It was a long standing dream to visit this mountaineous state & when the BNHS announced its camp to the Yumthang valley of North Sikkim, I was happy to sign on.
Sikkim is a border state in North-East India and is flanked by Nepal to its Northwest, Bhutan to its East and Tibet to its North East. With a long and chequered history, the then Chogyal (monarch) finally acceded his title and the tiny kingdom joined India as the 22nd state. Being a border state, the Indian Army has a very large presence and permits and restrictions to visit certain areas abound.
For a nature lover, Sikkim is a must visit at least once in a lifetime. It is a long journey - but well worth the effort. One of the bio-diversity hotspots of the country with as many as 5000 flowering plants, 500 orchids, 500 species of birds, 650 species of butterflies. April end is a short time when the Rhododendrons (an alpine species of shrubs) blooms transforming the hills and valleys into a real riot of colours. Sikkim is unfairly referred to as the "Switzerland of the East." Indeed there is no comparison between the Alps and the Himalayas -each boasts of its own beauty and benchmarking one against the other does little jsutice to either.
Assembling outside the the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station early morning, we greet our other campers and are welcomed by our cheerful tour leaders - Vandan Jhaveri form BNHS and Ganden Lachungpa who is the local contact for BNHS and we are on our way in 2 sturdy SUVs driven by 2 ever-beaming Tibetan drivers who will take us on the full day long drive to our destination - Lachung in North Sikkim.
The map below gives you an idea of Sikkim. This blog of 4 pages will take you from the entry point at Rangpo via Rangrang to Chungthang to Lachung - Yumthang and Yumesamdong. The last page gives you information on how to reach there. Enjoy the cyberjourney & do share your responses in the comments section!
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