Sankri village is the trek base of popular trails like Kedarkantha or Har Ki Dun trek. It is also starting point of treks like Bali Pass, Borasu Pass, Phulara Ridge and some other. Nowadays Sankri is growing as a popular hill destination too.

You will get direct busses from Dehradun to Sankri in the morning till 8 am. Be it in a reserved car or by bus, it usually takes no less than 9/10 hours to travel around 200 Km distance.

Basic Facts:

Location: Uttarkashi district in Uttarakhand
Nearest Railway station: Dehradun (DDN) & Haridwar (HW)
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant, Dehradun (Code: DED) or Delhi
Nearest Bus terminus/hub: Dehradun Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT)

Distances to Sankri:

Dehradun: ~ 200 Km
Haridwar: ~ 260 Km
Rishikesh: ~ 245 Km
New Delhi: ~ 450 Km

Mode of transportation to Sankri:

Private mode: You can hire a cab from Dehradun, Rishikesh or Haridwar.
Public mode: Direct busses from Dehradun.
Note: No shared car service from Dehradun.

Road route to Sankri:

Shorter route: Via Mussoorie
Longer route: Via Vikasnagar
Major points: Mussoorie/Vikasnagar, Damta, Naogaon, Purola, Mori, Netwar.

Reserved car fare to Sankri (as of Oct 2019):

From Dehradun: ₹ 6,000 for a Tata Sumo/Bolero; ₹ 9,000 for Tempo Traveller;
From Rishikesh: ₹ 7,500 for a Tata Sumo/Bolero; ₹ 11,000 for Tempo Traveller;
From Haridwar: ₹ 8,500 for a Tata Sumo/Bolero; ₹ 12,000 for Tempo Traveller;

Bus service timings and fare from Dehradun to Sankri (as of Oct 2019):

Private bus (ordinary): ₹ 400 per person. Starts at 5:30 am, 6:30 am and 7 am from Gandhi road, 2 mins walking from Dehradun railways station. It may take 10 to 12 hours with few breaks in between.
State/Govt. bus (midi): ₹ 450 per person. Starts at 8 am from Mussoorie bus depot, outside Dehradun railways station. Normally it take less time than private busses and goes via Mussoorie. This is often referred to as ‘Roadways bus”.
Note:

  • On board tickets.You can’t book online or in advance.
  • State bus is the last one to start. If you decide to take this, be sure it is operating on the very day. Otherwise private bus is a safe choice.
  • While returning from Sankri you will get the same busses starting between 6 am to 8 am.

Additional facts:

Last ATM on the way: Mori, 25 Km before Sankri. Withdraw cash well in advance, as this ATM may not have link or cash either.
Mobile network: All major networks at Mori. Sankri has very limited or no mobile connectivity most of the time during a year.

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Indian state of Sikkim has some regulations and accompanied restrictions with respect to travelling and trekking within the state. You need to obtain certain permits, depending on your:

  • Area/places of visit
  • Nationality

Here we will elaborate about the different permits and any fees required by the administration/authority. Also we hope that this will help you to plan travelling independently inside Sikkim.

There are two main permits as following:

  1. Restricted Area Permit (RAP), same as Inner Line Permit (ILP)
  2. Protected Area Permit (PAP)

If you are an Indian citizen, you will ONLY need PAP to visit certain areas. Check the section below for more details.

You will need to obtain RAP/ILP to enter Sikkim, if you are a foreigner. This is required for Overseas Citizen’s Of India (OCI) as well. You will also require PAP for trekking in West/North Sikkim along with sightseeing tours in North and some areas of East Sikkim.

Both for Indians and foreigners, you need to apply PAP through a registered tour operator.

Below is an outline of Protected Areas inside Sikkim. Note that you will require PAP for entire North Sikkim district and some areas of East Sikkim district. Check the full size map of Forest Department, Govt Of Sikkim here.

protected-areas-in-sikkim
Protected Areas in Sikkim (Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserve)

For Indian Nationals:

For trekking in West Sikkim district e.g. Goecha La, Singalila Pass or Dafeybhir trek you need to get entry permit and pay necessary fees for camping inside National Park/Sanctuary check post of Forest Department.

