Trekking and Yoga in the Himalayas

with Ransom Hare & Aaron Luburich

October 20—November 2, 2024

Register Online

or call 1-800-822-4547 x5

Register Online


Blend effort and trustful surrender on this transformative trekking and yoga adventure into the lap of the Himalayas. Nestled between Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, and in the shadow of sacred Mount Kanchenjunga – the world’s third highest peak – lies India’s Northeastern state of Sikkim. Comprised of peaceful monasteries, meticulously tended gardens, colorful homes, and warm smiles, Sikkim is a vibrant world unto itself. We’ll travel through subtropical rainforests and high-alpine meadows to rest at 15,000 feet among Himalayan Peaks and glaciers as we embark on the Goechala Trek, the “Trail to Shangri-La.”

sikkim overview - Himalayan Institute

Key Highlights

sikkim chenrezig statue - Himalayan Institute

At 6,000 feet elevation, Pelling offers us beautiful panoramic views of the Himalayas to begin our journey. Here, we will find two spiritually and culturally significant destinations in the Pemayangtse Monastery and the towering Chenrezig statue. Pemayangtse, the most famous monastery in Sikkim, follows the Nyingma Order of Tibetan Buddhism and controls all other monasteries of that Order in Sikkim. The statue of Chenrezig, or Avalokitesvara, represents the most revered of all Bodhisattvas who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He vows to never rest until all sentient beings are free from bondage.

sikkim khecheopalri lake - Himalayan Institute
Khecheopalri Lake

Translated as “The heaven of Padmasambhava,” Khecheopalri Lake is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. The legends hold many tales of this sacred space, which is believed to be wish-fulfilling. Padmasambhava preached to 64 yoginis at this lake. This is the residing place of Tara with the lake as her footprint. Shiva meditates in a cave 2,000 feet above the lake (which we’ll hike to). Whether or not you connect with these stories, your connection to the extraordinary space surrounding Khecheopalri Lake will be undeniable.

sikkim trekking - Himalayan Institute

The environment of our trek is nothing short of spectacular. It begins through dense green jungles along the Rathong river valley as we begin ascent through a variety of forests consisting of oak, pine, rhododendron, and magnolia trees. At the end of day 3, we emerge from the forest to up-close views of Mount Pandim (21,952 ft). The next three days are highlighted by alpine meadows, more 20,000 ft peaks, Samiti Lake, Zemu Glacier, and an epic sunrise at the base of Mount Kanchenjunga. With 9,000 ft of elevation gain over 6 days, this trek may not be easy, but it’s filled with rewards!

sikkim meditation in a cave - Himalayan Institute

We’ll work with breath-connected techniques in movement and stillness to enhance our energetic capacity, and support both our physical and spiritual journey. These include breath-aligned movement, systematic relaxation, and guided meditation. Working with these techniques will unlock a deeper pranic awareness that will enable us to experience the unique energetic presence that resides in the sacred spaces we’ll visit.

sikkim camping - Himalayan Institute

If we’re going to work hard, then we should rest hard! Arrive at camp with tents ready to crawl into. After a quick change of clothes enjoy tea, coffee, and fresh-made snacks as you digest the effort and beauty from the day’s trek. Indulge in a multi-course dinner, fit for a 4-star hotel, and wake in the morning to fresh tea, coffee, and a breakfast to match the previous night’s dinner. Combine this with a Himalayan backdrop and you’re in for a camping experience unlike any other.


This is a realistic sample itinerary to show what a potential schedule might look like. Considering the broad hiking possibilities, and leaving room to adapt to a variety of circumstances, the exact itinerary will unfold on a day-by-day basis, with the exception of our fixed arrival time.

