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Essence of Sikkim and Darjeeling


9 days 8 nights

Code SCT96

Category Sikkim Classic Tours

  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Rating Popular
  • Highest Altitude 2,550 m( 8,364 ft.)
  • Trip Starts From Bagdogra
  • Trip Ends At Bagdogra
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Darjeeling Pelling Yuksom Martam Gangtok Kalimpong Bagdogra
Dates & Prices

Overview

Sikkim and Darjeeling,cradled in the foothills of the eastern Himalaya attract a large number of travelers every year that includes trekkers, adventure enthusiasts, honeymooners and simply just the people who love to be in the tranquil and serene beauty of the nature.

Mount Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world and is the glory of the Eastern Himalayas and is venerated by the Sikkim people as their guardian deity. In this trip, you will visit the ancient monasteries dedicated to different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, drive through the tea and cardamom plantations, experience the British introduced Toy Train Ride, take some village hikes, and meet the friendly locals. The culture and lifestyle of both Sikkim and Darjeeling reflect strong influences from the neighboring countries of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet.

The trip can also be taken as a post or pre-trip of your Bhutan or Nepal trip. Bagdogra airport connects this region with Kolkata, Delhi, and Guwahati. If you are traveling to or from Nepal, Bhadrapur airport is about one-hour drive from Bagdogra and serves as your gateway.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Darjeeling

Upon arrival at Bagdogra Airport, you are met by your guide and driven to Darjeeling (100km/65 miles, 3 ½ hrs.). It’s a scenic drive through the coniferous forests and terraced tea gardens. Darjeeling, situated at an altitude of 2,134m has soothing temperature and was developed by British as Hill Resort in order to avoid the heat of summer. On a clear weather day, we can enjoy spectacular views of Himalayas that includes the third highest mountain on earth- Kanchenjunga- which the Sikkim people regard as their guardian deity. Upon arrival, check in hotel and after some rest, take a stroll in Chowrasta.

Meals : Dinner
Day 02~Explore Darjeeling-The Queen of Hills

You are awakened early in the morning and driven to Tiger Hill (11km/7 miles) for sunrise and mountain panorama view. Tiger hill (2590 m.) is the highest point in this area and famous for breath-taking sunrise view on Mount Kanchenjunga. Mount Everest (8,848) - the highest mountain in the world is also visible on a clear day. Return to the hotel and after breakfast; embark on sightseeing of the highlights of Darjeeling. We visit the Mountaineering Institute, Himalayan Zoo etc. We will also experience the Toy Train ride and on return, visit the Ghoom Monastery.

 

Overnight: Hotel New Elgin
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Drive from Darjeeling to Pelling

132km or 83 miles, 5 hrs.

A fascinating journey through the tea estates! We travel on the mountainuous road with a countless bends and switchbacks along Rangeet River and enjoy panoramic view of Mount Kanchenjunga and other majestic peaks of the Himalaya all the time.

Upon arrival, check into your accommodation and after refreshed, visit the Pemayangtse monastery- one of the finest Monastery of Sikkim and the second oldest, built in 1716. It is an impressive and beautiful building which houses the unusual Sangdok Pelri "Temple of Heaven" which contains a wooden figure that took 7 years to carve single-handedly by the late Dugzom. The monastery preserves the priceless Rinpoche.

 

Overnight: Elgin Mount Pandim Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Yuksom Excursion

(44 km or 28 miles round trip, 3 hrs. one way)

Early in the morning. we take a short hike to Sangacholing monastery where sunrise over Kanchenjunga and the adjoining peaks can be seen on a clear day (optional).

Late morning, we leave for Yuksom- the first capital of Sikkim where the first Chogyal (king) of Sikkim was crowned on a stone throne, close to Norbugang Monastery. Close to the throne, we can see the footprint of the Lama Latsum Chenbo who consecrated the king. On the way to Yuksom, we visit Khecheopari Lake- the sacred Buddhist Mountain Lake with crystal-clear water. It has a myth that when a leaf falls on the placid crystal water of the lake, it’s picked up by a bird and leave the waters clean. The lake is also famous as “wish fulfilling lake”. If you wish something with good heart by this lake, you will get it..

Overnight: Elgin Mount Pandim Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Drive from Pelling to Martam

(86 miles, 6 hours)

After breakfast we leave for Martam. After breakfast, proceed on a scenic drive via Ravangla. We take a detour of 18th century Ralong Monastery which is dedicated to the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The next stop will be in Ravangla, it will provide you with undisturbed views of the snow-capped mountains of Greater Himalayas that includes Mount Kanchenjunga, Mount Pandim, Mount Sinialchu, Mount Kabru, etc.

Continuing further, you will arrive at the Temi Tea Garden. It is the only tea estate still existing in Sikkim and produces world-class tea. The tea garden spreads out on a gentle hill slope originating from Tendong Hill and provides a magnificent view of the surrounding villages and Sandruptse Monastery on the "Wish Fulfilling Hill". A 135 ft. unique statue of Guru Padmasambhava, probably the tallest of this kind has been installed on the hill.

