Lying in the south west corner of the West Sikkim district, Barsey is well known for its vibrant and colourful Rhododendron Sanctuary. The sanctuary encompasses over 104 sq.km, across the razor sharp Singalila Range, which forms the natural international border with our neighbours, Nepal. Having three points of entry into this sanctuary from Hilley, Dentam and Soreng, both tourists and trekkers alike prefer entering through Hilley since it is easily approachable by road. The bridle path from Hilley to Barsey is a favourite among tourists especially during the Rhododendron flowering season, and the faunal treasures of the sanctuary include Leopard Cat, Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten, Himalayan Palm Civet, Himalayan Langur, Crimson Horned Pheasant, Monal Pheasant, Kaleej and many diverse species of birds. Hence, Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is a treasure trove for wildlife and birding enthusiasts and is therefore frequented by a number of wildlife photographers and ornithologist enthusiasts throughout the year.
Spanning over the razor sharp Singalila range of mountains, the climate of the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is characterised by being wet and cold, thus favouring the spread of the dominant genus of flowers in the area – Rhododendron. July, being the wettest month, receives an average annual precipitation of over 250 cm and the areas above 2500 m sea level receive regular snowfalls during the winters. The period during November to May experience the clearest skies, characterised by a bright shade of azure blue. The sanctuary also boasts of over 40 species of Rhododendron and during the blooming season, the sanctuary is blanketed in a sea of colourful rhododendron flowers. To witness this majestic sight, it is best to visit during the season of the flowers which falls between March and May. The period between July and September is the wettest and is best avoided. The second trekking period starts from October to December, when the skies are clear with little to no haze, thus making the viewing of Mt. Kanchenjunga and the snow-capped ranges clearly visible. Though there are no rhododendrons blooming during this period, the sanctuary is exquisitely beautiful and is sure to satisfy the wildest of souls.
A beautiful trekker’s hut going by the name of Garas Kunj is located at Barsey, in the middle of the sea of Rhododendron at 10,000 feet, commanding a gorgeous view of the Singalila Mountain Range. Trekkers can spend the night at this hut and soak in the warm rays of the sun here while breathing in the fresh mountain air and enjoying a panaromic view of the rugged Singalila Range.
The easiest way to reach the sanctuary is from Hilley from where it is a 4 km trek to the sanctuary. Sombaria, which is situated about 25 km before the road ends at Hilley is the last major town. The best visiting hours is from 8 am to 4 pm and morning hours are the best time for day excursions. Also, trekkers and visitors should keep in mind to carry along proper gear and hire an experienced guide before visiting this site.
It is October now and the skies have cleared to provide you with a majestically clear view of the Kanchenjunga mountain range, so book your tickets to Sikkim and allow WeCare Holidays to make the trek through Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary a memorable experience.