India // Sikkim //

North Sikkim

Access to much of spectacular North Sikkim is restricted: visitors are allowed in only with the necessary permits, and some areas along the borders remain completely out of bounds. A fragile road etches its way up the Teesta valley and splits at Chungthang with one branch bearing northwest to Lachung and beyond, while the other goes due north to Lachung, to the beautiful valley of Yumthang and eventually Zero Point on the high plateau. Groups armed with Protected Area Permits can go as far north as Thangu past Lachung, at the edge of the plateau; only Indians – similarly armed – can travel further on to the spectacular lake of Gurudongma, near the source of the Teesta on the Tibetan plateau. North of Mangan, foreigners are only allowed up in groups of two or more, and the jeep safaris are sold inclusive of transport and accommodation, with the choices in the hands of tour operators. In general, permits for North Sikkim (extendable through the Superintendent of Police in Mangan) are only good for five days and a further seven for trekking. Every year throughout the monsoon, landslides take out stretches of road, making travel even more tedious – at the height of the tourist season around five hundred jeeps battle their way up and down the tortuous and inadequate roads to and from Gangtok.

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