Day 1 - Kolkata
Border Information: If you are joining the trip in Kolkata, you will most likely enter India at Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (IATA code: CCU).
Today is a free day to explore the sights, sounds and flavours of the incredible city of Kolkata. There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this meeting.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kolkata before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kolkata.
In Kolkata we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Hotel for the night: Niharika Hotel
5 A.J.C. Bose Road
Near Minto Park
Tel - +91 33 4060 1122
Discover the world's largest tree (The Great Banyan Tree) at the A. J. C. Bose Botanic Gardens, the place where tea was first cultivated in India : INR 200
Freely explore the streets of the BBD Bagh, the heart of Kolkata and one of the best areas of British colonial architecture in the world : Free
Visit the Eden Gardens, the most famous and iconic cricket stadium in India : Free
See the famous Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly River, thought to be the busiest bridge in the world with 150,000 pedestrians and 100,000 vehicles crossing every day : Free
Discover the incredible array of art and historical artefacts on display at the Indian Museum in Kolkata, the largest and oldest museum in India : INR 200
Head out on a fantastic photographic tour of Kolkata, exploring the hidden gems, back streets, and photogenic spots of the city with a superb local guide : INR 2000
Explore the vast fields and parks of the Maidan (the 'lungs of Kolkata') and observe daily life away from the chaos of the city : Free
Visit and support the Usthi Foundation's school and farm for impoverished children in Kolkata, and see the amazing work they do (if available) : USD 10
See the huge white marble Victoria Memorial, built in the early 20th century by the British Viceroy of India and a grandiose reminder of Kolkata's colonial past : INR 200
Visit the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Centre, a museum illustrating the life and work of the famous and controversial missionary : Free
Kolkata was originally a British settlement, built by the East India Company in the 17th Century during their trading and colonising expansion along the boast of Bengal - it also became the capital of the British colonial government until 1911 when this was moved to Delhi. The city is now India's third largest, and is regarded by many as the country's intellectual and cultural capital. At first you are assaulted by the noise and chaos of this bustling metropolis, but take the time to explore and you'll discover some impressive colonial architecture, some of the best restaurants in India and a thriving arts scene. Bengali theatre, dance, poetry, art, music and film are all showcased here, and there's usually plenty to choose from on at the city's many venues. An interesting relic of the colonial era is the Victoria Memorial - a beautiful domed white marble edifice set in tranquil gardens, the monument was built to commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Kolkata is also home to the Sister's of Charity Mother house, the mission where Mother Teresa did much of her work. Finally, if all the hustle and bustle is getting too much for you, you can explore the vast green fields of the Maidan or take refuge in the beautiful botanic gardens along the banks of the Hooghly River.
Day 2 - Kolkata Overnight train to Siliguri
During the day we will have free time to independently explore Kolkata, and we have the opportunity to take an optional photographically tour of the city.
Whilst in Kolkata, your leader will assist you in arranging you Sikkim permit (you will need to bring passport photos and a photocopy of your passport photo page).
We will meet in the evening to head to the train station and board our overnight train to Siliguri - accommodation tonight will be on the train, where there are basic bunk beds with sheets provided.
Experience a local overnight train from Kolkata to Siliguri : Included in Kitty
Day 3-5 - Darjeeling
" Day 3 to 5 "
We will arrive into Siliguri at around 9:00am this morning, meeting our jeeps and drivers at the station for our onward journey through the narrow winding roads to Darjeeling. The town of Darjeeling is really more a collection of villages situated on a high ridge, linked by a series of steps and winding lanes and surrounded by rice and tea terraces.
Jeeps are used in this region rather than our overland truck as they are perfect for the narrow, steep and winding roads of the area. We will continue with the jeeps all the way until the trip returns to Siliguri (after Gangtok).
Estimated Drive Time (in jeeps) - 3-4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
We will spend 3 nights in Darjeeling, giving us plenty of time to relax, enjoy the surrounding area and take part in some optional activities.
In Darjeeling we will stay in a local hotel.
Take a scenic ride on the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway up to Ghoom, the highest train station in India : INR 470
Visit the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre near Darjeeling, a home, hospital, and craft centre for Tibetans who have fled persecution and taken sanctuary in India : Free
Visit the huge and colourful Dali Monastery near Darjeeling, the residence of the supreme head of the Kargyupa sect of Buddhism : Free
Visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda in Darjeeling, one of a series of stupas built worldwide to promote world peace and non-violence : Free
Explore the Happy Valley Tea Estate, the oldest tea plantations in Darjeeling, and learn all about the tea industry for which the area is famous : USD 5
See the museum at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, containing many exhibits from mountaineering history and the grave of Tenzing Norgay, one of the first men to summit Mount Everest : INR 100
Take an early jeep trip to Tiger Hill, where you can get an incredible sunrise view of Kangchenjunda, the 3rd-highest mountain in the world : INR 250
Situated on a high ridge and surrounded by terraces of rice, tea, quinine and fruit trees, Darjeeling is a collection of villages linked by steps and lanes so steep that they appear to almost be built on top of each other. The views are fantastic from here, looking down over the rivers below with Mount Kanchenjunga in the background (the world's third highest mountain, and the highest in India) - and on a very clear day even Mount Everest can be seen in the far distance. For the very best view, take a pre-dawn excursion to Tiger Hill, where on a clear day you can see the magnificent sunrise over the Himalayas, which is definitely worth the early start. The cool climate and slow pace of life here are an abrupt contrast to the rest of India. It's a pleasant place to explore, with monasteries and tea plantations to visit and Tibetan craft shops and markets to browse through.
