This One-day Trek Through Sikkim's Rhododendron Sanctuary Is Full Of Surprises

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Trek to Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

Photo of This One-day Trek Through Sikkim's Rhododendron Sanctuary Is Full Of Surprises by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

Just imagine walking along a canopy of greenery and viewing colourful rhododendrons in full bloom! Wherever your eyes go, you can only see riot of colours. The Barsey or Varsey Rhododendron Trek has all these and much more. Barsey trek is one of the most colourful treks and has variety of species of rhododendrons blooming at the season. It is such a trek that will surprise you at every turn.

The entrance to the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

Photo of Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, West Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

The Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is situated in West Sikkim. It falls in the Singalila Range and is a part of the Singalila Ridge Trek route. The starting point of the trek is at Hilley. The trek is a 4.5 km easy trek suitable for all. It gradually climbs to a height of 10000 ft where you can view grandiose view of the Kanchenjunga ranges.

At Hilley, you will see the check post and entrance to the Barsey Rhododendron sanctuary. That is your entry point. A friendly guide waits at the entrance and you have to get tickets to enter the sanctuary. There is a well marked path that would leads to the destination. The trekking route passes through deep forest of oak, primulas, pine, bamboo, rhododendrons and various ferns and moss.

The forest trail

Photo of Hilley, West Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

The sanctuary is also known for its variety of fauna. The endangered Himalayan red panda is also found here. If you are lucky enough, you might as well sight the elusive but cute panda. Apart from the red panda, you can also find Himalayan Giant Squirrel, Pangolin and Himalayan Black Bear, Jackal, wild boar and Langur.

Blue Rhododendrons - rare in Sikkim

Photo of This One-day Trek Through Sikkim's Rhododendron Sanctuary Is Full Of Surprises by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

The colourful rhododendrons also attract a lot of Himalayan birds also to the sanctuary. Barsey is a bird watcher’s delight and you can sight many exotic Himalayan birds here.

Rhododendrons

Photo of This One-day Trek Through Sikkim's Rhododendron Sanctuary Is Full Of Surprises by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

The trek will take finally take you to the hill top where the trekker’s hut named Guras Kunj is located. As you move through the forest, you will see the rhododendron trees blooming with flowers of various colours – white, pink and red peeping amidst the luscious greenery. If you are lucky enough, then you can also view the blue rhododendron. The blue one is considered a rare species at Sikkim. The vibrant colours made the place look heavenly.

Photo of Guras Kunj, West Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

And once you are at the hilltop, you will be awarded by panoramic views of the Kanchanjunga ranges. The stunning views of the snow clad mountains will definitely leave you mesmerized. The Barsey is a splendid place and an absolute nature lover’s paradise.

Photo of This One-day Trek Through Sikkim's Rhododendron Sanctuary Is Full Of Surprises by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

Trek Details:

Total Distance of the trek: 4.5 km one way

Trek type: Easy trek. The path follows easy gradient.

Walking along the rhododendron trail

Photo of Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, West Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

How to Reach Barsey:

The nearest airport is Bagdogra airport and the nearest Railway head is New jalpaiguri (NJP). From either place you can take book a cab and go to Hilley.

Alternatively, take an auto from NJP to Jorethang bus stand in Siliguri (near Payel Cinema Hall). From there take a shared vehicle to Jorethang. From Jorethang, you will get a shared vehicle to Okhrey.

From Okhrey, you have to book a vehicle to Hilley.

Okhrey is a small picturesque village on the way to Hilley. The distance between the two places is just 25 km.

Okhrey has more options for staying than Hilley. Okhrey is a great place to stay in tranquility and experience the balmy weather of Sikkim. You can also view great sunsets from Okhrey.

Places to stay at Barsey:

Barsey has only two options for staying. There is the trekkers hut or Guras Kunj. It has two rooms and a long dormitory. There is also a Forest Barrack that provides accommodation. The Guras Kunj is however the better alternative.

Trekker's Hut - Guras Kunj

Photo of Guras Kunj, West Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

Best time to Visit:

March and April are the best time to do the Barsey Trek to see the rhododendrons in full bloom. According to the locals though, the best time is between the last week of March and the first week of April when there is maximum bloom. Though, the flowers bloom every year, but there is a mega bloom every three years when the whole forest turns into a riot of colours. You will only see the colourful rhododendrons all around. The last mega bloom was in 2016. Otherwise, you can visit Barsey all round the year. During the monsoons, please be careful of leeches.

The dormitory at Guras Kunj

Photo of This One-day Trek Through Sikkim's Rhododendron Sanctuary Is Full Of Surprises by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

Itinerary:

Day 1: From NJP/ Bagdogra, travel to Okhrey through Jorethang. You can either stay at Hilley or Okhrey. Hilley has only one homestay with very basic facilities.

Okhrey, on the other had has better accommodation options. Hilley is the starting point of the Barsey Rhododendron Trek.

Day 2: Start early after having breakfast. The trek is easy and will take around 2 hours to reach the Guras Kunj. Stay overnight at Guras Kunj or the Forest Barrack.

Day 3: Wake up early in the morning to view the sunrise at the mountain ranges. Roam about the place and then return back to Hilley. From Hilley, you can return back to Siliguri or Gangtok.

Photo of Hilley, West Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Amrita (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

A few things to remember:

Sikkim is one of the cleanest states of India. So refrain from throwing plastics and wrappers anywhere in the public places. Also, the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is an ecosystem that supports a number of rare and endangered flora and fauna. Please do not litter the place, pluck flowers or touch the trees and flowers or disturb the wildlife.

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