On behalf of our group i would really like to thank you all for making our holiday a most memorable one. The memories of this holiday will always be imprinted in our mind. I also wanted to thank the cook ,porter and our Trip Master aka Iksha, for doing a fa bolus job. They were the reason why we enjoyed our holiday had delicious food, drank quality tongba. You guys are awesome and hope to see you all in our next trip to Uttarey.
Although if i had to give my sincere feedback than there are some things that could have been better,like the roadways, it was horrible we really had a tough time riding on our way to the camp, and the light system although i understand it was raining but it was very hard for us to eat things because the light was attracting plenty of insects. Other than that everything was perfect , the service was too good. All my friends really did enjoyed the Trip and we are planing to come next year also but not on the rainy season.
Lastly i wanted to tell that you guys are doing a fa bolus job of connecting people whit nature. This was exactly the kind of vacation we needed to rejuvenate. Once again Thank u so much to all of you for making the most memorable trip of our life.
Our tour to sikkim was pleasant and peaceful.we enjoyed the greenery over there.I personally liked the weather,greenery,waterfalls,cleanliness and the lovely colourful flowers.It was really a pleasure to be there.
Our first day in kaluk wasn't much impressive as we were dissapointed with few things which we expected them to have.We checked over the internet about each and every hotels before the trip and we saw many extra things written there like :wifi internet,helipad service,etc.So we even expected all the hotels to have fans/AC.Anyways that was taken care of later on.They tried to make up for that & even brought a fan for us.The food wasn't good in kaluk but there service was good.
Our stay in Uttarey was also good.Specially the monasteries over there looked awesome in that wonderful foggy weather.
Overall we liked Pelling the most.Their services was really good.In pelling what we liked the most was going in Chardham & Sai Mandir.
To end with I really appreciate the way we were welcomed.It made us feel very touchy.People over there are very cheerful.So it was a good experience being in Sikkim.Thank You for the lovely services.
Thanking You in Anticipation,
Dear UETDCS, Thank you for your hospitality. We had great time discovering the hills and its wilderness. Looking forward to another exciting trip like this thank you.
Sincerely, Joy Gurung.
Thank you so much for all your support and considerate help in planning our trip. We though you did a great job of communicating openly and honestly and felt your sincerity. We appreciated your concern for our satisfaction and that you truly wanted to do everything you could to make our trip a pleasure. I think that was the most important thing we got out of using your firm - you have excellent customer service!
As far as our trek went, we were prepared fine for the level of activity we wanted to do, but we saw many people that weren't and it could be dangerous for them to attempt a high altitude trek and not be prepared. Our team was very professional and courteous and we felt fortunate to have such good support. We liked Amit the guide, but a good guide needs to be well seasoned, know where he is going, how long it is, how difficult, etc. A professional guide should be familiar with all the mountains in the area and know their names, elevation etc. He should know the flowers and wildlife to expect in the area and be able to identify them or their tracks, scat,etc. Serious trekkers want to know about the natural surroundings. They want to know about alternate routes in the area, or mini-hikes to viewpoints, etc. to give some choices to the normal trek in case changes have to be made if the weather isn't cooperating.
Also, the written description of the trek should have more detail so the trekker knows on a daily basis what to expect. The write up you provided was OK but we relied on other websites and talking to people along the way to know what to expect. If you have never done the trek before it is easy to be anxious about what each day will be like. More info about elevation gain/decrease or how much you drop and rise, would be helpful. Even a short paragraph describing the pre-lunch and post-lunch terrain would give you a point of reference of what to expect along the way and how to pace yourself.
The food quality and quantity was exceptionally good. I did enjoy while trekking in Bhutan our guide carried a thermos of hot tea for us, which is so welcomed when trekking in bad weather all day. It is also a good backup in case you run out of water. I would also suggest keeping lunch more simple by making it in the morning and packing it in a thermal container to keep it warm, it seems a bit much to stop, wait and cook a full lunch each day. Or if you are going to make lunch on the spot a quick noodle soup with a little something is just fine.
We were actally happy to use the trekkers huts since we had so much snow and rain along the trek, it was almost terribly disappointing the night we arrived in Dzongri and they said it was all full and we would have to stay outside, luckily the other trekkers didn't make it and we got their room - maybe in bad weather the crew and trekkers should discuss this as an option early in the day and send someone ahead to reserve it.
