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Assam is the only place in India, other than Rajasthan where Horse Riding Holidays are offered. And what perhaps could be a better way of exploring the beautiful Brahmaputra valley, the lush green tea gardens and enjoy a charming stay in the chang bungalows reminiscing the colonial days. 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!
The tour begins in the city of Dibrugarh, 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. During this tour also visit Kaziranga National Park and enjoy a jeep safari and an elephant ride into the heart of the jungle for spotting of the much endangered One horned Rhino in their safe natural habitat as also other wild animals and numerous birds including some rare, endangered and endemic species.
Dibrugarh – Tinsukia – Digboi – Sivasagar – Kaziranga – Jorhat
Map not to scale and only for reference
You will be received at Dibrugarh airport and transferred to Mancotta/Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow (30 mins), located in the midst of a tea estate. You will stay here for the next 03 nights. In the afternoon, take a short introductory ride around a tea estate. Evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight at the Chang Bungalow.Day 2
Dibrugarh- Greenwood Trail: Today you will ride through a different tea plantation in the country side surrounded by paddy fields. 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. Other than 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).Day 3
Dibrugarh- Rukmini cruise: 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. Evening at leisure/ free for shopping. Overnight at the Chang Bungalow. (Riding time during the day: 03 hrs).Day 4
Tinsukia- Today 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. Later ride 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 river beaches and the grasslands, often encountering rural settlements. Return to the Chang Bungalow for lunch. After lunch drive to Tinsukia (01 hr) and check in at Wathai Heritage Bungalow, Limbuguri Tea Estate for the next 3 nights. (Riding time during the day: 3 ½ hrs).
‘Wathai Heritage Bunglow, Limbuguri Tea estate- a plinth bungalow is located just 5km from Dibru Saikhowa National Park, an ideal retreat for a birding break. This erstwhile ‘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 riverine 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 ornithologist’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.
Note: Visit to tea factory is subject to 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. Factory also remains closed on Monday’s of the week.Day 5
Tinsukia- Early morning visit Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Magori Beel for a full day birding programme. We take several boat rides on the Dibru River, go for jungle walk, bird and Gangetic Dolphin sighting. Overnight at the Bungalow.
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 the 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 etc. Dibru-Saikhowa is a haven for an incredible no of Waders ,Ducks , Raptors and its specialty grassland birds.Day 6
Tinsukia- Today ride through a different tea plantation through the country side around Limbuguri Tea Estate. Return to Bungalow for lunch. Post lunch we drive to Digboi (40 kms/ 01 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. Later return back to Wathai Heritage Bungalow, Limbuguri Tea Estate. (Riding time during the day: 03 hrs)
Digboi: Digboi is a small but wonderful town in Tinsukia district in the north-eastern part of the state of Assam, India. Petroleum oil was discovered here in late 19th century and the Digboi oilfield is one of the oldest oil fields. With a significant number of British professionals working for the Assam Oil Company as late as until the decade following the independence of India, Digboi has a legacy of well developed infrastructure and a number of bungalows unique to the town. It has a world class golf course with 18 holes as part of the Digboi Club.
Note: Digboi Museum remains closed on Monday’s of the week.Day 7
Early in the morning visit Barekuri Village (10 kms / 20 mins) to see a small group of Hoollock Gibbons. Post breakfast ride through the country side and around Limbuguri Tea Estate. Post lunch drive back to Dibrugarh. Overnight at Mancotta/Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow. (Riding time during the day: 02 hrs).
Barekuri– An Assamese village situated next to famous Dibru Saikhowa National Park, at a distance of about 10 kms from Guijan. The village is famous for the presence of a few number of Hoollock Gibbons, an endangered ape species found in India . Here the Hoollock gibbon are being protected and cared for since long by the villagers on account of their age old religious beliefs. Every day the villagers feed them and they always live in and around the village. The people of the village never cut the tall trees, because the gibbons live on them, and believe that it’s a bad sign if anybody sees a gibbon walking on the ground.Day 8
Dibrugarh- Sivasagar-Kaziranga- After breakfast 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 at a jungle lodge for 02 nights.
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 amphi-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.
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, Elephants, Tigers, Swamp deer, Barking deer and Hog deer can be seen. About 400 species of birds are found in Kaziranga National Park. Swamp Francolin, Great Hornbill, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Pied Falconets, Greater Adjutant Stork, Long Billed Vulture. There is no telling what one might find in Kaziranga but it is always a great experience. The specialty here is the Blue naped pitta among a host of Raptors and Waterfowl. The adjoining buffer areas are worth a try too, as numerous rare sightings are reported regularly.Day 9
Go for an early morning elephant safari, followed by a jeep safari after breakfast and another one in the afternoon. The elephant safari is an excellent way to watch wild animals from close by as they are not threatened by the presence of elephants and jeeps drive you deeper into the jungle and a great way to spot birds.Day 10
After breakfast drive to Jorhat airport for your onward journey home
The accommodation in this tour includes heritage tea bungalows and Jungle resort:
Food is Indian food, local cuisine, Continental and Chinese. If you have any dietary requirements, please mail us at the time of the booking and we will take care wherever possibleClimate
In the Assam plains, the days are going to be warm and evenings cooler, and you can expect a few showers in April/May.Passport and Visa Requirements
A passport (with at least six months remaining validity) and a current Indian visa are required for this trip. Please note that you are required to have a passport with a machine-readable bar code. You will need to apply for your Indian visa in advance from the relevant issuing authority in your home country. British Passport holders can apply for an e-Tourist Visa, a single entry visa valid for 30 days. Please visit the website https://www.hcilondon.in/pages.php?id=28Travel Insurance
AIt is recommended that you take out appropriate insurance to cover personal accident, medical costs, repatriation, loss of baggage and holiday cancellation.Vaccinations
Please visit your GP for guidance for vaccinations while travelling to India. Please also visit this website for more details http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations/asia-(east)/india.aspxCurrency