I TRAVELLED: with my extended family with kids ages 8 + 11 years old
TYPE OF TRAVEL: child-friendly, adventurous, cultural, safari
FOR: 12 days
DATES: 24 December 2017 – 3 January 2018
PRICE POINT: $$$
A LUXURY ASSAM SAFARI
The main reason for choosing Assam was to visit the tea estates and Kaziranga National Park. My husband and I are originally from South Africa and have worked on safari so it is very important for us to choose a lodge where the guides are of a high standard. We paid a lot for the safari as we have had some disastrous experiences in India in the past with lots of racing around chasing tigers!
You can travel directly from Bangalore to Guwahati which takes only 3 hours. A few airlines operate on this route including Air Asia, SpiceJet, Air India, and Jet Airways and IndiGo which we used. I booked this directly on Clear Trip. Our guide from ChaloHoppo was at arrivals to meet us.
We chose to use ChaloHoppo and they were excellent. My husband’s colleague recommended them and we were very happy with their service. We had a guide with us for Cherapunjee (Living Root Bridges area and trek). For the rest of the time, the driver was with us. His English was excellent and we always felt safe.
This is our complete itinerary which ChaloHoppo put together for us. It was really varied and gave us a nice mix of trekking, safari, luxury, and culture.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN NORTHEAST + DRIVE TO CHERRAPUNJEE
Reach Guwahati airport and make your way to the hills of Meghalaya. The 4-hour drive on NH6 will take you away from the bustling capital of Assam to a much greener Meghalaya.
En route you will be passing the famous Umiam Lake or Barapani and should stop by for a boat ride to enjoy the views of the Meghalayan hills.
Continue your way towards Jiva Resort in Cherrapunjee for the night.
DAY 2: A DAY IN CHERRAPUNJEE
Have an early breakfast, get ready for the double-decker Living Root Bridges trek. The trek begins from Tyrna, a village 30 minutes away from the resort which acts as the base point of the trek.
The trek down will take you around 75 minutes and is a 3,000 step downward trek. Once you are near the living root bridges, take a dip in the clear waters of Nongriat, or continue trekking to some beautiful natural pools in the village. You can start your climb back up to Tyrna in the early evening.
Overnight stay at Jiva Resort, Cherrapunjee
DAY 3: A NIGHT IN SHILLONG
(drive time- 2 hours)
Get a good night of sleep and wake up fresh to explore the town of Sohra. Some of the famous places you could visit are Nokhalikai falls, Arwah caves and Dainthlen falls. If you are interested in zip lining, you could stop at Mawkdok for an adrenaline rush. Start your drive towards Rikynjai Resort by afternoon and spend the evening with the Umiam Lake as your view.
Overnight at Ri Kynjai Resort
DAY 4: DRIVE TO THE TEA ESTATES
Start the 5-hour drive towards the Tea Gardens of Balipara post an early breakfast and check into your rooms by lunchtime. Enjoy a nice meal at the resort and either relax in the rooms or walk/cycle around the tea gardens.
In the evening, make your way to the Mishing village of Baligaon Green Village for a night of delicious local cuisine and traditional dance. Return to the resort for the night.
Overnight at Wild Mahseer
DAY 5: A DAY OF RIVER RAFTING
River Rafting on the Jia Bhoroli near Wild Mahseer is one of the most relaxing and tranquil experiences and should not be missed.
After breakfast at Wild Mahseer drive past blooming mustard fields, where, on a clear day, the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas are in full view. Inflatable rafts and paddles await and with 2 rafting guides looking after each boat, an unforgettable voyage down the crystal clear waters of this beautiful Brahmaputra tributary begins.
Either take up a paddle as you bob over the gentle rapids or simply soak up the peaceful panorama while being entertained by the antics of ruddy shelducks, soaring Pallas’s fish eagles, graceful Brahmani kites and rows of black cormorants spreading out their wings to dry having just dived for a meal. After a couple of hours drifting down the river, guides pull the rafts onto the bank near the Nameri Forest Camp.
Lunch, often a selection of Assamese fish, chicken, vegetable curries and salad, is served and after a brief rest, make a short trek through the jungle to spot more birds and perhaps something bigger! As Nameri National Park is a tiger reserve and home to many wild elephants, visitors must be accompanied by an armed park ranger at all times.
After a short paddle on an open narrow long boat, next on the agenda is a visit to the Pygmy Hog Foundation before relaxing once again to enjoy afternoon tea served in the beautiful grounds of the delightful Eco Camp. Then it’s back into the vehicle for the 30-minute return drive to Wild Mahseer.
DAY 6: TEA TASTING + TEA FACTORY
While staying right in the heart of Assam, a region famous for its black tea noted for its body, strong bright colour, and unique malty flavor, some may like to take this further and become initiated into the mystique of tea.
Wild Mahseer displays 57 different types and grades of tea from every corner of the World. You will also be taught how to assess the quality of the tea and to make your experience even better, Wild Mahseer have put together an array of unique blends, using both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and extracts. Enjoy sampling the wide boutique of teas and even create your own personal blend to take home.
Overnight stay at Wild Mahseer
DAY 7 + 8: SAFARI AT DIPHLU RIVER LODGE
Drive to the Diphlu River Lodge in the morning, it should take you around 2 hours, and enjoy two jeep safaris on each day for the first two days in Kaziranga.
A professional naturalist will be accompanying you for these safaris and the vehicles used will be open, windowless vehicles with front-facing seats for jeep safaris into the park. Explore the 4 ranges of Kaziranga over the two days, trying to spot the variety of flora and fauna on offer. While you are almost certain to see the famous one-horned rhino, you could get lucky and spot the Indian leopard, the clouded leopard, and even the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Overnight stay at Diphlu River Lodge
DAY 9: DRIVE TO GUWAHATI
Go for the morning safari prior to breakfast and return to the hotel to freshen up before your drive to Guwahati, which will take you around 5 hours. Reach the city in time to catch your flight in the evening.
WHERE TO STAY
ChaloHoppo organized the accommodation during the entire trip. We went with their recommendations but we also were able to choose from different options had we wanted to.
Jiva Resort, Saitsohpen, Near Kutmadan, Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya 793108, www.jivaresortcherrapunjee.com
Ri Kynjai Resort, Umniuh Khwan, UCC Road, Ri Bhoi District, Meghalaya, www.Rikynjai.com
Wild Mahseer, Balipara Division Addabarie Tea Estate, Sonitpur Dist, Off National Highway 52, Balipara, Assam 784101, wildmahseer.com
Diphlu River Lodge, Police Outpost, Kaziranga National Park Near Bagori, Kuthari, Assam 782136, www.diphluriverlodge.com
GOOD TO KNOW
Assam completely surpassed our expectations, we loved it. The roads were very good and when the driver said it would take 2 hours it actually did!! The safari and staying at Diphlu Lodge were the highlight. Wild Mahseer in the tea estate was also wonderful and the living root bridges trek. The photos of the clear blue water are not edited in any way… it’s incredible that was actually taken in India!
The best season at Kaziranga National Park is from November to April (the park remains closed the rest of the year during the monsoon season.)