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Flight of the Hornbill: India's Northeast by Helicopter

Embark on this captivating 14-day discovery tour through Northeast India. From the busy streets of Calcutta to the remote Nagaland province and the diverse Kaziranga National Park, you will experience life far removed from western modernity. Encounter spectacular landscapes, tribal villages, Naga warriors, Ang chiefs, colorful art, relics and markets, and the rich biodiversity of a World Heritage National Park, as well as the unforgettable annual Hornbill Festival. Travelling by helicopter adds a special note to this spectacular, exclusive adventure.
 
(Note - the Hornbill Festival takes place 1-10 December.)
Highlights   Pricing
  • Celebrate indigenous history and culture at the colorful Hornbill Festival in Kohima
  • Explore the historic and cultural wonders of India’s City of Joy, Calcutta
  • Travel by helicopter between some of India’s most remote and stunning destinations
  • Take a safari ride through Kaziranga National Park with rhinos, tigers, and elephants
  • Sleep beneath the stars in remote locations at two luxury tented camps
 
Starting at
$1,200
per person per day
View more details
Day by Day Itinerary

View Flight of the Hornbill: India's Northeast by Helicopter in a larger map
Day 1
Calcutta

Touch down in Calcutta, the City of Joy, where your guide will be waiting to take you to the classically enchanting Oberoi Grand Hotel. Check in, rest, and refresh before taking in a breathtaking sunset on the grounds of the Victoria Memorial.

Day 2
Calcutta

This morning, begin your tour of Calcutta with a visit to the city’s Mullik Ghat Flower Market. Chaotic, crowded, and colorful, this is place is a photographer’s dream. Long strings of vibrant orange and yellow marigolds are piled high and transported through the market among vendors selling bundles of lotus buds. Next, make your way to the northern part of the city to an area called Kumortuli, which literally means “the potters’ quarter.” This part of town is known for its artisans, sculptors who work around the clock on crafting idols and deities, mostly of the image of Durga, from clay. This afternoon, set out on a private tour of the colonial architecture of Calcutta. This will focus on the city's elegant (and sometimes crumbling) old colonial architecture, including the National Library of India, the stately 19th-century Marble Palace, the Indian Museum, the General Post Office, and the grand Victoria Memorial. 

Day 3
Kaziranga National Park

Following breakfast, check out and prepare to fly to Guwahati. Upon arrival, a private car will transport you from the airport to Kaziranga National Park. Check in to the exclusive Diphlu River Lodge and settle in to your raised bamboo cottage, admiring your picturesque surroundings. Enjoy a custom dinner menu at the hotel and fall asleep to the tune of the jungle around you.

Day 4
Kaziranga National Park

Wake to the sounds of stirring birds and beasts and prepare for a full day of touring the World Heritage Site that is Kaziranga National Park. This morning, go on a forest trek accompanied by an expert naturalist. This two to three hour excursion requires special permission and will have you on the ground in Kaziranga National Park in search of wildlife. After lunch, you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the park’s elephants. Accompanied by their handlers, you will be able to bathe the elephants in the river and learn firsthand what it is like to be an mahout.

Day 5
Kaziranga National Park

Enjoy a hearty breakfast and prepare for another full day ahead. Set out this morning on the Brahmaputra River in search of the increasingly rare South Asian river dolphins. Sail first to an 11th century Hindu temple before attempting to spot the dolphins native to the region’s riverways. In the afternoon, stop off in the city of Tezpur, which is considered to be the cultural capital of the Assam state.

Day 6
Jorhat

After breakfast this morning, you will be driven approximately two hours east to the city of Jorhat, regarded as the second most important city in Assam. It is the gateway to upper northeastern Assam and to the Nagaland state. Check into your room at the Burra Sahib’s Bungalows, a former tea plantation which has maintained it’s colonial estate atmosphere. 

Day 7
Jorhat

Today you will be escorted by helicopter for a day trip from Jorhat to the Tawang Monastery in a remote region near the borders with Tibet and Bhutan. It is the largest monastery in India and the second largest in all of Asia. At an elevation of 10,000 feet, the monastery complex consists of over 50 buildings and is enclosed in a 2,000-foot wall. The Dalai Lama has visited the location several times since leaving Tibet in 1959. During your visit, you will receive a tour of the monastery and learn of the significance both regionally and around the world. Return this evening back to your accommodation in Jorhat.

Day 8
Majuli Island
Travel by private car and boat to Majuli, one of the world’s largest river islands. A naturalist will take you on a birdwatching tour; the island is rich with biodiversity. After birdwatching, take time to explore Majuli’s 15th-century Assamese Vaishnavite monasteries. Spend the night once again at Burra Sahib’s Bungalows.
Day 9
Mon

Fly in style on your private helicopter from Jorhat to Mon, a remote region of the Nagaland State. Settle in to the luxury Tented Camp and relax for the rest of the day. Enjoy a meal at your hotel and retire to your tent, with its hot water and private bathroom, for the night.

Day 10
Mon

Spend today sightseeing and learning about Mon and the surrounding area. The region is best-known for its bloody history as home of the headhunting Konyaks. Here you will experience life far-removed from modernity, find traditional villages and tattooed warriors clad in loincloths, as you visit the surrounding villages of remote Mon. Overnight once again back at the Tented Camp.

