Sandakphu Trek


About Sandakphu

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 north west of Darjeeling hill town. 
This is the summit or the highest point in Singalila range as well as in the state of West Bengal, India. The trek route to Sandakphu goes all along the Singalila ridge. 
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 Three Sisters. 
And you also get to see 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 the grounds 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. 
Rhododendrons near Gairibas 
Sandakphu and the much of the trail is part of Singalila National Park which is home to exotic high-altitude Himalayan animals. 
Go through The Destination Sandakphu to know all that you can expect in Sandakphu. 

about Sandakphu trek Route

From the Indian side, the trek route to Sandakphu starts from a place called Manebhanjan, a small township located in Darjeeling district and at an altitude of 7,054 ft (2,150 m). This is actually the gateway to Singalila and Sandakphu. 
Manebhanjan. Winding route to Sandakphu on the left 
The Sandakphu trekking trail goes all along the Singalila ridge. Soon after a settlement known as Tumling, the trekking trail goes through the Singalila National Park all the way to Sandakphu. And therefore, this trek is also known as Singalila Trek. 
The national park has some of the most fascinating, rare and high altitude Himalayan animals like Red Pandas and Pangolins. However, rare animals are rarely seen. 
The national park is also rich with varieties of birds and other high-altitude animals like clouded leopards, Himalayan black bears, barking deers, wild boars, and more. If you are lucky, you can come across some of these exotic wildlife on your way. 
Red Panda on the way to Sandakphu  
Red Panda on Sandakphu route 
Earlier, the trekking route up to Sandakphu was the same as the motorable road on which 4-wheel drive vehicles take tourists to Sandakphu. 
By 2001, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (now GTA) and the park authorities created a separate trekking trail that mostly goes through the lovely forests and flowering trees, although merges with the motorable road at several places. 
All along, the trail is well marked with signage and one can easily figure out the way without any assistance. You may in fact wonder why a guide is needed at all? Actually this is one of the means of ensuring livelihood to the locals. 
From Manebhanjan the distance up to Sandakphu is 32kms which is usually covered in two or three days of trek. If you can trek for 8-9 hours a day, you can complete the one way trek in 2 days, otherwise plan for 3 days. Usually trekkers do it over 3 days. 
A footbridge on the way to Tumling 
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, but it still is a long arduous trek. 
From Sandakphu, you can either return by the same route or take an alternative route. A popular return route is via Gurdum, Srikhola and then finally to Rimbik where one takes a transport (usually a shared or a private taxi) for a return transfer. 
Many trekkers move onward from Sandakphu to Phalut which is further 21kms away and then take a return route from there via Gorkhey, Rammam and Rimbick and back to Manebhanjan. 
At a few places along the way, the trail splits, one going through Indian territory while the other through Nepal. And you can take either route. There is no need for Nepal visa along this route. It's a free zone (i.e. an open border) for all including foreigners. 
But there are several check posts along the way guarded by SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal or Armed Border Force). All trekkers and tourists on this route are subject to identity checks (carry valid Photo IDs, foreigners must carry passport and visa for India). 
There are accommodations along the way such as GTA operated trekkers huts/lodges (these belong to the state government) as well as privately run lodges and huts. At some places like Tumling and Sandakphu, you will also get proper hotels. 
Route through Tumling 
Tumling in winter 
Note that foreign nationals undertaking this trek from the Indian side are no longer permitted to stay in an accommodation located on the Nepal's territory. 
From Sandakphu and Gorkhey, there are also trekking trails that lead to settlements in Sikkim, and many trekkers take those trails as well. I have discussed all those routes on different pages and you will find the links to those pages in the sections below. 
Visit Sandakphu & Singalila Route Map to get a diagrammatic idea of the trek route. The map has both distances and altitudes of the important places that you will pass by.  
As already mentioned, the trek route goes along the border of India and Nepal, and at several places enters Nepal's territory. 
This trekking trail takes various forms along the way. In some sections, it's a muddy trail through forests or open meadows, in other parts it's a steep stony stairway cutting through the mountains and again meeting the motorable road. 
And in other sections, it's a narrow gravel pathway. At any section, you can choose to take either the motorable road or the trekking trail, however at several sections, both are the same. 
When I hiked this trails for the first time, the entire trail was  a gravel road all the way up to Sandakphu and full of boulders and rocks. It was mainly used by trekkers and a few old Land Rover vehicles reaching out supplies to the villages. 
But now, several sections of the trekking trail have been separated out from the road. And the road has been concretized up to Gairibas, but beyond that, it is still a gravel road. 
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, this trek is considered a soft or light trek. But don't take it too easy if you are a novice... it's going to be a long strenuous hike anyway. 

