This trip allows you to experience some of the traditional ways of life of the peoples of the tribal states of north east India.
We start this trip in Meghalaya where we will hike down from Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth, to the lush jungles on the border of Bangladesh. There we will witness the incredible living bridges of the Khasi people. Then we will take a road trip through the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh and up into the peaks of the Himalayas and the Tawang Valley. We visit the largest Tibetan Buddhist complex outside of Lhasa and experience life in a remote Buddhist convent.
To really get a feel of tribal life we will stay at a small Adi village and join some Adi friends of ours on a traditional trip into the jungle. We will see first hand how the jungle is the builder centre and larder for the villagers with rope, poison, baskets, food, entertainment and lodging all available if you just know where and how to look. Finally, we’ll cross the mighty Brahmaputra by ferry before staying a night in a colonial era tea plantation.
- Visit the Tawang valley and meet with Tibetan Buddhist nuns
- Join Adi tribes people on a traditional hunting trip
- Stay in a colonial tea plantation bungalow
- Cross the incredible living tree bridges of the Khasi
Level of fitness: * * – – –
Day 1 Guwahati – Shillong
We will meet you in Guwahati and transfer you to your hotel in Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya. The transfer will take about 4 hours, depending on the traffic. We will have time to have a meal and a short evening walk around the town.
Day 2 Shillong – Cherrapunjee
We will spend a day exploring the living tree bridges of Meghalaya. The villages in the valleys leading towards Bangladesh have used the roots and creepers of the Banyan trees to create bridges across the rivers that separate the villages. These living tree bridges are unique and are only beginning to be visited by tourists.
We will take a Jeep from Shillong to the top of Nohkalikai waterfall. In doing so we will pass through Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth. Although almost all the rain falls during the monsoon in the summer. We will head down a set of steps descending a thousand metres into the valley below. Once there we will be able to marvel at the living bridges that we must traverse to the steps that take us back up. If the weather is good we can take a dip in one of the clear blue pools that we cross. The end of the day is a tough 2000 step climb as we rise out of the valley and then make our way to the Cherrapunjee resort.
Day 3 Cherrapunjee – Shillong
We will head back to Shillong. In Shillong we will have time to look around the towns bustling bazaar which along with the usual sights and smells of a subcontinental city has some unique items which are brought in by the local tribes people. In the afternoon we will head to the Siat Khnam ground. Siat Khnam is the name of the Meghalaya lottery. However, to obtain the random numbers that people use to bet on in shops all over Shillong they have a novel system. 60 Khasi tribesmen sit in a semi circle around a straw target and fire up to 1500 arrows in the space of five minutes. The arrows are counted and the last two digits of the number of arrows hit are used. If you get the numbers correct then you win.
Day 4 Shillong – Nemari National Park
From Shillong we will start our long yet scenic drive to Tawang. The route will see us drive through Assam and across the mighty Bramaputra river. We will overnight at a guesthouse in Nameri National Park.
Days 5 and 6 Nameri – Bomdilla – Tawang
We will take two days to drive from the plains of Assam to the Tawang valley high in the Himalayas. Starting in the jungles surrounding the Kameng valley we will pass through the lands of the Miji and Aka tribes. The road passes many scenic views and waterfalls until we enter the land of the Mompas, Tibetan-Buddhists that arrived in this region centuries before. We will overnight in Bomdilla, a beautiful Tibetan-Mompa town set high on a ridge. The second day will see us enter the alpine beauty of the Himalayas passing over Se La top at 4100m. The scenery changes and yaks, Buddhist gompas and prayer flags ensure that it is a magical ride.
Days 7 and 8 Tawang
Tawang is a huge steep sided valley wedged in between Tibet, Bhutan and the rest of Arunachal Pradesh. It is a remote area and one of the best places to get a glimpse of the Tibetan Buddhist lifestyle which is slowly disappearing from the world. We have a full day in Tawang and will ensure we have plenty of time to visit the Tawang Gompa, the second biggest Tibetan monastery complex in the world and still rarely visited by tourists. In the afternoon we will head to a nearby nunnery to get an insight into religious life in this far flung corner of the world.
Days 9 & 10 Tawang – Dirang – Balakhpong
We will take another two days to drive back from Tawang to the Bramaputra valley. After crossing the Se La, we will overnight in Dirang. A stone built town where we will have time to visit the 500 year old Kalachakra Gompa.
Day 11 Balakhpong – Adi village
From Balakhpong we will drive back down to the humid Bramaputra and follow the river towards the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar. It is near here that we will head off the main road to the village of friends of ours where we will spend the night in a local home. Made of bamboo, we will get an insight into Adi tribal life. Each village usually has a number of different religions. Some have been converted to Christianity and we will see a small church but some still keep the old faith of Donya Polo (sun/moon). Donya Polo still permits polygamy and houses will display the skulls and horns of animals sacrificed to the Donya Polo gods to ensure good harvests and prosperous marriages and births.
We will stay in a bamboo house on the floor around the fire as guests of the house always do. If you have trouble sleeping then we’ll ensure you get a large serving of Apwa, Arunachali rice beer.
Days 12-14 – Jungle of Arunachal Pradesh
We will join a hunting trip with some of the local men into the jungle. They usually spend up to a week in the jungle, looking for boar, deer, monkeys, birds, fish and even small river beetles to bring back and eat or sell at the markets. It will take us one day to hike to the hunting site and one day back. We will provide tents but the tribesmen usually sleep under the stars. On the last day we will return to the village and sleep again in the house of a friend of ours.
Day 15 Jungles of Arunachal Pradesh – Dibrugarh
After a leisurely start and a look around a small tea plantation owned by a Nyishi family, we will take a Jeep and then ferry across the Bramaputra to Dibrugarh. We will stay in a colonial era bungalow for you last night in India.
Day 16 Dibrugarh
A free morning to either relax in the bungalow or pick up a few final items from the shops in Dibrugarh.
The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas
Lunch & Dinner
Visit the Untamed Borders page at their website – untamedborders.thevisamachine.com
We include breakfast every day. In our experience people sometimes want to eat different things in different places at different times and when there is an option we will be happy for you to have your say. We know some great places and will also happily show you some of our favourite restaurants and tea houses. Some are luxurious, some are more earthy but all have character. When restaurants are unavailable, such as when we are camping in the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh, we ensure that food is provided.