About Phoktey Dara (Sikkim)
Primarily a trek through a jungle is what is waiting for you at Phoktey Dara Trek. You will get to see a picturesque view of mountain ranges in the Nepal Sikkim border. Camping in tents and staying inside tree houses this is the perfect adventure that you were searching for. You will also get to see the famous Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary which is known for its thick forest covers and Rhododendron blooms. Not just that, you will get to see various kinds of forests like Wet Temperate Forests, Mixed Coniferous Forests, Sub-alpine Birch-Fir and Conifer Forest and Moist Dry Alpine Scrub (Rhododendron and Juniper scrubs) at different altitudes. This is also a perfect trek for a nature enthusiast.
The trees inside these forests are really old, the area itself is damp and wet. There are ferns that hang from the sides of tree trunks and mosses and lichens along the route. Spring makes the place entirely different and beautiful with its Rhododendron blooms and magnolia blossoms. There is a rich plant diversity in the place with not just these magnolias and rhododendrons but primulas, gentians, potentillas, poppies and aconites. Winter does not do much to the forest cover as it is still dense and green, however there is Maple foliage during the fall, making the floor of forest extremely picturesque.
Not just flora, but the forests are known for its rich biodiversity for animals as well. There are Flycatchers and warblers, Sun birds, Thrushes and Babblers, Tits & Fiches which chirp and squeak all the time. Also as said it has many flowers inside the forest, which in turn attracts many butterflies. There are many endemic and endangered animal species in this 104 square kilo meter long Sanctuary including Red Panda, Barking Deer (Kakar), Himalayan Black Bear, Marbled Cat among others.
About Trekking To Phoktey Dara
The route through which you go is known for its rich biodiversity. However, the trek is not just about the Sanctuary, the rich biodiversity or the forest cover. There is more to it. The trail that you have preferred is close to many Himalayan mountains, Singalila Pass and Phoktey Dara are actually places from where you will get to see the royal views of huge mountain range of Kanchendzongha range in a well-known “Sleeping Buddha” construction. The place is also well known for its sunrise and sunsets. If the sky is clear, one can get a spectacular view of four out of the five highest peaks in the world, Mt. Everest, Kanchendzongha, Lhotse and Makal. The place would be loved by a botanist, a bird watcher, a nature lover, adventure lovers as well as photographers as it has in its hand a lot of gifts awaiting such people .This would be one refreshing experience that you would have been waiting for.
- An opportunity to see 4 out of the 5 highest peaks of the world
- An opportunity to carryout bird watching
- Spectacular views of sunrise and sunsets
- A rare chance to see the endangered species of Red Panda
- Rhododendron and Magnolia Blooms
- Rich Biodiversity
- An opportunity to see the Sing shore Bridge, the second highest suspension bridge in Asia
- An opportunity to visit famous Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary
- you will get to see various kinds of forests like Wet Temperate Forests, Mixed Coniferous Forests, Sub-alpine Birch-Fir and Conifer Forest and Moist Dry Alpine Scrub (Rhododendron and Juniper scrubs) at different altitudes
Key Facts About Phoktey Dara Trek
- Location: Sikkim
- Starting from: New Jaipalguri
- Temperature: 10C to15C in the morning; 2C to 5C at night
- Trekking Distance: 50 kilometres
- Maximum altitude: 12150 feet or 3700 meters
- Difficulty Level: Easy
- Nearest Railway Station: New Jaipalguri Railway Station
- Nearest Airport: Bagdogra Airport
- Accommodation Type: Camping, Hotels
- Food: Nutritive diet appropriate for trekking
- Best time to visit: Mid March to May
- Duration: 7 Days and 6 Nights
- Nearest ATM: Jorethang
- Key attractions: Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Rhododendron and Magnolia Blooms, Spectacular views of Everest, Khangchendzonga, Lhotse and Makal ranges.
Ride from NJP/Siliguri/Bagdogra to Hilley(2600meters) via Jorethang (900 meters)
Distance: 150 Km
Time: 8 hours
Depending on where you chose to get down at- New Jaipalguri Railway station, Siliguri Bus Stop or Bagdogra Airport, you will get a ride in the morning towards Hilley that is located at 2600 meters above the sea level. This transportation comes with an extra cost. The drive would cover the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary at Sevok, and will enter Sikkim through Malli Til Jorethang, located at 3000 feet above the sea level. It also covers the Kitam Bird Sanctuary. The entire trail is green with dense forest cover. Jorethang is where you can find the last ATM as well as shops, so make sure you buy the essentials from here. From here it would then enter Hilley, which is a place wherein many people who works for the forest department’s horticulture garden and nurseries stay. The place is known for its rich collection of medicinal plants. Red Crossbill and Parrotbills are waiting for those who enjoys birdwatching. You will be spending the night at a lodge that is privately owned in Hilley. You will be provided with dinner. The place also has a viewpoint that gives the first bird’s eye view of Sikkim.