Personally, we are the type of travelers that would have liked to upgrade to a nicer hotel. I think some trekkers don't want to pay more for a nicer hotel but the option would be nice. If you could include a link to the standard hotel and the upgrade hotel and let people decide for themselves based on the upcharge, that would be very helpful. I think we had the classiest/nicest trekking accommodatons out of everyone we met along the trek and for it to be first rate on the mountain it should also be first rate in town. A deluxe hotel will give trekkers the feeling of being treated special from beginning to end. I don't think the trekking accommodations could have been any better and the hotel should match.
I don't know how much you want to be a full-service tour organization but it would be really helpful to know ahead of time and understand what our options are for things to do in the area. If people know early enough in the planning stage, they may choose to extend their trip in the Sikkim area and do more, or choose to be there during certain times to take in cultural events, or go when the weather is ususally clear, or go when the rhododendrons are blooming, or go when it usually isn't so cold, etc. Please know I don't blame you for any of those things and probably wouldn't have changed anything anyway since we had to come the week we had available, but now that I know I would choose to come next time either later in the spring when the rhododendron are blossoming or later in the fall when the sky is usually clear and the chance of views is greater.
I'm not sure if there would be an easy way to improve the pre-trip planning but personally I would have liked the opportunity to talk more with you in the early stages. Maybe more casual emails back and forth in the beginning which talk about what kind of experience the trekker is looking for and what the seasonal options are. I think it must be hard to tell clients that they may be planning to go too early in the season, or that we never know what the weather will bring us (and risk losing the business?). But perhaps it would be helpful to warn the prospective trekker of how extreme the weather can be and that they will have a better chance of being successful if they are fully prepared with the right gear. I don't think you should be responsible for personal gear like rain coats, sleeping bags, etc. and that trekkers need to be able to keep themselves warm and dry.
It might be helpful to setup a Skype date to meet with prospective clients and talk a bit and get to know each other a little in the beginning of the process. I had no idea how educated you are and well trained in moutaineering and good in English! If I had known I probably would have asked you more questions about the trek we wanted to do and other possibilities, etc. And it would have been nice just to have the chance to talk with you beforehand about what we were planning and maybe give us ideas of things to think about.
As for the cultural touring we independently organized the five days prior, the driver/car service Uttarey provided was adequate. Although, next time I would like a driver that communicated a bit more or new better English or could share more about the area that we were visiting. The car was comfortable except as we mentioned the tires were bald and not safe. At one point we could not make it up a hill and were sliding backwards. The car needs to be safe with decent tires and good brakes and good suspension :) Having a driver that can give tour information would be a bonus!
OK, I gave you a lot of information and don't want you to be offended in any way because overall we think you did a great job. As you requested, we tried to give you all the honest feedback we could think of. We will always remember you and the wonderful services you provided and hope to use your services again some day soon! And yes, we would highly recommend you to our friends!!!
I know this is a bit of a hassle for you but we were not able to share any photos with you or Amit or Touley, my SIM card expired in my phone before I had a chance to send and receive photos. I know Iak was hoping to get some pictures of the the morning they went to Goechala, Amit took photos and Iak couldn't because his battery froze, so he's depending on Amit's photos to document the trip to Goechala! Can you ask Amit if he can send you a few of the Goechala photos for you to send to us? And can you ask Touley if there is a way we can send him a few photos? I thought maybe one of Touley's kids might use email and we could write and send photos through his kids? Or, I can print a few photos of the trip and send them to his house if I get his address. Meanwhile, I am organizing our photos soon and plan to send you some so you have record of our great trek too and our fun time together on the last night!
Thank you for everything, please keep in touch,
At the behest let me thank you and your team and all the members of sikkimuttarey who had systematically planned our tour programme in such a way that we had utilized every minute for our seven days stay in your beautiful state.
From day one we did not feel that we were in midst of strangers but in host of friendly and cordial host who saw to it that none of our 7 people team members be unattended. At the home stay it was as though we were with our relatives who saw to it that all our requirement was fulfilled. From welcome drink to tea coffee, snacks, lunch, dinner were so promptly arranged as if we were at home.
Our tour was safe and steady with no hassle due to you Iksha and the noble driver Mr. Umesh who did not let us feel the fatigue for the long drive.
