Sandakphu & Singalila Trek

Sandakphu is a wonderland for the trekkers. It's located at an altitude of 11,929ft (i.e. 3,636 meters) in Darjeeling district and on the north west of Darjeeling hill town. This is the summit or the highest point in Singalila range, and is also the highest peak in the state of West Bengal, India. The trek to Sandakphu goes all along the Singalila range. 
So, why do you think the trekkers from all over the world are so fanatic about Sandakphu and Singalila trek? The answer is simple. 
Where else can you see four of the five highest peaks of the world including Mt. Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse, along with many other peaks of Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan in one single stretch of snow? Yes, this is what you get to see when you stand on summit of Sandakphu.  
Where else in the world will you be able to walk through the forests of flowering rhododendrons of numerous types, giant magnolias, spruce and wide range of amazing orchids? There are over 600 varieties of orchids in this area, the largest concentration in any single geographical area in the world. You can see them bloom in spring. 
The trek route passes through the Singalila National Park all the way to the summit. So your trek journey is further complemented with the Singalila National Park that has some of the most fascinating rare animals like Red Pandas and Pangolins. 
In Darjeeling district, the trek route to Sandakphu and beyond to Phalut starts from a place called Manebhanjan, a small village located at an altitude of 7,054 ft (2,150 m). This is virtually the gateway to Singalila and Sandakphu.  
From Manebhanjan the distance up to Sandakphu is 32kms which is usually covered in two or three days. If you can trek for 8-9 hours a day, you can complete the one way trek in 2 days time, otherwise in 3 days. Usually trekkers do it over 3 days. 
From Sandakphu, you can trek further up to Phalut which is another 21kms away. It takes an additional day of trek from Sandakphu on a relatively easy terrain. 
From Sandakphu, you can either return by the same route or take one of the several alternative routes. A popular return route is via Gurdum, Srikhola and then finally to Rimbik where one takes a transport. A full circuit or round trip trek to Sandakphu takes a total of four to five days (depending on your ability). It can be undertaken by anyone who likes to walk. In trekkers world, it's considered a soft or light trek. 
Visit Sandakphu & Singalila Route Map before I start the trek description. The map has both the distances and altitudes of the important places that you will be passing by. The route goes along the border of India and Nepal, and at some places even enters Nepal. But there is no need for Nepal visas along this route. 
Note that you should be ready with all your trek logistics before you start ... and they include transport to Manebhanjan, guide (which is mandatory now), permit (required for all), lodgings (dormitory beds or rooms), food & water along the way, porter (if required), gears in case you are trekking in the winter which sees lots of snow & harsh weather conditions, camping equipment (if you plan to camp instead of staying at the huts), and transfers to station or airport. Carry a bottle of drinking water which you can keep refilling with spring water (quite safe) along the way. 
I have discussed about permits, guide, lodging etc in the sections below. Unless you want to arrange every thing on your own, use a Trek Operator who can arrange all such logistics for you, but of course at a price. 
Day-1: Manebhanjan to Tonglu (11kms), 6-7 Hours Trek 
Many trekkers come to Manebhanjan a day before the trekking starts. This is to acclimatize themselves with the weather before starting the trek early next morning. Check out Manebhanjan: Gateway to Singalila to know about this village, how to reach the place, available accommodations there and more. 
Manebhanjan. Route to Sandakphu. 
As you walk from Manebhanjan Bazaar towards the trail for Sandakphu, in 15 minutes or so you will reach the Check Post. This is where you get the permit. 
Earlier, the trekking route up to Sandakphu was same as the gravel road on which 4-wheel drive Jeeps and Land Rovers take tourists to Singalila National Park and Sandakphu. Since 2001, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC, now GTA) and the park authorities have created a separate trekking route that mostly goes through the lovely forests and flowering trees, although merges with the gravel road at several places. 
Chitre (3kms from Manebhanjan), 1.5 hours trek 
Chitre is a small village about 3kms from Manebhanjan located at an altitude of 8,340 ft. The route up to Chitre passes through pine, fir, birch forests and bamboo glades. This part of the trek route is quite steep and really warms you up. It takes about 1.5 hours to trek up to Chitrey. You will get drinking water here. 
The sharp winding gravel road at Chitre 
There is an old Buddhist Monastery (Gompa) at Chitrey, a make shift lodging for trekkers, a tea stall and few village huts. You will pass by the monastery. If you want to take it easy, halt for a while, freshen up and start the next leg of the trek. 
Lamaydhura (further 3kms), +1.5 hours trek 
Lamaydhura is a hamlet inhabited only by five Tibetan families. This part of the trek is more comfortable than the earlier stretch up to Chitre. It's a steady but gradual incline from Chitre and takes over an hour of trek. You will get drinking water here. 
This place probably won't figure on any map, but it's very dear to me. On one occasion due to heavy rains I had to stay back here for a night. One of the village families offered me a room in their hut. The candle lit night in heavy rains, chat with the family members, simple dinner with rice, dal & eggs are all part of my fond memories. 
A young lady Cheki runs a small tea stall here. Other than tea and biscuits, she can also offer noodles (like Magi) just in case you like to have a simple lunch. Once I asked Cheki how such small hamlets located miles away from civilization actually survive? She mentioned that in most cases one or more family members actually go and settle down at the plains, and earn to support the families who live in the bare mountains. In fact her own younger sister who earlier assisted her in the shop, is now living in Dehradun to support the family financially. 
Shortly after Lamaydhura, I had one of my best experiences of trekking. We spotted a Red Panda crossing the trek route just yards ahead. I had always longed to see this rare and beautiful animal once in its natural form & habitat. And here it was right in front of us, looking at me eye to eye. 
Red Panda climbing the tree 
Initially it was puzzled having seen us, wondering whether to cross the road or return. But soon it made up its mind, quickly crossed the road and started climbing a tree, and that's when I could finally capture it on my camera (see the picture above). As you walk further up, you will pass though forests full of Chimal and Magnolia trees. 
