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North east India - Darjeeling and Sikkim
In West Bengal the busy, energetic, vibrant city of Kolkata contrasts dramaticallty with the peaceful, emerald green terraced tea estates of Darjeeling and the town of Kalimpong, located at the foothills of the Himalayas. The neighbouring state of Sikkim has beautiful, tranquil valleys and is dominated by the world's third largest mountain, Kanchendzonga.
Tour highlights include watching the sunrise over Kanchenjunga, a trip on the Darjeeling Himalayan railway's 'Toy Train' a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Orchid farm at Cymbidium hills, the bazaar town of Kalimpong, and the lively city of Kolkata.
- Return scheduled flights with Emirates from London Gatwick overnight to Kolkata (London Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester also available subject to availability and supplement)
- 12 nights accommodation on bed and breakfast basis at four star hotels, based on shared occupancy of a twin room
- Return internal flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra
- Seven lunches
- Seven dinners
- Transfers and full touring itinerary
- English-speaking tour manager throughout your stay in India
- Single room supplement
- Holiday insurance
- Meals other than those stated
- Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls etc
- Porterage and gratuities
Fly from London Gatwick to Dubai and overnight to Kolkata.
On arrival transfer to the hotel to rest and freshen up with the rest of the day free for personal exploration. Kolkata is home to 14 million people and served as India's capital during the British Raj until 1911.
Full day in Kolkata with visits to the flower and vegetable market and a boat ride along the Hoogly where you can observe the local bathers dipping in its waters. Today will also include the city's highlights including the impressive white marble Victoria Memorial built in 1921, the vast Howrah bridge, St Paul's cathedral and 'The Maidan', one of the world's largest city parks.
Morning transfer to Kolkata airport to take an internal flight to Bagdogra. On arrival transfer to Darjeeling (approximately three hours) with en-route stop at Kurseong, circled by snow-tipped peaks and terraced tea plantations which still boasts many grandiose Victorian buildings. During the British Raj, Darjeeling's temperate climate led to its development as a hill station for the British to escape from Kolkata's heat. It is known for its tea industry and some of the plantations date back to the mid-19th century. Check into the hotel for a two night stay. This evening you will have dinner included at the hotel.
Rise early for a spectacular pre-dawn trip to Tiger hills, the highest point in the area, to watch the glowing sunrise over Kanchenjunga (the world's third highest mountain), and the neighbouring East Himalayas maybe even catching views of the mighty Everest if the weather is clear. Afterwards we visit Ghoom monastery, a lavish mountain monastery housing rare Buddhist manuscripts and a priceless Maitreya Buddha. Return to the hotel for breakfast, followed by a visit to a local tea plantation and later in the afternoon a trip on the Darjeeling Himalayan railway's legendary steam locomotive 'Toy Train', a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dinner is included this evening at the hotel.
This morning we drive through stunning mountains to Pelling (approximately five hours), a remote hill station in India's Buddhist Sikkim province. Set beneath mighty snow-tipped Kanchenjunga, the town stands 6,840 feet above sea level and commands heart-stopping views over the peaks and glaciers of the Himalayan Singalila range. On arrival check into the hotel for a three night stay. Lunch and dinner at the hotel.
Today we walk to Sangacholing monastery, a marvellous 18th century Pemayangste monastery located just outside of Pelling. Set high on a hill, this old-world monastery is decorated with traditional frescoes, antique carvings and multi-coloured prayer flags. We will also visit the Rabtense ruins. Return to hotel where dinner is included this evening.
Full day hike to Khechipalri lake (18kms – approximately five hours) with return by car (there is the option to take a car transfer to the lake with an hour trek if you prefer). Past the ruins of ancient towns below monasteries tended by red robed lamas lies the crystal lined wish fulfilling waters of Khecheopalri lake. The sacred lake lies in a depression surrounded by prayer flags and forested hills. Drive back to Pelling for dinner, which is included this evening at the hotel.
Please note the 18km hike is rated as difficult and some sections of the walk can be steep and slippery.
More scenic delights await today as we travel through phenomenal mountain scenery to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. En-route we will pass through cardamon, ginger plantations and paddy fields - all under the constant gaze of the Himalayas. On arrival in Gangtok, check in to the hotel for a two night stay. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.
Today we admire Gangtok's many delights including the Rumtek monastery with its intricately painted exterior and priceless Buddhist manuscripts. Explore the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology with its rare statues and embroidered scrolls, charting the intertwined Buddhist cultures and histories of Sikkim and Tibet, before viewing the Do-Drul Chorten, an imposing stupa ringed by prayer wheels. We also visit the Orchid farm at Cymbidium hills and Saramsa gardens, a sanctuary with 454 species of orchid collections, a great place for nature lovers. Lunch will be included at the Saramsa gardens before the final visit of the day to the Enchey monastery and cottage industry.
Today we say goodbye to Gangtok as travel through the hills to Kalimpong, a bazaar town set on the hillside overlooking the Teesta river. En-route we will visit the Rumtek monastery and stop at Martam village, lunch will also be included in the journey. On arrival in Kalimpong, check into the hotel for a one night stay. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.
We will spend today exploring Kalimpong, a quiet hill station with a colourful market and wonderful views over Kanchenjunga. The city tour will include visits to a flower and cactus nursery, to see the profusion of plant life that grows in the area, and Dr Graham's School, founded in 1900 to support and educate the children of local tea workers by Rev. Dr John Anderson Graham, a Church of Scotland Missionary. Diner is included at the hotel this evening.
Morning transfer from Siliguri to Bagdogra airport for an internal flight back to Kolkata. On arrival check into the hotel for a one night stay with the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Morning transfer to Kolkata airport for return flight to the UK via Dubai.
NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion. Driving timings given are direct driving times and do not include time allowed for stops, visits, meals etc. Timings are very provisional and can vary enormously in India according to local conditions. Some of the distances involved on this tour are considerable and will involve several early starts and long days as well as lots of walking, so please bear this in mind when considering this tour.
Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 20 passengers.
Kolkata - Peerless Inn, two nights
A 10-minute walk from the downtown area, this hotel has a restaurant and fitness centre, and smart rooms with air-conditioning, TV, minibar and tea/coffee maker.
Darjeeling - Mayfair Hill Resort, two nights
Enjoying views over a scenic valley, this heritage hotel has spacious, classic Indian-style rooms with en-suite, sofas and TV, and facilities including a restaurant, pool and games room.
Pelling - Norbu Ghang Retreat and Spa, three nights
Overlooking Mt Kanchenjunga, this modern hotel, with hints of Sikkimese architecture, has a cafe, spa and landscaped gardens, whilst rooms are elegantly furnished with all the modern conveniences.
Gangtok - Mayfair Spa and Resort, two nights
Set in lush Himalayan forest, the hotel incorporates both monastic and colonial themes. The spacious rooms have private balconies and tea/coffee makers, whilst the hotel has a spa, pool fitness centre and several restaurants and bars.
Kalimpong - Hotel Himalayan, two nights
This small heritage hotel, set in Himalayan gardens offers excellent views of the surrounding mountains. There is a restaurant serving local cuisine, and simple, comfortable rooms have a bathroom with shower.
Kolkata - Swissotel, one night
Five-star hotel in Rajarhat with elegantly appointed rooms, three restaurants and bar, including Sky Lounge on the roof, gym and infinity pool.
This holiday is booked by phone. Click 'book now' to make a reservation request to our travel partner who will call you back to confirm your booking details and take payment. To speak to a representative now please call 0330 333 6761.