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Food

  • All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 10 dinners are included. You should allow around INR5000 (approx. £60/US$75) for the additional meals and drinks. Mineral water, soft and alcoholic drinks are not included and are widely available. Soft drinks are generally cheap, but beers can approach Western prices. Whilst camping we have a cook and assistants who will prepare simple but plentiful nutritious food. Breakfasts will be porridge, cereals, eggs and toast with plenty of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Lunches will usually be a picnic lunch with soup, various kinds of local breads, cheese, eggs, tinned fish and meat and fruit where available. There will be afternoon tea and biscuits on arrival at camp followed later by dinner which is usually soup, a pasta, rice or potato based main course with fresh vegetables, followed by dessert, tea, coffee or hot chocolate. You will be provided with safe boiled drinking water whilst on trek. *Drinking Water* Staying hydrated is important when undertaking any physical activity. We strongly encourage you not to buy bottled water as this contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution in India  During the trek the cooks will collect and boil drinking water from the mountain streams and fill up your water bottles for you, but you may need to collect water during the day and may wish to use your own water purification treatment as well. We also suggest that you may like to bring a reusable bottle with a wide opening (Nalgene or similar) with you and use a SteriPEN to treat any non-boiled water. A SteriPEN is a handheld UV water purifier – small, lightweight and battery powered so easy to pack for a trek. It’s quick to use, far more effective than purification tablets, and the water is ready immediately. It’s fine to use a SteriPEN on non-boiled water so long as it isn’t cloudy or full of sediment (which is uncommon in these regions). SteriPENs are widely stocked on Amazon, outdoor shops and other online retailers; look for the latest models but avoid USB charging ones. Models which take lithium batteries are best as they last longer, especially in cold conditions. Using a SteriPEN means you won’t leave behind a single plastic bottle – and you can keep it for future trips.

Activities

  • Walking & Trekking
  • Point-to-Point
  • 1

    Start Delhi

    The group flight will arrive into Delhi in the morning and we will transfer to our hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel during the day. You are free today to explore Delhi or rest after your flight; rooms may not be available until noon but it is often earlier than this. Your leader will do a trip briefing today and you will need 10 passport photographs for the various permits and check posts. *Comfortable Hotel - Hotel Jaypee Siddharth *(or similar)

  • 2

    Fly to Bagdogra; drive to Gangtok

    Transfer to the domestic airport terminal for the flight to Bagdogra. On arrival at Bagdogra, we join our vehicles and drive to Gangtok. The road soon leaves the plains behind and at Sevoke we cross the Teesta River and start to climb into the Doar Hills. At Rangpo we take a break as we enter Sikkim. Border formalities take time and you will need your passport and one photograph. Climbing further, we finally reach Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim set at an elevation of  1,680m. The drive will take about 5 hours (125km). *Standard Hotel*

  • 3

    Drive to Martem village (1,400m), visiting Rumtek Monastery en route

    Gangtok is set amongst the hills and on a clear day we can see Kanchenjunga from the hotel. After breakfast, we walk from the hotel for an hour on a quiet road up to Enchey Monastery. Overlooking the whole town, Enchey was founded in 1840 by Lama Drubthob Karpo and was rebuilt in 1908 by the 10th Chogyal (king) of Sikkim. From the monastery we walk back to town via the Flower Show, a small exhibition of orchids and other local flowers. From here we visit the Handicraft Centre, a government enterprise which offers training for locals in traditional handicrafts such as carpet weaving and wood carving. We end up in the bazaar and have some free time to explore. The main street is now quite cosmopolitan and is traffic free. The local vegetable market is also interesting. After lunch we have an hour’s drive to Rumtek Monastery. Founded in the mid 1700’s by the 12th Karmapa it fell into ruins. When the 16th Karmapa came from Tibet after 1959 he rebuilt the monastery as the main seat in exile of the Karmapa sect. It is the largest monastery in Sikkim and contains a golden stupa with the remains of the 16th Karmapa. A half hours’ drive brings us to Martem, a scenic Himalayan village located in a quiet corner of East Sikkim. *Standard Hotel*

  • 4

    Sightseeing in Martem; optional daywalk to Tinjure Danda  

    Martem is renowned for producing butter and other dairy products (‘mar’ means butter and ‘tem’ means spread). The population of Martem is about 10,000 made up of the Bhutia and Nepali communities. We spend the day in Martem. This morning we have an optional warm-up hike to the Tinjure Danda. We will take a packed lunch and climb up through the terraces and forest to the ridge above Martem. On a clear day, we should get great views back to Gangtok and Nathu La and north to the Himalaya. We return to our hotel on a different path. For those not wanting to do the full daywalk there is plenty to explore around Martem village. *Standard Hotel* *Distance covered:* 8 km / 5 miles *Activity (hours):* 5-6

