Airport to Gangtok
Sikkim’s scenic beauty is known far and wide. Tourists love to visit the north-eastern state to explore its culture, climate and landscape. Our exploration begins in Gangtok. From the airport pick up transport is arranged by us at an extra cost. Most participants opt for the Roads & Journeys pick up and we will assume the same in your case. In case you do not want the Roads & Journeys pick up, you will have to make your own travel arrangements. The drive to the capital city of Gangtok from the airport takes approximately 4-5 hrs and it depends on traffic. The drive runs parallel the Teesta, Sikkim’s primary river. So you can expect to be in awe throughout your road journey. We check in to our beautiful boutique stay and freshen up. The rest of the day we have time to explore the sights and sounds of Gangtok.
Gangtok To Dzongu
Post breakfast, we will depart for Dzongu, North Sikkim. A declared natural reserve for the Lepcha, an indigenious group of people in Sikkim, Dzongu is bordered by the Teesta River in the south east and Kanchenjunga range of mountains in the west. Known for its natural beauty, you can be sure that you will be surrounded by bamboo shoot canopies, waterfalls and lush forests all around. It will take us approximately 3 hours to get there. En route you can stop by the Himalayan Zoological Park. This zoo is quite unique and the first of its kind in India where animals are kept in their natural habitats, almost. You will also get excellent views of the Kanchenjunga Range on a clear day. Enjoy a scenic walk inside the Park to view some indigenous species of animals in their natural habitat. Post lunch, we will check into the accommodation. Relax for a while and then embark upon some easy hikes around the property. We recommend a hike to the local monastery of Hee Gyathang, which is about a 30 minute walk one way. The monastery was built entirely by the Lepchas and every villager in Dzongu contributed to the cost of making it. It has narrowly survived two massive earthquakes. Another trip that we will make on this day is a short visit to one of the primary schools run by local Non Profit organisations. Mt. Pandim Pristine academy is one that we have supported over the years and they have been doing a commendable job of providing quality primary education in Dzongu.
Dzongu Local Explorations
Today will be an active day of exploration in Dzongu. We have the option of embarking on a few more extended walks that are easy and accessible as Dzongu roads are largely free of traffic. Visit a sulphur hot spring as we prepare a fresh meal at the site itself. If you are visiting in December or January, the climate will be quite cold during the day. So, a sulphur hot bath is quite welcome. The route to the location takes approximately 1 hour by vehicle as you will be driving down country roads. However, we recommend that you undertake part of the journey by car and hike the remaining way. This will be ideal as you can best experience the flora and fauna of the rich Kanchenjunga National Park.
Dzongu to Rabong
Post breakfast, we will depart for the southern province of Sikkim to ‘Rabong’. This is a beautiful Bhutia village with some amazing views of the eastern Himalayan range on a clear day. The travel time is approximately 4-5 hrs and it largely depends on the number of pit stops we make and the traffic enroute. If we have the time, we can drive to Rabong via the famous Temi Tea Garden.It is considered the best of its kind in India and around the world with the tea grown there in huge demand in the international market. We can also stop by in Namchi to visit the Mamley national geological monument. These two detours will be at an extra charge and you can take a call on this. Once you have checked into your accommodation, you can freshen up and relax. Post lunch, in the afternoon, we recommend a nice easy walk around the property which is great for a relaxing evening.
Rabong to Rinchenpong
Post breakfast, we will be driving out to the western province of Sikkim to Rinchenpong. This will be a great way to explore western Sikkim and its scenic mountain views while avoiding the major crowds at Pelling. The driving time to Rinchenpong is approximately 3 hrs, which includes pit stops along the way for refreshments. After checking in to the property and grabbing lunch, we recommend some nice easy walks near the property along various trails. You are most welcome to find a quiet spot of your own and enjoy the views from there. Near the town is also the site of a historical battle between the forces of the then Chogyal (King) of Sikkim and the invading British forces. The Lepcha tribesmen used a concoction of unidentified herbs to poison the only water source, a lake. As a result, more than half of the British forces were killed, which stopped the British invasion and resulted in an accord. The lake remains poisoned even to this day and is known as bikh-pokhri locally (poisoned lake). Arrive back to the accommodation and relax the night away.
Rinchenpong Local Explorations
A day trip to Pelling from Rinchenpong is nice if one has an extra day at Rinchenpong. Pelling is a small hill town in the district of West Sikkim and is nestled at an altitude of 2,150 m (7,200 feet). There are some popular places to visit here which can be a great to check off your Sikkim bucket list. This is a great way to explore some popular places in western Sikkim and stay away from the maddening crowds. However if you are in the mood to avoid these spots, we can still arrange for a day walks and hikes in Rinchenpong. This can be led by one of our locals who will take you to the old ‘Rigsum’ and ‘Rinchenpong’ monasteries, take a circular trail and lead back to the property by evening. If you are keen, we can try to arrange for a dry picnic on the trail itself too. However, if you choose to visit Pelling, then these are the attractions you will get to visit:
1) The Pemayangtse Monastery – A Buddhist monastery in Pemayangtse, near Pellin, is one of the oldest and premier monasteries of Sikkim. The monastery was built for “pure monks” (ta-tshang) meaning “monks of pure Tibetan lineage”, celibate and without any physical abnormality.
2) Rabdentse Ruins – A kilometre’s walk away from the Monastery, this archeological site is one of the best historical places in Sikkim and among the must visit Pelling Tourist Places. Founded in the year 1670 AD, Rabdentse was the second capital of the former kingdom of Sikkim. Later, the city was almost completely destroyed by the Nepalese Army in the 18th century and only the ruins of the palace and the chortens are seen here now. Today, Rabdentse has been declared a monument of national importance by Archaeological Survey of India and undertaking the restoration works.
3) The Sanga Choeling Monastery – Established in the 17th century, this is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. It can be accessed by walking a steep hilly track of 4 kms that goes through a forest area. Pilgrimage to Sanga Choeling Monastery is undertaken by many Buddhist devotees.
4) Kanchenjunga Falls – Set in the midst of the snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas, the waterfalls are a must visit on your trip to Pelling. These perennial falls are said to originate high up in the glaciers of Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world.
Rinchenpong to Airport
Post breakfast depart for the airport. We recommend an early start as it is a fairly long drive from western Sikkim and Bagdogra airport. It can also get quite crowded, so one should reach at least 2 hours prior to departure. We personally recommend taking an evening flight. We hope you had the time of your life and join us for another adventure soon.