Thank you very much Iksha and your team who have made our tour splendid. We foresee to meet you in days to come
TRAVELOGUE – A Trip to Uttarey, an encounter with nature.
Even one week after our return from Uttarey, the different shades of lush greenery keep lingering in my senses. The journey through the winding mountains, the walk amongst the clouds, the delicious food that had been served, the warmth of the homestay, all keep coming entwined in my dreamy afterthoughts.
Uttarey, is a small hill town, a little larger than a village in West Sikkim, about 56 kilometers from Jorethang, and about 138 km from Siliguri, the nearest Railhead and Airport. Our Journey started from Howrah, Station, one of the biggest railway station in Kolkata. We took the Howrah – New Jalpaiguri AC express, which runs every Tuesday and starts from Howrah at about 23:00 Hrs. The train is not a comfortable one, but reaches New Jalpaiguri (Called NJP by travelers) on time. Suggest travelers avail other trains, which are in abandon, starting from Howrah or Sealdah. One may also choose to fly to NJP, the airport named as Bagdogra (IXB). From Bagdogra or NJP, you may hire direct jeeps and start for Uttarey, or you may choose like us if you want to have a local taste and travel with the locals in the local way. In that case, you will have to hire a cycle rickshaw, or an Auto rickshaw and come to the Sikkim National Tourism Bus stand, locally known as SNT. You have to book a Trekker ticket to Jorethang. The trekkers available here are a bit more spacious, but you will have to wait till the entire jeep is filled up, which may take up to one hour. There is another trekker stand, near Payel Cinema Hall for trekkers to Jorethang specifically. The trekkers here leave more frequently, but are a bit crammed. In any case, the Journey to Jorethang will take you about four hours as the road is broken in most parts and the Sikkim Government has undertaken a huge upgrade work. So, be ready for unscheduled stoppages.
The Journey may be bumpy, but the views through the windows and the cool that increased with height, compensated for all the hard work that we encountered. As soon we left the city of Siliguri, the second biggest city of West Bengal, the Mahananda reserve forest engulfed us with all its greenery. Once we crossed the river Teesta, our vehicle started its upward ascent alongside the river, with all its white waters and windings, beside us, till Teesta Bazar. After we crossed over to Sikkim from West Bengal at Melli, we saw the Teesta meeting the river Rangit and thereafter Rangit assisted us till Soprong near Uttarey. We crossed innumerable rivers, rivulets, waterfalls along with many known and unknown flowers of versatile shades of the nature on our way.
Once we reached Jorethang, the trade hub and head quarter of West Sikkim district, by the river Rangit, a jeep was waiting for us, arranged by my friend and contact in Uttarey, Mr. Iksha Hung Subba. Iksha is an Eco Tourism Activist, and can be approached in his mobile number, 8372837455. Our entire tour was planned and executed by him and let me provide my feedback in the first instance – impeccable and mesmerizing.
Two experiences will be worth mentioning in our journey. Firstly, the accommodating nature of the Hill people was quite eye-pleasing. Howsoever crammed the trekker looked; there was always space for one more person to squeeze into. It was not the driver insisting it, but the passengers adjusting it. Secondly, all regular vehicles in the mountain act as couriers irrespective of whether the giver or taker of the goods boards the vehicle or not. Materials ranged from letters to milk, from mobile phones to goats. The driver would be happy to accept and deliver. The road ahead of Jorethang is steep and narrow. The cloud engulfed us completely and it began to drizzle. It made the green environ enliven up. By the time we reached Uttarey, it was dark all through.
Iksha arranged for a Home-Stay for us in Uttarey. The owner, we called him Daiju, Elder brother in Nepali, came to the jeep stand to usher us to his home. A picturesque home landscaped out of a hill slope housed this Buddhist family of six.
Our stay was arranged in their guest room, complete with two clean beds and cozy blankets. Hot running water was available in the clean toilet and bathroom. Outside the porch had the kitchen on one side, the owner’s room on the other with the last side open to a spectacular view of the valley and the slopes serving as the cardamom plantation for the owner. The owner also has food crop field for cultivating his food requirements and a shed housing his cows, goats and pigs. Our hostess, fondly called Didi hereafter, greeted us with a steaming cup of tea made up of best Darjeeling tea brewed in fresh cow milk. Iksha arrived to meet us with the tour guide Mr. Thulley who explained to us our next two days of the trek and camping. Outside it was raining in torrents. The corrugated roofs of the kitchen were reverberating the lashing sounds. Our discussion and planning went ahead with cups of tea and local snacks made of dried peas. Iksha and Thulley assured us of good adventure the next day. We had our dinner consisting of Dal, Rice, three different vegetables, pickle, salad and papad. It was fulfilling after the day long travel and frugal eating. The fatigue, the satisfying dinner and the mountain cool all led us to sleep like logs thereafter.
