Sandakphu Trek Or By Car: Know From Team That Goes Each Year

Sandakphu: Close down to the highest peaks of the world

Sandakphu is an amazing destination at the edge of Singalila National Park in West Bengal, near the Indo-Nepal border. The peak is the highest point of the state of West Bengal. Sandakphu used to be a trekkers paradise now it is fast gaining popularity among common travelers too. With the new roads being constructed till Gairibas which is almost half of the Sandakphu trek, it is becoming more accessible. We believe with more and more tourists coming in Sandakphu stands to gain a lot more popularity across the country. It is not easy to ignore what’s on offer from nature here.

Sandakphu: A surreal Visual Delight

The small hamlet of Sandakphu actually stays above the normal clouds level. This is why Sandakphu offers uninhibited sighting of 4 top Peaks in the world, almost throughout the year.  One can experience the magnificent broad range of snow-capped peaks.

Sandakphu-buddha
Sleeping Buddha as seen from Sandakphu

In between Mt. Lhotse( 8516 m)  and Makalu (8463m), the fourth and fifth highest peaks, we can see Mount Everest (8848 m) in the full glory.  On the other side, we can see a congregation of smaller peaks with Mount Kanchenjunga  (8586m), the third highest peak in the world. The mountain formation is famous as “Sleeping Buddha” as the appearance resembles the head, face, upper body, and feet of the sage Lord Buddha. 

The blue sky and the green forests topped with snow-covered mountains and freezing weather create a surrealistic atmosphere here. This small hamlet was always a beautiful spot, but lesser known in the British period. Since that time, the road was the sole connection with the outer world. There were tea gardens around this place and the planters used Land Rover cars to go in the hilly terrains since 1930.

Sakdakphu and the Famous Old Land Rovers:

The locals re-purposed these multi-terrain vehicles as commercial local transport to Sandakphu from Manebhanjan. The roads are almost non-exiting, as it is mainly a trekking route. Only these 1960s make old Land Rovers mostly driven in Kerosin oil instead of Deisel can take the trouble of plying through these so-called roads.

Sandakphu-Landrovers
Sandakphu and the 1960s made Land Rovers Mostly Run on Kerosin

The hilly roads wind across the mountain through the canopy of the forest. India and Nepal are two countries on a very friendly term and this is reflected in this region too. There is no clear international boundary on the road and it passes through both the countries, like Jaubari or Tumling, both of these villages lie in Nepal and on the road to Sandakphu.

However very recently Govt. made new roads until Gasiribas covering a whole host of trekking rest points namely Manebhanjan, Chitre, Meghma, and Tumling. This makes it easy for both travelers who want to trek or wants to go by car. So, as of now almost half of the trekking route is motorable. That’s quite a sigh of relief for the lazy travelers who is not a trekking enthusiast.

There are some magnificent trek routes that run around this place. The long trekking route never feels tiring for the beauty of nature, the flora, and fauna as well as the melodious song of the rare birds along the way. It is a memory that you will cherish all your life. The adventurous trekkers prefer to go by foot from Manebhanjan which is the gateway into this natural haven on the ridge.

 

Sandakphu Height

Sandakphu is the highest peak in West Bengal and one of the tallest points in India too. The peak lies at a height of 11930 feet or 3636 meters from mean sea level. The average height of the base camp is around 6400 feet or 1951 meters. It gradually increases from thereafter.

Sandakphu Weather

Summer months in Sandakphu is comfortable with an average temperature around 10-15 degree Celsius. There is little to no precipitation in this time. Though in nights temperature can go down up to 4-degree centigrade here.

In the monsoon time, the lower parts and the road ( Like Chitre, Meghma, Tumling Etc.) to the place receive heavy rainfall.  Minimum and maximum Temperature vary between 4-7 degree centigrade on the lower side and 13-17 degree centigrade on the maximum side in monsoon.

In winter, the temperature goes well beyond freezing point and it receives heavy snowfall. From the last part of December to February, the peaks and the surrounding area remains covered in snow. In January, you will find snow on the trekking route from Kalipokhri to Sandakphu. In winters Temperature varies between -5 degree to 10 degrees on Celsius scale.

After the monsoon ends in September, October weather is pleasant. The sky remains clear in the day with chilly nights.

In early December, snowfall starts with a sudden fall in temperature. The sky remains cloudy for days before it happens, and a high wind starts to blow, which is not suitable to stay in the tents. After the snow-fall, if the sun comes out, the weather becomes very pleasant. Although, there is the chance of slipping in the melting or fresh snow while trekking in narrow roads bordered with stones. Hence, you should take proper precaution and pack all the necessary gears if you looking for a snow trek.

