NEW 2024 Mountaineering Expedition Damodar Exploratory trek with Simon Yates> View trip details

20 Days$8890USD

  • Adventure Touring
  • 4 day trek
  • 15 nights hotel/guesthouse
  • 4 nights camping
  • 17 Dinners
  • 12 Lunches
  • 19 Breakfasts
Introductory to Moderate

Trip highlights

  • Travelling in the company of writer, journalist and former diplomat in India, John Zubrzycki
  • In-depth art, culture and history tours in Kolkata
  • An evening magic performance in Kolkata with illusionist, David Nobo
  • Witnessing the extraordinary music, dance and theatre at Majuli’s Raas Lila festival rarely visited by foreign tourists
  • Look out for the one-horned rhino on an elephant safari in the UNESCO World Heritage-declared Kazaringa National Park
  • Experience the hill station of Darjeeling with its famous tea plantations
  • Spectacular Majuli Island, the largest riverine island in the world
  • Remote 4-day trek in Namdapha National Park, home to a plethora of plant and animal species
  • Staying at some of India’s finest heritage hotels
  • Ferry crossings of the spectacular Brahmaputra River

We begin in Kolkata. The former Imperial capital of the British Raj, Kolkata is also a city of poets and dreamers, of splendid though crumbling palaces and of some of the finest relics

of the colonial period. Our stay includes a walking tour along Chitpur Road, one of Kolkata’s oldest districts, a gastronomic feast at one of the city’s renowned food and art connoisseurs, and because Kolkata is considered the home of Indian magic, we’ll interact with one of city’s leading magicians.

From Kolkata we travel to the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’, Darjeeling. Surrounded by tea plantations and silhouetted against the world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga, Darjeeling is also famous for its Buddhist monasteries, stunning botanical garden and colonial bungalows.

After returning to the plains we fly to Guwahati, spectacularly located on the Brahmaputra River and the site of one of India’s holiest Shiva temples. From there we drive to Kaziranga, the oldest national park in Assam. Located on the south bank of the Brahmaputra River, it is famous for its one – horned rhinoceros, wide variety of fauna and spectacular scenery.

A highlight of the tour is a visit to the Hindu monasteries of Majuli, the largest riverine island in the world. Our visit also coincides with the full-moon night of Kati-Aghun when each of Majuli’s more than 50 monasteries stages two all-night-long performance of the Raas Lila--which tells the story of the Hindu god Krishna. We also take in the ruins of the Ahom kingdom at Sibsagar and stay in an old tea planter’s bungalow in Dibrugarh. From there we drive to India’s largest and most bio-diverse national park—Namdapha, which is nestled near the borders of Burma and Tibet. Home for a formidable diversity of plants and animals, it ranges in height from near sea level to 4500 meters, its extremities still unexplored. Namdapha boasts more than a 1000 plant species, over 500 bird species and a diversity of animal including tigers, leopards, deer, flying squirrels, red pandas, bears. It is the only park in India where the four big cats – tigers, leopard, clouded leopard and the snow leopard can be found. Our four-day trek will take us deep into this rarely visited park.

We hope you can join us on this extraordinary journey.

Trip Code: ENE

On arrival into Kolkata you will be met and transferred to your hotel to rest for the evening (most flights arrive late in the evenings). The capital of the British Raj until 1911, Kolkata retains its imperial splendour in its grand buildings and rich colonial heritage. Kolkata is frequently referred to as India’s intellectual capital, the birthplace of some of its best-known writers, artists and filmmakers. Its teeming bazaars and stately mansions are testimony to its prominence as the commercial hub of eastern India. Kolkata is a vibrant, many-layered city with a rich cultural life and many fascinating areas to explore. Overnight Hotel Fairlawn, Kolkata

