Holidays to West Bengal, Sikkim & Assam - see Darjeeling tea plantations, Kaziringa National Park and more

Wildlife of Bengal, Himalayas & the Sundarbans


IPM15D
15 NIGHTS
FROM £2,995
International flights quoted separately
Explore the wildlife & scenery of the eastern Himalayas & West Bengal. Visit Kaziranga National Park on the Brahmaputra River where you can see wild Asian elephants & one-horned rhino. Continue to the tea-producing hill country of Darjeeling & Mother Teresa Mission in Calcutta, before taking a boat to the Sundarbans Delta. English speaking city guides, private driver, jeep safaris & sightseeing included.
Photo Kaziranga National Park Sundarbans Delta India Darjeeling Gangtok
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Delhi
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Kaziranga National Park
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Brahmaputra River
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One-Horned Rhino
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Asian Elephants
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Eastern Himalayas
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Darjeeling
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Gangtok
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Kolkata / Calcutta
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Sunderbans Boat Cruise
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Delhi
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Kaziranga National Park
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Brahmaputra River
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One-Horned Rhino
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Asian Elephants
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Eastern Himalayas
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Darjeeling
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Gangtok
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Kolkata / Calcutta
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Sunderbans Boat Cruise
Day 1
You will be met at Calcutta Airport and transferred to your hotel in this bustling city - the third largest in India and the capital of West Bengal.
 
Now known as Kolkata, this city was originally developed by the British East India Company and became the capital of the British Empire in India until 1911, when the capital was relocated to Delhi.
Day 2
Today enjoy a tour of Calcutta, a city of palaces situated on the east bank of the River Hooghly and the principal commercial, cultural and educational centre in eastern India. Calcutta is also noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist Naxalite and trade-union movements.
 
We visit the Mother Teresa Mission, which works amongst one of the poorest communities in the world, and drive past BBD Bagh Garden (formerley Dalhousie Square), named after three freedom fighters and now the office hub of the city. These impressive colonial buildings date back to when this city was the capital of British India. Here you can see Raj Bhavan (Government House), St John's church, High Court, Post Office, Town Hall and beautiful Writers Building. We can also see the Flower Market and drive across the impressive Vidyasagar Setu Bridge.
 
Other places we can see include St. Paul’s Cathedral, Victoria Memorial (closed Mondays), Indian Museum (closed Mondays) and  Marble Palace, before enjoying a boat ride on the Hooley River that links Calcutta with Howrah. Our day finishes with a visit the beautiful Dakshineswar Kali Temple and the Jain Temple.
Day 3
Transfer to Calcutta Airport for your flight to Bagdogra, where you will be met and transferred 4-hours to Darjeeling.
 
Situated in the lesser Himalayas at an altidude of 6,710 ft (2,050 m), this town was the summer capital of British India when it was governed from Calcutta, due to its pleasant climate. Today it is famous for its distinctive black tea and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
 
Darjeeling is also well known for its cultural diversity, as it is home to many Tibetan refugees and descendants from Nepali and Bihari labourers brought to work here on the tea plantations.
Day 4
Rise early today to visit Tiger Hill and experience the sun rising over the peaks of the Himalayas.
 
After returning to your hotel for breakfast, transfer to the station to board the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, one of India's five famous Toy Trains built by the British to access the hill stations.
 
The train travels to Ghoom, where you will disembark and visit the Ghoom Monastery that follows the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Here the monks fly prayer flags in the Tibetan tradition and there is a 15-ft statue of Maitreya Buddha (the Coming Buddha). It is the largest of the three monasteries in Ghoom.
 
Afterwards we visit the Tibetan Refugee Centre, established as a self-help scheme for Tibetans who trekked across the Himalayas following the dramatic escape of the Dalai Lama, when China invaded Tibet (closed on Sundays).
 
We then visit a Tea Plantation, before returning by road to Darjeeling.
 
Note: Tea plucking & processing is closed from November to March, when we will visit the gardens only.
Day 5
This morning is at leisure to relax in the tea country.
 
In the afternoon enjoy a guided walking tour of Darjeeling, including a visit to the Botanical Gardens and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where Tenzay Norgay, who together with Sir Edmund Hillary first ascended Mount Everest, was director of field training. We also vist the colouful local bazaars.
  
Note: The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is closed on Thursdays.
Day 6
Today drive 4-hours to Gangtok in the eastern Himalayas, the capital of the state of Sikkim and a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning.
 
In the afternoon relax in this city that is wreathed in clouds.
Day 7
This morning we visit the beautiful Rumtek Monastery, with its intricately painted exterior and priceless Buddhist manuscripts.
 
We then explore the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a centre for Mahayana Buddhism with rare statues and embroidered scrolls charting the intertwined Buddhist cultures and histories of Sikkim and Tibet. Here we can learn more about their religion, history, language, arts and culture (closed Sundays).
 
