Assam Explorer

14 days
from
$4,025 NZD
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Trip code: 
AKN
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Discover one of the most beautiful and fascinating regions of India

Tucked away in northeast India lies a wild land of pristine forests, rugged mountains and beautiful lakes, inhabited by some of Asia's last surviving former headhunting tribes. It is arguably one of the most beautiful and fascinating regions of India, sharing borders with Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh, yet it remains the least explored. Journey through Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland on this adventurous tour, starting with the living root bridges in Cherrapunjee and the capital city of Meghalaya, Shillong. We then continue to Assam, searching for the one-horned rhino in Kaziranga National Park before moving on to Majuli Island, where we visit the village of the Mishing tribe. Finishing in Nagaland, we explore Lungwa village, which straddles the India-Myanmar border. A trip to Nagaland isn't complete without a visit to Hongphoi village, to meet one of the last surviving former headhunting Konyak tribes in this region.

Highlights

  • Living root bridges in Cherrapunjee
  • Wildlife in Kaziranga National Park
  • Meet former headhunting tribes in Nagaland

Key information

  • 9 nights standard hotels, 4 nights lodges
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus local leader and driver. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus, Jeep and 1 internal flight
  • Hornbill Festival and Aoleang Festival departures

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 8 dinners 
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for tailormade trips:
+61 3 9998 9052
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Guwahati
to
Kolkata
  • Day 1

    Start Guwahati, Assam; optional visit to Umananda temple.

    Arrive Guwahati, the state capital of Assam. Today is free to relax, with an optional visit to the 17th Century Shiva Umananda temple in the afternoon. For those who wish to visit the temple, we will board a ferry and cross the Brahmaputra River to Peacock Island, where the temple is located at the top of a series of steep steps. This is also a nice resting place for rare golden langurs (leaf-eating monkeys and one of India's most endangered primates).

    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Drive to Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya, stopping at Umiam Lake en route.

    Today we drive to Cherrapunjee, also known as Sohra, in the state of Meghalaya. Cherrapunjee is one of the wettest places on the planet and the only place in India to receive rain throughout the year. The heavy monsoon rains over these mountains, creating one of the rarest bio-diverse vegetation in the world. On the way to Cherrapunjee we shall visit Umiam Lake (also known as Barapani Lake). This is a reservoir located in the hills 15km north of Shillong. It was created by damming the Umiam River in the early 1960s. The lake and dam is spread over 220 sq. km.
    Drive approx. 148km, time 4-5 hrs.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Walk through the Khasi hills to the double-decker living root bridge; later visit Moasmi Cave and Seven Sister Falls.

    An exciting day today; we enjoy a scenic walk through the beautiful Khasi hills to the double-decker living root bridge, a 250 year old living bridge located in the remote village of Nongriat, spanning between two grand old rubber trees. This bridge is only reacheable by foot but it's a very beautiful and interesting walk. The first part of the trail takes you down a series of steep stone steps, passing small remote villages. It will take approx. 1 hr to reach the bridge. We'll enjoy a packed lunch upon arrival at the bridge and spend some time to rest and enjoy the area. It is then a steep climb back to the coach, following the same steps, which may take a couple of hours and can be quite challenging in the heat. It is a moderate trek and we recommend wearing walking shoes with good grip. It might also be good to take walking poles or get hold of a stick locally if you have problems with your knees. It will take approx. 6-7 hrs for the whole trip including the trek. We also have time to visit Moasmi Cave and the Seven Sister Falls on the way back to the hotel.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Visit Mawlynnong and Mawphlang villages; drive to Shillong via Sacred Forest.

    Today we visit Mawlynnong Village, which is often referred to as 'God's Own Garden' after being labelled as the cleanest village in Asia. From the bamboo waste baskets lining the main road of the village, to the bamboo fences enclosing houses with neat gardens, you can see why this pretty little village has won its status. Locals are proud of their pretty village and the upkeep of its cleanliness is part of their lifestyle. We have time to explore and there is also an easily accessible living root bridge to wander across.  Leaving the village we will make our way to the Mawphlang Sacred Forest, with its plentiful flowering trees, orchids and butterflies. From here it is just  a 1 hr drive to Shillong where we will check in to our hotel and have time to relax.

     

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Drive to Kaziranga National Park in Assam via the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures.

