Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu
Transferred to your hotel. You are free today to explore Kathmandu.
Day 2: Fly to Bhadrapur/ Drive to Gangtok
You will transfer to the domestic terminal for the flight to Bhadrapur. If the weather is clear you will have views of many of the Himalayan giants including Nanda Devi, Dhaulagiri, the Annapurnas, Manaslu, Makalu, Everest and finally, just before we land, the great mount of Kanchenjunga. From Bhadrapur, we drive to Nepal/Inida border, 30min. drive, you will experience a beautiful afternoon drive through forested land and pleasant hillside villages to the Teesta River, which we follow to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. From Gangtok there are fine views of the Kanchenjunga range.
Day 3: Sighteeing around Gangtok
A day for sightseeing in and around Gangtok. In the morning you will drive through the lush countryside to Rumtek monastery. Located on a hill 24km from Gangtok, the original Rumtek monastery was built by the fourth Chogyal. It was damaged by an earthquake and rebuilt by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. It is the largest monastery in Sikkim and has good Tibetan architecture. It is also a treasure trove of some of the most unique religious objects found anywhere in the world, apart from also being a world-renowned centre of Kagyu teachings.
In the afternoon you will return to Gangtok and visit the Institute of Tibetology and a Tibetan handicrafts centre. There is also time to explore the colourful bazaar and for flower enthusiasts there is an Orchid Sanctuary just below the town. Please note that the Institute of Tibetology and the handicrafts centre are both closed on Sundays and public holidays, in this case we will visit Enchey Monastry, an ancient religious site of the Buddhists in Sikkim, situated 3km from Gangtok. The monastery is said to have been built and blessed by Lama Druptab Karpo, who was a great 'tantric' master renowned for his flying powers. Dating back 200 years it belongs to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
Day 4: Drive to Yoksum
Today you will have a long drive to the start of our trek at Yoksum (1,770m). The road winds its way through dramatic countryside as you are driven into the heart of Sikkim. We stay tonight in Yoksum and there may be time in the evening to do a short walk to Dubdi monastery above the village. In autumn the magenta orchid Pleione praecox can be seen in flower on the trees around the monastery. From this camp you can see the following day's walk which will take us up the heavily forested Rathong valley.
Day 5: Tsokha
The first two days of the trek are mainly through forested areas. On the first day you will climb the valley crossing several bridges across side streams. The walk takes us through beautiful mixed forest with huge Swiss cheese plants (monstera deliciosa) everywhere. In the autumn maples make a fine display of colour across the river. After crossing the Prek Chu, we climb steeply to reach Bakhim (2,790m), from where there is a fine view of the valley with ridge upon ridge of forested hills disappearing into the haze. A further climb brings us up to the Tibetan village of Tsokha (3,050m), where you camp with views of the mountains ahead, especially the distinctive peak of Pandim.
Day 6: Dzongri
In the morning you climb through thick rhododendron and fir forest (this is particularly nice in spring when the rhododendrons are in bloom). Festooned with lichen and moss the trees give a truly magical air. We usually have lunch in the grassy clearing at Phedang, surrounded by rhododendrons and clematis. A steep climb from Phedhang brings you out of the forest to a vantage point from which our first really good views of the Kanchenjunga range will be possible. From here the trail is quite easy, continuing through shrub rhododendrons to Dzongri (4,030m) where we camp near a stream with Pandim still ahead of us.
Day 7: Thangshing
Early risers can get up before dawn to climb to a vantage point on a ridge above the campsite to watch the sunrise on Kanchenjunga, Kabru, Pandim, Rathong, and many other peaks of the Kanchenjunga massif. After breakfast, you will set off climbing steadily to a ridge (approximately 4,250m), passing herds of yak amongst the scrub juniper and rhododendron. The juniper and rhododendron are collected by the local Buddhists and burnt as incense. We then have a steep descent of 400m through rhododendron forest to the Prek Chu. Crossing the river we trek up through fine mixed forest to our campsite at Thangshing (3,930m), a large grassy area with the valley opening up ahead. The southern ridge of Kangchenjunga and the moraines of the Oglathang Glacier are visible directly ahead and there are close-up views of Pandim.
