This exceptional tour of three weeks takes you to the heart of a little known India and to the discovery of the treasures of Bhutan, a small country enclave at the foot of the Himalayas. This journey provides us the opportunity to traverse this enchanting realm where legend and reality mingle to perpetuate the ancestral traditions. Wild beauty of the monasteries and thousands of praying flags slamming in the wind will leave us spellbound.
Our trips begin with arrival in Delhi followed by traditional welcome. Flight from Delhi – Bagdogra over Himalaya offers the breathtaking views. Darjeeling has kept much of the colonial atmosphere of the past. The "toy train" was built in 1880 and has brought the English colonialists from the hot plains in the cool mountains. Today, this place is famous for the many tea plantations and first class tea. In the former Kingdom of Sikkim, we admire Buddhist monasteries and the varied landscape. This former Kingdom in the Himalayas between Bhutan and Nepal was not yet discovered by the «tourism».
Our stay in Bhutan is one of the highlights of the trip. A walk brings us to one of the most sacred monasteries of Bhutan, the famous "Tiger's nest" in the Paro Valley. This monastery is spectacular on a steep rock wall, hundreds of feet above the valley floor. To do this we visit impressive Dzong, ancient monasteries and small villages in Bhutan. This easy tour is very diverse and has many highlights.
- Combinaison of two kingdoms of Sikkim and Bhutan
- Enjoy the toy train in Darjeeling
- Old monasteries and Holy Lake in Sikkim
- Hike to the Holy Monastery of "Tiger's nest".
- Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan
- Thimpu - unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions
Day 2Flight Delhi - Bagdogra, drive to Kurseong, train to Darjeeling.
Delhi - Bagdogra
Early in the morning, we would be transferred to airport of Delhi to board the flight to Bagdogra.
Bagdogra - Darjeeling
Upon arrival, transfer to Kurseong. Undulating, the road rises between the fields of tea. Kurseong, derives its name from the dialectical word Lepcha for a locally widespread orchid. Starting point of the small steam train which connects Darjeeling: 32 km at low speed to admire the landscape. It was once the only way to access the famous summer resort. Today the road follows the train route, the vehicles have to stop to let it pass. Arrival in Darjeeling, check in at the hotel.
Day 3Full day to explore the Darjeeling
Early morning get ready for an exciting excursion tour to Tiger Hill (8,500 ft), the famous sunrise point in eastern Himalaya and get the breath taking view of the changing colour reflection over the Mt. Khangchendzonga peak. It is truly a majestic sight. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Himalayan mountaineering Institute which was started by Tenzing Norgay after he climbed Everest. Here, he used to give training to learn Mountaineering and other adventure sports related to mountaineering. One can still see the instruments used by him in the training. After that, we’ll visit Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre, started on October 2, 1959. There is also a possibility to visit Padma Naidu zoological Park for wildlife lovers. Here one can see Himalayan animals like Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan Yak, Himalayan Black Bear and several varieties of birds. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 4Heritage walk of Darjeeling
Today we discover some unknown corners of Darjeeling which remain hidden to most visitors. In the morning after breakfast, we’ll go for heritage walk of Darjeeling and this tour shows us the Union Church of Darjeeling, Municipal school and the Trumbull school, the planters club established in 19th century for the British tea planters and their wives to spend their evenings and the Darjeeling Clock Tower. We also see on the way two century old restaurants on Nehru Road-Keventers and Glenary, and also pass by Das Studio, one of the oldest studios in Darjeeling. Slowly reaching the Mall area we come across some very old shops which have become a part of the heritage of Darjeeling. Whilst discovering the heritage we may choose to participate in prayer ceremonies at a Tibetan Monastery, chatting over a hot cup of tea at a tea stall, meeting the town’s diverse community spanning the Lepchas, the Limboos, the Magars, the Bhutias and the Gurkhas and experience the unique religious spectrums that span the heritage of this hill town- from Nature worshippers to Lamaism, Hinduism and Christianity. The stories of our walking tour escort will not only bring you closest to its culture and people but also leave us enchanted by its remarkable history and beauty of its natural surroundings.
Day 5Darjeeling - Pelling enroute Pemayangtse Monastery
Darjeeling - Pelling
Today we drive to Pelling enroute visiting Pemayangse monastry -It is the 2nd most important monastery of Sikkim.After the visit, we resume our journey to Pelling. On arrival, transfer to hotel. The particularity of this village is to be divided into 3 parts spread over 1 km: Upper Pelling, Middle Pelling and Lower Pelling and it offers a great view of the surroundings.
Day 6Pelling - Yuksom via Kechiopalri Lake
Pelling - Yuksom
Today, we leave for Yuksom en route visiting holy, wish-fulfilling Khecheopalri Lake. Its original name is Kha-Chot-Palri , which means heaven of guru Padmasambhava. The holy lake is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. The lake remains hidden in the rich forest cover. It is believed that birds do not let even a single leaf to float on the lake surface.After the visit, we continue our drive to Yuksom. On arrival, transfer to hotel. In afternoon. Afternoon, we visit some of the small villages in the surrounding area along with our local guide. Overnight in Guest house.
