With the wilderness of the Himalayas surrounded by the highest peaks on the earth, zigzagging back and forth between India and Nepal, Sandakphu is the highest point of West Bengal. It is no surprise that it is considered a paradise for trekkers and adventure enthusiasts. Sandakphu is located near the edge of Singalila National Park in West Bengal. Not only is it the highest point in West Bengal, but it is also one of the tallest spots in the country with an elevation of 3636 meters above sea level. The 4 tallest mountains in the world namely, Mt Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Chomo Lonzo can be seen from Sandakphu. In addition to the Everest Cluster, you can also see the Kanchenjunga range. The Sandakphu trek is one of the most awe-striking and rewarding treks in India.
On top of being an adventurer’s paradise, it is also heaven for a naturalist as nature’s pristine beauty can be seen on full display here. You will see forests of oaks, deodars, pines, firs, and spruces on your way. Beautiful sunrises on top of snow-clad mountains will make you forget all the pain and effort of trekking.
Sandkaphu lies at an elevation of 11,930 feet above sea level which is 3636 meters. Due to its altitude, Sandakphu is home to various species of migratory birds, bamboos, firs, and blooming rhododendrons. Its vegetation also makes it home to the famous red panda and bears.
Sandakphu Trek Route
Sandakphu trek is well suited for beginners as well as seasoned trekkers and no problems of breathlessness or any discomfort are reported. All you need is a basic level of fitness and a desire to explore!
Reaching By Train: The nearest railway station to Kopidana, which is the base camp, is the New Jalpaiguri railway station. It is well connected and has many trains passing through from all over the country.
Reaching By Air: The nearest airport to Kopidana is Bagdogra which has incoming flights from all of the major metropolitan cities.
The trek route is filled with beautiful and scenic landscapes and rare sights of flora and fauna. Below is the route of the Sandakphu Trek:
This is the base camp from where the trek begins. You can reach here either from Bagdogra airport or the NJP railway station from Siliguri. This base camp is located at an elevation of 6,400 ft.
Kopidana to Tumling
Trekking from Kopidana to Tumling usually takes from 5-6 hours. It is during this trek that you’ll cross a border checkpoint and find yourself in Nepal. Although there are no restrictions to enter, you must carry your visas and any form of identification(ID) with you. Tumling is a tiny hamlet with 10-15 families and it is located at an elevation of 9,600 ft. Here you’ll find accommodations and teahouses. You can also catch a glimpse of the Kanchenjunga ranges from Tumling.
Tumling to Kalapokhri
The trekking route from Tumling to Kalapokhri runs through the Singalila National Park. If you happen to be here during the peak of summers, you’ll find rhododendrons and magnolias blooming in their fullest glory. Further down the route is Gairabisa, which is a small settlement where you’ll find the basic amenities and services. Next on the way is Kaiyakatta, which is the last settlement before Kalapokhri. 4 km further from Kaiyakatta is Kalapokhri where you can find many different species of migratory birds and lush green landscapes.
Kalapokhri to Sandakphu
Sandakphu is around 6 km away from Kalapokhri. The trek involves a gradual ascent and then a steep climb. This is the summit from where you can see the breathtakingly beautiful panoramic view of the Sleeping Buddha and the four tallest mountains, (including Mt Everest) in all their glory. You can also view the Annapurna peaks and the Three Sister Peaks.
Sandakphu to Sepi
After staying in Sandakphu, you can begin your descent to Sepi. Even though it covers the longest distance, the descent makes it way less exhausting. This trekking trail passes through a forest filled with bamboo. This forest is a natural habitat for red pandas and bears. Even though it is quite rare, chances are you could catch a glimpse of the famous red pandas. The trail will pass through various settlements and villages such as Gurdum and Timburay. After passing through them, you’ll finally reach the village of Sepi.
You can either spend some time in Sepi or head right back to the Airport or the NJP railway station. The trek here has come to an end.
The temperature in Sandakphu varies from season to season. The best season for trekking is considered to be Autumn. The Winter season is also a popular time to trek as many people come to see the snow. Below are the different temperatures during all the seasons:
The temperature in January: The temperature falls rapidly at night with the minimum temperature reaching up to -11 degrees. The maximum temperature i.e 6-8 degrees is usually in the daytime.
The Temperature in February: The lowest temperature at night rises to -7 to -6 degrees while the daytime becomes much more pleasant with the average temperature being 9 degrees.
The Temperature in March: During this time, it snows occasionally while the weather becomes pleasant. The usual temperature ranges from -3 to 10 degrees celsius.
The Temperature in April: Even though the nights remain quite cold with a minimum temperature of about 1 degree, the days become quite sunny and pleasant and you won’t require any heavy winter clothing anymore.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Sandakphu is anytime after August and Before May as these months experience heavy rainfall. If you want to experience rainfall but not let it hinder your experience and block the routes, December is the best time to visit. If you want to see the flowers in full bloom, March is the perfect time to come. During April, you might experience light rains and it is advisable to not visit during this time as it may not be as pleasurable.
The Sandakphu trek is one of the few treks that allows you to see 8000 meters tall peaks and all you need to embark upon this breathtaking adventure is just a basic fitness level and two legs. So, if you’re in need to be awestruck by the majestic snow-clad mountains and the serene beauty of nature, the Sandakphu trek is perfect to satiate your cravings for an experience of a lifetime.