Driving, however, is the lazy way to see Sikkim’s mountains up close. The other way is to walk, as I did 10 years ago on a trek to Kanchenjunga. The route took us along a moderately difficult eight-day trail that wound upward through forests of rhododendron and azalea before reaching Goechala, a 4,910-meter-high pass at the foot of the great mountain. On the shores of sacred Samiti lake, the fog was so thick we could barely see two meters ahead; that night, we pitched our tents inside a deserted stone cottage, burning juniper branches to keep warm. The next morning, however, i woke to a staggering view: the-sun drenched south face of Kanchenjunga, so close that I felt like i could almost reach out and touch it.
A decade later, I’m happy to discover that—thanks to an innovative outfit called Shakti Himalayas—exploring sikkim by foot does not have to mean roughing it. the Delhi-based company, which also owns the exclusive 360° Leti lodge in Uttarakhand, has helped spruce up five village houses in southeast Sikkim as homestays for its three- to five-day guided walks. It is exceptionally well done, and gives travelers a unique opportunity to experience traditional village life, without compromising too much on comfort.