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DARJEELING & SIKKIM
Spiritual Core of the Eastern Himalayas

Saturday, 18 October – Friday, 31 October 2003
with

Lyle Lawson
  • Photograph the “Top of the World” at sunrise and at sunset! Katchenjunga, Kabru, Narsingh, Siniolchu and Pandin are only five of the massive peaks we should see. (Clouds permitting!)
  • Visit a working tea plantation
  • Have fun on (and take pictures of) Darjeeling’s famous “Toy Train”
  • Visit ancient (and colorful) Buddhist monasteries
  • Photograph local craftspeople at work: weavers, carvers, and painters
  • Be awed by the Himalayan vistas from Sikkim’s Pemayangtse Monastery and Tashi View
  • Photography instruction by a professional photographer who has traveled through (and photographed) India for more than 25 years
  • Maximum of 10 tour members ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to take great photographs
  • Travel by comfortable transport with ample room for you and your equipment
  • Knowledgeable local guide throughout the tour
  • Great value for money! All-inclusive: meals, tips, entrance fees, etc

Say the names: Darjeeling. Sikkim. And immediately, one’s mind resonates with visions of tea plants whirling gently around and down steep hillsides, roads with dizzying switchbacks, and remembrance of Raj-era colonials strolling down The Mall in Darjeeling’s late afternoon sunshine. To the ear comes the clarion brightness of temple bells and the discordant blare of thumpchens played by ancient Buddhist monks or a young acolyte just learning how to master this traditional long-stemmed horn. But above all, there is the ever-changing, always fascinating visage of perpetually snow-capped peaks jutting high into the atmosphere. They loom over, and dwarf all else, and the sight will take away your breath.


18 October (Sat): WELCOME TO INDIA!
Arrive Delhi late Saturday (or early on Sunday); be transferred to the Taj Mahal hotel for one night.


19-22 October (Sun/Wed):
DARJEELING – QUEEN OF THE HILL STATIONS


A morning flight takes us to Bagdogra, the “jumping off” point for Darjeeling; transferring to our local transport, we begin the climb from almost sea level to 6,935-foot-high Darjeeling. Once a hot-weather haven for members of the British Raj, the area still retains its cachet among vacationing Indians (and foreigners). Also known as the “City of Bells” for its numerous Buddhist monasteries and gompas, the view from Darjeeling is dominated by the towering shape of Mt. Katchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. We have three full days to enjoy this delightful aerie: sightseeing highlights include excursions to Observatory Point and Tiger Hill for great Himalayan vistas, visits to Ghoom and Bhutia Busty gompas, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Museum, a tea plantation, and the snow leopard breeding center. A special treat will be an excursion aboard the “Toy Train”, a smoke-belching picturesque relic of a more leisurely way of life. (Windamere or Mayfair hotel, 4 nights)


23 October (Thu):
INTO SIKKIM

Although Yellowstone Park-sized Sikkim became a state of India in 1975, it still retains its unique and independent characteristics. The thumb-shaped state is wedged between Tibet and China with West Bengal to the south; its geography ranges from lush, semi-tropical valleys that are home to more than 4,000 varieties of plants and 400 types of orchids to the greater Himalayan peaks, including Mt. Katchenjunga. (Pemayangtse,1 night)


24 October (Fri):
MONASTERIES & MOUNTAINS

At sunrise, the view from the ridge adjacent to Pemayangtse (Perfect Sublime Lotus) Monastery (alt. 6,775 feet) presents a panorama of stupendous beauty. In the foreground are rolling hills peppered with villages and terraced fields; behind them, forests, sometimes feathered by mist, stand sentinel, and rising behind these, a stretch of snow-capped Himalayan peaks. The monastery is one of Sikkim’s oldest and most important, its plain exterior in counterpoint to its ornately carved and decorated interior. Surrounded by fluttering prayer flags and hunter-green forests, Kjecheopari Lake is a picture postcard; Yuksom, a historic village, is where Sikkim’s earliest monastic sect was founded. (Yuksom, 1 night)


25 October (Sat):
OVER HILLS & THROUGH WOODS
A day with no preset sightseeing, we will enjoy a stop-when-we-see-a-great-photograph journey through small villages and farmsteads during our day-long drive to aptly-named Gangtok (Hilltop), Sikkim’s 8,125-foot high capital. (Norkhill Hotel, 4 nights)


26-28 October (Sun/Mon):
EXPLORING GANGTOK

Built along a ridge flanking the Ranipul River, the city’s scenery is spectacular with views of the entire Katchenjunga range available from many points. Gangtok is a fascinating place, including its busy Lall Market where local products and produce are sold. Other sightseeing includes visits to two orchid gardens, Enchey Gompa which has an interior covered with magnificent paintings, Tashi Viewpoint, the Institute of Tibetology (with its golden-tipped chorten), and the Tibetan Crafts Center where we will watch (and photograph) traditional Tibetan/Sikkimese crafts created. We’ll also make an excursion to Rumtek Monastery, the seat of the Gyala Karmanpa who is head of the Kagyu-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The main gompa will be of particular photographic interest: it was conceived and built in strict accordance with ancient Tibetan Buddhist design. Our excursion to Tsongo Lake takes us even higher into the Eastern Himalayas. Located at 14,000 feet, the drive to the lake is almost as good as the photography upon arrival: the road twists and turns, a different landscape at almost every turn. It should be an unforgettable day of photographic memories.


29 October (Wed):
RETURN TO SEA LEVEL!

Ending our sojourn in the mountains, we return to lower altitudes. But the photography isn’t yet over: there will be vistas and villages to “snap” during the day-long ride to Siliguri. (Sinclair’s Hotel, 1 night)


30 & 31 October (Thu/Fri):
HOMEWARD BOUND
Returning to Delhi by plane on Friday, we are transferred to the Taj Mahal Hotel where the balance of the day is at leisure. Late in the evening be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

TOUR COSTS
Darjeeling and Sikkim

Limited to 10 tour members
  • Land costs, per person, 14 nights: Delhi/Delhi, $4,140.00
  • Single supplement $792.00
  • Economy class airfare, Delhi/Bagdogra/Delhi: Not included in land costs
  • Estimated international APEX ticket to India: $1,200.00
    (Subject to change, terms and conditions).
  • Prices are based on a cash/check payment.
  • For Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, please add a service charge of 4% to the land costs.
  • If the minimum number of tour members, six, is not reached, a small group surcharge may be added to the land costs of the tour.
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