Singalila Pass – Phoktey Dara Trek

A prevalent pristine jungle trail with charming beauty of panoramic High Nepal/Sikkim ranges is mere to describe Phoktey Dara trek. Staying entirely at campsites inside treeline is an ideal beginning for many trekkers. The trail inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary goes through the last few remaining undisturbed patches of forests in Sikkim. Forest types ranging from Montane Wet Temperate Forests, Mixed Coniferous Forests, Sub-alpine Birch-Fir and Conifer Forest and Moist Dry Alpine Scrub (Rhododendron and Juniper scrubs) in varying altitude. The atmosphere inside dense forests are mostly wet and damp, age old trunks with clinging ferns, growing mosses and lichens. Rhododendrons trees or scrubs ( on higher altitudes) and giant Magnolias blossom in spring. Rich ground flora comprised of primulas, potentillas, gentians, poppies and aconites. Even during winter the forest remains deep green in contrast with Maple foliage during fall. Clouds hover around from spring to fall ! Forests are full of life, thanks to the rich biodiversity. Flycatchers & Warblers, Sun birds, Thrushes & Babblers, Tits & Fiches tweet and sing relentless. Colourful flowers attract hundreds of butterflies. Spreading across an area of 104 Square Km, this sanctuary is home to endangered Red Panda, Barking Deer (Kakar), Himalayan Black Bear, Marbled Cat and many other mammal species.  But this is just one side. Due to the proximity of Sikkim and Nepal High Himalayas, the views of High Himalayan ranges are fascinating. Singalila Pass and Phoktey Dara the two spurs offer majestic views of gigantic massif of Kanchendzongha range in a famous “Sleeping Buddha” formation. Sunrise and sunset panorama are surreal and profound. On a clear day, 4 out of the 5 highest peaks in the world, Mt. Everest, Kanchendzongha, Lhotse and Makalu are distinctly visible. Campsites are strategically on glades to enhance the grandeur experience. Jannu (Kumbhakarna), Pandim, Kabru North/south/Dome, Simvo are noteworthy in the vicinity. This less trodden trail is devoid of any human existence, grazing cattle and is uncommon to find other group(s) travelling alongside. For amateur and experienced photographers the route is bountiful of wild life, flowers, panorama and certainly the Himalayan ranges and peaks. This is indeed a must trek for all Himalayan nature lover, botanist and birders.

Note: If you are looking for a shorter hike with families and kids then you can check our Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary trek. This is indeed a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the ecstatic jungle around Barsey.

Pristine jungle trail in Phoktey Dara trek (Photo: Rajarshi Sarkar)
Phoktey Dara trek: Stunning views of Mt Everest, Makalu, Lhotse peaks
Joributey campsite
Thulodhap campsite
At Barsey
A sketch depicting Kharka Dara campsite (Artist: Alka Rathi)
Teeming birdlife in spring (A Yuhina amidst Rhododendrons)

Brief Itinerary:

Day 1: From NJP/Bagdogra to Hilley by car – 150 Km – 8 hours
Day 2: Trek from Hilley to Barsey– 4.5 Km – 2/3 hours
Day 3: Trek to Joributey via Deolinga Dhap – 12 Km – 6/7 hrs
Day 4: Trek to Kharka Dara/Kalijhar via Thulo Dhap – 12 Km – 6/7 hrs
Day 5: Trek to Phoktey Dara and Singalila Pass, back to Thulo Dhap via Kalijhar – 10 km – 6/7 hours
Day 6: Trek to Uttarey via Achaley – 12 Km – 6/7 hours
Day 7: Drive from Uttarey to NJP – 170 Km – 8 hours or Drive to Gangtok – 6/7 hours.

*** 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 7. Arrange of tickets accordingly ***


  • There is another variant of Phoktey Dara trek which starts from Uttarey and climbs through Chitrey, Chewabhanjung and eventually meets our trail at Kalijhar. This Uttarey to Phoktey Dara trail is steep inside jungle and doesn’t offer any mountain views till one reaches Kalijhar. As this route is outside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Yaks/Horses are allowed on the trail. Hence logistically this trail is much easier to arrange and economic. However there is no comparison of views that you can get from our proposed trail.
  • Due to unavailability of water we may have to camp at Thulodhap instead Kharka Dara, specially during November to March. In this case we will visit Phoktey Dara and and Singalila Pass starting early in the morning and return to Thulodhap. It will take 7/8 hours for a round trip from Thulodhap.

Watch this glimpse of Phoktey Dara trek video

 TREK FEE: 15,950 (Hilley to Uttarey) + 5% GST

The above TREK FEE is applicable for Fixed Departure treks as we schedule time to time. Also we can customise this trek, if you are looking for a private trek or if the our date(s) is not matching with you. Expect similar TREK FEE if you are 8 to 10 persons together forming a group. For 4/5 persons trekking logistics and overhead is too heavy that it is not sustainable.

TREK FEE includes everything which you will require once you reach at Hilley and till you end the trek at Uttarey. Tented accommodation during trek, all meals, trekking guide, porters to carry the logistics and equipment, all permits   and camping charges. This also includes Accidental insurance policy (Indian nationals only) for 7 days covering NJP to NJP. Check COST INCLUSIONS tab for specific details.

Seasons for Phoktey Dara trek:

Being in the Nepal/Sikkim 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: 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.

Barsey campsite during Rhododendron bloom

2) Fall/Winter for clear weather: 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.

