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About us

Since 1999, we have been building bridges between people and cultures far away from mass tourism. We connect you, our guest, to our local network of chauffeurs, guides, accommodation managers and cultural mediators. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

“We enable a win-win intercultural exchange between visiting guests and local hosts.”

We have lived and worked for many years at all of our travel destinations, so you will benefit from our local networks and our extensive experience of bring different cultures together. With us as your travel companion, you will be able to discover much more than the usual tourist attractions.
As a native Swiss, I understand the needs of our customers as well as the conditions and challenges that our travel destinations can bring and we tailor all of our trips accordingly. It is my task not only to build a bridge between cultures, but also to ensure the needs of our guests in terms of structure and hygiene.

Thanks to our personal and proven contacts with local cultural mediators, chauffeurs, guides, and the guardians of traditions and employees, we are always well prepared. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Helen exchanges contacts with locals in a monastery in North-Sikkim. (2000) | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Guide Teiso with Noëmi in Arunachal Pradesh. (2018) | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Helen with the owner of a home stay in Arunachal Pradesh | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Helen with daughter Noëmi (2001) in Bhutan

I am very grateful that I was able to spend over 14 years of my life in the former kingdom of Sikkim, northeastern India and Bhutan, in the Indian Himalayas. I got to know the country and its people first-hand by participating in everyday life and festivities. It is here that I founded the Bamboo Retreat Hotel with my Sikkimese husband, who unfortunately passed a few years ago. Together we built up our very own travel agency and tour operating companies ( &

We discovered and got to know just about every corner of Sikkim, on numerous hikes, treks and road trips. We have an intense, personal connection to all of our travel destinations and the locals. We know the special needs and peculiarities of both cultures. So you will certainly benefit from our wealth of experience. Take a look at our various destinations and touring packages, and get inspired!

Feel free to contact us. This is the best way for us to be able to personally advise you, because not all of our travel offers are published on our website. Even trips with a pioneering character are possible. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Noëmi crosses a root bridge with a local guide in Meghalaya. (2006) | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

We have always supported local projects. Also, for example, the children’s home Lepcha Cottage, which was founded by Miss Keepu, who is highly valued in Sikkim. She is a member of the indigenous Lepcha people.

Who we are | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Helen Kämpf

Business owner, travel entrepreneur, farmer and founder of the Bamboo Retreat Hotel

I am happy to be one of the bridge builders who strengthens the connections between travelers and the locals living on the land. I am fascinated by this and again and again I realize how meaningful basic trust can grow with an intense, emotional relationship with the land.
Countless hours of silent meditation and seclusion have strengthened my inner compass and has made me realize that the only part of the game that stays the same is change. The choices that we make from one moment to the next are the powerful tools which help shape that change, and inevitably our lives.

My career:

1992: Federal Certificate of Commercial Competence.
1992–1994: Student exchange years in the USA and Guatemala. English and Spanish language studies. Permaculture course with Larry Santoyo in Ford, California (US).
1996: Bachelor’s degree in International Studies in Vermont (US) and Ladakh, India. Project work in Ladakh: Industrial Society’s Alienation from Agrarian Values.
Since 1997: Green Gardening Educator Training Program at the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, San Francisco (US); The Art and Science of Herbalism, course with Rosemary Gladstar. Further study of Spanish on social assignments in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Extensive travels to India, Mongolia, Myanmar and Bangladesh, among others.
1999–2013: Co-founder of Terralaya Travels ( and Bamboo Retreat Hotel ( in Sikkim, India. Extensive travel experiences, partly with a pioneering character, in Sikkim, Northeast India, Bhutan, Rajasthan, Central India, Ladakh and South India. Development of different types of travel including cultural and hiking tours, trekking tours, cycling tours and themed tours to places of high energy.
2001: Our daughter Noëmi was born in Sikkim, where she spent her childhood.
2014–present: Further development of the travel agency with launch of Sikkim (, Terrralaya ( and Bamboo Retreat (
2020: Permaculture course with Beat Rölli.
2021–2022: Internships at various farms in Switzerland.
2023: Garden Therapy course with certificate, Inforama Hondrich, Switzerland. Project work: Evaluation of Garden Therapy Services for Hotel Guests.
2024: Farm & Family Manager with federal professional certification. Project work: Garden for Optics, Health and Food-Conservation. Autumn Seminar, Inforama Emmental and Hondrich, Switzerland.
Since 2023: Further development of travel offerings, show garden at the Bamboo Retreat Hotel and development of a concept for the Academy of Himalayan Plant and Culinary Heritage.

Languages: German, English, Spanish, Nepali and some French.

Further interests: Lifelong tourism projects with a focus on authenticity and sustainability, sports, health and wellbeing. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Our transport vehicles are always serviced and inspected. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

We connect cultures. Here Helen with a budding local monk in West-Sikkim. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Our tour guide Tseten together with Swiss mountaineer Bruno Jelk and Sherpa mountain guide on Mt. Chogyal in Sikkim. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Helen with a rare wild rhubarb plant in a remote side valley in northern Sikkim. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

We build bridges between cultures – here our tour guide Tseten at a cultural exchange in Bern (Switzerland)

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Helen with Khiamniungan tribesmen in traditional dress in Nagaland (2004) | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Tseten Norbu Bhutia

Passionate tour guide, chauffeur, trekking expert and travel coordinator

Tseten has been with us from the very beginning. Growing up in the mountain village of Yoksum in Sikkim, at the tender age of 11, Tseten accompanied his grandfather on extensive hikes in the mountains at the foot of the third highest mountain in the world, Mt. Khanchenjunga. This mountain giant is considered to be the guardian being by the local people. The mythical stories of yeti sightings and fascinating legends told to him by the village elders have left quite an impression on Tseten. He often shares some of these childhood stories and legends with our guests, which adds an intimate, personal insight during our tours.

