In fact on a clear day (which I was lucky to have) it’s possible to see Dhaulagiri (in the far west) all the way to Kanchenjunga, which borders India in the far east. And everything in-between. It is a truly breathtaking sight taking in countless giant peaks to the north and deep valleys dropping away into the clouds to the south.
Overview of the route from Sigane to Jiri (3/4 days)
Day 1 – 3hrs drive / 7 hrs walking / Elevation gain 700m
The biggest town in the district is Okhaldhunga, with the best options for guest houses. It’s about a 3-hour drive from the trailhead at Sigane. The road from Okhaldhunga is a good black top road that climbs from 1560m at Okhaldhunga up to 2800m at Sigane. The mountains coming into view near the end of the drive from the ridge are Number Himal. It’s important to start early because it’s a pretty long day walking (7-8hrs).
The trail from Sigane follows a road under construction for the first couple of hours. The first village is called Jahpre (2920m). It’s perched above a deep valley with nice views of Everest and the Number Himal. There’s a pretty little Gompa and Stupa here. The best bet for good Dal Bhat is a lodge called Himalayan Lama Guest House.
After Jahpre, the trail climbs up to a grassy ridge at Bhulbhule. There’s one lodge with no name on the left side. Nice views of the Everest range from here.
Soon after Bhulbhule the trail splits. Turn right to Pikey Peak. You’ll pass some old yak houses and a long Mani Stone wall. The trail then contours the hillside below Taklung Danda and goes through a beautiful forested trail. There’s many Rhododendrons here along a level path. As you leave the forest it’s not far to Pikey Peak base camp, about 2 hrs away.
There’s one lodge called Pikey Lodge (3640m) with four draughty rooms in a separate building. It’s a short climb in the morning to the summit at 4065m. Unless there’s an unusually clear evening it’s better to climb for sunrise.
Day 2 – Pikey Peak summit (1-2 hrs) and then 6-7 hrs to Chaulakharka (4-day itinerary). 8-10 hrs to Bhandar (3-day itinerary).
The trail to the top of Pikey Peak starts from behind the lodge and follows a gradual slope to a summit strewn with prayer flags. The views from the top are breathtaking. It’s important to start just before dawn to reach the top for sunrise.
It’s a quick decent back to the lodge for breakfast and then hit the trail without too much delay, it’s a long day to Bhandar (if walking the 3-day itinerary).
You’ll leave Pikey base camp past a Mani Wall and then the trail goes down to the left and stays on a high contour through trees. It’s a beautiful trail with stunning mountain views. The route bends around the valley and descends through pretty forest. Eventually you’ll pass a cheese factory on the left which marks the beginning of Ngaur. Ngaur is a very pretty cluster of houses on an outcrop. There’s bad earthquake damage here, the Gompa is ruined. There’s a small new prayer wheel building next to it.
The trail goes into a steep descent through forest to Kosinasa which local people are now calling Lamane (2872m). There’s a place here for Daal Bhat. The trail follows the hillside to Gumba, climbing slightly up to 2980m. Gumba is a pretty place of about a dozen houses on the hillside and a newish looking Gompa. There's significant earthquake damage here. At Gumba the trail turns right and drops steeply through forest down to Namkheli. Leaving the forest the trail carries on all the way to the river (Likhu Kola) at 1535m.
The next section is a 750m ascent to Bhandar. It’s a fairly steep climb sometimes on a new tractor track. The best lodge in Bhandar is Shobha Lodge by far. Menus! There’s a good hot shower and nice clean rooms upstairs. My favourite trekking brekkie is a Chapati and an omelette rolled up with chilli sauce which is perfect here.
Day 3 – Bhandar to Jiri (8-10 hrs)
The trail climbs up to the Deurali pass at 3700m. On the east side of the pass there’s great views over the valley and river back towards Pikey Peak. On the west side sits the little village of Deurali. Langtang comes into view here. There’s some damaged teas houses nestled together around rows of Mani Walls.
The trail drops steeply at first and then levels out all the way down to Shivalaya, which is quite a big village on the river, devastated by the earthquake. The trail descends steadily all the way down to Jiri through small villages and terraced fields.