The Himalaya presents us with some of the most dramatic and demanding trekking landscapes anywhere on earth, such as our Round Manaslu and Larkya L ...
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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.