Friday, November 16, 2007

Singalila trek reopened with changes

By Source: The Telegraph on November 13,2007

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PEMA LEYDA SHANGDERPA

Gangtok, Nov. 13: Closed for over two-and-a-half years, Sikkim’s most famous trekking trail is back in business but with changes in the route.

A 14-member Italian team was the first to follow the Singalila trail in West Sikkim on November 5 after a government notification announced its reopening in October.

The route was closed in January 2005 after the Union home ministry objected to the trail passing through Nepal in several places, including a camp at Nepal Megu. The Centre had then told the Sikkim government to make alterations in the trail so that it did not enter the neighbouring country. The state tourism department closed the route for two years to make necessary modifications.

Considered one of the most breathtaking treks in the world, the Singalila trail is at an elevation of more than 3,000m with a view of the Himalayan range, including Mt Everest and Kanchenjunga.

In June this year, in a bid to find a new and alternative route, a recce was organised. It was led by joint secretary (adventure) B.R. Subba and officials from the state tourism and forest departments, members of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim (Taas) and representatives of Sikkim Association of Adventure Tour Operators.

They identified a new route, which in fact was a very old trail used during the time of the Chogyals, without touching Nepalese territory and recommended it to the government.

The amended trek trail also starts at Uttarey with three exit points in Yuksom, Hillay and Nambu-Darap. But the new route takes only 12 days against the earlier 16 days.

“We are very happy that the route has reopened. The people of Uttarey and surrounding areas will benefit since it is always a sold-out trail,” said Lukendra Rasaily, Taas treasurer and managing director of Sikkim Tours and Travels.
The best time for a Singalila trek is from September to November and between April and June.