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Wedged between Burma and Bangladesh, the Indian states of Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland offer a glimpse of remote tribal cultures. Journey through lesser-trodden paths to witness these fascinating ways of life, travelling to the very edge of India and taking in the heritage Hornbill Festival. Along the way, stay in a stilt house and taste tea straight from the plantation.
Explore Tour Leader
2 nights simple guesthouse
5 nights comfortable hotel
5 nights simple hotel
2 nights simple hut
2 nights simple lodge
Trip maximum 12
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our tour begins in Guwahati, Assam's bustling capital, which sits on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River. Our hotel is located close to Paltan Bazaar and the riverbank with plenty to explore within walking distance.
Our tour leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for a welcome meeting. If you'd like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (GAU), which is around one hour from the hotel. If you miss the welcome meeting, our tour leader will catch you up as soon as possible.
Dynasty Hotel (or similar)
Today, we'll board a small, local ferry to take us across the Brahmaputra to the 17\super th\nosupersub -century Shiva temple of Umananda. Located on Peacock Island, believed to be the world's smallest inhabited riverine island, the temple stands dramatically at the top of a series of steep steps.
After exploring the island, we'll return to the city and stop for lunch before a walking tour taking in the colourful markets of Paltan Bazaar. In the late afternoon, we'll walk to Janardhan Temple; set right on the banks of the river, it's an ideal spot for watching the sun setting over the Brahmaputra.
Leaving the city after breakfast, today we'll head towards the pine forests and rolling hills of Shillong, a region that the colonial British once described as the 'Scotland of India'. We'll make a stop at Elephant Falls. Following the path, we'll descend to the foot of the falls, and from this perspective, the three tiers of the falls are revealed.
Afterward, we'll continue our drive until we reach the Mawphlang Sacred Forest. A haven for orchids and butterflies, these beautiful and sacred groves have been preserved for countless millennia and form a remarkable living museum that contrasts sharply with the expansive grasslands that surround them.
We'll have a picnic lunch on the edge of the forest before completing our journey to Cherrapunjee, a town with a reputation as one of the wettest places on earth.
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort (or similar)
Following breakfast this morning, we'll take a short drive to the start of our hike through the spectacular scenic beauty of the Khasi Hills. These fertile landscapes are home to the Khasi people, who are believed to be descended from the Mon-Khmer tribes of Southeast Asia.
The first part of the trail takes us down a series of steep, stone steps, passing by small remote houses and on through the villages of Nongthymmai, Mynteng and Nongriat. At Nongriat we'll reach the double-decker living root bridge, a truly unique structure that, over the centuries, has been trained to span the river between two ancient rubber trees, ensuring that - even in the middle of the monsoon season - the villages are not cut off.
After stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch (and a well-earned rest), we'll begin the steep climb back to our bus. The entire walk will take us around six hours and you might find walking poles useful as the steps can be tough on the knees. At the end of the trek, we'll return to Cherrapunjee for a second night.
Today, we'll drive to the World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park. Our journey will take most of the day, but we'll have plenty of chances to stretch our legs.
For the first part of our journey, we'll follow the road back to Shillong, where we'll stop to visit the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Culture. This fascinating museum was set up to preserve and promote the cultural diversity of northeastern India.
After paying a visit to the centre, we'll continue towards the southern banks of the Brahmaputra River and into the national park. Encompassing 430 square kilometres of elephant grass, forest, and swampland, it was established in 1974 to help save the Indian one-horned rhino. Lying in the shadow of the Karbi Anglong Hills, today this magnificent reserve can boast around 1,200 - the greatest number of anywhere in the country.
We'll spend our next two nights in a simple lodge in the heart of this magnificent landscape. The twin-share rooms are simple with en-suite bathrooms. Hot water is provided but can sometimes be limited. The lodge is located just a few kilometres from the entrance gate to Kaziranga National Park, so is ideal for our day of wildlife viewing tomorrow.
Bonhabi Resort (or similar)
We'll start early this morning with a jeep safari in search of the Indian one-horned rhino. They can be hard to find in the tall elephant grass but there are several large watering holes which are ideal viewing spots. As well as rhino, the park is home to tigers, a variety of snakes, large monitor lizards and a significant bird population that includes crested serpent eagles, Palla's fish eagle, great adjutant stork, whistling teal and pelicans.
