The Rhododendron Trail
Duration : 9 day(s)
Sikkim located in the eastern Himalayas is endowed with a repository of floral wealth and is considered as one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. One of the most stunning sights you can witness, especially in the higher altitudes, is a whole forest ablaze with various hues of Rhododendrons during the local summer season.
A total of 36 species with 45 different forms including subspecies and varieties occur in Sikkim ranging from tiny mat-like growths in alpine region ( R. pumilum , R. setosum ) only a few cms tall to the giant R. arboretum standing at 25 mtrs.
The Rhododendron Trail is designed to allow you to discover this floral rainbow traveling in the comfort of a car. Best recommended for the local summer season (April - June), this tour takes you to the higher reaches of Tsomgo lake & the North Sikkim areas covering Lachung, Yumthang, Lachen & Thanggu. These areas vary in altitude from 2500 mtrs to 4250 mtrs and cover rhododendron reserves such as the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary near Gangtok and the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary near Lachung, the only area where you find R. niveum the state tree of Sikkim.
The itinerary offers you an introduction to the rhododendrons in Sikkim but if you are interested in a more detailed study the tour can be customized to suit your requirements.
Day 01 : Fly from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur and drive to Gangtok 1600 Meter (Distance : 175 km | Time : 5- 6 hrs approx). Drive through the Teesta valley to Gangtok. Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim , is a bustling town with a unique mix of the modern and the traditional. Overnight Hotel.
Day 02: Gangtok – Sightseeing We start the day with a visit to the Rumtek Monastery, located 24 kms away. This magnificent Buddhist monastery established by the late Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyupa sect is built as an exact replica of the original Kagyu monastery in Tibet . It is also the international headquarters of the Karma Kagyu centres.
On return to Gangtok, the post lunch sightseeing takes you the Government Institute of Cottage Industry, a centre that offers you the opportunity to observe the local artisans at work and their skills being imparted to young boys and girls. If you want to take back souvenirs, the institute's salesroom is well stocked with local handicraft and handloom products. Do-Drul Chorten - One of the most important stupas of Sikkim built by the late Venerable Trulsi Rimpoche in 1945-46, it contains a mandala of Dorji-Phurpa, holy texts, mantras and is encircled by 108 prayer wheels. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology - Situated close to the Chorten, this institute is a repository of the largest collection of Tibetan artifacts outside Tibet . Also renowned worldwide for the study of Buddhist philosophy and religion, it is a treasure house of rare Thankas, Buddhist icon and objects of art. Flowers Show Pavilion - Situated on the ridge above the city, this centre displays the floral diversity of Sikkim. The famed orchids of the state are on display as also a stunning variety of seasonal flowers. Overnight Hotel.
Day 03: Day excursion to Tsomgo Lake. (Distance : 70 km | Time : 5 hrs). Located east of Gangtok at an altitude of 3650 mtrs. The Tsomgo Lake is a typically beautiful mountain lake. The journey to the lake offers a magnificent view of Mt. Khangchendzonga and other peaks of Sikkim Himalayas. A visit to the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary opens a world of high altitude rhododendrons. The route to Tsomgo lake and especially the area around the lake is abundant with R. dalhousiae, R. campanulatum, Barbatum . Spend the day exploring. Return to Gangtok in the late afternoon and visit the local markets. Overnight Hotel.
Day 04: Drive from Gangtok to Lachung 2700 meters. ( Distance: 126 km. | Time: 6 hours (approx.) After breakfast drive to North Sikkim . Enroute visit Phodong Monastery. Built by the Chogyal Gyrumed Namgyal in the early eighteenth century, it is one of the important monasteries of Sikkim following the Kagyupa sect. The journey is lined with magnificent waterfalls and lush green forests. Overnight Hotel.
Day 05: Drive from Lachung to Yumthang 3600 meters. ( Distance: 24 km | Time: 1 hr (approx.) After breakfast drive to Yumthang. The road runs along the valley with snow capped mountains rising high up on either side. The journey is lit up with flaming rhododendrons and other mountain flowers. A visit to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, the only place where R. niveum, the state flower of Sikkim is found. The entire stretch to Yumthang valley and beyond to Yumesamdong have hillsides covered with white R. ciliatum , purple R. niveum , R. arboreum , and forests of R. hodgsonii and R. thomsonii , all growing in their native habitats – here you are in rhododendron heaven. Yumthang is a wide valley where the local herdsmen from Lachung camp their herds of yaks and cattle during summer. Return back to Lachung. Overnight Hotel.
Day 06: Drive from Lachung to Lachen 2700 meters (Distance : 57 km | Time : 2 hrs approx.) A fairly short drive ahead to Lachen allows us to visit the Lachung monastery. The drive to Lachen passes through thick forests of Magnolia & oak and fir in the upper reaches. On arrival at Lachen visit the Lachen monastery. A quaint little village the local community practices a traditional system of local governance – “ Dzumsa”. The “ Pipon” or the headman and his council are elected each year by the local families which implement all developmental projects in the area as well as social occasions like the Sikkimese New Year, “ Losoong” , and even decides the date when yak & cattle herds are to be moved in summer & autumn. Overnight Hotel.
Day 07: Drive from Lachen to Thanggu 4000 meetrs ( Distance : 28 km | Time : 1 hr approx.) The drive to Thanggu takes us to high mountain country with fascinating snow peaks rising up the valley. The area around Thanggu, small summer village of the Lachen people, abound in R. campanulatum, R. wightii, R. pumilum , R. setosum a truly great experience. A day, with lunch at the local inn, spent in this wondrous place is a cherish-able memory. Return to Lachen. Overnight Hotel.
Day 08: Drive from Lachen to Gangtok ( Distance : 123 km | Time : 6 hrs approx). Overnight Hotel.
Day 09: Drive from Gangtok to Bhadrapur to connect the flight to Kathmandu.
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis as per the itinerary.
- All transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary in Jeep (max. capacity 4 clients) / Van (max. capacity 3 clients).
- Permit & Entry fees.
- Experienced English speaking guide.
- Personal & baggage insurance.
- Personal expenses – tips, laundry, phone etc.
- Alcoholic drinks.
- Extra costs on account of change of itinerary by clients.
- Extra costs on account of road blockages, strikes and events beyond our control.
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