Singalila National Park at the extreme northwest of West Bengal forms the border with Nepal and is a high altitude protected forest. The popular Sandakphu trek is through this Park. Thick bamboo, oak and rhododendron forest between 2000 and 3600m cover the Singalila Ridge which runs roughly north to south. Treks begin at Manebhanjan which is 30 kms from Darjeeling. The popular birding trek is from
Manebhanjan (2100m) to Sandakphu (3640m) and back with halts at Gairibans (2620m) or Kalipokhri
The areas vegetation may be broadly classified as temperate and alpine vegetation stretching right up to the snows. The avifauna is a unique mix of Himalayan and Indo-Burmese forms. The mountainous terrain, criss-crossed by innumerable streams supports a subtropical humid climate leading to tree growth beyond the snowline unlike in the Western Himalayas. This has created an unique eco-system populated by plants, birds and mammals which are hard
to find anywhere else in India.
Singalila is the place for difficult and hard to find birds. The checklist for the area contains 160 records and a recent survey in April came up with 120+ species. Here Blood Pheasants and Satyr Tragopans vie for attention with Brown and Fulvous Parrotbills, Rufous-fronted Tits share the rhododendron forest with Fire-tailed Myzornis and Golden-breasted Fulvettas ~ in a word Singalila is ultimate in exotics and must be on every birders trip list.
How to reach:
The Park is best approached from Darjeeling, West Bengal. While it is possible to drive up to Sandakphu, treks from Manebhanjan with halts at Garibans/Kalipokhri/Sandakphu is the preferred alternative. The whole trek should take 5-6 days if you want to spend some quality time.
Where to stay:
Govt. of West Bengal Tourist Lodge and Trekkers Huts.
No entry permit is required.
Longitude: 88o00'07E; Latitude: 27o27'22N
Altitude: 2000 meters to 3640 meters
November to March
1) Singalila is a high altitude park. Some visitors may need acclimatization at lower heights .
2) Rain is never predictable, give yourself some extra days to make sure that a trip is not wasted.
Help Tourism :
For travel to Singalila
All photographs in this section are copyright © Sujan Chatterjee 2004