In the afternoon, we'll take to the jeeps again. Each safari takes approximately two hours, and our jeeps follow fixed routes throughout the park, with a ranger in each to help identify wildlife.
Before dinner, we'll have the opportunity to witness the local tribal communities of the area demonstrating traditional Bihu and Jhumur dance forms. Unique to the region, the dancers wear colourful clothing and are accompanied by drummers.
This morning, we'll depart Kaziranga and head east towards Kohima, Nagaland's thriving capital. We'll travel via the city of Dimapur, the site of the old capital of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom, and visit the ruins of this once prosperous dynasty, before continuing to Kohima. After the flat terrain of Kaziranga, the Naga Hills offer plenty of impressive views during the journey. This region is less populated than other Indian states and for much of the journey we'll be surrounded by forests.
Occupying the eastern fringes of the subcontinent, next to the border with Myanmar, the hills and valleys of this staunchly independent and little-visited region are the traditional homeland of the Nagas, fiercely proud warrior clans who still revere their ancestral beliefs. Interestingly some 90% of today's Nagas are Christian, the British missionaries finding a receptive flock amongst village communities that already believed in a solitary and all-powerful being.
Our drive today is long and once in Nagaland the road conditions deteriorate so it can be slow-going. Once we reach Kohima, we'll stretch our legs with a visit to the WWII cemetery, a memorial that honours one of the most bitterly fought battles of the Second World War.
Our accommodation for tonight is a simple hotel, located across from the WWII cemetery and within a short walk of the town centre, so ideal to explore after our long drive. Rooms are twin-share with en suite bathrooms. The hotel doesn't have heating and it can get cold during the winter months so having a few extra layers for the time here is worthwhile.
Hotel Blue Bayou (or similar)
Today we join locals as they come together and celebrate at the annual Hornbill Festival. Taking place in the first week of December each year the festival is a celebration of the rich heritage of Nagaland. The festival is named after the state bird, the hornbill, admired by the tribes for the grandeur of its plumage. The headdresses worn by many of the tribes reflect the bird's colourful feathers.
Nagaland is home to 16 different tribes, and each will perform traditional dances and music at the festival. Colourful clothing and ornate jewellery and headdresses make it a fantastic opportunity for photographers. The festival ground has seated area where the majority of events take place, it's worth bringing a jumper or something to use as a cushion as the seating arrangements are simple. Recreations of traditional homes surround the ground allowing the chance to see the differences between these rural villages.
Today we'll spend a second day soaking up the atmosphere at the festival. As well as the traditional dances being performed, there's a chance to see traditional artwork and sculptures or pick up a few souvenirs at the various stalls selling handicrafts. Food is a big part of the local culture and there are stalls selling tempting treats throughout the day - look out for dishes containing the famed, spicy naga chilli to sample (if you're brave enough).
Heading north, today we'll drive to the hill town of Mokochung, a typical Naga town surrounded by Ao tribal villages.
Along the way, we'll stop and explore Longkhum village; once a key location for the Ao to launch attacks on their rival tribes back in the old headhunting days, today it's well known for its handicrafts. The village's high point is occupied by a watch tower which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The village is also home to a set of preserved footprints that are believed to belong to Chenna and Etiben, the Romeo and Juliet of Ao mythology.
Our long drive ends in Mokochung, the cultural centre of the Ao and the most economically and politically important city in northern Nagaland. Our accommodation for tonight is a simple hotel with twin-share, en-suite rooms.
Whispering Winds (or similar)
This morning, we'll take a short drive to the town of Neematighat, where we'll board a ferry across to the island of Majuli, the largest river island in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Majuli is home to a handful of Hindu temples and has been considered the cultural capital of Assam for the past 500 years. Its origins are steeped in mystery, but it's believed that the social reformer Shankardeva came here in the 16th century and established the 'satras' (monasteries and hermitages) that dot the island, sowing the seeds for a unique tribal culture that continues today. The satras have become beacons of art and religion and, on arrival on the island, we'll visit some as we make our way to our overnight eco camp.
