Assam Explorer - Hornbill Festival

14 days
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Guided Group
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Discover one of the most beautiful and fascinating regions of India

Tucked away in northeast India lies a wild land of pristine forests, rugged mountains and beautiful lakes, inhabited by some of Asia's last surviving former headhunting tribes. It is arguably one of the most beautiful and fascinating regions of India, sharing borders with Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh, yet it remains the least explored. Journey through Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland on this adventurous tour, starting with the living root bridges in Cherrapunjee and the capital city of Meghalaya, Shillong. We then continue to Assam, searching for the one-horned rhino in Kaziranga National Park before moving on to Kohima to celebrate Nagaland's annual Hornbill Festival. A trip to Nagaland isn't complete without a visit to Majuli Island, where we visit the village of the Mishing tribe. 


  • Living root bridges in Cherrapunjee
  • Wildlife in Kaziranga National Park
  • Meet the tribes of Nagaland

Key information

  • 9 nights standard hotels, 4 nights lodges
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus local leader and driver. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus, Jeep and 1 internal flight

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 9 dinners 
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Guwahati, Assam; optional visit to Umananda temple.

    Arrive Guwahati, the state capital of Assam. Today is free to relax, with an optional visit to the 17th Century Shiva Umananda temple in the afternoon. For those who wish to visit the temple, we will board a ferry and cross the Brahmaputra River to Peacock Island, where the temple is located at the top of a series of steep steps. This is also a nice resting place for rare golden langurs (leaf-eating monkeys and one of India's most endangered primates).

    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Drive to Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya, stopping at Umiam Lake en route.

    Today we drive to Cherrapunjee, also known as Sohra, in the state of Meghalaya. Cherrapunjee is one of the wettest places on the planet and the only place in India to receive rain throughout the year. The heavy monsoon rains over these mountains, creating one of the rarest bio-diverse vegetation in the world. On the way to Cherrapunjee we shall visit Umiam Lake (also known as Barapani Lake). This is a reservoir located in the hills 15km north of Shillong. It was created by damming the Umiam River in the early 1960s. The lake and dam is spread over 220 sq. km.
    Drive approx. 148km, time 4-5 hrs.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Walk through the Khasi hills to the double-decker living root bridge; later visit Moasmi Cave and Seven Sister Falls.

    An exciting day today; we enjoy a scenic walk through the beautiful Khasi hills to the double-decker living root bridge, a 250 year old living bridge located in the remote village of Nongriat, spanning between two grand old rubber trees. This is a beautiful and interesting walk. The first part of the trail takes you down a series of steep stone steps, passing small remote villages. It will take approx. 1 hr to reach the bridge. We'll enjoy a packed lunch upon arrival at the bridge and spend some time to rest and enjoy the area. It is then a steep climb back to the coach, following the same steps, which may take a couple of hours and can be quite challenging in the heat. You'll need to wear walking shoes with a good grip and we also recommend using walking poles or getting hold of a stick locally if you have problems with your knees. It will take approx. 6-7 hrs for the whole trip including the trek. We also have time to visit Moasmi Cave and the Seven Sister Falls on the way back to the hotel.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Visit Mawlynnong and Mawphlang villages; drive to Shillong via Sacred Forest.

    Today we visit Mawlynnong Village, which is often referred to as 'God's Own Garden' after being labelled as the cleanest village in Asia. From the bamboo waste baskets lining the main road of the village, to the bamboo fences enclosing houses with neat gardens, you can see why this pretty little village has won its status. Locals are proud of their pretty village and the upkeep of its cleanliness is part of their lifestyle. We have time to explore and there is also an easily accessible living root bridge to wander across.  Leaving the village we will make our way to the Mawphlang Sacred Forest, with its plentiful flowering trees, orchids and butterflies. From here it is just  a 1 hr drive to Shillong where we will check in to our hotel and have time to relax.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Drive to Kaziranga National Park in Assam via the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures.

