recommend to book in advance, specially during season time.

At Barsey you have two accommodation options to stay:

  1. Barsey Trekkers Hut: This is a government hut maintained by and leased to local people around. You can book through us or other agencies. Trekkers Hut has 2 rooms (sharing for 3/4) a dinning space, kitchen and a lovely dormitory in attic ( around 20 separate single beds). Cost varies from ₹ 1500 to ₹ 2000 per person  with meals depending upon season.
  2. Forest Hut: This is reserved for forest department officials. It may be possible to write to state forest department and get an approval for stay.

Note: We can arrange a stay in tents (twin or triple sharing dome or ridge shaped tents) along with sleeping bag and mattresses at Barsey. We will get required permit from Forest Department and arrange the logistics. Charges will be ₹ 1500 to ₹ 2000 per person including meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) depending upon total number of persons. Remember that these are not Swiss luxury tents but portable hiking tents.

Tent accommodation at Barsey

 Exploring Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, wildlife, birds and big mountains: 

In our standard itinerary, you will get a chance to hike inside dense forest, sunrise and sunset time opportunity to witness High Himalayan Grandeur (Kanchendzongha massif standing at 28000 ft and not far as the crow flies).

Before going into some technical details, its simply ecstatic to walk and stay inside this Bamboo, Rhododendron, fern, moss and lichen covered jungle.

Thick Rhododendron forest around Barsey (P.C.: Rajarshi)
Moss & Lichen covered moist forest (P.C.: Rajarshi)

Not only this sanctuary is the only corridor between Kanchendzongha and Singalila National park makes it special. What makes it more interesting is that Barsey and its surrounding reserve forests ( Chhangey Reserve Forest to the north, Sungri Reserve Forest to the east, Phunsebung Reserve Forest to south-east) come under 2C as Himalaya-Central Himalaya Bio-geographic Province. Five forest types are seen in this site: Subtropical Moist Deciduous Forests (2,200-2,400 m); Wet Temperate Forests (2,400-2,700 m); Moist Temperate Forests (2,700-3,250 m); Subalpine Forests (3,250-4000 m)(Sharma 2001).It is situated at the southwestst corner of Sikkim with Nepal as its western border and it’s contiguity with KNP and Singalila, stretching from alpine meadows down to subtropical forests makes this sanctuary an IBA ( Important Bird Area ).

Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary map

Birding inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary has tremendous potential, while staying at Barsey. For birders, this place is no less than a treasure trove. It is situated at the southwest corner of Sikkim with Nepal as its western border and it’s contiguity with KNP and Singalila, stretching from alpine meadows down to subtropical forests makes this sanctuary an IBA ( Important Bird Area ). Different species of Thrushes, Sunbirds, Flycatchers, Finches, Shrikes, Magpies, Minivets are common sight. Vibrant colourful pheasants like Monal Pheasant, Kaleej Pheasant, Satyr Trogopan come down to the comparatively lower attitude of Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary from the heights of Kanchendzongha National Park in the harsh and cold months of winter.

Teeming birdlife in Barsey

 Apart from elusive Red Panda, Leopard, Asiatic Balck Bear, Leopard Cat, Marbled Cat, Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten, Himalayan Palm Civet, Wild Boar, Barking Deer, Serow, Crestless Porcupine, Rufous Tailed Hare, Chinese Pangolin, Flying Squirrel, Giant Squirrel and Himalayan Mouse Hare are some of the other animals which consider this sanctuary as their home.

Wildlife promises during Barsey trek

 Reaching NJP Bagdogra and to tour starting point Okhrey, West Sikkim: 

We will arrange a pickup  from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Hilley and drop from Hilley to NJP/Bagdogra. This will be shared by the team members on actual basis and to be paid directly to the driver. A Tata Sumo/Mahindra Maxx Jeep (accommodates 5/6 persons) charges ₹ 6,000 for pick up from NJP to Okhrey and ₹ 7,500 for a drop from Hilley to NJP/Bagdogra. One such car can accommodate up to 8 persons. This cost is NOT included in the TREK FEE.

To reach the trek base Hilley the access in from NJP/Siliguri/Bagdogra. For details on how to reach nearest railways station/airport and move to trek base independently/public transportation check the details in GETTING THERE TAB.

 Permit requirements to enter Sikkim and hike to Barsey (Indians & Foreigners): 

Sikkim has some restrictions regarding travelling and special permits are a must to obtain. It is a good space to write the details regarding the different permits and fees required by the administration. Also we hope that this section will help those people who want to reach independently to Sikkim.

 (A) For Indian National: 

Every tourist or trekker visiting Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary will need a permit. You can get it at Hilley Forest check post with an original Photo ID card with address (Aadhar/Driving Licence/Voter ID/Passport but NOT PAN CARD) & 2 photocopies of the same. Below is a handy guide for those having plan for additional holidays/destinations in Sikkim. Even Indians need Protected Area Permit (PAP) for visiting North Sikkim or Nathu La border

 (B) For Foreign National including OCI: 

All foreigners (excluding people of Bhutanese origin) will require Inner Line Permit (ILP) which is recently renamed as Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter the boundary of Sikkim. This is issued Free Of Cost at Sikkim check posts while you enter Sikkim by road. This takes 15/20 minutes with the strength of your passport and valid Indian VISA. Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) has to go through the same process as of a foreign national.

For trekking inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, you will need PAP (Protected Area Permit), often referred to as “Trekking Permit”. This permit is issued from Adventure Cell of Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of Sikkim, Gangtok. We charge an additional ₹ 4000 as Service Charge per person + 5% Govt. Tax per person to process the Trekking Permit and counter the differential of various permit fees inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary for Non Indian nationals. Note that PAP can be processed for a minimum of 2 foreigners going together.

Check the following two links on Sikkim Govt. Tourism Department website for an understanding:

Sikkim general travel info

Sikkim PAP


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Why treks with HT?

Highest Point3000 m/9840 ft
Trail Length15 Km

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