Arrive at Guwahati airport and take a short sightseeing tour of the city. Drive up Nilachal Hill to see the holy Kamakhya temple. With its tantric rites and animal sacrifice, the more squeamish may prefer to content themselves with the exterior. Visit the poignant Commonwealth War Graves cemetery. Finally, walk through a local market before embarking on your cruise vessel. We set sail and cruise for about an hour and a half upstream to Kurua on the north bank.
The day is spent cruising upstream, with hills rising on either side. Battling against strong currents, we reach an idyllic stop at Ganesh Pahar, where we can explore a delightfully serene hinterland lying under jungle-covered slopes.
Leaving the hills behind, we enjoy our first taste of the wilderness experience, sand banks like icebergs on either side. We may make a short stop to visit a bankside village, creating a sensation as we do. We moor for the night in a lunar landscape of sand islands, with hopefully the Himalayas in view and providing a contrasting backdrop in the distance.
Rising early, we take to our country boat for another cruise up a sidestream, this time into the Orang National Park. Here in this rarely visited park, we mount elephants or take jeeps and ride through forest and grassland looking for rhinos, deer and other wildlife. Returning to our ship, we cruise upstream to a moor close to the isolated Singri Hill.
We cruise on to Tezpur, where we visit the 6 th century Da Parbatia Temple ruins with a beautifully carved portal, then explore the town by cycle rickshaw, stopping at Cole Park with mediaeval stone carvings saved from sites all over the region, and perhaps get to penetrate the bungalow once lived in by Alexander Bruce, pioneer of the tea industry. Our ship will be waiting at the town’s waterfront for us to reboard.
We continue upstream, passing below a seemingly endless new bridge across the vast width of the river bed, to moor at Steamer Ghat, a lovely beach backed by jungle-covered hills. In the afternoon, we drive to Kaziranga’s Western Range for a jeep safari and to scan the wilderness from an observation tower. Kaziranga is a World Heritage Site, and with a population of well over 1000 rhinoceros is the best place in the world to see these beasts. There are also good populations of tiger, wild elephant, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, wild pig and many other species.
Disembark pre-dawn and drive to Kaziranga’s Central Range for an early morning elephant ride, the best way to get really close to the rhino and other animals. After breakfast at a lodge, we visit a tea factory to see all the processes involved from picking to pot (not operating Dec-Mar), walk through terraced tea gardens and past a Karbi tribal village, then drive to a Mising tribal village, with their distinctive houses raised on piles. After lunch, either take a jeep safari in the little visited Eastern Range before returning to the boat or, if preferred, return directly to Steamer Ghat, visit a delightful Assamese village nearby and walk along a path alive with butterflies to a solitary temple on the river bank.
An early start for the 4-hour drive back to Guwahati airport, or we can arrange a 40-minute transfer to Tezpur airport or a 2 ½ hr transfer to Jorhat airport.