Assam is the ideal destination for those who love horses and horse riding as it brings back the nostalgia of the life the British planters led. Ride along the banks of the Brahmaputra as the river comes alive. Enjoy an exhilarating canter along the sandy shores or just walk gently through the villages of the river people. The extensive trails in the tea gardens will also make an attractive ride. See the tea pluckers at work, plucking fresh green tips destined for the estate factory.
Received at Dibrugarh airport and transferred to Mancotta/Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow (30 mins) in the midst of a tea estate. Check in for 04 nights. In the afternoon, take a short introductory ride around a tea estate. Evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight at the Chang Bungalow.
(Riding Time- 01 hr.)
Dibrugarh is the gateway to the “Hidden Land” of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and Northern Myanmar. The Ahoms from Thailand came through Northern Myanmar to this area in the 13th century to establish their Empire which thrived in the ancient land of Assam. It is the “Camellia” town of Upper Assam, an undisturbed haven, with its rich tea gardens resembling a lush green carpet. Experience and enjoy the richness of these tea gardens while staying at the Heritage Chang Bungalows. These are constructed on stilts and are situated in a serene atmosphere free from pollution.
When the British established their tea plantations in the mid-19th century they quickly built comfortable bungalows designed to make life as pleasant as possible in what, was to them, a hostile and strange land. One of the main features of these buildings has given rise to their name – Chang bungalows. Chang in the local language means “raised on stilts” and the design served multi purposes- to keep the house cool by allowing the breeze to blow underneath and to keep both water and animals out!
After breakfast your ride takes through the rolling carpet of tea bushes and onto the banks of the Brahmaputra river – the best possible way to see the countryside as you journey unhurriedly and enjoy the thrill of riding along the beaches of the river and the grasslands, often encountering rural settlements. Enjoy picnic lunch on a tree house. Option to visit stable thereafter. Evening, enjoy a cultural programme (Bihu Dance) on the lawns of the bungalow. Dinner and overnight at the Chang Bungalow.
Bihu is the most popular folk dance of Assam. The people of Assam are very proud of its unique position among all other such dances of India. Except Bhangra (the popular folk dance of Punjab), no other folk dance in India can compete with the rhythmic exuberance of the Bihu dance.
(Riding time during the day: 03 hrs)
Post breakfast, the ride today takes you to the riverfront from where you embark on a boat cruise to a river island in the midst of the mighty Brahmaputra. A picnic lunch is organized. Enjoy kayaking on the river. Return late in the afternoon to the mainland. Enroute visit Mukul Tea Estate where one will see how organic hand rolled green tea is made. Overnight at the Chang Bungalow.
(Riding time during the day: 03 hrs)
Mukul Tea Estate has an area of 27hectares and is about 8 Kms (approx 30mins) away from Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow. The entire garden which is organic, is located within pristine surroundings. The estate, has within its boundary, a tea plantation, a rich bamboo stand and a wet land which attracts numerous bird species. Visitors can enjoy a firsthand experience of plucking tea by hand and preparing roasted green tea themselves.
Today your ride takes through the lush green tea plantations of Ethelwold and Jalannagar Tea Estate. Later we take a tea tour around a tea estate known for producing high quality CTC teas. Learn all about tea - its origin, how it is grown, all about tea tasting and its quality. Return to the Chang Bungalow for a late lunch. Post lunch drive to Tinsukia (01 hr) and on arrival check in at Wathai Heritage Bungalow, Limbuguri Tea Estate for 02 nights.
(Riding time during the day: 03 hrs)
A TEA TOUR through a 160 years old heritage tea garden will give you an insight into the different activities that vary from season to season. It will teach you all about tea- its origin, how it is grown, tea tasting and its quality. The estates come alive with teams of colourfully dressed tea pluckers, predominantly ladies, who pluck the delicate buds and leaves. The harvest is taken every day to the factory where it undergoes an age old process of being turned into the finished product. All stages of the process are carefully controlled to ensure that the product which leaves the factory is only of the highest quality, a quality that has made Assam tea world famous.
CTC (Crush, Tear and Curl) tea is a method of processing tea. In this process the leaves instead of being rolled, are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of small sharp "teeth" that Crush, Tear, and Curl.This style of manufacture has the advantage that the finished product brews quickly, gives a dark infusion rapidly, is well suited for tea bags, and yields more cups per kg. In the Indian domestic market, this product has virtually taken over - over 80% of the tea produced is of the CTC type. It produces a rich red-brown color when the tea leaves are boiled and so is best suited for tea made in the Indian style. This is done by boiling leaves in a mixture of milk, water and sugar and some spices (producing Masala Chai).
Orthodox tea: The manufacturing process of orthodox tea is quite different from CTC. Instead of the tea leaf been crushed, the leaves are rolled in a machine that twist and break the leaves to release the natural chemicals that later react with oxygen in the air and give the tea its characteristic aroma and taste. It is the leafy variety of tea.
