The Sandakphu-Phalut Trek is the most popular trek in West Bengal, famous for its outstanding views of Mt. Kanchenjungha, the third highest peak of the world. Both Sandakphu and Phalut provide a panoramic view of Kanchanjungha and its sister peaks along with Mt. Everest, Mt. Makalu and Mt. Lhotse. Both the view points offer views of four 800+ m peaks. The trek covers Sandakphu (3636 m), the highest point of West Bengal and Phalut (3600 m) the northern most point of West Bengal. Phalut is also the meeting point of the Indian state of West Bengal, Sikkim along with the neighboring country of Nepal. Most of the route runs along the Indo - Nepal border crossing and re-crossing it innumerable times.
The trek route passes through the Singalila National Park. Both Sandakphu and Phalut are connected by motorable road from Manebhanjan however a trek route also exists. The trek route is different from the motorable road however they do overlap at many places. The entire route has lodges and tea houses serving meals. The route is open to trekking, jeep tour or a combination of both.
When to goEdit
- December - March: Very good time. Clear skies and great view of snow peaks. High possibility of snowfall. Very cold but enjoyable.
- April - May: Very good time. Clear skies and great view of snow peaks. This is the blooming time of Rhododendron flowers. They turn the entire route into a bright shade of red.
- June - September: Not a good time. Heavy rainfall. Chances of landslides. Poor visibility and hardly any views of snow peaks.
- October - November: Again a good time. Good weather with clear skies and great view of snow peaks.
The trek to Sandakphu is easy however the Phalut section is moderate. The trails are well marked and there are tea stalls every few kilometers till Sandakphu. During winter snow can make the Sandakphu - Phalut route difficult.
Permits, entry fee and other expensesEdit
- The entry fee for Singalila National Park is ₹120 per head per day for Indian nationals. For foreigners, the entry fee is ₹500 per day per head.
- Digital camera fee is ₹100 and video camera fee is ₹400
- Although the trails are well marked with proper signage a guide is compulsory for trekkers. For Indian nationals guide charges are ₹1000 per day for a group of 7, for each extra person the charge is ₹150 per day. For foreign nationals guide charges are ₹1200 per day for a group of 7, for each extra person the charge is ₹300 per day. The charges are inclusive of food and lodging
- Porter charges are ₹800 per day and a porter carries a maximum of 20 kg load. The fee includes fooding and lodging through out the route except for Sandakphu, where an extra ₹200 is to be paid per day for fooding and lodging.
- Lodging is available throughout the trek route and dormitory beds cost about ₹200 - 300 per person per day. Rooms are also available. The lodges are run by Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), formerly Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). GTA Darjeeling Contact: (0354) 2254879 / 2255351, GTA Kolkata contact +91 9903174047, (033) 23377534
- Food is also available throughout the trek route and average cost is about ₹500 - 600 per person per day
- Land rover tour
- Manebhanjan - Tonglu/Tumling (round trip) ₹2500
- Manebhanjan - Sandakphu (round trip) ₹5500
- Manebhanjan - Phalut (round trip) ₹9000
- Night halt charges ₹1500 per night
The starting point of the trek is 1 Manebhanjan. (1928m) or 2 Dhotrey. (2591m) . Both the places are well connected to the nearest railhead New Jalpiguri (NJP) and the nearest airport Bagdogra (IXB IATA). Both the places are linked with the nearby popular tourist spot of Darjeeling.
- Bagdogra - Manebhanjan 82 Km
- NJP - Manebhanjan 86 Km
- Bagdogra - Dhotrey 101 Km
- NJP - Dhotrey 105 Km
- Darjeeling - Manebhanjan 25 Km
- Darjeeling - Dhotry 44 Km
Manebhanjan is a small village right on the India - Nepal border. The village has several basic places for staying, and guides and porters can be arranged from here. On the other hand, Dhotrey is further up the road towards Rimbick. This is also a small village with a handful of basic hotels. Starting from Dhotrey will reduce the trek by a day.
Places to stay in Maneybhanjan: Keshav's Homestay +91 9232695120, +91 9564797551; Hotel Exotica +91 9733044512
Places to stay in Dhoterey: Sherpa Lodge +91 9733048579
The route is open to jeep and trek there is a various combination of routes. There is also several combinations of treks. Even jeep tours and treks can be combined in a single trip.