The combination of the teachings of Buddhism and the indigenous Lepchā’s view of life as an interdependent, animated web are the basis for his deep respect for nature, its forces and manifestations. Due to his extensive trekking experience near Terrolaya, he knows the mountain and plant world like no other. He takes care of our trekking equipment and keeps us constantly informed about weather and road conditions. He maintains excellent relationships with our local porters, chefs, chauffeurs and guides, as well as doctors and local authorities.

Tseten has many years of experience as a tour and trekking guide and travel coordinator. His passion is to provide our guests with excellent travel or trekking experiences through top organization, cultivating a caring and motivated team spirit. Tseten earned a Master’s degree in Art History from North Bengal University in Siliguri, India. In 2015, he visited us in Switzerland, and since then, he has had an even greater understanding of the needs of our guests. Tseten speaks English, Bhutanese, Lepcha, Nepali and Hindi. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Sunita Sharma

Our very skilled office manager
Sunita takes care of administration and travel coordination. She also organizes room upgrades for our guests whenever possible and provides the little extras and attention to our guests. Born in Sikkim and raised in the capital Gangtok, Sunita has a degree in economics and many years experience as a teacher.

“Since I was a child, I have learned to follow the customs and traditions that teach us to serve our fellow human beings in the best possible way. I love to take in nature and enjoy communicating with guests and sharing with them our local lifestyle, as well as knowledge about Sikkim and India. I believe the universe connected my life’s journey with and This collaboration allows me to work on my skills. Today’s people are very busy and don’t have time for themselves. Everyone knows that our mental health is just as important as our physical health and that the two are connected. In pursuit of a good life, we often don’t seem to give ourselves the time to reconnect with Mother Nature. Experiencing the earth is not only a source of beauty and happiness, but also prepares us for the struggles of life. The entire team and I take pride in providing you with the best possible service and we look forward to welcoming you to our country.”

Sunita speaks Nepali, English and Hindi.

Your comfort and safety is paramount for our tour guides, chauffeurs and trekking teams. Through many years of experience and local connections, they will open doors to new worlds for you. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Jigme, our Bhutan Tour Coordinator | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Member of the trekking support team for / | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Trekking support team: porter, kitchen team, cook, guide in Yumthang (North Sikkim)

Building bridges as cultural mediators and guardians of traditions. Connecting farmers, gardeners, park rangers, ornithologists, small entrepreneurs, producers, craftsmen, homestay families, village teachers, Buddhist monks and shamans. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Freshly prepared flatbreads in the homestay | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Farmer plows his field in West-Sikkim | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Caretaker of the trekking animals | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Lepcha farmer collecting food shows his friends | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu About / Terralaya

Park ranger shows leopard tracks

The benefits of travelling with us

Personal support

Due to our personal connections with the on site teams, we enable you to meet the local population, giving you unique insights into the way of life and customs of the people in the country. Our guides and experts come from the region you will be visiting, forming a bridge between you and the locals.


Safety and comfort are paramount for our chauffeurs and when choosing a vehicle. We take care in advance of all the necessary entry permits in border areas and national parks.

Authentic local cuisine

In many places, restaurants only offer standardized Indian cuisine made with ingredients from far away. This is ecological nonsense! We offer only local products, giving our guests culinary enrichment through unique taste experiences.

We promote local food cultivation, product processing and farm-to-table concepts in tourism. We want to strengthen people’s self-confidence and relationship with the land. We support the cultivation and maintenance of home gardens through “fresh from the garden to the table” concepts, such as the cultivation of vegetables in the home garden and the preparation of these in restaurants for our guests.

Providing insights into the country and its people

Our competent travel companions provide insights into the country and its people. On request, we can organize experts on the topics of your choice.

Immerse yourself with us spending time with the local people and experience fascinating cultural heritage in the lively cities and picturesque villages, at the energy places of the shamans and Buddhism — especially the Nyngma and Kagyu schools. Visit with us archaeological sites, Buddhist monastery castles, small or large monasteries and temples and, if desired, also very remote, legendary places of power/pilgrimage.

Sustainability not just a useful buzzword for us: We practice sustainable principles and support socially responsible tourism through practical actions. For example, by supporting local family businesses and accommodations that reflect the historically grown characteristics of the locality – be it in architecture, cuisine, gardens, traditions, spirituality or crafts.

Empowering local family businesses

We integrate accommodation from local family businesses and homestay networks into our trips that reflect local architecture and cuisine – thus contributing to cultural preservation. We avoid soulless mass tourism accommodations and pay attention to companies that are run reliably, hygienically and with friendly service.

Your dream trip

We make sure that you can experience your desired destination with all of your senses – this includes getting to know the local cuisine, examining the ingredients at colorful markets, smelling spices and flowers, feeling materials, listening to the birds and the rustling of leaves in the wind, or immersing yourself in the rhythm and sounds of a local ceremony.

Waste avoidance

Where packed lunches are necessary, we pay attention to environmentally friendly packaging.

During trekking and hikes, instead of leaving rubbish lying around, we leave places cleaner than as we found them.

Support of social projects

We support local organizations whose work we know and appreciate personally, such as the Children of Sikkim Foundation (COSF). We provide direct support to the community with homestay families and the local village schools.

Team training and constant review of our trips

We ensure continuous training of our employees and an ongoing review and update of our itineraries and service providers. We adapt our offers to continue to provide you with an unforgettable travel experience.