Local life in Darjeeling and Sikkim
- Share nights and meals at home for real moments of exchange
- Active participation in life on Darjeeling tea plantations
- Discover the origin of organic tea
- Experience beautiful adventures in a wild and benevolent nature
In the ancient lands of the kingdom of Sikkim, at the crossroads of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, it is a unique human adventure that we offer you to live. The welcoming inhabitants will share with you a part of their life, will make you discover the richness of their culture and traditions: meals shared with a farmer, a visit to the village school, a few nights spent in an ecolodge, tea tasting, discovery of work in the plantations, life in a cooperative… Marked by the serenity, beauty and harmony that emanate from nature and its inhabitants; it is in the heart of their village that they are waiting for you. From Kalimpong to Darjeeling to the charming villages of Pedong, Rumtek and Kewzing, you will cross exceptional landscapes, among picturesque monasteries, green hills, towering mountain ranges and vast tea plantations. You will finally discover Darjeeling, a surprising city of diversity, among its British history and Tibetan Buddhist culture. You will discover gardens of multiple cultures, where tea trees grow among orange trees, mango trees and many spices. A journey full of meaning and human warmth, combining relaxation and discovery, pleasure and authenticity.
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Arrival in Bagdogra - Kalimpong (3 H - 80 km)In the morning, welcome to Bagdogra airport and drive through a picturesque landscape following the course of the Testa River to Kalimpong, a small town nestled in the Himalayan foothills on the border of Bhan. Weather permitting, visit the Durphin Monastery at the top of the hill. Kalipmpong is also home to Thongsa Choling, a Bhutanese Gelugpa monastery that was founded in 1692. It is the oldest monastery in the Kalimpong region. Night at local's home.
You will be staying at a picturesque country farm in Echhey, about a 30-minute drive from Kalimpong City. The farm with more than 3 hectares continues to promote local architecture and artisans in order to support and improve the livelihoods of local communities. The concept is to provide travellers with a real understanding of rural life. The cottages were designed based on traditional architectural styles to fit perfectly into the rural landscape of a Himalayan village.
KalimpongThere are many activities available to you today. Take part in the farm's spots (pick your own vegetables from one of the vegetable gardens and participate in milking cows) or explore the surrounding area. This region is home to a rich diversity of species of avi-fauna and butterflies. In the premises themselves, you may be able to see common birds such as green magpies, bulbuls, kingfishers or eastern doves. As you walk quietly out of the property into the woods, you will be greeted by the whistling cries of the white-crested garrulaxe and occasionally you can also spot peaks, peacocks, huts and many other bird species. Going down to the valley, you will encounter a great diversity of butterfly species. You will also be introduced to native plants and you will be able to learn the different ways in which they are used by the local community. If you wish, take part in the preparation of the dinner.
Kalimpong – Lava (1 H - 30 Km)You leave Kalimpong and drive to the Samabeong Gardens. Settling in bungalows run by the producer community. Discover the principles of organic farming applied to tea cultivation with Samabeong producers. Night in ecolodge.
The ecolodge is located about 8 km from Lava at an altitude of 2050 m. Samabeong Tea Estate rests on the foothills of the Himalayas near Lava and is one of the tallest organic tea gardens. The estate was established by the British in 1882; in the early 1960s, the estate was abandoned. The hilly and bustling hamlet of Lava is a gateway to the Neora Valley Forest, guests can make day trips to various views and settlements in the Neora Valley, such as Kolakham, Rishyap and Loleygaon.
LavaDay entirely dedicated to the world of organic tea. In the garden of Samabeong, you discover the picking and cultivation according to the principles of biodynamic, between balance and harmony with nature. Visit the processing plant to understand the entire process of making tea: drying, rolling, fermentation, sorting. This is an opportunity to taste the different teas in the garden. After a picnic by the river, you go to meet the small producers of the subarna cooperative, located in a remote village. Tea plantations are surrounded by a thick forest, a refuge of great biodiversity. Return to your ecolodge for the night.
Lava - Gangtok (3 H - 90 km)Road to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. On the way, stop in Pedong, where you will visit the Pedong Monastery also named Sanchen Dorji Gompa of the Drugpa lineage. Night at local's home.
Stay at a 7 hectare forest farm in Parbing-Ranka, a picturesque village near Gangtok, Sikkim. After a short walk, you will be greeted in the farm by the birdsong and the sound of the enchanting waterfall nearby and of course - an invigorating mountain air. The farm offers guests a serene atmosphere so that they can soak up its calm and relax. It is a perfect place for nature lovers who want to spend a quiet stay, away from the hustle and bustle and yet not so far from the city. You can see the city of Gangtok in all its splendor, as well as the lush forest that surrounds the property. Take part in the activities of the organic farm (garden, fish farm, draught animals..). This place offers an ideal atmosphere to relax. The 3 chalets are designed to offer maximum comfort and relaxation.
GangtokIn the morning you will visit the Rumtek Monastery, perched atop a hill facing the city of Gangtok. Built in 1730, this monastery is the seat of the exiled Great Tibetan Lama and is certainly the largest in Sikkim. Although it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1960, it remains a flamboyant witness to Tibetan architecture. The prayer hall houses many statues, murals, tapestries and silk banners. A few steps away you will find the Nalanda Institute of High Research in Buddhism. On your way down you will also come across the moving remains of the old Rumstek Monastery. Night at local's home.