    This morning we explore Shillong, the capital city of the state of Meghalaya, as well as the headquarters of the East Khasi Hill district. Reputable educational institutions were established by various missionary groups, making Shillong the hub of education for the entire north-east. It is also home to several waterfalls, and referred to as 'the Scotland of the East'. British influence is still visible in the architecture and cuisine. We visit the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures, a famous museum which preserves the culture of various tribes and communities of northeast India. We then drive to Kaziranga National Park in Assam, with time to relax upon arrival.
    Drive approx. 252km, time 5-6 hrs.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Morning and afternoon jeep safaris in search of the one-horned rhino.

    Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for the one-horned rhino. The landscape consists of pristine forest, tall elephant grass, reeds, marshes and shallow pools. The park also has a small number of tiger, and is home to a large breeding population of elephants, buffalo and swamp deer. Today we enjoy two jeep safaris in search of the one-horned rhino; the first drive is early in the morning, before breakfast, and the second is in the afternoon.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Drive to Nimati Ghat; ferry to Majuli Island, crossing the mighty Brahmaputa River.

    Leaving Kaziranga National Park, we drive to Nimati Ghat to board a ferry to Majuli Island, crossing the mighty Brahmaputra River (approx. 2 hrs). Majuli Island is the second largest river island in the world, spreading over 924.6 sq. km, with a population of approx. 150,000. The island has been the principle place of pilgrimage for Vaishnavites since the age of the Ahom rulers. Several satras (monasteries and hermitages) resembling those of mediaeval times are headed by Satradhikars, teaching Vaishnavism. Upon arrival at Majuli Island, we'll have some time to visit these satras before making our way to the hotel. Each satra, the centre of learning, art and culture, has an unknown wealth of Vaishnavite scriptures and extensive revenue-free lands cultivated by the Bhakats (celebrated monks) of the satras.

    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Early morning birdwatching walk in the wetlands; visit the village of the Mishing tribe.

    Majuli Island is renowned for migratory bird and the Mishing tribal culture. Today we have an early morning birdwatching walk in the wetlands to see the various species of migratory birds that flock to the island. We then return to the hotel for breakfast before exploring the rest of the island. We visit more satras, learning about Majuli's unique traditions and the hold these satras have over its people. We'll meet the priests and the impact in which the Vaishnavite culture has on the people of Majuli. We then make our way to the village of the Mishing tribe, which comprises of 45% of Majuli's population, and whose ethnic culture remains unchanged for centuries. We see the community pillar houses, which are generally stilted and have a thatched roof. We finish today's sightseeing with a visit to Chamaguri satra, famous for mask making, which are used for religious dance and theatre. There is an optional cultural show this evening for those who would like to experience traditional dance and music.

    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Ferry to Nimati Ghat; drive to Sivasagar; visit Kareng Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Rang Ghar and the Tai Museum.

    Leaving Majuli Island, we board the ferry back to Nimati Ghat and then drive to Sivasagar, which was once the capital of the Ahom Kings. The Shans, who came from Thailand through northern Myanmar in the early 13th Century, ruled for 600 years. The Siva Temple, built by the Ahoms, is believed to be the tallest Hindu temple. The ruins of Ahom palaces and monuments dot the landscape surrounding this town. Centuries before the arrival of the British, this part of the world was controlled by a number of tribal chieftains. This afternoon we visit Kareng Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Rang Ghar and the Tai museum.
    Drive approx. 60km, time 1.5-2 hrs drive.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Drive to Mon, Nagaland; rest of the day free to explore.

    Today we leave Assam and drive to Mon in the state of Nagaland. At 897m above sea level, Mon is one of the most mystic places in Nagaland and boasts a rich tribal heritage. It's a nature lovers' paradise, with some of the best views of the Assam plains viewed from here.
    Drive approx. 105km, time 4-5 hrs.

    Basic Hotel

    Aoleang Spring Festival departure 

    This departure follows this standard itinerary but is scheduled so that we can experience the festival whilst staying in Mon.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    Visit Longwa village, located on the India-Myanmar border; afternoon visit Hongphoi village to meet a former headhunting tribe. Return to Mon.

    Another interesting day today as we visit Longwa village, located on the India-Myanmar border and where villagers have dual citizenship. One half of the Angh's house falls within Indian Territory, whereas the other half lies under Myanmar's control. However, the Angh and the village council chairman control the whole village, and the Angh's jurisdiction extends up to Myanmar and Arunchal Pradesh. He also has 60 wives! In the afternoon we visit Hongphoi village to meet one of the last surviving former headhunting tribes in this region. Visiting the Angh's house, we meet some of the elderly people of the village, still dressed in their tribal clothing, signifying their belonging to the Naomei Cult. We then return to Mon.
    Drive approx. 40km, time 1-2 hrs (one way).

