The sacred Brahmaputra River in North East India is fast becoming a new frontier for adventure river cruising, offering cultural immersion and amazing wildlife.
Cruise Traveller, in partnership with Adventure Resorts and Cruises in India, at present almost has the river to themselves with a seven-night sailing from the cities of Guwahati to Jorhat in Assam on the boutique, 23-suite ship, the MV Mahabaahu.
The journey takes in village visits, and shore excursions that include temples and markets.
But the undoubted highlight is an elephant safari in search of the famous Bengal Tigers and rare one-horned rhino, which can now be seen in relative abundance in the game parks that adjourn the river banks.
Few are aware of India’s amazing safaris, which feature many of Africa’s animals. But Indian Tourism and Assam Tourism are determined to change all of that.
The two governments have backed the line with help in navigating the mighty river’s constantly changing route. They even donated the ship’s hull.
Captain’s Choice, owned by APT Travel Group, charters the MV Mahabaahu for a seven night cruise on the Brahmaputra.
And Pandaw is expected to launch a rival expedition cruise on the Brahmaputra in October this year.
The massive 2900 km Brahmaputra is one of the great rivers of the world, originating in Tibet where it is known as the YarlungTsang-Po and considered holy by both Hindus and Buddhists alike. The river then flows through Assam, enters Bangladesh before discharging into the Bay of Bengal.
MV Mahabaahu cruises the Brahmaputra from October to May visiting Hindu temples, remote villages and ancient monuments. There is a swimming pool, sundeck, spa and restaurant offering aromatic Indian cuisine. Early morning yoga lessons are complimentary.
Kaziranga National Park is on its route, with the tiger, the single-horned rhino, wild buffalo and wild pig living on some 450 hectares.
Kaziranga is home to 180 different animals, and the elephant ride alone is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As ARC chairman, Sanjay Basu says: “A cruise on the Brahmaputra offers Australians an exclusive and exotic new adventure far off the beaten tourist trail. Accommodation in Assam is very limited so a journey aboard the MV Mahabaahu offers the best, easiest and most secure way to explore the region.”
The Brahmaputra is little-navigated and in some places can be up to 32 kms wide. During the monsoon season, it floods the entire Assam plain. When it recedes, the river leaves a rich deposit of sand and shoal where ancient nomadic tribes are able to plant mustard seeds, rice, vegetables and bamboo. The river banks are a rich source of bird life.
The seven-night cruise includes a visit to Peacock Island, famous for its highly endangered Golden Langur (monkey), a jute-making factory, a tea plantation, a village on the shores of Bishwanath Ghat to watch the women weavers with their home-based looms, the Talatal palace of the Ahom Kings and the Rang Ghar, an amphitheatre built in the 18th century in the ancient city of Sibsagar.
Cruise Traveller and ARC is offering a 19-night Brahmaputra River cruise and overland safari package to three national parks from $9795 per person including flights. You will enjoy a discount of $1370 pp if booked before 30 January. Visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au/mahabaahu or call Cruise Traveller on 1800 507 777.