Tailor-made Tour 13 days from £3995 per person

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  Places Visited: Kolkata, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Majuli Island, Vishnath, Kaziranga National Park, Tezpur, Sualkuchi, Guwahati, Kolkata

Assam Bengal Navigation is the original cruise operator on India’s Brahmaputra and Ganges Rivers, having navigated these mighty waterways since 2003.

A world away from the more well-trodden roads of India, the eastern corner remains untouched by mass tourism. From dancing monks to one-horned rhinos, colonial vestiges to terracotta temples, remote villages to bustling cities, travelling by boat opens up a treasure trove of history, culture, wildlife and religion.

This 10-night cruise covers most of the highlights of Assam, with safaris in search of elephants and one-horned-rhino in Kaziranga National Park, visits to the ancient capital of the Ahom kings and to the Hindu monasteries on Majuli Island, and walks in tea gardens and through tribal villages.

Stretching from the erstwhile army town of Dibrugarh through the state of Assam to Dhubri on the Bangladesh border, the mighty Brahmaputra river winds beside wildlife parks, historic towns and cultural sights – the perfect mix for a fascinating cruise.

Your journey on the Brahmaputra will be aboard either ABN Charaidew II or ABN Sukapha.

ABN Charaidew II

With 18 cabins in total, including two spacious deluxe cabins, 12 standard twin/double cabins, and four standard cabins with a queen bed for solo travellers, ABN Charaidew II is a boutique, modern ship that wonderfully blends traditional Assamese aesthetics with touches of colonial elegance. All standard cabins have French balconies, while the two deluxe cabins have a private balcony.

ABN Sukapha

ABN Sukapha was designed specifically to navigate the mighty waters of the Brahmaputra river, making her an extremely adept yet comfortable active expedition-style ship. Her 12 cabins are bamboo-panelled, roomy and offer panoramic views of the river. Cane furniture on board, objet d'arts and handlooms on the ship are all locally made by talented artisans from Assam.


Holiday Types

Cultural Holidays Wildlife Holidays River Cruising Holidays Luxury Train Holidays Family Holidays Honeymoons Beach Holidays Adventure Holidays


Suggested itinerary

Day 1

On arrival in Kolkata, you will be met at the airport by a TransIndus representative and transferred to your hotel for the night. The remainder of your day will be at leisure. Stay at The Oberoi Grand for the night.

Kolkata, or ‘Calcutta’ as it was known prior to 2001, is the capital of West Bengal state, and India’s third largest city, with a population of approximately 14.1 million. The trading post originally founded by the East India Company in the 17th century served as the country’s capital until 1911, and continues to be a major regional hub, albeit one with well-chronicled problems.

The backdrop to this vibrant cultural life is an architectural heritage spanning two-and-a-half centuries of colonial rule. Built to commemorate the British Raj at its zenith, the Victoria Memorial is Kolkata’s most grandiloquent monument – a stately blend of British, Mughal, Deccani, Moorish and Venetian styles whose marble domes soar majestically above the banks of the Hooghly River, surrounded by ornamental lakes and parched maidans.

Elsewhere in the city – connected by an efficient Metro system – lies a wealth of museums and art galleries, the famous Kali Ghat temple (after which the city was originally named) and hallowed turf of the Eden Gardens, high altar of Indian cricket. But above all, Kolkata is a place whose everyday sights frequently prove the most arresting: the flower sellers spreading out their wares in the dawn light at Mullick Ghat; the wrestlers, devotees of the Monkey God Hanuman, exercising on the nearby riverside steps; the overloaded barges of straw arriving at Kumartuli Ghat, where voluptuous deities are fashioned out of clay for the annual Durga Puja festival; and the streams of rickshaws, trucks and pedestrians pouring across Howrah Bridge at rush hours.

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Day 2

This morning, you will be collected from your hotel and transferred back to the airport for your onward flight to Dibrugarh or Jorhat. On arrival, you will be collected by the Assam Bengal Navigation team and driven to the embarkation point at Neamati Ghat.

