Singalila Ridge and Kanchenjunga Panorama Trek
The Singalila Ridge trail is a classic Himalayan trek, enjoyed for almost 150 years, since officers of the British Raj, around the mid-19th Century, first exchanged the debilitating summer heat of Calcutta and the Indian plains for the invigorating fresh air and clear skies of this mountainous area. Snaking along the border between Nepal and India, the trekking route has the most magnificent view of Kangchenjunga, at 8568m the third highest mountain in the world, as well as other giant peaks, including Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8512m) and Makalu (8462). This Eastern end of the great Himalayan chain, and its foothills, continues to attract those with a love of dramatic mountain landscapes, natural beauty, relatively under-populated trekking trails, and adventure.
The trek follows good trails at all times. There is an occasionally-used, simple, dirt road, wide enough for a jeep, which runs alongside the trekking route for the first few days of the walk on the Singalila Ridge. Numerous stepped sections of the trail cut off the largest of the zig-zags taken by the jeep track, and on the upper sections of the ridge there is an undulating path, which is never very steep.
Initially ascending through forests, passing through Tamang, Sherpa and Rai villages along the way, the trail offers wonderful views in an area which is home to many rare bird species. Once on the plateau-like ridge of Singalila (c.2500m-3600m) itself, you’ll be walking along the very border between India and Nepal and your left leg will be technically 15 minutes behind your right, due to the time difference between the two countries! The trail now undulates, offering simply amazing views all around: down to Nepal on the left, with Makalu, Lhotse and the Kangshung (East) face of Everest itself. To the right are extended views into Sikkim and across to where Bhutan’s highest peak, Chomolhari (7314m) is visible on a clear day. Surely the highlight of the trek though is reaching the high point at Sandakhpu (3636m) where mighty Kangchenjunga dominates the whole horizon, presenting the possibility of unbroken, absolutely breathtaking sunset and sunrise views.
Much of the area is now a protected wildlife sanctuary and largely uninhabited although there are a few small settlements along the trekking route, with very basic accommodation (this is the reason that most treks here are under canvas). This region of West Bengal is a delight for both wildlife and botanical enthusiasts. On the Singalila Ridge you’ll find large forests of various species of Rhododendron, most of which were identified by the famous Victorian plant hunter, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, at the same time that the British Raj were trekking in the area! The rhododendron forests are particularly impressive in April with blooms of scarlet, pink, yellow and white; they are interspersed with Bamboo, Magnolia, Juniper, Hemlock Oak and Silver Fir.. Also there are many varieties of Orchid, again identified and classified by Hooker. In forest clearings Primula, Gentian and Aconitum thrive.
Large mammals include the common Leopard, Clouded Leopard and Himalayan Black bear. Tigers occasionally wander into the area too, but are not known to be resident. Other interesting species include Pangolin, Barking Deer and Serow. The endangered Red Panda is an inhabitant of the dense bamboo forests, particularly around Gairibas and Kalapokhari.
The area is also a paradise for a wide variety of colourful bird species with over 120 types recorded, including exotic species such as Satyr Tragopans, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Blood Pheasant.
On finishing the trek there will be a picturesque drive, of around 5 hours, to Kalimpong, passing through the Teesta Valley, with incredible views from the many bends in the road, as well as some tea gardens. Next on the itinerary is an extended stay of two nights in Gangtok, the bustling, hill-station capital of Sikkim, with the added possibility of visiting the famous Rumtek monastery.
No trip to this region would be complete without a visit to Darjeeling, the so-called Queen of the Hills, where the British Raj set up their summer escape, and where they were astute enough to realise that the quality of the soil and the mild climate of the region were ideal for growing Camellia Sinensis – making the name Darjeeling synonymous with fine quality tea, and resulting in the denuding of vast numbers of hillsides of their forest cover, to be replaced with the low growing tea bushes which are to be seen everywhere. The town of Darjeeling itself is in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya, at an average elevation of 2045m, much lower than the Singalila Ridge. It is interesting in particular as being one of the most important hill stations of British India, and its popularity is echoed in the large number of colonial houses and hotels which still remain.
