Family trekking tour in Sikkim Darjeeling during late October

  • We are a family of five (children ages 14-11) interested in doing a trek in Sikkim, the Singalila trek during Oct 26 – Nov 1. The dates are fixed, but we could consider also the Barsey Sanctuary or another one.
  • We have teenage kids who can do a medium trek. Last Christmas we did the Poonhill trek in Nepal to give you a reference.
  • Our preference is staying in lodges or tea houses but no tents. But we would like to see Sikkim, not only Darjeeling.
  • We would like a good guide and porters for the proposed trek.

Darjeeling and Sikkim are adjacent, though it takes time to travel from one to another. Say for an example Darjeeling city to Gangtok is about 6/7 hours of drive. Also for Non Indian’s/foreigners, entry to Sikkim is either via Melli (for West Sikkim) or via Rangpo (for Gangtok and North/East Sikkim).

You have total 7 days assuming an afternoon/evening flight on 1st Nov from Bagdogra. Touching Sikkim and Darjeeling both can be tedious and tiring with a significant portion travelling in car.

We would like to understand more here about your trip preferences. Is including both Sikkim and Darjeeling your priority? If only one, then which one? How much important is the hiking part to you?

E.g if you decide only to stay inside Darjeeling district (West Bengal) then a Singalila Ridge i.e. Sandakphu trek along with Darjeeling city will be a suitable option. This will give a feel of complete hiking experience with a night or two relaxing in Darjeeling city or around.

In case of only Sikkim option, we would suggest couple of days in Gangtok area first (we process your Trekking Permit/PAP meantime inside Sikkim) then moving to West Sikkim and try Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary trek. This is a short and fairly easy trek in contrary to Sandakphu.

  • Our main interest is to do a good hike and see as close as possible the Himalayas. Staying in lodges is preferred to tents, but not a must. Getting some glimpse of the Sikkim culture is also something that we would like to achieve.
  • We have some additional days to accommodate the trek and visits. We could arrive to Bagdogra on Oct 25. We could stay as long a Sunday Nov 3 for the return flight. We are interested in perhaps staying the last two nights Nov 1-3 in a place like the Glenburn Tea Estate.
  • One option could be to do the Sandakphu trail Oct 25-31. Then perhaps dedicate Oct 31-Nov 1-2 to do a short Sikkim visit (around Pelling?) and then drive back to Glenburn Tea estate and then airport for late flight on Nov 3. Is that feasible?

It’s really nice to see the details of your planning, much appreciated. It helps in our understanding too.

As now you have more days, your proposed itinerary looks more complete. As I understand it, here are my thoughts:

1) Day 1 Chitrey: This is a small hamlet with few houses, one homestay/lodge and a monastery. Set up is very basic rooms, triple quad sharing type, more like 2+1+ 1/2+1 type of bedding. 3 Km below Chitrey is a small town on India/Nepal border called Maneybhanjung. Here we have arrangements with a local homestay, which is clean with attached toilet and running hot water. They serve home food which I felt tasty. Also the Sandakphu road from Maneybhanjung via Chitrey is closed by 2 pm (you have to reach Maneybhanjung by 1 pm, as there are foreigner permit formalities here). It takes around ~ 4 hours from Bagdogra to Maneybhanjung with a lunch break at Mirik town. Next day you can start trekking from Maneybhanjung in the morning to Chitrey and then to Tumling as per itinerary. Many Europeans travellers stay first night at Darjeeling, then next day morning drive an hour ~ 30 Km to Maneybhanjung and trek to Tumling with us. Here the climb from Maneybhanjung to Tumling becomes moderate as there is a steep uphill till Chitrey, which is 3 Km additional than our standard itinerary.

