Indian Himalayas village homestay holiday

“An immersive two weeks in an Indian village, staying in homestays, discovering local life through a range of activities and trekking, too.”


Bagdogra | Kalimpong | Samthar village | stay in various homestays around the village | school visit | guided treks | get involved in village life | explore lower Samthar valley | trek to Teesta Valley Dam and Barmoik Village in West Sikkim | huge range of optional activities: visit craftspeople, learn Indian cooking, sewing, bee keeping, making chang

Description of Indian Himalayas village homestay holiday

This Indian Himalayas village homestay holiday is your opportunity to live amongst local people, learning about village life, mucking in and picking up new skills, and exploring on foot, with day treks and guided hikes into the spectacular landscapes around.

Your base will be the village of Samthar, in the fertile midranges of the Himalaya mountains. The dramatic peaks rise up beyond the village and the Samthar Khola river flows in the valley bottom below. The village covers around 12km, with homes dotted throughout this area and farmland in between. The people living here are from various ethnic groups: Lepchas, Sherpas and Nepali. Each group has its own cultural identity, but everybody uses Nepali as a common language.

You will fly into Bagdogra, in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal and we will then take you to Samthar village – a beautiful drive through the Himalayan foothills, river valleys and forests. Your first dinner is hosted by General Jimmy Singh, who knows this region intimately, and the next day we’ll take you to your homestay hosts and help you settle in. From then, your stay is flexible, and General Jimmy Singh will be on hand to help you communicate with your host families and decide what you’d like to do each day.

You will stay in several family homestays around the village, for a full overview of life here. Each one has friendly hosts and is often the homes of families that span many generations. Homestays have modern facilities for guests and many have ensuite rooms. Some properties also have mountain views and all sit amongst farmland and village scenery.

There are lots of activities to enjoy in the village, depending on where you stay, including walks to meet the people who live there, and to learn more about their lifestyles and beliefs. You can also help your host family with cooking, trek with guides and go fishing. Be sure to get up in time to see the sun rise over the Khangchenganga group of peaks and the passes that lead into Tibet, too. You can drop in on village artisans and see them working with traditional skills, including blacksmithing and basket making. Learn various food production processes, from how to extract mustard oil using a traditional press to grinding corn using stone grinder. See how villagers keep bees and prepare the local drink, chang. Visit the village tailor for some made to measure clothes and help out with everyday chores such as sowing, harvesting and gathering firewood.

This holiday is suitable for families with children who are happy about experiencing a non western environment and eating Indian food. There are certainly lots of potential playmates on hand in the village, and plenty of jobs to help out with. Once you have enjoyed your homestay, we can arrange other activities for you, including trekking in the Himalayas or travelling to Sikkim to enjoy a homestay there – please just ask.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailormade at a time to suit you and adapted to suit your budget and requirements

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Most of the home stays that you will stay in are run by subsistence farmers. By travelling and visiting these areas you will increase the host family income and thereby improve their living standards. We use local guides from the villages to ensure that the money you spend remains within the community.
In Samthar there were issues with a lack of formal education opportunities. Our tour partner, Lt. General Jimmy Singh (retired), set up a high school employing local people to teach and run the school. We support this project by sponsoring individual students to continue higher education in Darjeeling. As a result of the incredible management and your support, the school is now thriving.

We promote our customers buying local crafts made by Nepalese women in order to sustain jobs and encourage cultural diversity. By staying in home stays you will be able to take full advantage of the hospitality of the local people. We feel that it is essential for you to adopt local conduct in terms of dress code, in order to create a good relationship between tourists and the community.

Village self help schemes are the way forward to tackle rural unemployment .The start up costs (US $3,000) and ongoing operational costs (until the tours provide suffienct income) have and will continue to be funded by General Jimmy Singh, who has also funded the building of the houses and is donating money for the education of the village children.

Guests live in homestays within the village, learning with the local craftsmen who in turn get a direct income from their trades. The wider project includes educational support for school children and vocational training. During your stay in the village, you'll be able to join in village activities such as ploughing, sowing, harvesting, collection of firewood and fodder, cow herding, goat care, cooking, mat and basket making, and blacksmithing. You can explore the countryside, join in the cricket and football matches, play cards with the village elders, or relax in peace in your homestay.

Approximately 35% of the cost goes to the host family, 18% to the project and 7% covers transportation with a local driver. All the money for activities goes directly to the villagers.

Our tours are listed in the Ethical Travel Guide, published by Tourism Concern.


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