The northeastern states of India may well be the most beautiful in the entire country. Explore Kolkata, India’s cultural heartland, then set off on an adventure to the unspoiled wildlife reserves, spectacular wetlands and rambling mountain villages that make this far-flung part of the subcontinent such a special one. Check out the eclectic cultures of Sikkim, Assam and Nagaland, search for the iconic one-horned rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park and take a train trip like no other on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. This is a relatively unexplored part of the country, perfect for an expedition. Be prepared to be wowed.
- Discover India’s cultural capital, Kolkata. Browse the colourful flower market, visit cultural treasures on a guided tour, and explore the Kumartuli district where clay idols are made
- There aren’t too many places in the world like Ima Keithel. This 100% female-run bazaar is an absolute inspiration, and has been around for longer than you might think!
- Travel to Nagaland and learn about the warrior-like Naga tribes in Kigwema Village and Naga Heritage Village
- Embark on a jeep safari through Kaziranga National Park, famous for its one-horned rhinos, and make a day trip to spectacular Cherrapunjee, the wettest landscape on the planet
- It doesn’t get much more romantic than a steam-powered locomotive ride in the Himalayas. Gaze out the windows of the Toy Train as it winds its way through the mountains
- It’s easy to see why Gantok, perched artlessly on a mountain ridge, is a haven for Tibetan Buddhists. Visit the Rumtek monastery and take in superb views from local lookouts
- These photos prove why this part of India is so special: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/northeast-india-photos/
- Plane , Private vehicle , Heritage train , Overnight sleeper train , Boat , Metro , Taxi
- Kolkata - Victoria Memorial
- Kolkata - Flower Market
- Imphal - Ima Keithel Women's Market
- Kigwema Village visit
- Khonoma Village visit
- Kaziranga National Park - Jeep safari
- Cherapunjee - David Scott trail & Nokhalika waterfall
- Darjeeling - Tiger Hill
- Darjeeling - Toy Train ride
- Gangtok - Rumtek Monastery
- Hotel (14 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
- Small Group
Day 1 Kolkata
Namaste! Welcome to India. Join your group for a 6 pm welcome meeting. The noise and chaos of India's second largest city might be confronting at first, but if you have time to explore you'll discover impressive colonial architecture, some of the best restaurants in the country and a thriving arts scene. Bengali theatre, dance, poetry, art, music and film are all on show here, and there's usually plenty to choose from at the city's many venues. This city is also where Mother Teresa did much of her charity work. Learn more on one of our Urban Adventures if you arrive early.
Day 2 Kolkata
Start the day by visiting the bustling but beautiful wholesale flower market. Then embark on a tour of Kolkata that includes one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, the Howrah Bridge. See the grandiose Victoria Memorial, an interesting relic of the colonial era built to commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee; the Indian Museum, the largest and oldest museum in India; and a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. In the afternoon, visit the Kumartuli, a neighbourhood long associated with the making of clay idols which are then immersed in the Hooghly during Kolkata’s colourful pujas (offering or prayers).
Day 3 Imphal
In the morning, fly to Imphal (approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes). It's located in the state of Manipur. Visit the unique Ima Keithal Women's Market, which is run solely by women. The largest of its kind in Asia, possibly the world, this market is a superb example of women's empowerment. It is difficult to say when it was established, though many say it came into being sometime in the 16th century. Traditionally women in Manipur have always been at the forefront of politics and fighting inequality. Around 4000 women traders sell all manner of goods here: fish, vegetables, bamboo and metal craft, traditional phaneks (sarongs) and innephis (stoles/dupattas), indigenous herbs, bangles and jewellery.
Day 4 Keibul Lamjao National Park - Imphal
Enjoy a full day excursion to Keibul Lamjao National Park, which is home to Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India. This iconic lake is known for its circular floating swamps and is the only 'floating national park' in the world. It's the home of 233 different species of aquatic plants, more than 100 species of birds, and 425 species of animals, including Indian pythons, sambar, barking deer, civets, monkeys and gibbons.
Day 5 Kigwema Village - Kohima
Depart Imphal in the morning, travelling by road to Kohima (approximately 6 hours). On the way there, you'll stop in at Kigwema Village, where Naga people reside. The Naga, a people native to north-eastern India and northwest Myanmar, are made up of a variety of tribes which share similar customs and warrior roots.
Day 6 Khonoma Village - Kohima
Set off in the morning on a half-day excursion to Khonoma Village. In Khonoma, the Angami Nagas fought a fierce battle against the British, who came in an expedition to these Naga Hills in 1879. The inhabitants of Khonoma place a lot of emphasis on wildlife conservation and have established The Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. In the afternoon, visit Naga Heritage Village for a glimpse of tribal lifestyle and culture of various Naga tribes from all over Nagaland. Also check out the World War II memorial (if there's time).
Day 7 Kaziranga National Park
In the morning, drive to Kaziranga (approximately 10-12 hours). This is your gateway to Kaziranga National Park, which hosts two thirds of the world's great one-horned rhinoceroses. It's one of the last parts of eastern India that's still largely untouched by a human presence.
Day 8 Kaziranga National Park - Shillong
Embark on an early-morning jeep safari out in Kaziranga National Park. Look out for elephants and other wildlife such as deer, wild boar and of course the famed one-horned rhino. Local birdlife to look out for are eagles, parakeets, lovely blue-tinged Indian rollers and many more. Later in the morning, depart Kaziranga and drive to Shillong (approximately 7 hours).