Visit to a tea factory is subject to it being operational on the day of the visit. There is no tea plucking between December till mid March and hence the actual manufacturing process of tea cannot be demonstrated when one visits the factory during this period. The factory also remains closed on Monday’s of the week.
Steal yourself away to a ‘Wathai Heritage Bunglow, Limbuguri Tea estate- this plinth bungalow will allow you to rejuvenate your senses. Located just 5km from Dibru Saikhowa National Park, it is the ideal retreat for a birding break. This ‘Managers Bungalow’, defines serenity and you will most certainly leave revitalized. It has been recently renovated and is the ideal base whether on a quest for quietude or seeking refuge whilst on an explorative ornithological voyage at the neighboring Dibru Saikhowa National park . Although reverine in nature, this park remains open most of the year with innumerable varieties of colourful birds chirping at various pitches and hopping from branch to branch. It is indeed an orinthologist’s delight. Endangered species like Gangetic Dolphin and Feral Horses are common sights in Dibru- Saikhowa.
Fresh tea can be enjoyed in the ‘jali room” to the front of the bungalow in a peaceful atmosphere overlooking the manicured gardens, while meals are served in the spacious dining room complete with an original fireplace. The family room and two large bedrooms complete with ensuite enables eight people to sleep here very comfortably.
Today early morning we visit Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Magori Bheel. We take several boat rides on the Dibru River, go for a jungle walk, bird and gangetic dolphin sighting.
Post lunch we drive to Digboi (80 kms/ 01 ½ hr), the first Oil town of South Asia. We visit the Oil Museum and the 2nd World War Allied Forces Cemetery where 200 graves are permanently maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Evening drive back to the bungalow and overnight.
Dibru-Saikhowa National Park has the most distinct and vibrant wilderness on earth and is known for its pristine scenic beauty. The forest in this park ranges from semi-evergreen to deciduous to littoral to swampy marshes with patches of wet evergreen jungles. Dibru-Saikhowa is a safe haven to many rare and endangered species of over 350 birds and is a must visit site for target-list birders. The big four here are Jerdon's Bushchat, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Marsh babbler and Jerdon’s bushchat. Several other rarely observed species can be found in its extensive grasslands, wetlands, and riverine forests. These include Baer's Pochard, Bengal Florican, Pale-capped Pigeon, Falcated duck, Baikal teal, Chinese spotbilled duck and Rufous vented prinia. Dibru-Saikhowa is a haven for an incredible number of waders ,ducks and raptors. It is well known for grassland birds.
Digboi, the first oil town of Asia, is believed to have derived its name from a command- "dig-boy-dig!"- given by the original explorers to their laborers to dig when they found traces of oil in this area. Digboi takes pride in having the second oldest oil refinery in the world which is still partially operational and it also has the distinction of establishing the first oil museum in India. Its 18 hole golf course is an added attraction which lies adjacent to the Upper Dehing Reserve Forest. This golf course is known for its scenic beauty. A visit to the nearby 2nd World War Cemetery and the centenary park offers a unique experience.
Digboi Museum remains closed on Monday’s of the week.
Today early morning we visit the Barekuri Village at Tinsukia. Interact with the local villagers and learn about their tradition and culture. Later post breakfast your ride takes you around the tea plantations of Limbuguri Tea Estate. Later in the afternoon drive to Dibrugarh (01 hr) and check in at Mancotta/Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow. Overnight at the bungalow.
Barekuri – is an Assamese village situated next to the famous Dibru Saikhowa National Park, at a distance of about 10 kms from Guijan . The village is famous for Hollock gibbon, an endangered ape species found in India . Here, the Hollock gibbon has been protected and cared for, ever since one can remember, by the villagers because of their age old religious beliefs. Every day the villagers feed them to ensure that these primates always stay in and around the village. The villagers never cut their tall trees, as gibbons live on them. They also believe that it is a bad omen if a gibbon is seen walking on the ground
(Riding time during the day: 03 hrs)
Post breakfast we drive to Sivasagar (80kms / 2hrs) to visit the Ahom monuments and temples which encompass the 600 year old history of the Ahom Dynasty. After lunch at Sivasagar, we drive to Kaziranga National Park (140 kms / 3 hrs) and check in hotel for 02 nights. Evening visit Kaziranga Orchid Park cum Biodiversity Conservation Centre at Kaziranga. Dinner and overnight.
Sivasagar was once the capital of the Ahom Kings. The Shans who came from Thailand through Northern Myanmar to this area in early 13th century, ruled for 600 years. The Siva Temple, built by the Ahoms, situated here is believed to be the tallest of all existing Hindu temples. The ruins of the Ahom palaces and monuments dot the landscape around this historical town. Centuries, before the arrival of the British, this part of the world was controlled by a number of tribal chieftains.
