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 Park, together with a short cruise on the mighty Brahmaputra River and an exploration of the little-visited Orang National Park. 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 ....
DAY 1 : Manas National Park: 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. 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 west at Phuntsoling
DAY 2 : Manas National Park: 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 : Guwahati : We drive back to Guwahati this morning via Hajo, a place sacred to Hindus, Moslems and Buddhists. We visit a Moslem shrine with extensive hilltop 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. After lunch at an idyllic private estate, we reach Guwahati and are taken on a short sightseeing tour of the city. 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. Finally walk through a local market before embarking on ABN Charaidew or ABN Sukapha. We set sail and cruise for about an hour and a half upstream to Kurua on the north bank.
DAY 4 : In Cruise (Guwahati) - The day is spent cruising upstream, with hills rising on either side. Battling against strong currents, we reach an idyllic stop at Ganesh Pahar, where we can explore on foot a delightfully serene hinterland lying under jungle-covered slopes.
DAY 5 : In Cruise (Guwahati) - Leaving the hills behind, we enjoy our first taste of the wilderness experience, sand banks like icebergs on either side. We may make a short stop to visit a bankside village, creating a sensation as we do. We moor for the night in a lunar landscape of sand islands, with hopefully the Himalayas in view and providing a contrasting backdrop in the distance.
DAY 6 : Kaziranga National Park - Rising early, we say goodbye to our ship and take to our country boat for a cruise up a side stream into the Orang National Park. Here in this rarely visited park we mount elephants or take jeeps and ride through forest and grassland looking for rhino, deer and other wildlife. We then rendezvous with our transport and are driven to Tezpur, where we visit the 6 th century Da Parbatia temple ruins with a beautifully carved portal, before carrying on across a seemingly endless new bridge 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 : Kaziranga’s Central Range - 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 : Guwahati - An early start for the 4 hour drive back to Guwahati airport, or 2 hrs drive to Jorhat airport. Alternatively prolong your stay at Kaziranga, subject to availability.