Cultural immersion, terrific wildlife viewing and a reception with a king—an MTS exclusive!
In the northeast corner of India, Nagaland and Assam are two of the country’s last strongholds of old tribal cultures. Together, they represent at least two dozen tribes and ethnic groups; each one strongly connected to its customs, folk arts, language, and traditional dress. Teeming with green rolling hills, lush river valleys, rice paddies, tea gardens, forests, and nature preserves, these vibrant lands are open and hospitable, yet still largely devoid of tourism. Though these cultures have been fading quickly, ecotourism plays a key role in their preservation. This is a one-of-a-kind journey that only MTS can deliver—where moderate walking and hiking through gorgeous, unspoiled landscapes meets superb wildlife viewing and genuine, enriching cultural encounters with the local people—including their angh, or tribal king! You’ll learn about the Buddhist, Hindu, and Animistic roots of the people, be welcomed for tea in local homes, and partake in colorful traditions like folklore, dancing, singing, and weaving. Topped with a safari in Kaziranga National Park, you’ll have had a full-immersion experience in a magical place where few outsiders have been. Now that’s discovery!
Hiking, cultural journey, elephant safari
- Be among the first outsiders to get this rare glimpse into the life of the Naga people on this one-of-a-kind, cultural adventure
- Trek in the remote Naga Hills as royal guests of the Angh (hereditary ruler of a group of Naga villages)
- Immerse yourself in the unique ecology of Majuli, the world's largest river island and home to the Mising tribes, and their fascinating textile-weaving, fishing, and folk traditions
- Explore ancient Hindu monasteries and experience traditional performing arts
- Ride an elephant through the swamps of Kaziranga National Park to see the endangered one-horned rhinos of the Himalayan lowlands
- Get a true insider’s view from our guide, Mahesh Sriram, who has over 20 years' worth of connections here—a unique experience you can only get with MTS!
Duration: 13 days Start Location: Kolkata End Location: KolkataDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrival in Kolkata (This entire trip is below 6,000')
After arriving at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, your trip leader will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport and escort you to your hotel. We are at our leisure for the rest of the day, whether relaxing or exploring the city on our own. Kolkata, formerly called Calcutta, is known as the "Cultural Capital of India." Its long and rich literary, artistic, and revolutionary heritage offers many museums and sights to fill a day. In the evening, we’ll gather for a welcome dinner and trip orientation.
NOTE—It takes two to three days (depending on your airline schedule) to travel to Kolkata. The date and time of arrival in Kolkata varies greatly from carrier to carrier. Most flights arrive in Kolkata either very late in the evening (between 10:00 p.m. and midnight) or early in the morning (between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m.). We are holding reservations at the hotel in Kolkata for the group starting very early morning of Day 1.
Day 2 : Sibsagar, Assam
In the morning, we fly from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport to Jorhat Airport (Rowriah Airport). Jorhat is a thriving cosmopolitan city and a well-known educational hub in Assam, as well as the second most important center for the cultivation of Assam tea. Driving past Johrat we reach a quaint town called Sibsagar and settle into our hotel. In the evening we attend an anthropologic lecture on the area that's next on our itinerary, the tribal community of Nagaland. (Approx. driving time: 2 hours)
Day 3 : Drive to Jahpho Long, Nagaland
Today we rise early and walk up to the 104 foot tall Siva Dhol Temple to observe the moring ritual of Hindu Devotees. After breakfast, we drive to Mon. Along the way we pass through tea gardens, paddy fields, and montane forests. We'll stop at Charadeo Maidan, a 13th to 14th-century burial mound for the Ahom kings. Here, we explore their pyramid-like structures and learn about this legendary dynasty before continuing further. We'll have our lunch in an idyllic spot. We stop at the checkpost at Sonari to complete our entry formalities into Nagaland. Continuing on, we traverse the Naga Hills, where we can observe the traditional dwellings and the forest-cleared agricultural fields of the Konyak Naga tribal community. In the afternoon, we arrive at our camp at Jahpho Long, located between the modern town of Mon and the traditional village of Mon. (Approx. driving time: 4-5 hours)
Day 4 : Tangnyu Village
In the morning, we'll hike to Mon village to visit the Angh (the hereditary chief of the village) and explore the village. We then drive to our trailhead near the Tapi River. On the way we hike into agricultural areas and terraced fields. We’ll see firsthand the indigenous farming methods of the Konyak Nagas and their customary boundary-marking techniques. We'll have lunch in the river bank and rest for a while before hiking up to the road head and driving to Tang. We'll arrive at the village late in the afternoon and settle down in a traditional Konyak home. In the evening, we'll visit local homes to meet villagers and gain insight into the lives of Konyak Nagas.
