Date of Journey: 8May, 2010
Duration: 6 Nights 7 Days
Highest Altitude: 10,560 ft
Team Members: 7
Guide: Vaichung Sherpa
It was 8th May, 2010 we actually started our journey to Sikkim - the land of beauty. We had planned to conduct two different treks in this trip. The 1st one was Varsey Rhododendron trek and the rest one was Maenam trek. We took Tista-Torsa Express from Sealdah for NJP at about 1:40pm and reached NJP before we expected (3am). We had some time in hand to refresh our body for upcoming events. We took a shower at NJP station, had some tea and ready to go.
After "fighting" with drivers and brokers we hired a Bolero from NJP station and went for Okhrey at 6:30 morning. We had the plan to take the following road trail for today -
After crossing the Sebok military base camp we saw mountain with deep forest. After some time Tista joined our party. At Toy Train Bridge Tista was very calm. After that we saw Sebok Bridge - the bridge having a unique structure. We took some quick photographs here. After reaching Tista Bazar, we saw the mighty form of Tista. We took our breakfast at Melli Bazar with Momo. But surprisingly that Momo was not tasty! Melli Bazar is the crossing between West Bangal and Sikkim.
Finally we entered in Sikkim at 9:45am, after crossing the West Bangal-Sikkim check post. At this point we had three beautiful rivers with us - Tista, Rangeet and Rimbi. They were like three sisters. The road trail was really enjoyable with many spectacular views such as blue sky with floating clouds, wide range of mammoth mountains, green landscapes and many more.
At noon we reached Jorethang (83 kms from NJP, alt - 300 m). Jorethang is one of the major towns in South Sikkim and mainly popular for its geographic location. It is one of the most crowdie places in Sikkim with lot of trekkers, travelers, drivers, tour conductors, and it's the last economical lifeline for trackers and hikers. We spent some time over here and resumed our journey.
We started our journey from Jorethang. On the road we saw some awesome beauties of nature. After 2 hours we reached Somberia - a hill village. Here we felt that the surrounding temperature has changed drastically. There were cocktails of fog and cloud in our car. This road trail from Somberia to Okhrey was unforgettable. Small mountain villages, schools, monastry, different species of trees, flowers, and birds were there in that trail. After crossing the heavenly path we reached Okhrey (West Sikkim) at about 1pm. We stayed at Sherpa Lodge. We put our luggages in the dormitory and walked around the village. There was a Monastry and a school at Okhrey. To reach there you have to hike a bit without any vehicle support. We went there and found children singing melodious songs along with their teacher under deep blue sky with gigantic mountain ranges in their background as spectators, it was amazing. Here we touched the first Rhododendron.
We had our lunch in a road side hotel near our dormitory at 2pm. After that is was the time for some rest. Afternoon we went to another downhill village. After coming back from there, before evening we follow the road towards Hilley until it was dark. This road was the path towards Varsey. At around 8pm we had our dinner. We took our bed after spending some time outside looking at sparkling stars.Places of Interest
This day was for Varsey trek. Hence we started at 5:45 in the morning. We hired a car and went towards Hilley. This route was also very beautiful. We saw different flowers and birds in this track. Our driver introduced them to us with their local name.
Hilley is the last motorable road before Varsey. From Hilley we started trekking. There was a check point at Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary's gate. But we hadn't seen anyone there. We entered Varsey through pine forest. Oh it was really beautiful. It is hard to explain on paper, what we experienced on Varsey. In West Sikkim Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is situated in between the Singalila National Park (south) and Kangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (north). It is located at an altitude of 10,000 ft, 104 km2 and known for wide variety of bio-diversity. But Rhododendron is the main point of attraction in Varsey. Varsey is renowned for its various (color and type) rhododendron species. You can find rare blue colored rhododendrons in Varsey. Every year in April-May Varsey is covered with red blanket of rhododendron.