Of course, the view of Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling is world famous, and said to be one of the finest mountain views in the world. Other memorable views will be enjoyed from the famous ‘toy train’ which chugs its way out of Darjeeling, stopping on the way to Ghoom to take on water, and offer a photo stop at the famous Batasia Loop.
The eastern part of Nepal, Ilam in particular, adjoins the Darjeeling area, and the soil and climate conditions are pretty well identical. Unsurprisingly, tea has been grown for many years in Nepal, from young bushes brought over from the Darjeeling estates, resulting in tea which many believe is superior even to the famous Darjeeling ‘champagne of teas’. The journey back to Kathmandu will pass through this area, showing a huge contrast in scenery and climate compared with the higher altitudes of the Singalila area
Itinerary at a glance
Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu and transport to Hotel
Day 02: Rest, Kathmandu sightseeing or one of our exclusive walking tour ‘Life of Kathmandu” covers day-to-day life of Kathmandu away from main tourist norm.
Day 03: Fly to Bhadrapur and drive to Mirik (1495m)
Note: if you are travelling via Delhi or Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), you have to arranged domestic flight to Bagdogra where you will meet up with your guide from here, about two-hour drive to Mirik (1495m).
Day 04: Drive to Darjeeling (2135m) [around 2 hrs]
Day 05: Leisure and sightseeing in Darjeeling
Day 06: Drive to Maneybhanjyang (2130m) or Dhodray (2300m) and trek to Tumling (2970m) [2½ hours drive and 5/6 hrs. (11kms) walk]
Day 07: Trek to Kalpokhari (3185m) [5/6 hrs. (13kms) walk]
Day 08: Trek to Sandakphu (3636) [2½/3½ hrs. (7kms) walk]
Day 09: Trek to Phalut (3600m) [6/7 hrs. (21 kms) walk]
Day 10: Trek to Samaden (2480m) or Gorkhe (2134m) [5/6 hrs. (15kms) walk]
Day 11: Trek to Rimbick (2285m) [6/7 hrs walk]
Day 12: Drive to Kalimgpong (1676m) [around 5 hrs]
Day 13: Drive to Gangtok (1547m) [around 2 hrs]
Day 14: Leisure and sightseeing in Gangtok (1547m)
Day 15: Drive to Kakarbhatta, go through Indian and Nepalese immigration, drive to Jhaapa and trek to Ajingare (Ilam)
Day 16: Leisure and village tour
Day 17: Short trek to Jhaapa, drive to Biratnager and fly to Kathmandu
Day 18: Shopping /leisure time in Kathmandu
Day 19: Transfer to airport for departure
Date & Price
All ACCESS-HIMALAYA adventure travel trips are small group departures and therefore places can fill quickly. To avoid disappointment, we suggest you book your trip as soon as possible.
... in Lodge TrekAccommodation in Kathmandu, bed & breakfast basis, (accommodation in twin room unless otherwise arranged) - accommodation facilities/details outlined below
All three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during the trek
All internal transportation as stated in itinerary, including domestic flights (see itinerary above)
In Lodge trek – mostly basic twin room with clean bed and mattress (toilet facilities may be outside – NO ATTACHED BATHROOM, unless otherwise arranged. Extra cost is applicable and subject to availability)
National Park entrance fees
Experienced staff - (guide, assistant guides, porters or yaks)
Staff and porter insurance
Sightseeing in Kathmandu as stated in itinerary (guide and transport only)
Free gift of Access-Himalaya trekking kit bag for each member of group (to be distributed on arrival in Kathmandu)
Free airport pick and drop
... in Camping TrekYour personal equipment
Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond our control
Your travel insurance, (Make sure the policy covers helicopter rescue and evacuation service)
Medical examination and vaccination costs
Personal expenditure, including bar bills, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc.
Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu and elsewhere-apart from trek (see itinerary)
Heritage sights/Monastery/Temple entrance fees
Trek and Tour crew tips at end of tour
- A AVAILABLE - Trip date is available and open for bookings. Go for it!
- G GUARANTEED - Trip is reached minimum numbers and this is 'Guaranteed to Run'
- L LIMITED - Trip is 'Guaranteed to Run' and there are a very limited number of available places remaining. Immediate booking is recommended.
- C CLOSED - Trip has reached maximum numbers and it is unavailable. Please Contact Us to enquire about other trip departure dates or booking this trip as a private departure
Trip Info (Tour/Trek Styles) Explained
- PG Private Group: This style of trip is organized for specific groups of people (families, friends,school and college students, colleagues, business associates etc.), and is closed to outsiders. If you are interested in this particular trip departure date then please get in touch with us.
- OA Open to All: This trip departure is open to all. However, if you are interested in this particular trip departure date but want your own private group, then please get in touch with us.
- LT Lodge Based Trip/Trek: This trip/trek is lodge (teahouse) based. All accommodation, including food, is provided in local lodges. Occasionally however, where a large group is concerned we may choose to send our own cook along, as well, to take care of your food hygiene and to cook some special additional items.We provide all necessary documentation, including permits, and arrange all internal transport. We provide trekking guide, assistant guide(s) and porters/animals for transport of your gear. You merely carry a daysack with essentials, including water.
- CT Camping Based Trip/Trek: This trip/trek is camping (tent) based. We will provide one 3-man tent for every two people, also single tents, where requested, on payment of supplementary costs. All food and drinks are provided by our experienced cook and his kitchen team. We provide all necessary documentation, including permits, and arrange all internal transport. We provide trekking guide, assistant guide(s), cook, kitchen crew, food and drink, and porters/animals for transport of your gear. You merely carry a daysack with essentials, including water.
- GAP Guide, Accommodation & Porter only: In this trip neither food nor transportation is included. Clients are responsible for food and local transportation, and our responsibility is to provide insured guide, insured porter, and all necessary permits. All additional costs are the responsibility of the clients, including charges incurred as a result of delays or cancellation of services beyond our control. Clients pay for their own accommodation. Any additional costs are the responsibility of the clients, We can arrange hotels and international airport transfer, on request.
- SG Self Guided/Budget Trip: This trip is specially designed for low-budget travellers who prefer fairly basic facilities with reduced services. It is a pre-requisite that a porter is hired for any self-guided trip, which is an ideal set-up for those who enjoy independent travel with minimum cost. We have added support to minimise the hard work of planning and costing, and we will be available to help in the unlikely event of an emergency. We will arrange all documentation (including permits), before you arrive in Nepal, so that you are free to get on with your adventure, relying only on your porter to help you on your way. All additional costs are the responsibility of the clients, including charges incurred as a result of delays or cancellation of services beyond our control. Hotel accommodation, local transportation and international airport transfers may be arranged, on request.
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- Travel Insurance
It is a strict condition of joining an Access-Himalaya adventure holiday that you must be insured against all medical and personal accident risks, including repatriation if necessary. Helicopter evacuation, in the unlikely event of your being injured or taken seriously ill on trek, is very costly - an average rescue ... read more..
If our fixed departure dates are not convenient for you or your group, we can also arrange private departures on all of our small group tours. Private group departures will follow the same itineraries as our usual small group tours, or itineraries may be tailormade to suit your own convenient tour date/budgets.
Itineraries may be tailor-made to suit your dates. So if you can’t find a date to suit you or if you want to have your very own tour just with your friends or family then we can help you.
Customised Private Groups:
For most of our usual tours, or itineraries, where there is a group numbering 2 or more, we can customise and organise private group trip(s) where we design the itinerary and activities exclusively for you, according to your requirements and budgets, such as Honeymoon, Anniversary, Family, Scouts, School, College, Fundraising or Charity trips. Find out more about our private group tours.
To enquire about booking a private departure of this tour or about organising your own private group tour, please fill in the form below and we will get back to you shortly with details.