Himalayan Expedition to Sikkim

WINGS TO FREEDOM-4

  • Destination: Sikkim Himalayas (India)
  • Max. Participants: 17
  • Dates: 8th to 22nd October 2017
  • Duration: 14N/15D (ex-Bagdogra airport)
  • Travel: SUV-4WD / Trek
  • Accommodation: Hotels and Camps
  • Max. Altitude: 4417m/14,480 ft (Dzongri La)
  • Trek Grade: Medium
  • Nearest Domestic Airport: Bagdogra (West Bengal, India)
  • Nearest international Airport: New Delhi or Kolkata (India)

SIKKIM - A MYSTICAL EXTRAVAGANZA!

Mesmerizing! Breathtaking! Words could probably run down in silent whispers when you find yourself facing the world's 3rd highest mountain, Kanchenjunga. Sikkim was an independent remote mountain kingdom in the Eastern Himalayas, ruled by the Chogyals (Kings) for 300 years until 1975, when it became the 22nd State of India. Sikkim has been regarded as one of the last Himalayan Shangri-la because of its remoteness, spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna and ancient Buddhist monasteries. The silvery white peaks, the serenity of the mountain lakes, enchanting wilderness and the instinctive native hospitality has touched the heart of every visitor to this land. However for the rest of the world, so far unaware of its charms, we bring to your doorsteps, an invitation to a paradise in the Eastern Himalayas. Acquaint yourself with a culture that was once bizarre and at the same time fascinating, with its endless intriguing rituals and festivals. A destination where nature, culture and adventure begins!

Sikkim is known for the heavy rainfall it receives compared to the rest of the Himalayas. There are roughly 4,000 species of plants in Sikkim which makes it a 'Botanists' Paradise, 600 species of Orchids, 600 species of Butterflies, 200 species of Moths, 240 species of Ferns, 39 species of Rhododendrons. The snow covered mountains and the lush green valleys, not only invigorates one's soul, but also leaves the spectators bewildered by the extravaganza of its natural beauty. Nearly 40% of the total area of Sikkim is forested.

Kanchenjunga (8598m/28,210 ft) situated on the West Sikkim/Eastern Nepal Border is not only the 3rd highest mountain in the world and the highest in India, but also a sacred peak and home to an important protector deity of the Sikkim people. In Sikkim, Kanchenjunga dominates the scene, guardian of the five treasures, like a priceless necklace of shimmering pinkish pearls floating above the hazy valleys and hills. Below Kanchenjunga, to the north of Sikkim lies the vast area of Tibetan plateau, to west the kingdom of Nepal where the Singalia ridge forms a natural border and the Kingdom of Bhutan in the East, while the neighboring Indian State of West Bengal stretches along its southern boundary.

Although almost every corner of Sikkim is a trekker's paradise, the most popular high altitude trek of Sikkim is Kanchenjunga base. Discover nature in its grandest bounty. Savor this beautiful and virgin area with its beautiful lakes, exotic flora and fauna against the backdrop of the majestic Kanchenjunga. The route is scenic and invigorating with more than 20 varieties of rhododendrons setting the forest aflame with colors. Dzongri La at 4417m welcomes every climber with a heavenly close up of the mighty Kanchenjunga. No technical climbing experience is necessary as this trek is between 6000 ft to 14000 feet. All one needs, is to be fit physically and mentally.

ITINERARY

Day-1, Oct 08: Bagdogra-Yuksom (5,838 ft)

Arrival at Bagdogra (West Bengal, India). You will be received at Bagdogra airport by our representative and we will travel by road from Bagdogra to Yuksom (124 km/4 hours drive). Overnight in hotel at Yuksom (West Sikkim, India).

Day-2, Oct 09: Himalayan Kriya Yoga Retreat at Yuksom (5,838 ft)

In the lap of the Himalayas, Yuksom is a pristine little town in Sikkim unsullied by time. It is nestled in the lap of the Kanchenjunga and this is where the first Chogyal (King) of Sikkim was crowned in the 17th century, and the old capital of Sikkim. Yuksom is the last motorable point and beyond it, lies a region reputed to be amongst the best high altitude trekking areas of the world. Overnight in Hotel at Yuksom.

