There is a reason why Sikkim is known as, “The Land of Flowers.” Due to the state’s location, its beauty is unparalleled. From picturesque views to clear rivers to a variety of flora and fauna, Sikkim is a heaven on earth for nature lovers.
Since it is essential to protect Sikkim’s natural beauty, the government has designated many beautiful areas as national parks and wildlife reserves. Let’s take a look at the national parks in Sikkim, along with what they offer.
Sikkim has one national park and eight wildlife sanctuaries. As the name suggests, wildlife sanctuaries are designated areas to protect animals. On the contrary, national parks cover a much larger region and protect flora and fauna.
Given below is a list of both national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Sikkim.
Entry Fee: Rs. 400
Address: Sakyong, Sikkim
Located in North Sikkim, the Khangchendzonga National Park covers an area of 1,784 square kilometers or 688 square miles.
This national park has the highest mountain peak in India and the third-highest in the world, Mt. Kanchenjunga. Therefore, you are in for some breathtaking views if you visit this park.
The fascinating thing about this national park is that it covers 25% of the total Sikkim. It encompasses the beautiful Lachen town in North Sikkim, the Lhonak valley, and the historical town, Yuksom in the west. It is no surprise that you’ll get to discover different types of landscapes within just one national park.
The park’s vegetation consists of oak, birch, fir, willow, and many other trees. It also houses almost half of India’s bird species. So, don’t forget to get your binoculars to see the beautiful Himalayan griffon (vulture) in all its glory!
You can find Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Musk Deer, Tibetan Wolf, and many other wildlife species in Khangchendzonga.
Due to the cultural and geographical significance the park holds, Khangchendzonga National Park was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best way to reach the national park is to take a train to New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri. The distance between New Jalpaiguri and Yoksam is about 170 kilometers, so you must take a bus or taxi.
Another option is to take a flight to Bagdogra Airport, West Bengal. Then, reach the national park via Gangtok. The total journey from Bagdogra to Khangchendzonga is 170 kilometers.
Entry Fee: Rs. 100
Address: Hilley Forest Block, Sikkim
Being surrounded by flowers is a dream for many. You can turn it true by visiting the Barsey Rhododendron Wildlife Sanctuary, known for its Rhododendron blooms.
The sanctuary is situated in West Sikkim and is spread across 104 square kilometers (40 square miles). As the wildlife sanctuary is situated in the Singalila Range, its beauty lies in the numerous clear-water lakes surrounding the region.
Additionally, it is best to visit the park between November and May because of the blooming period of Rhododendron. The whole region is blanketed by purple-red Rhododendron blooms, making it look unique and unlike any other national park.
While the wildlife sanctuary covers only a relatively small area, you can get to see several wildlife species. These include Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten, Leopard Cat, Himalayan Langur, and Red Panda.
You can also find adorable bird species such as Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Yellow-billed Blue-Magpie, and Pygmy Cupwing in the park!
The best way to explore the park is by joining a trekking group or an expedition. It might take five to seven days. But, it’s worth it once you reach the summit and experience the majestic views of Mount Kanchenjunga and the Singalila range.
Gangtok is almost 130 kilometers away from Hilley, where the park is situated. So, you can take a taxi from Gangtok to Hilley.
Entry Fee: Rs. 200
Address: Pakyong, Sikkim
The Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary stretches from some regions of West Bengal to Pakyong District in Sikkim to Samtse, Bhutan. It has an area of 124 square kilometers and is surrounded by the Pangolakha Range, which divides Sikkim and Bhutan. Right above Pangolakha, you’ll find the Chola Range.
The two mountain ranges are responsible for enriching the wildlife sanctuary with several animal, plant, and bird species. This sanctuary is well-known for having 300 Red Pandas. Hence, it has the largest number of red pandas concentrated within one region!
The park might cover a limited region but it has over 100 tree varieties. The common ones are Silver Fir, Bamboo, Juniper, Oak, and Rhododendron.
You can take a flight to Bagdogra Airport, and then take a drive to Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary. The distance is about 160 kilometers and may take about five hours. You can also go to Pakyong Airport, located just 40 kilometers away from the park.
Entry Fee: Variable
Address: Gangtok, Sikkim
If you are looking for a small wildlife sanctuary or national park for a quick retreat, the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary is simply one of the best.
This alpine sanctuary covers an area of 31 square kilometers and is situated in the eastern part of Gangtok, Sikkim. The sanctuary gets its name from the breathtaking Kyongnosla Pass located near it. You can also find the renowned Tsomgo Lake in the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary.
Tsomgo Lake is a glacial lake with crystal-clear (literally!) waters. The lake is one of the most beautiful ones in the state and offers a spectacular sight – in addition to the snow-clad mountains covering the entirety of the lake.
Forget about the lake, this alpine sanctuary might be tiny, but it offers a wide range of flora and fauna. You can find the endangered orchid species ground orchids here. Additionally, just like other parks, there are rhododendrons blooms present too! As the park is named alpine, trees like fir and oak are in abundance.
The animals found here include musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, mountain sheep, and many more.
You can also take a train to New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, drive to Gangtok and then, drive to Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary. The drive between Gangtok and Sanctuary may take about 45 to 60 minutes.