You will need trekking permit inside Khanchendzongha National park (same as Khanchendzongha Biosphere Reserve) and a verification process at SDM office, Yuksom/Local police  outpost. Carry at least two recent passport size photos, One personal photo ID card with address proof in it (Aadhar/Driving Licence/Voter ID/Passport). Don’t forget to carry photocopies of your ID. You may have to submit a self declaration at Yuksom police outpost.

Below is a handy guide for those having plan for additional holidays/destinations in Sikkim. You will need Protected Area Permit (PAP) for sightseeing tours to North Sikkim, Nathu La, Old Silk route in East Sikkim. Apply this through a registered tour operator only.
http://www.sikkimtourism.gov.in/Webforms/General/faq.aspx

For Foreign Nationals:

All foreigners (some relaxation to Nepalese and Bhutanese citizens) will require Inner Line Permit which is recently renamed as Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter inside Sikkim. This is FREE OF COST.

Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders are treated as foreigner’s regarding entry and trekking permit inside Sikkim. We need at least two OCI/Foreign nationals to process the Trekking Permit (PAP).

http://www.sikkimtourism.gov.in/Webforms/General/Essential%20Information/Entry.aspx

  • Nationals of Pakistan, Myanmar, Nigeria and China/Hong Kong can only apply for ILP/RAP through Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi. Bangladesh passport holders are now can normally apply and get their ILP at any Sikkim check post office.
  • Any other foreign national can apply and obtain the ILP (RAP), Free of cost, at the police check points while entering into Sikkim state. You need to have original Passport, INDIAN VISA/e-VISA with photocopies and recent passport size photos. Below are the two ILP issuing office on Sikkim border:

1) Assistant Director– Tourism Department , Melli: Near Melli Police Check Post, South Sikkim, Mobile No: 9775453611, 03595-248536,

NOTE: ILP issuing time is from 8 am to 8 pm everyday (better to reach by 6 pm)- On your way to West Sikkim (Yuksom, Pelling, Hilley, Uttarey etc)

2) Assistant Director, Tourism Department, Sikkim Tourism Office, Rangpo East Sikkim: – On your way to Gangtok and East/South & North Sikkim.

  • If you produce a proper itinerary (additionally if any supporting booking documents) then the authority will usually issue an ILP up to 30 days initially. It can be extended to another 30 days but to get an extension you need to exit Sikkim and apply again when you re-enter.
  • Travellers who arrive initially in Darjeeling (state of West Bengal) has to get the permit from the above two check posts. There is shorter route from Darjeeling to Jorethang via Jamuney (40 Km, 2 hours maximum)  but foreigner’s are not allowed to enter Sikkim along this road. You have to go via Darjeeling – Jorbanglow – Teesta route.
  • You may obtain an ILP online, but that doesn’t make much sense. This is a document valid only when it is signed physically in any of the above two offices. It takes 10/15 minutes to process the ILP at Melli/Rongpo with the strength of your valid passport and Indian visa.

Foreign national/citizens who wish to trek to Dzongri/Goecha La, Singalila Pass/Phoktey Dara (Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary), Round Singalila Dzongri (Uttarey to Dzongri) will require an additional permit called Protected Area Permit (PAP, often referred to as Trekking Permit). This is issued to a minimum group of 2 persons or more from the following office on strength of signed and valid  ILP/RAP.
Adventure Cell of Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of Sikkim, Gangtok
http://www.sikkimtourism.gov.in/Webforms/General/pdf/RAP.pdf

(Note: Green Lake trek in North Sikkim requires Alpine Mountaineering Expedition permit, which in turn needs more approvals, time and high expenses. Different permits are needed from Sikkim state/Indian Govt. plus a Liaison Officer from IMF Delhi will be appointed. This is for both Indian and foreign nationals.)

 How a foreigner can book a trek in Sikkim with us, HT? 

  • We will require at least one additional day to process the PAP/Trekking Permit. This can’t be processed in advance and we can only apply once we receive your signed copy of ILP. This means that you can’t start the trek very next day you enter Sikkim. We would recommend a couple of days in advance.
  • To open booking, we will require a minimum of 2 foreign nationals trekking together. Later we can take solo trekker booking in the same group.
  • We charge an additional Rs 3000 as Service Charge + 5% Govt. Tax per person to process the Trekking Permit and to counter the differential of various permit fees inside Kanchendzongha National park for Non Indian nationals. It is indeed expensive to send someone to Gangtok for processing the Trekking Permit and get it back at the respective trek base like Yuksom, Hilley, Uttarey etc.