    This morning we explore Shillong, the capital city of the state of Meghalaya, as well as the headquarters of the East Khasi Hill district. Reputable educational institutions were established by various missionary groups, making Shillong the hub of education for the entire north-east. It is also home to several waterfalls, and referred to as 'the Scotland of the East'. British influence is still visible in the architecture and cuisine. We visit the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures, a famous museum which preserves the culture of various tribes and communities of northeast India. We then drive to Kaziranga National Park in Assam, with time to relax upon arrival.
    Drive approx. 252km, time 5-6 hrs.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Morning and afternoon jeep safaris in search of the one-horned rhino.

    Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for the one-horned rhino. The landscape consists of pristine forest, tall elephant grass, reeds, marshes and shallow pools. The park also has a small number of tiger, and is home to a large breeding population of elephants, buffalo and swamp deer. Today we enjoy two jeep safaris in search of the one-horned rhino; the first drive is early in the morning, before breakfast, and the second is in the afternoon.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Drive to the picturesque town of Kohima.

    Leaving Kaziranga National Park, we have a long drive to Kohima (approx. 7-8 hrs). Lapped in the eastern frontiers of the Himalayan mountain range, the picturesque town of Kohima is marked by a relaxed pace of life; calm and serene, with fresh air. A typical Naga town, it depicts the exotic tribal culture of the northeast and offers panoramic views of the neighbouring hills. On the way to Kohima we will cross Dimapur, the site of the old capital of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom who ruled these lands during the Middle Ages. The hills and valleys of this independent and little visited region are the traditional homeland of the Nagas, fiercely proud warrior clans who still revere their ancestral beliefs. Upon arrival in Kohima, we have free time to relax and unwind.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Celebrate the annual Hornbill Festival at Kohima.

    Today we will join the locals as they come together and celebrate the annual Hornbill Festival. Taking place in the first week of December each year, the festival is a celebration of the rich heritage of Nagaland. Tribes from all over the state come together and perform traditional dances and folk songs, and display their ornate clothing, jewellery and hunting spears. The festival is named after the state bird, the Hornbill, which is admired by the tribes for the grandeur of its plumage. The headdresses worn by many of the tribes reflect the birds colourful feathers. You will have a closer understanding of the people and the diverse culture of Nagaland, and an opportunity to experience the varied Naga food. Tourists are wwarmly welcomed at the traiditonal huts of each tribe, which showcase respective traditions. For those who are interested, you have the opprtunity to seat with the young and elerderly members of the tribes and interact with them.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Hornbill Festival at Kohima.

    Our second day celebrating the Hornbill Festival and soaking up the atmosphere. We enjoy the traditional dance performances and admire the traditional artwork and sculptures. There are also souvenirs available to buy at various handicraft stalls. Food is a big part of the culture and there are stalls selling plenty of treats throughout the day, including dishes containing spicy Naga chilli. In the afternoon we return to our hotel, with time to explore the town on your own if you wish.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    Morning to explore Kohima; drive to Jorhat

    After breakfast we will explore Kohima and visit the war cemetery which is a memorial dedicated to soldiers of the 2nd British Division of the Allied Forces who lost their lives in World War II in April 1944.  We will then drive to Jorhat (5 - 6 hour drive) and upon arrival we will check into our hotel.  This evening is free to relax.

    Standard hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    Ferry to Majuli Island; visit the village of the Mishing tribe

    We will have an early breakfast and then drive to Nimati Ghat to board our ferry crossing the mighty Brahmaputra River to Majuli Island.  This large island is renowned for migratory birds and the Mishing tribal culture. It has been the principle place of pilgrimage for Vaishnavites since the age of the Ahom rulers. On arrival we will visit one of these holy places before checking into our Lodge. This afternoon we visit more satras, where we will meet priests and learn about Majuli's unique traditions. We then make our way to the village of the Mishing tribe, which comprises of 45% of Majuli's population, and whose ethnic culture has remained unchanged for centuries. We see the community pillar houses, which are generally stilted and have a thatched roof. We finish today's sightseeing with a visit to Chamaguri satra, famous for making masks that are used for religious dance and theatre. There is an optional cultural show this evening for those who would like to experience traditional dance and music.

    Basic Lodge

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 12

    Early morning birdwatching; to Dibrugarh via Sivasagar.

