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Trip Type : Private Guided
India: Sikkim and Darjeeling – Walking in the Himalayas tour

India: Sikkim and Darjeeling – Walking in the Himalayas

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Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
11 days
From: $ 3,995 $ 363 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Visit Calcutta
  • Explore Darjeeling
  • Hike to Sri Khola
  • Visit Rinchenpong

Short Description

High in the Indian Himalayas bordering on Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, the former kingdom of Sikkim is home to Kanchenjunga, India’s highest mountain, remote monasteries, a myriad of wildflowers and tiny mountain villages. Beginning with the hustle and bustle of steamy Calcutta, you drive into Sikkim after a stop in the tea town of Darjeeling at 6700 feet. Once in Sikkim, you begin your walk through the Himalayas, hiking along ridges, down to rivers and through villages, camping along the way and staying in a local farmhouse at the end of the hike. The trip ends in the state of West Bengal in the town of Kalimpong. From here, you can either return home, or, if you wish, we can arrange an extension into Bhutan.

Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Trip Type Private Guided
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Calcutta
End City Calcutta

Trip Includes

  • Airfare (broken out separately
  • Accommodations as listed, including all service charges and taxes
  • All ground transfers
  • All private excursions with expert English-speaking guides
  • All meals as indicated with B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner
  • Bhutanese visa

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Calcutta

Accommodation: Oberoi Grand – Deluxe Room

Arrive Calcutta today (flight details to be advised). On arrival you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel (check in after 12 noon).

Day 2: Tour Calcutta

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Oberoi Grand – Deluxe Room

A mere village in the 17th century, Calcutta (Kolkata) thrived during the British Raj and became a leading center for commerce and a port of call for east bound ships. Calcutta today reveals the rich diversity of the Bengali artistic heritage. Patronized by wealthy and rich connoisseurs, Calcutta has become the social and cultural capital of India. Gateway to the Orient is where any journey to the East begins. The first impression of Calcutta may not be very flattering. However, Calcutta is a city with soul, which has been immortalized as ‘City of Joy’ by Dominique Lapierre. This morning you will be collected from your hotel and taken to explore Calcutta city, visiting the Victoria Memorial, Botanical Gardens and Mother Teresa’s Missionary of Charity. The Victoria Memorial is the greatest landmark of the city and one of the most solid reminders of the Raj to be found in India. This huge piece of architecture is a strange combination of classical European architecture with Mughal influence, and a resemblance can be seen between the Taj Mahal in Agra and St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The portraits, statues, paintings and other artifacts here tell the story of the British Empire in India at its peak. On the west bank of the Hooghly River are the extensive Botanical Gardens. This 273-acre park was set up in 1787 by Col Kyd of the East India Company. It has a variety of botanical specimens. The prime attraction of the park is a 200 year old Banyan tree, said to have the second largest canopy in the world. You will end your morning tour with a visit to Missionary of Charity. Later in the afternoon you will be taken for a walking tour of Calcutta’s little known ‘confluence of cultures’. Calcutta has witnessed many more cultures in its past than most others would in this globalized present. The walking tour will trace for you the origins and remains of the varied communities that hung their boots and called Calcutta home. You will visit such migrant communities as the Chinese, who thrive in China town, the dwindling Parsis or Zoroastrians, the Armenians who gave the city its oldest surviving Christian church, the Anglo-Indians, the Muslims, the Marwaris, the Biharis and many more that made this city a great melting pot of diverse cultures. End the day with a river cruise on country boats, taking in the glory of the setting sun on the river Hooghly, a tributary of the Ganges, whilst watching people performing their evening ritual.

Day 3: Fly Bagdogra And Drive Darjeeling

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: 6700’

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Windamere Hotel – Superior Room

This morning you will be picked up and taken to the airport in time to board your flight to Bagdogra.  On arrival you will be met and driven to Darjeeling (4 hours) at 6890 feet. The name literally means “place of the dorje, or thunderbolt.” Although parts of the area were annexed by Bhutan and Nepal, Darjeeling once belonged to the Rajas of Sikkim. During the period of the East India Company, the British fought and preserved the territory for the Rajas, giving them a “worthless and uninhabited mountain” called Darjeeling. Seeking relief from the heat of the plains, officers of the British Raj escaped to this “worthless hill,” eventually turning it into a popular health resort. Today the area is a favorite summer retreat for Bengalis. The town grew along a crescent-shaped ridge facing the snow-covered Himalayas and many of its hills are thickly covered with coniferous forests and terraced tea gardens. You will stay at the Windermere Hotel, a heritage property full of old fashioned memorabilia and coal fires. This evening, you can walk down to the Mall Road and explore the area.

Day 4: Explore Darjeeling

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: 6700’

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Windamere Hotel – Superior Room

Start your day with a visit to one of Darjeeling’s most revered site - the Mahakal Dara that sits atop the Observatory Hill. This truly unique and spiritual place of worship is flocked daily by Buddhists, Hindus as well as indigenous Nature worshippers Then you will be driven to Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center to see the excellent handicraft works on carpets, woolen goods, woodwork, leather work etc, made by the Tibetan refugees.

