Darjeeling, Sikkim & the Singalila Ridge

16 days
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£2,249
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Moderate
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Trip code: 
TBS
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Walking & Trekking
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Classic trek from Darjeeling's tea hills, to the highest mountain range on Earth

Tucked away in a corner of the beautiful Indian Himalayan mountains are Sikkim and Darjeeling. In recent years Sikkim has become more accessible for those looking to explore its unique beauty.  Journey from the plains of India to Gantok, the capital of Sikkim and on to the delightful Martem village.  From here we travel through beautiful tea plantations to Darjeeling, with its colonial hill station and UNESCO World Heritage 'toy train'. Trekking up to and along the Singalila ridge, which divides India and Nepal, we move through thick forests of rhododendron and are rewarded with views of the great Himalayan peaks.  Kanchenjunga the third highest peak in the world dominates the horizon, and on a clear day we will see the majesty of Makalu, Lhotse and Everest. 

 

Highlights

  • Classic camping trek through rhododendron forests to the Singalila Ridge 
  • See four of the five highest peaks on Earth: Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu
  • Visit Rumtek and Ghoom Monasteries
  • Explore Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim
  • Drive through tea plantations and visit a tea estate
  • Stay in Martem, a traditional Sikkimese village
  • Sightseeing in Darjeeling with a chance to ride the ‘toy train
  • Visit Delhi and Calcutta

Key information

  • 7 nights hotels (all en suite), 1 night basic hotel/guest house, 1 night sleeper train and 5 nights full-service camping
  • 6 days point-to-point walking with full porterage, plus 1 day walk
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader and staff. Min age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 3660m, average 3,300m
  • Between 4 and 6 hours walking per day on average

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 10 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Sikkim & trekking permits

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request), excludes sleeper train
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

6 plus 1 day walk

Days of Walking & Trekking
Pace:

Between 4 and 6 hours walking per day on average

Terrain:

Some rough trails through forests

 

Day by day breakdown
Day 71.5km/1.0miles
Day 89.0km/5.6miles
Day 914.0km/8.7miles
Day 1013.0km/8.0miles
Day 1123.0km/14.3miles
Day 1214.0km/8.7miles
View of Kabru from Temi Tea Estate, India

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London

    Flights usually depart London in the evening.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Delhi

    The group flight will arrive into Delhi in the morning and we will transfer to our hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel during the day. You are free today to explore Delhi or rest after your flight; rooms may not be available until noon but it is often earlier than this. Your leader will do a trip briefing today and you will need 10 passport photographs for the various permits and check posts.

    Comfortable Hotel - Hotel Jaypee Siddharth (or similar)

  • Day 3

    Fly to Bagdogra; drive to Gangtok

    Transfer to the domestic airport terminal for the flight to Bagdogra. On arrival at Bagdogra, we join our vehicles and drive to Gangtok. The road soon leaves the plains behind and at Sevoke we cross the Teesta River and start to climb into the Doar Hills. At Rangpo we take a break as we enter Sikkim. Border formalities take time and you will need your passport and one photograph. Climbing further, we finally reach Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim set at an elevation of  1,680m. The drive will take about 5 hours (125km).

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Drive to Martem village visiting Rumtek Monastery en route(1,400 m)

    Gangtok is set amongst the hills and on a clear day we can see Kanchenjunga from the hotel. We have the morning for exploration. The Mall Road is the centre of Gangtok and the close by indoor vegetable market makes for an interesting wander. You can either explore Gangtok on your own or your leader will take you to see some of the sights. About an hour’s walk from the hotel on a quiet road there is the small Enchey monastery. Overlooking the whole town, Enchey was founded in 1840 by Lama Drubthob Karpo and was rebuilt in 1908 by the 10th Chogyal (king) of Sikkim. From the monastery you can walk back to town via the Flower Show, a small exhibition of orchids and other local flowers. There is a Handicraft Centre close by which is a government enterprise offering community training in traditional handicrafts such as carpet weaving and wood carving.

    After lunch we have an hour’s drive to Rumtek monastery. Founded in the mid 1700’s by the 12th Karmapa it fell into ruins. When the 16th Karmapa came from Tibet he rebuilt the monastery as the main seat in exile of the Karmapa sect. It is the largest monastery in Sikkim and contains a Golden Stupa with the remains of the 16th Karmapa. A half hours’ drive brings us to Martem, a scenic Himalayan village located in a quiet corner of East Sikkim.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Sightseeing in Martem

    We spend today in the pretty village of Martem which was known for producing butter and other dairy products (‘mar’ means butter and ‘tem’ means spread). The population of Martem is about 10,000 made up of the Bhutia and Nepali communities. In the morning we go for a hike around the village. We can visit the interesting Nyingma Institute, which provides education in higher Buddhist studies and philosophy to many monks. The Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism was the first Tibetan Buddhist sect founded in the 8th century. There is also another small monastery and a Krishna Mandir in the village. We return to our hotel for lunch and the afternoon is free.  

