In Kanchenjunga’s Shadow
Trip Code: AITIKS
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Standing in the shadow of spectacular Mt Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, the Himalayan areas covered in this trip are characterised by the diversity and richness of their cultures, customs, heritage and flora and fauna.
Covering the northern region of West Bengal (including the Darjeeling Hills and the Dooars), and the southern region of Sikkim, this trip offers a unique opportunity to visit picturesque and remote Himalayan villages, tea plantations and outstanding ecological sites.
It’s most special feature, however, is that it enables you to interact with local communities which have proudly retained much of their cultural traditions and self-sustaining practices. With the help of guides who themselves belong to the region, you can experience this centuries-old lifestyle in an authentic, sensitive and meaningful way.
Day 1 Kurseong
Fly from Delhi to Bagdogra. You will be collected at the airport for the approximately 3 hour drive to the Selim Hill Tea Estate. This 150 year old plantation, with its breathtaking views of the Teesta river and Balason river valleys, is a bio-dynamic tea garden famous for its orthodox Darjeeling tea.
Day 2 Kurseong
A tour of the tea plantations and factory this morning, will give you an understanding of the cultivation and processing of biodynamic tea.
Afterwards visit a community co-operative initiative in the villages near Makaibari where you can participate in a traditional cultural performance with the villagers.
Enjoy a birding trek this afternoon and a cooking class in the evening.
Day 3 Tinchuley
Take a short drive to Kurseong to board the UNESCO World Heritage listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway steam train up to Ghoom.
Transfer from Ghoom to Tinchulay, a relatively new tourist destination whose inhabitants have established their locality as a model village, engaging in floriculture, vermiculture, organic projects and eco-tourism.
You hosts here, the Gurung Family, have created a guest house which provides a unique experience of Himalayan village hospitality.
Day 4 Tinchuley
Scattered around the Gurung Guest House are a number of tea plantations, orange gardens, cabbage groves and several other vegetable gardens; poultry is raised nearby; a fish tank lies terraced into a hillside. Because of all this local production, the village is almost totally self-sufficient.
Take a guided walk today to view various village livelihood processes such as organic farming, vermi composting, cardamom harvesting and tea picking.
Day 5 Darjeeling
Depart Tinchuley for the short drive to Darjeeling – the most renowned British summer retreat in the Himalayas. Home of the late Tenzing Norgay, co-mountaineer of Sir Edmund Hillary, Darjeeling has, since 1954, housed the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where he trained a generation of mountaineers. The earliest Everest expeditions started their journeys from here. [Image: Aranya449].
Day 6 Darjeeling
This morning visit the Himalayan Zoo where captive breeding of few highly endangered Himalayan species such as the Snow Leopard and the Red Panda are being undertaken.
Afterwards explore the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where the exhibits displayed unveil the story of the first Everest summit expedition successfully completed by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.
Enjoy an interesting heritage walk of the town this afternoon. [Image: RichardTurnerPhotography].
Day 7 Darjeeling
Rise early this morning to take in the spectacular sunrise views from the Tiger Hill summit.
Return to your hotel for breakfast and afterwards set out for a sightseeing tour which includes visits to the Peace Pagoda, the Mahakal temple, the Tibetan Refugees’ Self-help Craft Centre and the Manjushri Centre of Tibetan Culture.
Day 8 Namchi
From Darjeeling travel to Namchi in Sikkim. Situated at an altitude of 1,675 metres, it commands panoramic views of snow capped mountains and vast stretches of valley.
Your accommodation here, Seven Hills Resort, spreads out over 6 acres with twelve traditionally designed cottages set amidst landscaped greenery; each cottage, with its own private verandah, looks out to the majestic mountain vista.
Day 9 Namchi
Enjoy a village and cultural experience today which includes visits to the traditional villages of Namthang and Moniram to view the Sikkimese way of life, and to Samdruptse to see the 41 metre towering statue of the Buddhist Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim, who introduced the Tibetan Tantrik Mahayana Buddhism in this region.
Savour a traditional Sikkimese lunch with your host. [Image: Sudarsan Tamang].
Day 10 Richenpong
From Namchi transfer to Yangsum Heritage Farm located in West Sikkim. At an altitude of 1,500 metres, it is famous for its beautiful views of the Kanchenjunga range of mountains. The farmhouse, which was built in 1833, is home to the Tsechu Tharpa family who manage the 44 acre fully organic mountain farm.
This afternoon visit the Lepcha Heritage House; built in1860 to accommodate the British governor, it contains a rich collection of paintings and carvings.
Day 11 Richenpong
Enjoy a Buddhist cultural excursion today including visits to the two oldest and most important monasteries of Sikkim – Pemayangtse and Sangachoeling – as well as to the old Rabdantse Palace ruins (seat of the Bhutanese king after his invasion), Khachopelri sacred lake and Rimbi and Sangay water falls. At the end of the day, return to the Heritage Farm. [Image: Carol Mitchell].
Day 12 Kolakham
Set out for the Neora Valley National Park today. Situated in the Kalimpong Hills, the Park has a unique eco-system consisting of tropical, sub-tropical, sub-temperate, and temperate vegetative systems. It is also home to many endangered species such as the red panda, the musk deer, and the clouded leopard.
Your accommodation here, Neora Valley Jungle Camp, is located at an altitude of 1,868 metres commanding spectacular views of the mountains and the lush valley. [Image: Tom Raferty].
Day 13 Kolakham
Trek down from the Camp to the village this morning – about an hour’s walk. Here you have an opportunity to spend some time experiencing the local village life and culture of the Nepali families belonging to the ‘Rai’ community. Visit the Kolbung primary school to meet with the children and teacher and, following this continue on to the beautiful Chhenge water falls where you enjoy a picnic lunch.
Day 14 Kolakham
This morning take a forest and bird watching walk along the trails surrounding the Jungle Camp.
In the afternoon make an excursion to Lava, a small village just a few kilometers away where you can visit the Buddhist monastery and explore the colourful local market.
Villagers will perform a folk cultural programme for you this evening.
Day 15 Malbazar
From Neora Valley travel to the Dooars region in the foothills of North Bengal.
Your accommodation here – Dam Dim Tea Estate – was established in 1927. A tea bunglow has been converted into a guest house enabling you to experience the tea lifestyle and providing a unique insight into the lives of tea planters. Food is served in colonial planter’s style and prepared from vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices from the mali bari (vegetable garden).
Day 16 Malbazar
Spend today exploring the Dooars Valley. Trek through the tea garden or photograph wild elephants while perched on a tree top machaan (platform built on a tree); take a safari into the Gorumara National Park; have a picnic on the banks of the Chel river; visit a ‘haat’ or colorful local market; enjoy a tribal cultural experience; or view the fascinating process of tea making.
Day 17 Bagdogra
Transfer to Bagdogra airport and board a flight for Delhi.
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