Trek from Hilley(2600 meters) to Barsey (2750 meters)
Distance: 4.5 Km
Time: 2 to 3 hours
The day when the actual trek begins, this is also one of the most significant day of the entire trek as today, we will be entering the famous Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. The Trek will commence as soon as after the breakfast. From the lodge where you stayed it takes only 5minutes walk to reach the check post of the Sanctuary. You will have to take a permit to enter the place, and remember to produce your id cards as for students there is a discount in the permit that you could perhaps avail.
Bordered by Hills and mountain ranges, this sanctuary is located some 4 and a half kilo meters away from the check post. Trekking for half an hour, one can reach the first halt point. Walking further through the dense forest would eventually take you to the destination for the day. It is important that you do not make much sound or noise while crossing the forest path. This will ensure that you aren’t scarring of the animals and you will get to see the endangered species of Satyr Trogopan or a Kalij Pheasant birds. IF you are visiting the place during spring, you will be amazed to see the red coloured trail filled with Rhododendron blooms. The flora is usually frail, so do not pluck the plants as you walk along. Also take care that you are not taking short cuts or unknown paths, but is following the main path. Walking further for may be an hour or so you will reach a beautiful man made reservoir which is the second halt point of the trek.
The place is famous for many bird species like the Green-tailed Sunbird, Fulvettas and Yuhinas. Walking further for some 10 minutes from the man made reservoir one would reach the opening of the Sanctuary. It is located at some 2750 meters above the sea level and you will get to see the majestic views of certain peaks. Night stay will be in tents.
Trek from Barsey to Joributey Via Deolinga Dhap
Distance: 12 Km
Time: 6/7 hours
The trek is one of the most beautiful experience as you get to witness the best of alpine forests. Make sure that you fill your bottles from Barsey itself as there is no other water sources along the way. Walking for some 2 ours one would reach Lassuney which is a swampland located in between two hills. We will be camping at Joributey which is some 4 kilo meters further from this place.
Trek from Joributey to Kharka Dara/Kalijhar via Thulo Dhap
Distance: 12 Km
Time: 6/7 hours
Today’s trek would start from Joributey and we will be proceeding further to a small lake by the name of Hans Pokhri. The forest covers thickens and thins down as we walk ahead. Walking for one hour and 30 minutes from the point of lake, one will reach the hill top called Achaley, known for Red Pandas. If the weather is clear and sky is flawless, one will get to see the mountain ranges from here. Walking further one would reach Thulo Dhap which is a Swamp land located at some 2300 meters above the sea level.
Walking further one would reach Kharka Dhara. If it is late we can camp here and if it is not, one can walk further towards Kalijahar which is 30 minutes’ walk from here. There is a lack of water resources at both these places. It would be really cold during the night.
Kharka Dara to Phoktey Dara/Singalila Pass (3700 meters) and back to Thulo Dhap
Distance: 10 km
Time: 6/7 hours
You will be waking up to the almost surreal sunrise. After breakfast today we will be proceeding towards the Singalila Pass, the highest point of the entire trek, that is 3700 meters above the sea level and we will be returning from there to Thulo Dhap. The trek to Singalila pass will be through Kalijhar, which has in it beautiful coniferous shrubs. Half an hour ascend from Kalijhar would take you to Phoktey Dhara, which is a magnificent view point.
You will then be entering the Sunbird trail a route that is famous for the kinds of birds that are being spot. You will be travelling alongside the hill and there are lesser trees and more of alpine shrubs. Though many bird species could be found in this trail, the most famous of it is the Fire tailed Sunbird which has a royal plumage.
Walking further for some 45 minutes along the trail one can reach the base of the Singalila pass. Located at some 200 meters further is the Singalila pass, which is clearly visible from the base point. Climbing up for some 30 minutes would take you to the top of the pass. The pass would act as a viewpoint giving us spectacular views of Sikkim, Himalaya and Nepal. You will also get to see the Everest group of peaks Chamlang, Baruntse, Kanchendzongha, Simvo, Pandim, Tinchenkhang, the entire Kabru range, Rathong, Frey peak. We will be spending an hour and a half at Singalila pass.
After spending enough time at the pass, one can return to the camp site for lunch. The stay for the night is arranged at Thulo Dhap where we would be camping. The trek from Singalila pass to Thulo Dhap is some 8 kilo meters and might take around 5 to 6 hours
Trek from Thulo Dhap to Uttarey (2000 meters) Via Achaley
Distance: 12 kilo meters
Time: 6 to 7 hours
If the weather is well and fine, we can visit the Phoktey Dara, famous for its sunrise and panoramic views of the Sleeping Buddha construction. Sleeping Buddha is a mountain range construction composed of Kumbakarna, Kabru, Kanchenjunga, and Pandim. It takes around 30 minutes to trek from Thulo Dhap to Phuktey Dara. This will be the photographer’s paradise as it is one place wherein you get to see the prettiest of sunrise and most beautiful mountains.
