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Grandeur of Sikkim and Darjeeling


14 days 13 nights

Code SCT98

Category Sikkim Classic Tours

  • Difficulty Level 1
  • Rating Non-Touristic
  • Highest Altitude 17,200 ft. Gurudongmar Lake
  • Trip Starts From Bagdogra
  • Trip Ends At Bagdogra
  • Accommodation Hotels and Resorts
  • Type Trekking
  • Destination Darjeeling Pemayangtse Yuksom Excursion Martam Gangtok Lachung Yumthang Lachen Gurudongmar Lake Kalimpong Bagdogra
Dates & Prices

Overview

In this trip, we visit to the remote North Sikkim which is a restricted area and requires special permit. North Sikkim borders with Tibet and is mostly untouched by the outside world. We will enjoy superb natural beauty as well as witness the traditional lifestyle and culture of aboriginal Lepcha and Bhutia ethnics.

For nature enthusiasts northern Sikkim is a true paradise. Untouched rhododendron jungles, presenting themselves in red, pink, yellow, purple and white and dispersing a concert of beautiful fragrances from May to June. The ever-present mighty mountains whose snow-capped peaks mark the border to Tibet surround the sparse settlements of northern Sikkim’s Bhutias and Lepchas.

We take walks, explore the countryside, visit monasteries and a nunnery, visit traditional Lepcha and Bhutia families, allowing us deep insights into the culture and traditions of Northern Sikkim’s Bhutias and Lepchas and to enjoy authentic Sikkimese cuisine.

We will visit other regular attractions of Darjeeling and Sikkim that include monasteries, temples, viewpoints, flower nurseries etc. We will experience British developed toy train ride, take some village hikes and drive through tea plantations.

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 Sikkimese regard as their guardian deity. Upon arrival, check in hotel and after some rest, take a stroll in Chowrasta.

Overnight in Elgin Hotel or similar.

Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02~Darjeeling

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 in Elgin Hotel or similar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Darjeeling to Pemayangtse (132km, 5 hrs)

Today, we drive in the morning to Pemayangtse, a fascinating journey that winds through steep climb down through tea estates across river Teesta. We enter into west Sikkim winding along the river Rangit where panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga and the entire row of peaks are awaited. Check in hotel and after some rest, we pay a visit to 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 Palri "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 in Hotel Mount Pandim or Norbughang Resort.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Drive to Yuksom (22km, 3 hrs)

Early in the morning, we trek 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 the 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 in Yuksom Residency Hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Yuksom to Martam (5 hrs)

After breakfast we leave Pemayantse and drive towards Gangtok. About 9km before Gangtok, the road forks and we take left towards Rumtek and Martam. It is a lovely drive as the road snakes through typical Sikkimese villages and a great many paddy fields. The entire area resembles a green carpet from July to Sep. Later, during Oct-Nov, which is the harvest season, the entire place is a sight to behold with golden paddy swaying in the breeze. From December onwards, the paddy is harvested and the hill takes on a brown hue. We arrive Rumtek, which is about 12 km from the main highway. We stop here to visit the famous Rumtek Monastery which was built by the 16th Karmapa Lama-bthe supreme head of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The 16th Karmapa, along with his followers, fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese takeover of Tibet and built this monastery with the help of Sikkim’s Chogyal (king) Tashi Namgyal to preserve the wealth of his lineage and portable spiritual treasures & relics. Also visit the Karma Nalanda Institute for higher Buddhist studies. After an hour in this monastery, we drive further 5 km to the little village of Martam and check in a beautiful cottage resort. Take a shower and spend leisurely in the library of the resort which is decently stocked and you will find some books on Sikkim as well. If you have still energy left, you can hike 10 minutes up to the hill just above the resort to visit a small monastery called Mani. The view from here is beautiful and you can see the Tinjure Hills looming right behind you and in front is sprawled the charming paddy fields that make up Martam.

Overnight in Martham Village Resort.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Martam Village Walk and drive to Gangtok

There is a small cluster of village near the resort. Walk to the village and chat with the locals and learn more about their lifestyle. Also visit the 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. Return to the resort, bid farewell to the staff of the resort and drive to Gangtok- the capital of Sikkim. We retrace drive and join the main road at Ranikhola. Gangtok- the capital of the lost Himalayan Kingdom lies on a ridge overlooking the Ranipool River. Gangtok which means a High Hill, lies at an altitude of 1760 m. Upon arrival, check in hotel and after some rest; visit 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. We visit the institute of cottage industries which is an attraction as a wide range of local handicrafts in Lepcha style are produced here. We also visit the Enchey monastery- which is believed to be 200 years old. The monks of this monastery belong to the Mahayana Buddhism.

