Today, after a delectable breakfast, you will be collected for a scenic 4×4 nature drive through the Simbong Forest to the River Rung Dung, where you will cross the river over a small suspension bridge, into the Badamtam Forest. Here, you will disembark for a guided nature walk along a forest path, following the River Rungeet. Along the way, your naturalist will help identify the forest’s birds, butterflies, occasional animals and rich plant life. You will also have the opportunity to walk through a forest village.
After about an hour’s walk, you will reach the Manjitar Suspension Footbridge, leading across the River Rungeet, into the old royal kingdom of Sikkim. This spectacular structure was built by the British in 1902, after the original cane bridge was washed away by the floods of 1899. About 200 feet across, and at least 100 feet above the river, crossing this footbridge is an adventure in itself! A black and white photograph of the original cane bridge, which was taken some time during the last century by Robert Phillips, can be seen on the Glenburn Estate’s front veranda.
Once you have crossed the bridge into Sikkim, you will have the opportunity to explore the Manjitar Village, where you can stop for a cup of tea in one of the village “dhaabas” (tea shops), and visit the local Shiv Temple. There is a volleyball match that takes place every day at 16h30 between the local police force and the villagers. Spectators are welcomed with hot cups of tea and biscuits from the local tea shop.
Enjoy a picnic lunch before heading back along the path you came from. Alternatively, take the “river beach” route, which is slightly tougher and weather dependent.
After returning from your journey, you will be whisked away to a nearby tea factory for a guided tour that explains the process of tea production and culminates in a tea tasting session. Here, you can sip on the factory’s range of black, green, oolong and white teas, discovering the differences in aroma, flavour and appearance of tea.
Following your interpretive tea experience, you will have the opportunity to walk or drive through the tea fields with a guide from the factory. Interact with the Glenburn tea pickers and learn how to pluck the “two leaves and a bud” used to produce the perfect cup of tea. During winter, learn about the different types of pruning that is undertaken to increase the yield of the coming season. Enjoy the variety of birdlife, butterflies and flora that add to the diverse landscape that makes up a tea estate. Catch a crab, or pick some watercress from the numerous springs that filter through the fields. Refreshments will be provided at a suitable mid-way point.