Day-3, Oct 10: Yuksom to Sachen (8000 ft)

After Himalayan Kriya Yoga and breakfast, our trek begins from Yuksom to Sachen via Prekchu bridge, distance of around 12 km in 5 to 6 hours. The route has many ups and downs and the trail follows the Rathong valley through thick forests. The trail runs through rich wood hills abounding flora and fauna, through moss-laden forests of oak, spruce, chestnut, fir, pines, giant magnolias and rhododendron. Overnight in camp.

Day-4, Oct 11: Sachen to Tshoka (10,000 ft.)

After Kriya Yoga and breakfast, trek begins from Sachen to Tshoka, distance of 10 km in 5 hours. Tshoka is the last village on the way to Mt. Kanchenjunga. Tshoka is a Tibetan resettlement and is home to a colony of Tibetan refugees who have erected a small monastery by the side of a small lake. Overnight in camp.

Day-5, Oct 12: Tshoka to Dzongri (13,220 ft)

After Kriya Yoga & breakfast, trek begins from Tshoka to Dzongri, distance of 10 km in 6 to 7 hours. From Tshoka, the true alpine region begins. The trail enters magnificent rhododendron forests in full bloom ranging from brightest reds to the most sensuous pinks to delicate mauves fading into white. Each step to Dzongri leads to the world of the famed Kanchenjunga massive. There are some great views of the snow peaks on the way to Dzongri, viz. Singalia range, Kabru & Pandim glacier. Dzongri is a lovely undulating plateau, used as a Yak pasture, lying at the foot of Kabru peak. Its meaning is "the meeting place of men & mountain Gods". Overnight in camp.

Day-6, Oct 13: Dzongri to Dzongri La (4417m/14,480 ft) - Dzongri

Early morning, we start the sunrise trek to Dzongri La. From Dzongri La, you get excellent views of Kanchenjunga, Kabru (7353m), Pandim (6691m), Jupono (5650m) and many other impressive peaks on the Singalia ridge that marks the border between Sikkim and Nepal. Rest and celebration at Dzongri. Overnight in Camp at Dzongri.

Day-7, Oct 14: Dzongri to Tsokha (10,00 ft.)

After Kriya Yoga and breakfast, trek (descent) from Dzongri to Tshoka, distance of 10 km. Overnight in Camp.

Day-8, Oct 15: Tsokha to Yuksom (5,838 ft)

After Kriya Yoga & breakfast, trek (descent) from Tshoka to Yuksom, downhill walk of 16 km in 5 to 7 hours. The path skirts along the side of the valley towards Yuksom, undulating up and down. Packed lunch on the way. Reach Yuksom by late afternoon. Trek ends. Check in to hotel. Wrap up your day with a celebratory dinner and cultural program at the hotel.

Day-9, Oct 16: Yuksom (5,838 ft) - Khechopari Lake (5500 ft) - Gangtok (5,300 ft)

After Kriya Yoga & breakfast , we depart Yuksom for Gangtok by vehicle (180 km/6-7 hrs) via. Khechopari Lake, Pemayangtse Monastery, Rapdentshe Palace ruins and numerous waterfalls on the way. Khechopari is a sacred Buddhist lake that lies in a depression surrounded by prayer flags and forest hills. This is also considered to be a wish lake by the Buddhists. The capital of Sikkim, Gangtok (means hill top) occupies the west side of a long ridge flanking the Ranipul river. Overnight in Hotel at Gangtok.

Day-10, Oct 17: Gangtok to Dzongu (8,000 ft)

After Kriya Yoga and breakfast, we leave for our next destination, Dzongu in North Sikkim, approx. 120 km, 4 hours drive. Reach Dzongu by late afternoon. Overnight in hotel.

Welcome to Dzongu - the holy land of the Lepchas! An almost virgin territory with a scanty population of Sikkim's native inhabitants, the Lepchas. Dzongu has been established as an official reserve for the Lepcha people - the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim. The Lepchas have strong ties with nature and have lived here for centuries. The Lepchas call themselves "Rongkup Rumkup" or in short "Rong", which means "the son of the snowy peak, the son of God". They also call themselves 'Rong-Kup' or 'Mutanchi Rongkup'. 'Mutanchi Rongkup' means 'Mother's loved ones'; mother meaning Mother as Creator whom Lepchas call 'Itbumoo'. Dzongu is bounded by Teesta River in the south-east, Tholung Chu River in the north-east and by rising mountains in the west. These mountains lead up to the mighty Kangchenjunga. Kilometers of stunning beauty of wilderness greet you when you enter Dzongu.