Sleeping Buddha from Singalila Pass

Important notes on Camping grounds for Phoktey Dara trek:

This trail inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary has limited water source at intervals. The streams are seasonal and it is difficult to get water around Kharka Dara and Kalijhar campsite apart from months of April to September. For camping, proximity of water is a must and we may have to camp as per availability of water. However, we will cover Phoktey Dara top and Singalila Pass as mentioned in the itinerary.

Access to Phoktey Dara trek base (Hilley):

We will arrange a pickup  from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Hilley and drop from Uttarey to NJP/Bagdogra. This will be shared by the team members on actual basis and paid directly to the driver. Typically a Tata Sumo/Mahindra Maxx type Jeep charges Rs 5000 one way. One such car can accommodate 6 to 8 people. 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.

Click here to view the List of Things to carry in Singalila Phoktey Dara trek

Permit requirements to enter and trek in Sikkim including Phoktey Dara trek:

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. Indians may skip this section if you don’t have a travel plan specifically in North Sikkim.

(A) For Indian Nationals: Trekking permit is required inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary and can be obtained at Hilley Forest checkpost. Two recent passport size photos, One personal photo ID card with address proof in it (Aadhar/Driving Licence/Voter ID/Passport) along with photocopies of the same are to be submitted along with a self declaration at Yuksom police outpost. 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.

(B) For Foreign Nationals:

Any foreigner (some relaxation to Nepalese and Bhutanese citizens) will require Inner Line Permit which is recently renamed as Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter the boundary of Sikkim.

  • Nationals of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nigeria and China can only apply for ILP/RAP through Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.
  • Any other foreign national’s with the strength of valid Passport and Indian visa can obtain the ILP (RAP), Free of cost, at the below check points while entering Sikkim.

1) Assistant Director– Tourism Department , Melli, Near Melli Police Check Post, South Sikkim, Mobile No: 9775453611, 03595-248536, PLS NOTE: ILP issuing time is from 8 am to 8 pm everyday (Though we struggled to keep them stay after 6 pm!)- On the way to West Sikkim (Yuksom, Pelling, Hilley, Uttarey etc)
2) Assistant Director, Tourism Department, Sikkim Tourism Office, Rangpo, East Sikkim phone no: 03592-240818 – On the way to Gangtok and East/North Sikkim.

  • If you produce a proper itinerary (additionally if any supporting booking documents) then the authority will usually issue an ILP up to 30 days initially. It can be extended to another 30 days but you to get an extension we need to exit Sikkim and apply again when you re-enter.
  • Travellers who arrive initially in Darjeeling (state of West Bengal) has to get the permit from the above two check posts. There is shorter route from Darjeeling to Jorethang via Jamuney (40 Km, 2 hours maximum)  but foreigner’s are not allowed to enter Sikkim along this road. You have to go via Darjeeling – Jorbanglow – Teesta route.
  • You may obtain an ILP online, but that doesn’t make much sense. This is a document valid only when it is signed physically in any of the above two offices. It takes 10/15 minutes to process the ILP at Melli/Rongpo with the strength of your valid passport and Indian visa.

Foreign national tourists who wish to trek to Dzongri/Goecha La, Singalila/Phoktey Dara (Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary), Round Singalila Dzongri (Uttarey to Dzongri) will require an additional permit called Protected Area Permit (PAP, often referred as Trekking Permit). This is issued to a minimum group of 2 persons or more from the following office on strength of signed and valid  ILP/RAP.
Adventure Cell of Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of Sikkim, Gangtok

(Note: Green Lake trek in North Sikkim requires Alpine Mountaineering Expedition permit, which in turn needs more approvals, time and high expenses. Total 5 different permits are needed from Sikkim state and Delhi for both Indian and foreign nationals.)

If you (foreign nationals) wish to book Phoktey Dara/Goecha La/Dafeybhir trek or any other with us (HT) in Sikkim then:

  • We will require at least one additional day to process the PAP/Trekking Permit. This can’t be processed in advance and we can only apply once we receive your signed copy of ILP. This means that you can’t start the trek very next day you enter Sikkim. We would recommend a couple of days in advance.
  • Tourist’s who are having plan to visit other places in Sikkim can obtain the ILP as mentioned and send the same to us for processing the Trekking Permit.
  • We charge an additional ₹ 3000 as Service Charge per person to process the Trekking Permit and to counter the differential of various permit fees inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary/Kanchendzongha National park for Non Indian nationals. It is indeed expensive to send someone to Gangtok for processing the Trekking Permit and get it back at the respective trek base like Yuksom, Hilley, Uttarey etc.

In easy words it is not difficult to get the required permits to trek inside Sikkim (apart from Green Lake trek) if you (minimum of a group of 2) have couple of additional days to spend in Sikkim before the trek;

Do carry multiple copies (both hard and soft versions) of your recent passport size photo and photocopies of your documents (Passport/Visa/ILP) to avoid any showstopper on mountains!

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Why treks with HT?

Highest Point3700 m/12150 ft
Trail Length50 Km
Phoktey dara trek

Tour Reviews

5.00 based on 1 review
January 12, 2018

HT understood our needs very well and planned our trek accordingly. The support staff was extremely good and they took care of us really well. The food that they cooked was fantastic and they catered to our participants’ requests. The staff even cooked vegan food for us. The experience on the whole was a beautiful one. Keep it up HT!

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