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Darjeeling & the Last Himalayan Kingdom

(Tour code: CDJ17)Explore vibrant India and mysterious Bhutan

On this incredible adventure packed with ancient traditions and treasures, we explore colourful Kolkata, before travelling in to the Himalayan foothills and onwards to Bhutan - the sole surviving Himalayan kingdom, shrouded in mystique, and steeped in history.

Tour Highlights
  • Kolkata
  • Dalhousie Square and the Victoria Memorial
  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
  • Tiger Hill and the Mountaineering Institute
  • Darjeeling tea plantation
  • Paro and the Tiger’s Nest
  • Thimpu, Bhutan’s capital
  • Punakha Dzong
What’s Included (Full details)
  • Standard Class Rail
    Heritage Rail Excursion
  • 3-5* Accommodation
    Breakfast Every Day
    Evening Meals
    13 Nights' Hotel Accommodation
    8 Lunches
  • Return Scheduled Flights
    Upgrades Available
    Transfer Flights

Itinerary & Map

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Departure Times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Flights
Days 1-3

London to Kolkata

We depart from London and fly via Mumbai to Kolkata, one of India's largest and most captivating cities. On arrival on Day 2 we transfer to the 5-Star Oberoi Grand Hotel for a three-night stay. After a leisurely morning on Day 3, we begin exploring this magnificent metropolis. We see the city's Jain temple, brightly painted with pastel colours and adorned with intricate carvings. We continue through the surrounding maze of backstreets, where locals can be seen painstakingly sculpting statues to sacrifice at the nearby temples. Later we take the circular railway train to Prinsep Ghat, providing a colourful insight into local life.

The Himalayan Foothills
Day 4

Kolkata to Siliguri

Early this morning we enjoy a real treat as we visit Kolkata's lively flower market, where the streets are transformed in an explosion of bright colours. Later we return to the hotel for breakfast. We then transfer to the station, where we visit the Heritage Rail Museum before joining our train for the journey to New Jalpaiguri. On arrival we transfer by coach to Siliguri in the foothills of the Himalayas, where we overnight.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Day 5

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Today we climb almost 7,000ft into the Himalaya as we enjoy an enthralling journey on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Loved and used by locals, the line is also UNESCO listed. We board the narrow-gauge train in the heart of the town; for a while the train runs directly through the noisy centre of the street before climbing into the verdant surrounding forest. Numerous vibrant plants and shades of green provide a backdrop as we wind our way around the mountainsides and continue our ascent. As we climb higher, there is a noticeable change not only in the climate, but also the culture as colourful Buddhist prayer flags hang across the streets like bunting. After pausing for lunch at a hill station, we rejoin the train and continue to Darjeeling. Pastel-painted houses are stacked almost on top of each other as we approach the town. Here we spend three nights at the Hotel Windamere.

Darjeeling Mountains
Day 6

Tiger Hill and Mountaineering Institute

We visit Tiger Hill viewpoint, where we watch the sunrise from behind Kanchenjunga, India's highest mountain. The peak changes colour with the sunlight, casting orange, red and pink hues on their surroundings. Later we travel on the steam-hauled Train to Ghum - the highest hill station in the area - and visit the town's Buddhist monastery. In the afternoon we visit Darjeeling's Mountaineering Institute, which is the final resting place of Tensing Norgay. We will also have the opportunity to see the Red Panda at Darjeeling Zoo.

Darjeeling tea plantation
Days 7-8

Darjeeling tea and Gorumara National Park

For centuries Darjeeling has been famed as a tea-growing centre, and today we visit one of the town's authentic tea plantations for a guided tour. We see the lush, sloping hillsides where the tea is grown, before enjoying a tasting in the town's charming bazaar. On Day 8 we travel back down through the mountains by coach. The route is incredibly scenic; we pass a series of crystal-clear waterways as they cut through soaring mountains on their rapid journey downwards. We arrive in Gorumara National Park, where on this afternoon's safari we hope to spot the rare one-horned rhino. We spend tonight at Hotel Sinclair in nearby Chalsa.

Thimphu
Day 9

To Bhutan

Today marks our crossing into Bhutan. Perhaps best known for its 'Happiness Index', Bhutan is largely undiscovered by the outside world. Set deep in the Himalaya, Bhutan is free from pollution; more than half the country is protected as a nature reserve and the fresh mountain air is apparent the moment we cross the border. We enjoy lunch in the town of Phuentsholing, and visit Kharbandi Gompa, a monastery surrounded by peaceful gardens of tropical plants. We then continue to Paro, where we spend two nights at the Tiger's Nest Resort.

The Dochula Pass
Days 10-11

The Tiger's Nest and Punakha

Today we take in one of Bhutan's most iconic landmarks by enjoying an optional climb to a viewpoint that looks over to the stunning Tiger's Nest monastery. We descend and enjoy lunch at a local farmhouse. Tonight we are treated to traditional Bhutanese entertainment.


On Day 11 we visit the mesmerising Rinpung Dzong, a fortress monastery and a fantastic example of Bhutanese architecture. We also visit the National Museum, housed in a former watchtower of Rinpung Dzong, before taking the drive through the alluring mountain route to Punakha, where we spend tonight. Our journey takes us over the winding Dochula Pass. At 10,000ft, the pass offers unrivalled panoramas of the Himalayas, as well as 108 temples scattered across the hillsides. Here we see the memorial to those who lost their lives in the Chinese conflicts.

Tiger's Nest Monastery, Paro
Days 12-13

Punakha Dzong and Thimpu

Today we visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple and monastery dedicated to the fertility rites of the tantric tradition. Later we enjoy a visit to the exceptional Punakha Dzong en-route to Thimpu, where we take an exploratory walk this evening. On Day 13 we enjoy a tour of Thimphu. Among the highlights we see are the majestic Memorial Stupa, built for the monarchy. We visit the Folk Heritage Museum. We then proceed to Buddha Point, where an enormous Golden Buddha stands proudly on a hillside. Our final visit is to Thimphu's mighty 17th century Dzong, a striking fortress.

Kolkata
Days 14-15

To Kolkata and London

Today we transfer to Paro for our flight to Kolkata, where we take a tour on arrival. We overnight at the Hotel. On Day 16 we fly to London.

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

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