DETAILED ITINERARY OF PUSPA LAKE TREK:
Day 1: Travel from NJP/Bagdogra airport to Yuksom by jeep. It is a 6-7 hours appx.
This day 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 2: 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 8k 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 trekker who has done multiple 800m single day altitude gains before.
Day 3: 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 4: 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 (3690m 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. Hereon, 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 5: Dzongri Rest Day /acclimatization.
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. Trekkers could also consider a side excursion to Dzongri La. Dzongri la is about 2 hours from the Dzongri campsite. The trail from Dzongri la further goes towards Chowrikhang, the base camp for altitude and glacier training established by Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. One could consult with the guide and decide to spend more time exploring the region on this day as well.
Day 6: Dzongri (3950m) to Tigap la (4590m).9km appx. It is a 4-5 hours long walk appx.
You continue walking from Dzongri to Doring, a small herder’s village. The trail to the left continues towards, Tigap Chu that flows from the Rathong glacier and eventually meets the Rathong chu. From the stream the trail turns upward towards Tigap la pass with a fairly easy gradient. We set up camp near the pass for the night. For much of the trail, one is around the tree line going in and coming out of the forest from time to time. Rhododendrons will remain a constant feature.
Day 7: Tigapla base (4590m) to Puspa Lake (4926m) and back.
Take the trail on the right towards the lake. The trail on the left goes towards Tigap la pass leading you over the border into Nepal. The trail to the lake is mostly on glacial moraine and will be quite exhausting for those not used to walking on moraine. You will not see the lake till you reach as the lake will be above eye level and you will keep gaining height till you reach. Spend some time at the lake and then turn back towards the camp site. Descent over moraine will be more stressful on the knees. Return to camp and relax for the day.
Day 8: Tigap la base (4590m) to Dzongri (3950m).
This 4 hour walk will bring you back to Dzongri where you will stay the night. One simply has to take the same trail one took to go up, back to Dzongri.
Day 9: Dzongri (3950m) to Bakhim (2650m).
You will not halt at Tsokha this time and instead descend further to Bakhim. This reduces the descent on the following day.
Day 10: Bakhim (2650) to Yuksom (1750m).
Final day of the trek will take you back to where it all began, Yuksom. It will take you about 4-5 hours to return to Yuksom. Once back, it is time to celebrate your accomplishment.
Day 11: Leave Yuksom for NJP/Bagdogra.
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.