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The North East of India is renowned for its hills, its dense forests and the resulting richness of its wildlife. This customised tour will take you to tea-plantations in the flood-plains & foothills of the Himalayas and the charming town of Darjeeling. You will also have a tryst with nature & wild-life in the Neora Valley National Park. The dense forests & rugged hills of Neora Valley combined, are one of the last tracts of virgin wilderness in the country, sustaining a unique ecosystem and a wide range of rare animals, including the exquisite Red Panda.
The Zurrantee Experience is a great opportunity for a unique insight into the lives of tea planters, and a chance to unwind in the homely yet extravagant environs of the estate's Bungalow. Food is served in colonial planter's style and prepared from vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices picked fresh from the mali bari (vegetable garden).
During the stay at Zurrantee you will explore the Dooars Valley, trek through the tea garden or photograph wild elephants while perched on a tree top machaan (platform built on a tree), take safaris in Garumara National Park, have picnic on the banks of the Chel river, visit a haat or colourful local market, enjoy a tribal cultural experience, and understand the fascinating process of tea making. From the bushes to the factory and into the teacup, you will find out what goes into making the perfect blend for the perfect cuppa.
Situated in the Kalimpong sub-division under Darjeeling district, Neora Valley National Park is one of the richest biological zones in the entire Northeast. The land of elegant Red Panda in the pristine undisturbed natural habitat with rugged inaccessible hilly terrain and rich diverse flora and fauna together make the park an important wilderness zone. The forest in Neora Valley has such a luxurious growth that even sunlight finds it difficult to touch the ground. Much of the park is still inaccessible making it an adventurous place for the nature lovers / trekkers who can take the challenge to explore the still-unknown terrain in the Kalimpong hills. You will be hosted at Neora Valley Jungle Camp - a small community-based conservation tourism project run by Help Tourism. This is more of a nature lover's/birder's camp, to support the nearest village community from Kolakham village, which is adjoining to the National Park and witnesses a fast degradation of the buffer area of the park.
All activities in the camp are supported by well-trained local people. The highlights of your Neora Valley Experience will be Birding Treks in National Park adjoining areas, Kirat Culture, Local Traditional Food, Village experience, Visit to Buddhist Monastery.
From Neora Valley Jungle Camp you will drive to Ghoom, World's highest Railway Station to take a ride in the heritage toy train for Darjeeling. DHR is a living example of one of the outstanding ingenious transportations and engineering fiats, and it is still functional and has retained most of its original features. DHR is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Ghoom you will take a short drive to Darjeeling - the most renowned British summer retreat of India in the Himalayas. Home of the late Tenzing Norgay, co-mountaineer of Sir Edmund Hillary, Darjeeling has since 1954 housed the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where he trained a generation of mountaineers. The earliest Everest expeditions started their journey from here.
Highlights of your Darjeeling Experience will be Heritage walks, Buddhist Cultural experience in Manjushree Centre of Tibetan Culture and History, visit to the Tiger Hill Ridge, visit to Darjeeling Himalayan Zoo- one of the finest centres for conservation of endangered Himalayan wildlife, and your stay at The Swiss Hotel- a quaint and charming small colonial style hotel with lot of characters, wonderful location and spectacular view of Mount Kanchenjunga.
Early morning from Darjeeling, drive through the Salamander highway, exploring the Himalayan Salamander habitat, tea gardens and pine forests, you arrive the Lake retreat of Darjeeling Hills, Mirik. The lake offers boating and an interesting visit to the Mirik Monastery.
On the last day, depart for the closest airport for onward journey.
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