Tribes of Northeast India

Duration: 17 Nights/ 18 Days
Destinations: KOLKATA -KAZIRANGA - ZIRO-MAJULI-JORHAT – HOOLLONGAPAR GIBBON SANCTUARY- KOHIMA

Dominated by the mighty Himalayas, bordering Tibet, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, North East India is a fascinating tapestry of culture. Unparalleled in the diversity and isolation of its tribes, the people here continue an authentic way of life in one of the world's bio-diversity hot-spots. For a photographer, it is a veritable delight of festivals, villages, markets and street-scenes, blended with stunning landscapes and unique wildlife - all far away from the tourist crowds. Capture unique images as you meet disappearing tribes, witness festivals and traditional performances, explore monasteries on laid-back river islands, visit relics of ancient kingdoms, track wildlife on elephant back, and blend luxury with adventure in one of our ultimate off-the-beaten track cultural tours.

DAY 1 - ARRIVE KOLKATA

Upon arrival at Kolkata Airport.Kolkata, a city founded by the English in the late 1600s. Dominique Lapierre's 'City of Joy', the city formerly known as Calcutta is the current capital of the state of West Bengal and was also the first capital of the British in India.

Meet and Greet Greenlimon Holidays representative and assisted transfer to Hotel. You will have the day at leisure, and in the evening. Dinner and Overnight stay at Kolkata

DAY 2 - KOLKATA – FLOWER MARKET AND WALKING TOURS

For the early risers, we will visit the bustling flower market under the Howrah Bridge at dawn. This is great people watching and photography and we'll stroll through the market, capturing great life moments with vibrant color. We may even catch some wrestling on the riverbanks.After breakfast at our hotel, we'll head out again for a walking tour of Sovabazar, the ever-vital hub of traditional Bengali culture: a fascinating blend of seemingly incongruous architectural forms (from Islamic to Baroque, from Victorian to Bengali) which made up the old world dwellings of the city's wealthier Bengalis. Depending on photographic opportunities, we'll also explore the winding streets of Old Chinatown and Barabazar. This afternoon, we visit the Victoria Memorial and tour the Mother Teresa ashram to see her work and meet with her followers. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Kolkata

DAY 3 -KOLKATA / GUWAHATI (ASSAM) - KAZIRANGA

Morning flight to Guwahati, the capital of Assam. Continue to Kaziranga National Park. The park is host to two thirds of the world's population of one-horned rhinos and also holds the highest density of tigers among all the protected areas in the world. Elephant, wild water buffalo and swamp deer, amongst others, also inhabit it. Declared an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, this national park is a home to a great variety of inhabitant and migrating birds. Located on the banks of the river Brahmaputra, the sanctuary enjoys tropical vegetation and is marked by elephant grass, marshy lowlands and tropical moist broadleaf forests. We will arrive late afternoon and settle in our lodge for an early night. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Kaziranga National Park

DAY 4 KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK

This morning we will take an early elephant safari in the national park. In the afternoon we embark on a jeep safari in a western zone of the Park . Today's a day for keen eyes and long lenses. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Kaziranga National Park

DAY 5 - KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK / TEZPUR

A morning jeep safari in another section of the park, before a drive to Tezpur, across the mighty Brahmaputra River. Town tour and hopefully a gorgeous Brahmaputra sunset. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Tezapur

DAY 6 – TEZPUR / ZIRO

Long day's drive from Tezpur to Ziro, through the fields of Assam and the stunning mountains of Arunachal Pradesh. We will stop in markets and villages en route,as possible, to visit other local tribes and people. We will arrive late afternoon in Ziro, home of the little-known Apatani tribe,whom we'll be visiting in the coming days. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Ziro

DAY 7 - ZIRO

Ziro is packed with Apatani tribal villages, rice fields and bamboo groves. The Apatani women were historically considered the most beautiful in the region and were therefore frequently kidnapped by the Nishi men (of the surrounding territories). The women used facial tattoos or wooden nose plugs to deter them until the 1960s, and we can therefore see this today in women over 50.The Apatani farm sustainablyand without machinery or animals. We will spend the day visiting with the people in small groups so we maximize the opportunities to meet the locals in a way that allows for good portrait photography and storytelling. We will also visit the local museum for a history lesson in the many tribes of the region. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Ziro

DAY 8 -ZIRO / NORTH LAKHIMPUR

We have an extra morning in Ziro to visit more villages and capture the morning light. We will also visit the bustling market, full of local delights, brimming with the people, textures, and colors that are a photographer's dream. Then, we drive down from the mountains to North Lakhimpur where we will stay overnight en route to Majuli.

DAY 9 - MAJULI

We continue our journey to Majuli with a morning ferry ride. One of the world's largest river islands, Majuli Island is located in the Brahmaputra River. The island has a population of 150,000 and there are 243 villages. Due to its natural setting, surrounded by water, Majuli attracts a wide range of birds. Aside from the rice field landscapes, fish traps and water meadows, the local Mishing people and Satras make the island a fascinating place. Dance and play-acting of scenes from the holy Hindu scripture (Bhagavad Gita) have an important role. Pottery in Majuli is also very famous because it is made from beaten clay that is burnt in ovens fired with driftwood. In 2015, we'll be arriving just in time to see some elements of the Ras Mahotsav (Raas Leela) Festival, celebrated around the full moon. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Majuli.