Day-11, Oct 18: Himalayan Kriya Yoga Retreat at Dzongu (8,000 ft)

Himalayan Kriya Yoga Retreat at Dzongu along with a visit to the hot water springs at Lingthem and Tholung Monastery. Dzongu is an untouched heaven with a striking beauty. It is a beautiful land of dense jungle groves, mountains and pristine glacial streams that nurture both the human and natural habitation around. Numerous waterfalls cascade down steep cliffs and bubbling hot springs can be found hidden beneath the shelter of caves. In other words, a pristine and soothing natural world with tiny beautiful Lepcha hamlets and divine calmness characterizes the place. Snowy mountain ranges form the backdrop and bird calls add to the pretty painting that the landscape here is. Everything here exudes a deep sense of solitude and calm. Untouched by the hustle and bustle of the tourists, this place has hidden treasures behind every other tree. Life here moves at its own pace!

Day-12, Oct 19: Dzongu to Lachung (9,000 ft)

After Kriya Yoga and breakfast, we leave for our next destination, Lachung, 125 kms in 5 to 6 hours. Lunch on the way. We reach Lachung by late afternoon/early evening, depending on the road conditions and check in to hotel.

Lachung

is a pristine tribal village of Lachungpa's governed by a unique local self-governing body called the Zumsa. The village spreads out on either side of Lachung River and has managed to retain its unique culture and tradition. The Lachung Monastery on the slope opposite the river is a focal point of all religious function of the local inhabitants.

Day-13, Oct 20: Lachung - Yumthang Flower Valley (12,000 ft) - Gangtok

After Kriya Yoga and breakfast, we leave for our next destination, Yumthang. Yumthang Valley of Flowers is a nature sanctuary with river, hot springs, yaks and grazing pasture on rolling meadows surrounded by snow peaks. The drive to Yumthang takes about one hour from Lachung that cuts right through the heart of picturesque Singhba Rhododendron Sanctuary which has almost 24 species of Rhododendrons. Visit to Yumthang valley is a truly colourful affair, which is home to several exotic, rare and wild flowers. After visiting Yumthang valley, we drive back to Gangtok from Yumthang (145 km). Reach Gangtok by early evening. Overnight in Hotel at Gangtok.

Day-14, Oct 21: Gangtok (5,300 ft)

After Kriya Yoga and breakfast, we leave for a local tour of Gangtok, viz. Enchey Monastery, Rumtek monastery, Institute of Tibetology, Flower Show, Botanical Garden, Cottage Industry and Institute of Handicrafts & Handloom. Overnight in Hotel at Gangtok.

GANGTOK

From almost virgin and rustic pastoral valleys just about half a century ago to a sophisticated and lively urban centre bustling with trade and business activity today, the capital town of Gangtok has undergone a rapid transition in its outlook to reflect a metropolitan flavor.

Rumtek monastery: 24 km from Gangtok, is the largest monastery in Sikkim. Sikkim has evolved its own unique form of Buddhism and the Buddhist circuit here is fascinating. There are more than 300 monasteries in Sikkim, which underlines the all-pervasive force of Buddhism in people's lives. Almost every village has a monastery that commands a vintage point. Rumtek is the main seat of the Karma Kagyukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism in Sikkim. Originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 1740, but fell into disrepair. The current structure dates from 1959 built by Late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. The Centre houses some of the world's most important Buddhist religious scriptures and rare objects.

Enchey Monastery: A celebrated lama called "Drubthop Karpo" who was famous for his flying power founded this monastery in the year 1840. It was rebuilt by 10th Chogyal (King) Sikyong Tuluk in the year 1908 presenting a unique architecture which is an artistic adaptation of Gyanak Riwo Tse-Nga or scared mountain of five peaks in China known as Jampalyang, the God of knowledge as known to Buddhists.