    Early this morning we will take a bird watching walk in the wetlands to see the various species of migatory birds that visit the island. After our bird spotting we return to the Lodge for breakfast before checking out.  Leaving Majuli Island, we board the ferry back to Nimati Ghat and then drive to Sivasagar, which was once the capital of the Ahom Kings. The Shans, who came from Thailand through northern Myanmar in the early 13th Century, ruled for 600 years. The Siva Temple, built by the Ahoms, is believed to be one of the largest Hindu temples. The ruins of Ahom palaces and monuments dot the landscape surrounding this town. Centuries before the arrival of the British, this part of the world was controlled by a number of tribal chieftains. We'll have a short visit to Talatal Ghar, Rang Ghar and the Tai museum.
    We continue to Dibrugarh, the gateway to the 'Hidden Land' of eastern Arunchal Pradesh. It is also known as the 'Camelia' town of Assam, with its rich tea gardens resembling a lush green carpet.
    Drive approx. 135km, time 4-5 hrs.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Fly to Kolkata; afternoon sightseeing including Victoria Memorial and Kali Temple.

    This morning we catch a morning flight to Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta. It is the capital city of the state of West Bengal and the cultural capital of India, serving as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1912. We arrive in Kolkata in the morning and proceed for city sightseeing after check-in at the hotel. We'll visit the Victoria Memorial and Kali Temple, driving past colonial buildings at the Dalhousie Square area.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Kolkata.

    Those on the flight inclusive package will transfer to Kolkata airport. Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. For UK residents full details of the visa process can be found here. Other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies.

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

When you reach immigration, you are required to pick up an immigration form. If you have an e-visa, ensure you stand in the correct queue - please follow the signs to the e-visa booth (in Delhi this is at the back of the immigration hall). You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth - please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready (these details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions).




There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 9 dinners included. 

You should allow at least £13-15 (approx. US$17-20) per day for lunch and dinner where they are not included. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants. If you are a vegetarian, India is probably one of the best destinations to travel to. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately £3 (approx. US$4). Mineral water is provided in the vehicle in a 20 ltr container, so please bring a water bottle with you so that you can refill it during the day. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow.


Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)

This trip provides an excellent introduction to the northeast of the country and includes a great range of experiences and sights, from walking in the Khasi hills to visiting the bustling city of Kolkata.

Please note that the moderate walk to the living root bridge on Day 3 has steep steps going down to the bridge, which will take approx. 1 hr. You will then have to go back up these steps after, which will most likely take a couple of hours and it can be quite challenging in the heat. Walking shoes with a good grip are essential and you may also wish to bring walking poles for this day, or get hold of a stick locally if you have problems with your knees.

Please note that hotel facilities in northeast India tend to be simpler than other regions, but most of the hotels we use meet local 2-3-star standards.

The roads are generally pretty good throughout, but road conditions can vary and are obviously very different from those in the west. Local traffic and/or road damage after the monsoon can sometimes slow us down. Although we attempt to minimise journey times, you must be prepared for some longer or bumpy drives.

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI’s schedule is never published so it is not possible to forewarn our clients of when work will be taking place.

Hornbill Festival
On Hornbill Festival departures, our visit to Mon is replaced with Kohima. The festival celebrates the rich heritage of Nagaland, with tribes coming together to perform traditional dances and folk songs, and to display their ornate clothing, jewellery and hunting spears. The festival takes place annually in the first week of December.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotels and Lodges

9 nights standard hotels and 4 nights basic lodges. The hotels we stay in are classed as standard 2/3-star hotels (local rating), where properties are chosen for their location and value. Some areas are not geared up to western tourism and facilities are generally simpler than other parts of India. All hotel rooms have en suite facilities but plumbing can be erratic.

In Cherrapunjee we stay in a family-run nature resort, surrounded by beautiful scenery. A Mishing tribal family runs our accommodation at Majuli Island. It is built in traditional style with basic bamboo and thatch cottages on stilts (each with a veranda and bathroom). In Kolkata, our hotel is located in the heart of the city and only a 5 minute walk from bustling Park Street. 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936