Sikkim - Trekking beneath Kangchenjunga
India & Nepal, Trek & Walk, 21 days - from £1,695 (land only) - from €2,290 (land only) - from $2,825 (land only)
By: Alison Owen Yeates, Llanelli, Wales
It was a brilliant trip, the staff could not do enough for you, and no one fell ill.
THE FOOD WAS EXCELLENT - all sorts of fantastic goodies kept appearing from the cook tent like magic to keep us going. The cook staff insisted on good hygiene practice and demonstrated it whenever they came to serve the meals. An hour before we arrived at the lunch place a cook boy (Pema or Temba) would appear with a kettle of hot squash and cups.
Lindsay was amazing (KE guide). She let us know what was expected and yet was caring, patient, efficient and very well prepared. She was an excellent role model and following her example we all got to know all the names of the trek crew, right down to the dzo drivers. We also learned new words of Nepali everyday! Consequently everyone, trekkers and trek crew got on well, which was useful as we saw no-one else on the trek after day 2 until day 10.
I have experienced very cold conditions while camping at altitude before, however some of the other trekkers had not. It can be very lonely when you spend 12-14 hours in your sleeping bag (the only place to keep warm) after you arrive at camp. It can even be too cold to read, unless you do it inside your sleeping bag. The temperature drops drastically well below zero as soon as the sun drops behind the peaks and the temperature was -10 degrees C at night except for the first and last night of camping. One tolerated the freezing cold for tea and biscuits at 4pm and then for the evening meal at 7pm but everyone was back in bed by 8.30pm. Sharing with someone means at least you have someone to talk to! This aspect (limited socializing once at camp) made the trek hard work for many members of the team.
The best way to improve the trek would be to magic a warm hostel or hotel half way through the trek!
I really enjoyed the fact that the Sidar and trekking Sherpas had an excellent command of English which made for excellent communication and no misunderstandings.
The fact that the Trek Leader, Lindsay Cannon, was outstanding in her management and leadership skills also made for an excellent trek.
By: David Armin, Derbyshire, England
The first ten days along the Singallia ridge and cross country to Darjeeling were particularly impressive. The trails were attractive, unspoilt and remarkably free from other trekkers and giving excellent views. I think we had better than average weather in Sikkim. Very interesting flora and a sense of following in the footsteps of the earlier explorers! The history and culture of the area and Darjeeling.I was very impressed with our leader Sean Benz. I think his strongest attribute was enthusiasm, looking after the welfare of the group and 'going the extra mile' - eg. organising an enjoyable quiz and arranging a cricket match with the local crew.
By: Karen Gibbs, Swansea, WALES
The walking was the best part, especially the remote part of the trip on the Singalialla ridge. An excellent trip, we were very well looked after by Sean and the team.This was the third trip I have booked with KE and I would recommend the company to my friends.
By: Martin Thackeray, York , UK
Anexcellent route with a great variety of scenery - ridges, valleys, forest,alpine etc. Also extremely remote and committing. Superb Scenery, Good company of fellow trekkers and staff, good photo opportunities, good exercise.
By: Tim Day, Edinburgh, Scotland
This is the first time I've trekked at this time of year (ie in such cold) with tents; it is a bit different from tea-house trekking (or tenting when the days are longer) as you tend to end up in your sleeping bag for a few hours between tea and dinner ie amount of "tent time" came as a bit of a surprise. We were very glad of the foam mats provided; if we'd been reliant solely on our thermarests I think we'd have been uncomfortably cold.
Most enjoyed:Sunrise from Dzongri Peak (better than "first point" at Goecha La),the unexpectedly good food, very nice hotels in Darjeeling, Pelling and Kalimpong.
By: Patricia Pudsey, Cumbria, England
I had minor problems with the altitude, no probs with Delhi belly, but developed a grotty cold on our return to Delhi. I think this holiday probably ranks as the best ever. It even tops our Kili trip. It was amazing. I enjoyed every minute of it, even though I struggled a bit at times. Nothing could spoil it, and our extension to Agra was also great, with a super driver and a very well informed guide. The remoteness of the trek was most magical. No mobile signal, no satellite phones, no aeroplane trails in the sky, no other people ( for most of the route), just our little self sufficient group moving through a magnificent landscape. How can you improve on perfection! :) We have used KE for all our trips, we trust that KE always provides the best. It was a particularly nice group of people, the nicest I have ever trekked with and the leader, guide and crew were great too.
The ground agents were a top notch outfit, I really cannot fault them in any way, we were superbly looked after. Possibly the best local agent of any trek we have ever done. The trek crew were also excellent, washing water morning and night, met on the trail with hot juice, fantastic food, perfect campsites, comfortable and safe transport,and environmentally sensitive. Our local guide Palzor was just perfect; intelligent, articulate, informed, efficient, supportive and a really great guy. He is a gem.
Lindsay is just amazing, she constantly checked up on the health of group and crew. She was extremely supportive and encouraging. Zero tolerance for litter! She is great company and worked very hard to ensure we were all well briefed and ready for the challenges of the trek, she really made this holiday special. I really hope our paths cross again.
The dossier needs some revision: there are no waterfalls on the last day of the trek and anyway it would be far too cold to bathe! Route changes have had to be made due to the terrain.