Family trek in Sikkim Darjeeling during spring summer

rhododendron-trek-in-spring-summer

We are a family of 5 with kids having 7, 9 and 10 years old and:
Looking for a trek in Sikkim of almost 5 to 7 days by end of April.
We are all good trekkers and would like to see rhododendrons and big mountains.
We will reach Bagdogra airport with daily flight from Hyderabad.
Accordingly to your experience and planning, which treks will you suggest ?

We would be more than happy to arrange a family trek for you in Sikkim. It’s wonderful to know that you all are good hikers .

Late April is spring/summer time in Sikkim/Darjeeling area and known for its Rhododendron and Magnolia bloom. Expect cloudy and misty weather, especially in the afternoon, which is a speciality of this area. Morning are normally clear with fantastic mountain views.

Let us understand the following things from your end:

  1. Is you window i.e 25th April to 1st May includes Bagdogra to Bagdogra? Note that you will require a day each to reach trek base and return from trek end point to Bagdogra for any trek in Sikkim/Darjeeling area.
  2. Do you prefer Tea House style trek or like to go for a camping trek? Any preference on this?
  3. Can you please write your prior hiking experience(s) with respect to high altitude? We wish to double check for the kid of 7 years as well.

Please feel free to revert with all your queries and any input which you may wish to share.

We have kept days for travel as following:

– 24/04 for travel from Hyderabad to Bagdogra, plane reaching at 9:55 am
– 02/05 for return with plane at 10:25 am
We can eventually take a later plane and or extend to Sunday 03/05.
If the trek is shorter, we will consider 1 or 2 days in Darjeeling.
We have no preference for tea house or camping. We will mostly focus on the trek, then it will be decided accordingly.
Regarding experiences, I do not expect to walk a lot with children: probably not more than 600 m drop per day. And we don’t need to bring them in altitude: 4500 m is probably a maximum with prior acclimatisation.
Don’t worry: having personally being at 6000 m (Annapurna and South America) I will not take any risks for my children.

Thank you very much for your detailed response. This really helps in moving forward.

Here are my understanding and inputs for you to decide:

Duration: You have a total of 10 days stretching from 24th April to 3rd May (say an afternoon flight) at maximum. This will accommodate a trek plus couple of days of relaxation options in both Sikkim and Darjeeling.

1) In Darjeeling, the trail which fits your ambition is our all time favourite Singalila Ridge trek, a.k.a Sandakphu trek. Indeed this trek inside Singalila National Park delights trekkers of all age and form all corners of the world! We can modify or extend as suits you. E.g. you may stay an additional day at Sandakphu and explore the area more. Half day hike after breakfast from Sandakphu on the Phalut road is lovely opportunity to get the grand views of the “big mountains”. End of April should be good for blooming on higher altitude ~ 3000 to 3500 m. Staying in homestay gives an angle of looking into local culture and lifestyle in this trail. After the trek you can always visit Darjeeling, Queen of the hills. Relaxing here for a couple of days and strolling around is itself a good option. Also there are options of staying in Tea Estates bungalows.

2) In Sikkim one option to see mountains really close is to walk on famous Goecha La trail. We have one alternate option on this trail, upto Dzongri on a relaxing pace. You may consider our Dzongri trek itinerary, although it will be a bit tight. Being foreign national you need to spend an additional day inside Sikkim to process the PAP (Protected Area Permit)/Trekking Permit before you can start the trek. Do check more about different permits required to enter and trek inside Sikkim. You should get good flowering from Tsokha to Dzongri stretch during your visit. Darjeeling tour is not a possibility within this tour duration.

3) A more feasible option inside Sikkim is our very pristine and serene Phoktey Dara trek. Geographically this is close to Singalila ridge and offers the same view as that of Sandakphu or Phalut. Being north of Darjeeling, this trail is closer to Kanchenjunga and other Sikkim peaks and produces same ‘Sleeping Buddha”actually closer. If you like forest, then this must be in your bucket list. In my understanding Rhododendron full bloom occurs every alternate or in 2/3 years depending on various conditions. However Barsey and the sanctuary are wonderful opportunity to see Rhododendrons and some Magnolia. You can see some more idea and picture of Barsey here. Note that you need to stay an additional day at Okhrey village homestay as we need it to process your permits. It’s a nice village to explore a day around with a good homestay. After the trip there is a chance to relax a day in Darjeeling as well. It will take 6/7 hours from trek end point Uttarey to reach Darjeeling via Melli, as foreigners are not allowed to take the shorter route from Jorethang to Darjeeling.

I hope that now you are good to decide on your trek :-). Please feel free to revert for all queries or suggestions you may need

We would like to consider Sandakphu trek from 25 to 30/04. Will it be possible with probably one horse for 2 backpacks? Please make a proposal considering that we are 5 and will not let a kid alone in a room.

Please note that Family Room with 5 beds is not available at all the lodges. We will try for them at Tumling and Sandakphu. Elsewhere, 2 rooms. This area is damper than the western Himalayan routes and it can rain in spring so waterproofing is a must. Furthermore there is no electric heater or any kind of heating source in the rooms. Keep adequate warming layer(s) as per your comfort.

Regarding backpack offloading, we can arrange a porter who will take 2 medium size rucksack not weighing more than 18 Kg.  One horse is generally not available for rent.

Brief Itinerary:

25th Apr: Darjeeling to Manebhanjan by car – 40 Km – 2 hours. Reach by 9 AM. After permit procedure, trek to Tumling – 12 Km – 6/7 hours
26th Apr Trek to Kalapokhari – 12 Km – 6/7 hours
27th Apr: Trek to Sandakphu – 6 Km – 3/4 hours
28th Apr: Witness sunrise, after breakfast, hike on Phalut road for 5-6 Km to enjoy magnificent views of Sleeping Buddha and Everest group of mountains. Return by Lunch.
29th Apr: Witness Sunrise. Trek from Sandakphu to Timburey via Gurdum village– 15 Km – 7/8 hours
30th Apr: Walk 1 and a half hours to the Srikhola road head and drive to Darjeeling town ( 90 Km, 4 hours). You will reach Darjeeling by 2 pm. We recommend at least 2 days in Darjeeling to properly see the sights and enjoy it without making it too hectic. There are many points of interest in and around the town.

I confirm we will go for this trek. Anyway 2 rooms/cabins are OK when no other solution.

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