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Set off on a 16-day Expedition to the unspoiled wildlife reserves, spectacular wetlands and rambling mountain villages that make far-flung northeastern India so spectacular. Learn about the eclectic cultures of Sikkim, Assam and Nagaland, search for the iconic one-horned rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park and take a winding journey on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Explore the floating marshlands of Keibul National Park, visit Gangtok's controversial Rumtek Monastery and check out a living root bridge - the handiwork of the Khasi people. Be prepared to be wowed by a side of the country few visitors see.
Day 1: Kolkata
Namaste! Welcome to Kolkata. Vibrant Kolkata is a hub for Bengali theatre, dance, poetry, art, music and film, and there's usually plenty to choose from at the city's many venues. Your Intrepid adventure begins with a welcome meeting a 6 pm. If you arrive with time to spare, consider visiting the grand Victoria Memorial and spending some time relaxing in the attached park where locals sip chai and chat.
Day 2: Imphal
In the morning, fly to Imphal (just over 1 hour). Visit the unique Ima Keithal, a market which is run solely by female traders that has been operating for hundreds of years. The market likely began in the 16th-century, when local men left the village en masse due to forced labour policies and women began trading to survive. Female activism has a strong and vibrant history in the region, including anti-colonial protests of the 20th century and, more recently, protests against sexual assault perpetrated by members of the military. Wander around stalls where traders hawk fish, vegetables, crafts made from bamboo and mtal, traditional phaneks (sarongs), innephis (stoles/dupattas), indigenous herbs, bangles and more. In your free time, consider visiting the Shri Shri Govindaji Temple.
Day 3: Keibul Lamjao National Park - Imphal
Enjoy a full-day excursion to Keibul Lamjao National Park, home to Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India. Known as the only 'floating park' in the world, Keibul Lamjao is made up of floating plant materials that have decomposed and solodified over time. As the home of 233 different species of aquatic plants, more than 100 species of birds, and 425 species of animals, it's also an incredible place to spend a day exploring. Look out for Indian pythons, sambar, barking deer, civets, monkeys and gibbons.
Day 4: Kigwema Village – Kohima
Depart Imphal in the morning, travelling by road to Kohima (approximately 6 hours). On the way there, stop in at Kigwema Village, a traditional Naga village. The Naga people, who are native to northeastern India and northwest Myanmar, are made up of a variety of tribes which share similar customs and warrior roots. Continue to Kohima, the hilltop capital of Nagaland.
Day 5: Khonoma Village – Kohima
Set off in the morning on a half-day excursion to Khonoma Village, where the Angami Nagas repeatedly held off British forces who attempted 'punitive expeditions' into their hills. In 1897, after an invading British officer was killed, a bloody war raged for a year before a peace treaty was was signed. The resistance of the local Nagas is held in high regard across Nagaland. Today, the inhabitants of Khonoma place a lot of emphasis on wildlife conservation, establishingthe Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. In the afternoon, visit Naga Heritage Village for a glimpse of traditional tribal lifestyle and culture, as well as some historic remnants from the 19h-century British invasion. If time permits, visit the World War II memorial.
Day 6: Kaziranga National Park
In the morning, drive to Kaziranga (approximately 10–12 hours). This is your gateway to Kaziranga National Park, which hosts two-thirds of the world's one-horned rhinos. It's one of the last parts of eastern India that's still largely untouched by a human presence. Remember to prepare for this long travel day by loading up some good podcasts, packing a book or asking people for their best car games.
Day 7: Kaziranga National Park
Set out on two jeep safaris through Kaziranga National Park today, scheduled for the early morning and the evening to maximise the chances of spotting wildlife. Look out for elephants, deer, wild boar and, of course, the famed one-horned rhino. Local birdlife is also plentiful, so keep an eye on the sky to spot eagles, parakeets, blue-tinged Indian rollers and more.
Day 8: Shillong
Afterward breakfast, make the 7-hour drive to Shillong. You'll arrive in time for an orientation walk with your leader. For dinner, the street food in town is delectable, so perhaps head out tonight for some momos (dumplings) and chutney or local specialty jadoh (spicy and sour rice).
Day 9: Shillong
Make the 3-hour drive from Shillong to Mawlynnong. This tiny village has made a huge commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly living, efforts that saw it crowned ‘Asia’s Cleanest Village’ by India’s former prime minister. Take a walk around the gleaming, litter-free streets – where residents are Khasi – then make a 1.5-hour trek to the nearby living root bridge. It’s an awesome example of the tree sculpting practised by the Khasi people. Stop at Dawki and admire the crystal-clear waters of the Umngot River, as well as the border with Bangladesh. Return to Shillong. If time (and group energy) permits, it may be possible to walk to Shillong Peak for views over the town.
Day 10: Shillong – Overnight train
Enjoy a morning of leisure to relax and unwind. Depart Shillong and travel to Guwahati (approximately 3 hours). From there, take an overnight train to New Jalpaiguri, departing at around 10 pm. Overnight train travel in India is a real experience, and many travellers find they make some of their fondest memories on board.
Day 11: Darjeeling
Rise and shine as the train pulls into New Jalpaiguri at around 6 am. Make tracks for Darjeeling (approximately 3 hours) and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in this lovely Himalayan mountain town. If you have the energy, take a stroll around to check out colonial-era architecture. If you're feeling the effects of a few long travel days, maybe just grab cup of the famous local brews and take gander at the spectacular views of the Himalayas (weather depending, of course).
Day 12: Darjeeling
Shake off the sleep with an early morning walk to Tiger Hill (approximately 1 hour). Catch a glorious sunrise over the snowy peak of Kanchenjunga – the world’s third-highest mountain, then return to Darjeeling for a few hours at your leisure. In the afternoon, transfer to Ghoom and board the Darjeeling Toy Train. Winding your way through the mount this classic steam-powered locomotive is probably the most romantic way to experience the Himalayan landscape.
Day 13: Gangtok
Head to Gangtok in the morning (approximately 4 hours). This is the capital of the northeastern state of Sikkim. Its chaotically laid-out townscape and jovial atmosphere make it a nice place to walk around. Perhaps head to local viewpoint and, if it's clear, spot the majestic peak of Khangchendzonga in the distance.
Day 14: Gangtok
Sprawling down a mountain ridge, this town is a haven for Tibetan Buddhists. Visit the monastery at Rumtek and perhaps hike to the old Gompa a little further down the road. In your spare time, perhaps pick up some local tea or explore the Tibetology museum.
Day 15: Kolkata
Drive to the airport in Bagdogra (approximately 3 hours), then fly back to Kolkata (approximately 1 hour). If the hustle and bustle is too much to bear after your mountain getaway, you can explore the vast green fields of the Maidan (also known as ‘the lungs of Kolkata’) or take refuge in the beautiful botanic gardens along the banks of the Hooghly River.
Day 16: Kolkata
The Expedition comes to an end this morning.
- Imphal - Ima Keithel Women's Market
- Kigwema Village visit
- Khonoma Village visit
- Kaziranga National Park - Morning Jeep Safari
- Kaziranga National Park - Evening Jeep Safari
- Shillong - Single Root Bridge
- Darjeeling - Tiger Hill
- Darjeeling - Toy Train ride
- Gangtok - Rumtek Monastery
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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