After a pleasant 4 km trail we came near Guras Tal at 6:45am. Where Guras means Rhododendron and tal signifies lot in local language. If you want to stay in Varsey, you can stay here in Guras Kunj Lodge. This is the best view point for Kanchendzonga. But we were so unlucky due to cloudy sky we not only missed Kanchendzonga but also missed the fire fledged beauty of Varsey because of hailstones. Still whatever we saw in Varsey was really beautiful. Afterwards we enjoyed some warm tea at Guras Kunj and finally returned back to Hilley following the same road. Our driver was there. We were on our way to Okhrey then we stopped in front of a small beautiful lake, took some snaps. There we saw a small version of strawberry like fruit here and there, locally called ishalu. We also found some rhododendrons in the road side woods.Places of Interest
We returned to our lodge for check out and started our journey towards Pelling via Jorethang. At around 2:45pm we finished our lunch with momo. We were so tired so that we hadn't enjoyed this road much. But honestly that was also a beautiful road trip. Especially near before Pelling the road side deep pine forest with the mixture of fog and cloud made us very thrilled. Pelling(West Sikkim, 10km from Geyzing, altitude - 7200 ft) is one of the popular tourists spot in Sikkim. We stayed at Hotel Viewpoint that night. We had our dinner at Vaichung Hotel at 9:20pm.
After a peaceful night we had a new day to enjoy. As per tracker point of view it's a buffer (resting) day. As we were interested in exploring various tourists' attractions, nearby Pelling. So early In the morning we walked towards Pelling Helipad to see the better view of Kanchendzonga. Fortunately at that point of time we were blessed by God's kindness, oh Yaah, the mighty Kanchendzonga range finally unfolded her beauty with clear blue sky. Being very happy we returned to our hotel and started journey at 8:35am for side scene with a new hired car. We enjoyed different tourist's spots whole day and returned back in the evening. Then we followed a road towards Nakuchumbong village, but it was too dark, and the road became too dangerous to walk in dark, so, we returned back to hotel and enjoyed that fabulous starry night.Places of Interest
In the early morning at around 8:30am we checked out from our hotel and headed towards Ravongla or Ravong (South Sikkim, 3600 ft). It was like a beautiful road trip till we reached Ravong from Pelling. We had our lunch at Kewzing with some local food called Thukpa and Phaley. Close to 12 O'clock we reached Ravong , booked a hotel just to drop our belongings and went for local side scene near Ravong hiring another vehicle. After visiting some beautiful places we returned back and prepared for next day's trekking.Places of Interest
Next day morning around 7 O'clock we started from Maenam check post entry for the final trekking of this trip. For guidance we hired a 15 year old boy named Vaichung with us. We also hired utensils, kerosene, stove, mattress, water jar and bought rice, Cerials, eggs and some others food stuffs. We planned to spend the night at Maenam top. For this trekking you have to take permission from forest department office at Ravong. You also don't need to take tent for staying at Maenam top because there is an abandoned monastery, anyone can use it for staying.
The trail was really challenging. Varsey trek was quicker with respect to Maenam. The trail was very stiff and very hard to complete for those who doesn't have any trekking experience before. You can see a board at the check post where you can find the various available species of trees, birds and animals available at Maenam. At times you might feel frightened to find unavailability of light on ground as gigantic trees spread their tentacles so wide that even sun cannot penetrate through it. On top of it we experienced severe encounter with leeches in this trail thirsty for human blood. So, be prepared.
After losing some valuable calories and fighting with leeches we finally reached Maenam top (10,560 ft). Obviously being quite happy we tried to enjoy every moment we were left with. We gathered dry branch of trees for camp fire and dry grass for bedding, it was quite a fun as all these moments were pretty different than usual. In the afternoon the camp fire ceremony became flop due to sudden appearance of rain. Night there was so very cold at Mainam top, hence we put some dry grass on the floor of the room and put bed sheet over it, to find some comfort.
We cooked Khichuri(Mixture of Rice & cerials) and fried eggs and finished our dinner by 9pm. We planned Valey Dunga for next day morning and went for sleep. But we had to drop our plan as one of our members (NILANJAN) was severely vomiting since midnight. We were seriously concerned about his condition. At 4am we decided to move downwards towards Ravong. It was like rush hour, we literally ran all the way down. We reached Ravong with a flash in the morning.Places of Interest
After reaching Ravong, first thing was to take Nilanjan to the doctor. Doctor said those eggs which we eat last night were the main reason behind his illness (vomiting). We reached hotel safely. After taking a cool shower and having some food, we rode a new hired Qualis towards Siliguri. From Siliguri we took a bus for Esplanade(Kolkata). From there we left for our homes...More Images