With countless holy sites, glacial lakes, beautiful rivers, and monasteries and temples, Sikkim and West Bengal are two of India’s most compelling states in India. Largely unexplored by tourists, these regions offer a feast of scenic and spiritual splendours.  It is to these fascinating states that Somerset Tours & Travel now invite you to join us as we journey to explore this rich cultural heritage.

The tour departs from South Africa on 06 October 2023 and flies on  Emirates Airlines via Dubai to Kolkata, previously Calcutta, where we will spend three nights. Despite its undeserved reputation for misery, Kolkata is recognized as a vibrant cultural centre with gracious mansions, monuments, memorials, temples, markets and museums. A cruise on the Hooghly River to see the evening aarti at Belur Math and dinner with a Bengali family is included.

It’s a short flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra and from here it’s a beautiful drive to Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas. Darjeeling is a scenic hill station overlooking Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, and the highest in India. The town nestles in acres of tea plantations and boasts a cool climate all year round. Here we’ll visit Tiger Hill for early morning sunrise over the Himalayas, enjoy the Toy Train ride up to Ghoom and visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Everest Museum.

Next stop on the itinerary is the picturesque town of Pelling, unmistakably a tourist favourite. The views across to Kanchenjunga are quite spectacular. Blessed with an abundance of nature, Pelling is a piece of paradise for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. It’s a good base for exploring monasteries, temples and archaeological sites.

From here the itinerary continues to Gangtok, capital of Sikkim state. It’s a bustling, friendly hill station which rises over extensively terraced slopes. The city’s population includes Nepalese, Tibetans, Lepchas and Indians. The city is a fascinating place to spend a couple of nights; the winding side alleys hide some unexpected gems, and the main street (MG Marg) is pedestrianized and a pleasant place to stroll. Here we’ll  be visiting the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and the Enchey Monastery.

From Gangtok, we’ll be heading back to Bagdogra for our flight back to Kolkata where we will be spending our last night before our return flight home on 18 October, 2023.

Liz Cotton will be leading the tour and the group will be escorted by English-speaking local guides. Our itinerary is off-the-beaten track, comprehensive and covers the most interesting laces in the West Bengal and Sikkim provinces. There’s no other country quite like India, that will leave its mark so indelibly on your memory.

If you have any queries or would like to secure your reservation on this tour, please do not hesitate to contact Liz on +27 (0)21 786-2598 or cell +27 (0)83 357 4855 or email info@somersettours.co.za. Spaces are limited and reservations are strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.