Day 01: New Delhi or Kolkatta
Day 02: Guwahati / Manas National Park
Day 03: Manas National Park
Day 04: Hajo
Day 05: Kaziranga
Day 06: Kaziranga
Day 07: Vishnath: Cruise
Day 08: Dhansiri Mulkh: Cruise
Day 09: Kaziranga: Cruise
Day 10: Further upstream
Day 11: Majuli Island: Cruise
Day 12: Sibsagar: Cruise
Day 13: Departure
Assam, the gateway to India's most intriguing North Eastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. Situated South of Bhutan nestled in the Eastern Himalayas; Assam is a popular destination for wildlife located mostly in the two World Heritage Parks of Kaziranga and Manas National Parks. Home to the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, tigers and numerous species of birds, Assam is also home to one of the last wild habitats for the Asian elephants. Assam is endowed with lush greenery and is also known for its tea. Cruising on a riverboat on the mighty Brahmaputra is the way to see this unique region of India, with rich cultural and tribal heritage.
One of the great rivers of Asia, the Brahmaputra commences its 3,000-km journey to the Bay of Bengal from the slopes of Mount Kailash in western Tibet. As Tibet's great river, the Tsangpo, transverses east across the high-altitude Tibetan plateau north of the Great Himalayan Range, carving out myriad channels and sandbanks on its way. As it tumbles from the Himalayan height towards the plains of the subcontinent it twists back on itself, cutting a deep and still unnavigated gorge, until finally turning south it emerges in Arunachal Pradesh as the Dihong. Just beyond Passighat, it meets the Dibang and Lohit in the north-east state of Assam (India) and finally becomes the Brahmaputra.
India's North East is one of the few regions in the World where communities live close to nature, nurtured by ancient tribal knowledge systems. More than 70 percent of Assam's population depends on agriculture and forest resources for its livelihood.
Most of Assam's population lives in the Brahmaputra River valley - a river so wide that its far bank cannot be seen in places. The river's tributaries feed production of the local crops, especially rice - the staple of the region.
It is over 50 years since the last daily passenger boat from Kolkatta travelled through Assam along the Brahmaputra River with a mixed complement of tea planters, forest officers, soldiers and magistrates. This trip recreates the romance of that classic journey.
Best time - Mid October to Mid March
Day 1 : New Delhi or Kolkatta
As per your arrival, sightseeing of Delhi or Kolkatta. O/n hotel.
Day 2 : Guwahati / Manas National Park (4 hrs) (India)
Upon arrival at Guwahati you are welcomed the traditional Indian way. After lunch, we drive to Manas National Park a World Heritage site bordering Bhutan. Manas Park has a count of 50 tigers with 500 wild elephants. It will be our attempt to seek out some of them during our stay at the Jungle Lodge.
Overnight: Bansbari Lodge (2 nights) (L, D)
Day 3 : Manas National Park
Early morning we start our adventure on elephant backs viewing the different species of deer, monkeys, Bengal Floricans, Great Hornbills and some of the 380 different species of birds that reside in this park. Later we walk through a local village and get a good insight on how the Bodo tribes' hand weave traditional clothes followed by a visit the famous Assam tea estates. At the Beki River, it is an ideal to view elephants bathing. From here we take our 4 wheeler to Mothanguri Lodge to observe a spectacular sunset over the Manas River and the Bhutan hills - another moment for camera clicks. While returning at dusk we may be fortunate to view some wildlife, like wild buffalo and elephants and if we are lucky, tigers. Dinner is followed by tribal dances around the campfire. (B, L, D)
Day 4 : Hajo
Rural scenery as we drive to Hajo, an ancient pilgrimage centre for three religions, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. We visit the Muslim shrine known as Poa Mecca with its beautiful hilltop views followed by Hayagriva Madhava Mandir -a famous Hindu temple. Some Buddhist believe that Buddha attained Nirvana at this temple. After lunch we drive to Sualkuchi to visit silk weaving workshops learning the complete process of silk manufacturing, from cocoon to spinning to dyeing and to hand weaving, from cocoon to spinning, dyeing and finally to hand weaving into exquisite saris. Crossing the river to Guwahati at Nilachi Hill, we visit the aesthetic Kamakhya temple on Nilachal Hill, which has five temples depicting different forms of Shiva and several forms of the Goddess Kali.
