Journey to a kingdom far, far away and discover a land shrouded in mystery. Where else in the world can you visit ‘The land of the Thunderbolt’ and look across the Five Treasures in the Snow? This is Darjeeling, set against a backdrop of the Eastern Himalayas and overlooked by imposing Mount Khangchendzonga. As you travel to the last great Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, you’ll encounter landscapes like no other – emerald green tea plantations, Buddhist monasteries, steep mountain ranges and traditional villages a world away from modern pressures and where life is enjoyed at a slower pace.
Darjeeling, in the heart of the tea producing region of India, is a highlight of the British Colonial Raj era, with its hill stations at around 2100m. It is inhabited by residents from all over the Eastern Himalaya. It’s a fascinating place and during our time we plan to explore the town, take a journey on the narrow gauge railway and visit Tiger Hill at sunrise, which has an unparalleled 360° Himalayan panorama.We leave Darjeeling for the hill station of Kalimpong. Here we’ll discover the town and walk in the surrounding countryside and visit a traditional village, where we spend time with the villagers to see how they live, and learn about their culture and traditions.
Bhutan enjoys what may be an enviable position in the tourist world. It is so difficult to reach and restricts the entry of visitors. As a result, Bhutan remains lovely, near pristine and a joy to visit. We’ll walk, explore and sightsee from Phuntsholing, Thimpu and Paro, gaining an insight to the Bhutanese way of life. We’ll also visit Tiger’s Nest – a true highlight of a visit to Bhutan. We fly back to Delhi to connect with our flight home.
At Ramblers Walking Holidays, we are in a fortunate position to be able to use our profits to help make a difference to peoples’ lives. By travelling with us on this holiday, you can directly help us support the destinations we visit through our staff-managed charitable project click Heart Sole
Depart London Heathrow for Delhi. On arrival, we transfer by private coach to our hotel for immediate check in.
With a relaxed starting time, we enjoy a sightseeing visit of the city with our local guide.
We fly to Paro, site of Bhutan's only international airport, hopefully with time to visit the town.
Taking a drive into the surrounding countryside, we visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in the kingdom and make the exhilarating hike to see Takshang, “The Tiger’s Nest” monastery, and a true highlight of a visit to Bhutan. An excellent day.
We have a short drive to Thimpu, the capital and largest city in Bhutan. With a population of approx. 80,000 it is one of the world's smaller capital cities. We stay in Thimpu for 2 nights with time to visit the town and explore the local countryside. We plan to see the Tashichodzong, the seat of the Royal Government this evening.
This morning’s walk to Cheri Monastery is a lovely walk through beautiful mountainous countryside. We’ll visit a traditional farmhouse en route, an Arts & Craft school and a local post office, where you can find some fascinating stamps. An afternoon walk takes us to Wangditse Gompa.
Today we have a scenic drive through the Himalayas to Phuntsholing for our final night in Bhutan.
Leaving Bhutan for India we depart today for Kalimpong, located approx 50kms east of Darjeeling, where we stay for 4 nights. We stop en route for a walk to stretch our legs and to see a local village. Kalimpong town spreads along its main market area known as Tenth Mile, which we will have chance to visit during our stay, and experience the real local flavour!
During our morning walk today from Durpin Dhara hill and Zong Dog Palri Fo-Bang monastery, we visit a local village where we spend time with the villagers to see how they live, and learn about their culture and traditions (approx. 5 miles). Our walk ends at the Pine View cactus nursery and an interesting visit to Dr Graham’s School, a charity run school set up in 1900 by a Scottish missionary.
After breakfast we drive to Deolo hills where we descend to Sherpa Tar village and via Bhalu Khop, returning towards Kalimpong (approx 4-5 hours). Perhaps this afternoon calls for tea on the hotel lawn!
After a short drive to Algarah, we climb through dense pine forest to the highest point of the ridge to Damsang Fort, a ruined fortress, with lovely views of the Teesta Valley and Himalaya range
We depart Kalimpong to Darjeeling, the journey takes about 3 hrs. We stay for 4 nights in Darjeeling.
We have an early start this morning as we drive to Tiger Hill to watch the sunrise over the Himalayan mountains. This is an incredible viewpoint providing a 360’ Himalayan panorama and another highlight of the holiday. We walk back to Darjeeling via Aloobari Monastery with time to visit to Hayden Hall for this afternoon.
We’ll walk to Darjeeling train station to take the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, known affectionately as the Toy Train, to its highest point at Ghoom, with its charming railway station, the highest in India. This train is sometimes pulled by a vintage British built Raj era steam engine, hopefully we will be lucky enough to enjoy a steam hauled trip. We visit Yiga Choling Monastery with our guide and there will be plenty of time to take photos here! Returning by train to Darjeeling you may wish to visit the Railway Museum before a visit to a tea shop for tasting.
Sunrise over the valley is a beautiful scene to wake up to and after breakfast, we’ll walk to Bhutia Busty Monastery (approx. 1 hour), the focus of the local community, and the Tibetan Refugee Centre. Our walk takes us through lovely villages, and through the tea plantations where we’ll finish at a tea factory for a visit and to enjoy a cup of the world famous local produce before returning to Darjeeling.
We drive down from the mountains for about 2hrs to Bagdogra Airport to take a flight to Delhi. Subject to the flight time we plan to visit Old and New Delhi including, Humayun’s tomb and grounds, Laxmi Narayan temple, Qutub Minar, Ghandi’s house, Parliament House, and Indian Gate.
We transfer from our hotel to Delhi airport for our flight to London.
See where this holiday travels to.
We expect to stay in the Cedar Inn, set high above the main town, offering magnificent views of the unforgettable Darjeeling landscape, with snow capped mountains in the distance. The building that has hints of Victoriana is staffed by a friendly team and offers guests everything they could need for a pleasant stay. The restaurant serves a range of Indian, Chinese, Himalayan and Continental cuisine and has an open fireplace for those chilly evenings and live music to set the atmosphere. There is a delightful café on the terrace, where you can enjoy a cup of Darjeeling tea or snack with the mesmerising views stretching out before you. There is also a little bar for something stronger. The hotel also has a gift shop and a library with internet access incorporated. Rooms have tea and coffee making facilities, en-suite bathrooms, seating area, TVs, and most come with fireplaces and views out to Kanchendzonga Mountain. There is Free Wi-Fi in the lobby, restaurant & bar.
Across the border from India, sits the Hotel Druk, in the town of Phuntsholing, the quieter neighbour of the Indian town of Jaigaon, with its convenient amenities. This recently refurbished hotel has a helpful team of staff and a restaurant serving great Bhutanese Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine There is also a bar and a pretty manicured lawn where you can enjoy a barbecue at some times of the year. Rooms come with air conditioning, a rarity for Phuntsholing, as well as flat screen TV, en-suite bathrooms, Wi-Fi (which can be patchy) and mini bar.