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Sandakphu and Phalut Trek on Singalila Ridge:
The Sandakphu and Phalut trek, or the shorter Sandakphu trek, is a must to do trek for people looking to explore Darjeeling or Sikkim hills with breathtaking panoramas of Himalayan peaks. Our given itinerary follows the Singalila Ridge from South to North. For this reason, this trek is also called the “Singalila Ridge Trek”.
About our trail:
Our trail reaches its highest point, Sandakphu, at ~ 3636 m/11926 ft. This is the highest point in West Bengal, in the district of Darjeeling. Phalut is another tabletop on the same ridge that is further north of Sandakphu, almost at the same height of ~ 3620 m. Due to its northerly position, i.e., its proximity to the high mountains, Phalut offers somewhat closer mountain views of the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas.
One of the finest ridge trek in the Himalayas – Mesmerising sunrise and sunset views
As already said, the trail follows the famous Singalila Ridge, a prominent spur that runs southward from the Kanchenjunga massif. This ridge is the border between India and Nepal in the Eastern Himalayas. The east side of the ridge is India, and Nepal is on the west side. Although not as interior as some of the Sikkim treks that we arrange, this trail is still among one of the most scenically rewarding in the Indian Himalayas.
Below is a satellite map image showing an aerial view of the Singalila Ridge. You can easily see how open the vista is when you are walking along the ridge.
You will get spectacular panoramic views of Nepal Himalayas including Kanchendzongha range, Makalu, Everest, Lhotse, Janu, Chamlang, Baruntse and a host of Sikkim peaks all seen in one stretch. You may absorb the serene “Sleeping Buddha” formation from multiple vantage points following our trail.
Trekking inside the Singalila National Park – the forests of Eastern Himalayas:
The Singalila National park area has rare species like Red Panda and is a birder’s paradise. Flowering of Rhododendrons and Magnolia turn the forest with red, pink and white shades during spring and foliage hue during autumn-fall.
Tea House trek, villages and local culture:
Suggested Sandakphu & Phalut trek Itinerary 2023:
Our route follows the Singalila Ridge, which is the border of India and Nepal. Due to stay restrictions, non-Indians, i.e., foreigners, can’t stay in Nepal homestays or tea houses anymore like the Indians do. So the Indians and foreigners will have different itineraries.
Day 1: Drive from NJP railway station or Bagdogra airport to Chitrey (~ 2200 m, 7200 ft) – 90 Km – 4 to 5 hours. Shared homestay accommodation. Foreigners can’t stay here, but 3 Km down at Maneybhanjung (~ 1980 m/6500 ft).
Day 2: Trek to Tumling (~ 2900 m/9500 ft) – 9 Km via Meghma;– 5 to 6 hours. (Foreigners need to stay inside West Bengal, India at Tonglu GTA Trekkers Hut, shared dormitories ~ 3050 m/10000 ft.)
Day 3: Trek down to Gairibas (~ 2570 m/8430 ft) and up to Kalapokhri (~ 3100 m/10200 ft) – 12 Km – 6 to 7 hours. As there is no accommodation in this area inside India, foreigners need to trek directly to Sandakphu (6 Km further ahead) or else stay back at Gairibas GTA Trekkers Hut.
Day 4: Trek to Sandakphu (~ 3636 m/11930 ft) – 6 Km – 3 to 4 hours. Stay in a lodge/hotel/trekkers hut, etc. (For foreigners accommodation is at Sandakphu GTA Trekkers Hut)
Day 5: Sandakphu to Phalut – 21 Km – 8 to 9 hours at a moderate pace. Accommodation at GTA Trekkers Hut (shared dormitories) for ALL.
Day 6: Wake up early and hike (~ 15/20 mins) to Phalut Top for the sunrise views. – After breakfast, trek down to Gorkhey – 15 Km – 4 to 5 hours. Lodge or a homestay accommodation.
Day 7: Trek to Srikhola bridge via Ramam – 12 Km – 5 hours; Drive to NJP or Bagdogra – 150 km – 6 hours or transfer to Darjeeling – 90 Km – 4 hours, etc.