Day 8: Thangshing
You have a day for acclimatisation in Thangshing. The most adventurous will be able to take a packed lunch and trek up to Lam Pokhri Lake at about 4,420m. 6 -7 hours.
Day 9: Lambni
You follow an easy trail for about 2hrs up the valley beneath the west side of Pandim through dwarf azaleas and rhododendrons, with Thangshing Peak, Khang and Pandim to the right, and Kanchenjunga and Goecha peak ahead. This brings us to the first of the terminal moraines of the Oglathang Glacier, we camp at Lambni for the night (4,220m). In the afternoon we can climb to the crest of the moraine ridge to the shore of the beautiful, sacred Samiti Lake. Ringed by prayer flags and reflecting a number of snow-capped peaks, including Pandim, Samiti Lake is a serene place. It used to be possible to camp here, but environmental concerns have led the Sikkimese authorities to disallow anyone from doing.
Day 10: Thangsing
An early start today for the steep four-hour climb to the Goecha La Pass (4,940m). The trail skirts the lake, before ascending a series of moraine ridges on the eastern edge of the Oglathang Glacier. As we climb there are increasingly spectacular views of the mountains, glaciers and valleys to the south and east, reaching a viewpoint for sunrise. Rising more than 4,000m above the Talung glacier, at a distance of only five kilometres from our viewpoint, is the stunning eastern wall of Kanchenjunga, which includes the five principal summits of the massif and also the impressive Kabru and Rathong peaks. You will return to Lake Samiti by early afternoon and continue downhill for a couple of hours to Thangsing where we camp tonight.
Day 11: Tsokha
Descending the valley from Thangsing, we take a direct route, missing out Dzongri, following a lower trail through dense rhododendron forest. After a long descent (almost 1000m), involving about 6 hours of trekking, we camp in the forest at the small hamlet of Tsokha. It is a pleasant change to be in less cold climes tonight. From our camp, we look out on ridge after ridge of temperate forest and to the river far below.
Day 12: Yoksum
More downhill, all the way down to the river. The trail then follows the narrow Rathong Valley, through thick, semi-tropical forest, contouring the east bank of the river with several undulations and tributary rivers to cross. Finally we reach Yoksum and the end of our trek. This evening we can celebrate our achievements with locally brewed millet beer, called 'tongba'.
Day 13: Drive to Darjeeling
You will rejoin the vehicles and leave early for Darjeeling. The road takes us through the jungle, where you will see cardamom and tea plants. There are quaint cottages with floral gardens scattered among the sturdy rice terraces, and several spectacular waterfalls and huge bamboo stalks of at least 12m in height. On reaching Darjeeling, you should have some time in the afternoon to explore the town. Built on top of a ridge and facing the Himalaya, Darjeeling was one of the most popular hill stations of the British Raj, as it was an ideal escape from the hot plains of India. The British introduced tea to the hill station in the 1800s, and promoted the settlement as a health resort. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which has an interesting collection of early Everest memorabilia (open from 9am to 4pm, closed on Thursdays), can be found here. The institute was founded by Sir Edmund Hillary, and is the primary training school for Indian mountaineers. There is also a Tibetan Self Help Centre and local monasteries. You will also have time to explore the bazaar, and, for those interested in plants and flowers, there is a botanical garden.
Day 14 Fly to Kathmandu from Bhadrapur
After breakfast, you will be driven through Ghoom, the second highest railway station in the world, and then down to the plains, following the famous Darjeeling railway for much of the way. You will travel through tea estates, forests, and pleasant hillside villages, until you arrive at India/Nepal border, you will have visa brocedure and then transfer to Bhadrapur airport. From there, you will catch your flight to Kathmandu. You will transfer to the hotel, and the rest of the day is free.
Day 15: Depart to Airport.
After breakfast,depart from Kathmandu.