Sandakphu Temperature

In the following table, we can see the temperature range in degree Celsius for this region throughout the year:

Sandakphu-temperature
Sandakphu Temperature Across Months ( All Numbers in Degree Centigrade)

Sandakphu: Best time to visit

It is a small trekking village. Pollution and other ill-effects of civilization have little or no impact on this place. Fresh air and green forest welcome you in here throughout the year. All the seasons come with their full glory and unique beauty.

In late spring and summer, from the months of April to June, the weather is pleasant and the temperature(as seen in the table above) stays over freezing point. The flowering trees are in full bloom, the Rhododendron flowers redden the hill, and chirping of the songbirds accompany you across the trails. It is a nice time to go for a hike in the nearby trails into forests. Flowering in the Singalila Range of mountains adds extra color to the journey towards Sandakphu.

Sandakphu-flowering
Reds flowers add magic to the view of mountain peaks

The next high season is from October to December. This shows the true magic of Sandakphu, with sunny days and chilly nights. The temperature may go below the freezing point, with frequent snowfall. The snowy roads make for a great trekking experience.

If you are an adrenaline junkie, you can opt to go in January, when the temperature dips below zero degree and the roads may be closed due to knee-deep snow layers. The electricity might get cut and drinking water will be scarce, but the beauty of this place will compensate for all of this.

The silent night under a starry sky canvas will enchant you.  If you are a non-risk taking traveler, avoid visiting this place in monsoon and also peak winters. Heavy rain haunts the roads to Sandakphu and landslide occurs. The cars have to go slow through the muddy roads and the wheels skid even then. The verdure forest and smell of the fresh leaves draw out the adventure lovers even in this season though.

Sandakphu Hotels:

There are a few hotels for the night stay in and around Sandakphu and in the night stay locations on the way for the trek. While none of them provides luxury, the comfort offered varies from the budget and location of the property. Magnolia Lodge in Gairibas offers basic food and lodging. Sherpa Chalet Lodge offers a pretty comfortable stay and nice food in a homely ambiance, along with a great 360° view. Chewang Lodge in Kalipokhri is another great option, in the budget segment with friendly owners. You can get hot water served in your room in a bucket for a few bucks.

They also provide firewood if needed in the room or for a bonfire. Most of the properties include food and lodging options as travelers do not like to go out to eat in the chilly nights.

Do not expect great levels of service or amenities any of the hotels on this trip. The void though gets filled by the heartfelt hospitality of the earthen people here.

We have tied up with the best hotels and homestays in the place and in different stopovers to Sandakphu, which we offer in our package ( described later in the post).

How to go to Sandakphu: A Detailed Guide

Sandakphu is known more as a trekking destination, however, if you are lazy enough to trek we have a car package for you too. With the construction of new roads now the journey will not be bumpy and even kids and elderly can make it Sandakphu now without much hassle.

To go to Sandakphu you got to come to Shiliguri first. You can reach here from your city either by train ( You reach New Jalpaiguri Station) or by Air ( You got to reach Bagdogra Airport). From here onwards we can make all the arrangements for you.

We have great packages for both trekking and the car route. In the following part, we will elaborate about 3 different routes that you can probably take.

  1. Completely by car
  2. Trekking all the way
  3. One side trek, One side by a car

1. Sandakphu by Car :

Once you reach Shiliguri, our representative will be there to take you to the car. Then the car will leave for Manebhanjan. The first stopover towards our destination.

It will take you around 3.5- 4 hours to reach Manebhanjan from New Jalpaiguri railway station or from Bagdogra airport with a few stopovers. Manebhanjan is around 85kms away from New Jalpaiguri town.

Manebhanjan is a small town where the trekking or car journey starts towards Sandakphu. It’s a nice place among the pine forests, do not miss the opportunity to stay a night in our Jungle Lodge in Manebhanjan. This lodge is situated near a small gurgling river and will set your mood for Sandakphu.

Manebhanjan-Stay
Manebhanjan Jungle Lodge click for Details 

 

Next day get up early and get ready for the journey after breakfast. Our car will take you through the mesmerizing route of Chitre, Meghma, Tumling, Gairibas to the Sandakphu peak. Take some small stopovers in these small villages while you enjoy photography, warm tea and casual chit chats with the locals. It will take you around 3-3.5 hours for you to reach the Peak. This time was considerably more before the new road.

Once you reach Sandakphu soak yourself in the crisp air and shining sunlight along with the magnificent view of the sleeping Buddha.

We have tied up with the best hotels here and you can choose according to your budget. However, as told before expect very basic amenities here. If you are looking for a luxurious resort here, you are probably in the wrong place. However, you will barely feel like staying in the hotel and you would love to explore the majestic views around the place. At night enjoy fire session with a barbeque with the fellow travelers.

