So, finally you are all set to visit North Sikkim, one of the most beautiful places of Northeast India. But before you travel I just want to share with you all few important things that you must know, these things which your travel agent or the website from where you came to know about North Sikkim may not have informed you. Here are the important 9 things that you must get ready with before you begin your journey. Also do read my post on North Sikkim HERE AND HERE, it may help you to plan your itinerary.
8 Things You Need To Know Before Travelling To North Sikkim
1.Inner Line Permit
Before travelling to the places which are located in restricted areas you need to get an inner line permit, it’s a travel document issued by the Government. For visiting North Sikkim and East Sikkim getting an inner line permit is mandatory. So if you are travelling alone, keep some extra time in your hand to get your work done or if you are travelling via tour operator tell them to get your permit done, just give them your documents a day before you start your journey, it saves around 1-2 hours in the morning. You need a valid identity proof and two passport size photos for inner line permit. Carry some extra photocopies of your documents and at least 10 passport size photos.
2. The unpredictable weather
While travelling to North Sikkim, one thing you should keep in mind that the weather is definitely going to stay uniform, sometimes it may be sunny, sometimes heavy rainfall and also snowfall especially during off-season. So you must be always prepared, carry your umbrella or a raincoat, use water proof luggage, pack your clothes in waterproof plastic bags / carry bags and then place them inside your luggage bag, it will help to prevent them from getting damp. Carry extra plastic bags in case you wet your clothes, you can use plastic bags to keep them as the weather hardly gives chance to dry the wet clothes.
3. What Clothes you need to Pack
North Sikkim is a very cold terrain, so you need to pack thick warm woolens clothes, sweaters, jackets, caps, hand gloves are mandatory. Throughout the whole trip you will need to wear them. Carry extra socks , I carried five pairs, as there are chances your socks getting damp or even wet while walking over snow. If you haven’t carried that much woolens and you realized later you need not worry as you can rent coats and also you can rent boots in the colder regions where you may encounter snow or extreme drop in temperature. But I suggest carry your own stuff as it helps you avoid transfer of germs in any case.
4. Where to Eat
Your tour operator must have arranged your stay and meals but if you are travelling on your own youu need not worry as there are home stays all over who serve neat meals, Wai Wai noodles is also there to fill your stomach. When you are travelling to visit The Gurudongmar lake, you need to start very early at around 3am when its still dark, by the time you reach there you may get hungry so I advice you to ask your driver to halt at Thangu, eat some tea, noodles, carry popcorn as eating popcorn helps to prevent high altitude sickness and dizziness! Also in Zero point, there are small stalls, you can have tea, coffee, eggs, fried chickpeas and enjoy your breakfast. They also sell Brandy, do get a peg as it will help yo keep you warm.
The only way of communication in North Sikkim is via shared taxis, as population is very less, not too many buses and other vehicles ply on road. So the only way to reach the tourist destinations is either by your car which your travel operator has booked for you or by shared taxis. Make sure about your means of communication before you commence your journey from Gangtok, if you are planning to travel all by yourself please take proper information regarding taxis. Also make sure to bargain, as they have a tendency to charge more to tourists.
6. Carry some common medicines
Since you will be travelling at a very high altitude and extreme cold temperature, there are chances that you may fall sick. While I was in North Sikkim at times I felt really nauseated since the roads are not that good and it was quite a bumpy ride, you may or may not feel the same. But for safety’s sake I suggest carry some general medicines, the sudden change in temperature can make you fall sick and trust me its very hard to spot a medical stores there up in the mountains. I couldn’t spot a single one may be there is one or two but you can’t say when is the actual working hours of this stores.
7. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst
The title must have confused you, well it’s all about facing the most daring thing while you are in colder regions. Yes, you guessed it right I am talking about bathing.The hotels we stayed did have geyser and immersion rods to heat water for bathing and all but the sad part is that most of the time there was no electicity. Power supply is a big problem in such high altitude, so be prepared to bath with chilling ice cold water. Though there are certain hotels/homestays which provide you warm water and also have generator facilities yet you must be lucky enough for that facility . We knew this thing so when we entered our hotel in Lachung we immediately switched on the geyser but the water was so cold that the poor geyser could somehow heat the water till it was luke warm. But that’s what makes the journey memorable and adventurous , isn’t it?
8. Some Basic Do’s and Don’t while visiting Gurudongmar Lake
Here I am also listing down certain do’s and don’ts that you aught to remember while visiting Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim. Gurudongmar Lake is located at the highest point of 17,800ft above sea level. So quite obvious there will be low levels of Oxygen, try to reach early because after 9.30 a.m. the air gets thinner making it more difficult to breath, if you have kids with you make sure they don’t run and jump around as too much of physical exhaustion is will create breathing trouble, avoid taking kids below ten years, expecting mothers and senior citizens as they may have health troubles at that high altitude and entry may also be restricted, stay not more than one hour there, carry water and some food with you, its very cold there, layer yourselves with thick warm clothes.
Hope you will find these tips helpful. Do post your feedback in the comment section and also hit the share buttons.