Sandakphu Trek Logistics

You should ideally pre-arrange all your logistics before you start the trek. It is however possible to organize most of the logistics even after reaching Manebhanjan, particularly during the low-rush season. Logistics include the following: 
  • Transport from NJP/Bagdogra to Manebhanjan and back. There is a taxi stand at Manebhanjan and ample taxis are available to reach out to various destinations within Darjeeling district and elsewhere including Siliguri, NJP and Bagdogra. 
  • You need to ensure that you have a state government registered guide or a porter (which is now mandatory). If you are going through a Trek Operator, then they will arrange for the guide/porter. Otherwise you can get them from the Highlander Guides & Porters Welfare Association at Manebhanjan. 
    Highlander's office in Manebhanjan 
    Highlander’s office Manebhanjan 
  • Permit for Singalila National Park (required for everybody as the trek route passes through the national park). There is an office of Forest Department by the roadside just before the steep uphill route starts from Manebhanjan. 
    You need to get a permit here (tour operators also take care of this). This permit is not a trek permit, it is an entry permit to the Singalila National Park
    However, if you go only up to Tumling, you do not need this permit or even a guide. Because the entry to Singalila National Park is about 1km from Tumling, and the permits are meant for the national park entry. 
  • Book your lodgings along the route (dormitory beds or rooms). You can also get privately run trekkers' huts along the way where you can stay without a booking. These are mostly run by the local villagers and are of low quality. 
  • Take appropriate gears in case you are trekking in the winter which sees a lot of snow and harsh weather conditions (a trekking pole is always recommended). 
  • Camping equipment (if you plan to camp instead of staying at the huts). 
  • Carry a bottle of drinking water which you can keep refilling with spring water along the way. You can also buy bottles water from the local stalls on the route. 
  • Unless you want to arrange everything on your own, consider using a good Trek Operator who can arrange all such logistics and make your life easier. 

    Reaching Manebhanjan

    It takes about 4 hours by taxi to get to Manebhanjan from NJP (the nearest major railway station). It takes around the same time from Bagdogra (the nearest airport) as well. 
    The usual route is via Mirik, and if a direct taxi is not available, you need to come up to Mirik and then take another taxi to Manebhanjan. 
    From NJP or Siliguri you can also get shared taxi up to Mirik and then take another one for Manebhanjan. Alternatively, you can take a shared taxi from NJP/Siliguri up to Ghum, and from there, take another one to Manebhanjan via Sukhiapokhri. 
    Fare updated: March 2023 
    Small reserved taxi fare from NJP or Bagdogra to Manebhanjan is around Rs. 4,000/-. Shared taxi fare from NJP/Siliguri up to Ghum is around Rs. 350 per person, and from there up to Manebhanjan is around Rs. 100 per person. 
    If you take a shared taxi via Mirik, then the fare from NJP to Mirik is around Rs. 250 per person, and from Mirik to Manebhanjan is Rs. 250 - 300 per person. 
    However, shared taxis are not available at Bagdogra airport. Manebhanjan is only 26kms from Darjeeling town and takes about 1 hour 15 minutes by taxi. A reserved small taxi fare from Darjeeling to Manebhanjan is around Rs. 1800 - 2,000 per person. 
    You can also get shared taxi from Darjeeling taxi stand at Chowk Bazar (lower town stand). The fare is around Rs. 150 per person. In case you do not get a direct shared taxi, come up to Ghum and change to another one. 

    Day-by-day Trek Description

    Below is a day-by-day description of the Sandakphu trek. Once you get a synopsis of a day's trek on this page, go through the link that follows... it details the day's trek. 
    You will come to know about all the settlements you come across, amenities available at each place, how exactly is the trail in that section, elevations, and other information. 
    And once you read the complete trek descriptions, then go through the subsequent sections on this page about Accommodations and Useful Information
    You can get a lot of useful information there such as lodging, contact info, guides, porters, permits, food, weather conditions, various costs involved & estimates, and lot more. 

    Day-1: Manebhanjan to Tonglu (11kms), 6-7 Hours Trek

    The trail sections covered on this day include: 
  • Manebhanjan (7,054ft) to Chitre (8,340ft), 3kms, 1.5 hours trek 
  • Chitre to Lamaydhura (8,792ft), 3kms, 1.5 hours trek 
  • Lamaydhura to Meghma (9,514ft), 3kms, 1.5 hours trek 
  • Meghma to Tonglu (10,130ft), 2kms, 1 hour trek 
    At Meghma the trail bifurcates. The one on the right goes through the Indian territory and reaches Tonglu while the other one goes through Nepal and reaches Tumling. You can go in either direction, because from Tonglu, the trail continues and meets at Tumling again. 
    I am describing the trek through Tonglu so that all destinations are covered in the trek. There is a GTA trekkers lodge at Tonglu, but presently no other accommodation for trekkers. Tumling on the other hand has several lodges and hotels. But being on Nepal's territory, foreign nationals can not stay at Tumling. 
    From Meghma, if you decide to take the route directly to Tumling, you need to trek only 2kms. In fact, Meghma, Tonglu and Tumling form a triangle. 
    Go through the following link for complete description of the Day-1 Trek. 

    Day-2: Tonglu to Kalipokhri (15kms), 6-7 Hours Trek

    From Tonglu, you should start your trek early next morning. It's going to be a long hike. From Tonglu your next destination is Tumling which is about 2kms away. 
    Tonglu Viewpoint 
    A view point, Tonglu 
    The trail sections covered on this day include: 
  • Tonglu (10,130ft) to Tumling (9,600ft), 2kms, 1 hour trek 
  • Tumling to Jaubari (9,186ft), 6kms, 2.5 hours trek 
  • Jaubari to Gairibas (8,600ft), 3kms, 1 hour trek 
  • Gairibas to Kalipokhri (10,400ft) 6kms, 3 hours trek 
    Usually trekkers take a night halt at Kalipokhri. There are a number of privately run lodges and homestays here. 
    Note that Kalipokhri being part of Nepal, foreign nationals can not stay here... they can stay at Gairibas instead. There is a GTA trekker's lodge there as well as private homestays. 
    Go through the following link for complete description of the Day-2 Trek. 

