Assam Despatch 3:
River Island Cruise
SILGHAT TO DIBRUGARH/JORHAT
Arrive at Jorhat airport and drive 2 ½ hrs to Silghat, a picturesque beach below jungle-covered hills and close to Kaziranga National Park. Alternatively, arrive at Guwahati airport and drive 4 ½ hrs to Silghat.
After an early breakfast, you’ll be driven to Kaziranga’s Central Range for a morning jeep safari.
Covering an area of approximately 430 sq kms, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park is home to the world’s largest population of the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros as well as the Indian Wild Water Buffalo. It has also earned the distinction of having the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers (one every five sq. km.), making this park an incredibly rich biodiversity hotspot. With its marshy swamps and thickets of elephant grass, the park supports large populations of Indian elephants, Indian bison, swamp deer, and Capped Langurs.
Kaziranga National Park frequently draws comparisons to the Serengeti in Africa due to the park's abundance of wildlife and birds and is considered a birding paradise. Bird species found here include the Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Himalayan Griffon and many more.
Returning to the ship, you’ll cruise upstream with Kaziranga National Park on the right bank to anchor for the night at Vishnath.
This morning you’ll visit Vishnath, known for its Ahom-period Shiva temple. Walk through the town before reboarding and setting off again, with Kaziranga still on the far bank. Keep an eye out for wild elephants which have been spotted, and once, memorably, a tiger.
A leisurely afternoon of cruising down the river offers a good chance of spotting the endangered Gangetic dolphin, as well as observing life in the bankside villages as we pass. Arrive in the evening at Dhansiri Mukh.
This morning, you’ll dock and take a jeep safari to Kaziranga’s little-visited Eastern Range, with grasslands much favoured by rhinos where you might also spot the rare Bengal Florican. Return to the boat and continue your cruise upstream.
Today brings another opportunity to watch life unfold on the riverbanks as you cruise upstream. The languid pace of life onboard the boat offers a rare opportunity to sit and watch the world slip by, chat with fellow guests, or catch up on your reading. You’ll have time to stretch your legs with a walk through a bankside village, gaining an insight into life in rural India.
You should reach Majuli Island around breakfast time. One of the world’s largest river islands and a microcosm of Assamese culture, Majuli is much-photographed but little-visited. It is a stronghold of the peaceful religion of neo-Vaishnavism and the elegant island satras — some for celibate monks, some for families — showcase a unique way of life where the faithful live simply, offering worship through gayan-bayan (songs and musical instruments) and readings.
You’ll visit a monastery at Auniati with its eclectic museum, then attend a dance performance at Kamalabari monastery before cruising across to Neamati Ghat on the opposite bank. In the afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to visit a nearby village.
Today you’ll visit Horu Charai tea estate, on the outskirts of Jorhat, and observe the journey from tea bush to cup. (Please note that the factory is inoperative between December and mid-March.) Later, you’ll be driven to Sibsagar, the one-time capital of the Ahom kings of Assam.
Shan by origin but converts to Hinduism, the Ahoms ruled Assam for some 700 years until the 1820s. Their culture and architecture is a unique and intriguing amalgam of India and Southeast Asia. You’ll see temples with stupa-like profiles and palaces of distinctive form. The temple tank here is believed to be the world’s largest hand-excavated reservoir and quite the feat of engineering, as you’ll see. Return to your ship, which will have cruised up to Neamati Ghat, close to Jorhat.
This morning, you’ll be driven to Dibrugarh airport, a journey of around 4 ½ hours, passing through this typical colonial town and a major base for American flights over 'The Hump' to China in WWII. Alternatively, there’s the option of a 1 ½ hour drive to Jorhat airport.
This itinerary, including the cruise and approximate driving durations, is subject to river and weather conditions. Kaziranga National Park comprises low-lying grassland, which may not be visitable when the river is at or near flood level.
The 'Brahmaputra Taster' cruise is offered in the Boutique & Active Expedition cruising styles.
BOUTIQUE EXPEDITION CRUISING
with ABN Charaidew II
Our selection of boutique cruise ships are comfortable, contemporary, and celebratory of Assam and Bengal's rich regional heritage. They are designed to reflect a sense of homecoming to the region: the unique objets d'art and handicrafts aboard the ships have been carefully collected and curated over the years, and the locally made furniture and textiles are a product of traditional craftsmanship and modern design intervention.
As such, each boutique ship was designed to be purposefully distinct in its style, with interesting stories that accompany each ship's décor.
ABN Charaidew II has 18 cabins: two spacious deluxe double-bedded cabins and 12 twin/double-bedded cabins on the upper deck, and four cabins with queen size beds on the main deck, for which we charge no supplement.
All cabins have en suites with W.C., a writing desk and chair, mini-fridge, individual climate control, and storage space. The standard cabins have French balconies, while the two deluxe cabins have a private balcony.
There are three cabin categories on ABN Charaidew II:
UPPER DECK DELUXE DOUBLE-BEDDED CABIN
This cabin (350 sq. ft.) is located on the upper deck. The spacious cabin opens out to a comfortable sit-out, offering guests a better vantage point from which to watch rural India glide by.
UPPER DECK TWIN/DOUBLE-BEDDED CABIN
This cabin (240 sq. ft.) is located on the upper deck, and can be converted into twin or double beds.
MAIN DECK CABIN WITH QUEEN BED
Featuring a queen bed, this cabin (170 sq. ft.) is ideal for solo travellers, for which we charge no supplement.
ACTIVE EXPEDITION CRUISING
with ABN Sukapha
Our selection of active cruise ships are small in size, comfortable and filled with character. The décor is fresh and stylish, featuring handlooms, bamboo panelling, and locally made cane and rattan furniture.
Cycles on board and local tuk-tuks allow for independent exploration; additionally, on a few departures, we operate ‘cruising and cycling’ tours.
With only 12 cabins, it is ideal for a small group of travellers or private charter for a group of family and friends.
ABN Sukapha is deliberately intimate in size with 12 cabins, all of which are located on the upper deck of the ship.
The maximum group size on board ABN Sukapha is 24 guests.
All cabins have en suites with W.C., French balconies, individual climate control, and storage space.
There are no separate cabin categories for ABN Sukapha.