    Standard Hotel

    Distance covered: 6 km / 4 miles

    Activity (hours):  4-5 

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Drive to Darjeeling and visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

    Leaving Sikkim we drive on to Darjeeling. The road winds all the way to the Testa River, where we enter the state of West Bengal. It then weaves back up into the hills to Darjeeling.  We arrive by lunchtime and this afternoon we explore one of the most famous hill stations of the British Raj.  Originally belonging to the Chogyals (Kings) of Sikkim, then annexed by the Gurkhas, the British East India Company gained control of the region in the early 1800's and returned it to Sikkim rule.  Stumbling across Dorje Ling Monastery, situated on a quiet forested ridge, two British soldiers thought it would make a great location for a sanatorium and with the permission of the King of Sikkim a hill station was born. Today Darjeeling is a bustling town but the Mall still retains its Victorian era charm.  Our stay will include a visit to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute founded by Tenzing Norgay and where many of famous Sherpa climbers trained in mountaineering skills. There are interesting displays and photographs from some of the early Mount Everest climbs. 

    Today’s drive is 80km and will take approximately 4 hours. 

    Standard Hotel

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Ride the toy train; drive to Rimbik and trek to Manedara

    On a clear day its worth getting up early for the beautiful sunrise views of Kanchenjunga from the roof of our hotel. After breakfast we have a 40 minute ride on the famous Toy Train to Ghoom (Subject to running. See day 13 for another opportunity if not running today) The train chugs its way out of Darjeeling, stopping on the way to take on water and to allow passengers to photograph the famous Batasia Loop.  At Ghoom we meet our cars and drive for around 4 hours to Rimbik, the trailhead of our trek at 2,286m. We have a short (45 minute) gentle uphill walk through magnificent rhododendron forests (a blaze of reds in spring) to our camp at Manedara, where we spend our first night under canvas. As we approach the village we have stunning views of Kabru Dome and Kabru South peaks.

    Full-service camp (sleeping altitude 2,450m)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Trek through forest and villages to Gurdum (2,400m)

    Today we start our trek with an easy trail passing small houses and fields. It is about 2hrs gradual walk through beautiful forest to Shepi village. We then descend to the Gurdum Khola, which we cross by bridge and after a steep 1 hour climb to Gurdum village we will arrriv at our camp for the evening.  

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 2,400m)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Trek through forest ascending through Sandakhphu (3,636 m) to Chandu (3,570 m)

    A fairly tough but rewarding day as we finish our ascent to the Singalila Ridge. The trail climbs steeply in places until we emerge at a forest clearing. From here it undulates through rhododendron forest to the ridgetop at Sandakhphu (3,636m), the highest point of our trek. On a clear day the climb is well worth the effort as we are rewarded with a magnificent Himalayan panorama. The views from here are truly amazing – the towering slopes of Kanchenjunga lie ahead and Everest, Lhotse and Makalu now come into view in the distance. After lunch at Sandakhphu it is a gradual walk on a rough jeep track to our camp at Chandu.

    Full-Service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,570m)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Trekking along the Singalila Ridge to Sabargam taking in the stunning Himalayan views

     We are now on the Singalila Ridge, the border between Nepal and India which means at times we are walking in each country. This is a great day to enjoy the views. The trail undulates following the ridge through chestnut, oak and silver fir trees with commanding panoramic views of the Himalaya all day. Dwarf rhododendrons and primulas colour the landscape in spring. Tonight we have a spectacular wild camp at Sabargam. The views from here are sublime and we hope to see a magnificent sunset and sunrise over Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu and a whole host of other Himalayan peaks.  

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,536m)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Trek to the end of the Singalila Ridge at Phalut then descend to Samaden

    A full day trekking along an undulating trail to the end of the ridge at Phalut where we descend to Samaden. On a clear day we get breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga as we continue along the ridge. The Everest range is further away but Kanchenjunga rears up over us. Phalut is at 3,600m and just behind the lodge there is a viewpoint where we are surrounded by Himalayan giants. The trail down to Samaden is glorious and takes us through forests of oak, conifers, pine and rhododendrons, an explosion of colour in spring. We camp tonight in the village of Samaden (2,480m), a beautiful spot in a small settlement with excellent views.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 2,480m)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Trek through small settlements to Rimbik

    Our final trek winds through a collection of small settlements inhabited by Rais, Sherpas and Tamangs to Ramman, where terraced fields and villages dot the landscape. We descend along a jeep track to Sri khola for lunch after which we cross a suspension bridge and continue for another 2.5 hours along a road, passing through more villages en route to Rimbik (2,286m), a large Sherpa village set amongst the forest landscapes of the Singalila National Park. We stay in a small lodge with great views across the valley.