    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. 
    Kalipokhri Water Body 
    Kalipokhri Water Body 
    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. 
    The trail sections covered on this day include: 
  • Kalipokhri to Bikeybhanjan, 2kms, 40 minutes trek 
  • Bikeybhanjan to Sandakphu (11,929ft), 4kms, 2.5 hours trek 

    Day 4 - 6: Onward & Return treks from Sandakphu

    From Sandakphu, you have two options. You can either continue your trek up to Phalut (another trekking destination) and then return via Gorkhey, Rammam, Srikhola, Rimbik. Shared jeeps are available at Rimbik for getting back to Darjeeling or Siliguri. 
    View from Phalut Top 
    Sleeping Buddha from Phalut Top 
    Phalut Top (the peak of Phalut which is about 30 minutes uphill hike from Phalu GTA Trekkers Hut) offers breathtaking views of the snow peaks... they look even closer. You get one of the best possible views of the 'Sleeping Buddha'... the range formed by Mt. Kumbhakarna, Kabru, Kanchenjunga and Pandim that looks like as if Buddha is sleeping. 
    Gorkhey Village 
    Gorkhey Village 
    Photo: Greenchild, cc by sa 4.0 
    Go through the link below to know about the onward trek to Phalut which is further 21kms from Sandakphu. It requires an additional day of trek and then the return hike. 
    If you do not want to go further from Sandakphu and want to return, you can always trek back to Manebhanjan following the same route as your forward trek.  
    Gurdum Valley 
    Gurdum Valley 
    Photo: Mamtarivonkar, cc by sa 4.0 
    However, many trekkers prefer to take a different trail that comes down via Gurdum, Timburey, Srikhola, and Rimbik back to Manebhanjan. Go through the following link to know about the return trail, the places in between, amenities, and more. 

    Offbeat trails to Sandakphu, Phalut

    Since the time the road has been concretized up to Gairibas, the vehicular traffic along this route has considerably increased. Since the trekking trail overlaps with the motorable road at several sections, the trekking experience along this route has also been impacted. 
    Although trekking along this old route remains popular, many discerning trekkers these days look for alternative routes to Sandakphu and Phalut. 
    And fortunately, there are few other excellent trekking trails available where there is no vehicular traffic, but only serene nature. 

    ROUTE-1 (An Offbeat Trail)

    One such great trekking route starts from Srikhola. You can reach Srikhola from Manebhanjan in 2.5 hours by car and stay there overnight. Srikhola is a picturesque village surrounded by mountains. A stream also known as Srikhola flows through this village.  
    From Srikhola you can trek up to Sandakphu in only one day. From there trek to Phalut (1 day), Phalut to Gorkhey (1 day) and then exit via Ribdi in Sikkim (last day). You will get transports at Ribdi to get back to Siliguri/NJP. 
    Go through Srikhola to Sandakphu and onward to Phalut for details of this trek. 

    ROUTE-2: (Partly Offbeat)

    There is another route which several trekkers prefer for trekking to Sandakphu. The route however merges with the original one 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 to 5 hours drive. After a night stay at Dhotrey, take the lovely scenic trek route (6 kms) that leads to Tonglu. 
    The first 2kms is through a forested trail. And then the landscape opens up and you can sea wonderful meadows. It's an uphill trek route and takes about 3 - 3.5 hours to reach Tonglu from Dhotrey. Note that the route remains closed during Monsoon (mid June to mid September). 
    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 
    There is a Guide and Porters Association at Dhotrey where you can hire a guide and porter. You can get the necessary Singalila National Park entry permits from the Forest Check Post at Dhotrey or alternatively you can get it at the park's entry gate soon after Tumling. 

    Accommodations on Sandakphu/Phalut Route

    Accommodations along Sandakphu/Phalut trek route are mostly basic lodges and trekkers' huts. Most offer dorm beds and few lodges also offer private rooms. Do not expect luxury like TV, geyser etc. 
    Shikhar Lodge at Tumling 
    For most part of the route there is no electricity although some lodges offer limited use of solar powered lights (usually 6pm to 9pm). 
    Almost all lodges provide basic food like rice, daal, noodles (locally known as wai wai), vegetables and some times eggs, and if you are lucky, chicken. 

    How to book lodges/trekkers' huts?

    If you do not want to take any chances (particularly in summer), book lodges/huts in advance. There is no internet there and none have online booking provisions. 
    I have given the contact nos. of the lodges below (hard to get some of them as phone lines do not work consistently). Call them up to check availability. They will ask you to transfer money to their bank account to confirm the booking. 
    This can be a big hassle for foreigners because most lodge owners won't know Swift Codes for international bank transfers. Foreigners are better off to go through a Trek Operator to take care of all logistics including accommodations. 
    One can however try the lodges on the go, and most often than not, you will get some accommodation on the spot. But the best and cleanest ones are the first to go full. 
    You can optionally try through an operator in Darjeeling who could be your single point of contact for such bookings. They will of course push lodges where they get commissions. But such lodges are usually okay because the operators use them for organized treks and they can't afford to offend trekkers. 
    Also note that the GTA lodges can only be booked by physically visiting one of their offices (there is one in Darjeeling on Mall Road, called Silver Fir building). To book a GTA lodge or trekkers hut, go through GTA Tourist Info for location & contacts of GTA offices in India.  
    Beds (in dorms) and private rooms in some lodges are available for booking. 