Day 11
Nagaland

Travel by helicopter from Mon to Kohima this morning. Kohima is the hilly capital of India’s northeastern Myanmar-bordering state, Nagaland. Settle into another luxury Tented Camp and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.

Day 12
Nagaland

Spend today touring about culture-rich Kohima. Visit bustling, colorful sites such as the Naga Bazaar and learn from the collection of rare Naga artifacts at the Kohima Museum. Attend the Hornbill Festival, an annual, weeklong celebration of culture and tradition, showcasing each of the sixteen tribes of Nagaland. Take a fascinating glimpse into the past and hopeful view of a future of cultural preservation and continuity. Relax tonight at your camp.

Day 13
Nagaland

After breakfast, pick up where you left off, touring Kohima. Next on the agenda is a visit to the local Naga villages surrounding Kohima. See history preserved and experience the village lifestyle of these ancient clans. Laced in history and culture, the villages of this hilly region present a fascinating glimpse into the past. Spend a final night in the comfort of the Tented Camp.

Day 14
Departure

Bid farewell to remote India from the skies during your helicopter ride from Kohima to Dibrugarh. Connect with your departing flight, either home or to your next exciting destination. 

 

Suggested Accommodations

Location
Accommodation
CALCUTTA
Oberoi Grand

Oberoi Grand

Affectionately called the “Grand Dame of Chowringhee,” the stately, neo-classical Oberoi Grand has stood for 125 years in the heart of Kolkata (Calcutta). With elegant decor evoking the city’s colonial past as the capital of the British Raj, all rooms and suites provide wired and wireless high-speed Internet, a 32-inch LDC television, satellite TV, DVD, Ayurvedic toiletries, and more. Dining options include gourmet Thai cuisine at Baan Thai, the all-day international buffet at La Terrasse, while fine wines, beer, spirits, and cigars are available at the Chowringhee Bar. The health center features state-of-the-art Life Fitness cardio machines and weight training equipment. The Oberoi Spa offers a variety of massage treatments, body wraps, Ayurvedic therapies, salon treatments, and personal yoga and meditation sessions. The Oberoi Grand is approximately a 50-minute drive from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU).

 
 
KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK
Diphlu River Lodge

Diphlu River Lodge


While this is not the typical luxurious, high-end resort, Diphlu River Lodge is a wonderful place to stay to explore the incredible natural surroundings of the Kaziranga National Park. The lodge has been awarded the “Second-Best Wildlife Resort in India” by the reputable Lonely Planet. Having opened its doors in 2008, the hotel is in nearly new condition. It sits serenely along the banks of the Diphlu River and overlooks the national park. Every time guests enter the lobby, they are greeted with delicious, refreshing drinks and a fragrant face towel. This is perfect after coming in from a jungle safari. There’s an outdoor coffee area for watching the sunset or the bright night-stars while enjoying a beverage. Rooms are comfortable and stylishly-decorated, with charming local touches. Eco-conscious guests will appreciate the hotel’s focus on sustainability. There’s an on-site restaurant that serves up continental, North Indian and Assamese cuisine using organically and locally grown foods as much as possible. The commute to the nearest airport is not terribly long, given the hotel’s remote location, at just one hour’s drive.


 
 
JORHAT
Burra Sahib's Bungalows

Burra Sahib's Bungalows


This small hotel holding only eight rooms is an authentic experience in Jorhat. While it may not have the extravagant concierge and deluxe amenities of the chain resorts, it does boast plenty of charm and comfort. Once the tea estate manager’s bungalow, the home has been converted to a golf club and holiday resort. The bungalows blend heritage as well as a meticulously landscaped golf course atmosphere into one ideal location. The guest rooms are neat, clean and well-maintained, set in stunning, fragrant tea gardens. Massage areas are available, as well as yoga classes, to relax and rejuvenate. The clubhouse restaurant serves up local favorites and continental food in a natural atmosphere. Sporty guests can pick up a set of golf clubs and embark upon the course or driving range, and there’s a bar for enjoying a refreshing beverage after an exciting game of golf or wandering in the beautiful natural surroundings. Non-golfers will enjoy the gym and a well-kept swimming pool. Guests will find the hotel to be conveniently-located, only a 20-minute drive from Jorhat, and 45 minutes from the airport. 


 
 
NAGALAND
Kohima Camp

Kohima Camp

Coined the “Ultimate Traveling Camp,” the Kohima Camp is an exotic cultural experience. Leave the resort spas, fitness centers and internet cafes behind and step into a simpler way of life. This is truly a rare opportunity as guests stay in the fascinating state of Nagaland, on the exotic borders of Myanmar. Though technically “camping,” it might be better referred to as “glamping,” as guests will be able to relax on their comfortable four-poster bed at the end of each day, as well as ensuite bathrooms, and personalized butler service. The linens are crisp, white, clean and comfortable. Camping has never been so comfortable – guests will be completely protected from the weather outside while still fully-immersed in nature. There are campfires lit every night for guests’ enjoyment. Hot, delicious meals are provided at the campsite to provide guests with scrumptious fuel for their adventures ahead. 

 
 
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