Arrive at Bagdogra airport on a morning flight and make the 5 hour drive to the mountain town of Pelling, situated at 6,000 ft. Settle into the charming Chumbi Mountain Retreat with tea, snacks, orientation, and our first guided practice.
Awake to stunning views of Mount Kanchenjunga and enjoy a guided yoga practice to start the day. After a leisurely breakfast, we will visit Pemayangtse – the most famous monastery in Sikkim – followed by a trip to Chenrezig Statue. Return for a relaxed late afternoon and evening.
Another morning with yoga and beautiful views followed by a visit to the sacred Khecheopalri lake, en route to the charming town of Yuksom. Before we visit the lake, we will trek for several hours to a cave high above the lake that is associated with Shiva. Upon return, we will seek the blessings of this unique lake associated with Padmasambhava, the 64 Yoginis, and Tara. After a short drive, we will reach Yuksom.
Following morning yoga and breakfast, we will hike through the local village to the Dubdi Monastery, the oldest monastery in Sikkim. We’ll enjoy meditation in this space and request safe passage on our journey through Kanchenjunga National Park. The rest of the day will be highlighted by village walks and downtime to read, write, and prepare for the beginning of our trek the following day.

Trek Distance: 4.6 miles | Altitude Gain: 5,840 ft to 7,400 ft

Start the day with a yoga warmup and breakfast before leaving for the trailhead. This trek begins in a charming village in Yuksom and leads us into dense jungles high above the river valley to a campsite nestled underneath the forest canopy. It will be a lovely, relaxed hike that will prepare us for the days to come.

Trek Distance: 4 miles | Altitude Gain: 7,400 ft to 9,790 ft

Our trek begins with a slight incline for the first half-hour, followed by a descent down to the river crossing. From here, we must ascend 2,000 feet over the next few hours to reach our second campsite. Prepare to walk at a slow pace, and enjoy the forest scenery as we make our way to the open meadows where we’ll find our campsite. Situated just below an alpine forest, and next to a lake and monastery, this campsite gives us our first glimpses of the snow-capped mountains that await us in the following days.

Trek Distance: 5.2 miles | Altitude Gain: 9,790 ft to 13,190 ft

This is going to be a challenging day. This day’s trek is a mixture of steep and gradual ascents across 5-6 miles, but we ascend 3,500 feet. Considering the significant gain in altitude, we will keep a slow and steady pace so we can gradually acclimatize. Once we reach camp, we will be greeted by the extraordinary open space that this alpine valley offers.

Trek Distance: 1.25 miles | Altitude Gain: 13,190 ft to 13,670 ft and back to 13,190 ft

We will wake early and make a short trek to Dzongri peak, where we’ll watch the golden light of morning dawn on the snow-capped peaks. This moving sight is a key highlight of the trek. After enjoying some time here, we’ll return to camp for a leisurely day of rest and acclimatization.

Trek Distance: 4 miles | Altitude Loss: 13,190 ft to 12,910 ft

This is a more relaxed trekking day with gentle ups and downs. We’ll arrive at our meadow campsite surrounded by high mountain peaks in the early afternoon. We’ll have an earlier dinner and bedtime to prepare for a pre-dawn trek departure the following morning.

Trek Distance: 10 miles | Altitude Gain: 12,910 ft to 15,100 ft and back to 12,910 ft

Depart camp between 3-4 am so we can reach Viewpoint 1 for sunrise views on Mount Kanchenjunga. Perched above glaciers, we’ll make the most of our time relaxing, reflecting, and meditating at this pinnacle point of our excursion. On our return to camp, we’ll stop at Samiti Lake for a snack while taking in the view of Mount Kanchenjunga reflected in the still waters.

Trek Distance: 8 miles | Altitude Loss: 12,910 ft to 9,790 ft

Our trek back to Thsoka begins with gradual ascent, followed by a relatively flat stretch for a few hours, and then a steep descent to camp.

Trek Distance: 8 miles | Altitude Loss: 9,790 ft to 5,840 ft

Reflect along your hike back to Yuksom as we trek through the jungles of Kanchenjunga National Forest, and enjoy a long awaited – and much deserved – hot shower and/or bath at our hotel.