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Day 3
Sibsagar, Majuli Island

Your first excursion and experience of the rich variety of life along the Brahmaputra is Sibsagar, the one-time capital of the Ahom kings of Assam. Shan by origin but converted 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. Lunch is taken at Horu Charai, a quintessential Assamese tea estate. Return to the ship and cruise downstream for three hours to Majuli island, one of the world’s largest river islands.

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Day 4
Majuli Island

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. Later, return to the ship and cruise downstream for one or two hours.

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Day 5
On the river

A day spent mostly sailing languidly along the Brahmaputra, though you’ll stop for a short visit to a tribal river village. By afternoon, Kaziranga National Park will be on your left – wild elephants are sometimes visible from the boat, and once, memorably, a tiger, so keep an eye out for movement on the banks.

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Day 6
Vishnath, Kaziranga National Park

This morning, you’ll arrive at the delightful temple town of Vishnath, known for its fine Ahom-period temple. Take a walk ashore to explore the architecture and village life before continuing the voyage down to a quaint mooring at Silghat, where butterflies abound in the surrounding jungle. Go on your first safari in Kaziranga National Park, a jeep ride through the woodlands, grasslands and wetlands of the Western Range.

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Day 7
Kaziranga National Park

Today, you’ll be driven to Kaziranga’s Central Range for a morning jeep safari. Covering an area of approximately 430 sq km, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park is home to the world’s largest population of the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros and 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, this 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. In the afternoon, you’ll explore more of the Kaziranga National Park on another jeep safari.

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Day 8

Cruise downstream under the seemingly endless new bridge to dock at Tezpur. ​After lunch on board, you’ll visit the remains of the 6th-century Da Parbatia temple with its exquisitely carved portal. Cycle rickshaws transport you through the bustling bazaars to Cole Park with its collection of mediaeval stone carvings. Later, you’ll reboard the ship and cruise downstream to moor for the night near the isolated Singri Hill.

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Day 9
On the river

​The day is spent on the river, traversing a magical lunar landscape of sand islands before closing in on the range of hills beyond which lies Guwahati. Moor for the night not far from Ganesh Pahar.

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Day 10
Guwahati, Sualkuchi

This morning’s voyage is particularly picturesque, sailing by jungle-covered hills on the south bank. Reaching Guwahati by midday, you’ll moor opposite the city and climb up to the pretty Aswaklanta temple before driving out to the temple ruins of Madan Kamdev, their erotic carvings an indicator of the strong tantric traditions of the area. Return to the ship and cruise downstream to Sualkuchi either this evening or the following morning.

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Day 11

Take a walk through Sualkuchi, a bustling little town and the centre of Assamese silk production. Your visit to the weaving workshops is a rare opportunity to witness the whole process of silk manufacture, from cocoon and spinning to dyeing and hand-weaving into exquisite mekhela chadars (a two-piece sari, the traditional attire of an Assamese woman). You then sail up to the dock close to the great Saraighat bridge and take a tour of Guwahati, driving up Nilachal Hill to the Kamakhya temple. With its tantric rites and animal sacrifices, the more squeamish may prefer to content themselves with its exteriors. Visit the poignant Commonwealth War Graves, the museum and the colourful bazaars.

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Day 12
Guwahati, Kolkata

Disembark the ship in the morning and transfer to Guwahati airport for your flight to Kolkata. You will be met and transferred to the Oberoi Grand Hotel for the night on arrival. The remainder of the day will be at leisure in Kolkata for a spot of sightseeing or shopping.

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Day 13
Kolkata, UK

Today, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home.

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Tailor-made Tour 13 days from £3995 per person

What's included

✓   10 nights accommodation aboard your ABN cruise vessel and 2 nights at a five-star hotel in Kolkata

✓   All excursions on board the cruise with English-speaking guides

✓   Entrance fees to sites and monuments listed in the tour itinerary

✓   Meal plan: Full board on the cruise and Bed & Breakfast in Kolkata

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