(Approx. driving time: 1 hour; Approx. hiking time: 2-3 hours)
Day 5 : Lungwa Village – Jahpho Long
In the morning, we visit the Angh’s house (the largest in the village—and also distinguishable by its display of skulls in the front) to meet him. Meeting the Angh is dependent on his availability. We'll continue hiking around the village, where we will visit traditional morungs (youth dormitories), view skull mounds, and stop at the gun maker’s home to learn his craft and trade firsthand. We then drive towards Lungwa, passing through beautiful mountain terrain en route to where we resume our hike. We hike to a ridge in the Indo-Burmese border offering stunning views of a deep valley decorated with Konyak villages. In one village, we'll meet Angh Nogawang in his incredible home, where we see the finest pieces of Konyak architecture this culture has to offer. We will exchange customary gifts and enjoy lunch together. Nogawang is the last of the traditional Anghs, and he is responsible for the needs of over 50 villages. After lunch, we explore this sprawling home and examine Konyak architecture and decorative art, with its pillars, wood carvings, ceremonial bronze drums, and bamboo craft. We then drive to our camp in Mon for dinner. (3 hours driving; 2 to 3 hours of walking )
Day 6 : Jahpho Long
Today is highlighted by a meeting with the Angh of Waching at his house. After a drive to Shangunyu Village to visit their small museum, which features a wonderful preserved wooden panel depicting a special folk story, we visit the Angh and explore his fascinating village with interesting architechure which is in desperate need of preservation . We return to our camp and enjoy a presentation of the Konyak Naga singing tradition over dinner. In the evening, we are joined by local youth and elders who demonstrate their unique knitting and weaving skills. This is usually accompanied by the singing of Naga folk stories. (Approx. driving time: 3 hours; hiking time: 2 hours)
Day 7 : Jorhat
We descend the Naga Hills and head to Jorhat. On the way, we explore the 14th-century monuments of the Ahom Kingdom. We'll visit a large pyramid-like structures at Charadeo Maidam, a 13th to 14th-century burial mound for the Ahom Kings. We then visit Rang Ghar, the two-storied royal sports pavilion where Ahom kings and nobles witnessed games like buffalo fights during their festivals. We'll reach our hotel in the evening.(Driving time: 5 hour)
Day 8 : Majuli Island
After an early breakfast, we'll drive to reach Nimhati Ghat to board a public ferry to start our journey on the Brahmaputra River to Majuli Island. Majuli is one of the largest river islands in the world, and possibly the largest freshwater island in South Asia. However, Majuli is shrinking due to constant soil erosion, so this is an ideal opportunity to see it. In 15 to 20 years, this incredible island may not exist. Majuli is home to the Neo-Vishnavite Satra (monastic) culture and Mising tribes.
One hour ferry ride brings us to Majuli where we begin our hike across villages, paddy fields and wonderful sceneries. We'll have picnic lunch and then continue hiking to reach Kamalabari monastery to watch a performing art tradition. We then drive to our lodge. Our accommodations here will be at Mepo Okum (Happy Home), a warm, simple eco-friendly resort run by the Mising tribal community. Dinner and overnight in our lodge. (Driving time: 1/2 hour; 1 hours boat ride and 4 hours hike.)
