Sikkim, a less-visited state in the Himalayas, truly embodies the tranquillity of the region. As part of northeastern India, Sikkim shares borders with Nepal, China, and Bhutan. Situated in a lush valley with pristine trails and stunning views of the majestic Kanchenjunga Mountain, Sikkim is a trekker’s paradise. Treks in Sikkim lead you to scenic locations, one that you would keep as a cinematic video rather than compensating with pictures. The charm of this beautiful place lies in the many wondrous places one can see on foot, including rich cultural heritage, fantastic flora and fauna, and breathtaking landscapes.
Despite many routes being closed from December to February, there are some spectacular treks you can try, witnessing its radical beauty, during the rest of the year. Below I have curated a list of the best treks in Sikkim, you definitely should try if you are an avid trekker or even just a beginner. The best time to visit Sikkim, be it any trek or just backpacking across different parts of the trek is in the summer months of March to May and then between September and November. Going up to -20 degrees in winters, Sikkim receives very heavy snowfalls in winters, as a result, all trek routes and higher altitude destinations are closed in winters. It is not advised to go on these treks in June, July and August as Sikkim receive heavy rainfalls making the trails slippery and prone to landslides.
Base camps for the majority of treks are in Yuksom, a rather interesting town of Sikkim. It has some great monasteries, historically important buildings. Yuksom can be reached either from Darjeeling or Gangtok using a bus, or a private cab. These two modes of transport are the most used ones as they are easily accessible and will take you to all the base camps.
With the 3rd largest mountain peak in the world, Kanchenjunga standing tall, there is no way you’re going without some great pictures and mesmerizing views.
Known for the humble people, Sikkim also has amazing food, cultural diversity and beautiful buildings you cannot miss. It definitely has some amazing trails and expeditions you need to try, a list of which I have happily curated for you all to use next time you decide to go there.
- Goecha La Trek
- Rhododendron Trek
- Dzongri Trek
- Sandakphu Trek
- Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
- Kasturi Orar Round Trek
- Green Lake Trek
- Varsey Trek
Also Read: 10 Lesser-Known Treks Of Uttarakhand You Must Try!
Goecha La Trek
One of the more familiar treks of Sikkim is the Goecha La trek, not only is it a famous one in India, but also very well known worldwide. For its trails through the Kanchendzonga national park and the spectacular views it offers of the Kanchenjunga mountain peak, it takes you pretty high up in the altitude. The highest point of the trek is Goecha la, at 4939 m above sea level. While on the trek, the terrain can range from moderately difficult to extremely difficult. Besides Kanchenjunga range views, this trek also includes views of 14 major peaks, some of which are located in Nepal.
The best time to visit is in summer April and May, or in the autumn between September and November. An 8-day trek to Goecha La starts from Yuksom. It is a moderate level trek achievable by beginners.
The trails take you through some scenic villages through the lush green valleys with dense alpine forests, rhododendrons blooming in a variety of colours adding so much playfulness to the scene. Being an artist myself, this whole trek is honestly not just a paradise for any adventurer but us artists too, or actually everyone. Taking you through Tuksom, Dzongri and various other places, you reach the highlight of the trek, the Goecha La or the Goecha Pass. Closed for visitors, only viewpoints are accessible, due to sitings of snow leopards in the area. From the Goecha La viewpoint, you can spot one of the most amazing views of the Kanchenjunga and Mt. Pandim. You’d find so many other mountain peaks are just lining up in front of you, putting up the best show to enjoy while sipping some hot tea, in the cold weather.
Taking you through trails covered in vibrant flowers in their full bloom, the Rhododendron trek takes you through the dreamy meadows and flower gardens all along the way for a total of 10 days. Only the idea of this trek sounds so romantic, one can only imagine how gorgeous it will actually be. It takes you through oak and Rhododendron forests along with a number of Sikkimese villages. As it is popularly known that Sikkimese people are one of the most humble people, this trek is the best for people who are looking to interact with, document the cultural heritage of the state, and experience the best of their benevolences, along with the ones just in awe of the nature.
Arboreum, Falconeri, Campanulatium, and Hodgson are a few species of Rhododendrons that you can easily spot all throughout the journey. Various species of ferns and other small flowers can also be spotted during the spring season. The best time to visit is between March to mid-May and mid-September to November, as these flowers are in their full bloom during these seasons.