Day-15, Oct 22

The last day of our trip. After Kriya Yoga and breakfast, we leave Gangtok for Bagdogra airport.

Cost: INR.120,000/- per participant (ex-Bagdogra airport)
(Indian Rupees One Hundred & Twenty Thousand only)

Price Inclusions:

  • All Transportation in SUV/4WD (Bagdogra to Bagdogra)
  • Accommodations during travel and retreat days in 3 to 4 star category hotels. Accommodation during trek days will be in Deluxe Camps. All accommodations on twin sharing basis.
  • All meals throughout the trip (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • All trekking permits and environmental fees.
  • All trekking expenses such as trekking equipment, trained trekking guide, cooks, porters, yaks, camping charges, etc.
  • Protected Area Permits (PAP) for trek days and for visiting North Sikkim restricted areas under Indian Army control (Dzongu, Lachung & Yumthang valley).

Price Exclusions:

  • Air fare up to Bagdogra and back to your destination.
  • Travel insurance
  • Inner Line Permits (ILP) for non-Indian passport holders. There are no fees charged for obtaining Inner Line Permit (ILP). Online ILP can be obtained from www.sikkimilp.in
  • Any expenses arising due to emergency
  • Any expenses due to change in itinerary due to emergency or natural calamity
  • Any expenses arising due to traveler's medical emergency
  • Personal expenses like medicines, laundry, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTES

1) How to reach Sikkim (India)?

  • Nearest International airport is Kolkata or New Delhi in India. From Kolkata or New Delhi, you will have to take a connecting flight to Bagdogra airport (IXB) in West Bengal State of India. We will meet you at Bagdogra airport (IXB) on arrival.

2) Permits and Entry details:

  • Sikkim State located in the North-East corner of India, is a very restricted, protected and sensitive area under Indian Army, sharing 3 international borders. Besides a valid passport and an Indian visa, foreign Tourists need to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter any part of Sikkim. All Indian missions abroad can issue a 15 days ILP for Sikkim which can be stamped on the passport on request at the time of obtaining an Indian Visa. ILP is a document containing your passport data and dates you are permitted to travel, typically for 15 days only. ILP can also be obtained when crossing the Sikkim state border by road for which you will need to fill in an application form and provide two passport size photos. When entering and exiting Sikkim, your passport will be stamped. There are no fees charged for obtaining Inner Line Permit (ILP). Online ILP can be obtained from www.sikkimilp.in
  • Further, foreigners/non-Indian passport holders are required to obtain Protected Area Permit (PAP) for trekking in any part of Sikkim and to visit restricted areas. We will however take care of this process, the cost of which is already included in the package.
  • Indian citizens do not require any permit to visit Sikkim. However to visit few restricted areas under Army control, PAP (Protected Area Permit) needs to be obtained. Hence you are advised to carry proper identification documents.

3) How much money you should carry for the trip?

  • You can carry money for shopping or any personal needs. We are taking care of tips.

4) Mobile phone network and Cash ATM Machines

  • There is mobile network and cash ATM machines throughout the tour, except on trek days.

5) Trek to Dzongri La (14,480 feet):

  • Accommodation will be in camps/tents. All trekking equipment will be provided by us. However, it is advisable to carry your own sleeping bag. The trek will be supported by a team of trekking guides, porters, cooks, yaks or ponies, tents, food, baggage, etc. This leaves you with just a daypack with water bottle, camera, your valuables and the walking part. All your excess luggage that are not needed during the trek, can be kept in safe custody at the hotel in Yuksom.

SIKKIM FACT FILE

Statehood: 22nd State of India (1975), prior to which it was a separate mountain Kingdom.
Area: 7096 Sq Kms
Location: Sandwiched between Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west and Tibet/China in the north, and West Bengal State of India in the south. 28 Deg 07' 48" to 27 Deg 04' 46" north latitude, and 88 deg 00' 58" to 88 deg 55' 25" east longitude.
Best Time to visit: Mid-February to Late May & October-November. Ethnic Groups: Lepchas, Nepalis and Bhutias
Language: Nepali is a primary language widely spoken by all communities. English and Hindi are well understood and are spoken by most people. Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbo and other ethnic languages are spoken by respective communities.
Airport: Bagdogra Airport (IXB) - 4 hours drive to Gangtok, capital city of Sikkim.
Train Station: NJP Railway Station (Siliguri) - 4 hours drive to Gangtok.