Important notes regarding the itinerary:
Altitude and distance profile graph for Sandakphu Phalut trek:
Infograhics on Singalila Ridge trek:
From the below image you will get a general idea about the Singalila Ridge trek in Darjeeling that includes different variants and possibilities. Note that foreigners/non Indians must stay within India.
Foreigners, i.e., non-Indians, must walk and nightstay on the Indian side of Singalila Ridge:
This is a teahouse-style trek that follows the famous Singalila Ridge, forming the border between Darjeeling (West Bengal) in India and Nepal. As a matter of fact, you can get better facilities and services in terms of accommodation, food, comfort, etc. on the Nepal side (homestay, lodge, and hotel).
Whereas on the Indian side, the area falls inside Singalila National Park and is a restricted area. Only basic government-made trekker huts are there along the trek route for accommodation at night. You will have more options for homestays and lodges once you are outside the core area.
Starting in December 2021, Indian authorities are not allowing foreigners/non Indian passport holders to stay in Nepal while walking on the Singalila Ridge. So for foreign nationals, the accommodation options are GTA-operated government huts within Singalila National Park. This is enforced on the spot by the Indian paramilitary personnel stationed at various checkpoints along the trail on the India-Nepal border.
You can’t stay inside Nepal, even if you have a Nepal visa. This is due to the fact that there are no “passport control” offices between India and Nepal along the trail.
So it is mandatory for foreigners to stay inside India and make a night halt at the GTA/Govt. Trekkers Hut while trekking inside Singalila National Park.
On the other hand, for Indian citizens, we arrange stays in Nepal teahouses, wherever possible, and their itinerary will be different than that of foreigners.
What are the accommodations during Sandakphu Phalut trek:
This is a “Tea House” trek, i.e we don’t camp inside Singalila National Park but stay in Homestay/Lodge available on the trail. As you should expect on a mountain trail, these are basic accommodation run by the local Nepali/Tibetan families. Rooms are dormitory bed type with triple/quad sharing or more. Beds and blankets are neat and clean. Don’t expect an attached toilet or running hot water anywhere.
Do we camp and stay in a tent?
No we don’t. As a matter of fact, none is supposed to camp within the boundary of Singalila National park. This trail inside national park is designed for years to run a Tea House mode trek, same as its neighbouring Nepal treks. If you prefer a pristine full camping trek, we do have more legitimate options for you. These treks lie further north to Phalut on the Singalila ridge inside Sikkim and offer closer views of Sleeping Buddha and high mountains of Nepal and Sikkim. Our less crowded Phoktey Dara or Singalila Pass Phalut trek will surely entice you for great camping experiences.
Regarding GTA/Foreigners accommodation on
Phalut has only one accommodation option. The Trekkers Hut is operated by GTA (Gorkha Territorial Administration), an govt. administrative body in the Darjeeling Hills. This can’t be booked online neither you can check availability unless you drop in to their office, either at Gorkha Bhavan, Saltlake Kolkata (near City Centre, Salt Lake) or Darjeeling, Silver Fir building office. More over it has a maximum capacity of 20 beds, and they keep few on hold for guides/porters/staff accompanying trekkers. There is NO private accommodation/lodge at Phalut or vicinity. Due to heavy demand mostly this is full in the season.
Is this trek suitable for the beginners?
Also we have noticed that beginners/first time trekkers are often finding it pretty difficult to cover the 21 Km trail from Sandakphu to Phalut. So considering both we either keep you at Phalut Trekkers Hut or at Sabarkum/Molley, a place 14 Km from Sandakphu on the way to Phalut. This is decided case to case as per each individual group. However the itinerary remains same and you reach Gorkhey via Phalut in case the accommodation is at Sabarkum/Molley.
Alternate shorter and easy Tour – Sandakphu trek:
Though the trail ahead of Sandakphu is Easy considering the terrain, but adding Phalut involves total 6 days of trek covering around 80 Km. Often it can be strenuous if not prepared well. Also beginners as well as experienced trekkers can find it exhausting to reach Phalut, 21 Km from Sandakphu in a day.
