At the crossroads of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, on the land that formerly belonged of the kingdom of Sikkim, there is a unique settlement that brings you face to face with small tea producers in Darjeeling. The area is marked by serenity, beauty, and a harmony between the nature and its inhabitants. At the heart of these villages in Darjeeling, the tea producers wait to welcome you.
On this tour, you will first discover the amazing city of Darjeeling and the diversity it offers, owing to its British history and Tibetan Buddhist culture. Then you'll head for the hills of the Mineral Spring where the tea producers await. Closely tied to their land, they live in perfect sync with nature and grow tea on plots of less than one hectare according to the principles of organic farming and agro ecology. You will visit their gardens where tea plants are grown amidst crops of orange, mango, ginger, cardamom, and pineapple.
The producers will share a part of their life with you wherein you'll get a rare chance to discover the richness of their culture and traditions. You'll share home-made meals with tea producers, visit the school of the village, spend a few nights in an eco-lodge, attend a tasting of teas, and learn about their work and their cooperative from up close.
This unique trip gives you an opportunity to know the source where the tea you consume everyday comes from. It also allows you to forge new relationships with small tea producers halfway across the world. A journey full of meaning and warmth, it combines relaxation and discovery, fun and authenticity, the discovery of tea and meetings with the men and women who grow it.
• Best times for harvest: mid March to mid June, mid September to end of November • Best times to visit: early March to late April, early October to mid November
A perfect holiday for...
Airport reception (usually in the evening). Transfer to the hotel and overnight stay.
You explore Delhi, where the splendour of the great Mughal Empire exists in tandem with the modernism of the new city. You visit Qutub Minar, the tallest minaret in India and a masterpiece of Mughal art. You go on subsequently to the north of the city to discover Old Delhi, the historical centre of the city and one of its oldest shopping areas. You can shop in and around Chandni Chowk. Wander into the spice market and revel in this uniquely animated place that stimulates all your senses. After lunch, you head out to the Shahpur Jat area, towards the south of the city; a visit to this friendly and fashionable neighbourhood is a must. You pause briefly for a tasting in a tea shop run by a family that has been in the tea trade for a long time. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel. The capital of India, founded on the site of seven historic cities, today consists of the old town and the new, two halves that make up a chaotic yet stimulating unit. The fortified citadel and the Red Fort remind you of the serene strength and elegance of the Mughal Empire. The lively Chandni Chowk, famous for its gold and silver merchants, Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, and the Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, are some of the interesting stops on a Delhi tour. New Delhi is a vibrant city with buildings with multiple floors, boulevards, fountains, and large parks. Some iconic stops include the Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, and Connaught Place, which is a true mirror of the capital and combines street vendors, silk window displays, cinemas and chic restaurants.
1.5 hour flight anDay 3 hours by road
Early departure to the airport and flight to Bagdogra. From here you leave the Himalayan piedmont to climb the high hills and meadows of the Himalayas. Taking the traditional route of tea trade, you ascend for more than two thousand meters to reach Darjeeling, a hill station established by the British in the nineteenth century. They were the ones who developed the most famous tea gardens of the world here. The name Darjeeling comes from the Tibetan word Dorje, literally meaning the mystical thunderbolt wielded by the Indian god Indra. Indra is believed to bring water to the land and is considered a symbol of fertility. Darjeeling was ceded by the King of Sikkim to the British East India Company in 1835. The British then built a resort here, dedicated to recuperation and recovery. It was in 1850 that the English realized what an exceptional climate the place offered for tea cultivation. They created large plantations that still produce some of the best teas in the world.
Morning departure for a ride to Ghoom aboard the mythical "Darjeeling Himalayan Railway" or Toy Train, a UNESCO world heritage site and you visit the monastery where Alexandra David-Neel once lived; back to Darjeeling, the city which used to be the summer residence of the viceroys of India when Calcutta was the capital. After lunch, you visit the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre and the Museum of the Himalayas. You will discover a stunning diversity and richness in the city, with its British colonial houses and Catholic churches standing alongside Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries. Darjeeling was for long the gateway to Tibet. Its people are mainly of Nepalese and Tibetan origin, giving it a unique character. You will also have time during the day to stop in one of the shops in the streets and enjoy freshly hand-picked spring tea or the famous Indian chai.