  • 4

    Sightseeing the pretty village of Martem  

    We spend today in the pretty village of Martem which was known for producing butter and other dairy products (‘mar’ means butter and ‘tem’ means spread). The population of Martem is about 10,000 made up of the Bhutia and Nepali communities. In the morning we go for an easy hike around the village. We can visit the interesting Nyingma Institute, which provides education in higher Buddhist studies and philosophy to many monks. The Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism was the first Tibetan Buddhist sect founded in the 8th century. There is also another small monastery and a Krishna Mandir in the village. We return to our hotel for lunch and the afternoon is free.   *Standard Hotel* *Distance covered:* 6 km / 4 miles *Activity (hours):*  4-5 

  • 5

    Drive to Pelling (1,920m) via Temi Tea Estate and Ravangla

    A long but interesting day today as we have a roller coaster drive to Pelling. We mostly drive on quiet backroads as we leave Martem and contour around terraced hillsides and farmland before descending to the Teesta River at 480m. The road then winds back up through pine and bamboo forest to the Temi Tea Estate (1,760m). Just before we reach Temi we get great views of Kabru North, South and Dome and a tiny bit of Kanchenjunga is visible on a clear day. Temi is the only tea estate in Sikkim and is considered one of the best in India. We stop to visit and learn about the process of tea making. We continue climbing through Demthang to Ravangla (2,100m), where there is an impressive new Buddha Park. There is an enormous statue of Buddha and the main temple contains some wonderful paintings of Buddha’s life. The last 50km takes us past a small Bon monastery down to Legship (544m). The last climb of the day takes us through Geyzing and finally to Pelling (1,920m), with its stunning Himalayan views, where we stay tonight.  Today’s drive is 120km and will take 6/7hrs (please note that today we are on quiet backroads and there are some bumpy sections). *Standard Hotel*

  • 5

    Drive to the famous hill station of Darjeeling

    Leaving Sikkim we drive on to Darjeeling. The road winds all the way to the Testa River, where we enter the state of West Bengal. It then weaves back up into the hills to Darjeeling.  We arrive by lunchtime and this afternoon we will explore one of the most famous hill stations of the era of the British Raj.  Originally belonging to the Chogyals (Kings) of Sikkim and then annexed by the Gurkhas. In the early 1800’s the British East India Company gained control of the region and returned it to Sikkim rule.  In 1828 two British officers stumbled across Dorje Ling Monastery, situated on a quiet, forested ridge and thought it would be a great location for a sanatorium.  So with permission of the King of Sikkim a hill station was born. Today Darjeeling is a bustling town but the Mall road still retains its Victorian era charm.  Our stay will include a visit to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute founded by Tenzing Norgay and where many of the famous Sherpa climbers have been trained in mountaineering skills. There are interesting displays and photographs from some of the early Mount Everest climbs.  Today’s drive is 80km and will take approximately 4 hours.  *Standard Hotel* * *

  • 6

    Drive to Uttarey; afternoon walk to visit a Sherpa or Lepcha village, or visit the Tenzing Hillary Park

    On a clear morning, it is well worth getting up for the sunrise from Pelling. A glorious panorama of Himalayan peaks greets us including Kanchenjunga, Kabru North, South and Dome, Pandim and Siniolchu. We can either drive or walk to Pemayangste Monastery. Set above Pelling it was founded in 1705 and belongs to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the oldest and most important monastery in Sikkim. If there is time, we can also visit the ruins of Rabdenste, the 2nd capital of Sikkim. We have a short drive to Uttarey (26km/1.5hrs) and will arrive by lunchtime. This afternoon we have a warm-up hike around Uttarey. We can visit a Sherpa or Lepcha village or visit the Tenzing Hillary Park whilst the trek permits are sorted out. *Basic Hotel *(sleeping altitude ( 1,950m)

  • 6

    Take a toy train ride, travel on to Rimbik the gateway to our trek and follow a short trail to our first campsite 

    On a clear day its worth getting up early for the beautiful sunrise views of Kanchenjunga from the roof of our hotel. After breakfast we have a 40 minute ride on the famous Toy Train to Ghoom (Subject to running. See day 13 for another opportunity if not running today) The train chugs its way out of Darjeeling, stopping on the way to take on water and to allow passengers to photograph the famous Batasia Loop.  At Ghoom we meet our cars and drive for around 4 hours to Rimbik, the trailhead of our trek at 2,286m. We have a short (45 minute) gentle uphill walk through magnificent rhododendron forests (a blaze of reds in spring) to our camp at Manedara, where we spend our first night under canvas. As we approach the village we have stunning views of Kabru Dome and Kabru South peaks. *Full-service camp* (sleeping altitude 2,450m)

