|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – March 2009
Trek between Buddhist villages, raft Himalayan whitewater, and ride an elephant in the shadow of 8,000-meter peaks.
Hike and bike
When Tenzing Norgay–who knew something about high places–chose Darjeeling as his home, he was on to something. Nestled between Nepal and Bhutan, the city is one of the world's great adventure hubs. Best multisport trip: a roughly 55-mile traverse of Singalila Ridge in Singalila National Park, alternately trekking and mountain biking at altitudes up to 12,000 feet. With guide-service support (read: light packs and bike shuttles), you'll hike-and-ride your way between Buddhist villages while staring glaze-eyed at Earth's biggest mountains, including 28,169-foot Kanchenjunga. The trip can be done entirely on foot, too. Go in May, when the magnolias bloom, or late fall, when visibility is best. trekinsikkim.com
From Darjeeling, descend the Teesta River, with class II-IV rapids and quieter stretches for swimming. darjeelingnews.net
Climb 8,515-foot Tiger Hill (12 miles/four hours round-trip from Ghoom) to watch dawn hit four of the planet's five highest peaks: Kanchenjunga, Makalu (27,766 feet), Lhotse (27,890 feet), and 107 miles away, Everest (29,035 feet).
Ride an elephant across the Terrai grasslands of Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, where you might see Asiatic one-horned rhinos, pythons, and guars (Indian bison). darjeelingnews.net
Footprint Northeast India, by David Stott and Vanessa Betts (Footprint Books, $24)