River Island Cruise - Assam
This cruise on the highest reaches of the Brahmaputra still navigable highlights the unique culture of the area, fusing Indian and S.E. Asian influences, with a visit to Sibsagar, the old capital of the Ahom kings, as well as to Majuli Island with its unique Hindu monastic communities famous for their dance drama. Wildlife is not forgotten though, and the cruise visits Kaziranga, where sightings of rhino are virtually guaranteed.
Day 01 - Jorhat
Arrive at Jorhat airport and transfer 2 ½ hrs to Steemer Ghat, a lovely beach below jungle-covered hills and close to Kaziranga National Park. Alternatively arrive Guwahati airport and driven 4 ½ hrs to Steemer Ghat.
Day 02 – Kaziranga National Park
Disembark pre-dawn and drive to Kaziranga National Park’s Central Range to get really close to the rhino and other animals. Return to breakfast on board cruising upstream with Kaziranga National Park on the right bank. Around midday we reach Vishnath, with an Ahom-period Shiva temple. There are other later temples too, and we walk through the town before reboarding and setting off again, with Kaziranga still on the far bank. Wild elephant may sometimes be spotted, and once, memorably, a tiger.
Day 03 – Dhansiri Mukh
The day is spent on the river, and we have a good chance of spotting Gangetic dolphin, as well as creating a sensation in bankside villages as we pass. We should arrive in the evening at lonely Dhansiri Mukh.
Day 04 – Kaziranga
This morning we land and take a jeep safari in Kaziranga’s little-visited Eastern Range, with grasslands much favoured by rhino, where you might spot the rare Bengal Florican. Returning to the boat, we continue our cruise upstream.
Day 05 – Kaziranga
Another day spent cruising upstream. We shall take time to pause and walk through a bankside village, getting an insight into the life of rural India.
Day 06 – Majuli Island
Around breakfast time, we should reach Majuli Island, supposedly the world’s largest river island, and possessing unique Hindu monasteries famed for their dance-drama performances - the whole island is now shortlisted for future UNESCO World Heritage status. We visit a monastery at Auniati with an eclectic museum, then attend a dance performance at Kamalbari monastery, before cruising across to Neamati Ghat on the opposite bank.
Day 07 – Horu Charai
We visit Horu Charai tea estate this morning and see all the processes of tea production (factory inoperative between December and mid-March) then drive for about an hour to Sibsagar, the one-time capital of the kings of Assam. Shan by origin (Assam and Siam share the same derivation) but converted to Hinduism they ruled Assam for some 700 years until the 1820s, and their culture and architecture is a strange and delightful amalgam of Indian and S.E. Asian. We shall 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 the ship which will have cruised up to Dikhou Mukh 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).
Day 08 – Jorhat
AM drive c.2 ½ hrs to Dibrugarh airport, passing through this typical colonial town and major base for American flights over “The Hump” to China in WWII. Alternatively transfer c. 1 ½ hrs to Jorhat airport.
Itinerary subject to river conditions.
Kaziranga National Park contains low-lying grassland which may not be visitable when the river is at or near flood level.
Price covers cruise on full board, all excursions, all airport transfers within Assam. Excluded are drinks at the bar, laundry, tips, and camera fees in national parks.
Prices are available on request