Day 1: Guwahati
Meet and greet at Guwahati airport from where we drive to the vibrant capital of Assam. In the afternoon we will visit some of the bustling fresh markets to get an idea of the diversity of grains and vegetables. Later in the evening we will have a session on the local cuisine of Assam followed by tasting session of a traditional Assamese meal, and what can be more fascinating than a locally prepared thali.
Day 2: Guwahati to Kaziranga
Today we continue our drive to Kaziranga, the land of the one-horned rhinos. Circumscribed by the mighty Brahmaputra towards the north and east, and by the Mora Diphlu in the south; the Kaziranga National park is home to the largest population of the Great One Horned Rhinoceros in the world. The habitat of this 400 sq. kms park encompasses vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests. The landscape consists of exposed sandbars, riverine flood-formed lakes known as, beels, and elevated regions known as, chaporis, which provide retreats and shelter for animals during floods.
In the afternoon we will go for a jeep safari in the Central range of the park characterized by grasslands and waterbodies known as beels. Over here we will be able to see herbivores like rhinos, hog deer, swamp deer and wild boars in the plentiful.
Day 3: Kaziranga
You will go on an early morning trek towards the pristine and enchanting Karbi Hills, which forms part of the Kaziranga National Park’s highland ranges. The animals of the park use these hills as their routes of migration, from the hills to the plains and vice versa, especially the big herds of wild elephants. We will walk upstream along the course of the Kohora river, crossing Karbi ethnic villages, and learning about their traditional customs and practices, including food, handloom and farming. The animist rituals embedded in the Karbi society makes for a fascinating insight into their worldviews and expressions of the forests they inhabit and live. You will have a traditional breakfast at the start of the forest trail, just like the way Karbi communities have before embarking on their journeys inside the forest.
After a morning prayer ritual to the forest by a traditional priest, which is to ask for entry to the forest and for overall wellbeing of humans, non-humans and other-than-humans, you will go for a forest trek. Lunch will also be a combination of local food and ingredients of the forest, and will take place inside the forest as well, cooked in bamboo sleeves in the Karbi traditional way. There will also be a local naturalist guide who will provide you with insights about the forest produce that communities depend on, and enchant you with mystical stories and tales from the forest, passed on across many generations, about streams, trees and spirits of the nature, that they worship.
Day 4: Kaziranga to Majuli
After breakfast drive to Nimatighat from where an hours ferry ride over the might Brahmaputra gets us to Majuli, one of the larges river island in the world. The name is a conjunction of Ma, which denotes Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity) and Juli meaning granary. The island has been the hub of Neo-Vaishnavite culture since the 15th century, having been initiated by the revered Assamese saint Sankardeva. Besides the Vaishanvites you also have many village of the Mishing and Deori community which present a great opportunity to experience the rural Assamese life.
On the way we will visit the ICARD centre in Jorhat educating ourselves about the culture and food of the Mishing community.
Day 5: Majuli
The Mishing community have lived for generations on the banks of Brahmaputra, thus possessing a tremendous knowledge of fishing and wet paddy cultivation. We will visit a traditional Mishing village where we will learn to prepare some traditional dishes. The Mishing are also well known for their local brew made by burning rice husk, which is known as Sai Mod. You will also have to opportunity to visit local markets, and sample traditional cooking methods in an ethnic kitchen run by a local family.
Day 6: Majuli – Sibsagar – Dibrugarh
Take the morning ferry back to Nimatighat from where we drive to Sibsagar, the once eponymous capital of the Ahom Kingdom. The Ahom originally came from Myanmar, bringing with them an interesting food culture which slowly got assimilated into that existing in the Brahmaputra valley. We will visit an Ahom village to flavour their local delicacies.
By later afternoon continue driving to Dibrugarh.
Day 7: Excursion to a Tai Phake village
Drive to a village of the Tai Phake tribe on the banks of the BurhiDihing river. The village is home to the Tai Phakey community which originally came down from Northern Thailand via Myanmar sometime in the 16th century. They still maintain their distinctive culture and language, along with their food habits.
Start with a visit to the village monastery of the Theravada sect of Buddhism. From there continue walking around this serene village, interacting with the friendly locals. We visit one of the local houses where we have a traditional meal prepared with different kinds of vegetables and foraged greens, infused with local herbs. The vegetables are served with a ball of rice that is wrapped in a leaf and steamed, locally called Tupula Bhat. They are also known for the unique preparation of fish and meat that tastes as good as it looks- a true feast for the senses.
By evening drive back to Dibrugarh.
Day 8: Dibrugarh
After breakfast drop to Dibrugarh airport