To summarise it is not difficult to get the required permits to trek inside Sikkim if you are:

  1. minimum of a group of two persons.
  2. have couple of additional days to spend in Sikkim before the trek; There are plenty of these places  🙂

Do carry multiple copies (both hard and soft versions) of your recent passport size photos and photocopies of your documents (Passport/Visa/ILP) to avoid a showstopper on mountains!

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Don’t let your heavy rucksack spoil the fun of your hike – pack LIGHT, trek SMART

Whenever you go for a hike, be it a coastal or jungle trek or be on a rigorous high altitude trek, it’s hard to let go of everything and simply enjoy your being in your personal heaven, when your back is continuously shouting for relief. Remember those beautiful snaps you never took because your sack was so heavily plunged on your shoulder that you couldn’t even afford lifting your arms up. And the view finder thus never met your eyes. The tragedy sounds familiar?

heavy-rucksack-causes-problem-on-a-trek
Avoid carrying excess in a rucksack

Here in this blog we’ll try to have some practical solutions to this problem. Though it’s kind of fun to get pissed at these things in your first three four hikes and then come up with original solutions yourself, it doesn’t hurt to come prepared in your first trek.

1) Carry Only the Essentials:

There will always be a few things which you might need while travelling but are of no use while hiking. Leave that extra weight behind at a cloak room or locker at a Junction point where you’re going to come back after finishing the trek. Collect your stuff while returning.

Now while hiking you don’t need more than one spare clothing. Weather in high altitude is quite unpredictable. Still it’s safe to carry just one spare T-shirt or one spare trek pant. No need to carry jeans or formals.

Research thoroughly about your destination. Check the usual weather pattern of that region on your chosen date window. Plan the journey to the trek base from your hometown. Count the days and try to carry the bare minimum you need for these many days.

When you plan to join any trek with us, we take care of all the central logistics. You don’t even have to bring your own sleeping bags. All you have to bring & carry are your personal belongings. If you’re planning to go solo or independently this list of things to carry on a trek ( or Download PDF) will help you to understand what all gears are necessary for a high altitude trek in the Himalayas.

lightweight-rucksack-packing-tips
Carry only the bare minimum & fly high!

2) Buy the Lightest Gear Available :

21st Century is a blessing for hikers, in terms of availability & quality of hiking equipment. Without a doubt gears available now a days are better than ever. Patagonia, Columbia, North face etc are doing an amazing job supplying hikers exactly what they need. In my country, India, though these are pretty expensive options, Decathlon is opening new branches every now & then here.

These companies know the fact that heavyweight gears and hiking doesn’t really go hand in hand. So they are coming up with latest light weight yet more durable weather conditioned gears each year.

These high quality equipment are rather expensive, but  if you do your research and spend a few extra bucks on the right gear, I bet that you won’t repent.

3) Buy One Water Proof cum Wind Proof Jacket , Instead of Two Separate:

Water proof and wind proof jackets are must items to carry be it a short hike or a long one. Instead of carrying two separate jackets for wind and water protection, you can buy just one waterproof cum windproof jacket. It saves both extra space and extra weight required to carry another additional jacket.

use-of-wind-proof-cum-waterproof-jackets-in-a-trek
Use a single wind and waterproof jacket on a trek

Previously in pre Gore-Tex era water proof jackets used to be mostly non breathable and hence very uncomfortable. Now you have wide varieties of option available to choose from.

4) Mirrorless Camera Body:

DSLR / SLR  camera bodies are heavy. On the other hand quality wise DSLR (/SLR) images are the best, especially if you are clicking landscapes. It’s a lifelong dilemma to many hikers to carry their high end DSLRs is their hikes or not.

If you’re going through the same dilemma, check out the mirrorless cameras available in the market. You get full frame  sensors in mirrorless bodies. Since the whole mirror removing procedure is absent in mirrorless cameras, they are technically faster than any average DSLR and now a days they can capture print quality raw images at a speed as high as 12 fps.

dslr-and-mirrorless-cameras-on-a-trek.
Mirrorless cameras are much lighter than the DSLRs

One drawback of these camera bodies being small in size is their battery life. Smaller volume of camera body fits only smaller size batteries. Adventure photographers have always faced this problem with their tiny sports cams( Go por etc). They simply bought more batteries. So if you can throw a few bucks extra for additional batteries, choosing a mirrorless camera for your hiking trip sounds like a good idea. To know a few hacks to increase your battery life while hiking, click here.