However we have started arranging a smaller version of this trail omitting Phalut from the itinerary. This is the shortened version of Singalila ridge trek and called “Sandakphu Trek”. The wonderful walk along the ridge is ideal for the beginners/first timers, who want to explore Darjeeling/Sikkim Himalayas. This essentially retains almost all the flavour that the Sandakphu and Phalut produces, certainly the not scenic walk to Phalut! However this is not a showstopper considering the trail is same (initial 3 days of trek) till Sandakphu. Sleeping Buddha, Famous trio (Everest Lhotse, Makalu), and numerous Sikkim and Nepal high Himalayan ranges can be observed. The descent from Sandakphu to the beautiful village of Gurdum is similar in beauty that of Phalut to Gorkhey trail. Finally the Sandakphu trek also ends at Srikhola same as the longer duration Phalut trail. Advantage of Sandakphu trek is this trail requires 4 days of trekking and can be done year long apart from the monsoon (June to September). The walk is not strenuous like Phalut and covers around 40 Km in 4 days which is indeed an Easy grade trek and can be completed comfortably by anyone who has got basic physical fitness and will to walk.
We strongly advice to check our “Sandakphu Trek” itinerary, who want a shorter and easier version of this trail without losing much.
A note on the motor route from Maneybhanjung to Sandakphu and Phalut and its impact:
Access to Sandakphu Phalut trek base (Chitrey or Maney Bhanjung):
We may arrange a pickup by a private vehicle from NJP railway station/Bagdogra airport/Siliguri city to our usual trek basecamp, Chitrey, if you require so. Similarly, we can arrange a drop from the trek’s end point Srikhola, to NJP/Siliguri.
You pay directly to the driver, sharing equally with your other team members; this is NOT included in the listed TREK FEE. The cost is as per the following by a Tata Sumo type of car:
NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Chitrey: ₹ 4500 (plus ₹ 500 forest toll)
NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Maneybhanjung: ₹ 4000
Darjeeling to Maneybhajung: ₹ 2000
Srikhola to NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri: ₹ 7000
Srikhola to Darjeeling: ₹ 4500
Duration: 6 days of trek; NJP/Bagdogra to NJP return in 7 days.
Prerequisite: Prior Himalayan trekking experience is highly advised. There are long and strenuous days in the trek.
Trail Length: 75 Km
Highest Point: Sandakphu ~ 3636 m/11930 ft; Phalut ~ 3600m/11810ft
Seasons: March to May (Spring-Summer) and October to February (Autumn-Winter)
Further Option: From Phalut continue along Singalila ridge in West Sikkim and descent to Barshey or Uttarey.
Access: Trek starting point is Chitrey (or Maneybhanjung for foreigners) and end point is at Srikhola.
Rail station: New Jalpaiguri (STN Code: NJP)
Airport: Bagdogra (Code: IXB)
Upcoming scheduled dates for Sandakphu Phalut trek:
- You can check the scheduled Fixed Departure dates in the calendar available inside Booking Form or inside REGISTER NOW form. Tour starting Dates are highlighted as per our itinerary (Day 1 of 7 days itinerary).
- At present BOOK NOW functionality is disabled. You can get all the information in your email by submitting the REGISTER NOW form.
- If you are a group of people and available dates are not matching then you may select Custom date mode (by clicking the Select your custom date) and fill in the displayed form.
- You can also check all the available dates at a glance in our TREK CALENDAR.
- Trekkers need to reach NJP on Day 1 morning or the previous night. Return to NJP on Day 8 afternoon or early evening. Arrange your tickets for inward journey and return accordingly.
|New Jalpaiguri railway station
|10:00 AM for a prompt departure to Chitrey (Day 1)
|Approximately 7:00 PM (Day 7)
How to reach Chitrey (The trek base):
Nearest Rail station: New Jailpaiguri (Station Code: NJP)
Nearest Airport: Bagdogra (Airport Code: IXB)
We will arrange a pickup from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Chitrey and drop from Srikhola to NJP/Bagdogra. This will be shared by the team members on actual basis and paid directly to the driver. Typically a Tata Sumo/Mahindra Maxx charges Rs 3500 for a drop to Chitrey and Rs 5000 from Srikhola to NJP/Bagdogra. One such car can accommodate 6 to 8 people. This is NOT included in the TREK FEE and to be payable directly to the driver/owner.