Afterwards you will be driven to the famous Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Museum. The museum traces the history of the conquest of Everest and contains a collection of mountaineering equipment and samples of Himalayan flora and fauna. Until his death in 1986, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was director of the institute.

Adjacent to the institute is the high altitude wildlife park, which has a good collection of rare Himalayan animals and birds. The park houses India’s only duet of Siberian Tigers. Just below the zoo, Darjeeling also has a Snow Leopard Breeding Program, one of the few that has had any success in breeding. As a guidebook notes, snow leopards “are less keen to breed in captivity than the panda (whose disinterest in sex is legendary!)” After lunch take a 45-minute ride on the famous toy train of Darjeeling to Ghum railway station. Ghoom is perhaps the most famous monastery in Darjeeling – Yiga Choling Gompa – a Yellow hat Buddhist monastery, dating back to 1875. It houses famous Buddhist scriptures and a wellknown image of Maitreya, the Future Buddha.

Day 5: Drive Sandakphu Via Manebhanjang And Sunset On The Ridge

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: 2.5 Mile Walk, 1-2 Hours, 11,929’

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and oDinner

Accommodation: Trekking Camp

Early this morning you will be driven to Sandakphu via Manebhanjang. Although the drive is only about 38 miles, it takes close to 5-6 hours to reach Sandakphu. The road as far as Manebhanjang is smooth, but from Manebhanjang the road heads uphill aand is navigable only by "four wheel" drive vehicles. You pass numerous small towns and villages, such as Sukhia-Pokhari, Manebhanjang, Megma, Tonglu, Gairibas, Kal-pokhari, Bikhaybhanjang before finally arriving in Sandakphu.

Late in the afternoon, weather permitting, you take for a slow walk to see the sunset from Sandakphu. At 11,929’, Sandakphu is a window to one of the finest views of the snow-capped mountains - from mighty Everest in Nepal, to revered Kanchenjunga in Sikkim and legendary Chomolhari in Bhutan.

Day 6: Hike To Molle

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: 9.4 Miles, 6-7 Hours, 11,581’

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Trekking Camp

If you are up to it, wake up early to view sunrise from the ridge. A local proverb says that if one does not wake up to see the sunrise at Sandakphu the visit will remain

incomplete. Today, the first day and a full day, will be perhaps the toughest, but is also the highlight of the whole trek. Afterwards, it is “all downhill!”

After breakfast you start your walk all along the ridge towards Molle (11,581’). From Sandakphu to Phalut is a ridge-walk along a trail, which moves along the border between India and Nepal. With the beautiful valleys of Nepal on one side and India on the other, the vegetation is alpine. All along the route, rhododendrons of different hues, magnolias, chestnut oak and stately silver firs emerge out of the mysterious mists. You stop along the trail for a hot lunch cooked by your own cooks, before continuing your walk to Molle. Here, after a day-long trek, you can finally rest.

Day 7: Trek Molle To Sri Khola

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: 7.5 Miles, 4-5 Hours, 7218’

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Trekking Camp

After breakfast, you head out, mostly downhill, through a thick “Hobbit” forest of rhododendron and pine, and pass through several course villages. After a walk of 4-5 hours, you come to camp at Sri Khola, situated on the riverbank. Khola means “river.” The rest of the day would be at leisure, with time to explore a bit of the surroundings.

Day 8: Trek To Rimbick. Meet Jeep. Drive To Rinchenpong

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: 6.3 Miles, 2-3 Hours, 5576’

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Yangsum Heritage Farm

Today is the last formal trekking day. After breakfast you have a short hike to Rimbick, mostly through small farming villages. Rimbick derives its name from the Lepcha word “Ling-gip,” which means ‘swing’. It is said that in the olden days there used to be a huge bamboo swing, on which the local people use to play. Today Rimbick is a little town with small shops, lodges for trekkers and few village development offices. At Rimbick, you meet your jeep and are driven to Rinchenpong in West Sikkim (5-6 hours). You finally arrive at Yangsum Heritage Farm, built in 1833 and remodeled in 1966. Accommodation is simple and rustic, with 5 Tibetan-style wood paneled rooms, all with private bath. Your hosts are Thendrup Tashi and his wife, Pema.

Day 9: Explore Farm And Hike Around Rinchenpong

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: 5 Miles, 3-4 Hours, 5576’

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Yangsum Heritage Farm

Today is an opportunity to explore the surroundings of this lovely small town of Rinchenpong. From here a number of trails allow you to experience the rich and diverse vegetation of Sikkim. Walks are through villages and forests, and the undulating elevation makes wandering comfortable. Nearby also is Rigsum Monastery. Rinchenpong also boasts a bit of interesting history, as it was the site of a historical battle between the then King or Chogyal of Sikkim and invading British forces. The Lepchas, local tribes people and the original inhabitants of Sikkim, used a blend of herbs and plants to poison the lake, the only water source, killing close to half the British forces and stopping the invasion. Today the lake, Bikh Pokhri, remains poisoned, and the waters, undrinkable.