Day 6-8 - Karmi Farm
" Day 6 to 8 "
Today we will have one last free morning to explore Darjeeling. After lunch we will leave in our jeeps for Karmi Farm, a tea plantation located in a remote rural area nearby.
Estimated Drive Time (in jeeps) - 3-4 hours.
We will stay at Karmi Farm for 3 nights, which gives us lots of free time to enjoy some fantastic hikes around the region, visit the Karmi Farm Clinic charitable project, go bird watching and to relax and take in the stunning views from the lodge.
In Karmi Farm we will stay in a guest lodge.
Visit the Dragoman-supported clinic built and run by Karmi Farm, and see the valuable work they do to provide vital medical facilities to the villagers from the area : Included in Kitty
Stay at the beautiful and serene Karmi Farm, exploring the local villages, relaxing in a stunning grounds, and watching the bird life : Included in Kitty
About Karmi Farm:
Karmi Farm was originally known as Karmi Estate and is the home of the Pulger-Frame family, who have been associated with the area for over 200 years. Ronald Frame was a Scottish tea planter who came to this area in 1950 and met local Deki Pulger, marrying her 10 years later. Ronald managed a tea estate in the area in Darjeeling until 1967, bringing up his young family there - but then the family left India, returning for family holidays over the years. Today Ronald's son Andrew has returned to Karmi, offering travellers the opportunity to visit the farm and gain a fascinating insight into the lives of the hill farmers who live here and in the surrounding area. The farm itself is spectacularly situated with amazing views and a unique atmosphere, the perfect place for a bit of rest and relaxation. Bird-watching, trekking and sometimes yoga are also all on offer here, depending on your own particular interests. Karmi Farm charity project This is a remote area of India, the road conditions are poor and the nearest hospital is a 3 to 4 hour walk away. Even then, that hospital is often under-staffed and regularly has problems sourcing medical supplies. Because of these problems, the Karmi Farm clinic was set up to run as a first-stop medical centre for the local people, most of whom are subsistence farmers, eking out a meagre living from the land - with help from friends in the UK the clinic started up in September 2001. Donations came from friends and guests staying at the farm with volunteer doctors and nurses coming out from the UK. The clinic today frequently deals with work-related injuries and accidents such as machete cuts, as well as also providing treatment for common conditions like scabies, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis. For further information on the project and for details of how you can either donate or find out the which supplies you can bring out on your trip for the clinic. Please go to: http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/pages/charity-project
Day 9-10 - Gangtok
" Day 9 to 10 "
After breakfast we will leave Karmi Farm in our jeeps and continue to Gangtok, the hilltop capital of Sikkim.
Estimated Drive Time (in jeeps) - 5-7 hours.
On the following day we will have an included guided visit of the nearby Rumtek Dharma Monastery in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for you to independently explore Gangtok.
In Gangtok we will stay in a comfortable local hotel
Head out for a stunning drive through the awe inspiring Sikkim mountains to reach Tsongmo Lake at 3,780m altitude (alternative to the monastery visit) : INR 1400
See the stunning Enchey monastery in Gangtok, with its incredible painted murals and intricately carved pillars and windows : INR 10
Visit the Do Drul Chorten Monastery near Gangtok, and see its beautiful stupa and 108 golden prayer wheels : Included in Kitty
Visit the museum containing many fascinating historical Tibetan religious relics at the Institute of Tibetology near Gangtok : Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible 18th-century Rumtek Monastery, the home of the Karmapa Lama, the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism : Included in Kitty
Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim, an Indian state that was an independent kingdom until 1975, and is considered to be one of the last Himalayan Shangri-Las. In recent years the region has seen ever-increasing numbers of tourists, and Gangtok in particular has seen a lot of development. Fortunately though, the landscape here makes building roads quite difficult, so you don't have to go too far to get off the beaten track. In Gangtok itself, you might be interested in visiting some of the town's many Buddhist temples, the Do Drul Chorten Monastery or the Institute of Tibetology. If you've still got time on your hands for exploring, on the other side of the valley from Gangtok is the Rumtek monastery, an important centre for the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Here you can get a good insight into the workings of the religion, or simply sit and drink tea whilst admiring the amazing Tibetan murals.
