GANGTOK: After the Sikkim government announced to remove restrictions on national parks and zoos, the popular Dzongri-Goechala trekking route inside the UNESCO World Heritage site, Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP), in West Sikkim has opened for trekking and tourism.
Khangchendzonga National Park, covering an area of 1,784 sq kms in northern and western part of Sikkim, is famous for the Dzongri-Goechala trekking route.
The Dzongri-Goechala trekking route starts from Yuksam, the first capital of Sikkim.
Now tourists, international and domestic, are again allowed to take the trek inside KNP.
The Chief Wildlife Warden signaled the lifting of restrictions by issuing an order on September 10.
Following the Ministry of Environment’s order shutting down all national parks and sanctuaries in the country due to Covid, the State Government had closed down Khangchendzonga National Park along with other sanctuaries in the first week of May this year.
Along with trekking inside KNP, trekking and hiking to Barsey Rhododendron sanctuary, along the Indo-Nepal border at Chewa Bhanjyang, through the Singalila range from Uttarey in West Sikkim is also open for hiking, trekking and tourism activities.
Meanwhile, nearly 90 percent of tourism stakeholders such as tour operators, trekking guide, trekking cook, porters, yak and horse man (pack animal operators), tourist vehicle drivers have completed their vaccination schedule and are eligible to operate following COVID-19 protocols and safety measures.
After the announcement of reopening of tourism activities inside Khangchendzonga National Park, KNP division under the state Forest Department convened a meeting with local tourism stakeholders and pack animal operators to oversee the conditions of trekking route and trekkers huts inside the KNP.
KNP-Range Officer, Tenzing W Bhutia informed that trekking trail inside the KNP is blocked at several stretches due to landslides during this monsoon.
One large portion of trail has been washed away by the landslide at Nalung enroute Dzongri-Goechala trek in between Yuksam and Tshoka and it will take at least one week to restore the Dzongri-Goechala trekking trail, he informed further adding that restoration work was initiated from Monday.
KNP division has started restoration work on the Dzongri-Goechala trekking trail with the help of local pack animal operators, it is informed and may take a week to completely restore it.
Pregnant women, visitors aged less than 10 years and above 65 years with comorbidities are not allowed to enter the park. Complete vaccination and fresh RTPCR negative report is compulsory to enter the KNP. Wearing masks, social distancing and COVID protocol will be in place and body temperature checkup will be done at checkpoints before entering the park