A trek to the higher reaches of this land of thunderbolts, varying between 7,000 feet to 12,000 feet above sea level, is an arduous, overwhelming and rare experience. Once you are on top of the lush hills at Mirik, Phalut or Sandakphu(which in mountain people`s language means `heights of poison`), you feel the rewards far outweigh the fatigue of the strenuous climb.Once you reach the top, a panoramic view surrounds you!
Five of the world`s highest mountain peaks stand majestically in front of you - Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse and Nuptse. A splendid sunrise, and rich flora and fauna await you.Yaks and hill birds - flycatchers, sunbirds, emerald cuckoos - are your constant companions. And meeting the hill people, who live a simple and contented life, is a welcome change for city dwellers used to their restive ways.
Which is the best time to trek?
Time the trek well. Avoid the month of May, because the monsoon will block the majestic view of the mountains. In December, it becomes unbearably cold. So, it is prudent to visit local trekking agents or the Youth Hostel and gather information about weather conditions and trekking material before you start.
What food should I carry?
Although there are a number of small villages en route, which provide snacks and food, it is advisable to carry your own water bottles and food packets, which may come in handy at certain stretches, where you don`t meet a single soul for hours.There are many trekking routes to traverse. You can begin your Phalut/Sandakphu trek from Manebhajang village situated at an altitude of about 7,000 feet, surrounded by lush hills and snow-covered mountain peaks. It takes about an hour`s bus ride from Darjeeling to reach here.
You can decide whether you want to make the trek to Sandakphu a 2-day affair or prolong it, in which case you can undertake longer treks. The distance to Sandakphu from Menebhjang is 33 km. After trekking for the whole day you arrive at Sandakphu towards nightfall. On your return you can either trek or take a bus back to Darjeeling. The journey takes around six hours.If you are lazy and would prefer `trekking` in a car, take a Land Rover from Darjeeling.