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Bhutan and India's Hill Stations

from £4190
An adventurous journey through the Himalayas to a Buddhist Kingdom with a visit to India
  • Product Code 47250
  • Holiday Type Pioneer Holidays, Sightseeing And Walking Holidays, Experiential Holidays
  • Grade Grade 5
  • Holiday Duration 16 Nights

Guided Walking Holidays - Bhutan and India's Hill Stations

Journey to a kingdom far, far away and discover a land shrouded in mystery. Where else in the world can you visit ‘The land of the Thunderbolt’ and look across the Five Treasures in the Snow?

This is Darjeeling, set against a backdrop of the Eastern Himalayas and overlooked by imposing Mount Khangchendzonga. As you travel to the last great Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, you’ll encounter landscapes like no other – emerald green tea plantations, Buddhist monasteries, steep mountain ranges and traditional villages a world away from modern pressures and where life is enjoyed at a slower pace.

Darjeeling, in the heart of the tea producing region of India, is a highlight of the British Colonial Raj era, with its hill stations at around 2100m. It is inhabited by residents from all over the Eastern Himalaya. It’s a fascinating place and during our time we plan to explore the town, take a journey on the narrow gauge railway and visit Tiger Hill at sunrise, which has an unparalleled 360° Himalayan panorama.

We leave Darjeeling for the hill station of Kalimpong. Here we’ll discover the town and walk in the surrounding countryside and visit a traditional village, where we spend time with the villagers to see how they live, and learn about their culture and traditions.

Bhutan enjoys what may be an enviable position in the tourist world. It is so difficult to reach and restricts the entry of visitors. As a result, Bhutan remains lovely, near pristine and a joy to visit. We’ll walk, explore and sightsee from Phuntsholing, Thimpu and Paro, gaining an insight to the Bhutanese way of life. We’ll also visit Tiger’s Nest – a true highlight of a visit to Bhutan. We fly back to Delhi to connect with our flight home.

 


At Ramblers Walking Holidays, we are in a fortunate position to be able to use our profits to help make a difference to peoples’ lives. By travelling with us on this holiday, you can directly help us support the destinations we visit through our staff-managed charitable project click Heart Sole

Holiday Highlights

  • Experience the incredible sunrise at Tiger Hill.
  • Delight in walks through the Darjeeling tea plantation.
  • Be inspired by high mountain scenery of the Himalayas.
  • Take the challenge of the hike to the Tiger’s Nest monastery.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights Heathrow to Delhi (British Airways)
      Airport transfers
      All local travel and transfers including air tickets and train.
      Half board en-suite accommodation.
      Full board in Bhutan.
      Knowledgeable local guides.
      All entrance fees.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised program, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 5/SS

  1. Day 1

    Depart London Heathrow for Delhi. On arrival, we transfer by private coach to our hotel for immediate check in.

  2. Day 2

    With a relaxed starting time, we enjoy a sightseeing visit of the city with our local guide. Traffic conditions in Delhi can be challenging on occasions slowing down our progress but we hope to include some of the following highlights in our sightseeing. Jama Masjid – Old Delhi’s main mosque, Chandni Chowk, the main street of Old Delhi and a colourful shopping area, Qutb Minar and Rajghat the cremation site for Gandhi and other leaders on Jamuna River.

  3. Day 3

    We fly to Bagdogra today, located in West Bengal and take a scenic drive to Darjeeling, (approx. 4hrs) where we stay for 4 nights’ accommodation. En route we stop for a short walk and a visit to a small homestead. Part Victorian holiday resort and part major tea growing centre, Darjeeling straddles a ridge 2250m up in the Himalayas. Fifty years after the British departed it remains as popular as ever as an Indian holiday resort, and promenades such as The Mall and Chowrasta still burst with life – it is a fascinating and cosmopolitan place. The greatest appeal for visitors has to be the stunning mountain vistas with Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, dominating the northern horizon. 

  4. Day 4

    Sunrise over the valley is a beautiful scene to wake up to and after breakfast, we’ll walk to Bhutia Busty Monastery (approx. 1 hour), the focus of the local community, and the Tibetan Refugee Centre. Our walk takes us through lovely villages, and through the tea plantations where we’ll finish at a tea factory for a visit and to enjoy a cup of the world famous local produce before returning to Darjeeling.

  5. Day 5

    We’ll walk to Darjeeling train station to take the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, known affectionately as the Toy Train, to its highest point at Ghoom, with its charming railway station, the highest in India. This train is sometimes pulled by a vintage British built Raj era steam engine, hopefully we will be lucky enough to enjoy a steam hauled trip. We visit Yiga Choling Monastery with our guide and there will be plenty of time to take photos here! Returning by train to Darjeeling you may wish to visit the Railway Museum before a visit to a tea shop for tasting.

  6. Day 6

    We have an early start this morning as we drive to Tiger Hill (2585m) to watch the sunrise over the Himalayan mountains. Tiger Hill is an incredible viewpoint, providing a panoramic 360’ Himalayan panorama with the steamy plain of Bangladesh to the South, the Singalia Range with Everest beyond to the west, Kanchenjunga and Sikkim to the north and Bhutan and Assam to the northeast. After enjoying the view we walk back to Darjeeling via Aloobari Monastery (10km, 3hrs). Later this afternoon we will have time to visit Hayden Hall. This is a private non-profit making organization in Darjeeling that helps underprivileged women in the area. We will have a chance to see how the project works and purchase items which are all handcrafted by women from the local community. 

