GUWAHATI - MANAS - RIVER CRUISE - KAZIRANGA
Assam boasts two out of India’s five UNESCO environmental World Heritage sites, and we have devised this 7-night package to provide visits to both these sites, Manas and Kaziranga National Parks, together with a short cruise on the mighty Brahmaputra River and an exploration of with visits to villages and to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Manas enjoys stunning scenery, backed by the jungle-covered hills of Bhutan, while Kaziranga boasts a wide range of easily seen wildlife, the many rhinoceros being the outstanding feature. On the river and the sand islands which dot it one can often see great flocks of migrating waterfowl, and there is also a good chance of seeing the rare Gangetic Dolphin.
Day 1. Met at Guwahati airport or at Samdrup Jonghkar (Bhutan border) and driven for 4 hours/3 hours to Manas National Park, on the border with Bhutan, checking in to the simple ABN Bansbari Lodge or Similar Lodge at Manas. This Project Tiger reserve is now recovering well from earlier unrest – the tiger count is now estimated at around 30, and wild elephant number some 500. At extra cost we can arrange transport from the Bhutan border crossing further east at Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 2. We take an early morning elephant ride through grassland, hopefully seeing several different species of deer and monkeys, as well as some of the park’s 380 different species of birds, perhaps including the rare Bengal Florican or the Great Hornbill. After breakfast, we walk through a local village, visit the nearby tea garden and see Bodo tribal handweaving.
If time permits, we will see working elephants bathing in the nearby Beki River before carrying on by jeep to Mothanguri Lodge to see the sun set over the Manas River. Returning in the dusk, we should see some wild life, perhaps including wild buffalo, wild elephant, and, if we are exceptionally lucky, a tiger. After supper we watch a tribal dance around the camp fire.
Day 3. After a leisurely breakfast we drive 4 hrs to Guwahati to embark on ABN Charaidew mid-afternoon close to the great Saraighat Bridge. Cruise downstream to an overnight stop close to the south bank village of Vijaynagar.
Day 4. After breakfast, disembark and explore a riverside village on foot. Cruise upstream to the little town of Sualkuchi, loud with the clatter of looms, and visit on foot its silk weaving workshops. We shall see the whole process of silk manufacture, from cocoon to spinning to dyeing and finally to handweaving into exquisite saris and dress lengths. We then drive on to Hajo, a place sacred to Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. We visit a hilltop Muslim shrine with far-reaching views over the surrounding rural landscape, as well as the simple Hindu temple with its frieze of elephants and its sacred tank full of great carp, catfish and turtles. Later we reboard and cruise to an overnight mooring near the Saraighat War Memorial.
Day 5. Cruising upstream, we disembark at Pandu docks and are taken on a short sightseeing tour of the city of Guwahati. Drive up Nilachal Hill to see the holy Kamakhya temple. With its tantric rites and animal sacrifice, the more squeamish may prefer to content themselves with the exterior. Visit the poignant Commonwealth War Graves cemetery as well as a high-class shop selling local crafts. Cross by country boat to the mid-stream Peacock Island with its population of Golden Langur monkeys before re-embarking and cruising for about an hour and a half upstream to Kurua on the north bank.
Day 6. Cruise upstream past jungle-covered hills, and turn into the Mayong River. We cruise up in our country boat for a kilometre or two to the roadhead from where we drive to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. This small park has a dense population of the Asian One-Horned Rhinoceros, and we shall be unlucky if we do not spot some of these amazing armoured beasts on a jeep safari around the park. Guests are driven c.4 ½ hrs to Kaziranga National Park, where we stay at the superbly situated and very comfortable ABN Diphlu River Lodge, looking across into the park. Kaziranga is a World Heritage site and with a population of well over 1500 rhinoceros is the best place in the world to see these beasts. There are also good populations of tiger, wild elephant, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, wild pig and many other species.
Day 7. We rise at dawn and drive for a few minutes to Kaziranga’s Central Range for an early morning elephant ride, the best way to get really close to the rhino and other animals. After breakfast back at the lodge, we walk through terraced tea gardens and past a Karbi tribal village, then drive to a Mising tribal village, with their distinctive houses raised on piles. After lunch we take a jeep safari in the Western Range, and scan the wilderness from an observation tower.
Day 8. An early start for the 4 1/2 hour drive back to Guwahati airport, or 2 ½ hr transfer to Jorhat airport. Alternatively prolong your stay at Kaziranga, subject to availability.
River cruise subject to river conditions, elephant safaris subject to availability. Kaziranga National Park contain low - lying grassland which may not be visitable when the river is at or near flood level.
Wild Assam Departures dates 2016 - 2017 (from Nov, 2016 – April, 2017)
- 12 – 19 March, 2017 USD 2740 per person, single supp USD 1350
- 09 – 16 April, 2017 USD 2440 per person, single supp USD 1150
Not included: drinks from the bar, laundry, tips, and camera fees in National Parks