Make a journey back in time as you step into a 100-year old tea estate with ancient bungalows replete with all the paraphernalia of the colonial era. This tour is a pursuit of the British planter’s life as it was on tea estates at the turn of the last century. While the trip includes several interesting activities like river rafting, wildlife safaris and interacting with local tribes, there are no fixed schedules and to-do lists. The idea is for you to sit back and relax and savour the languid pace of life on a plantation. Our guides can give you a tour of the local market where you can interact with villagers for an authentic taste of Assamese life. Or, you could just as easily relax on the veranda of the estate and enjoy a freshly brewed cup of the estate’s tea. The tour celebrates the joie de vivre of unhurried days and quiet self-reflection that have now become the relics of a bygone era.
Best time to visit: September to February
What is included in the tour
- Accommodation at Wild Mahseer Resort
- All meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks
- Transportation in luxury SUV to and from airport
- Local porters
- Accommodation at Konyak Tea Retreat
- Elephant and jeep safari at Kaziranga
What is NOT included in the tour
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal medicine
- Any shopping/purchase at local markets
- Stay at 100- year old heritage bungalow at Wild Mahseer
- River rafting near Nameri National Park
- Tea tasting and guided tour of tea factory
- Elephant and jeep safari at Kaziranga
- Stay at rustic farmhouse in Mon district
- Interact with members of Konyak tribe
- Arrive at Guwahati Airport where our staff will receive you . A luxury SUV takes you Wild Mahseer Resort in Balipara located 208 kilometres away. Hot towels and mineral water bottles are provided to help you freshen up after your trip. The drive takes about four and a half hours at the end of which we reach the Heritage Bungalow at Wild Mahseer. This is one of five British-era bungalows situated in the midst of Addabarie Tea Estate and steeped in over 100 years of history. The rooms at the bungalows bear testimony to their colonial past. From the large bed and antique tapestries on the walls to the ancient wooden fireplace taking centre stage in the room, to the various bric-a-bracs from around the world- everything combines to create a perfect mise-en-scene for the life of the British planter. Check into your rooms and take the rest of the day to explore the bungalow and its surroundings and falling in step with the languid pace of the estate. The evening can be spent on the veranda, sitting in the company of friends or a book, with a glass of port before dinner. The dinner itself has an element of the theatrical where white-gloved bearers bring out your courses in the bright dining hall at First Flush Bungalow. The cuisine is Anglo-Indian, a unique fusion of flavours that became popular at the turn of the last century. Bed time on an estate is early. You can retire to your room after dinner or spend some time in the cosy study filled with books and interesting memorabilia like original letters written by former planters.
- Days start early on the estate. A hot breakfast awaits you in the dining hall. After breakfast, you have the rest of the day to do as you please. Choose from a number of activities that we offer on the estate and find one or more that interest you. You could just as easily spend the day without a fixed schedule, taking a stroll in the plantation or relaxing by yourself in the bungalow. This retreat aims to give you a taste of the slow-paced life of the British planter in pre-independent India. Schedules are relaxed and minutes and seconds have little significance. So sit back and relax and do the things you want to do at a pace that you’re comfortable with. Our activities include:
- Estate tour and Tea Tasting: a guided tour of the estate an d the adjoining factory followed by a session of tea tasting to sample the day’s first flush. This is a great outing for tea lovers. Learn about the intricate process of tea making- from picking the right leaves on the plantation, to tending to the soil and bushes, to the careful transportation of the leaves to the factory followed by manufacturing that involves another intricate set of steps that lead up to the final packing of the finished tea.
- Cooking classes: For the epicurean, special cooking classes are a great way to pick up old recipes and cuisines! If you love the food at Wild Mahseer, and want to learn how to recreate the recipe at home, we’ll teach you how. It’s an activity that can be enjoyed individually or in a group. Just choose from a wide variety of seasonal produce from the estate’s vegetable and herb garden and take a master class inside the massive kitchen. It’s a great way of taking something back from your trip- and something that you’ll have forever.
- Balipara Saturday Market: On the road approaching Wild Mahseer, is an open expanse dotted with makeshift stalls. This deserted spot comes alive with the hustle-bustle of activity every Saturday when it transforms into a market. If you happen to stay at Wild Mahseer on a Saturday, the Balipara Market is a must-visit to experience an authentic slice of Assamese life. The market itself is wonderful with a wide range of wares from fabrics and ornaments to fresh vegetables. People from far and wide travel to the Balipara market every week and present a colourful kaleidoscope of tribes and ethnicities. It’s lovely to visit the local market agog with the voices of bargaining customers and vendors hawking their wares.
- Sample Local Home-cooking: There are nine different communities living around the ark. These include the Mishing, Nepali, Bodo, Bengali, Assamese, Nyishi, Adivasi and Rajbanshi communities. For an authentic taste of local flavours, try the food prepared in the homes of the local people. You could be their guest and have a wonderful cultural exchange and learn so much more about their lives. It’s a real eye-opener interacting with people from such varied cultural backgrounds. Their cuisines, language, hospitality and indeed their way of living is so distinct from your own. We can arrange a home visit on request and you can have a truly memorable experience.
- After the day’s activities you can enjoy a quiet evening on the veranda and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings before going in for dinner.
