Singalila National Park
Map Of Singalila National Park
Sandakphu, Srikhola, Phalut & Gorkhey Trekking Tour
The park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1986, and was made an Indian national park in 1992. The region had long been used as the trekking route from Manebhanjang to Sandakphu (the highest peak of West Bengal) and Phalut.
The park is located in the Darjeeling subdivision, Darjeeling district, West Bengal, India. It is bordered on the north by the state of Sikkim and on the west by the country of Nepal. Small settlements have grown up along the trekking route to Sandakphu and Phalut.
Wildlife & Vegetation
Flora: Thick bamboo, oak, magnolia and rhododendron forest between 2000 and 3600 m cover the Singalila Ridge. There are two seasons of wildflower bloom - one in spring (March and April) when the rhododendrons bloom, and another in the post-monsoon season (around October), when the lower forests bloom (Primula, Geranium, Saxifraga, Bistort, Senecio, Cotoneaster and numerous orchids).
Fauna: The park has a number of small mammals including the red panda, leopard cat, barking deer, yellow-throated marten, wild boar, pangolin and pika. Larger mammals include the Himalayan black bear, leopard, clouded leopard, serow and takin. The park is a birder's delight with over 120 species recorded including many rare and exotic species like the scarlet minivet, kalij pheasant, blood pheasant, satyr tragopan, brown and fulvous parrotbills, rufous-vented tit, and Old World babblers like the fire-tailed myzornis and the golden-breasted fulvetta. The park is also on the flyway of many migratory birds.
Park-specific information: The two seasons to visit the park are in spring (March–May) and post monsoon (mid-September to early December). The park is closed to tourists from 16 June to 15 September every year on account of the monsoons.
Trekking & Camping: The trek along the Singalila Ridge to Sandakphu and Phalut is one of the most popular ones in the Eastern Himalayas, due to the grand vistas of the Kangchenjunga range, and the Everest range which can be seen from the ridge, and also for the seasonal wildflower blooms and birding. Treks begin at Manebhanjan which is 51 km (1.5 hours by road) from Darjeeling.
The trekking routes inside the national park have 4 legs or stages.
Manebhanjan to Meghma (2600 m): This is a 4-hour trek through the lower forest
Meghma to Gairibans (2621 m): There are two alternative trekking routes. Both go via Tonglu (3070 m) and Tumling (2900 m). The boundary of the national park passes though Tomling and a checkpost is located there. From Tumling, a shorter trail cuts through Nepal and Jaubari (2750 m). Gairibans to Sandakphu (3636 m): This is a steep 4 hour climb up. Roughly halfway up the climb is the village of Kala Pokhri (3186 m). Sandakphu to Phalut (3600 m): This is the most pristine stretch of the trek, offering great views of Kanchenjunga and Mt. Everest. It is a one-day trek via Sabarkum (3536 m) covering 21 km. But the main problem of this Sandakphu-Phalut route is there is no water source in between so the trekker have to carry enough water to reach phalut.
The descent from Sandakphu can be accomplished in several ways:
Retracing the way back to Manebhanjan.
A steep descent to the village of Sirikhola on the banks of the River Sirikhola, via Gurdum (2300 m), and from there to Rimbik.
There is now a 4WD motorable road to Sandakphu, so one can hire a cab down to Manebhanjan and Darjeeling via Tomling and Tonglu if needed. The drive on the gravel road, however, is very arduous.
The descent from Phalut can also be accomplished in several ways:
Retracing the way back to Manebhanjan.
A descent down to Sirikhola along high altitude meadows which have seasonal blooms. The descent is via Sabarkum and the abandoned village of Molley. A further trek leads one to the scenic village of Rimbik, which is motorable.
The most popular descent is via the villages of Gorkey (on the banks of the River Rammam) and Samanden down to the village of Rammam. The trail then leads to Rimbik, and is shorter than the route via Sirikhola.
About Singalila National Park
Sandakphu is the highest peak in the district of Ilam, Nepal and West Bengal, India. It is the highest point of the Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district on the West Bengal-Nepal border. The peak is located at the edge of the Singalila National Park and has a small village on the summit with a few hostels. Four of the five highest peaks in the world, Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu can be seen from its summit. It also affords a pristine view of the entire Kangchenjunga Range.