The wildlife department’s slogan in Sandakphu reads "Leave nothing but foot prints and take nothing but memories"; that about sums up the advice trekkers need to follow while trekking to Sandakphu. Not a difficult choice given the precious memories that you take away from this pristine mountain paradise.
Sandakphu, the most popular trekking route in Darjeeling is located 58 km from Darjeeling and 31 km from Maneybhanjang, the starting point of the trek. It is located along the Singalila Ridge, therefore it is also known as the Singalila trek. The area defines the eastern border of India and Nepal with the towering Mt. Everest also known as Sagarmatha in the background including the peaks of Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu. A trekker is enthralled by the dizzy heights and grandeur of the mountain view which constitutes among the four highest peaks in the world – the Mt. Everest is the highest and the Kanchenjunga comes third while Lhotse and Makalu is the fourth and fifth highest peaks in the world, respectively.
Located at an altitude of around 12,000 feet above sea level, Sandakphu enjoys an elevated status physically and in the hearts and minds of trekker enthusiasts. Sandakphu is named so because of the profusion of poisonous aconite plants found in the area, and it literally means the ‘peak where poisonous plants grow’.
Apart from the awe inspiring and breathtaking views of the four highest peaks in the world; a peek at the lifestyles of the people living in the mountains and picturesque landscapes bedecked with rhododendrons and magnolias, Sandakphu is also a delight for bird lovers. Trekkers can expect to see Himalayan beauties like the Darjeeling Woodpecker, Himalayan Swiftet, Collared Owlet, Himalayan Griffon, Steppe Eagle, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Green Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, Long-tailed Minivet, Blue whistling Thrush, Flycatcher, Bush Robin and several other species. Sandakphu is also home to the Himalayan Black Bear, Snow Leopard and the Red Panda.
Sandakphu can be reached from Darjeeling via Ghoom and then to Maneybhanjan. The trek starts from Maneybhanjan and culminates at Sandakphu; the return journey is completed via Phalut-Rimbik and then back to Darjeeling.