Day 11 - Barhara
Border Information: Exit India at Kakarbhitta, enter Nepal at Kakarbhitta.
Today we travel in our jeeps back to Siliguri, where we will finally join our Dragoman overland truck! We will then drive over the border into Nepal and continue as far as we can.
We will aim to wild camp in the Himalayan foothills, probably near to the town of Barhara.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours in the jeeps, 4-6 hours on the truck.
Day 12-13 - Chitwan
" Day 12 to 13"
Today we will continue our drive to reach Chitwan National Park.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.
Whilst in Chitwan we will visit Bis Hajaar Tal, also known as 20,000 Lakes, which is a wetland area near the Royal Chitwan National Park. Here we will get the opportunity to see peacocks, wild boars, deer and there is also a slim chance of seeing tigers and rhinos.
On the following day we will explore the National Park by canoe and on foot, and there is the option to take a jeep safari! There will be an opportunity to see a traditional Nepali dance demonstration in the evening.
In Chitwan we will stay in a local guest lodge.
Explore the heart of the incredible Chitwan National Park on a jeep safari (alternative to the 20,000 Lake excursion) : NPR 3500
Explore the village of Chitwan on a tour by traditional ox and cart : Included in Kitty
Witness the fascinating and impressive local tradition of Tharu stick dancing : Included in Kitty
Canoe through the rivers of the Chitwan National Park, and explore the area on a walking safari in search of rhino and other wildlife : Included in Kitty
Take a jeep safari around the stunning wetland area of 20,000 Lakes : Included in Kitty
About Chitwan National Park:
Chitwan National Park is situated in the central Nepali Terai, a huge nature reserve protecting hundreds of square kilometres of grassland and marshes. Home to over 700 species of animals in total, it's a fantastic place to look for wildlife - if you're very lucky then you may spot a heavily-armoured Asiatic Rhino, as well as sloth bears and even tigers! You can go on walking safaris, boat trips or travel by jeep in the National Park.
Day 14 - Khatauti Khola
This morning we will journey uphill to Khatauti Khola, home to the Royal Beach Camp eco-adventure camp in the Nepalese mountains.
There are several optional activities on offer here for the afternoon such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and mountain biking.
In Khatauti Khola we will camp at the Royal Beach Camp.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Head out for an afternoon of kayaking from our campsite in Khatauti Khola : USD 35
Go white water rafting down the Trishuli River in the Himalayan foothills, usually about Grade 3 rapids : USD 35
Head out for half a day of canyoning in the gorges of the Trishuli River near Khatauti Khola : USD 35
Day 15 - Kathmandu
This morning we will spend some free time at the Royal Beach Camp to give us more time to take part in the optional adventure activities there, then after lunch we will drive the last stretch up to to Kathmandu, the evocative capital of Nepal.
In Kathmandu we stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
Kathmandu is the magnificent and evocative capital of Nepal - situated on the shores of the Bagmati river, it's a lively, bustling place where ancient collides with modern to create an exhilarating melting pot of sights, sounds and smells. Today's modern jumble of concrete buildings and busy streets has built up around the medieval old town, where wandering through the winding alleyways is like taking a step back in time. The heart of the old city is the magnificent Durbar Square, where Nepalese Royalty used to be crowned, and today it's a good spot to sit and watch the world go by. The buildings here date from the 17th and 18th Centuries, although many of the original structures were even older and many suffered from earthquake damage over the last few centuries. Other sights worth visiting are the Temple of the Living Goddess, the Royal Palace, the Pashupatinath Hindu temple, Boudhanath Buddhist stupa and Swayambunath (the Monkey Temple), all of which are set against the magnificent Himalayan backdrop. When all the sightseeing gets a bit too much, you can kick back and relax in the numerous cafes and bars around the tourist areas of Thamel and ‘Freak Street'.
Day 16 - Kathmandu
Border Information: If you are finishing your trip in Kathmandu, you will most likely exit Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (IATA code: KTM).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kathmandu. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
Freely explore the nearby medieval square of Patan Durbar and it's many beautiful temples : NPR 250
Freely explore the famous Kathmandu Durbar Square, the heart of the Nepalese capital : NPR 750
Walk through the winding streets of Thamel and visit the famous Swayumbuthnath Monkey Temple overlooking Kathmandu : NPR 200
Freely explore the incredible ancient Tibetan Buddhist stupa of Boudanath, its origins stretching back to the 5th century : NPR 100
Take a trip out to visit the incredible Hindu temple of Changu Narayan, the oldest temple in Nepal : NPR 250
Visit the sacred Hindu Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Nepal's unofficial national deity : NPR 1000
Visit the former royal palace of Narayanhiti and see the crown jewels of Nepal : NPR 500
Get out of the city and explore the nearby national park of Sundarijal, and see its idyllic waterfalls and rock formations : NPR 250
Visit the beautiful and tranquil Durbar Square in the nearby medieval town of Bhaktapur, and visit its nearby museums : NPR 750
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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