Uttarey Sandakphu Round Trek – A lesser known Trek in the Indo-Nepal Border

When we talk about Sandakphu Trek, which is one of the most famous Himalayan Treks, there is a particular route starting from Manebhanjan that everyone follows. But there is another trail starting from Uttarey in Sikkim that goes till Sandakphu and finally ends in Manebhanjan, that nobody except the locals of the region known about.

This trek is known by the name Uttarey Sandakphu Round Trek, starting from Uttarey village which lies right between Singalila National Park and Kanchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (Click here to read about the other National Parks in India). This trek route is not yet known to many people and deserves to be explored more.

 

Uttarey is a quaint hamlet in Sikkim, situated at an altitude of 6600 ft. This village is literally the last village in West Sikkim that lies in close proximity with the border of Nepal.

 

 

The picture perfect hamlet is set amidst dense forests and snow capped peaks of the Himalayan ranges and is cut through by mountain streams and waterfalls at several places. Singshore Brigde world’s second highest suspension bridge is also located very close to Uttarey. The pleasant weather and abundance of nature have started to attract discerning travelers to Uttarey but still, it can be considered one of the many unexplored getaways in Sikkim.

 

How to reach Uttarey

    • Bagdogra Airport is the nearest airport to Uttarey.
    • New Jalpaiguri is the closest railway station.

 

By private/reserved vehicle

      • Cabs can be hired right from the airport or railway station to reach Uttarey. The costs would be between INR 4500-5500, depending on the season and demand.
      • The journey will be a 6-7 hour of drive.

 

By shared vehicle

      • From Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri head to SNT bus terminus (also goes by the name Siliguri Junction) from where you’d get a shared cab till Jorethang, costing you about INR 200 per person.
      • From Jorethang, you can get another shared cab to Uttarey that would cost you around INR 100.
      • The shared cabs till Uttarey are not too frequent. If you do not get a direct one, you might have to break the journey at Rinchenpong or Kaluk (whichever is available faster; check the map for a better idea about the route).
      • You can even book a private cab from Jorethang to Uttarey, which might cost about INR 2000.
      • The entire journey would take 7-8 hours including the halts for changing vehicles.

 

Suggested stays in Uttarey

 

Uttarey Sandakphu Trek Itinerary

Day 1: Uttarey to Chewabanjang

Day 2: Explore Phoktey Dara

Day 3: Chewabanjang – Tori Phuley – Phalut

Day 4: Phalut – Sabagram – Sandakphu

Day 5: Sandakphu – Gairibas – Jaubari – Tumling

Day 6: Tumling to Mane Bhanjang

 

Uttarey Sandakphu Trek Route 

 

Day 1: Uttarey to Chewabanjang

The first day’s ascend from Uttarey to Chewabanjang is a 15 km walk that takes you to the upper ridges of Singalila which forms the border between India and Nepal. The trail is dotted with trees full of rhododendrons, dense forests and a few lakes as well. The trail finally reaches to the border of Nepal where tents can be set up for night. The first day’s walk is a long one and it is recommended that you start it early in the morning so that you reach the campsite by early evening and spend time for acclimatisation.

 

Day 2: Explore Phoktey Dara

Phoktey Dara is the junction between Sikkim, West Bengal and Nepal which offers breathtaking views of the entire stretch of Eastern Himalayas, including the Himalayan ranges from Nepal and Sikkim. The majestic peaks of Mt. Everest, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse and many other peaks can be viewed from Phokey Dara. Getting to witness these stunning mountain peaks while hiking around Phoktey Dara is truly an unparalleled experience.

Sunrise over snow-capped peaks

The total walk for exploring Phoktey Dara would be a 4-5 km long. After a day-long excursion, you can get back to your campsite in Chewabanjang and rest there for the night.

 

Day 3: Chewabanjang – Tori Phuley – Phalut

An hour long walk through a trail along the Indo-Nepal border will reach you to the topmost point of the day- the Singalila Viewpoint, at 11994 ft. From this point, you’d have to start walking towards Phalut, along the trail above Tori Phuley. The last bit of the trail goes criss-crossing through the mountains and finally reaching Phalut, which happens to be a junction for many trekking routes in West Bengal, Sikkim and Nepal. The snowcapped mountain peaks will continue to give you company, throughout the trail.

The high ridges

It will take 6-7 hours approximately to cover this trail till Phalut. The night stay will be at a campsite in Phalut.