Day 9 : Majuli
We begin with a short morning drive to Dapakgaon, a Mising tribal village, where we are welcomed by dancing Mising men and women. In the 18th century, the Mising tribal community migrated to the plains of Assam from the hills in Arunachal Pradesh and settled around swamps, river banks, and large tanks, building their homes on stilts. In the local language, “Mi” means water and “Sing” means people—they are a tribe who lives near water. We'll explore their village and learn about their lifestyle. After eating a traditional Mising lunch, we'll take a short hike to Benganati Satra to tour an old monastery that has been relocated three times on the island due to the threats of soil erosion. We'll visit the Namgarh (prayer hall) of the Satra—first joining the monks in their regular prayers, then visiting their homes. The Benganati Satra culture is unique in that it does not deny women entry into the order and accepts married couples into their fold. If the opportunity arises, we’ll meet the Satraadikar (the Chief Monk) who has command of English and will provide us an interesting glimpse into their monastic lifestyle. We will also visit their museum which houses rare palm-leaf manuscripts, written by Srimanta Shankardeva—founder of Satra tradition in Assam—and see the gold-plated umbrella of the Ahom King who patronized this monastery long ago. We'll drive back to our lodge in the evening. (Approx. driving time: 3 hours; Approx hiking time: 2-3 hours)
Day 10 : Kaziranga National Park
Today we'll drive to Kamalabarighat ferry station, board a private boat, and transfer to Neematighat ferry station, where we'll meet our vehicle for the drive to Kaziranga National Park, one of the world’s key wildlife sanctuaries. Upon our afternoon arrival, we'll check into our lodge. In the evening we are accompanied by naturalist of a Rhino Conservation NGO to hike around the boundary of the National Park to learn from experts about real issues connected with Rhino Conservation and anti-poaching operations. At dusk we visit a village who are on one hand informers of the anti-poaching team and on the other hand are victims of wild elephants which raid their crops. (Approx driving time: 3 hours; Approx. 2 hour boat ride and 2 hours hiking.)
Day 11 : Kaziranga National Park
We spend a memorable day in Kaziranga, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where wildlife watching is truly spectacular. Located on the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River, the park, which covers some 260 square miles, protects one of the few remaining regions of natural habitat in the terai, the lowland valleys in the foothills of the mighty Himalaya. It's characterized by “grass jungle” in which floodplains of tall elephant grass and tracts of tropical forest are dotted with marshes and oxbow lakes, making it an exceptionally rich wildlife habitat.
Kaziranga National Park is the stronghold of the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, with a population of more than 1,100. Two other giant (and also highly endangered) mammals also find sanctuary in Kaziranga: the Asian elephant and the wild water buffalo. Tiger, sloth bear, Assam macaques, capped langurs, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, smooth-coated Indian otter, and both jungle and fishing cats are also resident in the park. Gangetic dolphins cruise the Brahmaputra River, and thousands of water birds, such as pelicans and storks, flock around Kaziranga’s small lakes.
We will likely get numerous sightings of rhinos and elephants in a variety of settings. We do our game viewing by vehicle and from the back of trained elephants—a great way to get close to wild animals and view them from a high perch.
Day 12 : Kolkata
We take the morning to drive to Jorhat, and then fly to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata in the early afternoon. After transferring to the hotel, we have the rest of the day free to either rest or to once again explore this rich, metropolitan city.
Day 13 : Fly home
Our rooms are held until noon for the most time to prepare. We transfer to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport to board our homeward-bound flights. If you refer to spend more time in Asia, you may wish to join one of our extensions in India, Vietnam, or Cambodia. Ask our Regional Specialist for details.
DATES: Best time to go: March, November Departures: Nov 10 - 22, 2014 Mar 2 - 14, 2015 Nov 9 - 21, 2015
$4,795 (8-12 members)
$4,895 (8-12 members)
Located in New Delhi, India’s capital city, The Oberoi, New Delhi reflects the city’s spirit in a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary sophistication. Located close to the city center near business, commercial and shopping districts, the luxury hotel overlooks Delhi’s prestigious Golf Club on one side and the heritage site of Humayun’s Tomb on the other. Exquisite interiors, impeccable service and fine cuisine combine to make this the Capital’s most graceful and elegant hotel.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you'd never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You'll be in good hands with them every step of the way.