Day 7Route to Gangtok visiting Tashiding monastery
Yuksom - Gangtok
After delicious breakfast, we leave for Gangtok enroute visiting Tashiding monastery. Here we find the Holy Chortens of Sikkim. These contain relics of the historical Buddha. It is said that just seeing these Chortens cleans all sins.The prayer walls with elaborately carved prayer stones are beautiful. With a little luck, we encounter a Quarryman who carves prayer stones or we might experience one of the many ceremonies, which are celebrated in this holy place. After the visit, we resume our journey to Gangtok.This is the current capital of Sikkim. On arrival, check in Guest House.
Day 8Excursion to Labrang and Phodang Monasteries and afternoon Rumtek
In the morning we drive through the lush countryside to Phodang and Labrang monasteries, which lie a little to the north of Gangtok. In the afternoon we return to Gangtok. We also visit Rumtek monastery and visit the Institute of Tibetology and a Tibetan handicrafts centre.Here there is one of the most beautiful collections of literature, as well as a large number of Thangkhas, statuettes and Buddhists cult objects.
Day 9Gangtok - Kalimpong
Gangtok - Kalimpong
In the morning we bid adieu to Gangtok and depart for the drive to Kalimpong. We leave Sikkim at Rangpo and drive through the wild Teesta Valley. Kalimpong was once an important trading centre, strategically located at crossroads among Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet and the plains of Bengal. One of the principal commercial enterprises of the town today is flower cultivation in extensive nurseries. Upon arrival here we visit the most important Hindu Temple and the home and school of a Scottish missionary, Dr Graham.
Day 10Crossing the India - Bhutan border and heading to Phuentsholing
Kalimpong - Phuentsholing
Today, we will head south towards the border city of Bhutan. As we cross the Gate of India to the Bhutanese architecture that marks the border with Bhutan, we will enter another world where codes and ways of life differ. From here we will be on the road with driver and continue our journey till Phuentsholing where we have overnight stay.
Day 12Sightseeing Thimphu
After yesterday’s long drive, we start an easy day. .Tashichho Dzong, situated majestically on the western bank of the Wangchu River offers a panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. This dzong is also known as the ‘the fortress of the auspicious religion. We will then visit the recently opened, new textile museum. It is impressive to admire the ornate fabrics from all regions of Bhutan. Then we can enjoy ourselves in the beautiful Timphu market. All bhutanese people wear their national dress, shop keepers invite you friendly to visit their shop with so many nice artefacts. You can also choose to take a ride up the «Buddha Viewpoint», where we find nearly 50 m-high Buddha figure which is built high above Thimphu. From above, we can have a beautiful view of Thimphu and the surrounding environment.
Day 13Drive to Wangdue Phodrang en route visiting Lungchuzekha Monastery
Thimphu - Wangdue Phodrang
Our today’s journey will take us from Thimpu to the Dochula pass. The pass is a popular location for tourists as it offers a stunning 360° panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range. From here, we make a walk through beautiful forests and past Yakweiden. Our target is the small monastery of Lungchuzekha, surrounded with the lush forested area of firs and coniferous tree. The hike is 7,5 km long both way, with about 550 meters up hill, 550 meters downhill on the way back. After the visit of monastery, we walk back to Dochula Pass. An impressive and windy road takes us from the high mountain down to the sunny valley of Wangdue Phrodang, located on top of the hill at the confluence of Punakha Chhu and Tang Chhu rivers. Overnight in Wangdue Phrodang.
Day 14Excursion to Punakha Dzong and drive to Phobjikha Valley
Wangdue Phodrang - Phobjikha Valley
This morning we visit Punakha Dzong, the architecturally most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan. It was the second oldest and second largest Dzong in Bhutan, built in 1638. Punakha was the capital and administrative centre of Bhutan until 1955, the capital was then moved to Thimpu. A short walk brings us to a river, where we’ll cross the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan. In the village on the other side, we visit a school and later have lunch with a family and learn about the village and the family life in the country. In the afternoon, we resume our drive. The road goes up to Pele La pass (3390 m). Turning right we enter the very nice Phobjika valley, right in front of Gangtey monastery. Overnight in the guest house in the Phobjikha Valley.
Day 15Exploration in Phobjikha Valley
Overhanging Phobjika valley, Gangtey monastery is quite an impressive Gompa. It is worth visiting it. After visiting, nice walk down the valley. Phobjika is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains. The valley is designated conservation area and plays a host to a flock of endangered black-neck cranes, which migrate here from Tibet each year. Overnight in the guest house in the Phobjikha Valley.
Day 17Day hike to Taktsang (3150 m), called Tiger’s nest
The most famous monastery in Bhutan, the Tiger’s nest monastery, owes its name to the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, the largest Tantric master in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is extremely spectacular in a steep rock face. After the breakfast we drive to the parking lot below the Monastry. Then we are on our further way up high in the Tiger’s nest. We walk down in the after noon and reach Paro lately. If we have time enough we can visit Kyichu Lhakhang on the way back to Paro. This is considered as the oldest and most beautiful temples of Bhutan. The temple is believed to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. Overnight in the hotel in Paro.