    Contacts of Lodges/huts on Sandakphu/Phalut route

    (NOTE: Visit the links in the table below for more info. Contact info is subject to change) 
    Visit the link on the left
    GTA Lodge
    Indira Lodge
    Pandim lodge
    (+91) 9333964774 
    (+977) 9735916541 
    (+977) 9742666243 
    (+977) 9734043453
    Chewang Lodge
    GTA Lodge
    (+91) 9332599261 
    (+91) 9933488159 
    (+91) 7407276989 
    (+977) 9742621760 
    (+977) 27691127
    GTA Lodge
    GTA Lodge
    Shanti Lodge 
    Eden Lodge
    Lakpa Dorjee Sherpa's home
    GTA Lodge
    Goparma Lodge
    Sherpa Lodge
    Hotel Green Hill
    9593720817, 9733069143 9593828400
    Kanchenjunga Hotel
    GTA Trekkers Hut
  • Effective 2022, foreign nationals undertaking Sandakphu trek from the Indian side can no longer stay in a lodge/hotel that falls in Nepal's territory. 
    There is an open Indo-Nepal border for a long part of this trek route and most hotels & lodges are located on the Nepal's side including in Tumling, Kalipokhari and Sandakphu. 
    At Sandakphu, only the GTA Trekkers Hut and a couple private huts run by local villagers are available in the Indian side. These can be availed by the foreigners. The Indians, however, do not have this limitation and can stay in any lodge in Nepal. 
  • It is 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. Go through Camping on Sandakphu route for details. 

    Useful Tips & Info

    1) Guides & Porters 
    These days it is mandatory that you take a guide and optionally porters for treks to Sandakphu and Phalut. There are state government registered guides who have their own identity cards. 
    If you are starting the trek from Manebhanjan, you can get a guide from Highlander Guides and Porters Welfare Association (Phone: +91 89720 34550) located by the roadside as soon as you enter Manebhanjan. 
    You can also negotiate and settle for a porter who can double up as a guide. If you want, you can call them up and book a guide/porter in advance, you need to WhatsApp them a photo of your ID (such as Aadhar card) and make an advance payment of Rs. 500 to get a booking confirmation. 
    Guides are also available at Dhotrey and Rimbik. At Dhotrey (when you take the alternative route described above), you can get a guide from 'Guide & Porters Association (Dhotrey)'.... they are open daily during the day time (8am to 5pm). 
    And in Rimbik (in case you take the reverse of the normal trek route), guides are available at 'Rimbik Guide Association'. 
    Another good option is to go through a Trek Operator who has registered & knowledgeable guides 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 First Aid Kit, Tool Kit, Torches, birding field guide & voice recordings of birds (if asked for) etc. Trek operator cost would be more because of their value offerings. 
    2) Mobile Phone 
    Indian mobile networks do not work for most part of Sandakphu/Phalut trek. Vodafone and BSNL are the only mobile networks that work in patches along the way (but are inconsistent). 
    You can get proper mobile towers once you reach Srikhola and then at Rimbik. Most locals on the trek route use Nepal mobile service. At some places your mobile tower will switch to Nepal international roaming, so be careful about the rates charged per call. 
    3) Best time to trek to Sandakphu 
    There are two great seasons: one during April to May when it's quite comfortable (temperature ranges between 6 - 12°C) and the flowers like rhododendrons, orchid, primula are in full bloom. Sky mostly remains clear and you get lovely mountain views. 
    In May however there are chances of occasional showers and the sky remaining cloudy at times. 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. 
    These days Sandakphu trekking takes place in winter as well (between December - February). You will however need heavy woolens and equipment like snow boots, sleeping bags etc. Identifying trails may be difficult due to heavy snow covers, so take an experienced guide. If you plan to trek in winter, ideally use a Trek Operator
    Singalila National Park remains closed between 15th June to 15th September (for 3 months). This is the monsoon and animal breeding season. So, Sandakphu trekking can not be done during this period. 
    However you can trek up to Tumling during this time. The entry to Singalila National Park starts 1km after Tumling. 
    4) Clothing & Accessories 
    Sandakphu can be very cold even in summer. So carry adequate woolens & jackets. In winter take heavy woolens, gloves, caps, and of course wear woolen inners. 
    Additionally, take a rain coat (a must in all seasons ), use good trekking shoes, carry extra pair of socks, a wind-cheater, gloves in winter, cap etc. Weather can be unpredictable, so always be prepared for drizzles, showers and fog. 
    Carry a water bottle which you can keep refilling with spring water along the way and use as drinking water. It's safe. 
    5) Electricity 
    There is no electricity or power for most part of the trek route. Electricity is available up to Tumling. The locals use solar panels and some use generators. Lights are put on for some time at nights after which you are required to use candles. 
    Hot water is a precious item along the route and made using wood burners. Hot water is supplied in buckets for freshening up.  
    You can get electricity in Sandakphu which is supplied from Nepal (at the lodges located in Nepal trritory). But do not expect amenities such as TV, room heaters, or geysers. 
    6) Food & Beverages 
    Food will be basic like rice, daal, bread, vegetables, noodles, khichri etc. Eggs are usually available and chicken only occasionally. There is no other meet available. Do not expect fancy hotel food. 
    Packaged snacks, bottled drinking water, tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages are available all along the route and even in Sandakphu. It is not advisable to take alcoholic drinks on such a trek. 
    7) Medication 
    Carry all essential medication as well as a first-aid kit... you won't get any medical service along the way. Use a trekking stick for an extra support to tiring legs. 
    8) Tips for novices 
    If you are a novice, remember you must go slow and keep the spirits high... that's the key. Take a break every 15 minutes if you need and relax before you start again. Ask your guide not to move ahead and set the speed, rather ask him to be with you or behind you. 
    There will still be times when you would be on the verge of giving up... but don't give up. Ask your guide to tell you stories from his experience, you will limp along and cross the hump. Listen to suggestions from the guide. 
    The guides can often predict fowl weather that you might encounter ahead and suggest an alternative plan. Abide by that. 
    Go through Sandakphu trek for beginners for more information if you are a first-time trekker. 
    9) A myth 
    Some trekkers have the notion that trekking downhill while returning would be easier than trekking uphill... It's a myth. The return trail at various places (particularly from Sandakphu to Srikhola via Gurdum) have steep downhill gradient. 
    The dry leaves on the forested trail and sometimes thin ice cover (like in March) can make it very slippery. It can also take a high toll on your knees and ankles. So use a knee guard if required and take easy but cautious steps. 
    10) Security Checks 
    Indian security forces have introduced stringent checks related to identity proof at the various check posts. 
    Also, foreign nationals with only Indian visa are no longer allowed to stay at an accommodation which falls in Nepal's territory such as in Tumling and even parts of Sandakphu. It is advisable for foreigners to organize such treks through Darjeeling Trek Operators in order to avoid logistics issues. 
    11) Do not consume alcohol 
    Last but not by any means the least... I have noticed some trekkers (and mostly first and last timers) consume alcohol on reaching Sandakphu, perhaps as a mark of celebration for reaching the summit. This is probably the worst mistake one can make in this trek. 
    Remember you are at an altitude of around 12,000ft. You can imagine how thin the oxygen is in the air. And alcohol can compound your problem next day with dehydration and headache when you need to get set for one of the longest days in the trek. 
    If you have a question why alcoholic beverages of all types are showcased freely everywhere? The answer is... there are many tourists who come by 4-wheel-drive vehicles to enjoy and get the views. 
    The bottles are mostly meant for them, who can quickly get back to protected comfort next day, but you can't. And there is no medical emergency service available along the way. 