Meals:  Nil

This morning we will visit the Marble Palace. This sprawling 19th century mansion of the Mullick family, houses an eclectic collection of art and antiques ranging from Old Masters to statues of Hindu gods. The palace earned its name from the 90 varieties of patterned marble on its floors. There are paintings by Reubens and Joshua Reynolds, Dresden figurines and Bohemian goblets. The author Geoffrey Moorhouse described it as ‘the richest, the quaintest, the eeriest, the most haphazard and the most ridiculous, the most astounding and the most loveable’ place in Kolkata. A short distance away is Jorsanko, once the home of India’s first Nobel Laureate, the poet Rabindranath Tagore. In the afternoon, we’ll explore Chitpur Road, which winds through one of Kolkata’s oldest neighbourhoods and is home to diverse communities such as the potters’ colony of Kumartuli and heritage buildings. We also stop by the iconic Indian Coffee House located in the middle of Asia’s largest book market, where Bengali students have met for decades to debate politics and society. This evening we’ll enjoy a magic performance with illusionist, David Nobo followed by dinner where we discuss the magician’s art and enjoy a specially curated Bengali dinner. The performance and dinner will be at the Raj-era mansion of a connoisseur of Bengali art. Overnight Hotel Fairlawn, Kolkata

Meals:  B,D

We'll head out this morning to visit the colourful Flower Market, Hooghly River Ghats, and Kalighat temple. In the afternoon we'll visit the Victoria Memorial. Funded by Indian princes, the British government and the former Viceroy of India Lord Curzon, it was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales in 1921. Constructed from the same marble used by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal, the Memorial exudes majesty and elegance. It houses a number of galleries displaying a rich collection of sculpture, painting, armaments and other historical treasures. A free evening to enjoy the city. Overnight Hotel Fairlawn, Kolkata

Meals:  B

Today we fly to Bagdogra. On arrival we'll transfer to our bus for the drive to Darjeeling. As the road climbs up to Darjeeling we gain impressive views back down to the Indian plains. On arrival in Darjeeling we savour the cool mountain air and our first glimpse of the snow capped Himalaya Overnight Elgin Hotel, Darjeeling

Meals:  B,D

We have two full days to explore Darjeeling. Darjeeling is set on the top of a wooded ridge commanding views both to the plains and to the high mountains including Kanchenjunga. We have high tea (at own expense) at one of the famous tea plantations that were established in the middle of last century and explore the local bazaars to appreciate the rich variety of peoples including Sherpas, Tibetans and Bengalis who have made Darjeeling their home. We’ll also visit the Tea Planters Club, for it was here that the British inter-war expeditions stayed before assembling their Sherpa crews that would accompany them on the long march through Sikkim and across Tibet to the base of Everest. Overnight Elgin Hotel, Darjeeling

Meals:  B,D

We continue our exploration of Darjeeling with an early morning drive to watch the sunrise over Kanchanzonga. Later we visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, established by Tenzing Norgay who accompanied Edmund Hillary to the top of Everest in 1953. A walk through Chowrastra Bazaar takes us up to the Buddhist temples on Observatory Hill. Later in the afternoon we take the two-hour heritage train ride to Ghum and back. Overnight Elgin Hotel, Darjeeling

Meals:  B,D

This morning we drive to Bagdogra for our flight to Guwahati. On arrival into Guwahati you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Once known as Pragjyotishpur, (the city of astrology) Guwahati on the south bank of the Brahmaputra is the gateway to Northeast India. The commercial hub of the city is Fancy Bazaar, a typically chaotic Indian market selling all kinds of goods. The Guwahati Tea Auction centre is the largest in the world. A feature of this journey is the Brahmaputra, one of the great rivers of the world. The Brahmaputra ‘the son of Brahma’, rises in a mythical spring near the sacred Kailas peak in Tibet, then flows for nearly 3000 kilometres through Tibet, India and Bangladesh before emptying its waters into the Bay of Bengal. It starts its journey by gathering snow melt from the northern slopes of the Himalayan Ranges before flowing east across some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world. It then turns abruptly southwards, cutting through the Himalayan peaks and creating one of the deepest gorges in the world, before reaching the wide, fertile plains of Assam. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight Hotel Radisson Blu