Overnight in Denzong Regency or Elgin Norkhil Hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Gangtok Sightseeing

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 in Denzong Regency or Elgin Norkhil Hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Gangtok to Lachung (115km, 6 hrs)

Today, we begin our drive to North Sikkim- the main focus of this trip. As we are about to leave Gangtok, the road curves into Tashi View Point which offer fine views of 28,168 ft. Mount Khangchendzonga off to the northwest as well as a host of other high and largely unclimbed 6,000 peaks. The route continues to meander through villages and is flanked by fields until it hits the forest grove of Kabi Longstok, the place that saw the historic swearing of blood brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias. An event which underlines the ethos of even present-day Sikkim stone markers was erected to keep the promise alive and stand to this day. Before you've even caught your breath from the magnificence of Kabi, you hit the Karma Kagyu Monastery of Phodong built in 1740. The monastery is famous for the intricate murals that adorn its walls. Singhik comes next with its promise of one of the most glorious views of Khangchendzonga. For those with time, a half an hour's walk uphill takes one to an ancient monastery suspended in time.

Straddling the confluence of Lachen and Lachung rivers lies Chungthang, a small town full of legends. One such legend claims this to be the place from where the world Demazong (the Hidden valley of Rice) first originated for Sikkim.

It is evening by the time one hits Lachung, one of the most exquisite valley towns, resplendent in its crown of snow-capped mountains, breath-taking waterfalls and sparkling streams. Situated at a height of 8,610 ft., Lachung has been described as the "most picturesque village of Sikkim" by none other than Joseph Dalton Hooker in his definitive, The Himalayan Journal (1855).

Overnight in Yarlam Resort.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Yumthang Excursion

After breakfast, leave for Yumthang which lies very close to the Tibetan border. Yumthang is that unique place where the tree line ends, but rhododendrons and alpine and Primula flowers still bloom covering the whole area in a surreal shade in April/May/June. Yumthang is renowned for its Hot Spring, which is rich in sulphur. In fall and winter, you can enjoy the scenic and panoramic views of the valleys and surrounding mountain ranges with snow-capped peaks. Another hour's drive beyond Yumthang takes one to Yumesamdong (15,300 ft.), an area where the sweet fragrance of Azellia (a plant used as incense by locals) permeates the air. Heady, invigorating and exhilarating, but words still fail to explain the experience of being at Yumesamdong. Retrace drive to Lachung in the late afternoon and visit its monastery and waterfalls.

Overnight in Yarlam Resort.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~To Lachen (51km)

Retrace drive to the confluence of Lachen Chu & Lachung Chu at Chungthang and follow the road heading to Lachen. Lunch will be served at Namok (A Wayside Inn). Lachen stands on a grassy and bush flat from the periphery of which rise the pine clad mountains with their snowy peaks and black cliffs. The village comprises of barley 150 houses earlier inhabitant only in winters by their owner who spend the summer on the alpine pasture along the Tibet border tending to their flock of yaks.

Overnight in Apple Orchard Hotel or similar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11~Thangu, Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake excursion (Subject to permission)

After breakfast leave for Thangu & Chopta Valley. Thangu valley occupies a very broad valley at the junction of Thangu Chu, Chopta Chu, & Lassur Chu. It is situated at an altitude of 14000ft. Both the valleys erupt to riots of colors in the month of June and July. Also in the month of December and January you can play in the snow or even walk across the meandering frozen Chopta Rivers. If weather permits and permission is availed, leave for Gurudongmar Lake (17,200 ft.). After spending half an hour to one hour there, drive back to Lachen.

Overnight in Apple Orchard Hotel or similar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12~Return drive to Gangtok (120km, 6 hrs)

On the way, if the weather is clear, you may get to see mighty Khanchenjunga from Singhik. Upon arrival at Gangtok, check in hotel and take rest.

Overnight Denzong Regency or Norkhil Hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13~Drive 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 neighbouring 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 & other deprived 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 the highest point in Kalimpong with superb views over the plains rolling down to Siliguri.

Overnight in Himalaya Hotel or similar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 14~Kalimpong - Bagdogra (about 80 km) - New Delhi (by air)

In the morning, we drive through the wild Teesta valley to Bagdogra. In the afternoon we drive to the airport for the flight to New Delhi or Kolkata or to Kathmandu.

Trip Map

Trip Info

Cost Includes

  • Accommodation in deluxe and the best available accommodations 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 drinks, 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 Nepali 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, 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 challenges. 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 an 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 Kolkatta 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 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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(Formerly Highland Asia Travel)

United States

8030 Old Cedar Ave S, Suite 123
Minneapolis, MN 55425
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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