Entry Fee: Rs 55
Address: L. Mangshila, Sikkim
Established in 1984, the Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary is a paradise for trekkers, animal lovers, and avocado lovers. Yes, the sanctuary has many avocado trees, which is rare in India.
Fambong Lho covers a small area of 51.76 square kilometers, making it perfect for short trekking trips. The entire region has many pretty sights and tall trees, like Patle katus, fir, and oak. There are many tiny hills located within the sanctuary too. The highest one is the Tinjurey peak with a height of 2130 meters.
Fambong Lho allows you to explore the true culture of Sikki and talk to the locals because there are tiny villages, like Pangthang and Mangan, within its vicinity.
You can find Rhododendron blooms in Fambong Lho too between March and May. Hence, plan your visit accordingly.
The best part about Fambong is that it is just 20 kilometers away from Gangtok. So, you can just take a taxi from Gangtok to Fambong Lho.
Entry Fee: Free
Address: Ravangla, Sikkim
The wildlife sanctuary is situated in Ravangla, which is located in the southern part of Sikkim. The region was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1987 and is spread across an area of 35 square kilometers.
Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary isn’t just known for its beauty. It is also well-known for housing many essential medicinal plants and trees! In fact, the name “Maenam” translates to “Treasury of Medicines.”
The sanctuary also has over a hundred bird species, making it a treat for bird watchers and lovers. Therefore, carrying a pair of binoculars is a must!
If you want to experience some peace and solace, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Maenam Gompa, a Buddhist monastery, located within the sanctuary.
Another impressive thing about this sanctuary is that India’s first wildlife skywalk will be constructed here soon. Unfortunately, there are no proper updates from the park and state authorities yet.
As the wildlife sanctuary is situated at an altitude of 10,600 feet, you’ll find animals like Goral, Serow, Red Panda, Marbled-Cat, Barking Deer, and Leopard-Cat here.
The best time to visit this sanctuary is between March and June.
You need to reach Gangtok and take an 80-kilometer car journey to Namchi. There are many taxi services between Namchi and Maenam Sanctuary.
Entry Fee: Free
Address: Lachung, North Sikkim
If not Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, you can check out Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. This sanctuary can be found at the Yumthang Valley of Flowers north of Lachung in North Sikkim and has more than 40 species of Rhododendron trees!
Shingba is located at an altitude of 3048 to 4575 meters (13,000 feet) and offers picturesque views of the surrounding mountain peaks. It also spans 43 square kilometers, and houses bird species like Hoary-throated barwing and Wood snipe.
Apart from the colorful Rhododendron trees, you can find many species of orchids, poppies, saxifrages, gentians, and aconites too. There is no doubt that the sanctuary is also referred to as the “Valley of Flowers” by many.
The best time to visit Shingba is between the blooming months of April and July.
You need to reach Gangtok and take a taxi to Yumthang. Note that the journey is long and may take up to 7 to 8 hours.
Entry Fee: Rs. 400
Address: Kitam, Sikkim
If you are exclusively looking for a bird sanctuary, Kitam Wildlife Sanctuary is the place to be!
The sanctuary houses two villages in Sikkim – Sumbuk and Kitam. It covers an area of 6 square kilometers and is located at an elevation between 1200 feet and 3200 feet above sea level.
This bird sanctuary holds more than 200 bird species. Some of the most-sighted ones include Slender-billed Vulture, Slender-billed Babbler, Ward’s Trogon, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, White-naped Yuhina, and Grey-crowned Prinia.
Apart from birds, the sanctuary also has two beautiful rivers within its boundary – River Rangit and River Manpur. This sanctuary is also well known for having a huge 100-year-old litchi tree. You can check it out too!
Other than birds, Kitam is filled with colorful butterflies that will truly make your heart melt.
This sanctuary is 19 kilometers away from Namchi district. So, you need to reach Gangtok first. Then, take an 80-kilometer drive to Namchi, followed by a 19-kilometer drive to Kitam. The journey may take about three hours from Gangtok.
Entry Fee: Free
Address: Tinkitam, Sikkim
This is a special mention on the list of best national parks in Sikkim. The Sling Dong Fairrieanum Orchid Conservation Reserve is a must-visit park for orchid enthusiasts.
As the name suggests, the conservation reserve is to protect the Ladies Slipper Fairrieanum Orchid, which is endemic to Tinkitam Forest in Sikkim. This orchid has a pouch-like shape and has deep purple, pink, and white hues.
The entire reserve is spread across an area of 0.6 square kilometers (6 Ha) and is situated in South Sikkim. It won’t take you a lot of time to look around this place. So, it is better to pair it with any other national park that you’re planning to visit.
You can take a bus or car to Namchi from Gangtok. Then, take another bus or car from Namchi to Tinkitam (about 26 kilometers away). The total journey might be around three to four hours.
Sikkim is the right place for those who want to move away from the crowded cities and need an escape from their hectic lives. The state is truly an underrated gem with its national parks, godly views of Mount Kanchenjunga, and fresh air. No matter which national park or wildlife sanctuary you choose from this list, you’re bound to have a fun and calming experience.