5) Carry a Kindle Instead of Book(s):

Are you a regular hiker who likes to read ? But the weight of your books are stopping you to carry any books  in your trek. Or may be you’re worried your books will not endure the rough conditions while hiking.

Those are all valid concerns but you can consider carrying a kindle instead.

Kindles are Digital e book readers available in Amazon store. They have good battery life and can survive a week of rigorous reading in cold weather. And they are really light weight. The heaviest model till date weighs only 374 g.

Once fully drained the dead battery takes approximately four hours to get fully charged. Nowadays waterproof variants are available as well.

use-kindles-during-a-trek
Lightweight and waterproof Kindles

You can also read eBooks in your smartphones or tablets after installing the Kindle app. But reading a kindle is a far smoother experience for your eyes.

packing-the-rucksack-lightweight-in-treks

Hope you’ll find these hacks useful next time you pack for your hiking trip. If you’ve anything to add in this list, let us know below in the comments. Thank you.

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Battery hacks to save your camera or mobile battery charge during treks in cold conditions

Have you faced an instance, when you want to capture moments of a trek in the Himalayas, but you have a dead battery? Or you are going for your first Himalayan trek? Following few DO’s & Don’ts you can solve this problem to a great extent.

The Problem:

Cold and damp conditions on trek routes reduce battery performance significantly. Be it your:

  • DSLRs or Point & Shoot cameras
  • Smartphones
  • Power banks
  • Any electronic gadget which uses a battery (fixed or removable).

To give you an estimate, say you click around 500 photos ( in Kolkata, Bangalore or Mumbai etc, not too hot or cold) in your camera or smartphone using one full battery cycle. You may end up clicking 250 to 350 photos on trek routes, if you don’t preserve the battery.

To add on, trek routes are remotest part in the Himalayas. Apart from very few Tea House treks like Sandakphu or Valley Of Flowers, you will not get any charging facility during the trek. So you need to be prepared accordingly.

Saving DSLR’s and Point and Shoot camera battery charge:

DSLR batteries are fairly good with a capacity range somewhere between 1000 – 3000 mAh depending upon the make and model. Still it may run out of juice before you complete the trek. During a trek you may not able to charge your battery for 5 to 7 days or even for a longer duration.

DOs

  • Carry at least one spare battery. Better to use the proprietary one than a common/third party battery. Even better if you already have a battery pack.  For cameras using AAA/AA batteries, carry ample spare (Duracell is better. Don’t forget to bring back the used cells and dispose where it should be.)
  • Always fully charge your battery(ies) before you leave home. Remember that you may not get electricity at trek base or face low voltage problem. After all these are pretty remote locations.
  • Keep the battery in warm place, maybe in your pocket inside sleeping bag during night.
  • Sometimes it helps if you keep your battery exposed in sun for 10/15 minutes. It may regain some juice.
  • Use LCD feature of your camera optimally.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t leave your batteries exposed in the cold, specially during night.
  • Without ample battery reserve don’t walk through and rewind the photos taken, specially in the nights. Its tempting but may hurt later.
  • If you are going to run out of batteries soon, then stop using camera manoeuvres which are battery intensive. E.g. lens movements (zoom in/out) through motor.

Saving mobile, smartphone battery and power bank charge:

Today’s smartphones are ever hungry to consume more and more battery. Apps, location service, large displays, mobile network, all are eating up their pie. At the same time many trekkers are only using smartphone to capture the trek photos. Great camera phones are becoming handy alternate to DSLRs.

No matter how powerful your phone battery is, carry a power bank during a trek. It is indeed helpful when you plan to take photos and videos in your smartphone. Even better, if you have a handy little solar charged power bank.

DOs:

  • Carry a power bank. Charge your smartphone and power bank fully before you travel. You may not get to recharge even at trek base.
  • Switch  to air plane mode during hike. If you need to call someone, check with our staff where you may get a network.  Switching on and off consume more battery.
  • Use battery saving mode whenever possible.
  • Keep your smartphone and power bank in warm place, inside sleeping bag during night.

DON’Ts

  • Network searching dries battery quickly. Use when really required.
  • Don’t leave your smartphone or power bank exposed in the cold, specially during night.

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