  7. Day 7

    We depart today for Kalimpong, located approx 50kms east of Darjeeling, where we stay for 4 nights’ accommodation. We stop en route for a walk to stretch our legs and to see a local village. Unlike Darjeeling, Kalimpong was never a ‘tea town’ or resort but a bustling commercial centre on the road to Tibet. It spreads along a curving ridge to either side of the main market area known as “Tenth Mile”. The shopping is perhaps of better quality and cheaper than Darjeeling.

  8. Day 8

    During our morning walk today from Durpin Dhara hill and Zong Dog Palri Fo-Bang monastery, we visit a local village where we spend time with the villagers to see how they live, and learn about their culture and traditions (approx. 5 miles). Our walk ends at the Pine View cactus nursery and a visit to Dr Graham’s School, a charity run school set up in 1900 by a Scottish missionary.

  9. Day 9

    After breakfast we drive to Deolo Hill, at 1,704m the highest point of Kalimpong, located north east of the town.  After taking in the views we descend to Sherpa Tar village and via Bhalu Khop, returning towards Kalimpong (approx 4-5 hours). Perhaps this afternoon calls for tea on the hotel lawn!

  10. Day 10

    After a short drive to Algarah, we climb through dense pine forest to the highest point of the ridge to Damsang Fort, a ruined fortress, with lovely views of the Teesta Valley and Himalaya range. Later drive back to Kalimpong and visit Kalimpong Sakya Monastery. Hopefully we will also have the chance to visit the Gangjong paper factory. They welcome visitors to their hand made paper workshop and shop, it is well worth a visit.

  11. Day 11

    We leave India behind today and travel to Bhutan. Today is primarily a travel day (approx 6 hours) as we traverse the West Bengal plain, which offers a fascinating exposure to India’s tea gardens. one highlight to look out for is the Coronation Bridge, Built under the Raj in the 1930s it is an impressive feat of engineering. We can stop and walk across to best appreciate the structure and view. After immigration procedures we should have time for a walking tour of Phuntsholing.

  12. Day 12

    Our drive to Thimpu takes us through a beautiful landscape scattered with monasteries, fortresses and dramatic vistas. The journey should take about 6hrs with lunch at a resturant en route. We stay in Thimpu for 2 nights’ accommodation with time to visit the town and explore the local countryside. We plan to see the Tashichodzong, the seat of the Royal Government this evening.

  13. Day 13

    This morning’s walk to Cheri Monastery is good practice for our Tiger’s Nest visit tomorrow.it is about a 45min drive out of town followed by a 2hr walk up to the monastery. Later in the day we will have time to explore Thimpu, the modern capital of Bhutan.  It sits at an elevation of 2300m in a valley traversed by the Wang Chu River. It is perhaps the smallest capital city in the world.

     

  14. Day 14

    We depart Thimpu for Paro where we stay for 2 nights’ accommodation. It is not a great distance with the drive taking about 90mins. We stop at Dochula Pass for coffee, see what is claimed to be the largest Buddha in the world and visit the Memorial Chorten. On arrival into Paro we have time to visit the town.

  15. Day 15

    Taking a drive into the surrounding countryside, we visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in the kingdom and make the exhilarating hike to see Takshang, “The Tiger’s Nest” monastery, and a true highlight of a visit to Bhutan. From the start of the walk we climb (300m, 1hr) on a wide path to the cafeteria which has superb views of the Tiger’s Nest. Some may like to climb an additional 270m to the “Second Viewpoint” which should take another 45 mins or so. The highest point on the walk is 3140m. We will have lunch (included) the cafeteria and walk back to the car park.

  16. Day 16

    Today we fly from Paro to Delhi. Subject to the flight time there may be time for further sightseeing in the city. If so we will do this at a more relaxed pace. We have reserved a couple of hotel rooms so anybody wishing may wash and change before the flight home. 

  17. Day 17

    We transfer from our hotel to Delhi airport for our flight to London.

Travel Details

  • Flights: Heathrow-Delhi (c8hrs 50mins), British Airways. Two local flights on the itinerary are both c90mins.         
  • Arrival transfer by road (c50mins).
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • Visa is required.

Trip Map

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Hotel Cedar Inn

We expect to stay in the Cedar Inn, set high above the main town, offering magnificent views of the unforgettable Darjeeling landscape, with snow capped mountains in the distance. The building that has hints of Victoriana is staffed by a friendly team and offers guests everything they could need for a pleasant stay. The restaurant serves a range of Indian, Chinese, Himalayan and Continental cuisine and has an open fireplace for those chilly evenings and live music to set the atmosphere. There is a delightful café on the terrace, where you can enjoy a cup of Darjeeling tea or snack with the mesmerising views stretching out before you. There is also a little bar for something stronger. The hotel also has a gift shop and a library with internet access incorporated. Rooms have tea and coffee making facilities, en-suite bathrooms, seating area, TVs, and most come with fireplaces and views out to Kanchendzonga Mountain. There is Free Wi-Fi in the lobby, restaurant & bar.


Hotel Druk

Across the border from India, sits the Hotel Druk, in the town of Phuntsholing, the quieter neighbour of the Indian town of Jaigaon, with its convenient amenities. This recently refurbished hotel has a helpful team of staff and a restaurant serving great Bhutanese Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine There is also a bar and a pretty manicured lawn where you can enjoy a barbecue at some times of the year. Rooms come with air conditioning, a rarity for Phuntsholing, as well as flat screen TV, en-suite bathrooms, Wi-Fi (which can be patchy) and mini bar.


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