Meghma or Megma (further 3kms, 9kms from Manebhanjan), +1.5 hours trek 
This is another small village located at the border of India and Nepal, and about 3kms from Lamaydhura. Meghma is at an altitude of 9,514 ft. There is a small hut at the center of the village which is a tea house and serves tea & light meals. At the back side of the cottage, there are couple of rooms for trekkers. Meghma is the border area of India and Nepal, and you will see posting of Border Security Forces here. From here, the border continues for most part of the trek route and you won't know when you are stepping on the soil of which country. It's like a freeway. Visit Meghma to know about this sleepy village and the amenities you can get here. 
On the way to Meghma, first sign of snow 
From Lamaydhura, it takes about 1.5 hours of trek to reach Meghma. If you trek continuously from Manebhanjan, it will take about 4.5-5 hours to reach Meghma. Drinking water is available here. In fact at the corner where the trail to Tonglu branches off, there is a pipe through which spring water comes out. 
From Meghma, the trekking route goes towards right for Tonglu, and that part belongs to India. And the motorable gravel road goes along the left through Nepal towards Tumling. During winter time, from Meghma onwards it can get very cold and it would be wise to carry heavy woolens, jackets, caps and hand gloves and keep them handy. 
Tonglu (2kms from Meghma), +1 hour trek 
Tonglu is a small hamlet located at an altitude of 10,130ft. This is where most trekkers take the first night halt. There is a GTA trekkers hut here. The lodge is about 2kms from Meghma and takes about 1 hour to reach. The last section is a bit steep. From Tonglu you can get lovely views of Darjeeling and Kurseong town areas. Down below you can see the great valleys and the plains of North Bengal with rivers like Teesta and Koshi flowing. Tonglu also offers a fine view of Kanchenjunga snow peaks. 
Tonglu, GTA Trekkers Hut 
Day-2: Tonglu to Kalipokhri (15kms), 6-7 Hours Trek 
From Tonglu, you should start your trek early next morning. There are two routes from Tonglu towards Sandakphu. A shorter trek route goes through the village called Jobber and all the way up to Gairibas. The other route which is more popular, is the gravel road that goes through Jhaubari which is part of Nepal and finally meets at Gairibas. Here we will follow the second (i.e. the more popular) route. 
Tumling (2kms from Tonglu), +1 hour trek 
2kms trek from Tonglu will take you to another small Village called Tumling located at an altitude of 9,600 ft. Actually from Tonglu to Tumling and all the way up to Gairibas is a gradual descend and the trek is relatively easier. Tumling is a great place to stop for a while, freshen up and then get moving for the next leg of the trek. Some trekkers actually prefer to stay at Tumling for the first night instead of at Tonglu. This is due to availability of better private lodges and facilities here. If you like to do the same, then you can either come here via Tonglu or take the direct gravel road from Meghma. Distance would be more or less the same. Drinking water is available at Tumling. Check out Tumling to know what the place offers including private lodges and attractions. 
Footbridge, on the way to Tumling 
If you take the gravel road from Meghma towards Tumling, initially there are few village huts on both sides of the road. And soon the area becomes quite barren. Tumling is 4kms away along this road. Remember, during the winter time it becomes very cold from Meghma onwards. So take adequate measures to counter the cold (like heavy woolens, caps, gloves etc). Often snow fall takes place along this stretch. 
Tumling Village & the road to Sandakphu 
About 1km from Tumling you will reach the arch gateway of Singalila National Park, which is the highest altitude national park in the state of West Bengal. This park is well known for rare and fascinating high altitude animals like Red Panda, Pangolins, Himalayan black bear, Monals etc. There is a check post here at Singalila gate. 
Jhaubari (6kms from Tumling), +3 hours trek 
A small village further along the way to Sandakphu at an altitude of 9,186 ft. This place may not be important from trekking perspective. But I always combine trekking with exploration of life in the mountains. And if you do that too, you will like to stop here and have a cup of tea. Fudri, a young lady serves hot tea and light snacks from her home. She lives here with her husband and her daughter Yanzi.  
On one occasion I had stayed back in Tumling for a night and came all the way to Jhaubari to buy chicken. There was no chicken available in Tumling that day. My good friend and Nepali guide Sanjay suggested that I taste a drink called Roxy on our way back. It's a specialty of this area, he mentioned. This local drink is prepared from some flowering plants known as Guras that grow quite abundantly in this part of the mountains. Well I won't forget that experience in my life. 
In Jhaubari 
He took me to a hut in Jhaubari. It was a residence of a local family. An old lady poured a colorless drink in a cup and offered it to me. Few sips and soon my whole body got warmed up in that freezing cold night. I soon felt like some hot steam coming out of my ears and my body felt real light :) While I don't advise that you should try such intoxicating drink, but just in case you do, take in small quantities and have it real slow. But never try it while on a trek. You can refill drinking water at Jhaubari. 
Gairibas (1km from Jhaubari), +0.5 hour trek 
From Jhaubari one has to take a right turn towards Gairibas. It is further 1km ahead and located at an altitude of 8,600 ft. From Tonglu or Tumling, up to Gairibas is a continuous descend and a relatively easy trek. 
This is where you can halt for a while. If you started early in the morning, you can complete your breakfast here or have some tea, before you proceed towards Sandakphu. The trek route passes through bamboo glades. Gairibas is essentially a valley full of bamboo grooves. GTA trekkers huts/lodges are available here and located on the grassy triangular flat land. Because of the scenic beauty of this place, many prefer to stay here for a night before proceeding for Sadakphu next morning. Magnolia Lodge is also popular. 
During the high season, it may not be easy to get accommodation at Gairibas, unless you have booked it in advance. Drinking water is available at Gairibas. 
Kalipokhri (6kms from Gairibas) +3 hours trek 
From Gairibas, you will need to trek for about three hours to reach a place called Kalipokhri (or Kalepokhri) at an altitude of 10,400 ft. Initially you will trek uphill through forests of oak, rhododendrons and bamboo and reach a place call Kaikatta in about 1.5 hours. The trail starts descending from here. In another 1.5 hours or so you will reach Kalipokhri. 
The place is so named because of a pond or a water tank filled with black water. The word Kali means black and pokhri stands for water area. However the black color is not due to pollution, it's muddy and the water never freezes. Due to all-time water availability, a small village settlement has taken place in this area. 
