Day 01: Kolkotta/Darjeeling – Bagdogra – Darjeeling:
Enjoy captivating scenes of tea gardens and small villages as we drive four hours via back roads to Darjeeling. Check into the Hotel. The British originally established Darjeeling as a hill station in the mid 1800s. People come up here to escape the heat of the plains. Pleasantly surrounded by tea plantations on all sides, we can enjoy magnificent views of snowy peaks including Kanchendzonga. Overnight at hotel.
Day 02: Darjeeling:
Take an early morning trip to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise. Tiger Hill is the highest spot in the area at 8,500 ft and is famous for its dawn views of the Eastern Himalayas including on the clearest days Mt. Everest. On return, visit the famous Ghoom monastery which enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha ( the coming Buddha ).
A small donation is customary. The monks are friendly and will probably invite us to join them for a cup of salty yak butter tea ( think of it as a light soup or broth as you drink it ). We may take a short ride 4.5 miles back to Darjeeling from Ghoom on the famous toy train. Completed in 1882 the railway connected Darjeeling with the rest of British India. Our ride, although short, will give us a chance to admire the Batasia loop, one of four complete loops and five switchbacks maneuvered on this feat of engineering. After lunch visit the Himalayan Mountaineering institute, zoological park, Tibetan refugee self help centre which is a popular place to shop for arts and crafts. Overnight at hotel, Darjeeling.
Day 03: Darjeeling – Maneybhanjyang – Tonglu:
Drive about an hour from Darjeeling to Maneybhanjyang which is the starting point of our first trek and is a small village inhabited by Sherpas and Nepalis. We trek through evergreen forests and hillsides covered with wild flowers until we reach Tonglu. Camp at Tonglu ( 10,000 ft ) where one can get a breathtaking mountain view overlooking Darjeeling.
Day 04: Tonglu – Sandakhpu:
On the second day, the ridgeline leads one through bamboo glades and farmlands with quaint little villages habited by warm and friendly people. The route is fairly level while one reaches Gairabas about 9 kms from Tonglu. From here one encounters a steep climb which is adequately compensated by incredible scenic beauty. This 4 kms climb brings one to Kalpokhri. The dark Crystal Lake simmering in the breeze surrounded by alpine trees is a remarkable sight. Another steep ascent for 2.5 kms and a gradual walk downhill for 1.5 km bings one to Bikhebhanjyang ( 10,200 ft ). The final ascent of 4 kms which is the most challenging in terms of steepness, through thick rhododendron and magnolia forsts leads one to Sandakhpu, ( 11,800 ft ) meaning the height of the poison plant. It is here one encounter nature’s pristine glory at its magnificent best. The four of the world’s highest mountains all 8000 meters high towering over you at an incredibly close distance presents you with a sight you will never forget. The snow-clad arc of the Eastern Himalayas with Everest, Kanchendzonga, Makalu and Lhotse in all its majesty is worth every mile one has traversed to be here.
Day 05: Sandakhpu – Phalut – Ramman:
The fourth day is a relatively easy day of trekking 21 kms but in terms of scenic beauty, it is the most fascinating. All along, the route rhododendrons of different hues, magnolias, chestnut oak emerging out of the mysterious mists – the stately silver fir greet one. All along, the imposing Himalayas loom large on the western horizon. The final stretch is almost bereft of vegetation owing to the sweeping icy winds. The clusters of rhododendron trees standing at a maximum height of 6 feet look like magnified bonsai. Phalut or the denuded peak is the junction of Nepal, India, Sikkim. We continue with a knee wobbling descent downhill into the Rammam river valley. This trek through rugged terrain brings one to a spectacularly picturesque village Samanden, better know as the ‘lost valley’. A further walk of 2 kms brings one to Ramman ( 8,400 ft )- the campsite for the night.
Day 06: Ramman – Rimbick - Darjeeling:
The walk to Rimbick ( 7,400 ft ) is another picturesque trek of 19 kms. The first 9 kms is a level path through forest of flowering trees. Rare orchids present another wonderful sight. The rest of the way is a slow gentle descent as each turn and bend allows a glimpse into the rich biodiversity. On arrival drive to Darjeeling. Hotel.
Day 07: Darjeeling – Bagdogra – Calcutta/Darjeeling.
After breakfast drive to Bagdogra to catch the flight for Calcutta/Darjeeling.