The Indian Himalaya

Sikkim & Darjeeling

Code: SIWHW

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Activity types:

  • Culture
  • High Mountains

Level

  • Easy
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £2,499.00 - 13 to 14 nights

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Prices are per person

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Holiday overview

Download trip notes

With the beautiful mountain backdrops of Sikkim, our itinerary follows paths through Lepcha villages and tea estates. Immerse yourself in the Buddhist culture with visits to temples and monasteries and go back in time with a ride on the Darjeeling Railway.

Holiday highlights

  • Experience the old world charm of India's colonial hill station
  • Be inspired by the sunrise against the backdrop of Kanchenjunga
  • Follow paths through villages and tea estates
  • Ride on the Darjeeling Railway
  • Visit Buddhist temples and monasteries

Prices include:

  • 16 nights’ en-suite accommodation (13 nights in 2017)
  • Full Board from breakfast on day 3 to breakfast on departure, plus breakfast on day 2
  • A full holiday programme with an HF Holidays’ leader and local guides
  • Internal flights, entrance fees and travel by minibus or coach
  • Entry permit to Sikkim
  • Tips

Accommodation

We stay in some of the best hotels in each area, selected for their breathtaking locations. Hotels in Delhi and Kolkata are 5-star. In Darjeeling, Gangtok and Kalimpong we stay in very comfortable converted colonial mansions of the Elgin Hotels and Resorts chain. Our accommodation at Martam is slightly more basic, but we’ll receive a very warm welcome here. 

2016

Hotel Hindustan International, Calcutta (1 night)

This luxury hotel is located in one of the prime spots of Calcutta. All rooms have been recently renovated and offer all the comfort you would expect of a luxury hotel.

Hotel New Elgin, Darjeeling (3 nights)

Over 125 years old and once the summer residence of the Maharaja (King) of Cooch Behar, the Elgin Darjeeling is now a luxury heritage hotel. The hotel is situated in the heart of Darjeeling town, 6,000ft up in the Himalayas.

A celebration of the elegance and grace of the colonial era in the Queen of Hill Stations, located in the majestic Himalayan ranges, the Elgin is very much a part of Darjeeling's colonial history. All 25 bedrooms have a 26 inch LCD & DVD player, satellite television, WiFi internet access, room safe, direct dial telephone, en-suite bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities in all rooms. The Elgin's classically elegant interiors with panelling, pillars and chandeliers recall the days of the Raj. Many rooms at the Elgin have views across the valley and the Himalayas. 

Norbu Gang Resort, Pelling (2 nights)

On a delightful hillock overlooking a breathtaking view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Norbu Gang Resort sprawls over an abundant private space offering its visitors plenty of room to amble around or relax in quiet solitude. The resort has special deluxe rooms with private balconies. The cottages have been aesthetically designed to offer pleasant moments amidst finely landscaped gardens. Traditional ethnic Sikkimese themes grace the interiors of each room and include all amenities for comfort and convenience. 

Tashi Gang Resort, Yuksom (2 nights)

Located in Yuksom, West Sikkim, Tashi Gang resort is a home away from home for guests who want to experience the pleasure of views of snow-covered peaks of Sikkim. A stay at the resort gives you an opportunity to experience the traditional touch of Sikkimese hospitality while taking pleasure in modern comforts. The elegant interiors of the resort represent the beauty of Sikkimese culture. 

Hotel Norkhill, Gangtok (2 nights)

The "Nor-Khill" translates to the "house of jewels". Jewels here refer to the wealth of the natural beauty on display - the mountains, the valleys, the flowers and the fruits. The Kanchen garden in the hotel used to be a favourite spot of the Chogyal (King of Sikkim), who would set up his easel and paint for hours. Built by the King of Sikkim in 1932 around a beautiful garden, the Nor-Khill served as his royal guesthouse for receiving Heads of states and dignitaries. 

The Nor-Khill Gangtok is now a luxury Elgin heritage hotel. The hotel is situated in the heart of Gangtok town, 5,000ft up in the Himalayas.  All 25 bedrooms have a 26 inch LCD & DVD player, satellite television, WiFi internet access, room safe, direct dial telephone, en-suite bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities in all rooms.