 

Day 4: Phalut – Sabagram – Sandakphu

Your fourth day will again be a long and tiring one. First off you’d need to descend down to Sabagram, from where an ascend towards Sandakphu would begin. The trail goes through serene meadows, high ridges and you’d be able to spot a diverse range of trees and plants.

On this day, the walk will go on for about 6 hours, reaching you to Sandakphu, at 12093 ft. Starting the day early from Phalut would be a good idea as Sandakphu offers a gorgeous golden sunset, which you should not miss at any cost. From Sandakphu, the Sleeping Buddha Range consisting of all the higher Himalayan peaks is clearly visible.

Panoramic views of the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas

In Sandakphu, there are a few trekking huts available. You can either spend the night at a camp or the trekking huts.

 

Day 5: Sandakphu – Gairibas – Jaubari – Tumling

The sunrise from Sandakphu is one of the major highlights of this trek. You can wake up at dawn to witness the first rays of the sun touching the snowy Himalayan peaks. A 180 degree panoramic view comprising of Mt. Everest, Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Kabru, Mt. Pandim, Goecha La peak and many other peaks of the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas can be witnessed from Sandakphu Viewpoint. On clear days, even the higher peaks of Bhutan are visible from here, making Sandakphu one of the best spots to have a clear look at the entire Eastern Himalayas.

Sunrise from Sandakphu

After spending the early hours of the morning, you have to gear up for a long and steep descend covering a trail of 20 kms. The trail is well demarcated often making you pass through villages in Nepal. There are many tea huts on this route where you can stop by, to experience the unique Nepali culture.

First two hours till Gairibas will be a moderate descend. From Gairibas, the trail will go through Jaubari where the descend will be steep, passing through forests several times. There are many shortcuts in this stretch which you can take with the help of your guide to save time. It will roughly take you 7-8 hours to reach Tumling.

In Tumling again, there are options of staying in lodges or trekkers huts. Depending on your requirements, you can choose to stay the night in these places or your own tent.

 

Day 6: Tumling to Mane Bhanjang

Tumling to Mane Bhanjang is a 10 km trail which you can cover in about 4 hours approximately.  It’s a relaxed descend through a motorable road where you’d often spot the old Land Rovers pass by. You can stop by at Chitrey Monastery on your way.

In all probability you’d reach Mane Bhanjang by afternoon. Post lunch, you can drive to your rest stop.

For a rest stop, you can either move to Darjeeling or head to one of the Offbeat Destinations around Darjeeling to experience a laid back mountain life and the best of nature.

 

Best time to do the Uttarey Sandakphu Trek

The best time to go for this trek is the month of April-May. During this time, rhododendrons and other Himalayan flowers are in full bloom, making the trail look absolutely dreamy. Along with the beautiful colours, the mountain peaks also look magical during this season.

October-November is another pleasant season to experience this trek when the landscapes turn golden. After the monsoon, the skies are clearer and the mountain views are best during this time.

In winter months of December, January and February, the region is covered with snow. The temperatures fall down to minus degrees and it is quite difficult to walk. But for the adventure lovers who are well accustomed with high altitude and spine chilling cold, it is not a bad idea to try this trek in winters.

The months of monsoon, between June to September should be strictly avoided.

 

Things to Remember

      • Withdraw cash from Bagdogra, Siliguri or Jorethang. You will not find any ATM after reaching Uttarey, till the time you descend down from the trek.
      • Carry valid photo IDs without fail. As the route passes through Nepal and India, you might be asked to produce your IDs at several points.
      • Carry enough water on your third day when you trek from Chewabanjang to Phalut. There is no source of water on the way.
      • What makes this trek really unique is a mix of staying in the wilderness and experiencing the hospitality of the locals. Drop in at one of the trekkers huts on your way to experience the uniqueness of Nepali culture.
      • If you are NOT AN Indian National, make sure you do this trek with a trek operator and NOT independently. There was a time this trek was not open for foreign nationals, so it’s better to be informed beforehand.
      • After you finish this trek, you can plan a homestay hopping trip to a few of these Offbeat Himalayan Getaways in West Bengal, to take back a memorable experience.

 

To explore few other destinations in Sikkim, head over to this One-Stop Travel Guide for Sikkim which give you every detail you might need before you head over to this beautiful state.

 

If this is going to be your first trek, do check out How to get ready for your first Trek in the Himalayas.

 

Also, don’t forget to Pin this Post for future ready reference.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.