Day 10: Drive Kalimpong. Visit Nurseries, Bazaar, Gandhi Ashram And Monastery

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: None

Meals Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Silver Oak – Deluxe Room

When you are finished breakfast, you have a 3-4 hour drive to Kalimpong, once the starting point for the land route to Tibet. The town is also the gateway to neighboring Bhutan. This afternoon you can explore the town, visiting Dealo Hill, some flower nurseries and the Haat Bazaar or local market. About 2 miles south of the town center, is Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa. It was founded in the mid 1970’s by the Dudjom Yeshi Dorje, the former head of the Nyingmapa sect, and was consecrated by the Dalai Lama. Locally the Gompa is referred to as “Drupin” meaning binoculars and referring to the fabulous views from the top. Inside, the walls of the prayer room are richly and completely decorated with vibrant frescoes, the work of a local Tibetan artist, and the ceiling is embellished with large mandalas. Close to the ceiling you will see the 25 disciples of Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche, the founder of this sect and generally considered to be the second Buddha), each inhabiting a cave and engaged in various miraculous feats including flying through suns rays and bringing the dead back to life. Suspended from the ceiling are some magnificent thankas.

In an upstairs room is an intricate wooden model of the palace of Guru Rimpoche, Zangdok Palri. It has statues of Guru Rimpoche and Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist Bodhisattva of compassion. In Tibet he is known as Chenrezi, and the Dalai Lama is believed by Buddhists to be an incarnation of Chenrezi. The statue includes tiny figures of lamas blowing the radungs, or long stemmed Tibetan horns. Of particular importance in this room is the Three Dimensional Mandala, one of only three in the world. The others are in Taiwan and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. You will also see the large statue of Avalokiteshvara with 1000 arms, each of which has an eye in the palm.

A last stop is the Gandhi Ashram School, founded by Father Ed McGuire, a Jesuit priest from Canada. The institution has taught scores of underprivileged children from extremely poor local families and is the only school specializing in teaching music, particularly the violin. The school boasts of a junior as well as a senior orchestra that has toured big and small cities in India as well as Europe.

Tonight you will have a farewell dinner.

Day 11: Home Or Onward To Bhutan Or Glenburn Tea Estate

Distance, Hiking Time And Altitude: None

Meals Breakfast

Today, you drive back to Bagdogra Airport for your flight to Delhi or Calcutta and home. We will meet you on arrival and help you with your transfer to the requisite international airport or with a day room, should it be needed.

Should you wish to visit Bhutan from here, we will be happy to take you to the Bhutan border to connect with our ground people in Bhutan. Another option is to go to the wonderful Glenburn Tea Estate for a few days of R&R.

Availability

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Price From $ 3,995
Price Per Day: $ 363 per day
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India: Sikkim and Darjeeling – Walking in the Himalayas

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You all do an amazing job

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You all do an amazing job. I have recommended M & M to everyone who expresses an interest in travel. I can think of no other company, besides yours, that really shares my values about educational and responsible tourism.
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Favorite Trip Memory: Halong Bay

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Favorite Trip Memory: Halong Bay, ethnic groups near Bac Ha Market day! | Favorite Guide: Cuong! Experienced, passionate, straightforward, funny. | Helpful Tip: Use Myths & Mountains. They’re the best!
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Precisely what I wanted

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I got what I wanted. I wanted to see the ethnic groups -- not the Han or the Viet. That was what I got to see. Precisely what I wanted. Thanks.

Our second guide was fabulous

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Paro Festival was all we had hoped for. Our second guide was fabulous. He was attuned to what we wanted and made good suggestions and changes to the itinerary as needed.
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Myths and Mountains local guide, Achi, was perfect and so sweet. Very helpful on so many occasions and always smiling. I warmly recommend her.
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Unexpected invitation to the wedding in Imphal was a highlight

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The unexpected invitation to the wedding in Imphal was a highlight. Another one was the visit to the Hindu monastery on Majuli Island. Ranjan appeared to know all of the monks, which greatly facilitated our visit and got us an extra show of music and dance.
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Private - your group only

Accomodations

  • Oberoi Grand – Deluxe Room
  • Windamere Hotel – Superior Room
  • Yangsum Heritage Farm
  • Silver Oak – Deluxe Room

Trip ID#:

DarWalMyt

Trip Excludes

  • International airfare
  • Indian Visa
  • Meals where not indicated with a B,L,D
  • Tips/gratuity (porters, drivers, local guides, etc.)
  • Domestic and international airport taxes
  • Other items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic beverages, etc.
  • Additional expenses resulting from the delay or extension of the trip due to causes beyond our reasonable control

Meals Included:

10 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches and 8 Dinners

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