If you wish to reach our Trek Base Chitrey on your own by public transportation:
Reaching Chitrey without a reserved vehicle will require some local road knowledge and changing of vehicles. Return from Srikhola is much easier as there are direct shared service to Siliguri and Darjeeling.
- From NJP railway station take a shared jeep for Darjeeling and get down at Ghoom railway station. You can get one such shared jeep from Tenzing Norgay Bus terminus/Junction area in Siliguri also. From Ghoom take one shared service for Sukhiapokhri which is 12 Km. Change from here to Maneybhanjang, 7 Km away. Our trek base Chitrey is 3 Km up on the Sandakphu road. You are supposed to reach our Homestay at Chitrey on your own. You may get one vehicle to hire from Maneybhanjang to Chitrey (for Rs 400/500) but that depends on time and on driver’s will.
- From NJP/Bagdogra reach Darjeeling Mor (crossing/chowk in Siliguri on the way to Darjeeling) on Hill Cart Road. From here you get shared services for Sukhiapokhri. From Sukhia you can reach Chitrey as mentioned earlier. Be sure that you have enough time as you may have to wait long for your turn. Sometime you may get a direct Maneybhanjung service (essentially the cars returning to Srikhola) in around noon/early afternoon.
- While returning things are much easier. There are morning shared services from Srikhola to Siliguri and Darjeeling. For Srikhola there are two vehicles early in the morning at 5:30 am to SIliguri. It takes 6/7 hours to reach Darjeeling Mor in Siliguri (Rs 400 per seat). From here take an auto rickshaw to NJP/Bagdogra.
- From Srikhola you get shared services for Darjeeling city. Early morning vehicles start between 6 and 7 am. Then you get jeeps between 10 and 11 am. It takes around 4 hours to Darjeeling (Rs 200 per seat).
How to reach NJP:
For the treks in Sikkim and Darjeeling , one has to reach the city of Siliguri (considered the corridor to the North-East) in West Bengal.
The nearest Railway Station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP), 5 Km from Siliguri and the airport Bagdogra is 10 Km.
You can fly or by train reach Siliguri from Kolkata ( good for the trekkers coming from South/central or Western India) or Delhi as per your convenience from any part within India.
Direct flights are available from New Delhi and Kolkata. All the flights to Bagdogra reaches late in the morning or early afternoon. It becomes difficult to reach the trek base like Yuksom/Hilley/Uttarey on the same day unless a car is booked (takes around 8 hours to reach). One can stay the night in Siliguri and start the travel to the trek base next morning. It is better to reach Siliguri by flight/train to Kolkata and then take an overnight train to NJP unless you are coming from northern India.
From Kolkata to Siliguri:
1) By train:
There are several overnight trains running between Kolkata (Howrah or Sealdah) to NJP. Day trains are also available.
From airport (Dumdum, CCU) , Sealdah railway station is 15 Km and may take 1 to 2 hours depending upon the time you travel. Howrah is 17 Km and may take up to 2 hours during the heavy traffic in the rush hours. Howrah and Sealdah are only 5 Km apart, though it may take an hour to travel. Pre Paid taxi booths are available.
DARJEELING MAIL – Train No. – 12343 (Good option to reach NJP in the morning. Starts around 10 pm in the night and reaches NJP 8 am in the morning.)
PADATIK EXPRESS – Train No. – 12377 (Good option to reach NJP in the morning. Starts around 11 pm in the night and reaches NJP 9 am in the morning.)
KANCHANKANYA EXPRESS – Train No. – 13149 (Starts at 8:30 pm in the evening and reaches NJP 7:30 am in the morning)
SHATABDI EXPRESS – Train No. – 12041 (Day train, starts 2:15 pm in the afternoon and reaches NP at 10:20 pm in the night. There are hotels/lodges outside the railway station at a walking distance of 5 minutes. Otherwise book an auto rickshaw/taxi to Siliguri, which takes around 15 minutes. There are several hotels around Siliguri Junction/Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus/S.N.T (Sikkim Nationalised Transport stand).
