Friday 18 April 2014

Sikkim and Darjeeling, Summer 2014, Day 3 of 9, Road Trip to Lachen

The road segment of the trip started on day 3. The first stop was Lachen. Lachen is the point where people take a night off enroute to Gurudongmar Lake. Since It is a steep climb, from around 3000 ft to 17000 ft, the night halt in Lachen does help in acclimatization.
It is important to leave early, since even though the distances are not very large, the drive is treacherous. Unfortunately, for us, the permits got delayed and we were not able to start from Gangtok till 11:30 AM.
It is also a good idea to leave some luggage at the hotel in Gangtok since in all likelihood one would be traveling back via Gangtok and it is not a very good idea to carry all the luggage in the hills. The typical vehicles (Xylo, Tavera, Innova) are not powerful enough to carry a car full of passengers and luggage up the hills.
1:30 PM We get on to Singtam-Dikchu road that goes just adjacent to Teesta River. The road is narrow, good at times and not so good at times.
2:15 PM We cross Mangan. The supply of fuel after this place gets difficult so most drivers fill up here.
3:20 PM Crossed Kajor
3:50 PM Crossed Manul
5:30 PM We crossed Chungthang. This seems to be last civilization that one sees before one reaches Lachen. After this place, the road is narrow, going through hills and the altitude increases quickly.
7:15 PM We reached Lachen and Hotel Apple Orchard. This is the only decent hotel that we could locate in this area. Here is my review of the hotel. The views are breathtaking from this place. Lachen is almost 9000 ft from sea level.

In the month April the place was pretty cold. In the night one feels the need for thermals and layers of clothing. Since it is a remote area, the power is erratic and one can't depend on room heater provided by the resort to survive. When we were there, the power went off for whole night and it was difficult.
Another point to note is that one needs to leave really early (3:30AM) next day to Gurudongmar Lake. In our case, we found that there was no power when we got up and we had to get ready in absolute dark. The lesson learnt was, carry a torch when visiting remote places.

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