    Basic Hotel (sleeping altitude 2,286m)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Drive to Darjeeling, visiting a tea estate en route

    Today we drive back to Darjeeling  along a road that winds up and down ridges through picturesque landscape. En route we stop to visit a tea estate and learn how this most famous of drinks is grown and processed. We will arrive in Darjeeling mid afternoon and the rest of the day is free to further explore this historic hill station. Our hotel is close to the Mall, which is a great place to wander in the evening.

    Standard Hotel

     

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Morning to explore Darjeeling, drive to Siliguri, overnight train to Calcutta

    We have the morning to explore further. If we missed the ride on the famous Toy Train and Ghoom monastery, there is time this morning. In the afternoon we set off for the drive to Siliguri (2-3 hrs) where we board the overnight train to Calcutta (Kolkata). Train times in India change regularly, although it usually departs at around 8pm or 9pm.
    Overnight Sleeper Train

    Overnight Sleeper Train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Arrive Calcutta; free time to explore

    We arrive in Calcutta (Kolkata) in the early hours of the morning and have the day to explore this fascinating city. Once the capital of British India, Calcutta has had a turbulent past. It was central to the struggle for Indian independence and thousands of Bengalis refugees came here at the start of the 1900’s. It is a city of striking contrasts and the unusual sights, pungent smells and the cacophony of sounds of the country’s second largest city are an experience unique to India.

    If you would rather not navigate Calcutta alone, your leader can usually arrange a short (1/2hr) guided city tour for you (pay locally).
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Fly to London

    Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for London this morning for the daytime flight back to London; Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Extend Your Trip

Golden Triangle extension

Code: XBS

A visit to the incredible Taj Mahal and other great Moghul cities close to Delhi is an excellent way to begin or end a visit to Northern India. The five-day Golden Triangle extension can be booked before or after your main itinerary. The Taj Mahal in Agra was built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631, and is one of the most beautiful sights on earth. Close by is the imposing Red Fort of Akbar with its beautiful courtyards and palaces and let's not forget the deserted royal city of Fatehpur Sikri. The extension also visits the Pink City of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, which is one of the most attractive and colourful cities in India. The detailed itinerary can be found here

Essential Info

Visas

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. Visa information changes regularly for India; for the latest information on applying for a visa please follow this link: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/India-visa-information.pdf

It is best not to mention that your trip goes to Sikkim on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

If your flight arrives into Delhi Airport and you have an e-visa, please follow the overhead signs to the e-visa booth at the back of the immigration hall. You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth. Please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready. These details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions.

Please note that although we trek along the border between Nepal and India you only need to obtain an Indian visa - a Nepalese visa is NOT required for this tour. 

A permit is required to enter Sikkim. As per the current regulations, we can obtain this upon entry into Sikkim or in Darjeeling. Please bring 4 standard passport-sized photos with you.

Vaccinations

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 10 dinners are included.

You should allow around INR5000 (approx. £60/US$75) for the additional meals and drinks. Mineral water, soft and alcoholic drinks are not included and are widely available. Soft drinks are generally cheap, but beers can approach Western prices.

Whilst camping we have a cook and assistants who will prepare simple but plentiful nutritious food. Breakfasts will be porridge, cereals, eggs and toast with plenty of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Lunches will usually be a picnic lunch with soup, various kinds of local breads, cheese, eggs, tinned fish and meat and fruit where available. There will be afternoon tea and biscuits on arrival at camp followed later by dinner which is usually soup, a pasta, rice or potato based main course with fresh vegetables, followed by dessert, tea, coffee or hot chocolate. You will be provided with safe boiled drinking water whilst on trek.

Drinking Water

Staying hydrated is important when undertaking any physical activity. We strongly encourage you not to buy bottled water as this contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution in India 

During the trek the cooks will collect and boil drinking water from the mountain streams and fill up your water bottles for you, but you may need to collect water during the day and may wish to use your own water purification treatment as well.

