Exploring Himalayan heights – In the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim, several mountain peaks, flowers and breath-taking views welcome trekkers.
Home to breath-taking peaks of the Himalayas and a number of wildlife sanctuaries along with rhododendron flowers, Sikkim makes for an ideal state to make trekking itineraries in. Bordered by neighbouring countries of India, Bhutan, Nepal and China, it is home to glaciers as well as parts of the Kanchenjunga, which Is the third largest mountain in the world with five peaks. Summer months are the most preferred and hospitable months to plan treks up the hills of Sikkim yet visitors do visit in the months of September to November, just before the chilling winters set in. Depending on one’s physical fitness level, trekking is possible for both beginners and the more advanced.
Among the most popular treks in the state, the Yuksom to Goecha La treks is a wonderful option to begin with while exploring, with rhododendron flowers littering the way in spring and river Rathong Chu in sight. Known as the Goecha La Trek, this trek begins at the large settlement of Yuksom in the western part of Sikkim. Perhaps one of the reasons that this trek is so popular is because of the spectacular views of the hills it offers, with Kanchenjunga and another 14 or so large summits in the vicinity. October to November months are considered ideal for this trek as the sky clears up and the peaks in the distance can be seen. However, the cold starts settling in and one is advised to make adequate preparation for this trek which can last over a week. Before the trek begins, an entry needs to be made at the checkpoint, and as there are several routes to approach the top, one is advised to go in for a guided trek up these mountains as the trail is not clearly marked throughout.
Another fun trek in Sikkim is the Green Lake Trek, a picturesque climb up the hills to see the Green Lake. En route the lake, which is considered the base of the Kanchenjunga, this trek provides for a surreal experience with a number of flowers on the way. The trek takes one to North Sikkim’s Zemu Glacier, starting from Thangu valley, that is located 30 kilometres from Lachen in northern Sikkim. This is a more intensive almost two-week trek, with rugged terrains and requires acclimatisation to avoid mountain sickness. This trek also requires several permits so preparations need to be made in advance.
Flowers in the hills
Sikkim’s vast natural beauty is only enhanced by the large presence of flowers in this state, and the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is a picturesque place that passes through a forest that has the Kanchenjunga peaks in the backdrop. Not only are there a large number of wildlife species, trees as well as other flora and fauna to be found in this sanctuary, the flower it is named after, rhododendron is its speciality.
A trek through this sanctuary could thus be another option to explore, especially for those who love the sight of flowers. The trek begins by registering at the Hilley Forest, with several options to explore the sanctuary ranging from a day to a seven-day trip. Depending on one’s level, one can opt for a short or long trek.
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