We arrive in Martam village late afternoon. Check in hotel and balance of the day is for leisurely exploration of the village.

Overnight: Martam Village Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Gangtok-the capital of Sikkim

After breakfast, visit the village near the resort. Walk to the village and chat with the locals and learn more about their lifestyle. Also visit St. Joseph's Convent School, which is quite a decent one and a lot of families have turned their homes into small hostels where the students stay.

After breakfast, we leave for Gangtok. We stop in Rumtek Monastery-the largest and the most famous monastery of Sikkim. It is the principal seat of Karmapa Lama, the head of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.The monastery is the largest in Sikkim and is the place for worship and sacred rituals of the Karma Kagyu School. You will visit the Golden Stupa, which is the most magnificent in the Rumtek complex. It houses the relics of the 16th Karmapa Lama and the Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies, simply called Shedra. You will have an opportunity to meet the monks and learn about their monastic lifestyle

Upon arrival, check into your accommodation and refreshed, proceed for the exploration of local attractions. We begin from Tsuk-la-Khang, the royal chapel which is standing on a high bridge.This is the major place of worship and has a large and impressive collection of scriptures. Next stop is at the Institute of Cottage Industrieswhich is an attraction as a wide range of local handicrafts in Lepcha style are produced here. We also visit the Enchey monastery-a 100 year old monastery associated with Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism

Overnight: Dezong Residency
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Explore Gangtok

Today, we visit the unique Research Institute of Tibetology on a hilltop which was established in 1958 to promote research on Tibet and Mahayana Buddhism. Here, we will see the biggest collection of Tibetan scripts and an excellent collection of rare Thangka, bronze and cult objects. We also visit orchid Sanctuary which is lying south of the institute. This sanctuary contains over 450 indigenous species. Sikkim is considered paradise for orchid lovers. After the visit of sanctuary we walk in the bazaar of Gangtok through the area of old palace. 

Overnight: Dezong Residency
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Drive from Gangtok to Kalimpong

After breakfast, leave for Kalimpong (2 hrs.). The road winds its way through the hillside following the Teesta River and passing through some of the most beautiful villages in the region. Kalimpong is bustling and rapidly growing town, though relatively small and is set amongst the rolling foothills and deep valleys of the Himalayas. The culture and lifestyle of locals reflect the influences of neighboring Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Check in hotel and after some rest, embark on the tour of the highlights of Kalimpong that includes Dr. Graham's Home, started in 1900 by a Scottish missionary, Dr. John Anderson Graham, who along with his wife, dedicated their lives in building up this beautiful complex for the education care of orphans and underprivileged children. Continue visits of Thapa Choling monastery- which houses a library of Tibetan manuscripts and Thangkas. It belongs to the yellow Hat sect. We will also visit the Thongsa monastery and Durpin Dara which is the highest point in Kalimpong with superb views over the plains rolling down to Siliguri. 

 

Overnight: New Elgin Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Transfer to Bagdogra Airport

(80 km/50 miles, 4 hours)

After breakfast, your guide and driver will transfer you to Bagdogra airport from where you can fly to Delhi or Kolkata or major Indian cities. If you are traveling to Nepal, you will be dropped off at Nepal border which is further one-hour from Bagdogra. 

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Cost Includes

  • Accommodation in moderate standard hotel on twin sharing.
  • 3 meals a day.
  • All transfers and sightseeing by private vehicle.
  • English speaking local guide.
  • Sightseeing admission fees.
  • Necessary inner line permits.

Cost Does Not Include

  • Expenses of personal nature such as drink, optional tipping, laundry, phone etc.
  • Airfares to and out of Bagdogra.
  • Extra expenses caused due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Travel Insurance.

Indian Visa and Sikkim Permits

Except Nepalese and Bhutanese nationals, travelers from foreign countries require passport and visa to travel to India. Please, make sure that the remaining validity of your passport is at least 6 months at the time of travel. As India does not grant visa upon arrival, you need to obtain visa in advance. Besides Indian visa, you will require inner line permit (ILP) to enter Sikkim which you can request in advance along with visa application or we can locally obtain it from Sikkim Tourist offices in India. Foreigners are issued a permit for initial period of 15 days duration on the spot without any delay provided photocopies of Passport and Visa details along with two passport photos of applicants are made available then and there. It can be extended for further 30 days of 15 days each. The extension of permits can be obtained from Foreigners Registration Office (FRO), Gangtok and Superintendent of Police of North, South and West Districts. If we are trekking and traveling to remote restricted areas of Sikkim, we will require additional permits that we will take care of for you.

