As soon as we reached the last point, an outlandish mound in Varsey, we literally gave ourselves away to the flowery temptations. A feeling of overwhelm gripped us. We were lost! The cool mists and winds hugged us with ecstasy and we couldn't turn down the welcoming glances of the pretty red, pink, fuchsia, magenta rhododendrons and raised the toast to the success of our Hilley - Varsey trek with the bites from the box of Jolbhora Sandesh - for no other way of celebrating would have been as sweeter.
We took rest for half an hour before starting our journey back to Hilley. Like other journeys, the way back wasn't as merry. We missed staying back upon the mound admiring the flowers, but, the harsh reality of our lives is we cannot enjoy good moments for long. The trail back to Hilley seemed unending. We huffed, puffed and longed to get back to a comfort of an eatery. With our tummies growling loudly, we had to pace ahead towards the entrance gate. Later, as we sat to have a simple lunch at Hilley beside a fireplace, we reminisced the floral getaway and never stopped admiring the wonders of our nature.
Important Details of this trek:
a) We stayed in Rinchenpong (West Sikkim) and drove for about 2.5 - 3 hours to Hilley.
b) If you want to stay inside the sanctuary or nearby Varsey, you would need to book rooms in Guras Kunj or carry your own tents. No other accomodation is available except Guras Kunj.
c) Another alternative is to stay in Okhrey or Hilley and do the trek.
d) You might want to take your family members and relatives who are senior citizens if they are fit and willing to. It's a doable trek for them (I took my mother in law who suffers from a knee problem). Take care to keep yourselves hydrated and not to forget carrying chocolates and dates which provide us with instant energy.
e) If you take the senior members (as discussed in the above point) along, it is advisable to stay at Okhrey, Hilley or Rinchenpong and complete the trek in a day as we did because it can be an ordeal for our seniors to stay in tents.
Approximate time taken
The entire trek took about 4 - 4.5 hours to complete. (Walking up to Varsey and coming back to Hilley.) We drove back to Rinchenpong on the same day.
The best time to experience the Rhododendron extravaganza is from the last week of March to mid-May.