The eastern quadrant of India offers an exhilarating kaleidoscope of extraordinarily contrasting landscapes and experiences. This is the borderland where the Indian plate collides against south-east Asia, grinding under the Tibetan plate to throw up the highest, steepest mountains on Earth. It is a region dominated by Everest and Kangchanjunga. It is where one of the great rivers of Asia, the Brahmaputra, which predates the rise of the Himalayas, breaks through the barrier of the mountains to create the vast, fertile alluvial floodplain of Assam.
A fabulous river journey by luxurious river boat makes it possible to explore this incredible riverine system, visiting vibrant traditional farming communities and steaming through remote stretches of the river populated by rare Gangetic dolphins.
Superb wildlife reserves like Kaziranga, Manas and Nameri preserve the last fragments of floodplain grassland and riparian jungle that support great one-horned rhino, tigers, elephants, wild buffalo, a host of deer, pig and an incredible assortment of birds, reptiles, butterflies and plants.
Bordering the plains are deep, isolated valleys where tribal groups – more akin to south-east Asia than India – still practice traditional hunting lifestyles. From the foothills of Bengal one can board the 100 year-old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – a world heritage monument – and steam up through some of the most stupendous scenery in the subcontinent, to chug through hill towns jostling through crowds and markets and traffic jams to emerge above the clouds in a landscape covered by endless acres of velvety tea bushes.
Stay in a beautiful lodge on a tea plantation near Darjeeling and hike through magnificent high country in the shadows of Kangchenjunga – a region that offers some of the finest walking holidays in India, remote and beautiful scenery, Buddhist culture and unmatched birding. The region also offers some of the finest fishing and rafting. There is also a wonderful, private walk or trek that you can take in Sikkim with your own Sherpa guides. Otherwise, one can walk and ride from a wonderful converted tea plantation bungalow at Dibrugarh, Assam where tea was first planted. Head into the fascinating states of Nagaland or Mizoram with their unique cultures.
Calcutta or Kolkata – the hub of this region is a must – try to spend several days here. It has beautiful hotels, amazing history and architecture to rival that in Delhi – brought alive by our special heritage private tours of India that bring this incredible city to life.