Day 01: Arrival: Pick up / Airport/train station Transfer to Gangtok. O/N at Hotel.
Day 02: Gangtok to Uttarey: After breakfast at Hotel we drive to Uttarey (West Sikkim). Six exciting hours through winding roads across valleys and over hills clad with a variety of vegetation. We swoop down to cross the wild Rangeet River before climbing steeply up to Pemayangtse (2,100 m.), perched dramatically on an airy ridge with a panorama of Himalayan peaks ahead. After crossing some spectacular bridges to the road-head at Uttarey (2,000 m.), we spend our first night in a trekking lodge and meet the local people who will accompany us on our trek.
Day 02: Uttarey to Chiwa Bhanjyang - 7/8 hours: We thread our way up and over the highest reaches of the Singalila Ridge, which forms the border between Sikkim and Nepal. We may meet the occasional yak herder but we are well beyond permanent settlements. The names given to places around here however exotic it may sound to your ear, are basically associated with their purpose, such as high pastures, passes and ridge points. We pass through a rich forest cover, swathes of rhododendrons, open ridges, sacred lakes and remote passes. Our first day takes us to Chiwa Bhanjyang (3,100 m). An easy trail rises gently through rainforest until a final steep ascent for the last couple of hours bring us to the Nepalese border and our first camp.
Day 03: Chiwa Bhanjyang. Acclimatization Day (Side Excursion - 5' hrs): This is an attractive setting to acquire some essential early acclimatization. A hike to the nearby Singalila Peak at 3500m will give us valuable acclimatization and some excellent views.
Day 04: Chiwa Bhanjyang to Dhor - 7- hours. Camp 3800m: A gentle uphill traverse through forest and then over a more exposed hillside brings us to prayer flags adorning our first pass and views of distant mountains - a taste of what is to come. As we gradually gain height we will appreciate the previous day's acclimatization. The occasional yak herder's hut is the only sign of habitation as we look down far below to the rice fields and cardamom plantations. Our camp is in a remote and sheltered hollow below the ridge.
Day 05: Dhor to Pare Megu - 7 hours. Camp 3800m: Rising just before dawn, a five-minute walk onto the ridge may reveal the spectacular sight of sunrise on both Everest and Kanchenjunga. Throughout the day we descend and climb, maintaining a steady height, spiraling from one side of the ridge to the other until a rough steep ascent takes us across a pass. Beyond, the trail wends its way steadily through rhododendrons and past several Hindu shrines where a second easier pass drops down to our camp close to a shepherd's summer settlement. Look out for the Blue Sheep on the high craggy mountainside.
Day 06: Pare Megu to Lam Pokhari - 4' hours. Camp 4300m: We walk easily on a good trail through woods until we begin a steady rise up a broad valley where we catch our first closer view of the entire Kabru range dominated by Mount Pandim (6,691m). A further 2 hours of ascent will get us to our camp with Everest and a host of other Khumbu giants dominating the distant skyline. An afternoon of rest and acclimatization for the following day's foot slogging.
Day 07: Lam Pokhari to Gomathang - 6 hours. Camp 3900m: Now we are in high mountain country and the forests lie far below. For the past two days we have been walking in Nepal and today we pass the sacred lake of Lam Pokhari, which marks our entry back into Sikkim. A little snow underfoot can be expected as we climb to our first pass, the Danphe Bhir La at 4,530 meters, the Pass of the Pheasant. From here it is possible to see the whole of Sikkim with the view stretching out well into Tibet and Bhutan. A further hour's contouring and a small ascent reveals the Kag Bhir La (the Pass of the Crow) where we may be lucky enough to view a panorama of Himalayan peaks including Kanchenjunga. Reluctantly, we then must head downhill making a steep descent to our riverside camp.
Day 08: Gomathang to Pangden - 8 hours. Camp 4100m: We leave our lovely meadow camp to climb through forests of sweet smelling silver fir and rhododendrons. Soon we are in high mountain terrain again. Look out for the brightly colored Danphe birds (Impeyan Pheasant), which nest in the high crags around the Kamsey La, 4,200 m. As we drop down into the meadows of Kokling, we are already looking up at our next pass of 4,300 m. that we reach with a steady ascent up a steep crag to a skyline dominated by the dizzying pinnacles and icy cliffs of Kanchenjunga. Once again we end the day's hike with a steep descent to our campsite by the Tikip Chu, which has its source high on the Rathong mountains (6,679 m.).
Day 09: Pangden to Dzongri - 3 hrs. 4,030 m.: Today our route joins the regular trail up to the Goecha La. A steady climb through ancient fir forest, juniper and rhododendrons gradually opens out to the summer pastures of Dzongri. Another high camp, but we should be well acclimatized by now probably in contrast to some of the trekkers we meet who could be on day 3 of their Dzongri Trek at 4,000 m., 'the headache zone'!
Day 10: Dzongri to Lamuney - 6 hours. Camp 4,200 m: Down the hill to Kokchulang where we are likely to accost other trekkers making us look back in retrospect towards really appreciating the peace and solitude of our last few days. We move easily up the valley passing the busy trekkers campsite of Thangsing to our own riverside camp a short distance below the Samiti Lake.
Day 11: Lamuney to Zemathang - 4 hours. Camp 4,650 m.: We walk steeply uphill to the crest of the ridge behind the lake and emerge dramatically into a harsher world of higher Himalayan scenery. In the foreground glaciers and snowfields suddenly look accessible and behind, the gigantic snow peaks loom close, especially on nearby Mt. Pandim, soaring over our heads. We move on more easily through this spectacular alpine terrain into our final high camp nestled in a sheltered green hollow, a little below the Goecha La.
Day 12: Zemathang-Goecha La-Thangshing - 10 hrs. Camp 3,800 m: We aim for the Goecha La (The Locked Gate), which lies at almost 4, 940 m., and begin well before sunrise in the clear cold morning air. Around us is an awe-inspiring Himalayan landscape of tumbling glaciers, pinnacled ridges and soaring peaks dominated by the mighty bulk of Kanchenjunga towering above, but the view from our own 'summit' is equally stunning. Reluctantly we return to our high camp for a welcome breakfast. Thereafter, we head down to Thangsing where the air feels wonderfully rich at just 3,600 m. A long day of around 10 hours depending of course, on how much time we spend at Goecha La.
Day 13: Thangshing to Tshoka - 5 hours. Camp 3,000 m: On new ground today, we follow the traditional route back to the main valley. Tshoka is an enchanting little Tibetan settlement perched on a mountain spur. It will be our first encounter on this trek with permanent village life, and the novelty of having a roof over our heads will add a new dimension to the journey.
Day 14: Tshoka to Yuksams: Our final day, and freewheeling downhill almost all of the time. We descend through rainforest rich with bird-life and flowers, across spectacular bridges spanning cascading rivers whose sources are high in the mountains we have so recently left behind. Tired and elated we arrive in Yuksam and our charming traditional hilltop hotel. This will be our last evening with the trekking crew so we will be celebrating our achievements, and a final thank you to the local staff. Overnight Hotel.
Day 15: Departure: After Breakfast departure for next destination.
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