Martam Retreat (3 nights)

Situated in the breathtaking and tranquil countryside of East Sikkim, in the foothills of the Himalayas, the resort overlooks a beautiful valley of rich terraced paddy fields, bounded by forest covered hills. Accommodation is in 11 spacious but minimalistic rooms, although offering ensuite bathrooms, tea/coffee making facilities, and there is an indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room.  This hotel is more basic than the others on the tour, but will provide a comfortable base for 3 nights. (This is a change to the 2016 guest booklet) - Martam Village Resort has now closed, the Retreat has been opened by the same owner.

Hotel Silver Oaks, Kalimpong (2 nights)

The Elgin Silver Oaks Kalimpong was the home of a famous jute magnate. It is now converted into a luxury Elgin boutique hotel in the Himalayas. Landscaped gardens provide a breathtaking view of imposing Kanchenjunga which can be seen on a clear day. Sitting in one of the quaint gazebos, the tea seems to be flavoured by the refreshing winds of the Himalayas. All 25 bedrooms have a 26 inch LCD & DVD player, satellite television, WiFi internet access, room safe, direct dial telephone, en-suite bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities in all rooms.

The Royal Plaza, Delhi (1 nt)

5 star boutique hotel, offering comfortable rooms with en-suite facilities, tea & coffee making facilities, safe, minibar.

 

Guests booking the extension to Agra will stay at the 5-star luxury collection ITC Mughal Agra for 1 night, followed by 1 night at the Lemon Tree Hotel situated at Delhi airport

 


2017

Hotel Hindustan International, Calcutta (1 night)

This luxury hotel is located in one of the prime spots of Calcutta. All rooms have been recently renovated and offer all the comfort you would expect of a luxury hotel.

Hotel New Elgin, Darjeeling (3 nights)

Over 125 years old and once the summer residence of the Maharaja (King) of Cooch Behar, the Elgin Darjeeling is now a luxury heritage hotel. The hotel is situated in the heart of Darjeeling town, 6,000ft up in the Himalayas.

A celebration of the elegance and grace of the colonial era in the Queen of Hill Stations, located in the majestic Himalayan ranges, the Elgin is very much a part of Darjeeling's colonial history. All 25 bedrooms have a 26 inch LCD & DVD player, satellite television, WiFi internet access, room safe, direct dial telephone, en-suite bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities in all rooms. The Elgin's classically elegant interiors with panelling, pillars and chandeliers recall the days of the Raj. Many rooms at the Elgin have views across the valley and the Himalayas. 

Norbu Gang Resort, Pelling (2 nights)

On a delightful hillock overlooking a breathtaking view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Norbu Gang Resort sprawls over an abundant private space offering its visitors plenty of room to amble around or relax in quiet solitude. The resort has special deluxe rooms with private balconies. The cottages have been aesthetically designed to offer pleasant moments amidst finely landscaped gardens. Traditional ethnic Sikkimese themes grace the interiors of each room and include all amenities for comfort and convenience. 

Martam Retreat (2 nights)

Situated in the breathtaking and tranquil countryside of East Sikkim, in the foothills of the Himalayas, the resort overlooks a beautiful valley of rich terraced paddy fields, bounded by forest covered hills. Accommodation is in 11 spacious but minimalistic rooms, although offering ensuite bathrooms, tea/coffee making facilities, and there is an indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room.  This hotel is more basic than the others on the tour, but will provide a comfortable base for 2 nights.

Hotel Denzong Residency, Gangtok (2 nights)

With awe-inspiring views of Mt Kanchenjunga, this mountain retreat is situated within 10 acres of land and at the top of a hill overlooking the capital of Sikkim. Guests can reach the centre of Gangtok within approx 10 minutes. Bedrooms are comfortable and spacious, with ensuite facilities. There are wonderful gardens to relax in after your day's activities.

Hotel Silver Oaks, Kalimpong (2 nights)

The Elgin Silver Oaks Kalimpong was the home of a famous jute magnate. It is now converted into a luxury Elgin boutique hotel in the Himalayas. Landscaped gardens provide a breathtaking view of imposing Kanchenjunga which can be seen on a clear day. Sitting in one of the quaint gazebos, the tea seems to be flavoured by the refreshing winds of the Himalayas. All 25 bedrooms have a 26 inch LCD & DVD player, satellite television, WiFi internet access, room safe, direct dial telephone, en-suite bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities in all rooms.

The Royal Plaza, Delhi (1 nt)

5 star boutique hotel, offering comfortable rooms with en-suite facilities, tea & coffee making facilities, safe, minibar.