You can customize your days of stay here.

Sandakphu to Phalut

The next destination will be Phalut. Phalut is the second highest peak in Singalila ridge after Sandakphu at an altitude of 11,811 ft. It is around 26-27 km away from Sandhaphu and it will take 1.5-2 hours in the car to reach the Phalut summit.

 Phalut is very different in terms of its landscape compared to Sandakphu. The summit is more of flat grass field without any large trees or vegetation. Phalut is also more secluded and lonely. It is said that one can get a better view of Mt. Everest range from here compared to Sandakphu.
Sandakphu-to-Phalut
View of Phalut Summit

The journey from Sandakphu to Phalut is something that you will remember forever. With both Kanchenjunga and Everest range glaring on 2 sides of the road, it is a very humbling experience. Probably one of those moments when you realize why people say nature is god. Nature knows you are closing down to the highest points of the world and she has decked up to the occasion. Certainly heart melting, mind blowing experience.

Spend some time in the Phalut Summit before we begin our descent.

Your summit is over, however, while coming down you may want to spend a day at Tumling or you may want to stay a day in the ” Queen of Hills” Darjeeling. If you are in a really big hurry we can get you down to New Jalpaiguri, the same day.

Sandakphu trip by car can be done in a long weekend with 3n4d kind of short trip as well as in 6n7d kind of midsized holiday too.

We suggest you work out your customized plan with us by Enquiring Here.

Here are a few Great Places Close to Darjeeling which you can Club with your trip

As we go ourselves every year and send many people like you, we can probably fetch you the best price along with comfort and peace of mind.  These places are not at all expensive.

2. Sandakphu trek:

There are a few different trekking routes in this region. Depending on the season, the physical fitness of the participants and the total number of allotted days, we can work out the Trek routes.

We will describe the most preferred route by travelers. This trip is not a hurried one and this gives travelers enough time to rest each day. Hence, suits a varied profile. However professional and expert trekkers can shorten the time considerably.

trek-map-sandakphu
Sandakphu Trek Map
Day 1: Joubari

It starts from the base camp in an ethnic Sherpa village named Joubari, in the India-Nepal border. The road that leads to this place runs through lush green tea gardens and villages. At a height of 6400 ft. or 1951 meter, it is a good place to rest for the day and acclimatize.

Day 2: Tumling

The second day, the trek takes you to Tumling. Tumling is a small village and sits at a height of 9450 ft. or 2880 meter. It takes approximately 6 hours to reach this place. The trek is moderate, with a steeper climb for the initial part, followed by gradual ascent, some downward slope and level walks in the later part. You can start in the late morning or early afternoon, especially if you are going in the monsoon season.

Sandakphu-tumling
Small Village Tumling Enroute Sandakphu

The journey takes you through thick forest for the initial part. After the first initial climb, you can get a nice view of the village valley below. After that, the gradual climbs take you through a wild valley of flower that blooms in spring.

In the last part, often you have to walk around or on the motor roads, and find the occasional sight of cars carrying tourist to Sandakphu or Phalut. There are a number of nearby night stay options in both the India and Nepal side of the village. If the weather is free from fogs, you can see the “Sleeping Buddha” very well from here.

Day 3: Kalipokhri and Gairibas

 

On this day, you will need to trek to Kalipokhri, and the whole trail offers a magnificent mountain view. The final destination lies at a height of 10400 ft. or 3170 meters and it takes 5-6 hours to reach this place. After a gradual ascent, you reach Gairibas in a downward slope. After that, there is a steep ascent, followed by a level walk to the motor road.

Kalipokhri
Kalipokhri the sacred Lake: The water here doesn’t freeze even below the negative temperature

At the start, the “Sleeping Buddha” and Mount Kanchenjungha welcomes you in the journey when the fog curtains are removed. You may go via the motor road, but the hiking trail is more scenic and passes through forest and verdure meadows.

Before Gairibas, there is a small hillock which shows the way ahead to Sandakphu. Take a break in Gairibas for the steep climb ahead, and pay the entry fee in the check post in here.

The road to Kalipokhri is actually on the Indo-Nepal border and it is a heaven for birdwatchers. The motor roads lead to Kalipokhri, which is a holy black lake here, and bathing in it is prohibited. There is a small Buddhist Monastery on the bank of the lake too.

Day 4: Sandakphu Summit

 

On the fourth day, you trek to the summit, the highest point and the destination of the trek, at a height of 11950 ft. or 3640 meters. It takes around 3 hours to reach the place. This moderate trek has gradual ascent for the first part, a steep ascent followed by a winding path by the motor road.