In the town of Sivasagar, one can still see the remaining well preserved relics. The largest and the oldest ampi-theatre of Asia (Rang Ghar) is also another remarkable landmark in the history of Sivasagar. The Tai- Ahom Museum of Sivsagar contains some of the relics of the Ahom period like – swords, clothes, manuscripts and sundry artifacts
The Kaziranga National Park is a World Heritage Site, where more than 75% of the world’s total population of the Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros can be found. It lies on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River and is one of the oldest parks of Assam. Besides rhinos, the Asiatic Water Buffalo numbering over 1200, elephants over 1000, tigers more than 81, Swamp deer, Barking deer and Hog deer can be seen. About 400 species of birds are found in Kaziranga National Park. Swamp Francolin, Kalij Pheasant, Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Shoveller, Northern Pintail, Streak Throated Woodpecker, Bay Woodpecker, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Osprey, Palas’s Fish Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Pied Falconets, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Greater Adjutant Stork, Black necked Stork, Grey-headed Lapwing, Indian White Backed Vulture, Long Billed Vulture, along with a large number of Spotted Billed Pelicans can be seen. Sighting is excellent and is always a great experience. The specialties here are the blue napped pitta among a host of eagles and waterfowl.
The Kaziranga Orchid Park cum Biodiversity Conservation Centre is spread across 16 bighas of land. It also has a photo gallery of 500 orchids, a greenhouse, lakes with boating and angling facilities and small tree-houses, among other attractions. The basic purpose of opening this park was to conserve local varieties of orchids, flowers, fruits, fish and also to spread cultural awareness knowledge . Those visiting the park will also be able to taste juices of local fruits, pithas (local cakes) and enjoy Borgeet and Xattriya dance performances as well. Experts have been involved to give shape to the park. Khonjit Gogoi, a teacher who has been preserving orchids for the past 20 years pitched in to shape the park. As did Mahan Bora, a farmer, with his 10-year experience in collecting paddy varieties, Kunti Bora, an expert in medicinal plants, who helped in opening a medicinal plants sales counter, Bihu expert, Dhaneswar Saikia who showcases the original Bihu dance forms and music while Xattriya expert, Biplob Baruah for Xattriya dance training
Note: The park remains open from 1st Nov to 30th April only.
We spent the full day exploring the beautiful forests and grasslands of the National Park with morning 01 Elephant Safari (Optional) followed by 01 Jeep Safari post breakfast. Post lunch enjoy another Jeep Safari. Overnight at the hotel.
Approximately 45 mins duration 05.15to 06.15 , 06.15 to 07.15
Elephant safari for foreign nationals are held only on Kaziranga Range, Kohora (Central Range) Allocation of elephant riding seats and timings are regulated by the forest department, Kaziranga National Park, Government of Assam. The tickets for the same are issued only on the previous evening of the ride after 7:30 PM. subject to availability.
It starts very early in the morning and continues for approx 45 minutes. It is the best way to explore the wide variety of wildlife in Kaziranga National Park. The park is covered by elephant grass which is very high and so the view from elephant back is perfect! During the course of the safari one can see herds of Indian Elephants, One-horned Rhinoceros at a very close distance. This proximity to wild animals in Kaziranga National Park makes the trip memorable and thrilling. The elephant safari takes place in the central range of the park and one gets good views of the rhino while traversing through its terrain of swamps and tall grass. It is also great for early morning photography of rhinos in the mist. There are good chances of seeing the Bengal Florican from elephant back.
Forenoon: Entry time between 0730 to 1000 Hours. No entry after 1000 Hrs
Afternoon: Entry time between 1330 to 1500 Hours. No entry after 1500 Hrs.
Jeep Safaris are permitted on pre-defined tourist circuits within Kaziranga National Park- currently at the following four points. Each of these circuits takes about one and half to two and half hours (or even more depending upon interest of the tourists), subject to local range conditions and weather. Jeep Safari may be cancelled / curtailed due to any reason by the Park Authorities without prior notice.
1. Mihimukh in Central Range at Kohora
2. Bagori in Western Range at Bagori
3. Agaratoli in Eastern Range at Agaratoli
4. Ghorakati in Burapahar Range at Ghorakhati
The Central Range passes through the entire habitat spectrum from ox-bow lakes, savannah woodland to swamp forests. It is very good for mammal sightings as well as for birds (Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Great Hornbill, Rufous Woodpecker). While driving along the trail, one can see rows of Indian Roofed and Tent Turtles (Kachuga tecta and Kachuga tentoria). Water Monitors Varanus salvator are sometimes spotted in the beels.
The Eastern Range abounds in water birds such as bar-headed geese, falcated duck, grey-headed lapwing and spot-billed pelican (a colony of 200 pairs of this globally threatened species nesting on the Bombax trees can be found here).
The Western Range has the highest density of rhinos as this part of the park is swampier. It has grassland birds and raptors (swamp francolin, pallas's fish eagle etc ). Smooth Indian Otters ( Lutrogale perspicillata) can sometimes be seen fishing in it’s ox-bow lakes.
Post breakfast drive Jorhat/Dibrugarh/Guwahati airport to board flight for onward destination.
Kaziranga to Jorhat airport: 80 kms / 02 hrs
Kaziranga to Dibrugarh airport: 220 kms / 04 ½ hrs
Kaziranga to Guwahati airport: 220 kms / 04 ½ hrs (at Supplement cost)