2) Pelling is a nice tourist town, with great views of Kanchenjunga. I am hopeful that you will get ample views of the mountains already in your trek. You may consider your Sikkim base at Yuksom, 40 Km further from Pelling. You can still visit Pemayangtse monastery, Rabdantse ruins, Khechepalri lake, Kanchenjunga falls etc, on your way, or short detours. At Yuksom you will get good hotels as well as nice homestay accommodations. There are places in and around Yuksom, the first capital of Sikkim. A lake, monasteries, Coronation site. On top of that, a nice 3/4 hours hiking to Dubdi monastery, Sikkim’s oldest. Holiest of these monasteries the one at Tashiding is 25 Km away one a different road than Pelling. To summarise Yuksom should give you more “Sikkim flavour” than touristy Pelling. Here you will get some idea about Yuksom and around:

Note: It will take 6/7 hours to reach Pelling from Srikhola by car and another 1 hour and half (max) to Yuksom. Glenburn Tea Estate is somewhere in between Srikhola to Pelling/Yuksom.

We look forward for your thoughts.

  • Thanks so much for all the information and sorry that we are taking a long time to design our trip. We would like to make sure we do the right thing. We have decided to skip Pelling and the Glenburn Tea Estate. We can concentrate on doing a Sikkim trek. Even though the drive to Yuksom is long my family is keen on seeing real Sikkim so I guess it is worth. Perhaps we could do the drive in two section: Airport to Chamong and then Chamong to Yuksom?
  • From Yuksom we would like to do a trek. I have seen the Dzongri trek that looks great, but not sure if too demanding for my kids. More ambitious than the monastery trek, which we also like. Our priority is to do a strong trek, but if possible staying in homestays. For me getting as close to the Kanchenjunja to get a close view would be important. Along the way, experiencing the Sikkim culture and monasteries is also important. Is the Dzongri trek the right one? If not, can we do some hybrid between Dzongri and the monastery trek.

Apart from logistical support our activities include suggestions and travel consulting that you take a well informed decision.

If you look at our Dzongri trek itinerary, it is of 9 days, Bagdogra to Bagdogra. We designed it in a relaxed manner that it is not strenuous like our Goecha La itinerary. Your kids should complete Dzongri trek without much difficulties  following our itinerary. Please share their prior hiking experiences if any than Poon Hills trek. However that leaves you with no other option to explore around apart from the trail and Kanchenjunga within your vacation plan. Also there is no homestay on the trail, but very basic Govt. Trekkers Hut without bed or bedding at Tsokha and Dzongri.

I would be more inclined towards an itinerary comprising Sandakphu trek, Chamong (just 10 Km from trek base Maneybhanjung) and Yuksom. Now you may decide the order of visiting after finalising the places that we cover. Ideally Day 1 seems good for Chamong or maybe 2 nights as well. Staying in a Tea Estate in Darjeeling adds value. Also think of taking a late afternoon/early evening flight in case you are returning directly from Yuksom to Bagdogra.

Sandakphu will be an ideal blend of trail, where you will hikes 5/6 hours a day (we can make it strenuous if you wish!) and stays are in homestay majorly. It does have cultural things to note along with revered view of Sleeping Buddha and Kanchenjunga.

3 nights at Yuksom and exploring monasteries and cultural aspects would certainly worth high for the Sikkim part.

What do you think?

Sounds good. Can you suggest the detailed itinerary for the Chamong, Sandakphu trek and Yuksom? The dates should be Oct 25-Nov 3 and please add the cost.

We will send you an itinerary and corresponding cost based on the following:

1) Your rooms preferences if any, like 2 rooms or a big family room/suite to stay ,where it is available (like Sandakphu)

2) Do you wish us to book Chamong Tea Estate by us, or you can do it online?

3) We will arrange the transportation required as per itinerary. Do you have any vehicle preference? Most common option is Tata Sumo/Mahindra Bolero type vehicle, and we can try Toyota Innova as well. Should we put this in invoice or there is an option of paying it directly to the driver too.

