On our Magical Mystical Tour we will return to the Himalayas and the land of our Tibetan friends in Sikkim. We will travel to West Sikkim and visit Pelling, Gangtok, the capital and spend 3 nights in the “Hinter Hims” in North Sikkim, before returning to Kalimpong to have a cuppa in the mountains…!
If you have ever wondered what you would pack to go into the mountains, especially if you are going for a yoga and Cultural tour. And heading into the hidden valleys of vanishing Himalayan hill people. A place where no foreigners were allowed until recent years, here’s a list for our upcoming Tour!
***For travellers on Magical Mystical Tour 2010, Please Read!***
Please make sure you bring your Yoga supplies needed – a Yoga mat, strap and block. The block will be useful for class, as well as sitting in North Sikkim. The 3 nights in Lachung will be an immersion into Himalayan village life, and the facilities will require conservation of water and all utilities. For the three days in Lachung, North Sikkim, bucket showers will be available.
Fresh mountain wells will provide clean spring water, generators will give us electricity, and all provisions carried in by our drivers. Please make sure you take care of your own specific dietary needs, allergies and requirements
It’s going to be another amazing tour into the wild wonderful range of the Sacred Himalayas. You won’t be just Seeing the mountains, you will be Inside! the mountains… living with the villagers, drinking fermented Tongba/Chang ཆང and listening to prayers carried by the Wind Horses…! The prayer flags, horizontal Lungta and vertical Darchor are planted everywhere, and Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras are blown heavenward as offerings and bring benefit to those who hang them, the community, flying birds and all sentient beings everywhere… Peace is possible.
Sikkim Tour – Himalaya Packing List
Items you will need:
- Photocopies of important documents (passport, visa, and travel insurance)
- Medium duffel to serve as main travel bag, Small duffle for 3 day trip to North Sikkim. Larger bags can be stored in Gangtok
- Daypack (with a waist-belt) for hiking and day excursions to monasteries and villages. Expect to carry some snacks, water, camera and a few layers.
- Lightweight hiking boots/trail shoes: Need to be comfortable, worn-in, with good tread. Sturdy trail running shoes may work
- Casual shoes: Chaco, Teva or other sturdy sandals or clogs are great, especially for slipping on and off for entering buildings.
- 1 lightweight thermal top
- 1 lightweight thermal bottom
- 1 mid-weight layer: a wool sweater or fleece jacket
- 1 down or insulated jacket
- 1 windproof, water resistant, breathable shell outer layer or Rain jacket (Gore-Tex if possible), or poncho
- 1 pair warm, mid-weight pants
- 2 pair lightweight pants 1 comfortable for trekking, another for around town
- 2 long sleeved shirts
- 2 short sleeved shirt
- Skirt for women (at least one)
- Fleece jacket or sweater
- Down jacket – in winter
- T-shirts or short sleeved cotton shirts (not sleeveless)
- 4-5 pairs underwear/ bras
- 3-4 pair socks (2 light, 2 thicker)
- Warm wool hat
- Hat with brim (sun protection)
- 1 pair warm gloves or mittens
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Headlamp or small flashlight with extra batteries (AA are available in Gangtok)
- Dress-up clothes for festivals
Yoga Items Needed:
- Yoga Mat – travel mat good from HuggerMugger.com
- Yoga Block – useful for using to squat in shower for trip to “Hinter Hims” (3 nights North Sikkim)
- Yoga Strap – useful prop
- Cora’s Balls – will be provided
- Eyewrap & eyebag optional
- Neck roll optional
- Wrist/Knee wraps for injury
- Sleeping bag: A warm 4-season, down or synthetic or a fleece liner
- Sleeping bag liner
- water bottles
- Spare passport photos
- Stuff sack(s) useful when packing for treks
- Lip balm (good SPF protection) You will not find good chap stick
- Sunscreen and bug repellent are useful, but not necessary
- Scarf – to keep dust and sun away from face
- Trail snacks – bars, tang, nuts, dried fruit, etc….
- Toiletries the basics are available in Gangtok
- Money/passport belt
- Zip lock bags plastic bags – Useful and you can never have too many: it’s a fact!
- Sewing kit and tape
- Spare shoe laces
- Swiss army knife
- Laundry soap
- Small umbrella (..and you ask, what use is that? “hoods up, y’all!”)
- Trekking/hiking poles
- Small luggage padlocks
- Light hand/face towel
- Bandana – handy while hiking
- Sleeping pad
- Water purification: in Gangtok and most villages, you can get filtered and boiled water. Water purification tablets with iodine or chlorine are handy
- Hand sanitizer (alcohol)
- Cards or chess or some other game, no matter what language
- Pages of a Nepali or Tibetan language manual to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “Wow! There’s the rare snow spotted leopard, found only in this region of the Hims!”