Welcome to Sikkim - the land of peace and tranquility!

Mountain Retreats ought to be in sharp contrast to everything you experience every day. It is an escapade from the mundane, a million world away from concrete jungles and high-tech lifestyles. What better way, than to head for a place where you feel the goodness of the earth, the vastness of the sky, the freshness of the mountain air, and an experience of colours, sights, sounds and fragrance that is the essence of the "joy of living". Welcome to this magical land of warm hospitality synonymous with the simple mountain people who call "Sikkim" their home!

CHECK LIST

Documents

  • Passport & air tickets
  • Entrance Visa for India
  • Inner Line Permit for Sikkim State (Optional. This can also be obtained in India).
  • Medical insurance
  • Driving Licence or Aadhaar Card for Indian citizens

Clothing

  • Light Rain Suit
  • Long Pants & T-shirts
  • Wind cheater/Warm jacket
  • Full sleeves sweater
  • Woolen socks and woolen Gloves
  • UV protected black Sunglasses
  • P-Cap & Woolen Cap
  • Thin Towel

Equipment

  • Sleeping bag
  • Yoga mat
  • Water bottle
  • Pocket knife
  • Rucksack & Day Pack
  • Torch & batteries (preferably head torch)
  • Toilet Paper
  • Trekking shoes that are comfortable and have a good grip.
  • Indoor Slippers
  • Whistle

Photographic

  • Camera & charger along with lenses
  • Binoculars

First aid/medical

  • Personal medication
  • Sun protection cream, Lip guard & Antiseptic cream
  • Bandages, Throat lozenges, Insect bite repellent
  • Personal Medicine - Tablets for diarrhea, motion and altitude sickness. Kevala team will carry basic first aid kit.

Personal items

  • Tooth brush & Tooth paste
  • Matches / Lighter / Candles
  • Soap, Moisturizers
  • Dry Fruits & Nuts / Energy snacks

TRIP UNDERTAKING

  1. Traveling and Trekking in high altitudes require physical fitness and mental endurance.
  2. We will ensure successful completion and will provide guidance and support, but in case of an unforeseen event however, we will support you within our capacity. However the ultimate responsibility lies with each traveler.
  3. We expect all of the participants to cooperate with the team leader and follow the group timelines and schedules.
  4. Wings to Freedom is operated by Kevala Foundation as a sacred tour with a sense of free-spiritedness. However we expect certain discipline to be followed so that we can all achieve the goals of this trip.
  5. This trip is not for comfort seekers. We have offered you the best accommodation that is available in the region. We have researched to get you clean, hygienic stay and vegan food during the travel.
  6. There is no refund if you cancel the trip or choose to abort the trip mid-way as we have already paid the vendors in advance to ensure our bookings in peak season.
  7. The program is subject to change as per Indian Army regulations at certain high Passes or owing to natural calamities like avalanches, landslides, storms, etc. Your safety is of primary concern to us and hence we need to adhere to decisions taken by the team leader.
  8. All cancellations must be in writing by the participant through email or a text message.
  9. We are not responsible for any individual liabilities or casualties during the trip.
  10. Maximum efforts are made to ensure the safety of the participant. But please understand there are certain hazards involved in your adventure holidays which you must accept at your own risk. Kevala Foundation will not be liable for any major illness, injury or casualties sustained during the trip, nor it will be liable for any uninsured losses of your property.
  11. In case any participant falls sick during the program, expenses towards medical treatment, related travel and any other expenses has to be borne by the concerned individual. However, primary medical facilities will be made available wherever possible.
  12. Any damage, other than that attributable to fair wear and tear, to the equipment by the participants has to be borne by you. Our decision on all such matters will be final.
  13. In the event of any dispute, all matters will be subject to the sole jurisdiction of the courts of India and the prevailing law of India shall prevail. Recourse to the courts of any other country will not be applicable.
  14. While making your booking, it is implied and accepted that you have read and understood all the booking conditions and agree to abide by them.