birding in Khangchenjunga National park (knp)

birding in Khangchenjunga National park (knp)

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Birds watching in Kangchenjunga National park (KNP):

 

Kangchenjunga National park has one of the famous trek routes to Dzongri, Goechala the foothills of the Himalayas region India Located at the heart of the Himalayan range in northern India (State of West Sikkim), and revels in its abundance of beautiful nature including a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests, including the third highest peak of the world, Mount Kangchenjunga 8,585 meters. Mythological stories are associated with a great number of mountains, local culture, caves, rivers, lakes, glacier, etc. In spite of that, number of trekkers here is much less than the number of trekkers visiting  due to the remoteness of the region. It is a challenging trek and one must be physically prepared to take the strains and meet the demands of the route. If prepared, one can enjoy this trek. and it is one of the popular hot spots for bird watching in Sikkim. You will find many species of birds in the Kangchenjunga national park. The famous Goechala trek is an 8 to 9-day trek where one can see many of the species found usually only above 3000m altitude. Snow Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, Hill Partridge, Rufous-throated Partridge, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Himalayan Monel, Kalij Pheasant, and many more. If you’re lucky it is changed to get wild animals because you will walk through home from wild animals like Red Panda, Musk Deer, Barking Deer, Black Bear, Great Tibetan Sheep, Himalayan Thar, Goral, wild Fox, and Monkeys and above of 3,500 meters you will have a chance to occasionally spot Snow Leopard, Common Leopard, Blue Sheep, Wild Dogs, Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan Fox, Serov, Lesser Cats, Green Back Tit, Rufous Sibia, and Marmots many more. Some of these like the snow leopards are found in a good density here but it is not easy to spot them as they are very shy creatures and usually stay away from any place humans occupy. They are also very well camouflaged in their surroundings.

short Itinerary of birding (KNP):

 

Day 1: Travel from NJP/Bagdogra to Yuksom by jeep.

 

Day 2: Yuksom (1750m) to Sachen (2250m). 8km appx.

 

Day 3: Sachen (2250m) to Tsokha (2950m). 8km appx.

 

Day 4: Tsokha (2950m) to Phedang (3.679.m) 5.km appx.

 

Day 5: Phedang (3.679.m) Dzongri (3950m). 5.km appx.

 

Day 6: Rest Day. Acclimatization.

 

Day 7: Dzongri (3970m) to Thangsing (3800m). 10km appx.

 

Day 8: Thangsing (3800m) to Lamuney (3950m). 3.5km appx.

 

Day 9: Lamuney (3950m) to View Point 1 (4600m) and back to Kokchurang (3600m). 15km appx.

 

Day 10: Kokchurang (3600m) to Tsokha (2950m). 15km appx.

 

Day 11: Tsokha (2950m) to Yuksom (1750m). 16km appx.

 

Day 12: Leave Yuksom for NJP/Bagdogra as planned.

Detailed Itinerary of birding (KNP):

 

Day 1: 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 anointed 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 8km and it takes between 3.5-4.5 hours for most trekkers to reach Sachen. Trekkers tend to skip this campsite 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 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 a 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 a half to Tsokha.

 

Day 4: Tsokha (2950m) to Phedang (3.679.m) 5.km appx.

This day is often referred to as the ‘test day’ since it is a relentless and fairly steep climb from Tsokha to Phedang. You will gain altitude fast and it is important to not rush up the slope. Time the ascent to reach Phedang is about 4 to 5 hours and you will still reach comfortably afternoon at Lunchtime after Lunch you can fine birds inner route from Kokchurung trek trail around Phedand camp also here offer you majestic views of unique mountains.

 

Day 5: Phedang (3.679.m) Dzongri (3950m). 5.km appx.

This day after breakfast slowly trek to Dzongri with birding maximum 1 ½ hour, you will come across Deorali top, the highest point on this day at over 4100m. also one of the fanatic viewpoint on this day. 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.

 

Day 6: 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.

 

Day 7: Dzongri (3970m) to Thangsing (3800m). 10km appx.

This day you ascend a little from the Dzongri campsite and then walk through meadows with gentle up and down slopes till you arrive at the steep descent to the Kokchurang campsite by the Prek chu. The descent is challenging for almost everyone and can take around an hour. Kokchurang campsite is nestled in a dense forest by the riverside and is a perfect spot to rest for a while. We do not set up camp here on our way up. After some rest, we proceed to Thangsing, our camp for the night, through some more beautiful forest. On a clear day, the Thangsing campsite gives you a welcome gift of outstanding views of Mt. Pandim right upon arrival. Soak in the beauty of the sights before you and surrender to nature’s splendour. Thangsing is a wide-open field and you will often find trekkers or local staff playing cricket, football or volleyball here. Join in for some fun and to test your lungs!

 

Day 8: Thangsing (3800m) to Lamuney (3950m). 3.5km appx.

It is the simplest day of the trek. A very gradual gain from Thangsing will take you to Lamuney in 1.5 hours. Start late by 10 am and you will still reach Lamuney by 11:30 am. Relax at camp. The following morning you will be up early and leave for ViewPoint 1 around 2:30 am.

 

Day 9: Lamuney (3950m) to View Point 1 (4600m) and back to Kokchurang (3600m). 15km appx.

