DETAILED ITINERARY OF DOOTH AND VHALAY POKHARI:
Day 01: Travel from NJP/Bagdogra to Yuksom by jeep.
It is a 6-7 hour ride through the hills. Upon arrival in Yuksom, prepare for the trek that starts the next day. If time permits, one could also see around Yuksom. The Dubdi monastery, the Coronation throne are a couple of the local attractions. Additionally, Yuksom is a historically important place for Sikkim as it was annointed the first capital of Sikkim in 1643 AD.
Day 02: Yuksom (1750m) to Sachen (2250m). 8km appx.
This is a fairly easy walk and helps trekkers to find their rhythm and gradually get used to the demands of the trail. The distance is about 8km and it takes between 3.5-4.5 hours for most trekkers to reach Sachen. Trekkers tend to skip this camp site at times, however this is not recommended unless one is a regular and experienced trekkers who has done multiple 800m single day altitude gains before.
Day 03: Sachen (2250m) to Tsokha (2950m). 8km appx.
The walk begins in an easy fashion from Sachen and takes about about an hour to the bridge over Prek chu (chu meaning river). From the bridge to Tsokha is a straight ascent of about 5 km and is a good introduction to the climb the next day. Bakhim (meaning Bamboo Hut) breaks the climb. There is a tea stall at Bakhim and one can sit here and enjoy the views of the valley below. Trekkers are often astonished at how much they have climbed in the previous hour and half. Rhododendron trees abound around Bakhim and here onwards till you are above the tree line they will remain a constant companion. It is a further hour and half to Tsokha.
Day 04: Tsokha (2950m) to Dzongri (3950m). 10km appx.
This day is often referred to as the ‘test day’ since it is a relentless and fairly steep climb from Tsokha to Dzongri. You will gain altitude fast and it is important to not rush up the slope. Time the ascent to reach Dzongri is about 5-6 hours and you will still reach comfortably by 2pm, assuming you start at around 8am. The trail passes via Phedang (3679m appx.) which almost slices the walk into half. It looks like a possible camp site but teams do not prefer to camp here because of lack of water near the campsite. Water here must be brought from far (20 min walk one way). Thus, teams rest here for a while, have their packed lunch/rations provided to them in the morning, and proceed to Dzongri. In an hour, you will come across Deorali top, the highest point on this day at over 4100m. Here on the trail eases out and descends slightly to dzongri. Many people, upon arrival in Dzongri will experience a mild headache due to the 1000m effective gain. Make sure you stay warm and hydrated. Let the guide/team leader know about any headache or health difficulty. Usually the headache should subside in a couple of hours.NOTE: There is no water source on the trail on this day and trekkers must fill up at Tsokha and ration the water wisely.
Day 05: Rest Day at Dzongri.
This day you stay on at Dzongri and take rest. You may choose to wake up early and walk up to Dzongri top to see a full panoramic view of all the snow-capped mountains around at sunrise. One can see at least 10 peaks here from left to right, including Kokthang, Rathong, Frey’s peak, Black Kabur, Kabru dome, Kabru north and south, Kanchenjunga, Pandim, Tenzingkhang, Japnoo, Narsing and a few others. Return from Dzongri top to the campsite and rest here for the day.
Day 06: Dzongri (3,950.mtrs) to Ghattay Camp (4, 257.mtrs) 9.km appx.
This day after breakfast trek to Ghattay Camp. The trail begins with a gradual ascent towards Dzongri la pass which is at 4,400.mtrs with majestic views of snow-capped mountains, green meadows, rhododendron and junipers. The trail goes to Ghattay camp through Dzongri la pass and past Mt. Black Kabur. The Dongri la pass gives great views of unique diversity of plains, valleys, glaciers and majestic spectacular, snow-capped mountains. Then trek continues with a gradual descent towards bridge. Once over the bridge, the trail gradually ascends through a picturesque and enthralling area and with beautiful impressive views of higher Himalaya to reach Ghattay camp. Overnighting camp.
Day 07: Ghattay Camp (4, 257.mtrs) to Doodh Pokhari and Vhalay Pokhari (4,770.mtrs) 5 ½ .km one way.
After breakfast go to Dhood Pokhari and Vhalay Pokhari, the trail gradually ascends towards HMI base camp. After HMI Base, 30 minutes steep ascent. Continue on the right side, cross the small stream which is the main feeder tributary of Rangeet river. From here the trail gradually slopes towards Vhalay Pokhari and Dhood Phokhari. Here you will get majestic views of higher Himalayas above 6,500 to above 7,317 metres.
Lake Highlight: The locals believe that this is a wish granting lake. It is mostly known for its supposed powers in granting married couples children, especially if they have none after many years of being married. Couples worship here and take a stone back from here which they must place back at the lake after having a child. It also feeds the Rangeet river.
Day 08: Ghattay Camp (4, 257.mtrs) to Dzongri (3,950.mtrs)
This day the walk from Ghattay to Dzongri the trail will be ascend from Tigap Chu river side. Tigap Chu is the confluence place for many trek route. From here the route will be gradual ascent for an hour. After that you will get nice trail towards Dzongri. The trail is through a very dense forest and sometime there will be no pack animals Due to the narrow nature and dense vegetation on the trail. For several hours you will walk through forests that might remind some of the forests in the Indian Western Ghats during monsoons. This trail takes about 4 to 5 hours to reach from Dzongri camp side.
Day 09: Dzongri to Tshoka Back.
Retrace the same path you took to go up to Dzongri.It will take you close to 6 hours to reach Tshoka.Camp overnight at Tshoka.
Day 10: Tsokha (2950m) to Yuksom (1750m). 16km appx.
Last day of the trek takes you back over the same route you took to come up. Descend all the way to the suspension bridge over Prek Chu below Bakhim. It can take anywhere between 1.5 to 2.5 hours. From the bridge there is a climb for about 20mins after which the trail takes you over gentle ups and downs while constantly losing altitude towards yuksom. Expect yourself to reach Yuksom in between 5-7 hours. You will have packed lunch on this day as well and Sachen is a good point to take a break. As you near Yuksom mobile networks will become active again. Reach the road head and you are standing at the end point of the trek. A cozy bed and hot water will be waiting for you at your hotel/homestay.
Day11: Leave Yuksom for NJP/Bagdogra airport as planned.
After having breakfast, we depart to NJP or Bagdogra Airport depending upon the trekker’s mode of transportation to their respective homes. It is advisable to start early since it is a long drive. We suggest to pack the luggage in advance before starting to your journey. The distance from NJP/ Bagdogra airport is 155 kilometres which ideally should not take more than 7 to 8 hours. Lunch can be enjoyed at Jorethang or Malli Checkpost. After having lunch, continue your drive to your destination at the N J P/Bagdogra Airport.