Overview - Sikkim
Sikkim, a Himalayan state in Northern India, has a powerful history and was an independent province until as recently as 1975. It now stands as a shining example in conservation and lifestyle for not only India. A state who has achieved, through thoughtful planning, a 100% organic status in it’s agriculture and scores the highest in the Human Development Index in a country well known for its inequality.
Being a Himalayan State it stands to lose a lot in the wake of climate change and hence futuristic policy decisions can show the world that sustainable living is the key to long-term tangible success.
Landlocked by India, Nepal, China & Bhutan – it is a state rich in culture and biodiversity with 4000 plant species, 400 orchid species, 700 species of butterflies and an incredible 700 bird species recorded here.
The imperial snow-capped mountains Kanchendzonga is the pride of Sikkim and its surroundings are awash with colourful flowers of the 30 species of Rhododendron which occur here in summer.
From Tropical to Alpine forests – its is a biodiversity hotspot and one the best birding areas of the world.
- Pelling & Pemayangste Monastery, Khecheopalri & Yuksom : At an altitude of 2100m above sea level, these are well wooded temperate forests with plenty of waterfalls and lakes providing a variety of birds.
- Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary : At an altitude of 2500m above sea level, these forests are thick with Oak & Rhodendron dominating the landscape.
- Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary : In the Southwest corner of Sikkim, at around 3000m above sea level, lies a Wildlife Sanctuary with treasures for a birdwatcher. These beautiful Rhododendron forests are surrounded by Important Bird Areas, creating a microcosm of habitat where the ecosystem yet thrives. Majestic views of the Kanchendzonga mountains soothe the eye from here on clear days. The vegetation is a combination of Sub-tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, Wet Temperate Forest with Bamboo, Sub-alpine forest & beautiful Alpine Meadows with bird species which inhabit the area across these landscapes.
- Lachen, Thangu, Gurudogmar Lake & Tso Lhamo Lake : In the Northern part of Sikkim lie Sub-tropical broad leaf forests, Bamboo clusters, Sub-alpine to Alpine Rhodendron and culminating in the Trans Himalayan plateaus – this birding area is a key birding area of the India and the world with several rare birds and even more rare mammals occurring in this biodiversity hotspot.Altitude commences from 2700m heading upto 5500m above sea-level covering bird and mammal species across the spectrum.
Best Time to Visit Sikkim
- Winter’s from October-February are rather productive with clear weather except in the snow-capped areas with some lakes freezing by December.
- March – May is the flowering season of Summer with the Rhododendron sprucing up the already gorgeous hills into a riot of colours. The resultant abundance and mating season of several tropical birds makes for great birding opportunities.
- Monsoons from June – September are wet and cloudy in this Himalayan state, with little or no productivity for birding.
Highlight Species - Sikkim
Types of Safaris - Sikkim
Walking Safaris :All birding here is done along walking trails. Vehicles can be taken in between destinations or to traverse between birding hotspots. Yet, due to the hilly terrain, productive birding is done only on foot.
How to reach Sikkim
By Air : The nearest air head is Bagdogra Airport at a distance of 122 kms from the Gangtok (capital of Sikkim). Bagdogra is well connected with major cities in India, like New Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and even Kolkata.
By Train : The nearest Railway Station is New Jalpaiguri Station, which is a 04 hour drive from Gangtok. The city is well connected with all the key birding areas of Sikkim.
By Road : The capital of Sikkim is connected to all nearby mail cities by road.
- Distance from Darjeeling to Gangtok is around 115 km takes around 4 hours.
- Distance from Siliguri to Gangtok is around 120 km takes around 4 hours.