TOUR OF DARJEELING-SIKKIM-BHUTAN (with Druk Path Trek)
Day 01: BAGDOGRA - DARJEELING
On arrival, the group will be received at the BAGDOGRA AIRPORT and then transfer from the airport to Darjeeling will be by a private car. The 90 Km (56 miles) drive usually takes five hours and runs more or less parallel to the UNESCO protected “Toy Train.” The first part of the journey runs through farm land, dense jungle and tea plantations. The road then gradually climbs to its final destination by going through forests with brilliant splashes of color, due to the ubiquitous poinsettias, bougainvillaeas and orchids. The road ends in Darjeeling, a town that sits on a ridge facing the Himalayan peaks, at some 2300 m.(7010 ft) above sea level. Darjeeling was founded by the British in 1833 as a refuge from the intense summer heat of Calcutta, and soon became a popular hill station during the British administration. A celebrated writer described the town as “one of the three jewels of the Raj,” To quote Mark Twain, Darjeeling is “the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once-by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the world combined”. O/N Hotel.
Day 02: DARJEELING
AM: Early morning excursion to Tiger Hill (11 km / 7 miles) to view the sunrise over the Himalayan Mountains. Later on we will visit the Yigacholing Ghoom Monastery, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Zoological Park, the Panda Breeding Center, the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center (where hand-made carpets and other items can be purchased at reasonable prices), and the nearest tea garden (where one can witness the orthodox manufacturing process of the Darjeeling tea)
PM: There will be a Toy Train special joy ride on the Batasia Loop (Darjeeling - Ghoom-Darjeeling). This miniature train, an engineering feat of the 19th century, is part of the narrow gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) system, and has been operating daily since 1881. In December 1999 the DHR became the second railway site in the world to be inscribed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List (the first was the Semmering Railway in Austria, inscribed in 1998).
The afternoon and early evening will be at leisure. Most travelers have found Darjeeling to be a shopping paradise, especially for silk, pashmina and kashmir articles, as well for the world-famous Darjeeling tea. O/N Hotel.
Day3. DARJEELING FREE DAY AT LEISURE.
Day 04: DARJEELING- GANGTOK
AM: After an early breakfast, the tour will head for Gangtok, a distance of 110 Km requiring approximately 5/ 6 hours of driving through the beautiful landscape of Darjeeling and Sikkim.The final destination of the day, GANGTOK (1,870 m / 6,135 ft), is the fairytale capital of Sikkim, a town that hangs in the clouds, and balances precariously on steep mountain slopes. Surrounded by lush rice terraces, swift flowing rivers and distant snow views, Gangtok has become the political and economic hub of Sikkim with a population that has increased from 15,000 to more than 100,000 since it joined India in 1975. Late afternoon and evening will be at leisure, for walking around the town, visit the Lal Bazaar, and may be do some souvenir shopping. O/N Hotel.
The full day sightseeing tour of Gangtok includes visiting the Namgyel Institute of Tibetology, Govt. Institute of Cottage Industries, the Stupa, the Enchey Monastery, the flower show, the Jhakri Falls and view point which offers the magnificent sight of the Himalayas. O/N Hotel.
Day 05: GANGTOK – RUMTEK - KALIMPONG
AM: After breakfast proceed to Kalimpong (76 kms, 5 hrs). En route we will make a visit to the Rumtek Monastery, the seat of HH Karmapa of the Kaygu order of Tibetan Buddhism, where one can admire some of the most unique religious art objects in the world. Today, we will enjoy the spectacular drive alongside the Teesta River with its blue green water rushing over boulders before reaching KALIMPONG, a town that used to be a gateway to the old Tibet trade route, and still offers the charm of the old British Raj.
PM: The sightseeing tour of Kalimpong includes – the Zangdokpalri Phobrang Monastery, the view point, a private flower nursery and walking around the town.
Day 06: KALIMPONG- PHUENTSHOLING (BHUTAN) AM: After breakfast drive to Phuentsholing (Bhutan) approximately 200 kms ( 7 hrs) through the beautiful landscape of North Bengal with abundant forests, Wildlife sanctuaries, rich farm lands, evergreen tea gardens of the Dooars and vibrant local culture.
On reaching Phuentsholing, which is the Indo-Bhutan border, Bhutan crew will receive you and assist you with the Immigration formalities.
O/n at Phuentsholing.
Day07. Drive to Thimphu.
The drive takes appx. 5 hrs and 178km through villages and picturesque landscape. Can do some sightseeing enroute.
Check into your hotel and later visit National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Visit Takin zoo. Evening visit to Tashichhodzong ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ initially erected in 1641 by ShamdrungNgawangNamgyel, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan’s third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majestry’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Day08. Thimphu to Punakha
After breakfast,Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), Enroute stop at Dochula Pass where you will have a coffee break while appreciating the striking view of Mt. Himalaya. You will also visit the grand 108 stupas. Depart to Punakha, an ancient capital of Bhutan. VisitChimi Lhakhang, located near Lobesa, Punakha stands on a round hillock and is flanked by hundreds of prayer flags. Built in 1499, this monastery is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kinley or ‘the Divine Madman’. An accomplished master of Mahamudra Buddhist Tradition, he is also known as the ‘Mad Saint’ for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by singing, humor and outrageous behavior, which amounted to being bizarre and strong sexual overtones and inclinations.
