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On this backpacking in India expedition, you combine exploring monasteries and meeting local people with a moderately strenuous hike towards the base camp of the 3rd highest mountain in the world, the mighty Kanchenjunga!
A mere thirteen meters shorter than K2, the second tallest mountain in the world, is Five Treasures of the Snow, as the mountain is known locally. A viewpoint at an altitude of 17,350 feet, one trek is a hike to Go Cha La.
Bounded by the plains of India to the south, Nepal to the west, Bhutan to the east, and Tibet to the north, Sikkim was a Buddhist monarchy until recently. Only now is Sikkim slowly opening up for tourism, travel to Sikkim became restricted soon after it was inducted into India in the early 1970s. Sikkim has majestic snow capped mountains and orchids growing in a rainforest climate, located in the monsoon belt and ranging from 28,000 feet to 3,000 feet elevation.
Who now live in harmony with the Nepalis from neighboring Nepal and Khampas from Tibet, the original inhabitants were the Rong-pa or Lepchas, the ravine folk from Assam. In terms of both spirituality and beauty, Sikkim, a diverse and prosperous state, has much to offer. When he first saw Gangtok, Fosco Maraini, who strived mightily to enter the country in the 1950s, the great writer/climber, felt repaid for his efforts. He wrote, “It is at the end of a motor-road,” “but all the same you feel out of the world. The whole thing is a fairy tale.”
View Of Kanchenjunga Range From Gangtok
You will have grand views of the Himalayan giants Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse and Everest, cloud cover permitting.
At the small mountain village of Yuksom, you will then drive to the trailhead.
Kanchenjunga View From Yuksom
Your first day of hiking takes you through a forest of rhododendrons, magnolia, and pine. With one final push in the last hour to your lodge at Bakim, slow but steady ascending all day long.
A steep ascent up the ridge behind the lodge leads to more spectacular views of Pandim, Kabru, and Kanchenjunga, and soon you camp out in the open fields, and reach the Dzongri ridge. Get out the down feathers! It is also one of the colder camps on this trek, though spectacular views can be had from here.
Mount Pandim View From Hotel
Use the day to explore Dzongri and rest. Now appearing to be distinctly closer, the peaks of Joponu, Narsingh and Pandim.
Camp At Dzongri
Before descending down to the glacial Prek Chu, the next day’s hike starts across the scenic ridge. You gradually ascend to your camp at Thangsing, crossing the river on a new bridge.
Prek Chu River
On the shores of the sacred and lovely Samiti Lake, the following day is an easy hike as you gradually gain altitude to your high camp at 16,000 feet.
Kangchenjunga View From Samiti Lake
To reach the high point of this backpack, today you hike. Just as the sun is lighting up its satellite peaks and Kanchenjunga, a predawn start is rewarded as you reach the pass. You continue hiking in excess of 17,000 feet to reach the spectacular panorama that unfolds at the pass and Goecha La.
To a lodge along the west bank of the Pandim river, you begin to hike back along the river after a relaxed morning.
You camp at Tso Kha, a small Tibetan hamlet, after descending to a warmer climate.
You get to the last day of the trek passing a myriad of waterfalls and streams, where orchids bloom in abundance you continue your descent through forests, and finally reach the end of your hike, Yuksom. Beds and hot showers for everyone!
It is a trip to remember but this backpacking India trip takes a minimum of nine days to finish! You don't have to take a nine day hike to enjoy it and there is so much to see here. You can have just as much fun and do smaller day hikes! Just do it and decide for yourself if you want to go up on the mountains or hike around them!
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