  • 7

    Trek through forest, ascending to Chittrey

    After our warm-up walks, we start our point to point trek. We thread our way up towards the Singalila Ridge, which forms the border between Sikkim and Nepal. The trail starts off easily for the first hour or so, where we enter the Barsay Rhododendron Sanctuary. The trail climbs steeply through forests of rhododendron (a blaze of colour in spring), dwarf bamboo and oak. We stop for plenty of rests as the trail is steep today. Finally, we emerge at the army camp at Chittrey, where we camp tonight. *Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 2,660m)

  • 7

    Trek through beautiful forest, descend to Gurdum Khola then up to Gurdum village

    Today we start our walk with an easy trail passing small houses and fields. It is about 2hrs gradual walk through beautiful forest to Shepi village. We then descend to the Gurdum Khola, which we cross by bridge. We then have a steep 1 hour climb to Gurdum village, where we camp for the night.   *Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 2,400m)

  • 8

    Steep climb to Chewabhanjyang; optional afternoon walk to Majordhara for views of Kanchenjunga (the world's third highest mountain)

    This morning we have a steep climb through thick forest to Chewabhanjyang, a police and army post on the border with Nepal. It’s only 3km to the ridge but the trail is very steep. For the energetic, we will continue up the ridge to Majordhara (3,535m). We climb out of the forest and up onto wild ridges where we will see yaks grazing. The trail climbs up for about 3hrs until we finally see Kanchenjunga in all her glory. We return to camp at Chewabhanjyang. Distance covered: 3km / 2 miles to Chewabhanjyang (Plus an optional 6km / 4 miles to Manordhara return) Activity (hours): 2.5hrs (plus 4.5hrs with optional walk)  *Full-Service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,100m)

  • 8

    Final ascent through forest to the Singalila Ridge the highest point of our trek

    A fairly tough day as we finish our ascent to the Singalila Ridge. The trail climbs steeply in places through the forest until we emerge at a clearing in the forest. The trail now undulates through rhododendron forest to the ridgetop at Sandakhphu (3,636m), the highest point of our trek. On a clear day the climb is well worth the effort as we are rewarded with a magnificent Himalayan panorama. The views from here are truly amazing – the towering slopes of Kanchenjunga lie ahead and Everest, Lhotse and Makalu now come into view in the distance. We have lunch at Sandakhphu and after lunch it is a gradual walk on a rough jeep track to our camp at Chandu. *Full-Service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,570m)

  • 9

    Magnificent trek to Kalijar; walk up Singalila Peak and Phoktay Dara with fine Himalayan panoramas, including Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Everest and Lhotse

    Today is probably the best day of the trek for mountain views. Leaving Chewabhanjyang, the trail contours around the ridge, ascending easily on a rocky trail to Kalijar (3,450m). This is our camp for the night with magnificent views across to Kanchenjunga. Climbing up from the camp we ascend the ridge further to the highest point of our trek, Singalila Peak (3,680m). On a clear day, we have amazing views of the Nepal and Sikkim Himalaya. To the west, we can see the Chamlang, Lhotse, Everest and Makalu. Ahead we can see Khumbukarna (Jannu), Kabru North, South and Dome,  Kanchenjunga, Simvo, Pandim, Siniolchu and many other Himalayan giants. On a really clear day we can even see the Bhutan Himalaya and as far as the Annapurna Range in Nepal. If the weather is good, this is a great place to have lunch as we can savour the views. We return via Phoktay Dhara hill where the views are just as good. Yaks are often found grazing on the ridges around here. Finally, we descend back to camp at Kalijar, where we get beautiful sunset and sunrise views over Kanchenjunga. *Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,450m)

  • 9

    Trekking along the Singalila Ridge taking in the Himalayan panoramas, including Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Everest and Lhotse

    A great day to enjoy the views. We are now on the Singalila Ridge, the border between Nepal and India. At times we are walking in Nepal and at others in India. The trail undulates following the ridge through chestnut, oak and silver fir trees with commanding panoramic views of the Himalaya all day. Dwarf rhododendrons and primulas colour the landscape in spring. Tonight we have a spectacular wild camp at Sabargam. The views from here are sublime and we should see a magnificent sunset and sunrise over Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu and a whole host of other Himalayan peaks.  We have plenty of time to enjoy the views and take in the scenery. *Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,536m)

  • 10

    Trek through forests of rhododendron, magnolia and dwarf bamboo to Barsey Hilley.