Kalipokhri Water Body 
You will pass through forest of rhododendron, Singalila Sanctuary and then by the pond to reach the Kalipokhri village area. This is where most of the trekkers stay for the second night. There are several private lodges here including Pandim Lodge, Chewang Lodge, and Himchuli Lodge. There is no GTA lodge here, but the private ones also offer similar accommodations at reasonable rates. Drinking water is available at both Kaikatta and Kalipokhri villages. 
Day-3: Kalipokhri to Sandakphu (6kms), 3 Hours Trek 
If you are staying overnight at Kalipokhri, start very early in the morning next day. You will not like to miss out on the panoramic view of the snow peaks from Sandakphu, which is best seen early in the morning. An early start from here will give you a chance to view the snow peaks twice, once as soon as you reach Sandakphu and again next morning before you start your return or onward trek. 
Bikheybhanjang (2kms from Kalipokhri), +40 minutes trek 
From Kalipokhri, the trekking route gradually descends up to Bikheybhanjang which is located 2kms away. On the way you will cross a place called Bhagsa where you can take a break for couple of minutes. Then walk towards Bikheybhanjang. This is another small hamlet. The name means "Valley of Poison" because of the poisonous Aconite plants that grow in abundance around this place. Don't worry, unless you eat the leaves of the plant, it is harmless. Basic lodgings are available at Bikheybhanjang. Villagers also offer their huts as home stays. 
Sandakphu (further 4kms from Bikheybhanjang) 
And now the final destination and the climax. You could actually see the Sandakphu Peak from Kalipokhri itself. But like all great things in life, this won't come easy. From Bikhheybhanjang the climb up to Sandakphu is the steepest. The 4kms route can easily take about 2.5 hours. There are stretches where the gradient is so steep that you will think your nose is about to touch the ground. Actually there are two trek routes from Bikheybhanjang, one through Nepal and the other through India. One through India is shorter and more popular although the two routes do merge at places. 
As always, the final rewards are awesome. All your strains will simply disappear as you see the board saying "Welcome to Sandakphu". You are at an altitude of 11,929ft, on the summit of Singalila range and at the paradise of trekking... Wow, you made it !!! 
Sandakphu is the place from where you get a 180 degree panoramic vista of some of the highest and most beautiful peaks of the world, right from Nepal all the way up to Arunachal. Some of the greatest peaks include the Mt Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Chomolhari, Pandim, Three Sisters, Kumbhakarna etc. Visit  Sandakphu to know about all my experience there and what you can expect. 
There is a GTA lodge in Sandakphu and also several other private accommodations including Hotel Sherpa Chalet, Hotel Sunrise, Namo Buddha Hotel etc.  
Day 4 - 6: Onward & Return treks from Sandakphu 
From Sandakphu, you have two options. You can either continue up to Phalut and then return via a Gorkhey, Srikhola, Rimbik. Or take a return route from Sandakphu itself. 
Go through the link below to know about the onward trek to Phalut which is further 21kms from Sandakphu. It offers breathtaking views of the snow peaks and requires an additional day of trek. Most trekkers prefer this. 
If you however want to return from Sandakphu, then go through the following link: 
Alternative Route for Sandakphu Trek 
There is another route which several trekkers prefer for Sandakphu. The route however merges with the common one I described above at Tonglu. From Siliguri you can take a car and drive all the way up to a place called Dhotrey (via Manebhanjan). It takes about 4.5 hours drive. After a night stay at Dhotrey, take the trek route (5 kms) that leads to Tonglu. It's an uphill trek route and takes about 4 hours to reach Tonglu. Note that the route remains closed during Monsoon (June to September). From Tonglu onwards, the route is the same as above. So If you are planning to take this route, a popular itinerary is: 
Day 1: NJP/Siliguri to Dhotrey by car, stay overnight at Dhotrey 
Day 2: Dhotrey - Gairibas Trek, stay overnight at Gairibas 
Day 3: Gairibas - Sandakphu Trek, stay overnight at Sandakphu 
Day 4: Sandakphu - Phalut Trek, stay overnight at Phalut 
Day 5: Phalut - Gorkhey Trek, stay overnight at Gorkhey 
Day 6: Gorkhey - Srikhola Trek, stay overnight at Srikhoila 
Day 7: Srikhola - Rimbik Trek,  then to NJP via Manebhanjan by jeep/car 
Accommodation along Sandakphu/Phalut Route 
Accommodations along Sandakphu/Phalut trek route are mostly basic lodges and trekkers' huts. Most offer dorm beds and few also offer private rooms. Do not expect luxury like TV etc. For most part of the route there is no electricity although some lodges make limited use of solar power. Almost all provide basic food like rice, daal, noodles, vegetables and some times eggs, and if you are lucky, chicken. 
In order to book any GTA (formerly DGHC) lodge or trekkers hut, visit a GTA tourism office. Check out Tourist Info for location & contacts of GTA offices. Indicative rate for a bed in a GTA hut is about Rs. 200. In few such lodges, you can also book a room. 
Information about lodges/huts on Sandakphu/Phalut route: 
(NOTE: Contact information is subject to change) 
Maneybhanjan: Keshav Gurung's Homestay 
Manebhanjan: Hotel Exotica (+91- 9733044512 / 9733044512 / 3542-264387) 
Tonglu: GTA Lodge 
Tumling: Shikhar Lodge 
Jhaubari (Indira Lodge): +91-9733363473 
Kalipokhri (Pandim lodge): +91- 9735916541/ 9742666243/ 9734043453 
Kalipokhri (Chewang Lodge): Can be booked through GTA Office 
Gurdum (Lakpa Dorjee Sherpa's home):  +91-9593996308 
Srikhola: GTA Lodge 
Srikhola (Shovraj Hotel): +91-9933488243, +91-9832375546 
Srikhola (Goparma Lodge): +91-9733261799 
Sandakphu: GTA Lodge (shabby accommodation, not recommended) 
Sandakphu (Hotel Sherpa Chalet): +919332599261/ 9933488159/ 7407276989 
Molley/Phalut: GTA Lodge 
Gorkhey: Shanti Lodge, Eden Lodge (no need to book in advance) 
Gorkhey: GTA Lodge (quite bad, not recommended) 
It is also possible to camp on a trek to Sandakphu or Phalut. However you must know some of the restrictions. Some areas on the way are suitable for camping and some are not. Trek operators or proper guides can best guide you through the camping sites. Check out Camping on Sandakphu route to get information about camping. 
