Travelling from Darjeeling to Sikkim? On one crazy adventure, I ditched the bus and taxi, and hiked across the border through tea estates, forests and remote villages instead!
We impulsively decided to venture into the remote north-eastern Himalayas of India. At an organic tea farm an hour’s ride from Darjeeling, sipped the finest hand-rolled tea. Drank the local thomba brewed from fermented millets on chilly nights. Got a first hand perspective on the separatist Gorkhaland movement. And reminisced with the hill folk about the times gone by.
Then we hiked in the mountains, through dense forests, past charming hill villages, along tea estates that dotted the landscape, barefoot across the Rangeet River… to cross the border into Sikkim!
Behold, a visual journey of hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim:
STARTING THE WALK ALONG THE TEA ESTATES OF DARJEELING
organized by my hosts at Tathgata Farm. Carpets of green stretched into the horizon, as far as the eyes could see.
FOLLOWING TEA PLUCKERS AS THEY START THEIR DAY
plucking the finest tea in India with their nimble fingers.
PASSING BY CHARMING HILL VILLAGES ON THE HIKE FROM DARJEELING TO SIKKIM
precariously perched, and often isolated on hill slopes far from the nearest road. The adults and kids both walk long hours to work and school, on hill terrain that can tire any experienced walker.
BEING LED THROUGH NARROW, SIGNLESS PATHS
in the mountains by our local guide Dhuraj, who grew up in these mountains and knows them like the back of his hand.
SPOTTING A MAN SMUGGLING LOCAL BEER FROM SIKKIM
which isn’t permitted to be sold elsewhere in India. I would soon find out that the Sikkimese Hit Beer, made in Danny Denzongpa’s brewery, is possibly India’s finest beer. It’s a pity that his lobbying with the government isn’t as powerful as Vijay Mallya’s, so the rest of the country is deprived of such high quality (and cheap, at 60 rupees a bottle) beer.
PLEASURES OF THE WILD – A JUNGLE TATTOO
on my arm, textured from the leaves of a wild plant.
WALKING ALONG THE BAMBOO FOREST
our feet making music on fallen dried leaves and bamboo branches.
COOLING OFF IN THE RANGEET RIVER
four hours into the walk; the cool pure water a balm for my tired feet.
CROSSING THE SHALLOW RIVER BED BAREFOOT
from the base of one mountain to another, feeling the rocks, soft sands and cool water on our feet, and watching boys trying to catch fish with their bare hands!
THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF SIKKIM
after 5 hours of walking – the southern industrial village of Majhitar, which has more immigrant workers from Bihar than Sikkimese people, and more alcohol shops than I could have imagined.
A RICKETY SUSPENSION BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS DARJEELING TO SIKKIM
over the Rangeet River, with wooden planks on the base, some of which have already fallen off! It feels more like crossing into another country.
THE FIRST TASTE OF MOMOS AND THE LOCAL HIT BEER IN SIKKIM
which made the 5 hours of hiking totally worthwhile! The beer was downed before I could take a picture 😉
Would you ever hike from Darjeeling to Sikkim?
Get my latest article in your inbox!
I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.