This trek can be attempted by beginners and people of all age groups with a difficulty level of easy to moderate. The highest altitude of the Rhododendron trek is just 1728m above sea level.
The trek starts from Yuksom, located at a 4-5 hours drive from Gangtok. It takes you through the most gorgeous trails of Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary, where you can spot the beautiful fauna and high altitude birds. This trek is rather a simpler one with fewer days of trekking and more days of explorations. It can be considered a perfect romantic getaway with the red and pink rhododendrons and snow-covered mountains, with a number of lush forests to camp at.
Yuksom-Dzongri Trek is one of the most popular treks of Sikkim. It is a short but high-altitude trek. The route of the Dzongri trek is similar to the Goecha La trek, in fact, the Dzongri trek is the shorter version of it, giving almost the same experience. This trek takes a total of 5 days starting and ending at Yuksom. Dzongri or Dzongri la, is one of the perfect treks, to get the most majestic views of towering peaks of the eastern Himalayas. You can spot Kanchenjunga(8585m), Mt. Simvo(6811m), Mt. Kabru(7338m), Mt. Rathong(6679m), Mt. Kumbhakarna(7710m), Mt. Kokthang(6147m), Mt. Goecha peak(5127 m) and Mt. Frey peak (5830m) throughout the trails and from the viewpoint at Dzongri la.
The trek starts at Yuksom, known to be the initial capital of the state set up in the most picturesque location, and serves as the base camp for a lot of treks in Sikkim including the Goecha la trek. You can visit the Dubdi monastery there, which is the oldest monastery in Sikkim and the coronation throne of the first king of Sikkim still remains intact to this date. Visiting these local historical sites and spending a day in Yuksom will help you acclimatize to the weather and help you with the trek a lot better.
The first camping point is located in Tshoka and is a refugee settlement at a very high altitude(3000m) from where you can see majestic views of Mt. Pandim and a few others.
The stunning Dzongri viewpoint blesses you with a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains in all directions and as far as you can see. It is located at 4250m above sea level. Laxmi Pokhari, a lake situated at 4200m above sea level is a pristine one. You can visit it on the trek route. On a sunny day, the turquoise lake with Mt. Tenchingkhang and Mt. Pandim is truly like a laptop screensaver coming to life.
The best time to visit Dzongri is during the months of summer between March and June or during the fall season after the rains stop. During the monsoon, paths are slippery and prone to landslides. The trek spans over 5 days and requires you to be at least a little fit given the altitude.
Singalila Sandakphu Trek
Singalila-Sandakphu trek of Sikkim is most known for its picturesque views of the highest peak of the world, Mt Everest. On a clear sunny day, in the months of March to May and September to November, you can catch some breathtaking views of the highest mountain peak of the world, along with Kanchenjunga, Makalu, and Lhotse peaks as you walk through the lush green trails of Singalila national park. Sandakphu literally means the height of the poison plant, and given the name, you will come across the poisonous aconite trees in the region, one of the main attractions of the trek. As you walk through the dense forests, with oak and maple, colourful flower gardens, mystic meadows, ridges, tea gardens, and intriguing wildlife including tragopan of the pheasant bird family and red pandas.
With its majestic views to witnessing the wildlife of the eastern Himalayas, you get it all in this trek. An easy to moderate level, Sandakphu trek can be attempted by beginners and adventurers of all age groups owing to its adequate height and availability of oxygen. The maximum altitude, at 3640m, after walking the Singalila ridge, sits Sandaphu where you can find yourself surrounded by some great mountain tops and Singalila national park on all sides.
Sandakphu trek spans over a total of 5 days of trekking. Maneybhanjang is the starting point of the trek, which leads you to a number of small villages spread across the Singalila national park, Tonglu, Garibas, Sandakhphu, Phalut, Raman, and Rimbik. Sandakhphu with a strong cultural backdrop runs along the India Nepal border. It is a true paradise and can get extremely overwhelming witnessing the mighty Mount Everest.
Mane Bhanjang is located 1-2 hours away from Darjeeling and at a 4-hour drive from Bagdogra/Njp. These are the two more preferred locations to get a bus or taxi to the base camp. A drive from Gangtok is also another route taking up to 4 hours to reach.