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast drive to Kamakhya temple complex on a hill overlooking the Brahmaputra River. This Shakti shrine is the most important Hindu pilgrimage site in north-east India with thousands of pilgrims visiting every day. It is believed that the ‘Garvagriha’ or the sanctum sanctorum of the main Maa Kamakhya temple houses the mythical womb and genitalia of the Hindu goddess Shakti. Contrary to the shaming treatment that menstruation gets elsewhere in India, here it is revered as the ability of a woman to conceive. After the visit to Kamakhya temple, drive to Kaziranga National Park, 220 km (approx. four hours). On arrival we’ll check into our hotel and the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Overnight: Infinity Resorts

Meals:  B,L,D

Located on the south bank of the Brahmaputra River, Kaziranga is the oldest national park in Assam and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Kaziranga is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros, wide variety of fauna and spectacular scenery. We have a full day to discover the Park on morning and afternoon jeep safaris. Overnight: Infinity Resorts

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we drive to Majuli Island, crossing the spectacular Brahmaputra River by ferry. Majuli is a place of unparalleled scenic beauty with rice fields and meadows of flowers. It is also famous for its local tribal cuisine. Mishing dishes include fish and chicken baked in banana leaves and bamboo pipes as well as chutney made from dry fish. The main tribal groups living on Majuli are the Mishing, the Deoris and the Sonowal Kacharis. To protect against flooding, houses are built on stilts two metres above the ground. Erosion caused by annual monsoonal flooding had reduced the size of the island by almost half in the last century. Situated in the middle of the wide and peaceful Brahmaputra, Majuli is the largest inhabited riverine island in the world and is awaiting World Heritage Status by UNESCO. It is the seat of Vaishnava culture in Assam and the nucleus of Assam’s cultural heritage. According to Assamese folklore, Majuli was born from the left breast of Kali that had fallen from the hands of the Hindu god Shiva. The great 15th century Assamese reformer and saint, Shankardeva set up ‘satras’ or Vaishnavite monasteries. The Vaishnavites eschew caste and idol worship, focusing instead on dance and melodramatic playacting from the Bhagavad Gita. The majority of these satras still remain, training young disciples. Overnight: Enchanting Majuli Cottages/ Risong’s Cottage

Meals:  B,L,D

We spend the day visiting satras. As centres of learning, these institutions also act as repositories of Assam’s history with collections of antiques, utensils, weapons and jewellery besides royal and sacred relics. In the evening we witness one of the highlights of the tour - the Raas Lila festival in the honour of Lord Krishna. During this three-day dusk to dawn festival the whole island of Majuli becomes the abode of Krishna as satras vie to outdo each other in a stunning showcase of music, dance and theatre that involves the entire community. Overnight: Enchanting Majuli Cottages/ Risong’s Cottage

Meals:  B,L,D

In the morning we visit Uttar Kamalabari Satra. This large and very peaceful satra, or monastery, is a center of art, culture, literature & classical studies. The Kamalabari Satra has been producing great Assamese cultural figures and is the home to legendary musicians and performing artists. Along the way we look out for some of the 100 bird species that inhabit the island. Overnight: Kaziranga Golf Course, Jorhat

Meals:  B,L,D

En route to Dibrugarh, also known as “Tea City”, we visit Sibsagar, the one-time capital of the Ahom kings of Assam. Shan by origin (Assam and Siam share the same derivation), the Ahom kings converted to Hinduism and ruled Assam for some 700 years until the 1820s. Their culture and the architecture of the temples and palaces is a strange and delightful amalgam of Indian and South East Asian styles. Next to the temple in Sibsagar is believed to be the world’s largest hand-excavated reservoir. Three typical Ahom temple towers rise above the tank’s southern end. Overnight: Hotel Mancotta & Chowkidinghee Tea Bungalows, Dibrugarh

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast we drive to Namdapha National Park (approx 180km/7 hour drive), stopping en-route at Ledo, the headquarters of the China-Burma-India theatre during WWII and the start of the Ledo Road. On arrival, we will settle into our simple lodging and prepare for our trek the following day. Overnight: Deban Forest Bungalows