There are other trains also of which some run daily and some on particular days of week.
Avoid booking wait listed (WL) tickets in AC classes (1A/2A/3A) or Chair Car (CC). Book Sleeper class (SL)/Second Sitting class (2S) tickets which have normally more seats/berths and hence much better chance to get confirmed.
2) By flight:
From Kolkata(CCU) take a flight to Bagdogra (IXB). From airport book a taxi to reach Siliguri which is 10 Km away.
From Delhi to Siliguri:
1) By Train:
Following trains are good to reach NJP and run daily.
DIBRUGARH RAJDHANI – Train No. 12424 (arrives NJP late in the morning @ 10:45 am)
NORTH EAST EXP – Train No. 12506 (arrives NJP @ 8:20 am in the morning)
BRAHMAPUTRA MAIL – Train No. 12424 (arrives NJP at 5 am in the morning. But this train runs late frequently.
Always avoid booking wait listed (WL) tickets in AC classes (1A/2A/3A) or Chair Car (CC). Book Sleeper class (SL)/Second Sitting class (2S) tickets which have normally more seats/berth and hence much better chance to get confirmed.
2) By flight:
From Delhi (DEL) take a flight to Bagdogra (IXB). From airport book a taxi to reach Siliguri which is 10 Km away.
For night stay in NJP/SIliguri:
Trekkers reaching on the previous day before the journey to the actual trek base need to stay the night in Siliguri/NJP. There are several options in Siliguri for spending a night while staying in Standard or Budget accommodation. It is better to reach to the centre of SIliguri called Siliguri Junction (adjacent to Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus and Sikkim nationalised Transport/S.N.T stand). It takes 30 minutes from Bagdogra or 15 minutes from NJP. There are hotels 5 minutes walking from NJP also.
Return from NJP/Bagdogra:
Normally you reach NJP/Bagdogra from any trek base by 5/6 pm in the evening. You can take any train after 7 pm to Kolkata safely, which reach early in the morning. Accordingly arrange your homeward journey from Kolkata onward.
Drive from NJP/Bagdogra to Chitrey: 90 Km - 4/5 hours
Trek to Tumling – 9 Km – 6 hours
Trek to Kalapokhri: 12 Km - 6/7 hours
Kalapokhri to Sandakphu trek – 6 Km – 3/4 hours
Trek to Phalut - 21 Km - 8/10 hours
Sunrise at Phalut top -1 hour - Trek to Gorkhey - 15 Km - 5 hours
Trek to Srikhola - 12 Km - 5 hours - Trek ends; - Drive to NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri -150 Km - 6/7 hours or Drive to Darjeeling town - 90 Km - 4 hours
P.S.: Distances and altitudes are approximate and may not be exact.
TREK FEE: ₹ 14,950 (Chitrey to Srikhola) + 5% GST without any transportation
The above TREK FEE is per person for a group of at least 8 trekkers. We don’t run a fixed-departure group tour for this variant. For group tours check our Sandakphu trek (without Phalut).
Customised/Private Sandakphu & Phalut Trek Cost Structure: The following TREK FEE is without any transportation cost to reach the trek basecamp and return. An additional 5% GST is applicable.
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)45,000
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)35,000
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)30,000
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)25,000
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)21,000
|Person(s)6 to 7
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)19,000
|Person(s)8 to 9
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)14,950
|Person(s)9 to 10
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)14,000
|Person(s)11 to 12
|Per Person TREK FEE (₹)13,000
6 nights of accommodation from Chitrey (Day 1) to Gorkhey (Day 6) in a private tourist lodge or GTA Huts on a sharing basis. These lodges are simple and basic in nature, with clean beds and linens. Rooms are dormitory-type, with triple, quad, or more sharing.