Early morning you watch a beautiful sunrise from the Tiger Hill (2600m) and take in a breathtaking panoramic view of the Himalayan chain dominated by the third highest peak in the world, Mount Katchenjunga, which rises up to 8597 m. After breakfast, you drive in a 4x4 to the Mineral Spring cooperative where tea producers await for your arrival. After a picnic lunch with them on site, you listen as they tell you about their hills and the land on which they live. They then tell you about their cooperative, its history, and its ecological and socio-economic system which have become a model in the region. You will then head to the Tathagata Farm eco-lodge. Located in the middle of villages and surrounded by nature all around, you will stay there for 2 nights. Navin, a small tea producer and member of the cooperative, will welcome you and will show you around on his farm. By late afternoon, you check into your bungalow. You will then participate in a workshop of momos, the traditional steamed dumplings that can be found in most Himalayan populations. Dinner and overnight stay at the eco-lodge. Tathagata Farm, literally meaning "Buddha's farm", is a peaceful haven submerged amid the lush hills. Rocked by the sound of the river and the song of exotic birds, the farm is fully integrated with the community of small producers of Mineral Spring. Navin cultivates tea, cardamom, ginger, oranges, and many other fruits and vegetables. He farms the land according to the principles of organic farming and the agro-ecological model of mixed farming. All meals are prepared only using the products of the farm and from those of neighboring villages. A unique experience, this sojourn offers you a return to nature along with the simple comfort needed for you to relax and rest (details of the conditions at the end of this document).
walk of about 2.5 hours during the day
This day will provide an opportunity to discover the world of tea and to share the lives of the producers. After an early breakfast at the farm, you will go to meet a small neighboring producer. You will meet his family, and he will show you around his crops, talk about his work in organic farming and the relationship the producers at Mineral Spring maintain with nature. You then walk towards the village school where you meet the teacher and visit various classes of the children of producers. Binita then welcomes you into her farm to have lunch prepared by her before your arrival. You will do well to get acquainted with this producer and mother, who speaks with simplicity and humility. She explains to you the beauty of women's role in the community, and the importance for them to live in harmony with nature and what fair trade brings them. You will then have time to relax under the trees and bushes in her garden, to behold the view of the hills of Darjeeling, or to stroll through the village. You will then meet another local producer before returning to the Tathagata Farm by walking through the tea gardens. Dinner and overnight stay at the eco-lodge.
1h30 + 3 / 4h Route
Breakfast at the eco-lodge. Morning departure for Darjeeling, where you will visit the oldest tea plantations of the region, created way back in 1854 - the Happy Valley Tea Estate. LocateDay 3 km away from Darjeeling, these plantations are at more than 2100 m altitude, placing them amongst the highest tea estates in the world. Here you'll get a glimpse of the tea cultivation method employed in large plantations, very different from the family farming in agro forestry practiced at Mineral Spring, which you have discovered in the previous few days. You will then visit the production facility and witness every stage in the manufacturing of tea. After lunch, you take the road to Gangtok, Sikkim. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
In the morning you visit the Rumtek Monastery, situated about an hour drive away from Gangtok. This magnificent monastery, the original building of which dates from the miDay 18th century, is the largest in Sikkim. It houses a community of monks and you can also attend the prayers. You return to Gangtok for a lunch in town, then visit the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Enchey monastery, which is not far away. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
3-4 hours by road + 11 hours by night train
You have your morning to enjoy one last tour of Gangtok, or to do some shopping. After lunch you drive to Siliguri where you board a night train to the mythical city of Calcutta, the former capital of British India. Overnight on the train.
You are welcomed to Calcutta at the station, from where you take a short walk to your hotel. After breakfast, you go sightseeing: classics like the Victoria Memorial, the Maidan and Fort William, and lesser known neighborhoods such as Kumartuli, where they make amazing statues of the goddess Durga, and Old China Town. You discover the dynamism of the city but also learn about the social and demographic challenges it faces. By late afternoon, you meet the person who will be your guide for the hours to follow. Thereon you go for a culinary discovery of the town, sampling delicious Bengali specialties as you explore the neighborhoods and individual communities. West Bengal is known for having raised many great Indian artists and intellectuals. This remains equally true today, and Calcutta is the first city that one associate with this intellectual effervescence. The city, which was the capital of British Raj until 1911, houses a significant Victorian architectural heritage, ancient temples, churches, and mosques.
2 hour flight
Departure from the hotel in the morning and transfer to Kolkata airport. Flight to Delhi. Reception at Delhi and transfer to hotel. The car will be available for city tours and shopping. You can also rest at the hotel. In the evening/night, transfer to the airport according to your flight schedules. End of our services.
Travel terms and conditions
Price does not include
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