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Zemu Glacier Trek, Sikkim

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If you are looking for a long trek to take you through a considerable stretch of the Himalayas, then how about making your way to one of India’s most beautiful states, Sikkim? And when we say Sikkim, the mind of every trekker goes to the world’s third highest peak, Mount Kanchenjunga. Yes, if the weather is on your side, you will be able to sight the peak during this trek! But that’s just the beginning. This trek takes you to see a gorgeous alpine lake named Green Lake and a staggeringly beautiful glacier called Zemu. This majestic glacier is responsible for the stunningly blue-green river of Teesta which is crucial to the state of Sikkim. Waterfalls, wildflowers and what not are the wonders that you will get a chance to witness here on this trek.

How to reach: Take a flight to Bagdogra or if you travel by a train then you can catch a train till Darjeeling. Thereafter, from both locations you can travel by road to first reach Bagdogra. After an overnight stay travel by a car to reach Lachen in North Sikkim, from where you shall head to your trek starting point.

Best time to trek/visit: March to June

Duration: 16 days

Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult

Altitude: 16,190 ft

Trek route: The route will of course depend on what you decide with your local trekking guide, but possible options include:

Bagdogra/Darjeeling – Gangtok – Lachen – Tallem – Jakthang – Yabuk – Rest Camp – Green Lake – Rest Camp – Yabuk – Jakthang – Tallem – Lachen – Gangtok – Bagdogra/Darjeeling

Source: https://traveltriangle.com/blog/homestays-in-gangtok/

Day 1: Bagdogra/Darjeeling – Gangtok

Altitude – 5,413 ft

Approximate Distance – Bagdogra to Gangtok: 124kms drive, Darjeeling to Gangtok: 101kms drive

Since you are headed to a place that is not frequented by many, there are surely reasons for the same. The difficulty of the trek and also the fact that reaching your trek starting point in itself takes time. So, if you’re looking for a quick one, then maybe this is not the one for you. But if you know in your heart that your patience is what will reward you, then go for this trek in full swing! First travel from your home city to either Bagdogra or Darjeeling depending on whether you are travelling by air or by a train. Thereafter, travel by road to Gangtok. For this you can get local buses or shared taxis but the availability of those can take time, so, you can opt for a private taxi as well. After reaching Gangtok, if you feel like roaming about, you can head to the city’s popular Mall Road.

Day 2: Gangtok – Lachen

Altitude – 8,950 ft

Approximate Distance – 135kms drive

On day 2 you are again for a long drive, so, make sure to wake up early and get started in time. The roads are broken at places but don’t worry, the view will have your mood cheerful as ever. You will see Teesta River playing peekaboo with you along the way and begin to be welcomed by the views of mountain peaks. Lachen is a cosy little tiny town in North Sikkim existing in its simple and serene ways. Walk around to see their way of life and to learn a little more about our sister called Sikkim.

Day 3: Lachen – Tallem

Altitude – 10,620 ft

Approximate Distance – 12kms

Today, your trek starts! And what a start it is as you will be treated to the sight of the confluence point between Zemu Chu and Thangu Chu. The charm really is that the river flows like a blue-green gushing beauty, unspoiled by the business of big crowds. Dip your hands and feet if you wish to let the chill thrill you! Then from the bridge you will walk onto the left bank of Zemu Chu towards the trail that leads up to Green Lake. This further takes you to the confluence point between Lhonak Chu with Zemu Chu. Let your eyes gaze into the roaring waves to try and spot the point of intersection, like two friends meeting each other with a rush of happiness.

Source: https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/see/story/44349/sikkim-kanchenjunga-base-camp-trek-in-pictures

Day 4: Tallem – Jakthang

Altitude – 11,250 ft

Approximate Distance – 12kms

On this day you will be trekking through the thick forests that Sikkim is home to. Pine trees, shrubs and wildflowers are strewn about all through the day’s route. Its nature’s way of inviting you to step further into its depths to explore what more awaits in store. You will pass through the forest of Shobuk and then make steep descends. Eventually you reach a campsite in a forest clearing, time to get comfortable with that tent life!

Day 5: Jakthang

Altitude – 11,250 ft

Day 5 is simply a rest day at Jakthang. This is needed for your body to acclimatize to the altitude you have reached and get comfortable with it before moving higher up. Use this day to simply stroll through the canopy of forests, look around at the green stretches with patches of flowers and have that quiet time of ease before you move.