DAY 10 -MAJULI

Spend the day exploring the island. Visit the ancient satras (rare Hindu Vaishnavite monasteries worshipping Lord Vishnu). Pop into the local mask shops and pottery workshops and watch master craftsmen at work. We will arrange boat or bicycle tours for the day, to get out into nature and explore the laid-back lifestyle of the island and its people.Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Majuli.

DAY 11 MAJULI / JORHAT

In the morning, we leave Majuli via ferry to the other side of the river, where we drive to Jorhat. We will stay in charming tea bungalows amongst the tea plantations and enjoy some colonial opulence. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Jorhat

DAY 12 - JORHAT – DAY TRIP TO SIVASAGAR AND SIVA TEMPLES

After breakfast we drive to Sivasagar to visit the monuments of medieval Assam. Explore the tallest Siva temple in the world. Sivasagar was once the capital of the Ahom Kingdom, which was established in the 1200s by a Shan prince and lasted till the 1800s. The ruins of the Ahom palaces and monuments dot the landscape around this historical town. Tour the remaining well preserved relics, palaces, tanks, forts and places of worship. After lunch, visit one of the largest and the oldest amphitheaters of Asia (Rang Ghar), a remarkable landmark in the history of Sivasagar. On return to Jorhat, we visit a local market and back at our Tea Bungalow enjoy a Mishing tribal dance performed by the village youth. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Jorhat

DAY 13 - JORHAT – HOOLLONGAPAR GIBBON SANCTUARY & TEA ESTATES

Early this morning visit the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, a fabulous stop for the wildlife photographers in our group. This sanctuary is famous for its non-human primate diversity. Seven out of nine species of non-human primates found in North Eastern India are found in this sanctuary, including the Hoolock Gibbon, Capped Langur, Slow Loris, Rhesus Macaque, Assamese Macaque, Pigtailed Macaque & Stump-tailed Macaque. Other mammals found in this sanctuary are the Leopard, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Chinese Pangolin, Wild Boar, Squirrel, Asian Elephant, Indian Fox, and Civet Cat. Many different varieties of lizard, python, cobra, and turtle are also found here. In the evening enjoy a cup of fresh Assam tea before taking a walk through one of the most beautiful tea gardens situated near the frontier of Nagaland and discover the secrets of Assam tea and why it is strongest tea inthe world. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Jorhat

DAY 14 - JORHAT / KOHIMA

Travel overland to Kohima, capital of Nagaland today, stopping en mroute at various villages to witness and photograph hill-tribe life. We will arrive late afternoon in Kohima, a city that sprawls across forested ridges and hilltops. After settling in at our hotel, we will take a walking tour of the night market. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Kohima

DAY 15 ,16 & 17 : DEC. 1 - 3: HORNBILL FESTIVAL, KOHIMA

The Hornbill Festival is a cultural festival to celebrate the many traditions and tribes of the Naga people, in and around Nagaland. There are 17 recognized tribes, each having their own dialect, customs and traditional costumes, but sharing an ethnic heritage and a love of music, dance and pageantry. The tribes have a long history here yet remained out of contact with much of the rest of the world until the 1800s. Since then, through missionaries and colonization, many have converted to Christianity and become fluent in English, but they still hold on to many of their traditions. The Hornbill Festival takes place near the small village of Kisama (10km from Kohima), with the festival grounds arranged with individual spaces for each tribe and an amphitheatre for group performances. Each tribe has its own 'morung', a communal tribal hut, decorated as it would be back in their home village, and between performances, they gather here. Each year, a different village from each tribe is selected to come to represent the tribe, and so attendees are as excited as we are to be there. They don their warrior costumes and come for sport and dance and to share their culture with the other tribes and with the world. We will be witnessing the first three days of the festival, which we believe offer the best opportunities for photography. On the first day, we will experience the sights and sounds of Naga culture and join the opening ceremony of the festival. Watch tribes in colorful and distinct costumes perform traditional Naga dances. Have a drink of the local rice beer and get to know each tribe. On the second and third days, we will stake out good photographing positions around the amphitheatre where the main tribal performances will take place. Beyond these performances, we will wander around the festival grounds, meeting and photographing the performers as they share their ways of life and prepare for their performances. We will arrive early at the festival site each day, which gives us ampletime to wander around the morungs and take photos of the different tribes. There are various food stalls serving Naga specialties, including smoked pork. We can also visit the handicraft and textile shops and pick up some Naga souvenirs. We will return to the hotel each evening and have free time for independent activities. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Kohima .

DAY 18 - KOHIMA – LOCAL VILLAGE VISIT

On our final day in Kohima, we will tour non-festival sites, including the museum, war cemetery, and a nearby local Naga village, Khonoma, a "green" village focused on ecology and conservation. Tonight will be our final group dinner and photo sharing evening. Dinner and Overnight stay will be at Kohima.

DAY 19 - KOHIMA / KOLKATA

Transfer to airport where we will board a flight to Kolkata and continue on our journey homewards or extend stay.

CHAT