It was a well planned and researched trip with a trek. Our aim was to do the rhododendron trek starting from Uttarey village in west Sikkim and ending at Hiley. It was a 40 km trek spread across 5 days. The best time ( you will see the rhododendron flowers and Kanchenjunga all through the trek)to do the trek is the spring season which is first week of April. We took an early morning flight from Chennai to Kolkatta on 29th April and from there we took a noon Shatabdi train to NJP. We stayed for a night at NJP and on next day we started to Uttarey from NJP.
Note that there are no direct buses or shared taxis from NJP to Uttarey. We had to take an auto to a near by town called Silguri, from there take shared taxi to Jorethang. The taxi would charge around 100, and then another taxi from Jorethang to Uttarey costing 170. There were land slides on the way and few stretches were bad too.
The village Uttarey alone is worth the visit. There are hardly any tourists.Its a quiet village with very few basic hotels. It you love peace then this the place to be. The people of the village were very kind and we stayed in a Sherpa's home stay for the night. This was the last night for the entire trip where we had a luxury of sleeping in a bed. From the next day for 5 days its going to be tent stay.
The trek started on 1st May, the target for the day is to reach the Chittre. The distance for the day 1 was 10 km. En-route you will see lots of streams, the trek passes through the thick jungle with well laid trails.
On the way to Chittre we got drenched in a non stop heavy rain, though we had rain coats it didn't help much, which led to shivering for all the three of us. We reached the camp around 2.30 PM and dried up. The porters and the cook were very kind and gave us good food on all the days. After resting for some time in the tent, we went to explore near by place with a short walk. As the evening sets in the mist was covering the forest and it was a treat to watch.
We stayed overnight at the Chittre camp and on next day our target was to reach Kalijhar campsite. The first 2 km were 45 degree steep with proper steps. At the end of 2 km we reached India-Nepal border called Chewabhajyang Pass. The view from here is awesome. The guide said beyond a stone it is Nepal. Its a small stone to mark the boundary.
We continued the trek further to reach the campsite Kalijhar, though this part of the trek is not steep we lost most of our energy and we were struggling.However porters who were carrying thrice the weight did it with ease. On the way to Kalijhar was the first time we had seen snow clad mountains. As the season for rhododendron was over we could see flowers on the trail all through the way...
After reaching the campsite post noon at Kalijar we had a lunch and nap in our tents. As the evening sets in we ventured out to explore a bit. The campsite was beautifully perched on the foot of mountain.
That night our guide said we need to wake up at 4 in the morning to view Kanchenjunga..So we went to sleep early and woke up at 4(the sun rises early in the north east part of India) and had to climb a short peak called Phoktey Danra were we would get good views. As we started the trek we could see the snow clad mount Kanchenjunga clearly but once we were about to reach the peak it was covered with clouds with zero visibility..
So after the first two days of ascend, we started descending. Our target for the day was Tholu Dhapp. As it was a descend we were able to do it comfortably. Here too the jungle experience was quite thrilling..
Waking up at Tholu Dhapp we started to trek to a campsite named Jorbutey. The trek was almost a flat one with rare ascending. On reaching the camp rain was pouring and we had hailstorms as well. Glad that our tent was strong enough to face the wind and stones. We didn't know that the view from this camp is also too good as it was covered with clouds most of the time.. Next morning our guide gave a wake up call to see the majestic mount Kanchenjunga....
On the final day we had to trek 10 km which is more or less flat trail with slopes here and there..As we had hailstorms previous day we were scared to finish the trek early so that we could escape from them. The final 4 km from Barsey to Hiley was also a beautiful one where we could see other fellow trekkers crossing us.
We finished our trek and stayed in place called Okhrey for the night and next morning started to return to NJP and then to Chennai via Kolkatta. The trek was a memorable one for the year... Hope this helps others... Happy travelling...
Note: None of the pictures were edited. The bw ones were shot in black and white mode.