Getting into Sikkim and Darjeeling

From New Delhi, Kolkatta and Guwahati, you can fly into Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal from where both Gangtok and Darjeeling are 4-5 hrs. drive by jeep. If you are traveling from Nepal, you can fly from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur airport in eastern Nepal where we can arrange you pick up and transfer to Gangtok. If you are traveling from Bhutan, we will arrange you pick up (on additional payment) at Phuentsoling-the Bhutanese border town from where Darjeeling or Gangtok is 6-8 hrs. drive. You can also take train from major cities of India to New Jalpaigurhi train station where you will be received and transferred to Gangtok.

Best time for this trip.

Eastern Himalayan areas experiences cold winters between November to February and monsoon affects Darjeeling from the end of May/June to the middle of September. The best season to take this trip is between mid-March through to mid-June and this is also the time when the rhododendron and orchids come in bloom. October and November are also good months for this trip. March to early May is when sunshine is quite abundant.

Accommodation

There are limited choices for accommodation in Darjeeling and Sikkim area. The top end properties in Darjeeling and Sikkim are 3 star equivalent hotels with private bathroom with running hot and cold water. In Darjeeling, our choice of hotels is May Fair or New Elgin and Netuk House or Norkhill in Gangtok. They are locally managed properties, built in local style architecture and staffed with friendly locals. We will pick the best available properties in the rest of the places. In the remote areas, the accommodations are simple, wooden bungalows and run by the families and we do not expect full-fledged services and facilities. In the remote areas, there may be power outage at times and hot water supply may be disrupted.

Food

This trip features 3 meals a day. We will eat our breakfast and dinner at our hotels where as for the day meal, we are provided with cold lunch box. Hotels in the cities offer varieties that include Indian, Nepali and western style dishes but as we travel in the Western and North Sikkim, we may have limited choices. You may want to bring with you some energy bars, dry fruits and vitamin systems to maintain calorie level and keep the body system ticking.

Transportation

We provide you with SUVs or Jeeps for entire transfers and tours which are in good conditioned and well maintained. Being the mountainous road, the road condition may not be in the best form due to monsoon rain and landslides and mechanical breakdowns and flat tires are unpredictable but our drivers are experienced; prepared for all kinds of challenge. Rerouting of the itinerary due to landslides or road blockade is not an uncommon if you are traveling during summer and early autumn.

Guide

You will be accompanied by experienced and knowledgeable English speaking local Guide throughout the tour. Our guides are college graduate, trained and certified by the local government authorities and most importantly, they are flexible and friendly. They will share their knowledge; guide you on the path and show the wonders of the areas that you would never discover on your own. Your guide will carry all the necessary vouchers and permits and deal with the local bureaucracies for you and coordinate with the local office and crews and make sure that your tour goes smoothly without a hitch.

Health Issues

There is no mandatory vaccination required for travel to India and Sikkim. Yet, you may consider vaccination against rabies and Hep A. Please, consult with your physician before you decide to take any vaccinations. We don’t attain any significant altitude in this trip and so we don’t need to worry about any altitude related illness. This trip requires some soft hikes and so some level of physical fitness is desired. Our hotels do maintain highest level of hygiene standard yet; we need to be cautious when we order food. Refrain from eating raw foods like with green salads which might be washed with untreated water. Avoid buying foods with the street vendors and drink only the bottled water and where bottled water is not available, please make sure that the water supplied is properly boiled and medicated.

International and internal travel, pre trip and post trips

Our land service starts from Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal, India or Bhadrapur Airport in Nepal. So, basically you can buy your international airfare to Delhi or Kolkata in India or Kathmandu, Nepal. You need to allow a couple of nights in the gateway city before you fly to Bagdogra or Bhadrapur. We can make the arrangement for accommodations and transfers and in the gateway cities and also take care of the internal airfares. After the trekking, you may add a day trip to Taj Mahal for a day or two or visit the pink city of Jaipur for another two days. If you are starting or finishing your trip in Nepal, you should allow 2-3 days in Kathmandu touring the temples and palaces around and consider 2-3 days jungle safari rides in Chitwan National Park and two days in the beautiful Pokhara Valley.

Note on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed; it is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Booking and Cancellation

When you are sure you are traveling, please don't delay in booking. Timely made booking helps to secure reservation in preferred hotels and flights. A deposit of US$300 is requested along with complete trip application form and passport copies. Balance payment is due 60 days prior to your departure. Depending on the number of applicants, we may set an early payment date. Credit card payment attracts additional fee.

Cancellation fee

  • 90 days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 150 per person.
  • 60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%.

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage etc. that may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

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United States

6603 Queen Ave S, Suite 2
Minneapolis, MN 55423
Tel: 1 612 605 4428
Fax: 612 807 1137

Nepal

Kapoordhara, Samakhusi, Kathmandu
Tel (977 1) 4351780, 4381823
Fax +977-1-4381369

Bhutan

KMT Building, Nordzin Lam, Thimphu
Tel (975-2) -329098 / +975-77204087
Fax (+975) 2 337004

Tibet

B5-1-2, B3 dong, Renchen garden,
No 13 Jiangsu road Lhasa Tibet China.
Tel: +86-(891)-6836609,
Fax: +86-(891)-6836619


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