We also suggest that you may like to bring a reusable bottle with a wide opening (Nalgene or similar) with you and use a SteriPEN to treat any non-boiled water. A SteriPEN is a handheld UV water purifier – small, lightweight and battery powered so easy to pack for a trek. It’s quick to use, far more effective than purification tablets, and the water is ready immediately. It’s fine to use a SteriPEN on non-boiled water so long as it isn’t cloudy or full of sediment (which is uncommon in these regions).

SteriPENs are widely stocked on Amazon, outdoor shops and other online retailers; look for the latest models but avoid USB charging ones. Models which take lithium batteries are best as they last longer, especially in cold conditions. Using a SteriPEN means you won’t leave behind a single plastic bottle – and you can keep it for future trips.

Weather

As Sikkim has a pretty wet climate, even by Himalayan standards, our departures are carefully timed to take advantage of the likely best weather conditions. Delhi will be hot in the daytime, especially on spring departures, and reasonably warm at night (cool on the October departure). Darjeeling and Gangtok will be warm during the day with cool to cold night time temperatures. Weather on trek will vary with the altitude, but will in general be comfortable for walking during the day (it can be really quite hot when the sun is out, particularly on the spring departure). At night on trek it can get very cold with temperatures down to as low as -5° Celsius. In late October please bring warm clothes for the evenings. Frost must be expected at night above about 3,000m on spring departures, and above about 2,000m on October departures.

Although the departures are timed to coincide when the weather is normally good, you should remember that in any mountain area the weather is never wholly predictable and you should be prepared and equipped to deal with any differences in weather beyond the conditions described above. The Singalila Ridge is quite exposed and strong wind and rain cannot be discounted at any time of year. You need to carry waterproof jacket and trousers and warm clothes for the evenings

Darjeeling, India

Darjeeling, India

Is this trip for you?

This is a Moderate (Activity Level 3) trek with 6 days fully supported point-to-point walking plus one day walk, with an average of 4-6 hours walking per day. The trek is on a full-service camping basis. Some previous experience of hill walking is recommended, although walks should be within the capabilities of those who lead a normal active life. The maximum sleeping altitude is 3,570 with a walking maximum altitude of 3,636m, with an average of 3,300m.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Walking hours stated within the itinerary are given as approximates only and will vary depending on the pace of your group. They include normal rest stops but not a longer lunch break. Driving times given are approximations of actual driving times and do not include stops for photos, lunch, toilets etc.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotel, Camping, Guest House & Sleeper Train

7 nights hotels, all en suite, 1 night basic hotel/guest house, 1 night sleeper train and 5 nights full-service camping

In Delhi we stay in a comfortable hotel; usually the Hotel Jaypee Sidtbsdharth, a 4-star hotel with a swimming pool, conveniently located close to the metro. 

We stay in standard hotels in Darjeeling, Gangtok, Martem, Pelling, and Calcutta (Kolkata); all rooms have en suite facilities. The hotel in Gangtok is usually the Netuk House Hotel, a traditional Sikkimese family house, now run as a small hotel with splendid food and traditional service. In Uttaray, the accommodation is a basic hotel/guest house. 

The trek itself is on a full-service camping basis, meaning that our camp staff will erect and dismantle the tents for you, cook, and do all of the camp chores for you. You need only carry your daypack. Most of the camping on this trek is wild camping. We stay in two-person tents which have enough room inside for your kitbags. Sleeping mats and sleeping bags are not provided – please see the packing section.

We also have a dining tent complete with table and folding chairs, and at least one toilet tent (usually two) for use during the evenings. No running water is available whilst camping. You will be camping close to a water source and the camp staff will provide bowls of warm water (to wash with) whilst trekking.

Overnight Train Journeys - The overnight train will be booked in 2-Tier or 3-Tier sleeper A/C. Although there are many excellent trains in India, the standard of seating and sleeping is not in line with European standards. All seats are pre-allocated at the time the tickets are issued, meaning that we are not able to guarantee the whole group are together on the train, your leader will manage this as best as possible and will always check on you during the journey. Indian trains are safe to travel on however we would recommend that you keep any valuables with you at all times. Snacks are often offered on board (at an additional cost) but you may wish to purchase your own food prior to the journey. Whilst some trains have western-style facilities, the majority of services are equipped with squat toilets. Please note trains sometimes get delayed for numerous reasons, which is obviously beyond our control, however, we endeavour to minimise the impact of these delays on the overall itinerary.

Should you wish to extend your stay, we can book additional nights for you either before the tour in Delhi, or after the tour in Calcutta - please enquire at the time of booking.