Useful Information for Sandakphu Trek 
1) These days it is made mandatory that you take a guide and optionally porters for treks to Sandakphu and Phalut. You can take them from Highlander Guides and Porters Welfare Association in Manebhanjan located near the check post. However a better option is to go through a Trek Operator who will have their own knowledgeable guide and can take care of all logistics including accommodations, food, permits, porters, transfers etc. They offer complete packages. A good trek operator will provide guides who can converse in English and Hindi, would be dressed appropriately, carry a birding field guide & voice recordings of birds (if asked for), First Aid Kit, Tool Kit, Torches etc. The top trek operators offer good discount on Darjeeling Tourism Card
2) You will need to pay a permit fee for the trek (Rs. 100/- per person). You can pay this fee in Manebhanjan or Singalila National Park entry check post. Without paying this fee, entry through Singalia National Park will not be allowed. Keep photo identity cards (like passport/ driving license etc) handy both in original and photo copy. If you are going through a trek operator, they will take care of this. 
3) Other indicative costs for Sandakphu trek (updated September 2014): 
Transport from Darjeeling to Manebhanjan: Rs. 75 per person on shared Jeep (full vehicle Rs. 800). Cost of food along the trek route would be Rs. 350-400 per person per day. Rate of dormitory bed in trekkers huts  = Rs. 200-250 per person per day. Rimbik to Darjeeling shared Jeep cost = Rs. 200 per person. 
4) Cell phone signals for Vodafone and BSNL will work for most part of Sandakphu route. Several lodges along the way use solar power and allow you to charge your mobile phone & camera battery for a small charge. 
5) What is the best time to trek for Sandakphu & Singalila? 
There are two great seasons: one during April to May when its comfortable (temperature varies between 6 - 12°C) and the flowers like rhododendrons are in full bloom. In May however, there are good chances of occasional showers and the sky remaining cloudy. The second season is between October to November when the temperature ranges between 1 - 6°C, visibility is excellent and there may be occasional snowfall. You can also trek in December but it gets really cold around that time. For trekking in January/February, you will need equipment like snow boots, sleeping bags etc. Identifying trails may be difficult, so take an experienced guide. 
Related Resources & Articles 
1) Sandakphu Trek Itinerary & Day-wise Plan: This article is a collection of questions and answers to what should be the day wise trek and night stay plans for trekking to Sandakphu and Phalut. 
2) Sandakphu trek for beginners: If you have not trekked before or have little experience in trekking, but considering a trek to Sandakphu, then read this article for useful information. 
3) Sandakphu & Singalila Route Map: See the trek route diagram and the distances 
4) Sandakphu - Drive & Trek: Is it possible to take a jeep from Siliguri or Darjeeling, drive some part of the route to Sandakphu, then trek to the summit and get the same jeep back to Siliguri? This can help one to save lot of time while getting a good flavor of the trek. 
6) Darjeeling Trekking: Know all about trekking in Darjeeling area. 
Visitors' Reviews/Comments 
Pranav Shreyas (September 2014) 
Hello Sir, We are trekking to sandakphu in second week of October. Our trek planner has given a schedule of trekking from Tumling to Sandakphu in one day (leave early morning and reach sandakphu by evening). Wanted to know if this is a feasible plan...? Also , what would be the approximate temperature during October? Thank you. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) September 2014 
It's possible and usually done by the seasoned trekkers. The beginners should halt at Kalipokhri for a night. While the day time temperature in October will be pleasant, at night it can be quite cold. 
Swagata Dey (July 2014) 
Hi Raj, I have mailed you earlier regarding this trek. Initially, we had planned for the trek in end of June. But we have postponed this as you informed that it won't be a suitable time due to monsoon. Now, we are planning for the trek in Sept or Nov. Can you please suggest us which one of these 2 will be better timing. Thanks, 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2014 
November would be better ... early November is even better. 
Koushik Dutta (July 2014) 
Hi, I am planning to have the sandakphu trekking in mid August. You may say why, when your best time skip August! It is just that I feel like, and I have some time :) Would it be that bad? I will appreciate your suggestions and comments .. Your page is filled with useful tips and details .. Thanks .. Best, 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2014 
You can't trek in rains unless you plan to trek wearing raincoats and be ready to slip & slide along the way... you will probably be the first one doing that :) There are however shorter treks in monsoon that are organized by the operators these days. 
Swagata Dey (May 2014) 
Hi Raj, Read your replies in this forum. Those are extremely helpful & informative. I am planning to go for the Sandakphu-Phalut Trekking by end of June along with my friends. The dates are 25th June to 2nd July. We are extremely enthusiastic about the trek. But the only & biggest concern is the weather. If monsson starts by that time, we will face a lot of problem to walk through the trekking route. Also, even if we are enthusiastic enough to take that pain, all the effort will go futile if we do not get to see the sunrise on Kanchenjunga & Mt. Everest from Sandakphu & Phalut. Can you please inform us regarding the possibility of rain during that time and typically what is the trend of rainfall at the beginning of monsoon, i.e, whether it rains through out the day or in phases? Waiting for hear from you. Thanks, 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2014 
End June/July is monsoon time and you can't usually trek to Sandakphu during this time due to rains. Possibility of viewing Kanchenjunga and Everest is remote. Either change your plans or plan for a shorter trek through an operator.  
Ronojoy Ghosh (March 2014) 
Hey Raj, I was engrossed in your experience, many many thanks for that. Coming to the point, i am planning for a trek to Sandakphu and mid-June seems to be the only time we would all be available. So, will it be ok to do trekking at this time of the year, if so, how much chance is there to be able to see the highest peaks from Sandakphu (what about the weather)? and what are the precautions that we should be taking for this trek? we all are college students aged 22 approx. will the resting huts and private lodges be available then, or do we need to book them from before? Please inform me as soon as possible, coz we will be starting the planning and bookings shortly. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2014 
Hi, you can trek to Sandakphu in June. There are chances of showers, but possibility is less. During day time the temperature will be mild, however at night it can be very cold after Tumling. It's a high time, so try to book GTA lodges in advance, wherever available. You will get private huts though. 
