Sundarban, Sikkim & Lava trip: Details

Sikkim – Sundarban – Lava trip was a crazy solo trip where I was constantly on the road spending crazy hours in shared jeeps mostly.

Usually, I prefer to spend more time in a single place than keep hopping. But this time, I decided to hop every day, esp because I was solo and didn’t want to feel the lack of company. In the end, it turned out to be yet another good trip. The places were good enough company for me… perhaps except Gangtok!

A few friends asked me about the trip expenses and if I would be providing a break-up like I did for Borneo.

So, here it is along with a few other stats.

1. Itinerary

12 days from 4 May to 16 May. 12N 12 D to be precise.

Day zero: Home – Airport – Kolkata. Stay in the airport (yeah, quite used to sleeping on chairs 😉 )

Day 1:  Kolkata – Sundarbans. Overnight in boat in the middle of the river at Pakirala.
Day 2: Sundarban forest exploration by boat. Dobanki, Sudhankali and Sajnekhali watch towers visited. Overnight in boat.
Day 3: Return to Kolkata. Explored the Sudder street, street food and the awesome matka chai. Train to NJP. Overnight in train.
Day 4: NJP – Melli – Jorethong – Yuksom (6 hours). Explored Yuksom. Overnight in Yuksom.
Day 5: Yuksom – Gangtok (3 hours). Roamed the crowded Gangtok. Overnight in Gangtok.
Day 6: North Sikkim trip in a shared jeep. Gangtok – Lachen (7 hours). Overnight at the nice Mt. Pandim lodge at Lachen.
Day 7: Lachen – Thangu – Gurudongmar lake @ 17100 ft. Return to Lachen and then went to Lachung. 7+ hours of jeep ride.
Day 8: Lachung – Zero point – Yumthang valley – Lachung – Gangtok (7+ hours of jeep ride). Overnight at the nice New Modern Central lodge.
Day 9: Gangtok – Kalimpong – Lava near Neora valley national park (5 hrs of jeep ride). Overnight at the nice Orchid hotel at Lava.
Day 10: Trekking and birding in Lava for 8 hours in 2 sessions.
Day 11: 5 hour trekking and birding in Lava with Ram Kumar as the guide. Highly recommend him. His contact no is (0)9775831135. Lava to Siliguri. Overnight at Siliguri.
Day 12: Siliguri – Bagdogra. A long flight to Bangalore (redeemed King miles). Bagdogra – Guwahati – Delhi – Bangalore.

2. Total expenses

(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)

 

Notes:
– Flight should have been avoided. But I couldn’t manage a Tatkal ticket on time.
– Return flight was redeemed using my King miles which was a looong flight via Guwahati and Delhi.
– Accessories purchased for the trip: A quick drying trouser and a tent. I sold the tent in Sikkim for 150 lesser than purchase cost.
– You can see that I am a Tea addict.
– Travel was mostly by cramped shared jeeps where I was usually the 10th or 11th member. There’s the train fare from Kolkata to NJP too.
– Sundarban package was Rs 4500. However, I think there are a few that offer the same trip at 3000 too. Includes forest fee, food, acco in boat, etc. The other package expense was N.Sikkim shared-jeep trip that cost me Rs 3025.
– Transport in Sikkim was by shared jeeps with 9-11 members excluding driver usually.
– Being a solo traveller, most places didn’t have a single room. Hence I had to opt for double rooms. The only place where I stayed in a dorm was in Gangtok.

3. Expense breakup by place

Notes:
– Pretrip in Bangalore includes flight expense and the accessories purchased
– Siliguri was just a transit. But flight timings and buses / jeeps from Lava meant that I had to go there on the day before :-(.

4. Time spent

Trekking & birding (in Lava) – 4+4+5=13 hours
Boat safaris – Entire Sundarban trip except for the transport from Kolkata to Godkhali. Roughly 48 hours including nights.
Shared jeep rides (in Sikkim, usually 11-12 guys in one jeep) – 7+5+7+10+7+3+5= 44 hours.

5. Memorable experiences

– Feeling breathless @ 17100 ft after trying to climb a mini hill at Gurudongmar lake.
– The landscape at 17000ft in Sikkim.
– Sleeping in the boat for 2 nights in Sundarbans.
– On top of Sudhankali watch tower in Sundarbans and wowing at the amazing view from the top there.
– The forest treks of Lava.
– Eating very simple food in a poor village home in Pakirala.
– The amazing villages of Thangu and Lachen and the extremely friendly people there.
– Being amazed by the Pneumatophores and Stilt roots of Sundarbans.

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