Meals:  B,L,D

From Deban we commence our trek with a crossing of the Noa Dihing River. After a second smaller river crossing we enter into the wild rainforest world, initially trekking through bamboo and cane forest. Throughout the trek today you will sense the liveliness of the forest through the hooting of Hollock Gibbons, deer calls and chirping of the birds like the Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Maroon Oriole, Rusty-bellied Shortwing and Oriental Pied Hornbill We reach our campsite in the afternoon. The campsite – aptly named ‘Hornbill’ – is a great place to see these magnificent birds which come here to roost in the evening. The camp is also an excellent location for viewing the nocturnal flying squirrels. Overnight in tents.

Meals:  B,L,D

We have a full day trek today mostly through wooded forest with a high canopy and bamboo groves at places. Farm Base is a riverine grassland and a perfect base for birdwatching, in particular the White Bellied Heron. The vista of the Namdapha river valley bounded by forest-clad hills and snow-capped peaks, from the campsite is spectacular. Overnight in tents.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we will trek uphill to a remote village of the Lisu tribe. The walk to the village takes about 3 hours. The Lisu who migrated from Myanmar lead a very hardy life and have an intimate knowledge of their environment. We’ll spend time with villagers and learn about their customs and lifestyle. Overnight in tents.

Meals:  B,L,D

We wake early this morning for our final day of trekking to the roadhead at 38th mile campsite (approx 3-4 hours). On arrival at the roadhead, our vehicles will be waiting for us and and we’ll transfer to Deban where we’ll farewell our trekking crew and have a light lunch. Afternoon at leisure Overnight in tents.

Meals:  B,L,D

We’ll then drive to Dibrugarh (approx 7 hours TBC) for our final night and farewell dinner. Overnight: Hotel Mancotta & Chowkidinghee Tea Bungalows, Dibrugarh

Meals:  B,L,D

Our tour concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Kolkata for your onward connections.

Meals:  B


  • Trip escorted by writer and journalist John Zubrzycki
  • Magic performance with illusionist, David Nobo
  • Calcutta walking tour
  • 18 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 17 dinners
  • Accommodation as outlined in the itinerary
  • Shared tented accommodation during trekking days with carry mats (must bring own sleeping bag)
  • All sightseeing and transfers as outlined in the itinerary (In Kolkata -18 seater air conditioned mini bus for transfers and sightseeing; In Darjeeling, Toyota Innova cars for transfers/sightseeing)
  • Local English Speaking Guide throughout (One Main Guide Day 1-6, and another Guide Day 7-20).
  • Fully supported trek in in Namdapha National Park with park entry fee
  • Morning and afternoon jeep safaris with entrance fee at Kaziranga National Park
  • Shared ferry crossing to and from Majuli Island
  • Internal economy flights Kolkata/Bagdogra, Bagdogra/Guwahati, Dibrugarh/Kolkata NOTE: A cost has been estimated however if there is a major fluctuation in cost at the time we issue the group flights, a supplement may apply
  • All entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Restricted Area Permit (RAP) required to visit Arunachal Pradesh - $30USD.

  • International flights
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Bottled water, aerated and alcoholic drinks
  • Sleeping Bag (required)
  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, etc.
  • Tips
  • Airport and departure taxes
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance

About Your Leader

John Zubrzycki

Your host is writer and historian John Zubrzycki. John graduated in South Asian history and Hindi from the Australian National University and has a PhD from the University of NSW . He worked in India as a diplomat, consultant and foreign correspondent and has spent years searching out its hidden gems. He is a best-selling author and has written six books, including The Shortest History of India, Dethroned: The Downfall of India’s Princely States, and Empire of Enchantment, a history of India’s magical traditions. He also writes feature articles for Australian and Indian news outlets. He has more than 40 years of travel experience in India and considers the north-eastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to be his favourite part of the subcontinent.

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  • Single supplement (ENE)USD$1740
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed India's Enchanting North Eastern Borderlands with John Zubrzycki trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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