Travel day back to Siliguri, where we’ll have our departure dinner at a 4-star hotel.
Catch a morning or early afternoon flight back to Delhi in time to make a connecting international flight home.

What to Expect

This is a trekking and yoga excursion designed to challenge your mind and body and awaken your spirit in the spiritually charged and majestic space of Kanchenjunga National Park.

We will practice breathing, relaxation, and meditation techniques that support our daily treks into some of the most extraordinary spaces of Sikkim. Working with these yogic techniques will unlock a deeper awareness of prana that will enable us to experience the unique energetic presence residing in the sacred spaces we’ll visit.

Participants should be capable of hiking up to 10 miles daily (up to 8 hours) carrying a 10-15 pound day pack, over varied terrain with elevation gain and loss. Elevation gain can be between 1500 ft – 3500 ft on hikes taking place at elevations between 6,000 ft. and 15,000 ft. Participants must be prepared for elevation related challenges as well as nights below 0°C / 32°F while sleeping in alpine tents.

The challenges of this trek will be amply rewarded with incredible sights and energetic spaces along the legendary trail to Shangri-La.

sikkim what to - Himalayan Institute


sikkim camping by the mountains - Himalayan Institute

Accommodations will vary from 4-star hotels, charming mountain lodges, to alpine tents while camping. See itinerary for day-to-day details.

We offer single accommodations for travelers who value their privacy, or double occupancy accommodations with shared rooms and tents.

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Excursion Team

Ransom Hare
Ransom Hare
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Aaron Luburich
Aaron Luburich
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Dates & Prices

Date Regular Registration Late Registration
October 20–November 2, 2024

Register Online

from $4,199

Closes July 15, 2024

from $4,399

Closes September 1, 2024

Call 1-800-822-4547 x5 or email [email protected] for more information.

Optional Add-Ons

Add-On Pilgrimages

Our HI Excursions Team will be hosting two Add-On Pilgrimages which can be joined as either a pre or post add-on option to the Sikkim excursion. Their pilgrimage-focused itineraries have been specifically designed to enhance the overall experience you receive from Sikkim. Please note that registration and payment for Add-On Pilgrimages must be completed separately from your Sikkim registration.

Darjeeling Kanchenjunga - Himalayan Institute

Add-on 1 | 3-Night pre-excursion Culture and Acclimatization Add-On coming soon! Includes 2 nights in Darjeeling.

Add-on 2 | 4-Night post-excursion trekking add-on that includes panoramic views of Mount Kanchenjunga, Everest, Makalu, and Lohtse.

More details coming soon

Packing List

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) How difficult are the treks?
A) The treks are rated as moderate to difficult with some days being more challenging than others. A high degree of physical fitness or thorough preparation is required to have an enjoyable experience on this excursion.

Q) How many days are we trekking?
A) 8 days will involve trekking with an additional 2 days of preparation hikes/walks.

Q) How long are most of the treks?
A) The treks vary in length, with an approximate average of 5-6 miles (8-10km) per day. Our longest trek will be approximately 10 miles (16km). Altitude will make the distances feel significantly longer.

Q) What are the hiking trails like?
A) Most of the hiking trails are variations of packed rock in dirt. The trails generally offer stable footing, but some places offer flatter rocks for your feet to land than others. Plan to bring shoes with good foot and ankle support.

Q) How many nights are we camping?
A) We will be in alpine tents for 7 nights.

Q) What will the weather be like? Should we expect rain?
A) October/November in Kanchenjunga National Park is the best time to visit. The skies are mostly clear, with afternoon clouds, the day times are pleasant with temperatures between 55-75 degrees with sunshine, and the nights are still bearable with temperatures between 20-40 degrees fahrenheit. However, weather can change rapidly in the mountains so it’s always good to be prepared with waterproof jackets and pants for potential rain or snow.