Gangtok - Lachen (2,620 m) (5 H - 110 km)After breakfast, visit the monastery of Phodong, which rises not far from the Valley of the Teesta, in a grandiose landscape. It belongs to the Nyingma-pa sect, and its remarkable decoration includes, among other things, scenes depicting Buddhist hell. Then drive to Dzongu, Lepcha country via Labrang and Mangan. Continuation for Lachen. En route tour of Tashi Viewpoint, Kabi Lungstok, Naga waterfalls, at the confluence of Lachen chu and Lachung Chu in Chungthang. Night at local's home.
The Lepchas appear to have beautiful features akin to the Mongolian face. They are proud, docile and peaceful. These early inhabitants of Sikkim are now a minority; they are confined to a reserve in the Dzongu region of northern Sikkim. Their language is known as Rong. They live off trade and agriculture and have their own beliefs. They worship mountains, rivers and forests, which is natural for a tribe that lives in harmony in such a rich environment. The house where the "Li" of the Lepcha is usually made of wooded bamboo stems. They are excellent weavers and make very good tribal clothes. They are also adept at weaving bamboo and cane.
Accommodation the simplest of the stay but not the least warm in a charming families with comfortable rooms and a clean bathroom. The food is organic, homemade and delicious.
Lachen – Lachung (2/3 H - 50 Km)After breakfast, depart for Thangu (3960 m) and the Chopta Valley (4000 m). The Thangu Valley is a wide valley located at the junction of Thangu Chu, Chopta Chu and Lassur Chu. In spring and summer months, Rhododendrons, Primula and many other Alpine flowers are in full bloom. Optional 2-hour walk to the cave where French explorer Alexandra David Neel meditated. In 1912, she befriended Sidkeong Tulku, the ruler of this small Himalayan state. She also met twice with the 13th Dalai Lama, and had the opportunity to ask her many questions about Buddhism (an unprecedented fact for a European woman at the time!). You will get a great overview of the Himalayan flora. Easy descent to the side of the road. If there is time left, a short visit to the village of Thangu, with its small monastery above the village. Come back to Lachen for lunch. Road to Lachung. On the way, visit the magnificent twin waterfalls and the Bhim Nala waterfalls. Arrival in Lachung in the late afternoon. Night at local's home.
Peaceful stay located in the Lachung Valley, in northern Sikkim. The stay with the locals in a really welcoming family. The rooms are well furnished, clean and have an adjoining bathroom. The food is cooked at home by the family.
LachungDiscover the picturesque Yumthang Valley known for its hot springs at the gates of the Himalayan desert. This valley is a natural sanctuary, it is also known as the "Valley of Flowers" because from late February to early June, countless flowers line the valley, including more than 25 species of rhododendrons. Back to Lachung. Continuation of the free discovery of the village. Night at local's home.
Lachung – Biksthang (7/8 H - 180 Km)Drive to the charming little village of Biksthang. Shortly before the entrance to the village, you will not be able to miss the monastery built by the roadside. The monks will welcome you with a silk sheet while the llama of the monastery will invite you to drink a cup of tea: the opportunity to introduce you to the families who will later host you. The village itself offers breathtaking views of the mountains. In the evening, you will be welcomed at the locals, for a very unique experience.
Biksthang is an 18th century mansion, converted by the family into a guest room in a relatively isolated and undeveloped village. The aim is to preserve the heritage, restore the endangered agricultural heritage and give visitors a truly authentic experience of the rich culture, traditions, history and cuisine of Western Sikkim. There are nine bedrooms - two exclusive heritage suites, three single suites and two double suites offering the best views. Each cottage has a spacious living room and a bedroom overlooking a private garden. Hike to Lheuntse Monastery for a panoramic view of the Kangchenjunga Range. Walk through the village and participate in the daily activities of the village. Discover the market, the economy of the local village, every Tuesday in Mangalbarey. Use the gym, pool and traditional spa.
BiksthangIf you are among those who cannot resist the call of a trail, the hikes around the property are yours. Depending on your endurance, there are many options (long or short) through scenic village or forest trails offering stunning views and fresh mountain air. Take part in the family's activities by working on the farm, taking the rest of the afternoon in case it gets a little too tiring for you! Night at locals' home.
Biksthang Darjeeling (2 H - 50 km)After breakfast, drive to Darjeeling, former summer residence of the British Raj in the 19th century, which retained its "so British" character with its colonial houses. The city is known all over the world for its tea production. A stroll through the bustling bazaar will allow you to rub shoulders with the main ethnic groups of the region: the Lepchas, the Bhotias, the Nepalese, the Bengalis and the Tibetan refugees. Night at locals' home.
A 15-minute drive from the lower town of Darjeeling to lebasong Bazaar, then about an hour's drive along a winding, narrow road to the foot of the hill that will take you to a place called Mineral Springs. It is a plantation-controlled area where a community of villagers lives mainly from the cultivation of potatoes, millet, maize and vegetables. In 2007, Navin Tamang, a local resident, set up an organic farm in a small village and named it Tathagata Farm. You will learn all about the farm through your experience and interactions with the surrounding life and nature. The farm retains a rustic and authentic atmosphere of a typical farm in the Darjeeling Valley.