The Singalila Ridge Trek is one of India's most spectacular hikes. With awe-inspiring views of the world's highest peaks, this hike is definitely one for your bucket list!
Singalila Ridge Trek
The Singalila Ridge Trek is one of the most spectacular treks in India and follows the northern ridge that separates the vast country from that of its smaller neighbor - Nepal.
As you ascend up onto the ridge itself you're greeted with some of the most impressive vistas on earth. The high Himalaya region stretches out in front of you as you gaze across at the world's five tallest mountains including Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kachenjunga.
Not only do you experience incredible views, you're also greeted with a wide array of flora and fauna along the trek. You'll hike up through mountain forests, past lovely areas of bamboo, camp among rhododendrons and hike high into mountain scrubland zones. Look out for the rare red panda and keep a sharp eye out for bears, boar and barking deer. If you're lucky you might spot some of the colorful pheasants along the route.
On the hike, you'll pass hamlets, teahouses and military check points as you will sometimes be trekking on the Nepalese side of the ridge. The trail is well defined and the trek can either be done with an operator or with a single guide - depending on your experience levels.
Please Note: The trek is moderately difficult due to the high altitude of the ridge which is constantly above 3,000 meters. The ascent to the ridge can be strenuous and we suggest having a good level of stamina to complete this trek. Accommodation is generally camping and the nights get very cold.
The Singalila Ridge is located on the north-south mountain ridge running from northwestern West Bengal through the region of Sikkim in the Indian part of the Himalayas.
Please see map below for details.
Singalila Trek Itinerary
Below is a detailed Singalila Ridge Trek itinerary. Please note that this is a typical itinerary that we would expect many operators to adhere to. Some tour operators, however, offer variations on this route. In particular, operators will often offer an extension that explores the local areas most popular sites.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Arrive in Delhi international airport where you will be transferred to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city and take in the busy and colorful culture.
Day 2: Transfer to Darjeeling
The next morning, it's back to the airport to take a domestic flight to Bagdogra where you will be transferred to your hotel in Darjeeling - a 4 hours' drive away.
Day 3: Guided tour of Darjeeling
Today, you will be given a guided tour of Darjeeling and the surrounding sites. You'll visit sites such as the mountain institute, Tibetan refugee center, local tea plantations, monasteries and the Narrow Gauge Railway. In the evening take a stroll around Darjeeling to soak up the fabulous culture of the city.
Day 4: Drive to Dhodray - Trek Towards Singalila Ridge
After a leisurely breakfast, you will take a car to the local town of Dhodray (2 hours). From here your trek begins! Your trek begins in meadows which quickly lead to rhododendron forests. All the way you will have epic views of Mount Kanchenjunga. You camp the night at 'trekkers hut' at Tonglu. Here the view is nothing short of spellbinding.
Day 5: Trek to Jaubari - and then to Kalpkhari (3024m)
The trail today will begin with an ascent along dirt tracks and also jeep roads. By midday you will have reached the village of Jabari where you stop for a well earned tea break. After your stop you then start ascending once again as you head for Singalila Ridge. The trek is fairly short to give your body enough time to acclimatize. You camp for the night at Kalpokhari (Black Lake) at 3024 meters.
Day 6: Trek to Sandakphu Ridge Top (3636m)
Today is the first day you'll reach the top of the Singalila Ridge! After 3 hours trekking uphill you'll crest the ridge where you are rewarded with the most spectacular views you are ever likely to witness. On a clear day you will be able to see the big 4 - Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. You will have the afternoon at camp to explore the area and find the best viewpoints.
Day 7: Trek to Sabagram (3425m)
Make sure you get up early to experience the beautiful sunrise over Kachenjunga and get the star photo! After breakfast you will make your way along the undulating ridge. The trail is not demanding, and you will have plenty of time to admire the incredible views along the way. Pray for a clear day as this is without doubt one of the best ridge walks on the planet! In the afternoon you will arrive at Sabagram where you camp for the night.
Day 8: Trek to Singalila Peak at 3695m - Trek to Phalut - Descend to Samadeen
Another long day as you set off early to hike along the ridge to the high point of your trek at the summit of Singalila Ridge (3695m). Enjoy the fluttering prayer flags and stare down at the Sikkim border from way above. From here you will also have fantastic views of Kanchenjunga.
After your lunch in Phalut you will begin your descent from the ridge. You head east down through chestnut forests and rhododendrons all the while looking out for animals and birds. After several hours depending you reach the lovely village of Samadeen where you camp the night.