Q) What is the highest altitude on the trek?
A) Our trekking in Kanchenjunga National Park is between 6,000 -15,000 feet.

Q) What about altitude illness?
A) The trip is designed to allow us to gradually acclimate as we ascend, and we will discuss ways to maintain your body, mind, and breath to support the ascension. None-the-less, we recommend consulting with your doctor regarding this.

Q) How can I prepare for this pilgrimage?
A) Physical fitness and overall good health are important elements for an excursion like this. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you begin a regular practice for conditioning your body. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful to prepare for trekking and high altitudes. One method is fast-walking, building up to a steady pace on inclines, hilly terrain, or stairs, and increasing distance. We highly recommend walking regularly with your day pack (filled) and trekking poles and pushing yourself on some longer hikes whenever possible. Also, the yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) of kapalabhati, bhastrika, and nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) are also good preparation, as is the practice of agni sara to energize the solar plexus and help sustain vitality. These practices are best done regularly, starting with a few repetitions and progressing gradually according to your capacity. If you don’t know these techniques, we recommend that you take a pranayama or hatha yoga class with a qualified instructor.

The Himalayan Institute’s HI Online digital education platform provides articles and videos on some of these techniques, including contraindications.

Q) How do I get to India?
A) From the United States: Many U.S. and international airlines offer flights to New Delhi, India. On the East Coast, a good number of flights depart from or connect at New York (JFK or EWR in Newark, NJ). Other major airports throughout the U.S. also offer flights to India. A number of flights stop in Europe where passengers change planes to a new flight number. From other countries: Numerous flight options to/from Delhi from other countries around the globe are available. Depending on the departure city, many flights from Europe are non-stop to Delhi.

Q) Where can I stay for my overnight in Delhi?
A) There are a range of accommodations available in Delhi including airport louges, airport hotels, and hotels in the city. For quick access to and from the airport, we recommend booking a hotel in Aerocity, approximately 10 minutes for the airport.

Q) How do I reach my hotel from the airport?
A)You can arrange pick-up and drop-off through most of the hotels near the airport. Otherwise, when you exit the airport terminal, look for the Meru Taxi stand, provide your destination address, and pre-pay for a hassle-free taxi experience. Do NOT follow anyone offering taxi services outside of the pre-paid taxi stands. Uber is another also commonly used option in India.

Q) How do I get from New Delhi to Bagdogra International Airport?
A) Non-stop flights between Delhi and Bagdogra are available. The flight is approximately 2.5 hours. The group pick-up on October 20, 2024 will be from the Bagdogra airport for flights arriving before 9:45a.m.. Note that transfers outside the main group pick-up from the Bagdogra Airport at the designated time on October 20, 2024 are not included in the cost of the trip.

Q) Do I need a passport or visa?
A) A Passport valid at least 6 months after your return date and India visa are required. It is recommended that there be at least 3 blank pages in the back of your passport. Each individual is responsible for obtaining their passport and visa. Those residing outside of the continental U.S., check with your local Indian consulate for visa requirements in your country of residence.

Q) Where do I apply for my visa?
A) US citizens can apply for an e-visa (recommended over paper visas) through the Government of India website – Indian e-visas can be obtained for a period of 30 days, 1 year, or 5 years. We strongly recommend reviewing the sample visa form before beginning your application –

Q) What immunizations do I need?
A) No immunizations are required for the areas we’re traveling to in India. You may check the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization websites for their list of recommended vaccines. These vaccines are optional and the decision to get them is strictly a personal choice. We encourage you to discuss immunization with your doctor or health professional in order to make an informed decision based on your own personal preferences and health history.