Chandra (February 2014) 
Hi Raj, We are planning to trek sandakphu from 28th March to 5th April. My 9yrs old son who is a juvenile diabetic, he is also going with us. He needs to take insulin injection and food at right time. We will have to take much precaution for that.I know that it is tough but not impossible. We need your help with some information regarding this.  
1. We have booked dghc Trekkers hut, will they provide some hot water for my son to drink? Will they cook for us some raw food carried by us from kolkata like noodles or something else? 
2. How much luggage a porter can carry for a family and how they carry them? 
3. Is a cotton track pant enough while trekking? 
4. What type of weather will be at that time,snowy/rainy? 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2014 
Hi, Trekkers huts are very basic, so you should not go with expectation of out of the way service. But they can provide depending on what kind of personal rapport you are able to build up with the care taker. Trekkers Huts do not have fleet of service boys like in hotels. So it's better you carry your own arrangements. But if you stay in private huts/lodges, they can provide such services. However it's better to communicate such requirements in advance, if absolutely essential. 
A porter can carry up to 25kg of load. They carry on their back and also hand carry. Cotton track pants are okay for the trek. However March end can be cold at times. The actual trek season begins in April. So use comfortable jeans instead. Chances of snow and rain in March end is less, but possible. 
Aurojyoti Kundu (January 2014) 
Some questions on Sandakphu trek in late January-2014 
1)what's the weather condition... is trekking possible? 
2)what food should we carry? 
3)what should be the clothing? 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2014 
Hi, The first thing you should note that January-end is not a good trek time in Sandakphu, although possible with gears like snow boots, sleeping bags etc. You can expect lots of snow and it would be biting cold out there. You should be an experienced trekker and must have a good guide. Some routes get totally snow covered up to knee deep. Some private huts and lodges along the way would be available, but no electricity or heating system to fight the cold. You will get basic veggie food like rice, dal, noodles etc. If you are novices in treks, don't try it. 
Shawon Bose (December 2013) 
Hello Sir, I'm planning to do this sandakphu & phalut trek with my wife in last week of December,2013. Regarding this I need some information. Would you please help me- 
1. Porters cum guide charge Rs. 500/- per day as i get to know from guides & porters association, is it the total including his food and stay ? or I have to pay separately ? 
2. Are those trekkers huts dormitories safe for women ? Planning to stay in tonglu, kalipokhri, sandakphu, phalut, shrikhola trekkers huts. Is there any double bed rooms in these trekkers huts, if they have, then how much they charge for them ? eagerly waiting for your reply...Thanks in advance 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, December 2013) 
Hi, Guide and porter charges are all inclusive. You will get rooms in DGHC huts (now GTA) for about Rs. 500/-. Dorm beds are also okay but very basic. Go through a good trek operator if you can. The extra charge may be worth considering you get a good guide, all arrangements and logistics taken care of. End December is end of trek season at Sandakphu. You will likely get a lot of snow and some routes may be difficult to negotiate. And therefore you should carry equipment & gears like sleeping bags (it'll be biting cold out there and trekkers huts have no heating arrangements), snow boots etc etc. This is where a trek operator can come in very handy. If this is your first time trek in the region, then seriously consider a trek operator particularly for the time chosen. Regards, 
Tapabroto Choudhury (November 2013) 
I have some specific questions for you sir. We will possibly go for a trek to Sandakphu-Phalut in mid December. No of Trekkers-4, 2 male and 2 female. My route will be- Siliguri- Manebhanjan (nightstay)- Chitre- Tounglu (nightstay)- Kalipokhri- Gairibas (nightstay)- Sandakphu (2nights)- Phaut(2nights)- gorkey (nightstay)- Srikhola (nightstay)- Rimbik (nightstay)- Siliguri. Sir it will be our pleasure if you give your important suggestion about our trek route plan. My queries are- 
1.Can I get a share taxi from siliguri to Sukheapokhri or Manebhanjan direct if yes then specify the car available point in Siliguri. 
2. Possible stay in Manebhanjan and the approximate cost. 
3. Is hiring Guide mandatory for the trek from Manebhanjan...? 
4.What will be the approximate cost for fooding and lodging in Tonglu, Gairibas, Sandakphu, Phalut, Gorkey, Srikhola and Rimbik. 
5.Can I get a shared taxi from Rimbik to Siliguri. If yes what will be the approximate cost per person. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, November 2013) 
Tapabroto, Here are my comments: 
1) From Siliguri you may or may not always get a direct shared Jeep to Sukhiapokhri or Manebhanjan. In that case take a shared jeep up to Mirik stand and then change to another one.  
2) Shared jeep and taxi stand in Siliguri is opposite to the main bus terminal (i.e. Tenzing Norgay Bus Stand on Hill Cart Road) 
3) There are several lodgings in Manebhanjan. I have discussed some here 
4) Beds in trekkers huts in the places you mentioned cost around Rs. 125-150 per person. But cost of lodges or hotels (i..e. rooms) will be much higher. Food cost depends on individuals ...Rs. 350 per day per person (Breakfast, lunch & dinner ... mostly veggie) is common for budget travelers on this circuit. 
5) From Rimbik shared Jeeps are available up to Manebhanjan and occasionally up to Siliguri. 
Anjan (August, 2013) 
Hi Raj, Hope you are doing well. I'm back again for your suggestion about my Sandakphu trip on Nov 2013... I'm Planning to reach NJP @ 1 AM (early morning) on 29th Nov. & reach 
Manebhanjan the same day by afternoon... Night halt at Manebhanjan... Start for Sandakphu on 30th Nov morning by Land Rover &  Night halt at Sandakphu... on 1st Dec. planning to come down to Njp from Sandakphu & catch a train @ 9 PM the same day...   
My queries are - is end November a good time to visit Sandakphu - i.e. clear weather etc. Should I have to book a land rover (sharing with others) before I reach Manebhanjan or I can do it after reaching there - is shared Land rovers available there at a stand or so ? Finally, will it be possible to reach njp from Sandakphu the same day & catch the train at night - i.e. will it be a rush? How long it takes to reach Manebhanjan from Sandakphu ?  