Single rooms and tents are available for a supplement: the price may depend on the season you are travelling. Please advise the sales team at the time of booking if you wish to add this to your booking and they will confirm the price for you. Please note this does not include the overnight sleeper train journey.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

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  • Darjeeling , Sikkim & the Singalila Ridge

    This trip is wonderfully varied with each day having something different to the last. The accommodation throughout is very comfortable especially if you love an adventure. There are highlights such as heritage and eco hotels and lodges , and full service camping with roomy tents . In March and the beginning of April the weather included sunny days in the cities of Delhi and Calcutta , contrasting with cold fresh nights on camp , with a hail shower . The hotel in Delhi has a pool and relaxation facilities , and for anyone arriving earlier , there is time for city tours to see the sights . The drives from the plains to the Himalayan hill stations revealed beautiful rivers , terraced tea plantations and habitations on high and steep slopes . We visited colorful Buddhist temples and the Unesco World Heritage site of the Toy Train at Darjeeling .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being woken at 0500 and being lead by Rajeev our leader , to the top of the ridge near the Kalijar campsite to see the sunrise lighting up Kachenjunga , the 3rd highest mountain in the World , and seeing the whole range of the Himalayan snow capped mountains in front of us , which included Mount Everest in the distance . Rajeev was tremendous in pointing out and naming each individual summit . The team took the trouble to ensure we even had cups of tea and had lots of time to savour the amazing view and take photographs.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rajeev was excellent in leading our group which had walkers with varied experience , and walking pace . He gave detailed information about the region , farming methods , his country and the mountain ranges , and answered our many questions . He is a very capable leader .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Come prepared to try out different food , and with fitness preparation for walking to summits on fairly steep slopes. Bring a camera too !

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think the highlights wee often the optional parts of the trip like walking to the summit of Singalila , and seeing the Everest range on a clear day so make the most of these . The 16 Zoe's , a cross between a Yak and a cow , were the fantastic animals that carried our camping gear for us , and the team of herdsman and cooks provided an amazing service during our camping trek .
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Melanie B

    Freezing but worth it

    Having completed the Annapurna circuit two years ago I was looking for more Himalayan trekking but somewhere different. The views of Kanchenjunga in the sunrise and sunset are breathtaking and (weather permitting) you see Everest too! An excellent trip with a good mix between trekking and cultural exploration

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking up at dawn, in a frost covered tent, before getting to see the sun rise on the mountains.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sonam was brilliant fun to be with. He took good acre of all of us and made sure that any backmarkers on the trek part were supported. He was kind and engaging and had a wicked sense of humour. He also brought the best cook ever to cook for us on the trek.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trek is less strenuous than Annapurna but it's still at altitude and the fitter you are the more you will enjoy it. It got really cold in the tents and the ground was harder than you think! I'd suggest getting the thickest, warmest inflatable mattress you can afford and making sure you pack good quality merino and a really decent sleeping bag.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bring earplugs if coming at Diwali. They like their fireworks loud.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Paul Bulstrode

    Superb from start to finish

    This was truly a wonderful 2 weeks. From Delhi to Calcutta, the ridge, the people and those others on the trek made this a trip to remember.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views of the Himalayas, walking along the ridge between India and Nepal and the great food we had to eat

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sonam was superb, full of knowledge and always smiling. A great character that made us laugh but lead the group well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In autumn (mid October) it was very cold on the mountain (at night). Be ready for it. Otherwise no issues, even on the train. Make sure you get up early for the best views of the mountains (although evenings were also great). Relax, forget the world and enjoy! When it says dont take photos, dont take photos (army check points on trek)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Even with the weak STG, it was still cheap there.
  • Reviewed May 2016
    John Mckenzie

    Sikkim and Singalina Ridge

    I'd never been trekking before, and in many ways I wasn't looking forward to this holiday much, but I absolutely loved it, especially the trekking. What really surprised me was the quality of the support from the pony men, guides, and especially the cook, or cooks. The quality of the food was very impressive even when it was being carried about a campsite in a hail storm. I would recommend this trip to everyone.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    When he second in charge leapt down a nearly perpendicular slope to retrieve my daysack which had fallen down and then snagged about fifteen feet below the edge.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I don't think Chouspel could have done a better job. He was constantly helpful and pleasant despite one or two awkward customers and the huge responsibilities lying on his shoulders. Top guy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take the waterproof trousers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Both the guides were the key to a successful trip. But the cooking was exceptional!
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Sara Harrop

