Day 1: Bagdogra to Darap Drive time: 5.5 hours
Pickup from Bagdogra airport and drive to Darap, a picturesque village 6 kilometers from Pelling . Darap is a hotbed of cultural diversity with Limboo, Bhutia, Gurung and Rai tribes coexisting in harmony. Gently sloped terraced fields with panoramic views of snow capped mountains welcome you to the village. It is an ideal place to experience the rural Sikkimese way of life. O/n at a homestay in Darap village
Day 2: Darap
Start our day with a traditional breakfast consisting of Fafar, a local millet flatbread and farm fresh vegetables. Post breakfast we go for a walk through the terraced village, skirting black cardamom fields, absorbing the routines of farm life here. We hike up to a local Limboo house in the village for lunch. Starting with Khodo, a tea made out of corn, main course will involve rice with various varieties of grown and foraged vegetables.
In the early evening we learn how to prepare Churpi,a local soft cheese,used in many of their dishes. The later half of the evening, we warm up around a fire and sip local millet beer, known asChang, out of traditional wooden casks called Tungba.Supper will involve a fermented spinach soup called Gundruk, followed by Churpiand other farm vegetables.
Day 3: Darap to Kewzing
After breakfast we bid farewell to our hosts. On the way we visitKhecheopalrilake, a sacred lake nestled in the hills. Considered to be of great reverence for both Buddhists and Hindus in these parts, it is believed to fulfil any wish asked by a devotee. From here we drive to Yuksom, the first capital of Sikkim, where the first Chogyal (holy King) was coroneted in 1642. We will visit the site and see the stone throne.
From Yuksom we drive on to Kewzing. For dinner we will have some special delicacies made out of pork: Gyari – a pork stew using local spices and Gyuma– a local sausage prepared out of Pork mince. O/n at a Homestay in Kewzing
Day 4: Kewzing
Kewzing which translates to ‘Land of Wheat Fields’ is a predominantly Bhutia village. With three monasteries belonging to different Buddhist sects,it the ideal place to experience the Buddhist way of life. The village boasts of the only Bon monastery in all of Sikkim.
For breakfast we will have Gyathuk, a local broth made of vegetables and handmade noodles, learn hands on how to prepare this broth with your hosts. After breakfast we set out to explore the village and the scenic fields where they grow a variety of vegetables and crops. We will learn how to prepare distilled alcohol out of corn. From here we trek uphill through a mixture of forest and open fields to the Bon monastery.
In the evening we learn to make Momos, or Tibetan dumplings. O/n at a Homestay in Kewzing
Day 5: Kewzing to Payong Drive time: 4 hours
Our scenic road via Temi tea garden takes us to the village of Payong. It is an ideal place to learn about organic farming with more than 80% of the families actively involved in farming. Sikkim Mandarin orchards are interspersed with soy fields, vegetable patches and what not. Understand the holistic farming culture of the people here.
After lunch we go for a walk around the village, acquainting ourselves with the landscape and culture of the place. Guides will help us understand the foraging culture of this region and we will get to harvest and cook with some of the wild edibles. O/n in homestays
Day 6: Payong
In the morning set out to the fields for assisting the farmers in their farm work . This hands on session will give us a deeper understanding of organic farming and its relationship with the environment .
For lunch we walk to the nearby village of Lingee, inhabited mainly by the Lepcha tribe. The Lepchas are believed to be the original inhabitants of Sikkim. Being animists they have a very close association with nature which in turn reflects in the tremendous diversity of their food. Over here we will have a traditional Lepcha lunch with a family.
In the evening we relax.
Day 7: Payong to Gangtok Drive time: 2 hours
Bid farewell to our hosts and drive to Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. On the way we visit the Rumtek monastery, the seat of the Karmapa. This grand monastery is the most important one of the Karmakagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
In the evening we will visit the fresh market in Gangtok to see the diversity of fresh vegetables and other items sold over there. O/n at Mintokling Guesthouse or similar
Day 8: Gangtok to Bagdogra Drive time: 5.5 hours
Drop to Bagdogra airport. Participants are advised to book flights leaving after 2 pm