Q) Are there any natural ways to enhance my health before going to India?
A) Himalayan Institute Chyawanprash is highly recommended in preparation for your pilgrimage to India, and anytime. Described in ancient Ayurvedic texts, Chyawanprash is a synergy of specifically selected herbs and fruits in a nutritive tonic. The principle herb Amla (Amalaki) is one of the world’s most concentrated naturally occurring sources of antioxidant Vitamin C. A spoonful a day of this 2,000 year old formula is a tasty way for people of all ages and constitutions to nourish mind and body, while supporting healthy immune function.* Take it regularly for several months before your departure to strengthen and build your immune system.

* The statements made here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If taking any medication, consult with a healthcare practitioner before using this product. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation unless recommended by a healthcare practitioner. As with any herbal preparation, consider size, age, weight, constitution, and lifestyle as guidelines for use.

Q) Is the water safe to drink?
A) Bottled (mineral) water is recommended when staying in hotels in India and it can be purchased directly from the hotel or other local sources. Bottled or boiled and filtered water will be provided for the duration of the trip.

Q) What medicines should I bring with me?
A) If you are taking prescription medication, bring an adequate amount with you. Although some medicines are available in India, their supply and quality are not reliable. Bring homeopathic or herbal remedies or your choice. Consult in advance with your health practitioner regarding other medications and recommendations for known allergies, possible altitude sickness, diarrhea, or general stomach upsets.

Q) Where will we be staying?
A) Accommodations will vary from 4-star hotels, charming mountain lodging, to alpine tents while camping. See itinerary for day to day details. Accommodations are based on single or double occupancy shared rooms/tents depending on your reservation.

Q) What type of meals can I expect?
A) Freshly prepared vegetarian meals will be served throughout the trek. Inquire about special dietary needs including gluten-free and vegan options.

Q) Will I be able to do laundry?
A) It may be possible to do hand laundry on portions of the pilgrimage when there are stays of more than one night, and weather conditions are favorable for drying.

Q) What is the expected group size?
A) We expect a group of 20-25 participants.

Q) What do I need to bring?
A) For this trekking excursion it is very important to be properly equipped with appropriate mountain gear. Please carefully follow the Packing List.

Q) What is the culture like and how should I dress?
A) Due to cultural customs in India, the Tour Organizer asks women to refrain from wearing shorts above knee length, tops with spaghetti straps, halter tops, tank tops, plunging necklines or backs; form-fitting clothing; and short skirts. On mountain trek days and when visiting temples, long pants are appropriate for women and men. For women, long loose skirts are an adaptive piece of western clothing. Leggings are recommended for underneath long skirts, particularly if temperatures are cooler.

Q) Where can I change money?
A) Change currency into Indian rupees before exiting the Customs area at the Delhi airport. Traveler’s checks are no longer widely accepted, therefore, plan to bring cash for exchange. State Bank of India, near the baggage claim area (across from carousel 14) and before the Customs exit, is recommended for currency exchange. Count your rupees before leaving the window and be sure you are given an encashment certificate for your transaction. Retain this encashment certificate to use for exchanging any excess rupees at the end of your travel.

Q) Will we have access to a phone or internet?
A) Phone connections and service in the mountainous areas is unreliable and generally poor. Phone connections in the city of Dehradun are stronger and generally more reliable. Several local telephone carriers are located in the international arrivals area of Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport. Inquire about options and cost at Airtel or Idea upon arrival in India. Outside of Delhi, these services will likely be unreliable and not work. If you plan to use a local SIM card in your GSM mobile phone, have your local service provider unlock the phone before your departure for India. CDMA phones may require additional attention to avoid roaming charges with a local SIM card. Check details with your service provider.

Q) How do I register for this trip?
A) Register online or call 1-800-822-4547 x5.

Q) What if I need to cancel?
A) Requests for cancellation must be made in writing to the Tour Organizer. See the Tour
Participant Agreement for complete terms and conditions and applicable cancellation charges. As a non-profit we are unable to offer exceptions to our cancellation policy – we therefore require participants to purchase trip cancellation insurance in the event you need to cancel your reservation due to any reason.

Register Online