- Day 1: Manebhanjan / Dhotre - Tonglu / Tumling (Manbhanja - Tonglu 11 km, 6 - 7 hrs, via: Chitre, Lamay Dhura and Meghna)
- Day 2: Tonglu / Tumling - Kalipokhri (Tongli - Kalipokhri 15 km, 6 - 7 hrs, via Jaubari, Garibas and Kaiyakata)
- Day 3: Kalipokhri - Sandakphu (6 km, 3 hrs, via Bikeybhanjan))
- Day 4: Sandakphu - Gurdung (7 km, 3 hrs)
- Day 5: Gurdung - Rimbick (13 km, 5 hrs, via Srikhola)
Note: The 3 day trek from Manebhanjan / Dhotrey - Sandakphu can also be done in 2 days, with a night halt in Garibas
Sandakphu Phalut TrekEdit
- Day 1 - 3: Same as Sandakphu trek
- Day 4: Sandakphu - Phalut (21 km, 9 - 10 hrs, via: Sabarkum)
- Day 5: Phalut - Gorkhey (15 km, 4 - 5 hrs)
- Day 6: Gorkhey - Rimbick (28 km, 10 - 11 hrs, via Rammam and Srikhola)
Note: The 21 km Sandakphu - Phalut trek can be broken down into 2 days with a stop in Moley. This would include a 2 km (one way) diversion from Sabarkum.
The route from Manebhanjan - Phalut is motorable. The Sandakphu is probably the only place in the world where Landrover is still in operation.
- Day 1: Manebhanjan - Sandakphu
- Day 2: Sandakphu - Phalut
- Day 3: Phalut - Manebhanjan
- 3 Chitre. (2543m) (3 km and 1,5 hrs from Manebhanjan) The first stop for trekkers who start their trek from Manebhanjan. The route is steep and passes through beautiful pine, fir, birch and bamboo forest. Chitre is a quaint village with a few tea shops and a welcome stop for tired trekkers. A good place to freshen up after a tiring hike, The village also houses a small monastery.
- 4 Lamay Dhura. (2680m) (3km and 1.5 hrs from Chitre). The trek from Chitre to Lamay Dhura is a lesser incline than the previous stretch. Lamay Dhura is a small settlement with a handful of shops selling packaged water, drinks and food along with instant noodles and eggs. Tea and coffee are also available. An ideal stop for a cup of tea or cold drinks.
- 5 Meghna. (3 km from and 1.5 hrs from Lamay Dhura ) A fairly large village on the Indo - Nepal border with a monastery and an Indian army base. There are a few big tea houses serving lunch and snacks. From Meghna there are two options, one is a direct route to Tumling (4 km) and another is a route via Tonglu (5 km). Both Tumling and Tounglu provide a great view of snow peaks, including Kanchenjungha.
- 6 Tonglu. (3070m) (2 km and 1 hr from Meghma) A fairly large village located on a hilltop with a great panoramic view of snow peaks. There are also great views of the plains with meandering Teesta and Koshi Rivers. Tonglu is a fairly large village centred around a small pond. There are several lodges and Tonglu can serve as the first night halt of the trek. The village lies entirely in India. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge.
- 7 Tumling. (2926 m) (3 km and 1 hr from Tonglu) The trek from Tonglu to Tumling is downhill. Tumling is a small village on the Indo-Nepal border. It houses a few lodges and trekkers who bypass Tonglu make their first night halt at Tumling. Tumling also provides a great panoramic view of snow peaks. Places to stay and eat: Shikhar Lodge +91 9564797551 and Siddhartha Lodge +91 9593320408.
- 8 Jaubari. (2800 m) (6 km and 3 hours from Tumling) The trek is a gradual decline and is easy. Jaubari is a small village on the Indo - Nepal border with a couple of lodges and tea houses. Trekkers have the option of spending a night here. For others Jaubari can be a short stop for tea and snacks. Places to stay and eat: Indira Lodge +91 9733363473.
- 9 Garibas. (2622 m) (3 km and 1 hr from Garibas) A steep descend from Jaubari leads to Garibas. Garibas has a big GTA Lodge with a large dormitory. It is a good stay option for trekkers reaching Sandakphu in two days. For those spending the night in Tonglu or Tumling Garibas can be a good option for a lunch stop. There are a few eateries serving good food. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge.
- 10 Kaiyakata. (2 km and 1.5 hrs from Garibas) From Garibas the trail climbs steadily through oak, rhododendron and bamboo forest. Kaiyakata is a village with a cluster of houses most of which double up as tea houses serving tea and snacks,.