Guests booking the extension to Agra will stay at the 5-star luxury collection ITC Mughal Agra for 1 night, followed by 1 night at the Lemon Tree Hotel situated at Delhi airport 

 

Please note, on occasion we may have to substitute a listed hotel for another which should be of a similar standard. Wherever possible we will endeavour to advise you of such changes in advance.

 

Itinerary

Download trip notes

Walks are full and part day with some sightseeing, between 3 and 11 miles (5-17.5km). Altitudes vary from 6,500ft (1,980m) at Darjeeling to 4,100ft (1,250m) at Kalimpong. On most walking days there is the choice of at least two walks. It can be rough underfoot, with some significant descents on some days.

2016

Day 1: depart UK.

Day 2: arrive Kolkata early morning. Guided tour of Kolkata, once capital of British India (1 night).

Days 3-5: early flight to Bagdogra and take a scenic drive to Darjeeling (3 nights). Here, amidst reminders of the Raj, we walk through forests, tea estates, view the early morning sunrise against the backdrop of the Himalayan giants and ride on the ‘Toy Train’, the Darjeeling Railway. Visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and look for wildlife in Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary.

Days 6-7: drive into Sikkim to Pemayangtse (2 nights). Walks to the Tibetan influenced monasteries of Sanga Choeling and Pemayangtse.

Days 8-9: continue to Yuksom, the first capital of Sikkim (2 nights). Walks take us through Lepcha villages, towards the Kanchenjunga waterfalls, and along part of the most popular trek in Sikkim.

Days 10-11: drive to Gangtok (2 nights). Visit Tashiding monastery, the holiest site in Sikkim. Spend a day touring the capital of Sikkim by jeep and on foot.

Days 12 -14: spend time in Martam (3 nights), a beautiful village situated in a large valley. Walks will take us through rice fields and local Bhutia and Nepalese villages. 

Days 15 -16: drive to Kalimpong in West Bengal (2 nights). Kalimpong is an ecological hotspot on the Indian subcontinent, and is famous for flower markets and varieties of orchids. Walks along village paths and terraced hillsides.

Day 17: return to Bagdogra for flight to Delhi and our final overnight (1 night).

Day 18: flight to UK. 


Extend your stay - Agra and the Taj Mahal

Extend your holiday and visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. Prices from £289.

Day 18: Agra Drive from Delhi to Agra. This will be a long drive, but will give you a tremendous insight into Indian life and culture. On arrival at Agra, check into your hotel. Evening private guided tour to experience the wonderful effects caused by the reflections of the setting sun in front of the Taj Mahal.

Day 19: Red Fort & Delhi After breakfast, take a private guided tour of Agra city, visit the impressive Red Fort. Return to Delhi for an overnight stay.

Day 20: Transfer to Delhi airport for return flight to the UK.

Included: 2 nights accommodation with breakfast, private transfers to/from Delhi to Agra, sightseeing tours, Entry to Taj Mahal, local tour guide.

Please note, we have not allowed for tips in the extension to Agra. The HF Holidays' leader will not accompany you on the extension tour, but there will be an English speaking local guide on hand.


2017 

Day 1: depart UK.

Day 2: arrive Kolkata early morning. Guided tour of Kolkata, once capital of British India (1 night).

Days 3-5: early flight to Bagdogra and take a scenic drive to Darjeeling (3 nights). Here, amidst reminders of the Raj, we walk through forests, tea estates, view the early morning sunrise against the backdrop of the Himalayan giants and ride on the ‘Toy Train’, the Darjeeling Railway. Visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and look for wildlife in Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary.

Days 6-7: drive into Sikkim to Pemayangtse (2 nights). Walks to the Tibetan influenced monasteries of Sanga Choeling and Pemayangtse.

Days 8-9: spend time in Martam (2 nights), a beautiful village situated in a large valley. Walks will take us through rice fields and local Bhutia and Nepalese villages. 

Days 10-11: drive to Gangtok (2 nights). Visit Tashiding monastery, the holiest site in Sikkim. Spend a day touring the capital of Sikkim by jeep and on foot.

Days 12 -13: drive to Kalimpong in West Bengal (2 nights). Kalimpong is an ecological hotspot on the Indian subcontinent, and is famous for flower markets and varieties of orchids. Walks along village paths and terraced hillsides.

Day 14: return to Bagdogra for flight to Delhi and our final overnight (1 night).

Day 15: flight to UK. 