- Personal Medicine Kit (We have a group first aid kit)
- Amoxicillin for infections (urinary tract, skin, sinus and throat)
- Imodium for immediate relief of diarrhea
- Ciproflaxin for treating diarrhea, or other antibiotics recommended by your doctor
- General painkiller for treating mild pain, fever
- Multi-vitamins, Aloe Vera, Echinacea
- Oral rehydration powder and Throat lozenges
Check Current Weather and Time in Sikkim
Weather Forecast in Gangtok
Summer Temperature: Minimum: 13°C & Maximum: 28°C
Winter Temperature: Minimum: 0°C & Maximum: 13°C
Annual Rainfall: 325 cm
Sikkim is temperate and has five seasons of summer, winter, monsoon, autumn and spring. Sprawled over 7,096 km², it stretches from 280 m (920 ft) to 8,585 m (28,000 ft) in altitude. With such varied terrain, Sikkim has tropical, temperate and frigid climate in different regions. In the south, it is usually sub-tropical, but in the north, it can be tundra.
Colonized regions are dominated by temperate climate, rarely over 28 °C maximum in summer and not below 0°C in winter. The average annual temperature for most of Sikkim is approx 18°C (64 °F). From March – May, the sun shines and it can be humid, with much rain. Monsoons from late-June to early-September. During Monsoon, landslide can be common, and the weather becomes humid and sultry, with uncertain rain all year. Autumn from September to October is a perfect time for tourism with the potential for the clearest views of the mountains.
Spring – March through the beginning of June
Spring is the best time to experience Sikkims with vast variety of wild flowers. This colourful and sweet smelling forest blooms Rhododendron and Magnolia trees across the high mountain slopes. Orchids and Bougainvilleas are at their peak in spring, and the landscape is green and full of life. Spring sun warms the snow-covered mountain peaks, filling the misty Himalayan rivers with snow collected in winter. Villagers are busy planting new crops and shepherding their flocks.
Autumn – September through mid December
This is peak trekking season: monsoons are over, hillsides are lush and green with wide blues kies. Mountain views are crystal clear all day and particularly spectacular at sunrise and sunset. Autumn has many colourful local festivals and busy harvest activity, as nomadic herdsmen return to villages, yaks laden with cheese and butter for sale.
Winter – December through March
Mild winter temperatures and brilliant skies are perfect conditions for trekking at lower elevations. Winter ushers in the Sikkimese and Tibetan New Years Celebrations, religious dances and archery competitions. Hot springs are easily Accessible and visied by many.
In India, Sikkim is one of the few states that has snowfall, at approx. 6,000 meters. The high altitude in the northern can be below -40°C in winter. Winter starts from late December through February and it is cold and damp with erratic rain showers. In winter, Sikkim gets a covering of deep fog, making transportation risky.
Sikkim is to north of West Bengal, adjoining Nepal west, China (Tibet) to north and east, and Bhutan to the south east. It is the second smallest state in India and the least populous, at half a million. The capital is Gangtok, former seat of the Namgyal kings, near the southeast corner in lower Himalayas.
Sikkim is very mountainous, with altitudes ranging from subtropical 280 metres in the south to the summit of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, on the northwest border with Nepal. Little of the land is useful for farming, but terracing has created productive hillsides. The contours of Sikkim resemble a human thumb, and the geography is characterized by vast and magnificent knolls extending its width.It is extremely rocky and precipitous, so the Sikkimese use terrace farming, cutting slopes of mountain into steps to retain water to grow crops.
Sikkim has a number of streams that rise into exquisite valleys, and the water is snowfed from the stupendous mountains above. These river valleys are in the southern and western fringe of the state, with the lower regions more populated. The most famous lakes include Gurudongmar, Tsongmo and Khecheopalri lake.
The main river is the Teesta, which comes from northern peaks and flows south through the middle, past Mangan, reaching West Bengal, where it goes southwest along the border until Kalimpong as it meets the Rangeet, and drains west. Parts of the Himalayas are high-altitude desert, so the sun can be strong. Be prepared for varied weather conditions. During spring and summer, temperatures range from 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and can drop to below freezing at night. It is not uncommon to see snow at this time of year.
Here’s a link to a great article on the geography of Sikkim
Cold Winters November to February with minimum temperatures dipping to 4c in January – February. Sikkim is almost always wet due to monsoons. Between March and May sunshine is abundant. Summer is May to October, and Autumn is September to October. Sikkims weather is peculiar, and though there is are seasons, winter could come the end of November to February, and monsoons throughout the year with a respite May – June and October – November. Even winter months can be wet and damp with unpredictable showers.
Cultural sensitivity is an important consideration when packing. We recommend covering your shoulders, knees and legs while travelling in monasteries. The Kingdom of Bhutan has strict clothing policies when entering temples and sacred locations. Please make sure ankles and shoulders are covered when entering a monastery.