- 11 Kalipokhri. (3171 m) (2 km and 1,5 hrs from Kaiyakata) Kali Pokhri literally means black pond and the small pond lies on the entry of the village, The water never freezes and is considered holy by the villagers. There are a couple of places to stay. This is an ideal spot for spending the night for trekkers heading for Sandakphu in three days. Places to stay and eat: Pandim Lodge +91 9333964774.
- 12 Bikeybhanjan. (2 km and 45 mins from Kaiyakata) A lone tea shops serves hot and refreshing tea to trekkers before they hit the final steep ascent to Sandakphu.
- 13 Sandakphu. (3636m) (4km and 2.5 hrs from Bikeybhanjan). The highest point of the trek offering great views of Kanchanjungha and other sister peaks along with three other 8000+m peaks which include Everest, Lhotse and Makalu. It is a big village with plenty of staying options, which includes lodges and homestays. Tourist taking the landrover tour would prefer to spent an extra day at Sandakphu. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge, Sherpa Chalet Lodge +91 9332599261.
- 14 Sabarkum. (14 km from Sandakphu) The entire 21 km stretch between Sandkphu - Phalut is totally uninhabited. The entire route lies above 3500m + and there are great views of Kanchanjungha and other snow peaks. Trekers attempting this route should carry enough water and dry food to sustain the trek which may last about 10 hours. Sabarkum, an abandoned British era check post lies on the Sandakphu - Phalut route. Some ruined structures are all that remains of a British period check post.
- 15 Moley. (2 km from Sabakum, not on the main route to Phalut) Moley lies 2 km east of Sabarkum. Trekkers have an option of breaking up the 21 km Sandakphu - Phalut trek at Moley, although this will add 4 km of extra distance. So trekkers planning to stay in Moley should trek up to Sabarkum take a right turn and a 2 km descend will lead to Moley trekkers hut. The next day a 2 km steep ascent will lead to Sabarkum followed by a 7 km trek to Phalut. Moley offers no views of snow peak but the forest surrounding the trekkers' hut is enchanting. Very few trekkers make a halt at Moley. Moley is also connected with Rammam by a trek route. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge.
- 16 Phalut. (3600m) (7 km from Sabarkum) Phalut is the northernmost point of West Bengal. A gentle ascent leads to Phalut from Sabarkum. Phalut is located on a hilltop. Phalut is not a village a lone GTA trekkers' hut is the only option to stay. Phalut offers an amazing panoramic view of the Kanchanjungha ranga along with the three other 8000 ers of Everest, Makalu and Lhotse. A short walk north of the trekkers' hut leads to the actual trijunction of Nepal, Sikkim (whic was a independent kingdom till 1971) and West Bengal. A ruined British era check post still stands at the trijunction. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge.
- 17 Gorkhey. (2348m) (15 km from Phalut) A steep descent from Phalut leads to the picturesque village of Gorkhey. The village is complete with terraced agricultural field and surrounded by enchanting pine forest. The Gorkhey river thunders through the middle of the village. Gorkhey has a GTA trekkers' hut and a few private lodges. An ideal place to spend a night. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge, Shanti Lodge and Eden Lodge.
- 18 Samandem. (twin village of Gorkhey) Adjoining Gorkhey this village has a similar landscape, with a few lodges to stay.
- 19 Gurdum. (10 km from Sandakphu) For trekkers by passing Phalut can trek to Gandrung through dense forest. Gurdung also has a GTA Trekkers' hut for night halt. From Gurdung it is 6 km to Srikhola. Places to stay and eat: Lakpa Dorjee Sherpa's Homestay +91 9593996308.
- 20 Rammam. (9 km from Gorkhey) A small village ideal for a lunch stop.
- 21 Srikhola. (2103m) (12Km from Rammam) A beautiful village at the junction of Ramman and Srikhola River. Hanging bridges and beautiful forest. GTA Trekker's hut and few other lodges. Trekkers with an extra day can spend a night at Srikhola. Jeeps are available from Srikhola but are not frequent. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge, Hotel Shovraj +91 9933488243, +91 9932216197, Goparma Lodge +91 9733261799.
- 22 Rimbick. (2286m) (7 km from Srikhola) The end point of the trek. A handfull of trekkers' hut and jeeps are available to Darjeeling via Dhotrey and Manebhanjan. Places to stay and eat: GTA Lodge, Hotel Green Hill +91 9593720817, +91 9733069143, Kanchenjungha Hotel +91 9832518616, +91 9434872749.