Also Read: Hampta Pass Trek Guide
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
Kanchenjunga is popularly known as the third highest mountain peak in the world. It is truly a mesmerizing sight to witness. Before k2 and Mt. Everest were discovered in the year 1849, it was the world’s highest peak. This trek to Kanchenjunga base camp is a total visual treat. Again, starting from Yuksom, through Tshoka, Thangsing, Dzongri, Lamune, Goecha La, Samiti and Kokchorung the beautiful trails will take you to the Kanchenjunga base camp located at a height of 5086m above sea level. Amidst the glittery snow-capped mountains and clouds almost beneath you, Even though you’re not, nobody will stop you from feeling on top of the world.
It is an 8-day expedition taking you through some small isolated villages set with towering mountain peaks in the backdrop and surrounded with Magnolia and Rhododendron trees, meadows and gorgeous tea gardens with a vast cultural heritage for you to explore; especially the monasteries, colourful buildings and humblest people.
Like all the other treks and expeditions in Sikkim, the best time to visit is between March and June or in the fall season during September to November.
Considering the altitude of the trek and the steepness of the mountains, it definitely is a challenging one. You need to have a good fitness level and need to know a few trekking tips. The oxygen levels are low and have proven to be dangerous for some people.
Kasturi Orar Round Trek
Kasturi trek has the most breathtaking trails, as it takes you through Goecha la and Dzongri glaciers, Thangsing valley and ends at the gorgeous village of Tashiding. During the expedition, there are a lot of lesser-known paths of Kanchenjunga and some beautiful villages that you will come across. You can experience the Nepali culture there. This dreamy trek, duly takes you through some most beautiful paths, leading up to a stunning sight, is also a difficult one.
The Kasturi Orar trek takes you to a height of 5002 m above sea level and takes about 15 days and the best time to visit is in March-May and September to november.
Starting from the Yuksom base camp, you can reach there through bus or cab from Bagdogra/NJP or Gangtok, taking up to 5 hours of drive.
Green Lake Trek
In North Sikkim, lies the lesser explored, green lake. From the best of views to amazing flora and dense forests to take you through, north Sikkim is total bliss for an adventurer. One of the longest multi-day treks is the trek to Green lake which takes about 13 days. It takes you through various tribal villages, monasteries, forest trails, tea gardens and leaves you to a site like never seen before, the green lake. The place allows you to have a greater look at the towering peaks like Kanchenjunga mountain peak, Yalung Kang and Kangbachen, the shining snow-capped mountains line together with a few alpine trees to form a backdrop behind the lake with a spotless blue sky across Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim.
One of the most strenuous and challenging treks is the 13-day Green Lake trek. The trek begins in Lachen taking you through Tallem(3240m), Jakthang (3430m), Yabuk(4040m) to the Green Lake(4953m) where you can enjoy the majestic views of mountains and lush green meadows, camping there for a day the descend through the same route starts.
The best time to visit is in April, May, October and November as they are the least cold months in the state. Located in the northern part of Sikkim, you can take a bus or a private cab from Gangtok to reach Lanchen, the base camp for the trek. It is one of the finest treks in Sikkim.
The Varsey trek, one of the offbeat trekking trails of Sikkim takes you through a very colourful and soothing journey. An easy to moderate trek, it’s a perfect adventure getaway for beginners. Taking you to a height of 3300m, it is comparatively an easier expedition, and one can attempt as a beginner and also by people of different age groups.
It takes you through trails with blooming red and pink rhododendron trees lined up along them. It is a rather unexplored place and has equally majestic views of Mt. Kanchenjunga and other major mountain peaks.
It can be done in less than 5 days as well, with only a 12 km total trek route. The base camp lies in Damthang, located at a drive of 17 km from the capital city.
As mentioned above, these are some truly beautiful expeditions Sikkim has to offer. I am sure there must be so many more, considering Sikkim is still less explored. The Yuksom-Dzongri-Goecha La trek, or Sandakphu or the short treks to Varsey, The state is no less than any adventurer’s dream.
There are a number of agencies that provide these trekking experiences, at reasonable rates, including accommodation and food. With almost no worries at hand, you can attempt them, with your friends, families and partners or even solo. With the views of a few highest peaks of the world, treks in Sikkim are filled with amazing cultural diversity, the humblest of people, impeccable flora and fauna, lush green valleys filled with dense forests and some gorgeous rivers flowing throughout the journeys, I definitely know where I am going next. I am sure, now you too!