    If it is clear this morning it is well worth getting up early to watch the spectacular sunrise over Kanchenjunga and the endless ridgelines all the way to Bhutan. The trail starts today with a steep rocky descent though the forest. The rhododendrons in spring are a riot of colour on this part of the trek. There are no villages along this section of the trek, only clearings in the dense forest. The first clearing is Thulodhap from where we start to climb again for a short while. An undulating trail then brings us to Hangepani, another small clearing in the forest. More undulations through the bamboo jungle brings us to our camp tonight at Achalley, with great views of Kanchenjunga. *Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 2,880m)

  • 10

    Trek further along the Singalila Ridge with breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga on a clear day

    A full day as we trek to the end of the ridge at Phalut and then descend to Samaden. The trail to Phalut undulates further along the Singalila Ridge. On a clear day we get a breathtaking mountain view of Kanchenjunga. The Everest range is further away but Kanchenjunga rears up above us. Phalut is at 3,600m and just behind the lodge there is a ten minute walk up to a viewpoint where we are surrounded by Himalayan giants. From here we descend to Samaden. The trail is glorious and takes us through forests of oak, conifers, pine and rhododendrons, an explosion of colour in spring. We camp tonight in the village of Samaden (2,480m), a beautiful spot in a small settlement with excellent views. *Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 2,480m)

  • 11

    Trek through forests of rhododendron and dwarf bamboo to Barsey (2,850m)

    A roller coaster day today as we undulate up and down through the dense forest. Some of the trails today are narrow and overgrown and care must be taken. The trail receives just enough sunlight that it remains dusky green even in the morning. We pass through Joributey and Dhap, clearings in the forest with great views across to Kanchenjunga. In spring the rhododendrons are magnificent and it is rich with bird life. Red Pandas have been spotted in this area. Eventually we reach our camp at Barsay. *Full-service Camping* (sleeping altitude 2,850m)* *

  • 11

    Trek through a collection of small settlements inhabited by different cultures to Rimbik a large Sherpa village

    Our final trek winds through a collection of small settlements inhabited by Rais, Sherpas and Tamangs to Ramman, where terraced fields and villages dot the landscape. We descend along a jeep track to Sri khola for lunch after which we cross a suspension bridge and continue for another 2.5 hours along a road, passing through more villages en route to Rimbik (2,286m), a large Sherpa village set amongst the forest landscapes of the Singalila National Park. We stay in a small lodge with great views across the valley. *Basic Hotel* (sleeping altitude 2,286m)* *

  • 12

    Trek to Hilley; drive to Darjeeling

    We get up early today and have a short 4km relatively gentle walk downhill to the trek end point at Hilley. We say goodbye to our trekking staff and drive to Darjeeling. Although it is only about 70km the road is bumpy and under repair and we have to drive via Melli as this is one of only two check posts where foreigners can enter and leave Sikkim. The drive will take about 6hrs and we will reach Darjeeling by late afternoon. Our hotel is close to the Mall and we can walk down to town in the evening. *Standard Hotel* *Distance covered:* 4km / 2.4 miles *Activity (hours):* 1.5hrs

  • 12

    Drive to Darjeeling visiting a tea estate en route to learn about how this quintessential drink

    Today we drive back to Darjeeling  along a road taht winds up and down ridges through picturesque landscape. En route we stop to visit a tea estate and learn how this most famous of drinks is grown and processed. We will arrive in Darjeeling mid afternoon and the rest of the day is free to further explore this historic hill station. Our hotel is close to the Mall, which is a great place to wander in the evening. *Standard Hotel* * *

  • 13

    Morning to explore Darjeeling, with the opportunity to visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute or ride the 'toy train' if it is running. Drive to Siliguri, overnight train to Calcutta

    We have the morning to explore this interesting hill station. Once famous with the British Raj, Darjeeling is now a bustling hill town. If time permits we can have a ride on the famous ‘toy train’ and visit Ghoom Monastery. The Himalayan Mountaineering Museum is also worth a visit and there will be time to explore the colourful market. In the afternoon we set off for the drive to Siliguri (2-3 hrs) where we board the overnight train to Calcutta (Kolkata). Train times in India change regularly, although it usually departs at around 8pm or 9pm. *Overnight Sleeper Train*

  • 13

    Morning to continue exploring Darjeeling then drive to Siliguri where we catch the overnight train to Calcutta

    We have the morning to explore further. If we missed the ride on the famous Toy Train and Ghoom monastery, there is time this morning. In the afternoon we set off for the drive to Siliguri (2-3 hrs) where we board the overnight train to Calcutta (Kolkata). Train times in India change regularly, although it usually departs at around 8pm or 9pm. Overnight Sleeper Train *Overnight Sleeper Train*

  • 14

    Arrive Calcutta; free time to explore

    We arrive in Calcutta (Kolkata) in the early hours of the morning and have the day to explore this fascinating city. Once the capital of British India, Calcutta has had a turbulent past. It was central to the struggle for Indian independence and thousands of Bengalis refugees came here at the start of the 1900’s. It is a city of striking contrasts and the unusual sights, pungent smells and the cacophony of sounds of the country’s second largest city are an experience unique to India. If you would rather not navigate Calcutta alone, your leader can usually arrange a short (1/2hr) guided city tour for you (pay locally). *Standard Hotel*

  • 15

    End Calcutta

    Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for London this morning for the daytime flight back to London; Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

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