SIKKIM: This small, strategically important state is surrounded on three sides by Nepal to the west, Tibet to the north and northeast and Bhutan to the east. The state is only 2818 sq miles (7300 sq km) in area and its only national park occupies 10 percent of this. Compressed into the 70 miles (12 km), from north to south is an incredible range of habitats and diversity of flora. Over a thousand orchids are recorded from Sikkim, and near Gangtok (the capital), is an orchid sanctuary with 250 species which flower prior to the the monsoon (in May and June), while others bloom in December and January. Travel in much of Sikkim is restricted but permits to visit the western and southern region are obtainable from any Indian Embassy or High Commission abroad or from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Wing) Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, New Delhi 110003.
Kangchendzonga National Park
Established in 1977 on 328 sq miles (850 sq km) of wet temperate and mountain forests at the lower levels, rising to the bare rock, ice and snow of the peaks. The park is bounded by Nepal on the west with some of the world’s highest mountains straddling the border: Tent Peak, Nepal Peak, Kabur North, Kabur South and, of course, Kangchendzonga herself (28,179 feet/8586 meters). To the north is the Zemu glacier flowing into the Zenu river and then the Tista. The park has an impressive range of animals and birds: leopard, clouded leop-ard, tahr, musk deer, Bharal , serow, snow leopard, red panda and binturong. Best time to visit: Apr. — May, Aug. — Oct. Accommodation: 4 resthouses Permission: Asst. Wildlife Officer (KNP), Forest Dept., Deorali, Sikkim 737102 Nearest town: Chungthany (12.5 miles) Air: Bagdogra Other sanctuaries developed in the mid- 1980s are: Fambung Kho (5.8 sq miles/15 sq km); Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary (1.5 sq miles/4 sq km), established to protect the natural flora; and the Siugba Rhododendron Sanctuary.