Day 9: Descend to Village of Rimbik
Today is a pleasant descent through farmland and beautiful forests. After crossing over the Siri Khola river you break for lunch. You'll then trek through the afternoon until you reach the picturesque village of Rimbik where you stay overnight.
Day 10: Drive to Kalimpong - Explore the Town
After saying your final farewells to your guides, you depart by car for the town of Kalimpong. You'll have lunch and get the chance to explore the Bazaar town and take in all of its interesting sites and food houses.
Day 11: Sightseeing
Today, you will have a guided tour of Kalimoog and the surrounding region. This will generally include the awesome Durpin Monastery.
Day 12: Departure
You will be returned to Bagdogra airport where you will take a return flight to Delhi. Stay overnight before being transferred to Delhi international airport the next morning where you will take your return flight home.
Singalila Ridge Trek FAQ
How much does the Singalila Ridge Trek cost?
The cost of an Singalila Ridge Trek varies depending on how you choose to operate your trek. If you decide to the trek the route with a western operator, then you should expect to pay in the region of US$1500-$2000. The prices for a local guide are considerably cheaper and would cost you between $15-$20 a day, including board and food if you need it.
You will also need to pay a permit fee for entering the Singalila National Park. The amount is very small. Roughly $5.
If you trek with a western operator, the itinerary will include a number of sightseeing days on top of your actual trek. These days will be professionally guided and you'll learn a lot about the local region.
Other costs include:
- Visa, Vaccinations, Insurance etc: ~$300-$500
- Equipment (buying and hiring): ~$500-$800
- Flights to Leh: ~$1,000
- Tips: ~$100-$200
- Misc (additional food, unplanned travel / hotels ect): $200
Are permits required for the Singalila Rigde Trek?
Permits are required to enter the Singalila National Park. You will also require a permit at the border controls between India and Nepal for trekking in Sikkim. These are covered by your operator. If travelling without an operator you will need to purchase one prior to departing.
How many miles is the Singalila Ridge Trek?
The Singalila Ridge Trek takes around 6-8 days to complete and is approximately 52 miles (84 kilometers). The max elevation of the Singalila Ridge Trek is 12,000 feet / 3,636 meters.
When is the best time to complete the Singalila Ridge Trek?
This is an important question as the views are paramount on this trek. To give yourself the best chance of getting a clear view, we recommend trekking the Singalila ridge in Autumn (September-October). Mornings are often cold and cloudy, but later in the day, the weather is often crisp and clear. Past November, you should expect white-out days far more frequently.
Springtime is also a good option as days are often clear and you get to see the rhododendrons in full flower! During winter, the trek experiences heavy snowfall and makes the area very isolated.
Is altitude sickness a risk on the Singalila Ridge Hike?
Yes, the Singalila Ridge trek is conducted at high altitude. For much of the week, you will be walking at over 3,000 meters in altitude. Your guide will take things slow, and you will certainly have enough time to acclimatize. However, not everyone reacts the same and there is no guarantee you will not experience altitude sickness.
Therefore, it is important to have a detailed understanding of the risks associated with high altitude trekking and how the body acclimatises. We recommend you read our detailed article on Altitude Sickness and Acclimatization.
How difficult is the Singalila Ridge Trail?
The Singalila Ridge trek is considered moderately difficult. The high altitude makes the trek harder, however, it is not a long trek and your body will not suffer badly. There a few steep sections and the first three days are often uphill. Therefore, it is advised that you have a good stamina level and have previously trekked at high altitude.
What gear do I need to hike Singalila Ridge?
Trekking in the Sikkim region requires a number of essential pieces of trekking clothing and equipment. The Singalila Ridge trek is both a fun and challenging experience. It exposes you to a range of altitudes and temperatures, particularly at night when the weather can get very cold.
Many pieces of equipment can be rented or bought in Darjeeling, but we recommend bringing the most important pieces of gear with you. To help you plan and prepare for your trek, we have written a detailed multi-day hiking gear list.
Are there any recommended guidebooks for the Singalila Ridge Trek?
There are a number of excellent guides we recommend for the Singalila Ridge Trek. These are:
- Trekking in the Indian Himalaya by Lonely Planet
- Trekking Guide to the Western Himalayas by Depi Chaudhry
- Trekking and Climbing in The Indian Himalaya by Harish Kapadia
See more information on India. Or check out these other Indian Hiking articles: