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Hilley to Sandakphu


Hilley to Sandakphu Trek is a relatively lesser known trekking trail in West Sikkim. The trail, famous for Rhododendrons and different species of birds, is the gateway of the Singalila Ridge Trek. The starting point of the trek is Hilley and should end at Sandakphu, following a breathtakingly beautiful trail. 

The highest point of this trek is Phoktey Dara. Situated at 3733m, Phoktey Dara is famous for the hill top view point to witness the panoramic view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Nuptse and in the east one can see the magnificent view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Kabru, Mt. Narsing, Mt. Rathong, Mt. Sinolchu, Mt. Kokthang. For the majestic sunrise and sunset, Phoktey Dara trek is considered as a very extraordinary view point of Sikkim. From Phoktey Dara, we will be heading towards Sandakphu, the highest point in West Bengal which also offers a spectacular view of the Himalayan mountain ranges. The trail leads through Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, which turns into a riot of colours when the flowers are in full bloom. Here is a tentative itinerary of the trek :- 

Day 1 – Meet at Siliguri/ NJP. Drive to Hilley. Overnight stay in lodge.

Day 2 – Hilley to Deoningali Dhap :- Our exciting journey through the forest trail starts today. The entire trek route is a paradise for bird watchers as we can get glimpses of birds like Leiothrix, Sunbirds, Fulvettas etc.  After walking for a couple of hours, we reach Varsey. We trek along the gradually undulating trail through the forest for the next 6 – 7 hours till we reach the swampy camping site at Deoningali Dhap.

Day 3 – Deoningali Dhap to Thulo Dhap :-  The first part of the trek from Deoningali Dhap is steep which turns gentle after sometime. We gain in more height and after walking for a total of 6 – 7 hours, reach Thulo Dhap (3200 m), next to a stream. The last part of the trek is through a swampy stretch and care needs to be taken from the shoes to get wet. Witness the views of the mountains from Thulo Dhap and an amazing sunset !

Day 4 – Thulo Dhap to Kalijhar :- Today is the toughest part of the trek as we move through the steep trail towards Kalijhar. As we gain in height, the forest gradually becomes thinner and the lofty trees give way to smaller shrubs. The tough trek is rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of Kanchenjunga and other mountains. Water is scarce here and we need to ration water carefully. Also, it can very cold and windy and adequate care needs to be taken.

Day 5 – Kalijhar to Phalut :- We wake up early in the morning and trek towards Phoktey Dara to witness the sunrise. On a clear day, one can view the wide range of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga, and other mountains. After spending some quality time, we start descending on the other side towards Phalut, which will take around 6 – 7 hours.

Day 6 – Phalut to Sandakphu :- Today we trek along a gently undulating trail for 6 – 7 hours to Sandakphu, the highest point in West Bengal . Once again, we get a captivating view of the Himalayan mountain range.

Day 7 – Sandakphu to Sri Khola :-  After witnessing another stunning sunrise on Mt. Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu in the very early morning it is time to descend to Sri Khola. This strenous trek route passes through dense forest of Rhododendron, Magnolia and Oak to Sri Khola, which is named after a beautiful wild stream. Sri Khola is surrounded by dense forest, orchids and is a home to numerous birds. From Sandakphu, the trek route to Srikhola comes via Gurdum over a distance of 16kms and typically takes 6 - 7 hours.

Day 8 – Sri Khola to Siliguri/ NJP :- Today is the concluding day of our trek as we move from Sri Khola towards Siliguri/ NJP

Destination - Hilley to Sandakphu 

Duration - 7 Nights and 8 Days

Accommodation - Camp/ Tent/ Trekker's Hut

Pickup & Drop - Nearest Railway Station/ Airport/ Bus Terminus

Best Time To Visit - April - May/ September - November