Will highly appreciate your valuable suggestions... Thanks in advance... Anjan. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, August 2013) 
Hi Anjan, November is a good time, sky will be clear but it'll be very cold out there. You can get shared jeep from the stand. They are mostly used by local villagers living along the route to Sandakphu. But shared jeep service may be infrequent. So there might be quite some wait time before you see a jeep gets full and starts off. It's possible to get back to NJP from Sandakphu on the same day and catch a night train. About 4.5 hours to Manebhanjan and another 4.5 hours to NJP. But start early. 
Zvika Melamed (August 2013) 
Hello Raj, We plan go the Sandakphu & Phalut Trek, between September 18 and 22 (we have some flexibility with dates). I'd like to check with you if the trek is doable at that time, and what preparations I need to make in advance. We are two adults. I am 52 years old. My daughter Sivan is 22 years old. We are both in good physical shape. We are looking for a ~5-6 days medium-difficulty trek, with sleeping in huts (not in tents) whenever possible. We plan to arrive to Darjeeling from New Delhi by train (leaving Delhi 
September 15th). Please let me know if there are additional details that I could provide. Thanks a lot for your help! Regards, 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, August 2013) 
Try to make it in October of you can. There are chances of rains in September, but with some luck the trek is doable in Sept end as well. You should book the lodges in advance and a guide is mandatory. For that go through a good trek operator. You will find some of them in Tour Operators. However the current political situation is Darjeeling hills is not good. So until that comes under control, do not make any firm plans. Regards, 
Giovanni (August 2013) 
Hi! I'm going with my partner for the Singalila Trek on the 23rd of September and I would like to have a couple of info. I heard that the first police check post is after Tumling (please confirm me this); I was wondering if you think we could go up to Tumling without a guide and hire one there (we're both experienced trekker). As we would like to stay about 10 days in the ridge (doing it at a slow pace), I wanted to know if we have to keep the guide until Rimbik due to other police check posts along the way, or at a certain point we can continue by ourselves without being hassled by the police, like from Sandakphu or Phalut or Gorkey. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, August 2013) 
Hi, You are required to take a guide right from the start and all through the trek route. You won't get one at Tumling. After about 1km from Tumling, you will come to the entrance of Singalila National Park where there is a check post. Unless you have already taken the permit, this is where you will need to purchase one. There is generally no police patrolling along the way. Your guide can walk at a good distance from you if you don't want to keep him in sight :) They are only interested in their per day charges. As long as you give that, you can ask him not to show his face other than at the check posts. 
V Ramakrishnan (July 2013) 
Hello, Thanks very much for the detailed Trek information. I shall be highly obliged if you could give me further tips on the time of the trek. I, however, plan to go to Sandakphu in the last week of September along with 3 other guys. Is the time Ok? And since we will be leaving Kolkata on one Saturday and returning on the Sunday next, will it be possible to trek to Phalut also. If not no issues as this will give me a chance to go back once again! Be assured that I will be getting in touch with you frequently on this subject. Thanks again and warm regards. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, July 2013) 
There are chances of showers in September and that can impact your trek schedule. October is better. From Manebhanjan, one usually requires 5 full days to complete the trek circuit through Sandakphu, Phalut, Srikhola  & Rimbik and returning to NJP. So make your plans accordingly. Regards. 
Chanchal Kumar Banerjee (June 2013) 
Hello, I am an amateur photographer about 61 years of age. Absolutely physically and mentally fit. Want to trek Sandakphu and Phalut alone in 1st week of November this year. Off course having experience in trekking to Pindari, Gomukh etc. few times earlier. I shal be grateful if the following information are provided. 
1)Is it possible for me to trek as said above? 
2)How many days can be considered from NJP to Phalut and back? Please select a programme for me. 
3)Is a Porter cum Guide available at Manebhanjan?(Since having a sack in back, photography is quite hazardous) 
4)How it is possible to return from Srikhola or Rimbik to NJP Railway Station on the same day since I would like to board in train that very night(at 8 P.M.). Eagerly waiting to hear from you soon. Thanks & Regards, 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, June 2013) 
Hello, yes you can of course do the trek alone. You will need a guide and also a porter if you want your luggage to be carried. A porter will not double up as a guide. You will easily get them at Maneybhanjan. You should have clear 6 days from NJP to complete the Sandakphu & Phalut circuit. This is assuming you start the trek from Maneybhanjan on the same day you reach NJP. Otherwise you will need a day more. Some seasoned trekkers can complete the trek in a day shorter. I have discussed the day by day plan of the whole circuit above and also in the following link. Sandakphu Trek Itinerary 
Read the 'Visitors Reviews / Comments' section in Srikhola to know about the return from Srikhola. It is possible to catch the 8pm train from NJP on the same day.  
Nate Currier (April 2013) 
Hello Raj! I am planning to do a solo Sandakphu trek in late May of this year. I have never trekked the Himalayas before, but I have youth on my side and backpacking experience in California and North Carolina. What I cannot figure out is how to get a trekking permit as a solo traveler without a sherpa or any of that. Can you help me? 
I am planning to do the trek in six days, taking it as easy as possible. Also, I have read all of the warnings about solo trekking and why one should not do it, but I am pretty dead set on it and feel that on a popular route like Sandakphu I should be alright in case some emergency arises. Thanks and please get back to me as soon as possible. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, April 2013) 
Hi, There are two separate things to be taken care of for the Sandakphu trek... one is the permit and the other is the guide. 
Getting a permit is not an issue. Although it is loosely known as a permit, it is actually a pass to enter the Singalila National Park which starts just after Tumling. Up to Tumling (which is about half way to Sandajkphu), this permit is not required. You can get this pass/permit at Manebhanjan (at the forest office located on the way towards the trekking route) or at the entrance to the National Park at Tumling. The trek route goes through the National Park and you won't be allowed to go any further without this pass. You can get the pass yourself or if one is organizing the trek through a trek operator, they will take care of it. 