Overnight: Dynasty or similar hotel, Guwahati (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 5 : Kaziranga
Morning we drive to Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage site where over a thousand rhinoceros habitat with a large number of tigers, wild elephant, Sambar, Swamp deer, hog deer, wild pig and many other species. It will be a scene from the jungle wilderness before we drive to Kaziranga's Western Range for a jeep safari. Our night halt as at a beautiful Bamboo built Jungle Lodge on the bank of Diphlu River.
Overnight: Diphlu River Lodge (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 6 : Kaziranga
A pre-dawn start for the Kaziranga's Central Range for an elephant ride. The timing is the best suited to get us very close to the rhinos and other animals. We return to our lodge for breakfast. Late morning we enjoy a walk through terraced tea gardens and Karbi tribal village. From here we drive to a Mising tribal village, with their distinctive houses raised on piles. After lunch we drive to Steamer Ghat to embark on our cruise boat on the Brahmaputra.
Overnight: Cruise ship (7 nights) (B, L, D)
Day 7 : Vishnath: Cruise
Another opportunity to get offshore and experience an elephant safari after which we sail upstream viewing the Kaziranga National Park - spotting wild elephants. Around midday we reach Vishnath and get off shore to see the Ahom-period Shiva temple. There are other temples of later period here, which we also see before continuing our river cruising. (B, L, D)
Day 8 : Dhansiri Mulkh: Cruise
Relaxing on the boat, we spend the day cruising the mighty Brahmaputra River. We will see the Genetic dolphin and other aquatic and wild animals. Also, observing the bank side villages as we sail through. Evening, we arrive at Dhansiri Mulkh where the common birds and wild ducks graze. (B, L, D)
Day 9 : Kaziranga: Cruise
This morning we disembark and take a jeep safari into Kaziranga's little-visited Eastern Range. This is an area known for its good woodland and grasslands a favorite site for nature lovers. Here we may spot the rare Bengal Florican. (B, L, D)
Day 10 : Further upstream
Another day spent cruising upstream. We disembark to see several villages and get a good insight into the life of Indian villagers. An excellent opportunity to intermingle with the village folks who live in perfect harmony with nature. It is really fascinating to see the simple and beautiful life of local folks. (B, L, D)
Day 11 : Majuli Island: Cruise
Around breakfast time we should reach Majuli Island, reputed to be the world's largest river island. Macula is also known for flora and fauna harboring many rare and endangered avifauna species. This island is home to unique Hindu monasteries famed for their dance-drama performances - the whole island is now short listed for future UNESCO World Heritage status. We visit a monastery at Auniati with an eclectic museum and another at Kamalbari where we attend a dance performance. Before cruising cross to Neamati Ghat on the opposite bank. (B, L, D)
Day 12 : Sibsagar: Cruise
Today, we visit the Gatoonga Tea Estate and are walked through the various stages in tea processing (factory do not operate between Dec and Mar). From here, we drive to Sibsagar - one-time capital of the Kings of Assam. The architecture is a strange and delightful amalgam of Indian and S.E. Asia. We see temples with Stupa- like profiles, and palaces of distinctive form - note the crocodiles and rather sexy caryatids that adorn the roof of the Rang Mahal. For the record book, the temple tank here is believed to be the World's largest hand excavated reservoir. We return to our boat, which has cruised to Dikhou Mulkh close to Sibsagar, and spend our last night on board. (Dependent on river conditions, the last night may be spent at Neamati, close to Jorhat). (B, L, D)
Day 13 : Departure
After a wonderful time experiencing Assam, we are transferred on a 2.5 hours drive to Dibrugarh airport. En route we pass through a typical colonial town, which was a major base for the US flight over "The Hump" to China in WWII. Alternatively, we can drive for 1.5 hours to Jorhat airport to take our flight to Delhi or Kolkatta in time to connect for the international flights home. (B)