Day 6: Jakthang – Yabuk

Altitude – 13,250 ft

Approximate Distance – 8kms

The previous day’s rest is well needed because this day gets quite tiring as you make your way through some descents and a whole lot of ascents. Once again, the forest is your friend who will keep you company for this leg too. You gradually start to descend towards the Zemu Chu. And it is the trail just beside it which you will follow to reach your home sweet home for that night. After the forest and the river both conversing with you along the way, you finally reach Yabuk and it will start to get quite chilly hereon! Socks, caps, boots, hugs, um you shall need them all in the coming days. ?

Source: https://www.shikhar.com/green-lake-trek-sti190

Day 7: Yabuk – Rest Camp

Altitude – 15,500 ft

Approximate Distance – 8kms

Now the landscape starts to change and you will find yourself making your way through what can best be described as a high-altitude desert. Yesss, its time to tighten up those shoes and trek upon pebbles and rocks loosely thrown between peaks. The first leg of the day has you progressing through a moraine field, then later your efforts are rewarded as you get to see mountains such as Simvu and Siniolchu! Take a moment, take their sight in and smile as you think of all the times you were craving the mountains to now finally find yourself amidst them.

green lake
Source: https://www.bookmountaintours.com/glacier-treks-and-adventure/13-days-green-lake-trekking-tour-sikkim

Day 8: Rest Camp – Green Lake

Altitude – 16190 ft

Approximate Distance – 6 kms

This is easily going to be one of biggest highlights through the course of this entire trek. You will be headed to reach the much-adored and much-loved Green Lake. The lake serves as the base camp for a number of high-altitude treks including Sugar Loaf, Twins Peak, Nepal Peak, etc. Brace yourself as you make the climb to reach this massive freshwater lake flowing in all its gorgeously green glory. Adding to its beauty are the peaks standing guard along its waters. The glacier’s best is visible when you spot this vast stretch. Rest for the night as you will get much more time with the Green Lake.

Day 9: Green Lake

Altitude – 16,190 ft

I think one of the most attractive parts about this trek is that adequate time is taken to acclimatize. This of course benefits your health and ensures you are more comfortable through the trek but it also gives you the added bonus of enjoying the beauty of your surroundings at a slow pace. With something as beautiful as the Green Lake, the reward is that after putting in so much time and energy you actually get to just sit about for hours soaking in its vistas for as long as you like.

treks in sikkim
Source: https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/see/story/44349/sikkim-kanchenjunga-base-camp-trek-in-pictures

Day 10: Green Lake – Rest Camp

Altitude – 15500 ft

Approximate Distance – 6 kms

After having explored the Green Lake area to your heart’s content (or as much as possible!), it is time to commence retracing your steps little by little. This starts off by first returning to Rest Camp.

Day 11: Rest camp – Yabuk

Altitude – 13250 ft

Approximate Distance – 8 kms

Wake up and start to trek back to the quaint little Yabuk with its forest patches and the hints of peaks that you will soon leave behind.

Day 12: Yabuk – Jakthang

Altitude – 11250 ft

Approximate Distance – 8 kms

On Day 12, you make your way through the rows of pine trees and more. If you are lucky you may be able to spot some blue poppies and primulas in bloom! Bird-watchers keep your eyes open as the keen ones might just be in luck for spotting some high-altitude birdies.

Source: http://sathyastravels.blogspot.com/2018/05/green-lake-trek-northern-sikkim-may-2018.html

Day 13: Jakthang – Tallem

Altitude – 10620 ft

Approximate Distance – 12 kms

This day has you heading back to your very first campsite. I hope the last campsite of the trek has you remembering all the sights you saw and the memories you made in the last two weeks. I have a feeling you might just be walking in a haze after being smitten with the glacier and its picturesque partners.

Day 14: Tallem – Lachen

Altitude – 8950 ft

Approximate Distance – 12 kms

It’s the final descent! The time has come for you to bid farewell to your trekking grounds, so, I hope you do that while thanking it for what it brought to you and for the next plans that I’m sure your mind has already started to make after this one!

Day 15: Lachen – Gangtok

Approximate Distance – 135 kms drive

Finally, your feet get to rest. Hah, now the next two days are all about the drive but somehow after your legs did all the slogging the last 10 days this would feel like a well-earned break? ? Enjoy the drive with some music and knick-knacks. Grab a souvenir from Gangtok before you say goodbye the next day.

Day 16: Gangtok to Bagdogra/Darjeeling

Approximate Distance – Gangtok to Bagdogra: 124kms drive, Gangtok to Darjeeling: 101kms drive

Your trek and trip end with you heading back to the point to journey back to your respective homes after spending some much-needed quality time with the Himalayas.

things to do in sikkim
Source: https://www.shikhar.com/green-lake-trek-sti190

Click here to read about Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek in detail!

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