    On top of the world

    A fantastic trip which left our group under India's spell and eager to return for more. This was despite disappointing weather. We experienced mega thunder storms, gales, a hail storm and far more than our fair share of mist and fog. The toilet tent blew down one night in a gale. It could have been a disaster, yet all of our group managed to leave with entirely positive impressions. This was down to a) One day of clear bright sunshine when all the mountains appeared as if by magic; b) a fantastic sense of camaraderie between group members, the guides, cooks and pony men, c) delicious food, d) friendly local people and a great introduction to the culture; e) lovely characterful hotels that felt palatial after sleeping in a cold, damp tent for a week. A lot of people seem to think a trip to India is as good as a crash diet - but not if you go on this trip! Anyone would have thought that the delicious, varied, piping hot and beautifully presented meals had been prepared in a plush kitchen rather than a windswept tent in the middle of nowhere! They even managed a perfectly iced birthday cake baked over a camping stove at 3500m. Exodus seems to have chosen the accommodation particularly well on this trip. The Himalayan Hotel in Kalimpong was a firm favourite, but the Netuk House in Gangtok was also gorgeous and the Sherpa Lodge in Rimbik at the end of the trek (described as basic in the trip notes) is a delightful place in flower filled gardens with comfy rooms with pretty quilts on the beds, en-suite bathrooms and real toilets. The Hilton could not have felt finer. The walking is not too difficult and the paths are good with plenty of interesting flowers and bird life even if you can't see the mountains. The altitude is not too bad. It's a good combination of feeling that you've done something without feeling too stretched and exhausted.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day the fog cleared and the mountains appeared. We saw Kanchenjunga and Makalu, Lhotse and Everest. Our campsite above Sandakphu was spectacular. At sunset, the clouds sank far below and a panorama of pink-tinged snow-capped mountains appeared all round. Team awestruck! We also loved our unscheduled visit to the beautiful village of Siri Khola when bad weather higher up forced us to head down. We ended up camping in one of the pony men's garden and visiting the cook's home. Everyone felt this was one of the highlights of the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rajeev is a rising star. He had to cope with some difficult climactic conditions and a lot of questions. He was very helpful towards a slightly slower walker in the group, thus ensuring that we all kept together and safe. The local guides were excellent too and Rajeev had a good relationship with them and with team of cooks and pony men, showing respect and sensitivity to them at all times.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to expect the unexpected and adapt. The hardships make the good times even better. Nights were long and cold in the tent so a good sleeping bag and lots of layers are essential. Filling a metal bottle with boiled water at night keeps you warm and provides you with safe frost-free drinking water the next day. Take plenty of hand sanitiser. A pack of cards is good for after dinner entertainment for in the mess tent as is a good repertoire of anecdotes and a sense of humour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    None of our group much liked Gangtok, though the hotel there was lovely and Rumtek monastery interesting. Gangtok was quite car-clogged, concrete covered and westernised. On the other hand, we loved Kalimpong. There's a colourful food market, interesting local shops, temples and monasteries, and it's a laid-back friendly sort of place with none of the hassle some people sometimes associate with India. To sum up: this trip was great value for money, perfect for people who like a good mixture of adventure and comfort and I feel as if I have made a load of really good friends.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Nicholas Hayhurst

    Star Trek

    A fabulous introduction to northern India with a great combination of trekking and sightseeing. The Trek was on good paths through delightful countryside along the border between Nepal and India; many of the trees were in blossom. We had amazing views of the Himalayan range from Sandakphu, the highest point of the trip, although visibility on other days was more limited. Supported by a fantastic team with the best chef in India - yummy! We stayed in a variety of interesting and lovely places throughout the trip with the Himalayan Hotel in Kalimpong being one of the highlights. The sleeper train was a great experience, and Calcutta was an exciting and interesting city in which to end the trip. A brilliant holiday with a lovely group of people - highly recommended

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Amazing views of the Himalayan massif, but also camping at and visiting the mountain village of Shri Khola.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rajeev was lovely; very helpful and patient, and sorting us all out. He quickly recognised our need for lots of tea stops! He made it all seem effortless.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We had severe overnight storms and needed all our warm gear on - would certainly recommend a good quality 4 season sleeping bag and good mat. Metal water bottles to use as hot water bottles were useful. The guidance says hand sanitizer is optional, but think it is probably essential for this trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Loved the trip but Gantok was a little disappointing - it is a very busy modern city. However the drive to it was interesting, and Calcutta exceeded expectation. Our experience on the trip was enhanced by the tourist guides for the part of the trip after the trek, and in Calcutta. Finally would like to applaud our excellent drivers, who negotiated the roads smoothly and carefully. This was our first trip to India but it wont be our last.
  • Reviewed May 2015
    Arran Ellis