  • Family room is fine. If not possible we can do two rooms (adults + kids).
  • If you can arrange the Chamong tea Estate better. Car: whatever is more comfortable and safe. We need seat belts for everyone. If possible we prefer to pay you. Total days should be Oct 25-Nov 3. We can arrive early on Oct 25 and late on Nov 3.

We will be more than happy to arrange for your family to Sikkim and Darjeeling. This part of the Himalayas is damper than the rest. Sporadic rainfall may happen even in in late Oct. Electric heaters are not available inside the rooms. Keep adequate layers of warm clothing.

Also due to unavailability of rooms at Chamong, we propose a similar property, Tumsong Chaibari.

As per the conversation we have had in the last few days, here is the itinerary for your trip:

Suggested itinerary:

Oct 25 (Day 1): Arrive Bagdogra and transfer to Yuksom by Innova. () 160 Km. Arrive latest ~ 10 am. Inner Line Permit/RAP processing at Melli (after 70 Km) enroute, on Sikkim West Bengal border. Have your lunch on your own here or at Jorethang 30 Km further. 8 hours. Your guide for Yuksom will meet and greet you. Stay at Yuksom in Limboo Homestay/equivalent.

Oct 26: Explore Yuksom. After breakfast visit Coronation Throne site, Kathok Lake,monastery, colony area. After lunch in the afternoon visit Tashiding Monastery by car, 50 Km round trip. Night stay at Yuksom.

Oct 27: Today morning after breakfast we hike to the Sikkim’s oldest monastery Dubdi. This will be around 3/4 hours round trip. After lunch we will visit Gufa Dara village, around 30 mins hike. We will explore the small village and local community. Night stay at Yuksom

Oct 28: Start early after breakfast and drive from Yuksom to Maneybhanjang via Pelling. We will take a detour and visit Kanchenjunga Falls, Khecheopalri lake, Pemayangtse monastery and Rabdentse ruins around 180 Km, 10/12 hours with Sightseeing. Check here to get an understanding on the probable route. Have lunch on your own (maybe at Melli depending on time). Night Stay at Maneybhanjang. Homestay is at our Maneybhanjung base coordinators home.

Oct 29: Have your breakfast while we work the permit requirements. You may drive 3 Km uphill to Chitrey or start the walk from Maneybhanjung instead (Steep 3 Km climb, may take 1 to 1 and half hour). From Chitrey we follow our usual itinerary and trek to Tumling via Meghma (lunch)- 9 K, 5-6 hours.  Lodge accommodation at Tumling

Oct 30: Trek to Kalapokhari – 12 Km, 6-7 hours. After a Km or so the entry to Singalila National Park, with a check post. Lunch at Kaiyakata via Gairibas.  Lodge accommodation at Kalapokhari.

Oct 31: Trek to Sandakphu- 6 Km, 3-4 hours. Last 3 Km or so hike from Bikheybhanjung to Sandakphu is steep. Have your lunch at Sandakphu. In the afternoon walk on the Phalut Road to get magnificent views Sleeping Buddha. Lodge/hotel accommodation at Sandakphu.

Nov 01: Witness Sunrise. Early morning conditions may be windy and cold. After breakfast, trek down to Timburey- 15 Km, 7-8 hours. The downward trek is through beautiful jungle and glades in between. You may find bear claw marks or an elusive Red Panda if you are really lucky. Portions of this stretch are steep downhill.

Nov 02: After breakfast walk for 1/1.5 hours to the road head Srikhola, Drive to Tumsong Chaibari the Tea Retreat  – 75 Km, 3-4 hours. Last stretch of the track to Tumsong is not suitable for Innova and will need a high ground clearance vehicle (like Sumo/Bolero). Lunch at Tumsong.

Nov 03 (Day 10): After breakfast comfortably pack and depart for Bagdogra airport.  70 Km drive may take around 3 hours. Earliest flight you may take around 2 pm in the afternoon.

Thanks so much for the proposal, it follows what we discussed.

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