For tea enthusiasts, a visit to the famed organic and biodynamic Darjeeling tea estate, Makaibari, is an unmissable experience. The estate warmly welcomes walk-in visitors to its processing factory, home to enormous sorting and drying machines. To fully immerse yourself in the tea-making process, the best time to visit is before 9 am when the factory comes to life. Visits typically span from 30 to 45 minutes.
To take your journey a notch deeper, Makaibari Homestays offer an opportunity to book a comprehensive day tour with just a day’s advance reservation. This immersive experience includes a factory visit, a walk through the lush tea plantation featuring tea plucking, a local homestay lunch, and an engaging tea-tasting session.
The estate is conveniently located 3 km southwest of Kurseong station down Pankhabari Rd, and just 1 km beyond Cochrane Place. Although the walk to the estate can be hampered by traffic and is slightly uphill on return, the journey offers a captivating look at the vestiges of the colonial tea-planter era at St Andrew’s Cemetery. Local vans offer economical transport at ₹20 for shared rides or ₹200 for a private journey. In town, these vans can be boarded from St Andrew’s Church, 250m down Pankhabari Rd from the station.
Upon arrival at the estate, a shop at the factory gate offers Makaibari’s most esteemed teas for purchase. The Silver Tips Imperial, being the cream of the crop, is priced at ₹3500 per 100g. The estate also operates a homestay and volunteer program from an adjacent office located 150m down the road. Opportunities for volunteers are ample, spanning teaching, health, and community projects during the months of March, April, May, October, and November. A minimum commitment of two weeks is requested.
Birdwatching enthusiasts will find additional allure here with early-morning tours available for ₹500 for one or two people, plus an additional ₹200 for each extra person. Given that over half of the Makaibari estate is forested, the population of hornbills is sizable, alongside other bird species. The forest is also home to the elusive leopard, albeit rare sightings.
In summary, whether you’re a tea lover, a history buff, a volunteer at heart, or a nature enthusiast, the Makaibari estate has a wealth of experiences to offer that ensure a visit of enriched exploration and discovery.