    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 12

    Drive to Dibrugarh; free time.

    Today we drive to Dibrugarh, with free time to relax or explore upon arrival. Dibrugarh is the gateway to the 'Hidden Land' of eastern Arunchal Pradesh. It is also known as the 'Camelia' town of Assam, with its rich tea gardens resembling a lush green carpet.
    Drive approx. 175km, time 5-6 hrs.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Fly to Kolkata; afternoon sightseeing including Victoria Memorial and Kali Temple.

    This morning we catch a morning flight to Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta. It is the capital city of the state of West Bengal and the cultural capital of India, serving as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1912. We arrive in Kolkata in the morning and proceed for city sightseeing after check-in at the hotel. We'll visit the Victoria Memorial and Kali Temple, driving past colonial buildings at the Dalhousie Square area.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Kolkata.

    Those on the flight inclusive package will transfer to Kolkata airport. Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

India

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. For UK residents full details of the visa process can be found here. Other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies.

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

When you reach immigration, you are required to pick up an immigration form. If you have an e-visa, ensure you stand in the correct queue - please follow the signs to the e-visa booth (in Delhi this is at the back of the immigration hall). You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth - please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready (these details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions).

 

Vaccinations

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 8 dinners included. 

You should allow at least £13-15 (approx. US$17-20) per day for lunch and dinner where they are not included. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants. If you are a vegetarian, India is probably one of the best destinations to travel to. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately £3 (approx. US$4). Mineral water is provided in the vehicle in a 20 ltr container, so please bring a water bottle with you so that you can refill it during the day. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow.

Weather

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)

This trip provides an excellent introduction to the northeast of the country and includes a great range of experiences and sights, from walking in the Khasi hills to visiting the bustling city of Kolkata. 

The moderate walk to the living root bridge on Day 3 has steep steps going down to the bridge, which will take approx. 1 hr. You will then have to go back up these steps after, which can be quite challenging in the heat and it will most likely take a couple of hours. Walking shoes with a good grip are essential and you may also wish to bring walking poles for this day, or get hold of a stick locally if you have problems with your knees.

Please note that hotel facilities in northeast India tend to be simpler than other regions, but most of the hotels we use meet local 2-3-star standards.

The roads are generally pretty good throughout, but road conditions can vary and are obviously very different from those in the west. Local traffic and/or road damage after the monsoon can sometimes slow us down. Although we attempt to minimise journey times, you must be prepared for some longer or bumpy drives.

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI’s schedule is never published so it is not possible to forewarn our clients of when work will be taking place.

Hornbill Festival
On Hornbill Festival departures, our visit to Mon is replaced with Kohima. The festival celebrates the rich heritage of Nagaland, with tribes coming together to perform traditional dances and folk songs, and to display their ornate clothing, jewellery and hunting spears. The festival takes place annually in the first week of December.

Aoleang Spring Festival
Celebrated by the Konyak Naga people, Aoleang is celebrated in the Mon district on an annual basis in the first week of April. The festival marks the end of the current year and welcomes the start of the new year with the spring season. It showcases the rich cultural heritage with dance, songs and games, combined with modern music talents from the district.

The Aoleang Spring Festival departure follows the standard itinerary but is scheduled so that we can experience the festival whilst we are staying in Mon.

Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for tailormade trips:
+61 3 9998 9052
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Lodges

9 nights standard hotels and 4 nights basic lodges. The hotels we stay in are classed as standard 2/3-star hotels (local rating), where properties are chosen for their location and value. Some areas are not geared up to western tourism and facilities are generally simpler than other parts of India. All hotel rooms have en suite facilities but plumbing can be erratic.

In Cherrapunjee we stay in a family-run nature resort, surrounded by beautiful scenery. A Mishing tribal family runs our accommodation at Majuli Island. It is built in traditional style with basic bamboo and thatch cottages on stilts (each with a veranda and bathroom). In Mon (Nagaland) we stay in a simple guesthouse. The rooms are basic but clean and all rooms have en suite bathrooms with hot and cold running water. In Kolkata, our hotel is located in the heart of the city and only a 5 minute walk from bustling Park Street. 

Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for tailormade trips:
+61 3 9998 9052
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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