Orchids of Sikkim

While just over 700 km2, Sikkim has a tremendous range of climate and habitats, varying from tropical to subtropical to temperate to alpine zones. The lowest areas are about 500 meters above sea level, and the highest point is  Mt. Khangchendzonga (at 8,586 m, the 3rd highest mountain in the world). Sikkim is the most humid region in the range of the Himalaya due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, and direct exposure to the south-west monsoons. Most of the inner valleys receive 200-500 cm of rain per year. Sikkim is a biodiversity hotspot, with over 4450 species of flowering plants, belonging to 1371 genera and 197 different families! Predominant genera include Rhododendron (38 species!), Pedicularis (47 species), Gentian (32 species), Swertia (17 species), Primula (58 different species). The major orchid genera include Bulbophyllum (46 species), Calanthe (21 species), Coelogyne  (18 species), and Dendrobium (36 species).  Sadly,  the habitats are slowly dwindling due to human activities, and this is an opportunity for visitors to see them in situ before many of the species are permanently extirpated.

Our tour guides have taken care to identify special habitats of orchids in Sikkim.  Most of the habitats we will visit are close to motorable roads and one does not have to go to deep forests and dangerous cliffs etc. to view the orchids in habitats. Hence, there are no major physical difficulties to overcome in order to see a large number of orchid species. Our guides have indicated that this tour is suitable for both elderly as well as people with limited fitness, although there may be certain sites where this may not be the case.  The tour guides have selected hotels based on travellers who appreciate nature and biodiversity – especially orchids. During the tour, the vehicles will stop at various locations and the guides will take tour participants for short walks from the roads in a completely natural setting. Sometimes the packed lunch would be provided in such wilderness setting. All transportation would be in a Toyota Innova or an equivalent vehicle. 4 persons + driver in each car (1 as the co-driver and 3 in the second seat) – the last row would only be used for luggage.

Minimum of 6 participants and a maximum of 12 (including the OCA tour leader).

Dates & Prices

Dates: April 1-15, 2025

Deposit Due Date: December 15, 2024

Final Payments Due: February 15, 2025

Price: $4200 Per Person Double Occupancy, $5200 Single Occupancy

Price includes: Hotels, meals, transportation (in country), internal airfares, guides, entrance to parks and reserves. Price does NOT include round trip airfare from home country to Delhi, hotel nights pre and post tour, alcoholic beverages, tips, souvenirs, items of a personal nature.

Conservation donation: $1000 pp (estimated). A donation based on the profit (~$1000 per person) is donated to The Orchid Conservation Alliance. The Orchid Conservation Alliance is a 501(c)3 organization, and for USA residents, the donation may be tax deductible. A formal acknowledgement is sent to each participant at year end.

Physical requirements for the trip: Participants should be healthy and able to walk some distance (1/2 mile -3 miles) without difficulty. Terrain may be uneven, and will require some uphill and/or downhill walking. If you have concerns or questions, please contact: mary@orchidconservationalliance.org

Health Precautions: Vaccinations or boosters for diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid recommended. Covid 19 vaccines should be up to date and are mandatory for OCA tours. Also recommended: pneumonia, meningitis, shingles, MMR, cholera. Participants are suggested to contact their health provider for the most up to date recommendations for travel to India.

Tour Leaders:  Sailesh Pradhan, Neelam Basnett and Mary Gerritsen

Other Information: US Passport holders will need a visa. Visas can be obtained online: https://india.visaonlinegov.org/apply-visa

Inclusive dates of tour: April 1-April 15, 2025

Note, if you would like to arrive a day or two early we can provide the information for the hotel in Delhi. Details about hotel transfers outside of the tour dates upon request.


DAY 01                        ARRIVE DELHI

Upon arrival in Delhi, our representative will meet the guests and then transfer to your hotel. O/N in hotel. (D)


DAY 02                        FLY DELHI/BAGDOGRA & DRIVE GANGTOK (125 KMS/05 HRS)

After breakfast, transfer to airport and fly to Bagdogra. Upon arrival @ 1220 hrs, meet and assist. Lunch in local restaurant and drive to Gangtok. O/N in Hidden Forest Resort (B + L + D).


DAY 03                     GANGTOK

After breakfast, we will start our Orchid tour in the surrounding area. This day you will see Orchid habitats of nearby areas like Coelogyne ochracea and Coelogyne cristata and various Dendrobium species. O/N in hotel. (B + L + D).