    Costs for Trek

    (Fare Updated: March 2022) 
  • You need to pay Singalilla National Park Entry fee of Rs. 120/- per person per day of stay inside the park for Indians (Rs. 500/- per day for foreign nationals). 
    You can pay this fee at Manebhanjan or Singalila Park check post located shortly after Tumling. Without paying this fee, entry through Singalia National Park (near Tumling) will not be allowed. 
    Carry Photo Id cards (like driving license / Voter's ID Card etc) which may be checked at several intermediate check posts along the route like Tumling, Gairibas, Batasi etc). 
    If you are going through a trek operator, they will take care of the permits. Foreigners must carry passport. 
  • Still Digital Camera: Rs. 100/-; Video Camera: Rs. 400/- 
  • Rs. 50/- per person to be paid as Nepal entry fee at Kalipokhri. 
  • Cost of food along the trek route would be around Rs. 700 per person per day. 
  • Rate of dormitory bed in GTA Lodges/Trekkers Huts = Rs. 600 per person per day. Bed at private homestays/huts  = Rs. 400-500 per person per day. Double/triple bedded room in a good private hotel or lodge can cost between Rs. 2,500 to 3,500 per day. Cheaper ones are available too. 
  • NJP/Bagdogra to Manebhanjan: Rs. 4,000 to 4,500/- for reserved small car. Darjeeling to Manebhanjan shared Jeep fare: Rs. 80/- per person and reserved small car fare: Rs. 2,000/-. 
  • Rimbik to Darjeeling shared Jeep fare: Rs. 200 per person and reserved vehicle fare: Rs. 3,000. Rimbik to NJP/Bagdogra reserved vehicle fare: Rs. 5,500/-. 
  • Rate for a Guide (if taken from Manebhanjan) is Rs. 1000 per day for Indians for up to 7 persons in the group, thereafter Rs. 150 per additional person. Guide rate for foreigners is Rs. 1200 per day for a group of up to 7 persons, thereafter Rs. 300 per additional person. 
  • Rate for a Porter is Rs. 800 per day + Rs. 200 for food at Sandakphu and Phalut each. Guide & Porter rates are all inclusive. One porter will carry up to 20kg of load. 
  • Several lodges along the way use solar power or generators and allow you to charge your mobile phone, camera battery etc at a small nominal charge per hour (indicative Rs. 20-25 per hour). 

    Related 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: When you are short of time to trek the entire circuit, you can take a jeep, drive as well as trek for some parts of the route to Sandakphu. This can help save time while getting a good flavor of the trek. 
    5) Sandkaphu Trek Experiences Shared: Trekkers sharing their experience. 
    6) Darjeeling Trekking: Know all about trekking in Darjeeling area. 