Note: For foreigners and OCIs, accommodations are in shared GTA Trekkers Huts at Tonglu, Sandakphu, and Phalut as per current regulations. Shared Indian-style toilet/lavatory outside the dormitory without any running water source.
Meals during the trek (Day 1 dinner to Day 7 breakfast) Regular Indian-style nutritious vegetarian food during the trek (including occasional eggs), breakfast, hot lunch (en route), and dinner with morning and evening tea.
An experienced trekking guide, who will be a local to this particular area and has profound knowledge of the trekking trails around. He will be able to communicate in simple english.
Singalila National Park permit fees as per the itinerary for Indian nationals.
Travel and Medical Insurance covering high altitude trekking tours (For Indian nationals it is included in the TREK FEE, up to 60 years of age). It covers your trek as well as your return journey to NJP/Bagdogra as per itinerary.
Basic First Aid and Medicine kit.
Transportation from NJP/Bagdogra to Chitrey and back (₹ 4900 for NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Chitrey; ₹ 7000 from Srikhola to NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri or ₹ 4500 for a drop to Darjeeling by a Tata Sumo. We will arrange, you pay directly to the driver.
We assume that you will carry your personal backpack with all your personal belongings. If you want to offload your rucksack or backpack and have it carried by a porter, then you need to pay additional charges. Charges are fixed as per the Maneybhanjung Guide and Porter Association, and they are ₹ 1200/day. You hire a porter and pay directly in cash (₹) at the association office in Maneybhanjung. You have to pay the porter for six days. He will carry a maximum of 17–18 Kg (2 medium-sized backpacks or rucksacks).
Additional ₹ 5,000 per person for foreigners and OCIs. This will take care of the additional Singalila National Park entry fees (₹ 500 per day for foreigners compared to ₹ 200 per day for Indians) and the guiding charge differences as prescribed by the Guide and Porter Association at Maneybhanjung.
Still/Video camera charges inside the Singalila National Park.
Any tip/gratuity to the HT supports staff.
Anything which NOT mentioned in the “Inclusions” or personal in nature.
- We assume that you have read and understood our “Terms & Conditions” before Booking a trek/tour.
- To reserve your place in a scheduled Fixed Departure trek or a Customised/Private trek pay 25% of the Trek/Tour Fee as the initial “Booking Deposit”. You can pay by Net banking/Draft/Cheque/Credit/Debit/AMEX cards. This will ensure your participation in the desired trek and we will reserve your place in the scheduled date. You need to pay the remaining amount at least 15 days before Trek Starting Date.
- If you book a Trek/Tour before 14 days or less from Trek/Tour Starting Date, you need to pay the full Trek/Tour Fee.
- “Booking Amount” i.e. 25% of the Trek/Tour Fee is Non-Refundable at any stage.
- If in case you are not able to make it due to unavoidable reason(s), we provide you a very flexible choice of Shifting to another trek within next one year. One year is counted from the starting date of the trek/tour you booked initially with us.
- In case you postpone your trip you need to inform minimum of 15 days before the trek/tour starting date. (Though we suggest to inform us earlier if known)
- In case you postpone a trek/tour before 15 days of the scheduled Trek/Tour Starting date or prior, you may shift to another group of the same trek/tour scheduled in the same season or within next one year. You may shift to another suitable route also. For changing any, you need our approval first. Your request must be in written communication through your registered email with us.
- If you cancel/postpone a trek/tour from 14 days to 8 days before tour starting date, your Booking Amount is Non-Refundable. We will not take any request of shifting dates. We will charge 50% of the amount as Cancellation Charges and process refund of remaining 50%. You may also shift to another group within next year but 25% Booking Amount will be deemed as Cancellation Charge and the rest amount will be transferred to the shifted group.
- If you cancel a trek/tour 7 days (i.e. a week) before Trek/Tour Starting Date or later, there will be NO REFUND.
- In case of any unforeseen incident including but not limited to natural calamities like flood, earthquake, landslide, forest fire or any political unrest, if we are compelled to cancel the trek/trip, you will be entitled to redeem the full amount for the same/similar kind of trek/trip within next one year.
If you need more clarifications write in to [email protected]