The next day was Sunny and we, as usual, got up early and were stunned to see the Sun rise, from our room, while still under our blankets. We got ourselves ready within an hour and had our breakfast consisting of chapattis and potato curry, Omelets from the domestic hen topped with the never ending cup of tea as usual. Since we had some time, we took our cameras and ventured out. The crisp weather outside and heavenly chant coming from somewhere up pulled us to a spectacular monastery at the top of a hill. The tranquil inside the monastery and blooms of flowers on the trail was balm to our city dwelling eyes.
All our team members appeared on time and we started at about 8:30 AM in the morning for our much coveted trek to Achaley Dara. Thulley and his team of three more young guys from the local village carried our food and shelter. We started our uphill trek through the grassy pastures and the villages. As soon as we parted with the village our roads became steeper and trek was arduous. Nature however kept its award ready in the form of refreshments with sweet and sour wild strawberries dotting ripe along our way up. We had our fill.
The road, well, there was none, and we had to make it, was arduous, steeply uphill and with the rains the last night, was full of sludgy mix of Himalayan silt and jungle humus. It was slippery and risky and with the eerie feeling of being alone in such a vast expanse of green forest of multiple shades added to the adventure of trekking. Worth mentioning here is the assistance of our Guide, Thulley, who, for not even a second kept us off his eyes and yet, provided the much needed privacy of us being together. We were the lover birds lost in the jungle, awakened by the bird tweets and cricket humming of live green surroundings pouncing upon us in all its grandeur. At about 11:30 we reached a clearing and our guide announced lunch for us. We were astonished to see a table and a stool set beneath a cozy tree for our lunch. Asked why the stools arranged, one of our team member said that there may be leeches in the moist ground and so this arrangement. Our lunch was elaborate, with fruit juices, sabzi, puri, a banana and a chocolate bar as desert. It concluded with a steaming hot cup of tea. While were having our lunch a big mast of cloud engulfed us and shaded the Sun away. It was a nice experience having a lunch among the clouds.
After our lunch we started our uphill trek, and this time through a denser jungle. Apart from our guide, the other members of our team crossed us with their load and overtook us up the hill. We later understood that each time they crossed us, was for our betterment and they arranged our comfort before we reached the location. The trek was harder this time, with more slippages and tiring climb. But before we could say that we are completely exhausted, we reached the Achhaley Dara top, which is a small clearing of about 2000 square feet, with Rhododendron forest surrounding it. By the time we reached the top at about 2:30 PM, it started drizzling and there were no good views to be seen. However, we were overjoyed to see our colourful tent. In the far side of the camp ground was our kitchen tent, the most colourful one. All our team members, the guide, porter, cook went inside it and were preparing our next cuisine. We were overwhelmed, however, to see a toilet tent in the far end of the ground, complete with toilet paper and water, with a temporary commode curved out of the ground.
We were a bit gloomy looking into the weather, but for an adventure trek, the view is not all for which you travel. It is for the experience, the lapping of nature for which you travel. However, our gloom was adequately wiped away when we were greeted with hot brinjal and onion pakoras as an accompaniment to our evening cup of coffee. Soon after the coffee, the Sun began to set and the chill increased and we put on our warm clothes.
Shortly after dinner was ready, and boy was it lavish. What more can you expect at an altitude of 3000 meters above the ground. It began with a mulligatawny soup and papad, and then came the main course of Rice, dal, French fries, bean and tomato vegetable, Salad, Chicken Curry, and a desert of apple and chocolate.
