This journey takes you through a Sikkim of old traditions, religion, local culture, and striking natural beauty. Sikkim has a lot to offer, from the charming village of Rumtek in East Sikkim which houses the largest Buddhist monastery of Sikkim to the idyllic village of Pastenga.
Route: Bagdogra - Rumtek - Pastenga - Khedi - Gangtok - Bagdogra
Activities: Herbal gardens, nature trekking, handicraft centre, tibetology, homestay, culture and heritage programs, cardamom trail.
Duration: 7 days
Bagdogra – Rumtek: Arrive in Bagdogra and drivea to a resort in Rumtek (4.5 hours).
Pastenga: We keep the first half of the day to explore Rumtek, especially its 16th century monastery, which is the home of the Karmapa. You will also get time explore the colorful bazaaars at Rumtek. We then drive to Pastangan (2.5 hours) to visit KEEP (Khedi Ecotourism and Eco Development Promotion), a community based organization. It is an organization focused on developing sustainable tourism in the villages. This organization manages all the homestays and also actively participates in generating health & environment awareness in the village. Besides they also conduct vocational training.
Khedi: We trek through lush green rainforest for about five hours to reach Khedi. But as you ascend up higher, the vegetation changes from thick conifers to Rhododendron Forests. Huge rock cliffs and caves are seen all along the way and birds are found in every creek. We camp in tents ( a dnining and toilet tent is provided).
Khedi: We explore Khedi's alpine pastures. From these pastures, the views of the snow clad mountain ranges are simply spectacular. There are two alpine lakes where during the winter months, migrating birds can be seen, especially ducks. The pastures are scenic and can be explored all day.
Pastanga: We trek back to Pastanga. As we tread back to the village, we come across other villages where you can stop for tea and observe the daily activities of the village. We take a different route and arrive late in the afternoon. In the evening there is a cultural program arranged by the villagers/homestay operators. The folk dance is performed by youth while the older people sing songs and play traditional instruments.
Gangtok: In the morning we drive to Gangtok to visit the Handicraft Center and Flower Show. [Best Season: March & April]. The eveneing can be spent interacting with locals or you can explore Gangtok by yourself.
Departure: We depart for Bagdogra (4.5 hours).
How your travel makes a difference to the local community & environment:
- We ensure that the benefits of your holidays reach the local people, starting with the the activities which are mostly owned, operated and managed by the local communities in locations that you visit. In Pastenga all activities are part of social development programs where tourism is used as a tool for providing sustainable sources of income. Our local partners consists of local community members, both female and male, who work with us through their home stays and cultural performances.
- The cultural activities in this holiday are promoted to ensure that it helps preserve the unique cultural tradition lively. In Pastenga for instance, the Nepali and Bhutia dancers perform their traditional folk songs which provides supplementary source of income for their family.
- Traveler's interest in these performances is an incentive for the young kids to also learn the traditional music and dance arts, ensuring that these cultural treasures are being kept lively.
- The Sikkimese people especially Lepchas and Bhutias are famous for their weaving and wood carving. Buying these souvenirs will not only give your family back home a special and exclusive presents but you also support the local craftsmen and their traditional handicraft technology.
- For instance, the visit to the Handicraft centre at Gangtok provides crafts(wo)men a source of income. They are mostly school drop outs who were rehabilitated through sustainable development programs.
- The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology we visit is promoting research on the religion, history, language, art and culture of the people of the Tibetan cultural area which includes Sikkim. The NIT's library holds one of the largest collections of Tibetan works in the world outside Tibet as well as a museum of Tibetan iconography and religious art. The library has published the Bulletin of Tibetology since 1964 and numerous books over the years. We ensure contributions towards funds that are used for renovation and maintenance of works and artifacts.
- During this impressive trip we often stay in homestays. This promotes village tourism and helps the local communities benefit fully from the economic opportunities of tourism. The concept of homestays was introduced in the rural areas of Sikkim with an aim to facilitate alternative source of income directly for the rural people in a sustainable way. The system of homestay brought in a very efficient way of sharing the income from tourism among several families. Depending on the number of visitors, the hosts have agreed upon a system where they circulate the guests amongst themselves so that everyone benefits out of tourism. This is a productive way of complementing rather than competing with each other!
- In Pastenga, the home stay providers are donating part of their income to a fund that supports the local children's educational infrastructure. This fund also supports capacity building programs like training in language, documentation and conservation for the community members are arranged.
Sikkim Trekking Trail
Khecheopalri Lake, which is considered to be a holy lake by both the Buddhists and the Hindus.
Into the heart of Mayel Lyang
In the local language, this journey literally means "into the heart of Paradise". One of the areas that this holiday takes you
In Search of the Red Panda
In this journey we take you along two trekking trails. The bamboo trail takes you to Khedi through the trail used by traders for centuries.