Tea fields at Makaibari Tea Estate, West Bengal, India
The Makaibari Tea Estate is among one of the most well-known tea estates across the world. Their internationally prize-winning teas are highly appraised, and many stakeholders are none other than legends within the tea world. Although Makaibari is the site of a luxury resort, they also maintain a humble program that is rooted in “sustainable, responsible tourism.” Among their programs, the Makaibari Homestay Programme allows guests to live in one of the villages with a local family for long-term, short-term, or day-long visits.
- Participants will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities, such as tea plucking and tea manufacturing within the gardens. Depending on the season in which one visits, one may experience full moon harvesting.
- Tea tasting is available.
- Additional activities include outdoor camping, bird watching, and participating in animal husbandry.
- Community festivals and religious ceremonies, such as puja, welcome guests in participation. For those on longer stays, day trips to neighboring regions and to enjoy a sunrise or sunset is possible.
- While living with a host family, three meals a day are provided for guests to taste traditional recipes made from organic produce. The program allows participants to have a unique opportunity to engage with the host community in all regards to village life during their stay.
- There are no language learning opportunities explicitly written about, but participants may take the initiative to learn local languages.
- The Homestay Programme is operated independently of Makaibari Estates by an independent organization run by Nayan Lama through a youth wing entitled “Volunteer in Makaibari.”
- Six villages are involved in this project and incorporate people from various backgrounds.
- Proceeds from the homestay go directly to the families who host; Makaibari Estates do not claim any of this funding. “Volunteer in Makaibari” was founded in 2008 “by a group of Western visitors who were frustrated at how vast amounts of money were paid to tour organizations in the Western world and how little reached the targeted villages. The intent from the start was to hand the responsibility for change back to the local people, as this is the only real way to manifest real change.”
- Makaibari Tea Garden has been organic since 1988. The estate offers organic, biodynamic, permaculture, and fairtrade tea.
- Makaibari owns 550 acres of tea dispersed across 1,100 acres of primary rainforest. It is one of the largest tea estates in Darjeeling.
- The region is rich in biodiversity, as it has over four hundred species of indigenous birds, animals, and insects.