We leave Darjeeling in 4WD jeeps. We are heading up some seriously winding roads into the hills to reach Karmi Farm, which is off all the paths, beaten or otherwise. It is four bumpy hours, but I’ll tell you, the destination is worth every jolt.
Karmi Farm is an absolute haven. Presided over by Andrew Pulger-Frame, the old farmhouse and grounds have been in his family for generations. He took the place over from his grandmother in 1998, adapted the farm buildings into gorgeous wooden guest houses, and with his wife and local help (mostly cool hip youngsters from the village – when they’re not at school, and a teeny but formidably talented cook) has created somewhere really special for hikers, artists, yoga enthusiasts, and people like us, who just want something a bit different.
The garden grows all sorts of yummy things: fruit trees, loads of veggies, ginger root (Andrew very kindly helps me dig some up to take away for my chai tea!!), even a watercress pond (for truly amazing salads). And the livestock: 3 goats, 2 pigs and a cow… (Tasha is ecstatic…)
We arrive in the golden afternoon sunlight and are all immediately enchanted by the place, but also by an adorably cheeky little fluff-monster called Bella, who sets about joyfully nipping everyone’s ankles.
We are here for a few days, and the schedule, such as it is, goes like this: rise and shine early… the longhouse is lovely but rather cold at night!! We emerge from under thick heavy blankets and head straight for the warm kitchen in the main house. Join everyone for breakfast (side note: all the food here is out-of-this-world fantastic) and then Andrew takes us on a hike around the area: up into the hills, to a gompa, a religious place that used to belong to his family, to the Karmi Farm Clinic that he set up in the village, which provides essential health care to the whole area (nearest hospital being a nerve wracking 2/3 hour drive). Andrew is very much woven into the community, and has a unique insight from being both insider and outsider. We have some great discussions about the India of old and modern.
Back to the farm for a slap up lunch and then relax in the afternoon sunshine: read, play with the puppy (we are all utterly spoiling her with affection!!), even do a spot of yoga when the occasion arises. In the evening we sit by the fire with the local beer from Sikkim called Hit (v nice but super tongue-looseningly strong) or Andrew’s home-made raksi, brewed from fermented millet in a distillery in the backyard. The chat continues until it’s time to stagger to the kitchen for another epic feast for dinner. Then bed.
On our last night Tasha and I learn to make momos under the expert tutelage of the tiny cook… it’s an excellent way to finish off what has been a blissful few days.
I adored this place, and Andrew is the consummate host with the most, so if you ever find yourself in Darjeeling and fancy a wonderful adventure, please look them up at karmifarm.com and send them all our fondest wishes.