Day 9 Cherrapunjee - Shillong
Go on a full-day excursion to Cherrapunjee, which is credited as being the wettest place on Earth. Walk the David Scott trail and take in the amazing surrounds: cascading waterfalls, crystal clear streams gushing down from mountains, typical Khasi villages, lovely valleys, forested groves and expansive meadows. In the afternoon, take a sightseeing tour of Cherrapunjee which includes the highest waterfall in India (Nokhalika). Also visit the Mawsmai cave (time permitting) which is managed by local people.
Day 10 Shillong - Overnight train
Enjoy a morning of leisure to relax and unwind. Depart Shillong and travel to Guwahati (approximately 3 hours). From there, take an overnight train to New Jalpaiguri, departing at around 10 pm.
Day 11 Darjeeling
Arrive in New Jalpaiguri at around 6 am. Drive to Darjeeling (approximately 3 hours) and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. If you have the energy, check out colonial-era architecture, visit Buddhist monasteries, or just stroll the mall. Alternatively, rest your legs and relax in this lovely Himalayan mountain town.
Day 12 Darjeeling
Early in the morning, walk to Tiger Hill (approximately 1 hour) to catch a glorious sunrise over the snowy peak of Kanchenjunga – the world’s third highest mountain. In the afternoon, transfer to Ghoom to board the Darjeeling Toy Train and enjoy a ride of a lifetime, winding your way through the mountains. The journey on the Toy Train, a classic steam-powered locomotive, is probably the most romantic way to experience the Himalayan landscape.
Day 13 Gangtok
Head to Gangtok in the morning (approximately 4 hours). This is the capital of the northeastern state of Sikkim. Its chaotically laid-out townscape and jovial atmosphere make it a nice place to walk around. Perhaps head to local viewpoint and, if it's clear, spot the majestic peak of Khangchendzonga in the distance.
Day 14 Gangtok
Sprawling down a mountain ridge, this town is a haven for Tibetan Buddhists. Visit the monastery at Rumtek and perhaps hike to the old Gompa a little further down the road. In spare time, perhaps pick up some local tea, or explore the Tibetology museum.
Day 15 Kolkata
Drive to the airport in Bagdogra (approximately 3 hours), then fly back to Kolkata (approximately 1 hour). If the hustle and bustle is too much to bear after your mountain getaway, you can explore the vast green fields of the Maidan (also known as ‘the lungs of Kolkata’) or take refuge in the beautiful botanic gardens along the banks of the Hooghly River.
Day 16 Kolkata
The trip comes to an end this morning.
Touring with Intrepid Travel
Intrepid was started by two friends from Melbourne, Australia, in 1988 after embarking on a trip through the wilds of Africa in a modified ex-council truck, crammed with friends, supplies, a handful of aviator sunglasses and a case or two of beer. Could this type of travel be something others would be interested in? The answer was a resounding yes and today Intrepid send 100,000 travellers across the globe each year with the help of a staff of 1,000.
After three decades, founders Darrell and Manch, feel they know what travellers want. They get that it’s a big decision to fly across the world to wander the souks of Marrakech or enjoy a dreamy Angkor sunrise. They understand that you’re looking for a balance of inclusions and free time, a mix of classic highlights and local secrets you won’t find on Google. And of course, an authentic real life experience. Their leaders are born and raised in-country and they know their destination better than anyone. So you’ll do more than just see a place, you’ll live it. Small groups, big adventures and responsible travel – that’s Intrepid’s thing. With 1,000 trips in a variety of styles across 100 countries, you’re sure to find something you like.
Intrepid believe the real magic happens well away from the beaten path. It’s the little noodle bars, hidden galleries and backstreet bodegas and real life experiences you won’t find in a search engine. Real life experiences are those moments you know you’re really alive and experiencing something special. While it could be the instant you see one of the world’s great icons for the first time, it is more likely to be the moment you find yourself in the middle of a village square soccer game, being treated to a home-cooked meal by your new local friends or sharing a laugh with your fellow travellers as you try a new mode of transport … camel anyone? These unexpected moments are what travelling with Intrepid is all about, giving you a trip like no other.
Intrepid realises the world is a really big place. And there’s a plethora of different languages to learn, borders to cross and cultures to negotiate. Small group adventure travel makes these things easy and allows you to maximise your precious time off. Instead of worrying about logistics, you can focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime. Their tour groups are small enough to feel like you’re exploring a destination independently, but big enough to create a good social vibe. Group size will vary depending on where and how you’re travelling, but the average group size is about 10.
Intrepid’s themed trips encompass all hobbies and interests or could pique an interest in a new hobby you never knew you needed. From foodie explorations across Asia or India, sailing the seas in Thailand or the Caribbean, wildlife encounters in the Serengeti or Antarctica, scenic cycling or walking to Base Camp or through Tibet, and epic expeditions in Burma or Russia, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Intrepid is committed to operating in a responsible manner, incorporating the principles of sustainable development in the way they provide travellers with real life experiences. These values are ingrained in the culture and daily operations of every Intrepid office and tour. In addition, they hope their travellers also demonstrate the principles of responsible travel - respecting people, cultures and local environments; in the distribution of wealth; in good will and cross-cultural sharing; and in contributing to sustainable development.