    3 Amazing weeks in India \ Nepal

    3 weeks packed with so much to do and see. I have no idea how Exodus can make any profit from this trip. True value for money! In summary if you do the trip and the excursion it works out to be 3 holidays in 1. 1st week, the wonders of Delhi, Agra & Japur. Our driver Amir was brilliant and took us wherever we wanted. We also met 3 very knowledgeable guides who provided guidance while visiting the Taj Mahal, Agra, The Amber Fort and Japur. Our hotels during this part of the trip where excellent. The 2nd part of our trip was Darjeeling & the Singalila Ridge, where we met our new treking friends. The trek was led by Jospal & Suntos a local guide from Darjeeling. What these two did not know about the the mountains and local community was not worth knowing. We had some wet and windy weather but I always felt they had our best intrests in mind. We did get views of Kanchenjunga which was the icing on the cake for me. The tents we used where adiquate and the trek chef never let the side down and produced some of the nicest food I have ever tasted whilst on a trek not to mention a few restaurants I have visited. The days varied in length and variety. I was one of the youngest on the trek at 42 and found the undulating ridge fine. Our oldest member of the trek was 70 and like me plodded with the odd steep section slowing us down. If your relatively fit and healthy you'll be fine. No need to start running marathons to sign up. And certainly do not let age get in the way. The pace was always slow and steady to enjoy the views, banter, and rhododendrons. I chose to do this trip in April \ May to get the best advantage of catching the various colours of plant life. As it turned out it was by chance Budda's Birthday and a full moon during the trek, so whilst staying in small villages from time to time there was always some festivity happening. The 3rd and final part of our experience was what I would call the Jeep Rural Safari. We left Darjeeling after visiting the Mountaineering Intitute where climbers and sherpa's train to climb mountains such as Everest and lead treks and plumited down in altitude driving past massive tea plantations. Where we stopped and visited the tea pickers and farmers. Then onto Sikkim, different from the Darjeeling Region. More Westernised in my opinion, industrial along the river and lots of schools and universities. We stayed in Gangtok and visited a wonderful monestry and had some time to look around ourselves. The drive to Kalingpong took us back out Sikkim and back into the Dajeeling Region where we climed in our jeeps to see wonderful views of the local foothills of the Himilaya. We stayed at the Himalayan Hotel. The same hotel Malory, Irvine, Hillary and Tenzing stayed in prior to going to Everest. This was by far my favourite hotel of the whole trip! Ooozing with character and history. A wee drive to the train station then an overnight train to Calcutta, where we said goodbye to the jeeps and Santos. Calcutta was amazing! We had time to do a whistle stop tour of the city in time for some of us to go to a 20/20 Cricket match to see the Calcutta Night Riders v The Punjab Kings. Such an experience. The stadium was packed with 60-70,000 supporters. This was our last day, so we went to a rooftop restaurant which was a special place to say goodbye to our new friends before parting our ways and going home. I know this was to be a summary but there was too much to tell.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Kanchenjunga in all its splendor once the clouds moved on, on our final morning on the ridge. Magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jospal & Santos where truely amazing! Very very helpful, approachable, flexable. There English was better than mine! You want these guys on your trek!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare for some wet days depending on the time of year you go. Dont skimp on decent waterproofs. Some of the team had Poncho's which seemed to provide the best solution to staying dry. I went April \ May and a 3 season sleeping bag wearing thermals where fine. Drinking water whilst treking can get boreing. Take energy tablets or condensed juce pods to add to your bottles in the morning. Some of the team had metal bottles which proved useful at night to stick in you sleeping back as a makeshift hot water bottle. Bring an open mind and a sense of humour!!!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book today! You wont regret it!
  • Reviewed May 2015
    Michelle Madrigga

    Wonderful mix of nature and culture!