Our accommodation for the next two nights is in simple Mishing-style stilt houses. Rooms are twin share with a simple bathroom each. They're raised approximately eight feet from the ground to ensure everyone stays dry during the monsoon months.
Our main bags will stay in Neematighat and we'll be using just an overnight bag for our stay on Majuli.
Enchanting Majuli Resort (or similar)
We'll spend today exploring the island on foot, visiting some of its monasteries and learning more about Majuli's unique traditions. The monasteries are still seen as centres for learning, drama and dance, and the ethnic culture of the Mishing and the Deori have remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Several of the satras specialise in making masks and we'll have the chance to see how they are made and learn the myths and stories behind their designs.
Besides its cultural importance, the island is also well known for its migratory birdlife, giving us the chance to encounter some of its resident birds. As we explore the island, we'll spot bee eaters, adjutant storks and kingfishers perched on poles looking for their next meal. Our accommodation is close to a tributary and for those up early, it offers a great chance for some pre-breakfast bird watching.
This morning, we'll say goodbye to our stilt houses and take the ferry back to the mainland to drive to the town of Mon.
Mon is the district headquarters for the region and is populated almost exclusively by Konyaks and Aos; tribes distinguishable by their elaborate dress, adorned with a rich array of jewellery and colourful designs.
As we're back in Nagaland the roads deteriorate again and it's slow going. We'll arrive in Mon in the afternoon and have the rest of the day free to explore. There are very limited accommodation options in Mon and our guesthouse is very simple. Rooms are twin share with en suite bathrooms however the water supply can be erratic so hot water isn't always available.
Teihpha Cottage (or similar)
This morning, we'll visit Longwa village, one of the largest villages in the Mon district, located directly on the Indian/Myanmar border. The village chief, known as the Angh, controls an area that extends into the neighbouring Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and into Myanmar. The international border line runs through the middle of his house, so his kitchen is in Myanmar and his bedroom is in India.
The villagers are part of the Konyak tribe. The traditional ceremonial attire of the Konyaks is elaborate, with headdresses and ornate weaponry combining with elephant tusk bracelets and colourful feathers, which we'll have seen during the Hornbill Festival. We'll also have a chance to get an up-close glimpse at the jewellery and tattoos that signify how successful the males were during their lives as headhunters.
We'll explore the village with the local headman and take a walk up to a viewpoint where we'll have a picnic lunch with views of Nagaland and across into Myanmar. After lunch, we'll then return to Mon
Today, we'll head for Dibrugarh in the upper districts of Assam. The drive will take us via the town of Sivasagar, the former capital of the Ahom Kingdom which ruled this region for six centuries, from 1228 until their destruction by the Burmese in the early 19th century. We'll stop and visit the ancient ruins before continuing to the city that has been titled the 'Tea City of India'.
Located close to the Brahmaputra River, Dibrugarh lies in the heart of Assam's tea country, its surrounding estates accounting for 50% of the entire region's tea crop. In 1950 a major earthquake, measuring 8.5 on the Richter Scale, diverted the course of the river and wiped out three-quarters of the old city. From those disastrous ashes, a new city arose, one that's gone on to become a major centre of learning and commerce in India's northeastern provinces.
Our accommodation for tonight is in colonial tea bungalows, twin-share rooms set within peaceful gardens on the edge of the city. They're a great chance to relax and reflect on the experience of exploring the remote villages of Nagaland.
Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow (or similar)
We'll have a relaxed start to the morning today. After breakfast, we'll visit Ethelwold tea plantation and have a chance to see how one of our favourite drinks is grown, harvested, and processed using the crush, tear and curl method. Most importantly, we'll have a chance to taste the tea. Tea from Ethelwold is mostly used for the Indian domestic market and is ideal for making strong masala chai.
In the afternoon, we'll take the short flight back to Guwahati. After checking in to our hotel, the evening is free for a final meal together.
Our tour ends at our hotel in Guwahati.
There are no activities planned today, so you're free to depart at any time. If your flight leaves later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you'd like a hotel transfer, you'll need to depart from Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (GAU), around a one-hour drive from the hotel.