Also visit the PunakhaDzong, also known as Pungthang Dechen Photrang Dzong (meaning ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss’) is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag in Punakha, Bhutan. Constructed by Zhabdrung (Shabdrung) NgawangNamgyal on the 8th day and 8th month of the Fire ox year in 1673, it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. Punakha Dzong was the administrative centre and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu.
Day09. Punakha to Gangtey
Today we drive to Gangtey. It is a beautiful and tranquil place surrounded by lush forests. The wide and picturesque Phobjikha valley is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Visit GangteyGoempa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.
Day10. Gangtey to Thimphu
After breakfast visit Black-necked crane information Centre, which has lots of information on the valley and its famous migrating bird. Later continue driving to Thimphu. Explore Thimphu city.
Day11. Thimphu Rest and Leisure.
Day12. Start the Druk Path Trek.
Today after having breakfast, drive to Mothithang trek point (crossing from Takin zoo) it takes about 20 – 30 minute from Hotel to trek point. The distance is about 5 to 6 hrs. You have to climb up till Phajoding Monastery through a forested area mostly blue pine.
(About Phajoding Monastery; Ogden Pajo, a Tibetan yogi looking for a place for meditation, founded the site in the 13th century. Most of the buildings were constructed by the 9th Je Khenpo, ShakyaRinchen, in the first half of the 18th century. The 16th Je Khenpo was also involved in some of the buildings, and the king’s secretary has donated money for one of the more recent temples, built in honor of Padma Sambawa. There is many buildings spead out over the mountainside include lhakhangs/goenpas, monk quarters, numerous meditation centers, and even a guesthouse. The meditation centers may have a branch of a juniper tree outside, indicating that they do not want to be disturbed. There is also a sacred cave, with big ice stalactites during the colder months of the year. The meditation is hangs on the side of a cliff at 3950m).
From Phajoding again you have to climb up till to the Labrang pass through juniper tree line, after reaching Labrang pass (3870m) you can see nice view of Thimphu valley and Himalaya range. From here the trail is up down and the most is rocky and then you reach to the Labanapass (4130m) this pass highest in the Drukpath trek. From this pass you can see the nice view Himalaya range, Mt Kanchanganga and our camp. We have to walk down 20minutes to reach our camp. The camp Labana is in good location from here we can see the nice view of Himalaya ranges and the camp at Labana (4130m). (Overnight at Camp)
Day 13. Labana camp to Jimelangtsho camp
Distance 12 Km and walking time 4-5hrs.
Today you may come across some Yak herder’s camp and you can really have a look as to how these people live. We have to cross the Simkota Lake and JanyeTsho (3780m) to reach our next camp site which is Jimelangtsho. The trail is up and down and the route is most rocky. Today our camp is nearby Jimelangtsho Lake at (38880). These lakes are known for their giant sized trout’s. (Overnight at Camp)
Day14. Jimelangtsho camp to Jeli Dzong
Distance 13kms and walking time 5-6hrs starting at Jimelangtsho (38880mtrs) and camp at Jeli Dzong (3780mtrs).Today we have to climb up till 1to2hrs and the trail follows the ridge and on clear day the views of the mountains and valley are beautiful, in particular the Jichu Drake (6989m). After that we have to go downhill till we reach to the camp Jeli Dzong (3780mtrs). You may see Yak herders around your camp site. (Overnight at Camp)
Day 15:- Jeli Dzong to Damchena
Distance 14Kms and walking time 6-7 hrs, from Jeli Dzong (3,450mtrs) to Paro Valley.
The trail from Jela will follow down to the Damchena and if the weather is clear the Paro valley will be visible with the Mt, Jumolhari(7314m) and very impressive fort, surrounded by many prayer flags, in an even more recently – it takes a battering from the elements (note the iron cables holding down the roof). The views are great, looking towards Paro far below, while in the distance stand snowy peaks on the border with Tibet, including Jhomolhari (7315m) in the centre. Visit Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest on the way down. This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 4000 ft. above the valley floor. Legend says that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress - hence the name - to meditate. The tigress was actually his favourite consort, YesheTsogyel, whom he transformed to a flying tigress for the purpose of this journey. The Guru finished his meditation; he instructed that a monastery be built. The hike to Taktsang Monastery takes about 4 hours. Here in Damchena your vehicle with diver will be waiting for you to take you hotel. (Overnight at Paro)
Day16. Rest day at Paro.
Hotels used in India.
Darjeeling – The New Elgin, The Viceroy, The Cedar Inn
Gangtok – Norkhill Hotel or equivalent
Kalimpong – The Silver Oaks
Phuenstholing Hotel Lhaki or Druk.
Thimphu : Peaceful resort or Gyelsa Boutique Luxury: Hotel Taj tashi or Le Meriden
Punakha: Meriphuensuem Resort or similar. Luxury: Hotel Uma Punakha / Aman Resorts / Dhensa Resort
Gangtey: Dewachen Resort or similar. Luxury: Gangtey Gonpa Lodge or Aman resorts
Paro: Tenzinling Resort or similar. Luxury: Uma Paro / Le Meridan Riverfront / Zhiwaling Hotel.
We arrange all private transfers, Guide, flights, Visa.
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