Katao:-Katao is situated in North Sikkim (India) and is nearly 144 kilometres from Gangtok. Katao Valley is situated at an altitude of nearly 15000 and is far away from the centre of Sikkim. Staying at Lachung one can visit Katao. With the panoramic view of snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The valley is sparsely covered with poppy, primulas and rhododendron. A military check-post is nearby. Katao Valley is around 24 kilometres from Lachung.We had lots of fun in Katao with snow great experience totally worth of money.
We packed our breakfast for having it on the way towards Yumthang valley but much to our dismay, we were stopped just about 4 km into the valley by an army personnel. We were informed that a large snow boulder has blocked the way up ahead and it would take atleast a couple of days to clear the path. We were dejected to hear that after travelling so far from Gangtok only to be sent back midway. After much of a thought and inquiring with our driver and tour organizer, we decide to explore Katao which was ahead of Lachung more close to the border area. Ideally this location is not included in the itinerary and the permit has be obtained in person at the local army checkpoint before proceeding ahead. There is obviously a fee included to make such an expedited permit. The way to Katao was the most scenic of the entire tour. We could see lachung getting smaller and smaller as we were closing onto the mighty Mount Katao. Thick patches of snow started emerging on the sides of road as we finally stopped amidst dense pine trees with a fresh blanket of snow all around us. It was a perfect spot to spend a lazy afternoon soaking sun, shooting memorable pictures and trying to make a perfect snowman. We left late in the afternoon knowing that it would be dark by the time we reach Gangtok. The way back was faster as we were only descending all the way till the capital city.Shuffle Momos at the start of the mall road made a perfect dinner spot for that evening. We tried numerous kinds of momos and the Cheese aalo/Pork fried were the best among the lot. Shuffle momos takes pride in making the thinnest outer layer of the momos in entire Sikkim. After an usual long stroll around the mall road we called it a day rest our sleepy heads.
Katao is the name of a majestic mountain, located 28 kms from Lachung and goes to an altitude of ~ 15000 ft. This peak marks the border of India and Tibet. It is easily the most spectacular peak I've ever been to. The views and journey to the top still feels surreal. The best part is a stunning waterfall at the top of the peak that feels like a dreamland with glaciers on each side of the fall and the gushing sound the water makes amidst absolute silence.
Unfortunately, since it has snowed the previous night, the road to Yumthang Valley was closed now and there was no way to go there. So, we had to return back to Gangtok instead but we did enjoy snow-covered Lachung.
Next morning we had to start early to chase the sun rising from the Katao Military Base. It is around 2 hrs journey from Lachung. No vehicles or civilians are allowed beyond this point. The place in itself is a beauty which is covered with high snow capped mountain peaks on all sides.NOTE : Katao, Yumthang Valley & Zero Point are hard to be covered in a single day, thus we woke up at 4 am to start our journey as we had to return to Gangtok the same day. Also Katao is not a standard place of visit in package and we requested our cab driver to take us there for which he charged extra.