There is considerable variation between the different regions of India but, in general, the climate is tropical. Summer temperatures on the plains are very hot, but cooled by the South-West Monsoon, which lasts from June- September. During these months it can be very wet and therefore very humid. At altitude, temperatures can become quite cool at night even in the summer and may drop below freezing between December and February so warm clothing is necessary. In the winter, northern and mid India can be very cool, with cold evenings, so warm clothing, including plenty of layers, are essential. The south of India remains warm and sunny during the winter months.
3 Pin Round
Catholicism, Hindu, Islam and Sikhism
Hindi and English.
In general only lightweight clothing is needed during the day with average temperatures around 25 degrees celcius. Early mornings and evenings can be cold, averaging 10 degrees, so a windproof jacket, warm layers, gloves and hat are also recommended. Hotel heating arrangements are not on a par with UK standards and from December to February thermals are also recommended. Casual clothes are the most practical: tight fitting garments, brief shorts and skirts should be avoided, since they attract unwelcome attention. Waterproofs and or and umbrella may be useful.
Comfortable shoes or trainers and sandals.
One main piece of baggage and a daypack. We recommend a holdall or rucksack for ease of getting on and off trains and buses and please remember, you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. You will need to take an overnight bag whilst staying on Majuli Island, the main luggage will be left in Neematighat. Please note on internal flights the lugagge limit is 15kg.
A walking pole will be useful for the walk to the living tree bridges in Cherrapungee. The terrain is steep steps for the entire walk and so the additional support can ease the strain on knees. We also advise taking a water bottle for day to day use. A sheet sleeping bag can be useful to use in addition to blankets provided at some of the hotels. The roads in Nagaland are of varying condition, driving is often slow going. For those who suffer from travel sickness it is worth having your usual remedy to hand as there are some windy sections on several days.
Bus, 4WD, Ferry
Accommodation in India is as varied as the country itself and standards might not always meet those back home. Service can be slow, especially when travelling with a group and a number of hotels in India don't serve alcohol due to complicated licencing laws or for religious reasons. Hot water is not always available at small properties and with a group staying, you might find the water is cooler if you're showering last. Hotels also don't usually have heating, so it can become chilly in the winter months, however, blankets will always be provided. Note, on the final two nights in Dibrugarh, our group will be split between two tea plantations, four kilometres apart, Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow and Chowkidinghe Heritage Chang Bungalow. Both are of equal standard, however, Mancotta is bigger so meals will be served there. Transfers will be provided.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
India: Holders of passports endorsed British citizen, as well as Australian, New Zealand and US passport holders may be eligible for the e-Tourist Visa to enter India. Unfortunately the Indian government are not currently granting visas for anybody travelling with a Canadian passport. The visa can be applied for through the official Indian government visa website only - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html . Please check all eligibility criteria that can be found on the website but important points are listed below - You must be arriving into one of 29 selected entry points which can be found via the official Indian Government website link above. However, you can exit from any of the authorised immigration check posts in India. Passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of arrival in India and at least two blank pages for stamping. Visa applications will take approximately 4 days to process. There are different validity visas and the costs are as follows: 30-day validity (travelling between April and June) - $10 30-day validity (travelling between July and March) - $25 1-year validity - $40 5-year validity- $80 Those applying for a 30 day electronic visa can only apply within 30 days of arrival for your visa to be valid. Furthermore double entry is permitted and you can only obtain two 30-day visas in a calendar year. Please note these costs are subject to frequent change so you should check on the official Indian government visa website mentioned above. Biometric data will be collected on arrival in India. If you are not eligible for the e-Tourist Visa, please refer to VFS Global to apply for your Indian visa - https://www.vfsglobal.com/india/uk/how_to_apply.html Whilst the online form offers a relatively quick way to apply for a visa, some applicants have reported difficulty in completing the form. If you do require assistance, then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. They can complete the online visa on your behalf for a service fee + the visa cost. See www.travcour.com http://www.travcour.com If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com http://www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity 20
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against Tetanus, Infectious Hepatitis, Typhoid and Polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.