You can view the impressive Do-Drul-Chorten, an imposing stupa (shrine) ringed by prayer wheels, and visit cottage industries making traditional handcrafts. You can support the local people by buying some of their wares. We also visit Srama Gardens, a sanctuary with a collection of over 454 species of orchids.
Day 8
Transfer 5-hours to Bagdogra Airport for your flight to Guwahati.
 
You will be met at Guwahati Airport and transferred to your hotel. Time permitting, along the way we will visit Kamakhya Temple - famous for its religious and archeological heritage.
Day 9
This morning your guide will take you to Nabagraha, an ancient center of astrological and astronomical research. The temple is enshrined with nine Shiva Lingam (symbols of the Hindu god Shiva), representing the nine planets, with one in the centre symbolising the sun.
 
We then board a country boat across the Brahmaputra River to visit the Umananda Temple on Peacock Island – a Shiva shrine built by an Ahom king in 1594. We also visit Kamakhya Temple, a famous Hindu pilgrimage site.
 
Afterwards we leave  Guwahati  and travel 5-hours to the moist deciduous forests of Kaziranga National Park in the foothills of the eastern Himalaya Mountains. Kaziranga is a biodiversity hotspot situated on the southern banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River and is home to two thirds of the world's remaining population of severely endangered one horned rhinos, as well as wonderful bird life. Check into your lodge near the entrance to the park.
Days 10 To 11
On your first morning, enter Kaziranga National Park riding on the back of an elephant. After enjoying a packed lunch, continue your game viewing on a jeep safari.
 
This wildlife reserve, which covers an area of over 145 sq.miles (380 sq.km), is particularly rewarding, as it combines high species diversity with good visibility across the expanses of tall elephant grass, marshland and tropical broadleaf forests that are criss-crossed by four major rivers. In addition to its rare one-horned rhino, the park is also home to large breeding populations of Asian elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer.
 
This park has the highest density of tigers in India, but sightings in the wild are rare. The beautiful flora and fauna add to the scenic beauty of this park, which is also a very important birding habitat.
 
Two jeep safaris per day are included, in addition to one elephant back safari during your stay. Alternatively you can substitute your morning jeep safari for a 2.5-hour jungle trek with a naturalist, to enjoy the outstanding birding.
 
Please note that in the winter months, morning safaris require warm clothes including woolly hats and gloves to protect you from the wind chill in your open vehicle. Kaziranga National Park is closed during the monsoon season (May to October).
Day 12
Transfer 1-hour to Jorhat Airport for your flight to Calcutta, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in this bustling city - the third largest in India and the capital of West Bengal.
 
Now known as Kolkata, this city was originally developed by the British East India Company and became the capital of the British Empire in India until 1911, when the capital was relocated to Delhi.
Day 13
Transfer 2-hours from Calcutta this morning, travelling through beautiful countryside with a stop at a rural bazaar for refreshments. Around midday arive at Gothkhali Jetty, where you will be met by your guide and transferred 3-hours by small boat to your lodge in the Sundarbans Delta.
 
Situated in the Bay of Bengal at the delta of the mighty Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers, Sundarbans National Park covers an area of over 10,000 sq km, with over half of the park located in neighbouring Bangladesh.
 
After checking into your lodge and enjoying lunch, glide through the creeks and dense mangrove forests of this national park that is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also a tiger reserve. You can disembark and climb a watchtower to observe the birds of the treetop canopy, before returning to your lodge at sunset. There is also a watchtower at your lodge. In the evening experience traditional Adibasi tribal dancing around a campfire.
Day 14
Wake early to the sound of birdlife, before setting out (before the heat of the day) to explore the waterways of Sundarbans National Park.
 
Intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangroves, the Sundarbans Delta is renowned for its wide range of fauna including over 260 bird species, Bengal tigers and other threatened species such as the large estuarine crocodile and the Indian python.
 
Enjoy breakfast on board, as we travel by small boat through creeks and dense forests towards Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. The canopy walk at Dobanke Watch Tower will sends chills down your spine, as you experience the life of caged animals, while getting a 360° view of the forest. We also visit the spotted deer rehabilitation centre, before returning to the lodge for lunch.
 
In the afternoon experience the local Sunderbans lifestyle, as we walk through a local village and learn about their lifestyle, crafts, cuisine and way of life - and how man and tiger co-exist in such a difficult terrain. Observe their indigenous farming methods and how their houses are completely mud made with small entrances. Your tour will pass through the village market and end at the lodge with refreshments, followed by a wildlife movie and dinner to end another day in the reserve forest.
 
 
Day 15
Today transfer 2-hours by boat from the Sundarbans Delta (with breakfast on board) and 3-hours by road to Calcutta.
 
Check into your hotel and relax, with balance of day at leisure.
Day 16
Transfer to Calcutta Airport for your flight home.
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