DAY 04                       GANGTOK – MANGAN (60 KMS/03 HRS)

After late breakfast, we drive to Mangan. On the way we will see habitats of Bulbophyllum leopardianum and Coelogyne species. O/N in Tshana Residency. (B + L + D).


DAY 05                       MANGAN

Today we will visit the wilderness. Drive from Mangan to Dzongu after breakfast (45 minutes). This area is the habitat for Paphiopedilum venustum (Lady slipper Orchid). However, there has been much destruction of this habitat. We hope to see other orchids such as Cymbidium, Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum species. Return back to Mangan. O/N in hotel. (B + L + D).


DAY 06                       MANGAN – LACHUNG (60 KMS/03 HRS)

Today we drive to Lachung (North Sikkim). On this day near Chungthang, we will show you the habitats of Dendrobium nobile which is the state flower of Sikkim. O/N in Yarlam Resort. (B + L + D).


DAY 07                       LACHUNG

Today we will tour around Lachung and Yumthang Valley. O/N in hotel. (B + L + D).


DAY 08                       LACHUNG – RAVANGLA (120 KMS/05 to 06 HRS)

Today we drive to Ravangla via Mangan and Singtam. We can see Trans Country of Sikkim on this day with various altitude changes. O/N in Buddha Retreat. (B + L + D).


DAY 09                      RAVANGLA – YUKSOM (60 KMS/03 HRS)

Today we drive to Yuksom. After lunch we will see the wilderness areas around Dubdi Monastery. We will hope to see half a dozen species of Dendrobium and Coelogyne species. O/N in Tashigang Hotel. (B + L + D).


DAY 10                       YUKSOM

This day we will see the wilderness of Yuksom on route to the famous Dzongri Trek, in the Kangchendzonga National Park. We expect to see Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Coelogne and sub tropical panda species. O/N in hotel. (B + L + D).


DAY 11                       YUKSOM – PELLING (40 KMS/02 HRS)

Today we will drive to Pelling. We will see the Pemayangtse Monastery and the wilderness areas around the place with a hope to sight some interesting Coelogne cristata plants in bloom. O/N in Hotel Norbugang. (B + L + D).


DAY 12                       PELLING – KALIMPONG (110 KMS/05 to 06 HRS)

Today we drive to Kalimpong via Jorethang. O/N in Helumba Haven Resort. (B + L + D).


DAY 13                     KALIMPONG

Today we will visit couple of nurseries that specialize in growing and exporting orchid species from India. There are very few nurseries that have the license to export with CITES Certificate. O/N in hotel. (B + L + D). Arrangements can be made for the purchase and export of orchids back to the USA (note: we will need to arrange for nursery to do the importation. Orchids will be shipped bulk to the USA; once clearing the USDA inspections, they will be forwarded to individual purchasers).



After breakfast, transfer to Bagdogra airport to board flight to Delhi (B + L + D)


DAY 15            DEPART DELHI

Final departure transfer to airport to board flight for onward journey. (B)


Mr. Sailesh Pradhan

Mr. Sailesh Pradhan

Mr. Sailesh Pradhan

Mr. Sailesh is a member of Sikkim Orchid Society and is well versed in the field of plants and orchids and has travelled to various countries including France, Japan, Kew (UK) to speak on plants and orchids. He also owns and runs a nursery for both exotics and Himalayan species of orchids and other flowering plants in Gangtok, Sikkim. Sailesh’s father (Keshab Pradhan – now 90 years) is in the conservation committee of the American Orchid Society as well. Sailesh has been guiding tours and treks in Sikkim for about 30 years.

Mr. Neelam Basnett

Mr. Neelam Basnett

Mr. Neelam Basnett

Mr. Neelam is also a senior guide, with over 30 years of experience. He has been working with Sailesh for about 25 years. He is well versed in the natural habitats as well as the cultural aspects of Sikkim and will be able to provide a complete experience to the visitors.

Dr. Mary Gerritsen

Dr. Mary Gerritsen

Dr. Mary Gerritsen

The OCA representative on the Nepal trip will be Mary Gerritsen, Ph.D., President of the Orchid Conservation Alliance. Mary has been leading orchid tours for the OCA for nearly 10 years, and has traveled extensively to see orchids in habitat.


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