The Breathtaking Sanctuaries and National Parks of Sikkim’s Wildlife

by operator

From an autonomous nation in the 17th century to the second smallest and multilingual state in Northeast India since 1975, Sikkim had crafted its journey as delightfully as its splendor. Sikkim is the least populous state with Gangtok as its capital and a focal point of attraction. Bordering three neighboring countries Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal, Sikkim state has consistently captivated the world with its alluring beauty and intriguing history. Aside from ranking highest in the category of nature, intriguingly, Sikkim also maintains its position as the wealthiest state in the country. It possesses a diverse culture with ‘Sikkimese’ as the state language alongside other languages spoken by the masses. This petite state typically experiences rainfall throughout the year. Summers bring pleasant and radiant sunshine, while winters are accompanied by frequent snowfalls. With a serene view of the mountains and hills adorned with silver crowns, Yak riding, trekking, and Sikkim Wildlife are truly blessed with nature’s abundance.

To uncover the wonders of Sikkim’s fauna, snow-capped peaks, and ancient forests, one has ample opportunities to explore the hidden universe within this vast land. If you are an enthusiast of trekking, these highlands can be perfect for long walks and hikes. Nestled in the lap of nature, there are seven renowned wildlife reserves in Sikkim, as well as one National Park where beauty and tranquility reach their zenith. Let us delve into each of them.

Khangchendzonga National Park

1. Khangchendzonga National Park

Khangchendzonga, located in North Sikkim, is also referred to as Kanchenjunga. It boasts the highest mountain in India and proudly holds the distinction of being the third highest mountain in the world. Standing tall at a height of 8,586 meters along a section of the Himalayas, it was designated as a National Park in 1977. This National Park spans a total area of 1784 km² dedicated to safeguarding and conserving the region’s biodiversity.

Kanchenjunga is a major highlight of an extraordinary Sikkim Wildlife experience that awaits you during your visit. It harbors numerous varieties of magnificent trees, plants, flowers, and animals. The awe-inspiring landscapes and chilling cascades have a soothing effect on the soul. Many animals such as Red Pandas and Himalayan Birds, among others, represent the hundreds of species that can be spotted on a jeep safari, which itself is a thoroughly delightful ride. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you must visit and immerse yourself in the embrace of nature. This is also one of the most popular National Parks in Sikkim.

Best Time to Visit: Between March and May, as well as September and mid-December. Any other month can also be chosen for a trip. The park welcomes visitors throughout the year.

Entry Fee: For Indian nationals, it is INR 200 for the first seven days of the trip. For additional days, it is INR 40 per person. The entry fee for foreigners is INR 400 per person.

Essential Read: Paragliding In Sikkim: 6 Locations Where You Must Try Out This Thrilling Activity

Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary

2. Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary

Renowned Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary in East Sikkim is a significant milestone in the mountainous state. It encompasses an area of approximately 124 square km and is encompassed by the Pangolakha Range and the Chola Range respectively. It also shares a distinctive connection with the forests of the neighboring country Bhutan as well as the neighboring West Bengal state. A few small villages are also situated within it. Enriching the wildlife of Sikkim, this place is a must-visit.  

A notable name in terms of Sikkim Wildlife is a habitat for some of the most extraordinary animals such as the Asiatic Black Bear, Red Fox, and around 300 Red Pandas, which also happen to be the largest number in the world conserved in one place. It also boasts rare species of plant life, including the Silver Fir, Oak, Bamboo, and the Rhododendron among others. In total, it has around 101 species of trees in its forests. However, what attracts photographers in large numbers to the Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary in Sikkim is the diverse range of birds, which even includes endangered species that find refuge here.

Optimal Time to Visit: It remains cool and enchanting throughout the year, making it easily accessible.Ideal For: Birdwatching and Trekking

Barsey Rhododendron Wildlife Sanctuary

3. Barsey Rhododendron Wildlife Sanctuary

Considered one of the renowned wildlife sanctuaries in Sikkim, this delightful sanctuary is located in West Sikkim with an area of about 104 square km. It is surrounded by some of the finest lakes in Sikkim, the Singalila Range, and shares a border with the neighboring country, Nepal. It is home to exotic wildlife including the Himalayan Langur, Leopard Cat, and Himalayan Palm Civet among others.

It is also recognized as the habitat for the diverse species of migratory birds. That is why it draws an endless number of bird enthusiasts and birdwatchers all year round. However, this sanctuary is not like one of the typical Wildlife Sanctuaries in Sikkim. This wildlife sanctuary is still not as popular as its counterparts in the region yet its diverse and plentiful flora and fauna, particularly exotic plant species, Rhododendron, appeals to many nature enthusiasts.

From above, magnificent Singalila range is also visible and particularly the misty Mount Kanchenjunga captivates everyone. They create a breathtaking view.

Optimal Time to Visit: November to May. Snowfall and precipitation might dampen your trekking experience and the Rhododendron Flowers won’t be a part of your experience during certain months

Ideal For: Hikers, birdwatchers, photographers, and Rhododendron enthusiasts

Accommodation Options: There are numerous guesthouses and hotels around it, but opting for the camping and lodging options within the sanctuary area will definitely enhance your wildlife experience. Small accommodations can also be rented in the Rhododendron forests.

Recommended Reading: Top 7 Things To Do In Sikkim!

4. Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary

Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary

Away from the human disturbances and far from the bustling crowds, this sanctuary offers the best of the Sikkim Wildlife experiences. It covers an area of about 52 square km. It was established several decades ago in 1984. It remains renowned globally for its Avocado trees. Several hills are encompassed within it, with the highest one being the Tinjurey peak at an elevation of 2130 m. It is considered an extension of the Kangchendzonga National Park. There are a few small villages in its midst named Mangan, Dikchu, and Pangthang, which always catch the attention of visitors. This Sikkim wildlife sanctuary is also one of the most popular attractions for travelers.

Optimal Time to Visit: April to July, when the Rhododendrons are in full bloom

Timings: Morning 8 AM to 3 PM

Accommodation Options: Lodging is available within the Sanctuary itself, and it costs Rs. 50 per night for one person

Ideal For: Birdwatchers, hikers, and photographers

Recommended Reading: Gangtok Honeymoon: A Handbook About This Ultimate Paradise In Sikkim!

5. Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary

Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary

Situated on the eastern side of Sikkim, this wildlife sanctuary is the habitat of numerous unique and endangered species of plants. Alongside earth slipper orchid and Rhododendron (Sikkim’s official tree), travelers can also come across uncommon trees like Oak, Champ, Ferns, and Orchids. Moreover, visitors can frequently catch a glimpse of musk deer, Himalayan black bear, and red panda in this sanctuary. To effortlessly spot or encounter rare animals, it is essential to be in the correct location at the opportune moment. This place is also surrounded by some of the finest temples in Sikkim. 

Optimal Time to Visit: April – August, and October- NovemberClosest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri StationClosest Airport: Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal

6. Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary

Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary

One of the magnificent sanctuaries in Sikkim, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary captivates every visitor with its splendid beauty. It is the dwelling place of vibrant floral species, including orchids and rhododendrons, making it a must-visit sanctuary not just in Sikkim, but in all of India. It is also a beloved destination for adventure and nature enthusiasts. Travelers from various parts of the world visit this attraction in Sikkim to catch a glimpse of the vivid colored flowers such as pink, maroon, cream, purple, and red. This place enhances the variety and wildlife of Sikkim and is essential for birdwatchers to explore. 

Best Time to Visit: April and May (during this time, relish the beauty of the blooming flowers)Operating Hours: Sunrise to SunsetDuration of Visit: 2-3 hours

7. Maenam Wildlife Reserve

Established in 1987 and covering an area of 14 square kilometers, Maenam Wildlife Reserve is one of the most popular nature preserves in Sikkim. Abundant in various medicinal plants, the Nature Reserve is a delight for nature enthusiasts. A paradise for those who appreciate nature, you might come across its abundant plant and animal life. Long after your visit, tourists may still find themselves meandering through its forests and jungles, encountered during a trip. The Maenam wildlife reserve in Sikkim will soon be home to the first wildlife skywalk of its kind in India.

Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary

Price of Admission: Entry is freeTime Needed: 5-6 hoursOptimal Time to Visit: Morning hours are suggestedHow to Get There: Well connected by road

8. Kitam (Bird) Nature Reserve

Kitam Bird Reserve is a protected reserve located at Kitam near Namchi, Sikkim. This serene, riverside conservation area is a paradise for tourists who wish to observe the peafowl and other species in their natural habitats. Tumbol Schor, the highest point of Kitam Bird Reserve, is renowned for offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Hence, it is also considered one of the finest reserves in Sikkim that captivate bird and animal enthusiasts throughout their entire visit. This Sikkim nature reserve is famous for its exceptional trails where you can stroll to observe these numerous birds. 

Kitam (Bird) Wildlife Sanctuary

Operating Hours: Sunrise to SunsetTime Needed: 5-6 hoursOptimal Time to Visit: Between October to May, as during winter many vibrant migratory birds come to this area

Further Reading: Gurudongmar Lake: Explore This Pristine Lake In Sikkim

Misty peaks, pleasant rivers and waterfalls, enchanting vistas, a plethora of wildlife – the kind that is rare and difficult to find anywhere else, and most importantly, the National Parks in addition to renowned nature preserves scattered throughout the small state are the precious jewels of this place. You can truly cherish the best memories during your Sikkim vacation, as you’ll be surrounded by nothing but unspoiled nature and its countless wonders!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Wildlife in Sikkim

Is it secure to visit Sikkim in the upcoming weeks or months?

With the gradual reopening of the tourism industry, you can explore most of the previously mentioned places and more, as long as you travel in small groups and adhere to all the published guidelines. However, it is advisable to verify the latest travel advisory, Covid-19 measures, and the number of cases before your departure. It is safer to embark on a solo journey or travel with a small group to destinations that are currently not overly crowded or have a low number of reported cases.

What is the optimal time to visit Sikkim?

The best time to visit Sikkim is from March to May and from October to mid-December, when nature is in full bloom. Don’t miss out on the vibrant springs, and autumn offers clear and panoramic views of the Himalayan Ranges. If you want to experience snow, be sure to visit during the winter season.

What is the predominant language in Sikkim?

The regional languages spoken in Sikkim are Nepali and Sikkimese. However, knowing these languages is not essential as English is widely understood throughout most of Sikkim. Hindi is also commonly spoken.

What is the altitude of Sikkim?

Sikkim is an entirely hilly state, with elevations ranging from 280 meters (920 ft) in the southern region bordering West Bengal, to 8,586 meters (28,169 ft) in the northern peaks near Nepal and Tibet.

Which lake in Sikkim has recently been declared as the highest lake in India?

Tso Lhamo Lake, situated in the northern part of Sikkim, is believed to be the highest lake in India. It is located at an elevation of 5,330 meters, merely 4 km away from the Chinese border. Gurudongmar Lake is also one of the high-altitude lakes in Sikkim.

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