The day starts early at 2:30 am. It will be biting cold at this hour and one must be prepared for it. Typically the temperature will be below zero at the start. Start slowly and cross the Samiti Lake in the dark on your way up to the viewpoint. The start is timed to take you the viewpoint around first light and before sunrise for, as beautiful as first light looks on the peaks, the sunrise is pure magic. Peaks light up in the descending order of altitude with Kanchenjunga first to be lit followed by kabru north and then the lower peaks in order. The route used to be open right up to the Goecha la earlier. However, the National park authorities have closed the route beyond viewpoint 1 now as the zone beyond it has been identified as having a significant concentration of blue sheep and the snow leopard. This area is a breeding zone for these species as well and has been demarcated as a conservation zone to reduce human interference. Carry a pair of binoculars with you to give yourself a chance of spotting a rare leopard or a flock of blue sheep. Leopard sightings are very rare as they are extremely shy and if you see one, count yourself very very lucky! Descend to Samiti Lake on your way back to the camp. Around 8 am, when you are likely to be back at Samiti, the water is very still usually and a full reflection of the peaks around it is visible in the water. Several birds will be out by now and the area around the lake is a great place for photography aficionados. Come back to camp at Lamuney, have an early lunch and move down to Kokchurang campsite next to the river for the night. It is warmer here and of course very beautiful.

 

Day 10: Kokchurang (3600m) to Tsokha (2950m). 15km appx.

The walk from Kokchurang to Phedang is through a very dense forest and no pack animals can do this trail 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 part of the trail takes about 4-5 hours typically. Have the packed lunch provided to you, here. From Phedang turn left and down towards Tsokha. It is a continuous descent up to Tsokha and takes up 2 hours.

 

Day 11: 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 endpoint of the trek. A cosy bed and hot water will be waiting for you at your hotel/homestay.

 

Day 12: Leave Yuksom for NJP/Bagdogra as planned.

In the morning after breakfast is ideally the final day of the trekking. It is advisable to start early since a long drive. Travellers we suggest you pack the luggage before have a delicious breakfast or before starting to your journey. The distance from NJP/ Bagdogra airport is 155 kilometres which ideally should take not more than 7 to 8 hours. Lunch can be enjoyed at Jorthang or malli where there are serving good local foods. After enjoying lunch drive continue to your destination at the N J P/Bagdogra Airport.

How to Reach:

 

If you are trekking with Black yak expeditions

Arrive at (NJP) Railway Station, Siliguri or Bagdogra airport by 9 am (on your own)

Black Yak Expeditions will arrange pick-up vehicles from NJP railway station and Bagdogra airport to Yuksom the base camp of your trek. We provide luxury vehicles like INNOVA, ZXILO or normal vehicles like TATA SUMO GOULD, BOLERO, etc. And mini cab suitable for 2 or three family with light travel bags like, Wagoner, Alto etc. We cannot arrange shared jeeps because it is not reliable. Above all there are no direct shared jeeps to certain parts of Sikkim from pick up points. You have to break down your points while taking shared jeeps. For example if you are traveling to Yuksom for Goechala Trek or Dzongri Trek there are no direct shared jeeps from New Jalpaiguri Railway station NJP or Bagdogra Airport. First you have to reach silliguri junction from there you have to take a vehicle to Jorethang. (Jorethang is a small business town or main point that connects to most part of Sikkim.) Even though if you reach Jorethang than here comes another challenging part that is all the regular shared jeeps that comes to Jorethang from Yuksom Leave within 2:00 pm. So you have to be there within 1:00 or 2:00 an. Even after that there is no 100% guaranteed that you will get the shared jeeps because it is pre booked by locals by call and you should also keep one thing in mind that in tourist season most of the vehicles are pre-booked. So thinking about shared jeeps is not good at first place.

Transport is arranged in a Tata Sumo (or similar vehicle). Each cab costs Rs. 5500/-

If you request pre booking for pick up and drop along with trek or tour package than this statement is not applicable to you since Black Yak Expeditions will pay for the charges but in case if you have not asked for pick up and drop facilities than you should know that the transportation cost is additional, to be shared among the trekkers and paid directly to the drivers.

On the day of pickup at least do your best to be present at New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) or Bagdogra Airport within 9:00 Am or 10:00 Am.  Incuse if we start late from this two points than we will reach certain trekking basecamps like Yuksom very Late at night and that can cause great inconvenience to you as we have to begin the trek early next morning. It takes around 6-7 hours from New Jalpaiguri Railway station NJP or Bagdogra airport to Yuksom. Expected arrival time at Yuksom is 5 pm. Due to ongoing constructions on the route and sometimes heavy traffic jams it can delay our travel on the route.

 

Getting Back:

Depart from Yuksom early morning.

Black yak expeditions we will arrange reserved vehicle to drop trekkers to NJP railway station or Bagdogra airport.

The transportation cost from Yuksom to NJP/Bagdogra is additional, to be shared among trekkers and paid directly to the driver.

The approximately cost for reserved vehicle is Rs. 5,500/-

Expected arrival time at NJP/Bagdogra is 5 pm. It is wise for you to book your train/flight tickets late in the evening to give you enough buffer time. Or Plan extra days in your itinerary to avoid busy schedule.

Please email us for the Best Costing and Availability. The Costing depends on Number of person and the minimum required number of person for the trek is 2 pax and maximum is 30 pax. The more the number of trekkers the better the Price. The given costing will be based on per head per day basis which will includes all the necessary facilities required during the trek from the point of start to the end. Please email us for the Brief Description of the Costing and the Facilities and services provided with it.

We have special costing for the bigger group, Student Group, Religious Group and Senior Citizens. The costing is based on the Requirements and demand of the group. Do email us [email protected] to know the special prices and services provided.

 

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