    Visitors' Reviews/Comments

    Leonard Selva (December 2023) 
    Hi, I am Leonard from Malaysia, I plan to trek Sandakphu. As i would be arriving in Kolkata with my friends. I just need to be extra sure about foreigners entering Nepal country border during the trekking. Is it allowed? because I know that when foreigners are going to places like Spiti Valley and Ladakh we need to apply some permit because it's near to a border. 
    And also the conditions for foreigners cannot stay overnight in Nepali areas, can this trek be done with foreigners being able to stay overnight in Indian border and have ample rest to do the trekking...or Foreign trekkers will have to bear the hardship of trekking without overnight stay? THANK YOU 
    Raj ( December 2023 
    Hi, foreigners trekking to Sandakphu from the Indian side can not stay at a hotel which is located on Nepal's territory. But, a foreigner can stay at a lodge/trekkers hut on the Indian territory. All trekkers need to take an entry permit for Singalila National Park (issued at Manebhanjan or at the park's entry gate shortly after Tumling). You will also need to take a guide or a porter (mandatory for this trek). 
    Since accommodations on the Indian side are limited, it is better for the foreigners to take an offbeat route which I have described in the link below (you can alter the overnight halts as per your liking): Offbeat route to Sandakphu 
    NOTE: For an overnight stay at Sandakphu, the only options foreigners have are the GTA trekkers' hut on the Indian side and a handful of low-grade homestays run by the local villagers. All other hotels are in Nepal's territory.  
    So, if you do not get a suitable accommodation at Sandakphu, you will need to hike along for another 14 kms to Sabargram or Molley. If you decide to take the offbeat route, it may be a good idea to stay overnight at Gurdum (in a village homestay) before proceeding to Sandakphu. Good luck! 
    Lakshmi Kanta Jana (July 2023) 
    Is there any provision of sharing the cost of a guide for sandakphu trekking  ? Because I am a solo traveller. 
    Raj ( July 2023 
    While taking a guide or a porter from Highlanders Guide & Porters Welfare Association in Manebhanjan, you can ask them if anybody else or any other group is also trekking around the same time, and whether you can join and share the cost of the guide. 
    But, other than chancing on such a possibility, it will also depend on the trek route they are planning to take and you agreeing to that, because there are multiple trek routes, particularly when returning. 
    Mike Baker (February 2023) 
    Hi Raj. Keshav tells me that foreigners visting from the Indian side are not allowed to visit/stay in Nepal (and therefore can't stay at Shikhar Lodge) post-pandemic, but Darjeeling tour operators are offering 2D/1N hikes staying at Tumling. Do you know how this is possible? 
    Raj ( February 2023 
    Hi Mike, Keshav is right. Foreign nationals visiting with an India visa are no longer allowed to stay in a hotel/lodge that is located in Nepal's territory. I have already explained this at several places on my website. 
    Some tour operators may be ignorant of this. But as a foreigner, you might land up in deep trouble if you stay in such a hotel/lodge including in Tumling. There have been several cases where foreign nationals have been driven out of such accommodations by the border security forces and were forced to return immediately. 
    You can however stay overnight in Tonglu instead of Tumling... Tonglu is 2 kms from Tumling and located on the Indian side, there is a GTA lodge there. 
    For more details on the subject, you may like to visit Visiting Sandakphu by Car, scroll down to the comments section, and check out my communications with Jeff Clark in November 2022. 
    For foreign nationals to trek in Singalila Range from the Indian side, one should ideally approach Sandakphu from Manebhanjan via Srikhola... I have described this route on my article Offbeat Trek route to Sandakphu & Phalut
    For a night stay in Sandakphu, a foreigner needs to stay at a lodge on the Indian side (such as the GTA trekkers hut). Most other hotels and lodges in Sandakphu are located on Nepal's side... there is an open border between India and Nepal that runs all through from Meghma/Tumling up to Sandakphu. 
    Subbu Andra (November 2022) 
    Hi Raj, Thank you for the detailed information and all the links for accomadation and food. I am planning to Trek Sandakphu next week along with my close friend. We are a novice. Please take a look at my route and suggest the best possible route to reach NJP. 
    Day 1 - Dhotrey - Tonglu - Tumling - Gairibas (Gairibas Night Stay) 
    Day 2 - Gairibas - Kalipokhri - Sandakphu - (Sandakphu Night Stay) 
    Day 3 - Sandakphu - Phalut - (Night Stay in Phalut) 
    Because of some time constraint we have to reach NJP by end of Day 5. So could you please suggest some feasible route from Phalut to NJP. 
    As we are trekking in November 3rd week, do we need to prebook the accomodations or we should be able to get them once we reach there, please suggest. 
    Raj ( November 2022 
    Hi, from Phalut, you can trek to Gorkhey on day-4 and stay there overnight. On day-5 morning, you can walk down to Ribdi in Sikkim via Samanden (takes a little over 2 hours). From there you can get taxis/ shared cabs to NJP via Jorethang. For details of this route, go through Phalut Trek Article and read the section under 'Route-2'. You should be able to get walk-in accommodations on your trek route. 
    Avishek Gayen (June 2022) 
    We will start our trek upto Sandakphu from Dhotrey on October 23rd 2022. I need to book one guide and one porter (for carrying sacks of my didi and wife sometimes in very steep conditions, and for carrying my 5years old daughter in tough situations) from now, as this is clear that good number of trekkers will hike this route in coming october causing non-availability of guides instantly. Please provide me guide and porters association's phone number or any guide's phone number and oblige. I can have their current charges also when I will call them for october 2022. 
    Raj ( June 2022 