Extend your stay - Agra and the Taj Mahal

Extend your holiday and visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. Prices from £350

Day 15: Agra Drive from Delhi to Agra. This will be a long drive, but will give you a tremendous insight into Indian life and culture. On arrival at Agra, check into your hotel. Evening private guided tour to experience the wonderful effects caused by the reflections of the setting sun in front of the Taj Mahal.

Day 16: Red Fort & Delhi After breakfast, take a private guided tour of Agra city, visit the impressive Red Fort. Return to Delhi for an overnight stay.

Day 17: Transfer to Delhi airport for return flight to the UK.

Included: 2 nights accommodation with breakfast, private transfers to/from Delhi to Agra, sightseeing tours, Entry to Taj Mahal, local tour guide.

Please note, we have not allowed for tips in the extension to Agra. The HF Holidays' leader will not accompany you on the extension tour, but there will be an English speaking local guide on hand.

 

General Information

Passport
To enter India, a passport valid for at least 180 days and with at least two blank pages is required. 

Visas
British, Australian, Canadian and US citizens require a visa to enter India. From 15 August 2015 this can be done online. Please visit the following website for further information: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html  Current cost is $60 (non-refundable) plus relevant exchange costs associated with your credit card transaction. You will need to upload a photo and complete the application form online. Please remember to take a copy of the e-visa with you. You can apply for the e-visa minimum 4 days in advance of your travel date, with a window of up to 30 days. The e-visa should be emailed to you within 4 days.

Other nationals should check with their nearest embassy or consulate for details of entry requirements.

This holiday also requires a special permit to enter Sikkim, which is included in the tour cost - this can be done on the day. You will need your passport  and a passport copy (which has the Indian visa on it), with a passport sized photo which can be handed in at the Sikkim border.

Health advice

Before booking, you should check with your doctor to see if any health precautions are needed. The following websites provide a wealth of information on travelling and health: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk www.traveldoctor.co.uk

Vaccinations are sometimes advised for diphtheria, hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus and polio. Dengue and malaria are both caused by mosquito bites and are prevalent in hot and humid conditions. There are occasional, seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever. Travellers should vigilantly protect themselves against mosquito bites.

Malaria prevention is strongly recommended so use insect repellent and wear protective clothing. Obtain anti-malarial medicine from your doctor before travelling.

Money
The Rupee (Rs) is the official currency for India. The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller shops and stalls will not accept notes larger than Rs 500. It is best to carry some smaller notes with you too. In major cities, debit and credit cards cards are generally accepted, including: American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. However, in smaller towns and villages, choice is generally narrowed to cash or MasterCard and Visa. Currency can also be changed at banks, airports or authorised money changers. US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are the easiest currencies to exchange. Traveller’s cheques are not advised.

Time

GMT + 5.3 hrs

Tipping
Tips are included on this holiday.

For flights information please see the Dates and Prices tab.

Leaders

Bill Chase

Mountain leader Bill Chase has been leading walking holidays for HF Holidays since 2002. A retired garden designer/contractor with an interest in landscape history, Bill lives in the Black Mountains of south Wales where he is actively involved with the local walking community.

Bill’s previous experience of the culture and landscapes of the Himalaya will ensure you enjoy your holiday to the full. Bill has trekked to Everest Base Camp and has led holidays for HF in Nepal and Bhutan.

Bill is leading our 12 March 2017 departure.

Peter Shortt

He has led for HF Holidays since 2001, and has worked as a guide and outdoor instructor for most of his life. Peter has a great deal of experience leading holidays from our Worldwide Journeys selection. He has led our holidays in Brazil, California, Cuba, Nepal, Tibet and Vietnam.

He is looking forward to leading our adventure to the Indian side of the Himalayas and especially the amazing views of Kanchenjunga and the surrounding mountains.

Peter is leading 01 October 2017.

Ann Rackham

Ann has led extensively for HF Holidays since the late 80's in the mountain areas of Europe and on our Worldwide Journeys. Ann is a very keen traveller/walker spending a large part of the year away from home both leading for HFH and travelling independently.

Her favourite locations are mountain areas − Alps, Pyrenees, Himalayas − and islands − particularly Canaries, and New Zealand during UK winter.

Ann is really looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm for the country with more HF Holidays’ guests.

Ann is leading our 5 November 2017 departure.

Reviews

Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
29 Nov 2016, 12:46 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

as a past dispute was never resolved i cannot comment on the company sorry

Product review:

to pick anything out i would say too many temples it got a bit wearing the last few days
4 Nov 2016, 5:01 p.m.

