Calcutta, Assam and the Eastern Himalayas
The eastern quadrant of India offers an exhilarating kaleidoscope of extraordinarily contrasting landscapes and experiences. This is the borderland where the Indian plate collides against southeast Asia, grinding under the Tibetan plate to throw up the highest, steepest mountains on Earth. It is a region dominated by Everest and Kangchanjunga. It is where one of the great rivers of Asia, the Brahmaputra which predates the rise of the Himalayas, breaks through the barrier of the mountains to create the vast, fertile alluvial floodplain of Assam.
This was the rich prize that drew migrants and invaders both from the hills of northern Thailand to the east and from the Indian plains to the west. The influence of both is apparent in every aspect of Assamese life and makes for an intriguing variation on the Indian theme. A fabulous river journey by luxurious river boat makes it possible to explore this incredible riverine system, visiting vibrant traditional farming communities, and steaming through remote stretches of the river populated by rare Gangetic dolphins. Superb wildlife reserves like Kaziranga, Manas and Nameri preserve the last fragments of floodplain grassland and riparian jungle that support great one-horned rhino, tigers, elephants, wild buffalo, a host of deer, pig and an incredible assortment of birds, reptiles, butterflies and plants. Bordering the plains are deep isolated valleys where tribal groups – more akin to south-east Asia than India still practice traditional hunting lifestyles and a single tiger reserve like Namdapha can encompass the habitats of tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard! From the foothills of Bengal one can board the 100 year old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – a world heritage monument – and steam up through some of the most stupendous scenery in the subcontinent, to chug through hill towns jostling through crowds and markets and traffic jams to emerge above the clouds in a landscape covered by endless acres of velvety tea. Stay in one of the most beautiful small hotels in India – Glenburn and hike through the magnificent high country around Singalila and in Sikkim in the shadows of Kangchenjunga – a region which offers some of the finest walking, remote and beautiful scenery, Buddhist culture and unmatched birding. The region offers some of the finest fishing, rafting, riding from a wonderful converted tea plantation bungalow at Dibrugarh where tea was first planted. Head into the fascinating states of Nagaland or Mizoram with their unique cultures. Calcutta or Kolkata – the hub of this region with its amazing history and architecture is brought alive by our special heritage tours that bring this incredible city to life.
The architectural and artistic treasures of Calcutta – wonderful day tours with superb guides that really bring this fascinating city with some of the finest examples of colonial architecture to life!
Superb walking – whether in the Eastern Himalayas or from a gorgeous tea plantation close to Darjeeling where one can stay in beautiful, sympathetically restored bungalows.
Charming hill villages
Buddhist monasteries and scenery in the high mountain country of Sikkim and Darjeeling
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Magnificent birding and rhododendron and orchid blooms
The distinctive tribal cultures of the deep valleys of Arunachal more closely linked to Southeast Asia than South Asia
The state of Assam famous for tea, rhinos, wild elephants, hoolock gibbons and other wildlife
Cruising the great Brahmaputra River – with a chance to view the Gangetic dolphins
Excellent riding from a tea estate in Upper Assam along the Bhramaputra River on thoroughbred horses.