After spending ample time here, one can return to the camp site, from where breakfast would be provided. The trekking experience would end today as tomorrows would just be a drive towards Siliguri, Bagdogra or New Jaipalguri. Our first destination is Achaley top, the trail would be via Tiktiki. The descent is of moderate difficulty. Walking further you will get to see Rhododendron blooms and first sights of civilisation with a few homes in the fringes. This is towards the periphery of Uttarey, Walking further for some 2 hours you will reach Uttarey, The stay for the night is arranged in a lodge in Uttarey, you will be provided with your lunch. . Uttarey has in it a monastery, a market stretch as well as a mobile tower.
Ride from Uttarey to NJP/Bagdogra or to Gangtok
Distance: 170 Km
Time: 7 to 8 hours
The last day of the trekking expedition, begins with a ride to Either New Jaipalguri Railway Station or Bagdogra Airport. You will get to see the Sing Shore Bridge as you are travelling from Uttarey. It is a suspension bridge 250 meters long and 300 meters above the valley. It is the second highest suspension bridge in Asia. The path would cover several beautiful hill stations like Dentam Hee, Barmiok and Rinchenpon. You will be having your lunch at Jorethang. From here you have two options one is to ride towards Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim or you can move towards Siliguri, New Jaipalguri or Bagdogra. This travel would come at your own expense.
During the trek accommodation would be on Triple or Quad Sharing (Camping), and on the first and last day accommodation is arranged at a local lodge.
All the meals during the trek are provided for. The food would be vegetarian and nutritious. You might be provided with egg during certain days. Snacks, coffee, tea and soups are also provided. One will get three meals a day.
- An exemplary guide to ensure your safety
- Specialised cook
- Support staffs
- Packed animals and Porters
- All the required permits and the entry fees is covered.
- A First aid healing set containing of the compulsory and vital prescriptions.
- Safety equipment
- Camping Charges
- Tips to the staff, money to porters and transportation from the airport or railway station to the base is not covered for.
- Any food item that one needs like Soft drinks or Chocolates shall be purchased at one’s own expenses. We will be providing meals.
- In case if the trek gets delayed, the extra expenses shall be taken by the traveller for accommodation, food etc.
All the transportation during the trek are covered by us.
The nearest airport is at Bagdogra. The airport is located at some 10 kilo meters away from Siliguri. You can get plenty of vehicles from the airport to Siliguri. The place is also accessible through bus routes. By train you can get down at the station called New Jaipalguri, some 5 kilo meters from Siliguri. The best thing to do perhaps is to come till Kolkata and then get a train or bus towards Siliguri.
- Make sure you aren’t wearing loud colours
- Care shall be taken that you get protection from the sunlight in whichever manner possible. Try to wear sunscreens, sunglasses and hat to get maximum protection from the sun light. As it is high altitude, exposure to UV rays would me more and can cause sun burns.
- Also make sure that you carry with you extra batteries and power banks as due to extreme cold, the phone, and kindle or camera battery would drain off quite fast. Though nearby local shops might help you to charge it, it may not always be possible, hence take precautions.
- Remember to carry with you required amount of money. You cannot find any ATMs in Lukla, hence you might find yourself in a difficult position in case of any emergency. Kathmandu is a place where you can get trekking equipment at a cheap price. Hence if you are planning to shop, make sure you carry some extra amount with you.
- It would always be better if one can carry their own tea bags, as tea is highly expensive, however there would not be much difficulty in getting hot water.
- Be definite that you carry a camera with you if you have one. The area through which you trek is extremely picturesque and worth a shot
- It is extremely important that your mind and body are fit for the trek. There might be several difficulties while in the trek including bad weather conditions, and stay. Showers are generally limited and people including tourist generally uses baby wipes and warm water. Though there are showers available at certain places in case if you want it, however generally it is not preferred. There will not be any western type toilets but instead you will get a hole in the ground. All this shall be well understood and tourists are expected to be in sync with the situation around.
- Another thing to take care of is to drink excess amount of water. Since the weather isn’t hot, often you might forget to drink water. However it is very important that you stay hydrated, hence carry water bottles along with you and drink plenty of water.
- Be ready to face the extreme weather. As during summers it could be really warm, unlike what you expect and as it approaches the night, temperature would drop suddenly. /at lower elevations you would not need sweatshirts or sweaters. However you will need it in higher elevation and during night. Wear a warm hat while sleeping and take a Nalgene bottle filled with hot water and keep it in your sleeping bag to stay warm.
- As said earlier, Sunburn is one issue that you might face at this place. Hence it becomes extremely important to avoid sunburns. Wear a hat always and never forget to carry your sunscreen lotion. Eyes might also get affected by the high altitude sun. Also try to get prescription sunglasses.
- Altitude sickness usually begins with headaches. Hence it shall be noted at the very beginning if you are experiencing headaches. And if despite the medication the problem continues one shall think about descending.