The team saw us back to the tent with a hot sip of black coffee before bed. We had some camp games between the two of us before calling it a day after the tough trek. The night outside was moon lit and full of the sounds of the jungle. Our guides said that this place was perfectly safe. We slept like babies in the lap of nature. We were awakened in the middle of the night by a sudden unknown thud near our tent. I chained my tent down and peeped out to see two pair of glaring eyes looking at our tent. My heart ran amok when the cloud covering the moon cleared and we could see two perfectly healthy yaks, the mountain wild cows eating their dinner of grass from the camp grounds. The mere size of the yaks will take the breath out of my lungs and I shouted for Thulley. He came and
We woke up the next morning with a shadowy weather with a little view of the Sun and a majestic view of the Kanchendzonga, popularly known as “The sleeping Buddha”. This is the third highest peak of the World and highest in India. We were completely awestruck and was brought to the Earth with the call for breakfast. Can you expect a full course continental breakfast complete with rice porridge, bread and jam, Egg omelets, banana and apple at such an altitude? We got them all. We could not think more. I being and ardent trekker, always relied on simple foods like maggi and khichri, but this was beyond expectation.
We liked this more as we were enjoying the camping without any hassles of the camping like tent pitching, packing and unpacking. We started our downward descent at about 9:30 and it was a tougher one than the ascent. The rain, and sludge had made the trails nearly unnavigable. Added to that were the leeches, ready to suck your blood. Don’t remember now how many time we pulled them out of our body. But, we are still living and adventure is something which gives Goosebumps while thinking later on. I suffered three falls and completely soaked my woodland in mud and leeches. We arrived at our lunch spot and saw the lunch was ready. By the time we washed ourselves in the village rapid, a little stream tapped from a faraway waterfall, Egg Curry, Fried Rice and salad was served in our usual table. The surrounding of wild roses and peaches made our romantic lunch on the wilderness.
We ended our trek down through a Sherpa village, a picturesque village of log huts, little cultivation fields and pastures. On our way down, we saw a few tourist destinations of Uttarey. The tensing Hillary park and the Frog lakes were worth mentioning. We reached our homestay destination by about 3 PM and were greeted by a tea by the Daiju. Didi, Daiju’s wife, was out to their little cloth shop in Uttarey jeep stand. We immediately refreshed ourselves and got ourselves ready for a little stroll through the Uttarey town.
You will find a few noteworthy places in Uttarey, like the Titanic House, the giant lake, the lazy walkways designed by the lake and the many little drink shops. You can take a little rum or brandy or Whiskey just like a little tea in the shops. We visited didi’s cloth shop and spent a few moments. Collected a few items as memory and collected a few flora specimens for our garden at home. Such type of tourism helps us all. We did not create any waste all through our tour, we gained in our experience, the locals gained a sustainable livelihood and all this done without creating any bio waste.
We returned to our homestay up above with Didi accompanying us back. We prepared for our camp fire. A fire lit in the unique ambience of the cozy kitchen in the home. The matriarch, a 76 year old lady and the owner of the house, prepared wonderful Chhang, a local rice beer, for us. We sipped our Chhang with coriander pakoras and mint chutney. Our final dinner was a gala affair in Uttarey context. We ate fish curry, Rice, Daal, many vegetable cook out of the farm. The final desert was a warm cup of freshly collected milk.
Sleep, we earned it for the last three days and it never left us when in bed. The morning next was sad for us, and when the Father of Daiju expressed his gratitude upon us in their customary way, we felt that we belonged to this family. We had to depart and our car collected us in time at 7:20 AM from Uttarey Jeep stand. Our way back was a same affair like coming up. We spent a little time at Siliguri for Lunch and a rickshaw ride across the city. At about 3:30 we proceeded to New Jalpaiguri station for our train back to Kolkata. The memories are still afresh and I am sure they will remain the same for times to come.
We reached home safely and on time yesterday morning. Thank you for a great tour. I should appreciate your and other persons professionalism regarding everything (From Transportation to everything including guide, food, accommodation etc.). A special thanks to Mr. Kamal our cook cum care taker at the hotel for his soberness, "always smiling face". Without him our tour may ended up into a 'cold vacation' one. I should mention about our guides for the treks. They are really friendly and helpful. Also thanks to our driver ,Yogi Bhai'; with out him we can not reach our destinations safely and timely. Lastly you and Mr. Ganesh Rai..just fantastic and careful about the guests. Your mannerism and professionalism just amazed me. A special thanks to 'Mr. Managers' delightful dishes (Particularly the salad with cheese and radish).
Lastly, I would say we had a great warm trip which we will cherish very long.