YHAI’s International Trek – The Sandakphu-Gurdum
Whether you are a novice in trekking or a person who has walked across the most strenuous of terrains, Sandakphu-Gurdum trek’s additional charm is that it is also an international trek, going into Nepal and back again. Located on the Indo-Nepal border, the trek starts in Darjeeling, crosses over to Nepal, and ends at Rimbick, a small village in West Bengal.
Sandakphu at 11,930 ft is the highest peak of the Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district on the West Bengal-Nepal border The peak is located at the edge of the Singalila National Park and has a small village on the summit with a few hotels. Four of the five highest peaks in the world, Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu can be seen from its summit. It also affords a pristine view of the entire Kangchenjunga Range. So you see, what more can you want on a trek?
The base camp for this close to 51 km trek is at the International Youth Hostels, Chota Kakjhora, Darjeeling. The base camp itself is a unique experience. Imagine having a warm sip of Darjeeling tea while having a splendid, serene view of Kanchenjunga in the biting cold. This sets the mood for the rest of the days to follow. The entire Kanchenjunga range, famously called Sleeping Buddha is visible. The trail is made comfortable with the stay being setup at lodges.
The mixed trail of meadows, forest and rocky outcrop will be both a challenge (depending on weather and snow fall) and also a pleasure to walk on. From the base camp, a jeep will take you to Dhotrey and then your first day’s trek will be from Dhotrey to Tumling at 10,000 ft, a delightful nearly 7-8 hour walk across the land. The trek is through Singalila Forest, the trail meandering on the Indo-Nepal border. After the lunch point at Tonglu, it is mostly a descent type of trail. Encourage your fellow trekkers to have some fun and games and you can boast that you have played an international match ! The night halt is to be enjoyed in the company of the cool mountain air.
It is worth to be an early riser here to get a clean view of the Kanchenjunga with the sun rays lighting it up in magnificent colours. It can dip to negative temperatures and the frozen water sources look very pretty in the first rays. This day’s trek is to Kalipokhri, so called because of the black lake, which gets its colour from the surrounding rocks. This can be a bit of strenuous trail, but you will reach in good time and enjoy this place.
It can be quite cold here and after a good night’s sleep, you start off for the next day to the highest point – Sandakphu, a relatively shorter trek of about 6 kms, all uphill. You will find your weary bones relax on the first look of Kanchenjunga and Everest. Lhotse and Makalu are also seen. Relax here and savour these moments.
, your final day on the trek is all downhill going towards Sirikhola via Gurdum. You will be walking through lovely forest side; the temperature also becomes mild after the biting cold of the higher camps. From Sirikhola, sharing vehicle will take you to Rimbick, which actually marks the end of this trek.
The panorama of peaks seen from Sandakphu is a delight – Baruntse, (7220m), Chamlang (7319m), Chomo Lonzo (7818m), Lhotse (8516m), Makalu (8462m), Mount Everest (8848m), Nuptse (7861m), Kanchenjunga (8586m), Talung (7349m), Rathong (6679m), Kabru N (7353m), Koktang (6147m), Simvo (6812m), Frey (5853m), Kabru S (7318m),KabruDome (6600m), Kabru Forked (6100m), Pandim, (6691m), Tenchenkhang (6010m), Jupono (5650m).
On this note, as you bid adieu to Kanchenjunga, let’s meet together for the next trek!
By Sonia Kuncalienker