Now coming to the guide. Even till couple of years back, one could trek this route without a guide. But now an accompanying guide who is registered with the Singalila National Park is made mandatory. There are several reasons for this, but I won't get into that. Net to net, you won't be allowed to trek to Sandakphu without a guide, but a porter is still optional. You can either get a guide at Manebhanjan through Highlander Guides and Porters Welfare Association or go through a trek operator in Darjeeling. While the guides provided by trek operators are a bit more expensive, the ones available at Manebhanjan are mostly non-professionals and may not always be a pleasant company. Your call... Hope this helps... 
Nate Currier (April 2013) 
Thank you so much! In terms of where to stay along the way, I've heard that trekker's huts are most generally the way to go, and that they are all along the Sandakphu loop (Manebhanjan, Tonglu, Sandakphu, Phalut and Rimbik), but I'm curious as to whether you have to schedule those in advance or not. Is it dangerous to just arrive at one on the fly and expect there to be room? 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, April 2013) 
May is high trekking season. Most if not all of the good accommodations will be gone unless booked in advance. There are private huts in all these areas. You should be able to get a bed (not necessarily a room) in one of these. Most of these are bare & very basic. Since you will have a guide, he will usually take care of it. So net to net, you will get a bed along the way. 
Alex le Roux (March 2013) 
Hi, I am from South Africa, and I will be in Darjeeling from 20th April to 6th May. During this time I am very keen to walk the Sandakphu - Phalut trek over the following days: 
Thursday 25th: Mane Bhanjang to Tumling 
Friday 26th: Tumling to Sandakphu 
Saturday 27th: Sandakphu to Phalut 
Sunday 28th: Phalut to Rammam / Srikhola 
Monday 29th: Rammam / Srikhola to Rimbik 
I have tried to book this trek via a local operator (Samsara), but my bank will not make the deposit payment, because they require a proforma invoice. The local operators however only seem to provide a receipt after deposit payment. Do you have any advice on how I can overcome this problem? Is it really necessary for me to pre-book the lodges / meals and guide beforehand? Or will I be able to find these as I go on the trek? Otherwise will there be enough time to arrange it when I arrive in Darjeeling? Any advice will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, March 2013) 
Hi, You should be able to arrange your trek while in Darjeeling. There are plenty of private lodges and trekkers huts on the way. So even if you want to find your lodging along the way, it's possible. However, April being a high season for trekking, most of the good accommodations (particularly the DGHC lodges & huts) may not be available. You will get a guide from Manebhanjan, so that's not an issue either. 
If you however want to have a pre-planned hassle free trek, then you should contact one of the Darjeeling based trek operators as soon as possible. It is not always necessary to pay in advance. You can contact Subash Tamang, an enterprising local person in Darjeeling who organizes such treks and can help you in the matter. You can take reference of my name and my website ... that can help! You will find his contacts here: Darjeeling Tours & Trek Operators. Cheers! 
Pramit Nandy (February 2013) 
I am planning to travel during the first or the second week of March, 2013. The total group includes 6 students (all in early 20's, 2 Females & 4 Males). Have questions. Thanks in advance for your expected reply. I really appreciate your great work. Happy New Year. Have an exciting life. 
Q. Will we be able to see snow? 
Raj: You should be able see enough snow but may not be 'snowing'. 
Q. Can we trek totally up to Sandakphu without any road blockades due to snow? (the weather forecast says that the max & min temp. during that period will be 16 & -2 degree C respectively.) 
Raj: There is 30-40% chance of some routes being blocked. April onwards is a safer time, but no snow. So you need to take your chances. 
Q. How much drinking water do we need to carry per person? 
Raj: Depends on individuals. You should calculate on a per day basis (roughly 2 - 2.5 liters per day on your way up. Lot lesser on your way down). Beginners may need more. Porters can carry your loads. Note that it is safe to drink spring water along the way at high altitude. But carry water purifying Zeoline 200 tablets as well. Many carry just one bottle and keep refilling that with spring water and further purify that with a tablet. Talk to the guide/porter and take his suggestions. 
Q. What will be the expected cost per person (including everything & taking into consideration that we would like to curtail our budget as far as possible) from Manebhanjan to Sandakphu and returning back to Manebhanjan? 
Raj: A dormitory bed in DGHC Trekkers hut costs Rs. 150/- per night (approx.). Porter is Rs. 300-400 per day. Add food and calculate. 
Q. We will be taking along our DSLR's and LAPTOPS. Will it be safe as I am concerned about the stuff being stolen. It is costly and that's why I am asking the safety level. 
Raj: You should not carry laptops on such treks... why do you want to do that unless you enjoy carrying weights? DSLR is okay... you want to take great pictures. There are no thieves there unless you are so careless and asking the camera to take a walk with someone :) 
Q. Any special tips to young trekkers will be really handful. 
Raj: Don't get intoxicated with local drinks like Roxy or even otherwise and spoil your trek. Also don't venture out off track during that time of the season.  
Ayan Das (February 2013) 
Hi, At the end of March 2013 we have planned to trek Sandakaphu and Singalila park. My query is: Inner line permit is required or not for those mentioned places. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, February 2013) 
Inner Line Permit (as required for Arunachal Pradesh etc) is not required for Sandakphu & Singalila. However you will need to take a trek permit at Manebhanjan or Tumling to enter Singalila National Park. 
Sayan Dey (January 2013) 
Dear Sir, Me and my friends (5 of us) are planning to visit Sandakphu in Feb-2013. Is it the best time to trek there? Also I have heard that there is scarcity of water in Sandakphu and we have to carry our own water there? 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, January 2013) 
Hello, February is not a good time to trek for Sandakphu. It'll be freezing cold out there and the routes often get closed due to heavy snow. Best time is from April to May when the flowers bloom and again between October to November when it's dry and the visibility is at its best. You should carry enough drinking water with you as there is often water scarcity in this part of the hills. 
Sankar Mandal (December 2012) 
I am planning to go for the trekking from Manebhanjan to Sandakphu to Phalut to Rimbik with my three friends. We are planning to start from Kolkata on 22 March and wish to come back by 1st April morning. The following are my questions: 
(1) Is the time sufficient? Also is the time chosen good? Please note that we are for the 1st time going to trek although we do some exercise every morning with 3 Km walks. 
