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.