    I went on this trip in April/May 2015, which is the best time for viewing the rhododendrons but may not be the best time for views of the mountains. We were, however, lucky enough to get some great views of the mountains at the highest camp! The trek was not overly difficult or too strenuous but the first couple of days did have some rain so make sure to bring quick drying clothes and enough warm items to wear in the camps in the evenings as clothes may not dry before the next day. Trekking poles came in handy on some of the downhill sections but were not essential. The nights did get quite cool so a three season sleeping bag is ideal. The cook and camp staff were fantastic and always made sure there was plenty of food and hot beverages. I really enjoyed the hot juices at the end of the day's trek - a great way to warm up! The second half of the trip to Sikkim was equally excellent and the jeep rides were a great way to see the countryside. I did not think the time on the road was too long compared to other trips I have done. I think the longest day was about 4 or 5 hours. The jeep drivers were excellent and I never felt unsafe at any point, despite the rather narrow roads and signs of past landslides. Gangtok was a beautiful town, which was clean and quite green. The hotel was excellent and a welcome retreat after the trek. The overnight train from Siliguri to Calcutta was a pleasant experience, despite a bit of a fistfight in the section next to ours. I was not expecting much from Calcutta but was also pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness of the streets and friendliness of the people. Prior to the trip I did the Kashmir extension, which was a great way to adjust to the time zone and relax for a few days before the more hectic pace of the trip. The people were very friendly and Lake Dal was beautiful. The houseboat we stayed on was first rate and the guide and boat staff were fantastic. An amazing trip all around!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having 4 of the 5 tallest mountains revealed to us through the mist and fog at the last opportunity during the trek. Definitely a mood changer for the group after a few days of rain, cold and mist. Being pleasantly surprised with Gangtok and Calcutta. The friendliness of the people we encountered on the trip and the chance to learn more about the many different religions, regions and foods of northern India.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chosphel was excellent - always well organized and pleasant. The Nepal earthquake occurred during our trip and we even encountered a small aftershock in Darjeeling. Despite this, Chosphel ensured our trip ran smoothly and remained positive throughout. During the trek he arranged for us to spend one night in a lodge after a day of non-stop rain, which had made the planned campsite a muddy mess. Santos led us on the trek and he was always upbeat, positive and made sure the group was doing okay. He provided great local insight to the region. The cooks, pony boys and jeep drivers were all excellent and friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely bring a warm sleeping bag and plenty of rain gear as well as enough warm clothes to keep you comfortable at night. Also ensure to bring large plastic bags to seal your clothes and sleeping bag during the trek as, if there are heavy rains, stuff may get wet during the pony transport.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great trip and a wonderful introduction to India. I am already planning another trip!
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Barry Barry

    Darjeeling, Sikkim and Singalila Ridge

    This trip consisted of six days trekking and six days touring Sikkim and Northern India finishing in Calcutta and gave superb views of the Himalayan Range.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Undoubtadly, the most inspirational moment of the trek was to wake up and go out of the tent to see the Himalayan Range from Kanchenjunga and Everest and beyond a view that I will never forget. I was scheduled to do this trek in October 2013 but had a cycling accident in Lithuania on another Exodus trip and had to cancel at the last moment following a relapse. I am pleased that I cancelled that trek for they had bad weather throughout and the superb views which we enjoyed in October 2014 would have been missed. The area is not haevily visited so you do not have to deal with crowds of other trekkers and in fact we only saw about three other very small groups. This is an unspoiled area and if you want to see the Himalayas in their full glory then I can think of no better trek.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chospal was excellent. I had difficuly with the altitude but Chospal was always there to support me. He was an excellent leader and Exodus should be proud to have him as an employee.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Trek is graded as moderate whereas the next trip I did, India Grand Tour was graded moderate to challenging. I would suggest that the trek should be similarly graded as their are steep inclines at a high altitude. The nights can be very cold so a four season sleeping bag is a necessity.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is an excellent way to see some of the World's finest mountains and to experience the contrast of Sikkim with its strong Tibetan influences and Calcutta the teeming heart of India.
  • Singalila Ridge & Sikkim - A well organised trek and tour

    Amazing sunrises and sunsets. We were lucky to have good weather on trek. Tour drives were mostly pretty rough rutted post-monsoon mountain roads, but exciting, skillfully navigated by good drivers, and comfortable in large cars. Drives were often fairly long - but with tea breaks! Hotels: the hotel in Darjeeling was perhaps the least comfortable, the basic tea house at the end of the trek the most comfortable surprise, and the hotel in Gangtok the most beautiful and hospitable. Camping was very well supported. Camp meals were very good, varied and plentiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    On one misty morning, on the ridge, the sun cast our shadows as Brocken Spectres on the mist below, with Lohtse, Everest & Makalu beyond.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tour leader Dilip was excellent, keeping a watchful eye on folk, leading from the back marker position! Excellent skills organising varied transport, tea stops, support team and the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We travelled from Manchester, arrived early and had chance to grab a taxi at the hotel and explore Qutb minar, Humayun's tomb and Lodi Gardens (entertained by Grey Kites divebombing Picnics). Impressive and diverse islamic architecture at all three sites. Do go for good four seasons or arctic sleeping bag plus silk and fleece liners - the nights were cold in November. Would add to pack list - face masks for some sections of the drives & ear plugs for the Ghoom train (can be heard from 40 miles away) (or better still just skip the short train trip and travel in the cars).

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Trip Extension: If you would like to visit India’s Golden Triangleit is possible to extend your trip - this extension can be added before the main itinerary of this trip. For more details please refer to the Trip Notes or call our Sales team, who will be happy to assist you.

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