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.
Arrive at Jorhat airport and transfer 2½ 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.
Disembark pre-dawn and drive to Kaziranga National Park's Central Range for an early morning elephant ride, the best way 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.
The day is spent on the river, and we have a good chance of spotting Gangetic dolphin, as well as creating a sensation in bank side villages as we pass. We should arrive in the evening at lonely Dhansiri Mukh.
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.
Another day spent cruising upstream. We shall take time to pause and walk through a bank side village, getting an insight into the life of rural India.
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 short listed 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.
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).
Today drive to Dibrugarh airport, passing through this typical colonial town and major base for American flights over "The Hump" to China in WWII.
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.
River cruise subject to river conditions, elephant safaris subject to availability. Both Kaziranga and Orang National Parks contain low-lying grassland which may not be visitable when the river is at or near flood level.
While every effort will be made to maintain the itinerary, in view of fluctuating river conditions and navigational or mechanical difficulties, all schedules and itineraries are subject to change without notice.
Clients must accept the decisions of the captain, cruise and Lodge managers, who are responsible for the safety of the vessel/lodges. The cruise/lodge managers shall have the power to remove from the vessel/lodges any client if considered necessary for their medical safety or whose actions are materially affecting the enjoyment of the cruise/lodges by other clients.
Clients must be fully insured to cover the costs of medical evacuation, and the company cannot accept responsibility for arranging such evacuation.
The company cannot accept liability for loss or damage to passengers' property whilst staying with us. All valuables should be deposited with the cruise or lodge manager.
Should fuel costs rise by more than 10% over those obtaining at the time of publishing the yearly tariff, the company may impose a fuel surcharge to cover the extra cost.
We make safety of clients our highest priority, is continually monitoring local conditions, and may modify or cancel cruises for this reason. Nevertheless there may be occasions when opinions vary over the safety of visiting the region, and we have therefore introduced the following conditions.
The client warrants that at the time of booking, he is not travelling TO THE SPECIFIC AREA OF THE CRUISE contrary to the advice of his own national Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Should that advice have subsequently changed to a definite recommendation against travelling for leisure purposes TO THE SPECIFIC AREA OF THE CRUISE, and should the altered advice still be current 10 days or less before departure, then Assam Bengal Navigation will credit all moneys paid towards a subsequent booking to be taken within 24 months of the initial departure date. Where the client has initially booked contrary to the recommendations of his own government and subsequently decided to cancel, our normal cancellation conditions will apply.
Any dispute arising out of this contract will be governed by Indian law.