    You can call up Highlander Guides and Porters Welfare Association at Maneybhanjan (Phone: +91 89720 34550) and make an advance booking of a guide and porter... you need to send your Aadhar card photo through WhatsApp and make an advance payment of Rs. 500. Call them up during the daytime. 
    Aloke Mondal (April 2022) 
    Hi, I have planned to go for a trek to Sandakfu, Falut, Gorkhey, Srikhola. We are mainly me, my wife and my daughter. Planning like... 
    1) 20 th Sept'2022 stay at Manebhanjan 
    2) 21.9.22 trek to tumling and night stay 
    3) 22.9.22 trek to Kalipokhri and night stay 
    4) 23.9.22 trek to Sandakphu and night stay 
    5) 24.9.22 trek to Falut and night stay 
    6) 25.9.22 trek to Gorkhey and night stay 
    7) 26.9.22 trek to Srikhola and night stay 
    8) 27.9.22 Srikhola to NJP via Rimbik 
    If we don't go through any booking and for my family will it be safe? Please give your suggestion. If possible please give some contact no that I can contact. Thanks 
    Raj ( April 2022 
    Hi, there is only one GTA lodge at Phalut which is the only accommodation there... if you don't book in advance and it's full, you won't have any place to stay there. At other places, you might get some private huts or lodges, most of which are substandard accommodations except a few. It's always better to book in advance since you are with your family. Although it might cost a little more, it is a good idea to go through a good trek operator to avoid such hassles of booking lodges in such remote places, booking guide/porter, etc... booking GTA lodges won't be easy. You will get contact details and links to trek/tour operators' list on this page itself. 
    Dipanjan Paul (February 2022) 
    Hello, I need your suggestion for our itinerary that we are going to follow during our Sandakphu trek. 
    Day 1: Start from Dhotrey and trek till Tumling (1 night stay) 
    Day 2: Tumling to Kalipokhri (Stay) 
    Day 3: Kalipokhri to Sandakphu and then move to Aahl (stay overnight in Aahl) 
    Day 4: Descend from Aahl to Srikhola (stay) 
    Then next day back to NJP from srikhola. 
    Can you please suggest whether this is fine? Also please tell whether we will get tents to stay in Aahl? 
    Raj ( February 2022 
    Hello, your trek plan is okay. However, for camping at Aahl, you need to either go through a trek operator or carry your own camping equipment. There is a homestay in a village near Aahl where you can stay if you want. 
    Ayan (October 2021) 
    Hello Sir, I am planning to do the trek solo, please look into the itinerary if it is okay or needs to be updated. 
    23/10/2021 Day 1 From NJP to Manebhanjan ( Stay and book guide and other details) 
    24/10/2021 Day 2 Manebhanjan to Tonglu ( Stay, technically first day of trek) 
    25/10/2021 Day 3 Tonglu to Kalipokhri (Stay) 
    26/10/2021 Day 4 Kalipokhri to Sandankphu (Stay) 
    27/10/2021 Day 5 Sandankphu to Sabarkum/Molley/Phalut ( Stay depending upon the availability of room thinking of discussing with the guide) 
    28/10/2021 Day 6 Sabarkum/Molley/Phalut to Gorkey (Stay) 
    29/10/2021 Day 7 Gorkey to Srkhola/Rimbik (Stay) 
    30/10/2021 Day 8 Srikhola/Rimbik to NJP via Manebhanjan 
    Is it possible to return to NJP from Srikhola on same day, my return ticket is on 31/10/2021 late at night. Please do give suggestions. Thanks 
    P.S I am not pre-booking any of the hotels hope it is not that necessary 
    Raj ( October 2021 
    Hello, your trek itinerary is fine. Yes, it's quite possible to get back to NJP from Srikhola/Rimbick on the same day (start early). However, you are planning to trek during the high season and getting any decent accommodation on the fly during such time can be very difficult... be prepared to sleep at very low-class huts/lodges. 
    Mani (August 2021) 
    Hi, Do you know the contact number for 'Nature Guides Association' at Dhotrey? Also are you aware about their office timing? 
    Raj ( August 2021 
    Hi, it's now known as 'Guide & Porters Association (Dhotrey)'. They are usually open daily during the daytime from 8am to 5pm. They don't have any published phone numbers. You can call up Padma Lodge (+918768873121) which is located nearby (about 100 meters away from the association), they might be able to help with further information. 
    Sucheta Ghosh (June 2021) 
    Hi! If you could tell me if it is possible to trek to Tonglu from Dhotrey on the same day I am reaching Siliguri? The train is supposed to reach around 8.15 am. After reading your blog it seems like we will need around 5-6 hours to reach Dhotrey... So after that will it be possible to trek to Tonglu on the same day? On a bit of a time crunch so that's the issue... 
    Also planning to trek from Tonglu to Sandakphu on the next day. Is that doable? I am fit. Not going everyday to gym fit but can walk 10kms without any issues fit. 
    Raj ( June 2021 
    Hi, it's likely to be dark by the time you trek up to Tonglu. Also, you may not be able to get a guide at Dhotrey that late in the day, and if you don't get one, you can not proceed to Sandakphu from Tonglu the next day. Seasoned trekkers can make it to Sandakphu directly from Tonglu, otherwise, it can be a daunting task... remember, walking in city parks for a few kms is not the same as high altitude walks on steep trails... but having said that, it's doable. 
    Subhasri Das (June 2021) 
    Good Day, I am planning a Sandakphu Phalut trek in september or November. Can you please advise if trekking boots and sleeping bags are necessary for this time of the year? Regards 
    Raj ( June 2021 
    Hello, You need sturdy boots for the last section of the trail (Bikeybhanjang all the way up to Phalut through Sandakphu) which is still a gravel road. You can not visit Sandakphu/Phalut between June 15 - September 15 because Singalila National Park remains closed during the official monsoon season. Sleeping bags will be useful from mid-November onwards during the winter season, particularly if you are camping. 
    Pratap (March 2021) 
    Hi Raj, Thank you so much for such a detailed info. I am planning the following route next week, is this feasible, I am  taking a guide. I would appreciate any suggestion from you. 