- Have a leisurely breakfast and get ready for some of the other attractions of Wild Mahseer. Today, we head out to Jia Bhoroli, a tributary of the Brahmaputra near the estate. We drive through blooming mustard fields to reach the river where a rafting crew awaits us with inflatable rafts. This is a lovely trip on the river over gentle waves and rapids. We will be accompanied by safety instructors to guide the raft. Bird watchers can have a field day spotting a variety of birds including black cormorants, shelducks, Brahmani kites etc. It’s lovely to cruise down the river while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscape. A lucky few could also spot the elusive Gangetic Dolphin native to these waters. After a relaxing couple of hours on the river, our guides will take the rafts near the banks of Nameri Forest Camp. This is a protected tiger reserve so it’s imperative that an armed ranger escorts visitors at all times. We stop here for a traditional Assamese lunch of rice, curried vegetables, fish and chicken. After a brief rest, we set off on a short trek inside the forest with its own treasure trove of rare and exotic birds. If you’re lucky, you could also spot something bigger! After a long day of adventure, we head back to Wild Mahseer for tea. This is when the pace of things starts to slow down on the estate. An afternoon siesta can be refreshing for those who care for the indulgence. The evening can be spent in the comfort of the study. Enjoy a game of bridge over drinks or settle down with a good book till you’re called to dinner.
- Today we bid adieu to the charms of Wild Mahseer and after an early breakfast, head to Kaziranga. The drive takes 2 hours at the end of which we check into Wild Grass Lodge, a jungle resort on the fringes of Kaziranga National Park. A traditional Assamese lunch awaits us here. The lodge is built on grounds that have over 40 species of trees and a couple of hundred varieties of shrubs. The architecture is organic and congruous to the setting of the adjoining forest. After lunch, we head out to Kaziranga National Park for a jeep safari. The park is divided into four ranges and the 3- hour long safari takes us into one of these ranges where you can spot a variety of animals and birds including the celebrated One-Horned Rhino, water buffaloes, several species of deer, elephants bears, tigers and pythons, Bengal Florican, Black Naked Stork, Pelicans, and jungle fowls among others. At the end of the safari, if you’ve still not had your heart’s fill of the jungle and its thrills, a trek in the wilderness may be just what you’re after. Kukurkata Reserve is a tropical mixed forest in Kaziranga under Burapahar Range has a 10 kilometre trekking stretch that takes you to the heart of the forest. Catch a glimpse of rare birds and primates curled up on the branches of the tall trees that dominate this part of the park. While the jeep safari has its charms, the thrill of exploring the forest on foot is quite another. Due to the high population of rhinos in this range, you will be accompanied at all times by an armed guard. After the adventures of the afternoon, it’s time to head back to the lodge in the evening. Have an earl dinner and retire for the night.
- Rise early for an elephant safari inside Kaziranga. The safari is usually 1-2 hours long and sitting on elephant-back gives you a great vantage point from which to see the surroundings. Today, we depart for Mon Valley in Nagaland. The drive takes four and a half hours across green hills and scenic lakes. Arrive at the Konyak Tea Retreat, at Sayeang tea estate in Mon district. Konyak Tea Retreat has a small farmhouse on the estate- a quaint house with just 2 bedrooms, perfect for a small family or group. Today, just relax and take in the beauty of the estate and the spectacular views of the Konyak territory. Retire for the night after an early dinner.
- Konyak Tea Retreat has the same atmosphere of unhurried languor typical to most tea plantations. Here as well, our schedule is flexible with a choice for you to bide your time any way you like. We do provide options for certain activities but there are no fixed schedules. This is a close pur suit of the life of the British planter where you are the master of your day in every sense of the term. You can walk along the hillside during the day and see the mountains displayed to their best advantage from that place. This is a privately owned estate run by the great granddaughter of a Konyak head-hunter. She does research on the ancient tattoo art of the Konyak tribe and personally attends to her guests. Her book, ‘The Last of the Tattooed Headhunters; The Konyaks’ that she has co-authored with photographer Peter Bos provides an insider’s perspective on this ancient tribal art. It’s fascinating to have a chat with her over a cup of tea and listen to her accounts of her travels to the farthest reaches of Mon district to document the stories of her ancestors. Both Indian and Chinese varieties of tea are cultivated at Sayeang Estate. Take a walk down to the plantation and try your hand at tea picking. The farmhouse has an adjoining fruit and vegetable garden. The region is known for its oranges and you could have a great time picking fresh oranges off trees if you’re visiting in season. The day ends with dinner at the farmhouse.
- Today, we explore the surroundings of the estate. Have breakfast at the farmhouse and then head out for a hike to the nearby forest and waterfalls. These virgin forests with their thick canopy of green present a fitting backdrop to the crystal clear water of hillside falls. Set out to meet the locals today. The primary occupation of the Konyak tribe is farming. Meet the local farmers on the fields and share lunch with them. From their traditional methods of smoking meat to the history of their ancestors, you can learn so much about their culture and their land over tea. Get an authentic taste of life on a farm. Try your hand at milking cows! Sample a glass or two of the locally brewed rice beer. Return to the farmhouse in the late afternoon and spend your last night on the estate curled up around a bonfire and savouring the last few hours of this unparalleled serenity and calm.
- Have an early breakfast at the farmhouse and then depart for Jorhat Airport in Assam. The drive takes about five and a half hours. You can reflect on the week that was as we drive through winding roads and revisit your favourite moments from the trip. One week will seem like a lifetime because of the deep associations and friendships you would have made along the way. Reminisce about all this and more over packed lunch that we have on the way and bid a fond and wistful farewell to the place that was home for the last few days. We finally reach Jorhat Airport by late afternoon where our trip ends and you can continue your onward journey to your final destination.