5 nights and 6 days
October to April
Bagdogra, West Bengal
Singalila National Park is one of the most exotic Himalayan forests in India. It is a wilderness located on the Singalila Ridge at an altitude of 7000 feet to 12000 feet above sea level with an area of 78.6 square kilometers. It was declared a National Park in 1992. The habitat type can be described as temperate forest of fir, deciduous hardwood and Rhododendron with thick bamboo understory. There are over 600 varieties of orchids bloom in Singalia, the largest concentration in any single geographical area in the world. The area gets considerable seasonal monsoon rains and is located in the Eastern Himalayan Region of India in the state of West Bengal. It is well known for the trekking route to Sandakphu that runs through it. Same habitat continues in Nepal called Tinchule Forest.
Tinchule-Singalila is one of the best places in India to see the elusive Red Panda. There are an estimated 32 Red Pandas within the limits of Singalila. Apart from the Red Panda, other mammals found here are- Himalayan Black bear, Clouded Leopard, Leopard, Leopard Cat, Himalayan Serow, Barking Deer, Yellow-throated Marten, Wild Boar, Pangolin, Pika and many other Eastern Himalayan exotics.
This is a Birding Paradise as well. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded here. It has a huge list of exotic birds, like- Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Kalij Pheasant, Brown and Fulvous Parrotbills, Rufous-vented Tit, and Old World babblers like the Fire-tailed Myzornis and the Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Rosefinchs, bull finches, Wren Babblers, Laughingthrushes, Nuthatchs, Treecreepers, Yuhinas, Minivets, Partridges and many more.
One of the best places to see sunrise and sunsets, Sandakhphu top is situated within Singalila National Park and is the highest peak in West Bengal. Sandakphu offers the best view of Kangchenjunga also known as Sleeping Buddha or Sleeping Shiva.
The commences and ends at Manebhajan, on the Indo-Nepal Border. A private transfer can be arranged between Manebhajan and the Bagdogra Airport.
Transfer to the Lodge
The tour officially begins at Manebhajan on the Indo-Nepal border. Guests would be transferred from Bagdogra to Manebhajan in a private car. The drive would be around 2 hours and 30 minutes. On reaching Manebhajan, the forest authority makes an entry for the guests and they transfer from the car to a 1956 model Land Rover.
These vintage cars are a UNESCO world heritage and riding from Manebhajan to the Lodge is an adventure by itself. The drive would take around 3 hours. On arrival, the guests are ceremoniously welcomed and the rooms are alloted.
The Lodge is perched at an elevation of 10,000 feet ab0ve MSL. So, today would be set aside to acclimatise to the elevation and prepare for the long days of Panda tracking. Right from the Lodge, our groups have had Panda sightings. Lunch and dinner will be served in the Lodge and overnight stay.
Full days of Panda tracking
Over the next 4 days, the guests would begin the day at the crack of dawn. They will either go on a walk in Indian or Nepal side looking for birds and other wildlife or spend time at the birding hide built near the Lodge.
The walks would extend for about 1.5-2 hours. In the Birding hides, various species of Himalayan endemic birds visit and the backgrounds are beautiful for photography.
A team of trackers are in the field looking for the Red Pandas and any sightings would be communicated to the Lodge and then the guests make their way to the place. The Pandas are not very shy of humans and approaching them and watching from a considerably close distance is very well possible.
During one of the morning, it is possible to drive up to the Sandakphu peak from where the panoramic view of Mt Everest can be seen. The views are breathtaking and the scenery is spectacular. It is worth visiting and highly recommended to go.
Check-out and transfer
Depending on when the departure of flights are, there will be time to go on a morning walk and track the Pandas one last time. After breakfast, the guests would move back to Manebhajan in the heritage Land Rovers from where private cars would transfer them back to Bagdogra Airport.