Service rating:

-

Product rating:

+

Service review:

We felt like 'guinea pigs' - parts of the itinerary were not 'do able'. We felt HF sold a 'walking holiday' - without anyone testing the walks - other than referring back to notes made in 2009. Also HF should have been more aware of the 'festivities' that were occurring which created issues with the itinerary.

Product review:

We love India and found the people and particularly the local guide and drivers, were excellent in showing us the country. BUT there were 'low points' - rushing to get the connecting flight, missing the opportunity to visit sites (this could have been prevented with better planning - I can provide more details if required). Hotels were hit and miss. Calcutta - not luxury but a good commercial hotel, the Elgin group not as luxurious as they appear, however Martam Retreat excellent.
Thank you for your feedback.

I was pleased to read that overall you did enjoy your holiday although I there were certain aspects you found disappointing. We do try hard to ensure that the programmes on our worldwide holidays are thoroughly researched so that it is both enjoyable and interesting for our guests and I hope that for the majority of your holiday this did prove to be the case.

I have ensured your comments are passed through to our Worldwide Product Manager and also our Aviation Manager to take note and to improve where necessary for future trips.

Thank you for taking the time to leave your constructive feedback.

Kind regards
Toni

Toni McNulty
Customer Relations Manager
HF Holidays
30 Oct 2016, 3:05 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

Not well planned.

Product review:

Things were not very well organized. Two major reasons I signed up for the trip didn't even happen; sight seeing in Kolkata and a tour of tea plantations and how the picking and drying of tea is done. None of that happened and no one seemed to get organized for it or even care.
26 Oct 2016, 12:52 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

+

Service review:

The holiday proved an interesting insight in tis region of India - sightseing element well planned and walks made use of some paths and country roads. India does not have footpaths as we understand them, and the trekking routes would have been far too arduous>

Product review:

Enjoyed the heritage hotels, but found two other hotels not so good.
Travelled in three vehicles acros sometime bumpy roads - the drivers were excellent.
The walks leader was superb.
25 Oct 2016, 6:01 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

The administration was fine, but I feel that the pre-holiday information was inadequate.

Product review:

A fascinating and enjoyable holiday, but the walking was rather disappointing. Most of the accommodation was very good indeed, but a couple of the hotels were of a much lower standard. The HF leader was excellent.
25 Oct 2016, 7:20 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

More information on the hotels some of which were poor and damp would have been useful

Product review:

I found the holiday problematic I am a coeliac and the Indians couldn't cater for me
23 Oct 2016, 8:45 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

A friendly company, helpful responses from office staff. The holiday ran fairly smoothly, we were met when we expected to be

Product review:

Overall enjoyable but there were some things I felt HF should have known about but didn't

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
12 Mar 2017 SIWHW - Sikkim & Darjeeling
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 12 Mar 2017, 9:50 a.m.
  • Arrive: 13 Mar 2017, 4:55 a.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Calcutta

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 26 Mar 2017, 10:55 a.m.
  • Arrive: 26 Mar 2017, 3:45 p.m.
  • Depart from: Delhi Indira Ghandi International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £3,099.00 Book Now
13 Mar 2017 SIWHW - Sikkim & Darjeeling 13 £2,499.00 Book Now
1 Oct 2017 SIWHW - Sikkim & Darjeeling
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 1 Oct 2017, 9:50 a.m.
  • Arrive: 2 Oct 2017, 4:55 a.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Calcutta

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 15 Oct 2017, 10:55 a.m.
  • Arrive: 15 Oct 2017, 3:45 p.m.
  • Depart from: Delhi Indira Ghandi International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £3,099.00 Book Now
2 Oct 2017 SIWHW - Sikkim & Darjeeling 13 £2,499.00 Book Now
5 Nov 2017 SIWHW - Sikkim & Darjeeling
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 5 Nov 2017, 9:50 a.m.
  • Arrive: 6 Nov 2017, 4:55 a.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Calcutta

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 19 Nov 2017, 10:55 a.m.
  • Arrive: 19 Nov 2017, 3:45 p.m.
  • Depart from: Delhi Indira Ghandi International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £3,099.00 Book Now
6 Nov 2017 SIWHW - Sikkim & Darjeeling 13 £2,499.00 Book Now

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room: £800
  • Extension to Agra - price from £289
  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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