You will have the option to choose the route from Bikheybhanjang while gazing towards Sandakphu in front of you. One route goes by Nepal, takes more time but it is a gradual ascent. The shorter route zigzags up the hill with a steep ascent. Before entering Sandakphu, the two trails merge.

Summit
Sandakphu Summit and a Few Hotels with the mountain range

There are a few tea shops in here, along with the highly coveted 180-degree panoramic view of the great Himalayan peaks. In the west, you will find the Makalu, Lhotse, Chomo Lonzo, MachchiPucchare and Everest, the highest peak of the world.

In the front, you can see the Sleeping Buddha and the holy mountain Kanchenjungha. Three sister peaks lie in the northern direction and in the east, you can see Chomo Llhari, one of the highest peaks of Bhutan.

Only in this place, you may find a weak mobile network while the trail is entirely devoid of any cellular reception.

Day 5: Sabargram on the way to Phalut

 

On the fifth day, the descent begins. The trek is moderate because you have to cover a lot of ground, so you should start early too. The roads are rocky, and there are few ascents which are tough in monsoon season. On this day, you have to stay in Sabargram at night at a height of 11807 ft. or 3599 meters.

Sabargram-phalut
Picture Perfect Sabargram

You can see a huge variety in the scenery on the way, from mountain ridges, meadows and deep forests. In April-May, the bloom of the Rhododendron colours up the forests and mountainsides. You have to get your entry tickets checked in Thukumb check-post on the way. The trek takes 7-8 hours to complete when you reach the Forest Check Post of Sabarkum. The campsite is just by this place.

Day 6: Phalut to Gorkhey

 

This route takes you to Gorkhey via the second highest peak in West Bengal i.e. Phalut. It is an easy to moderate route that takes around 6 hours to complete. There is an initial descent from Sabargram followed by gradual upward slopes, and downward inclination before Phalut. There is a steep descent just before Gorkhey. This route provides an amazing Kanchenjungha view along with a nice panoramic view from Phalut.

Sandakphu-Gorkhey
Awesome View of Gorkhey. Pic Courtesy: Tripoto

There are very few stay options in there, so for the night stay, you have to come down in Gorkhey, especially if the weather is not clear. There is a deep forest on the way with a few openings with Mountain View. After the steep descent through the fields to reach Gorkhey, walk by the village across the bridge on Gorkhey River and enter Sikkim, for the beautiful nature experience on the path.

Day 7: Ramam

 

On this day, you will come down to Sepi via Ramam. It is an easy trek with a few ascent and descent, mostly with level roads. You will pass Samamden and Ramam, two quaint and picturesque mountain villages where you can take a break and enjoy the beauty of the place. You will cross a bridge at Srikhola to reach Sepi, at the height of 6230 ft. or 1900 meter. Have your lunch there and take a car to get back to New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra for your journey back home from there.

From Rammam you can easily take a car to New Jalpaiguri or your next station.

We have been trekking to Sandakphu through this route and you can connect with us to get the best rates and all other help.

We suggest you work out your customized plan with us by Enquiring Here.

Here are a few Great Places Close to Darjeeling which you can Club with your trip

3. One side trek, One side by a car

 

This is basically a mixture of the first trip described through the car and the trekking route. While the car is comfortable, trekking has its own fun.

We can customize your tour according to your need. If you are looking for a relaxed trek then take the car on the upside and trek the downside from Phalut onwards.

However, if you are more towards the trekking zone, we will suggest to trek the upside through Tumling, Kalipokhri, and Gairibas till Phalut and take the car downside from Phalut. This way you will experience the breathtaking views slowly and also will cut down on effort and time.

If you are planning a trip here we will be more than happy to help you out.

We suggest you work out your customized plan with us by Enquiring Here.

Here are a few Great Places Close to Darjeeling which you can Club with your trip

Cautions for Sandakphu travellers:

Sandakphu trek is one of the best treks in the whole of East India. But, when you are going for this trek, you need to keep some important things and cautions in mind, which are:

  1. This is a really high road, so, you might face breathing trouble. So, you should keep the emergency medicines, portable oxygen tanks and inhalers with you.
  2. You should also consult a physician and undergo tests before you go for this trek if you have a history of breathing troubles
  3. In winter, the temperature drops suddenly in night and snow-fall will start at a sub-zero temperature. Bring enough protective and thermal clothes to stay safe from frostbite and other problems.
  4. Never go without consulting a professional or an expert agency. Weather changes are sudden and sometimes can put you to trouble. They will help you with all the relevant information and local knowledge.

    We suggest you work out your customized plan with us by Enquiring Here. Here are a few Great Places Close to Darjeeling which you can Club with your trip

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