The term “Glamping” is derived by blending the sounds and meaning of two separate words, “glamorous” and “camping” compounded together. To those new to the idea of glamping, it is a style of camping that allows your average traveller to live at a campsite with all the modern amenities and services which one usually wouldn’t associate with camping.
This novel idea of glamping was introduced to Lachung in North Sikkim by OurGuest Travels. They started out their pilot venture about a year back in the month of August in 2019 with four double bedded tents. The campsite is located in the serene area of Bichhu village, overlooking mountains on all sides and easily accessible by car.
Lachung is a small mountainous village hamlet, located close to the border with Tibet and China. It is surrounded by beautiful apple orchards which is the main cash crop of the region; besides apricots and peaches. It lies at the confluence of two rivers – the Lachen Chu and Lachung Chu and is situated at an elevation of 9600 feet above sea level, which makes the air around the campsite thin, crisp and always fresh!
The roads that lead you to OurGuest Camp in Lachung is abundant with wild Himalayan steams and waterfalls that are fed on the glacial meltwaters and connect to small rivulets and larger rivers as they flow downstream to the plains and finally drain into the Bay of Bengal. One can spot many a variety of wild flowers blooming all along the way – yellow, purple and pink ; once you get to the upper reaches; and the landscape too starts to change gradually.
The serpentine roads and narrow ridges through landslide prone cliffs give way to a verdant valley with the river perpetually on one side, as the climb to the campsite gets steeper and steeper. The first sight that draws you to the camp are the snow-capped peaks which are at a 360 degree angle from the tents and the sparkling stream beside the road. The mountains in the morning are a sight to behold with the morning sun slowly coming up behind it ! A rustic wooden slider gate greets you at the helm through which you can make your way to the tents and dining space via a modest kitchen garden tended by Mr Wongchuk. He always has a few organic vegetables on hand and guests can sample some of the fresh cabbages, radish, snow peas, spring onions and tomatoes that he plants. Besides the vegetables, you can also get a taste of his blueberry wine if it is in stock, which he prepares seasonally with the wild berries sourced and foraged locally around Lachung.
Coming to the accommodation, the guests are housed in tented rooms which can easily be shared by two individuals. The tents for the campsite are made from thick army green canvas, pitched to the ground which helps it sync with the colour and aesthetic beauty of the natural surroundings.The canvas material helps in keeping the interior of the rooms warm and cozy and also allows for maximum insulation against the outside weather. Each tent comes attached with a fully equipped western style bathroom, a wash basin, shower facilities and running hot and cold water.
The tents have a zip up door and windows which can be locked manually. This allows for the natural light to permeate through and helps in cross ventilation. The floor is carpeted from wall to wall and there is a wire rack to hang your clothes. Each tent is provided with an electric kettle, charging points, electric room heater in addition to bathroom slippers for the convenience of all guests.
The dining area by far was my favourite, as it looked like a scene right out of a fairy tale! Thick layers of snow carpeted the foliage outside like soft cotton and at a distance the warm glow of lights radiating from a cute rustic cottage. The sight of hot steam rising outside the open kitchen window and quickly dissipatingin the frosty night! For a second I thought I was in a Gimm’s fairy-tale! There were lanterns adorning the small porch outside and fairy lights adding to the magical atmosphere of the room inside, like a flash of diamonds across the landscape at night. The walls were made of indigenous material called “Ikra” amud and wood combination popularly used in the hills and painted all white, with framed pictures offering information about the local flora and fauna. The area was bright and airy with a glass wall on one side overlooking the hills and mountains while you dine communally, as there is no room service here. All meals are prepared fresh in the kitchen next door and guests are expected to convene during meal time here. You could learn a few local dishes if you wish to cook alongside the staff and acquire noodle making/ momo making skills while at it!
It was a pleasant surprise to find a place like this in such a remote, far flung area. So far away from the convenience of metropolitan cities and yet so safe, comfortable and homely. I’ve never camped in my life before and maybe this is the closest I’ll come to it! Being here brings things into perspective and makes one think about the larger picture. It makes us think about life and the happiness of everyday little things; like holding hands and walking or discovering a bushel of wild strawberries across a clear stream! That pure unadulterated joy of simple things that we’ve often forgotten. Being in a place like this, reminds us to pause, to breath, to take a break from the rat race of daily life, to nourish our souls and to heal our minds. To just lie down looking up at the stars and forget the world for a little bit !