    Srikhola to Gurdum 
    Gurdum to Sandakfu 
    Sandakfu to Phalut (2 nights) 
    Phalut to Singalila pass - Chiabhajan 
    Chiabhajan  - Uttarey 
    Raj ( March 2021 
    Hi, yes quite doable. Make an advance booking at Phalut GTA lodge... accommodation is limited. Also, carry enough drinking water from Sandakphu to Phalut... there are no water sources on this stretch. 
    Swarnavo (December 2020) 
    Hi... Gone through your blog... It's so helpful... I have some queries.. 
    1. Can I start trekking from Tumling instead of Maneybhanjan? 
    2. Can I get Rover from Maneybhanjan to Tumling? 
    3. If I can start from Tumling, where should we make our first night stay? 
    **We are novice in treking.. have done only trek to Taksung Tiger reserve monastery (Bhutan) 
    Raj ( December 2020 
    Hi, yes you can start from Tumling. You will get a Rover from Manebhanjan to drop you at Tumling. You should arrange for a guide from Manebhanjan itself because you may not get one at Tumling and without a guide, they will not let you enter the Singalila National Park whose entry gate is located 1km from Tumling. You can make your first overnight stay at Kalipokhri... there are several lodges there including Pandim lodge. 
    Akshat Kumar (November 2020) 
    Hi, My friends and I are planning the trip from 5-12 December. I wanted to ask if accomodation in lodges and food etc. is available during these Covid times. Thank you so much :) 
    Raj ( November 2020 
    Hi, yes, you can go ahead. Most lodges have resumed operation. However, trekking in December can be difficult... there are chances of heavy snow and routes can get closed. But trekking is possible with the help of a guide and if you have proper gears. 
    Luka (September 2020) 
    Raj ji, is it possible to start the trek from Srikhola and go up to Sandakphu? I don't mind paying the park entrance fee but I want to be on my own, no guide. So I thought if I would take this route then I could do it without a guide. I would either stay in Sandakphu for few days to enjoy the views or continue to Phalut and finish the track that way, but on my own. What do you think, is it doable that way without anyone asking where's my guide? Thank you, 
    Raj ( September 2020 
    Hello, I won't recommend this because this is not allowed, likely you will be questioned at some points such as at one of the check posts along the way. Foreigners need to show their passport and visa at these points and all trekkers need to conform to the trekking norms. 
    There is a Guide & Porters Association at Dhotrey (about 26kms before Srikhola) who provide the guides and porters to trekkers who wish to take this route instead of the regular route through Chitrey and Meghma. Also, any porter or guide that you meet along the way, will likely inform the Association that you are without a guide and they will then track you out. 
    If your objective is not to be interfered with while trekking, then I suggest you talk to the Guide & Porters Association, agree to pay for a guide/porter for your entire trekking schedule and work out a way so that you can mostly trek independently. If you are a foreign national, you will need the help of the guide at the check posts. 
    Suvayu  Chatterjee (January 2020) 
    Sandakphu is the best place for viewing the Beautiful Sleeping Buddha range as well as the Mt. Everest, Mt.Makalu, Mt. Lotshe as well as the Three Sisters. We stayed at the Hotel Sunrise which was one of the most beautiful and best hotels in Sandakphu. And the view from the hotel is the best. We were a trekking group and trekked from Chitrey to Sandakphu. Our Trekking route was: 
    Day 1: NJP to Chitrey by car - 90 Km - 4/5 hours 
    Day 2: Trek to Tumling - 9 Km - 6 hours 
    Day 3: Trek to Kalapokhari - 12 Km - 6/7 hours 
    Day 4: Trek to Sandakphu - 6 Km - 3/4 hours 
    Day 5:  Trek from Sandakphu to Timburey via Gurdum village - 15 Km - 7/8 hours 
    Day 6: Walk 1 and half hour to the Srikhola road, drive to NJP - 150 Km - 6/7 hours or Darjeeling town (90 Km, 4 hours) 
    The route we took to trek towards Sandakphu was through Nepal. After 2 minutes of trek we were to buy passes from local authority for entry till Bikeybhanjan. The road till Bikeybhanjan was mixed with gradual and steep slopes. 
    It took 40 minutes for us to reach Bikeybhanjan and we stopped for a few minutes to refresh ourselves. The tough and extremely steep road starts from this region, there is a tower here from which you can get a mesmerizing view of the Mighty Kanchenjhunga as well as the villages of Nepal on the other side. 
    Here there are two options: 1) you can avail shortcut stairs from here or 2) you can take the road which is full of pebbles and large stones. If you avail the road then you have to have patience as the road is much longer in compared to the stairs. 
    If you take the stairs you will be able to cut short few kms as well as have to take lesser turns and bends but you have to be physically and mentally strong as the path is real scary with narrow passage in some places but you will enjoy it. 
    We reached around 1300 hrs after starting our Trek at 0830hrs. The Kanchenjungha and partly Sleeping Buddha was becoming visible and the Sunset was a treat to watch. It was so soothing for the eyes that we even forgot that we were at such a height with such extreme climatic conditions. 
    I am a big fan of the Mt. Kanchenjungha and have been attracted to it a lot and have seen it in lot of phases and transitions but this beauty was something new to my eyes and I was just enjoying. The cold and the tremor was all gone by the excitement of what I was seeing and what more was to come.  
    Everything from Kumabhakarna, Kabru North, Kabru South, Mt. Kanchenjhunga Peak, Goecha Peak, Forked Peak, etc. were clearly visible. Slowly as the time elapsed the Everest range was also becoming Visible and Chamlang, Chamlang East, Lotshe, Nuptse, Everest and Makalu was becoming visible too. 
    In naked eyes it seemed that Makalu was taller than Everest but that's not the case. The sky was so clear that even the Three Sister was clearly visible. And we could get a picturesque image of the Himalayan Range