India, Lachen, Lachung, Sikkim, Yumthang, zero point

North Sikkim Days 3 & 4: Lachung to Zero Point through the Yumthang Valley and home again.

June 27, 2016

After a crazy breakfast spread in Lachung…

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Left to right: coleslaw sandwiches, ceraal, watermelon, jam sandwiches, boiled eggs, veg patties in the shape of leaves, rotis and bananas

…we headed towards “Zero Point”. You know you’re going on an adventure when you’re headed to Zero Point. For us foreigners, Zero Point is as far north as we were allowed to go. Although the famous Gurudongmar Lake lies even further north, we aren’t allowed to go there.   It was a fun ride and nowhere near as bumpy as day 1 or 2.

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An early morning band photo opportunity

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and a couple more photo opportunities along the way.
sikkim_yumthang-18_NSikkim sikkim_yumthang-14_NSikkimOn our way to Zero Point, we came across the remains of a landslide from back in 2014, when there was a severe and devastating earthquake in the area. The sight was truly epic.  The mountain towered over us. The remains of the avalanche lay scattered across the valley, changing the shape of the river and generally completely re-writing the whole scene.

sikkim_yumthang-17_NSikkimSikkim_3_4_Amy-7Sikkim_3_4_AmyWe didn’t get a clear shot of the opposite side of the valley, but there were hundreds of trees that were destroyed. It appeared that these gigantic boulders had fallen with such force and at such a great speed that the air pressure had destroyed the trees on the other side of the valley.  Incredible.

Without vocalising our intentions, we all took some time to stand and offer our thoughts to those who would have been affected by this natural disaster and to consider the days weeks and months that must have been spent ploughing through the devastation to re-build the roads.

After another few hours in the jeep, the road just stopped. We had arrived at zero point. We got out, rambled around and enjoyed the snow!

sikkim_yumthang-11_NSikkim Sikkim_3_4_Amy-2sikkim_yumthang-10_NSikkimsikkim_yumthang-12_NSikkimSikkim_3_4_Amy-9sikkim_yumthang-9Sikkim_3_4_Amy-3Sikkim_3_4_Amy-10sikkim_yumthang-4_NSikkimSikkim_3_4_Amy-8From Zero Point we headed down into to the Yumthang Valley, a grazing pasture set in between the Himalayan mountains we had been driving through.  The area is 11,693 ft above sea level, so breathing was a bit knackering.  Some rest and relaxation was in order.

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We spent another night in Lachung, which is a little more developed than Lachen.  Tourists are a little more the norm and so as pretty as it is, we did not get the feeling of wonderment and hospitality that we had when we had wandered around Lachen.Sikkim_3_4_Amy-11Sikkim_3_4_Amy-12 The following day was to be our last and would end up back in Gangtok.  Our first stop was  to be “Seven Sisters Waterfall”, but not before Steve had succeeded in making our driver laugh. The chap that drove us around for our entire trip was…let’s say focussed. He didn’t speak much English  and didn’t take his eyes off of the road. His style of (really fast) driving tended to suggest he was somewhat fearless. Most of the roads we drove down were carved into the side of mountains and were in pretty poor condition. We were frequently driving around blind corners. Not the best kind of terrain to keep your foot on the gas. We made it though.

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Seven sisters is a nice place to stop on your way back to Gangtok.

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We also visited a beautiful monastery.

Sikkim_Day4_NSikkimSikkim_Day4-3_NSikkimSikkim_3_4_Amy-14Sikkim_Day4-2_NSikkimSikkim_3_4_Amy-15In total, our 4 day 3 night adventure around North Sikkim worked out at £31.50 per person per day.  This included our own jeep (with hours and hours of driving), a guide,  all meals and all accommodation.  If you’re thinking of heading up this way, DO it.  This was a real once in a lifetime adventure for us.  Travel agents or the tourist office should be able to help you find other people to help you form a group and keep costs down.  Alternatively just chat to people in coffee shops and hostels.

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2 Comments

  • Reply sarah June 27, 2016 at 10:32 am

    The oil lamps at the monastery – beautiful shot. Although the heavy smell of butter oil for their fuel was too much for me, and I’m not even vegan!

    Zero point – another highlight. You forgot to mention the standard-issue “protective” gear given to most of the other visitors to help with the cold… golden wellies and washing up gloves?!

  • Reply Amy Hiller June 27, 2016 at 11:42 am

    HOW could we forget to mention the boots and gloves! Welly envy was the most difficult part of the trip! xx

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