(2) Will we have to carry our luggage on our back? Is it the normal practice? if so, 
(3) Suggest me how to carry our luggage and what type of luggage. 
(4) How to contact the trekker's hut for booking. Is booking in advance compulsory? 
(5) What will be the temperature at that time i.e., last week of March 
Please tell me whether we will have to carry rice, daal etc with us. Also whether there are room heater in the trekkers hut along the route. Is there any possibility of rain at that time, if so what should we carry with us? 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, December 2012) 
Although one of the best seasons for Sandakphu trek starts from April, March end should also be a good time. Usual temperature would be between 5-12 degree Celsius. You can see lots of flowers like rhododendrons starting to bloom. 7 days time should be good enough to complete this trek. On your way back, take a shared jeep from Rimbik to Maneybhanjan and then another one to NJP. 
Do not carry heavy luggage on your own since you are new to such treks. Better to take a porter. For porter and lodge booking, check out the section under 'Useful Information' above. You do not need to carry rice, daal etc as basic food is available all through the route including in the trekkers huts. However do carry some buscuits, dry fruits, water etc. There is no electricity there, so you won't get room heaters. Some lodges use solar cells for limited time in the evening, but that is only for lights. You will need to carry adequate woolens  and warm clothes. It usually doesn't rain in March. Even if it does, it would be in short spurts.  
Samarjit Ghosh (December 2012) 
Sir we plan to trek (1st time ever) on last week of December 2012. My 1st question is that is it possible to trek during this period (24-29) because of snow fall and temperature? If so what will be the best possible route taking into consideration we are bunch of 5 friends (25 to 29 years) and trekking for the first time. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, December 2012) 
Samarjit, December end is not a good time to trek to Sandakphu. It's going to be freezing cold and there are chances of heavy snow & route blockage. Since you are a first time trekker, I would suggest you do it between April to May next year. 
C. Raghavendra (Nov 2012): Trekking Possibility with Children 
I am from Visakhapatnam. First of all I thank you so much for sharing such a great experience and a valuable information on this website. I am planning to do this tour & trekking with one of my friends along with our families in the last week of April 2013. In this group we have boys aged between 8 and 15 years. Can you please guide me whether children of age 8 or 10 can do the trekking? Secondly will there be snow en route or in sandakphu during April end, and what will be the approx. temp during that time? Children are also excited to feel the snow during this trip. Can you please give me your valuable suggestions in this regard? 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com, Nov 2012) 
Hello, I have seen several children of the age group you mentioned trekking along the Sandakphu route. In fact one of my friends has running contracts with several schools in Kolkata and organizes Sandakphu treks for school children. So no problems for the children on this route. However, try to book good accommodations (preferably the DGHC tourist lodges on the way). In Tumling, one good option is the Shikhar Lodge. But all these are close to basic accommodations. So do not expect any luxury amenities there (like TV, geysers etc). It is important to prepare the mind set of the children about what to expect and what not to. Then they should be fine. Carry enough packaged drinking water. 
By April end, most of the snow would have already melted. If you are lucky, you might still see snow lying in some places beyond Meghma. The temperature varies between 6°C to 12°C. But April end is a great season to see flowers blooming in all colors ... Orchids, Rhododendrons and more. Have a great time!!! 
Heidi Visser (September 2012) 
Hello, I must just say, your website is very helpful! I'm planning a trek to Singalila from 19-24 October. Do you know of any trekkers huts or homestays in Jaubari? Otherwise, I'd like to book at Shikar Lodge in Tumling. Do you also know of any accommodation in Rimbik? 
What are the average prices for accommodation? And what can we expect to pay for a porter / guide for our journey from Manebhanian to Rimbik, and a Jeep from Darjeeling to Manebhanian and again from Rimbik to Darjeeling? 
I look forward to hear from you. Kind regards 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) 
Hello Heidi, There are no hotels in Jhaubari. Although there are some commercial lodges, they are not that well known. Also, some local families sometimes let you stay at their homes. However you will need to try that on the fly (not recommended). There are few budget hotels in Rimbik. One of them is Hotel Green Hill. You can not make reservations over the net or phone. Ask your trek operator/guide to help you with the booking. For trek operators, check out: Best Tour & Trek Operators in Darjeeling. I have indicated porter & guide rates in one of the sections of this page. 
Rate of shared jeep between ManeBhanjan & Darjeeling is Rs. 50 per person, and it takes one hour 30 minutes drive. From Rimbik, you will need to come down to Manebhanjan by a jeep and then take another one for Darjeeling. 
Dipanjan (September 2012) 
Hi Raj, I am planning for Sandakfu trek during durga puja with my wife. Is the trekking route safe for ladies? I am more concern about safety than anything else. Regards. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) 
Dipanjan, Sandakphu Trek is safe for all. Try to plan your first night either at Shikhhar Lodge (in Tumling) or at Tonglu Lodge. Don't give up in the middle and stay at places like Meghma. There is no safety issue there, but only basic trekkers hut which may not be suitable for ladies. Plan your second night at Sandakphu lodge. Do not go without prior booking during the Puja time. 
Mumun Ghosh 
Hi.. I am planning to visit Sandakphu in late February or early march as am interested in seeing the snowfall there. Please guide as to what will be the best time for snowfall viewing in Sandakphu. Also kindly let us know how arduous will it be for trekking in those months. I am planning to go with a group of 4 adults. Thanks & regards 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) 
Hi, February is not a good time to trek to Sandakphu. If it snows heavily, trek routes may not be accessible and remain closed. There can be knee deep snow in some places. You may however be able to go up to Tumling. Regards, 
Raj Roy 
Hello.. I have seen your Sandakphu pictures in your website (Slight SNOWFALL on the way to Sandakphu). In which month you traveled so I can see light snowfall on the way. Kindly suggest. Your early response shall be highly appreciable. Regards 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) 
Hi, I have been to Sandakphu several times and tried several timings. Some of the snow pictures that you see were taken in Feb end .... it's not a good time to trek in the area. High chances that the route may be closed at some point beyond Tumling due to heavy snow. You should rather try March end for light/medium snow. Regards, 
By Raj Bhattacharya 
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