Tailor-Made Holiday

Brahmaputra River Cruise

Expedition style cruising, seeing tribes, jungles and wildlife of Assam

13 days

from £3,775pp (excluding flights)

This Brahmaputra River Cruise is a fascinating introduction to the highlights of this transboundary river valley. Assam boasts two out of India’s five UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites, and this itinerary provides visits to both, Manas and Kaziranga National Parks. 

  • Travel through a world of calm and solitude, in total contrast to most other Indian holidays
  • Three-night cruise on the mighty Brahmaputra River, onboard the comfortable ABN Sukhapa or Charaidew
  • Manas enjoys stunning scenery backed by the jungle covered hills of Bhutan
  • Safari through the grasslands of Kaziranga and Manas National Park 

This India cruise holiday offers a relaxed and comfortable journey through the heart of Northeast India. Daily land excursions by jeep, on foot and by rickshaw to parks, tribal villages, river islands & tea plantations, all accompanied by a knowledgeable naturalist guide and an English-speaking West Bengali guide. Wildlife and wilderness are the main features, along with some culture. The Brahmaputra river is often 20 to 30 kilometres wide, creating an eerie world of sand spits and watery vistas, with impressive bird life and the occasional Gangetic dolphin. Kaziranga is a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting well over 1,500 Asian one horned rhinoceros, the world’s largest population. It also has good numbers of tiger, wild elephant, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer and wild pig.

This voyage would particularly suit those looking for a more leisurely and off the beaten track wilderness and wildlife orientated India experience. It also avoids enduring long car journeys between destinations. 

Pre/post cruise experience

This fascinating tour is complimented by a three-night stay at the heavenly little Glenburn Tea Plantation, a working tea estate established by the Scottish tea planters in the 1860s. To reach this enchanted getaway, fly from Guwahati post cruise to Bagdogra. A road transfer climbs into the lower Himalayas to reach Glenburn – home to the Prakash family. Spend three glorious fresh air days here and enjoy a private tour of the tea estate and factory. Whilst in Darjeeling riding the narrow-gauge railway is a must.

Unique experiences on board and off the ship 

  • Exceptional chance of wildlife viewing from your cruise ship in one of the world’s unique biodiversity hotspots
  • Cultural performances reflecting the local customs and people on the river including tea tasting, cooking classes and saree and dhoti wearing
  • Exceptional wildlife viewing at UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kaziranga National Park

Why take a river cruise in India?

Cruising offers close encounter of India’s evergreen northeast region of Assam. Afer exploring on land, you return to your comforting oasis on the river and watch the changing scenery of India from your window without having to unpack your bags.

What is given back?

Assam Bengal Navigation (ABN) has always been involved in community development in the region through skill training, supporting local artisans, local employment and promoting local arts and crafts. This can also be seen throughout the ship's décor, each unique to its region. The ABN Foundation was created to maximise projects in education, environment and community development. From the proceeds of each purchased cabin, 5% is contributed to the work projects of ABN Foundation.

Sustainable best practice

ABN are committed to minimising single-use plastic by any means possible. Guests are provided with water flasks and glass bottles, with drinking water dispensers at every level on the ships.

Guides and specialists

All the naturalists and guides are trained in-house with years of experience and knowledge and are passionate about their home region.

Steppes’ value adds 

  • Special 15% off on all spa treatments for Steppes' guests
  • Free arrival and departure transfers
  • Free dock charges
  • Beverages package (Unlimited Indian wines & beer during lunch and dinner only) 


For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 3775 £ 650
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights
  • Sightseeing with private guide as per the itinerary
  • Transfers as detailed

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Arrival day. Meet and greet and transfer to your hotel.

You will be staying at Holiday Inn New Delhi International Airport, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Fly Delhi to Guwahati

Guwahati, in Assam, is a major developing city in East India, and often referred to as the Gateway of the North East. The city is on the banks of the Brahmaputra and has airport links to the main cities. The region of Guwahati is rich in wildlife with Asian elephants, python, tiger and primates.

Guwahati to Manas National Park
Transfer by road to Manas National Park, which is around four hours away, close to the border with Bhutan. Check in to the simple ABN Bansbari Lodge. The park is thought to be home to around 30 tigers, as well as 500 wild elephants. This Project Tiger reserve is now recovering well from earlier unrest, the tiger count is now estimated at around 30, and wild elephant number some 500. At extra cost we can arrange transport to or from the Bhutan border crossing further east at Samdrup Jongkhar.

You will be staying at Bansbari Lodge, full board

Day 3

Manas National Park
We take an early morning safari through grassland, hopefully seeing several different species of deer and monkeys, as well as some of the park’s 380 different species of birds, perhaps including the rare Bengal Florican or the Great Hornbill. After breakfast, we walk through a local village, visit the nearby tea garden and see Bodo tribal handweaving. If time permits, we will see working elephants bathing in the nearby Beki River before carrying on by jeep to Mothanguri Lodge to see the sun set over the Manas River. Returning in the dusk, we should see some wildlife, perhaps including wild buffalo, wild elephant, and, if we are exceptionally lucky, a tiger. After supper we watch a tribal dance around the camp fire.

You will be staying at Bansbari Lodge, full board

Day 4

Embark at Guwahati
After a leisurely breakfast we drive four hours to Guwahati to embark on ABN Charaidew, close to the great Saraighat Bridge. Cruise downstream to an overnight stop close to the south bank village of Vijaynagar.

You will be staying at Assam Bengal Navigation Cruising, full board

Day 5

Sualkuchi & Hajo
After breakfast, disembark and explore a riverside village on foot. Cruise upstream to the little town of Sualkuchi, loud with the clatter of looms, and visit on foot its silk weaving workshops. We shall see the whole process of silk manufacture, from cocoon to spinning to dyeing and finally to handweaving into exquisite saris and dress lengths. We then drive on to Hajo, a place sacred to Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. We visit a hilltop Muslim shrine with far-reaching views over the surrounding rural landscape, as well as the simple Hindu temple with its frieze of elephants and its sacred tank full of great carp, catfish and turtles. Later we reboard and cruise to an overnight mooring near the Saraighat War Memorial

You will be staying at Assam Bengal Navigation Cruising, full board

Day 6

Explore Guwahati & Disembark
Cruising upstream, we disembark at Pandu docks and are taken on a short sightseeing tour of the city of Guwahati. Drive up Nilachal Hill to see the holy Kamakhya temple. With its tantric rites and animal sacrifice, the more squeamish may prefer to content themselves with the exterior. Visit the poignant Commonwealth War Graves cemetery as well as a high-class shop selling local crafts. Cross by country boat to the mid-stream Peacock Island with its population of Golden Langur monkeys before re-embarking and cruising for about an hour and a half upstream to Kurua on the north bank.

You will be staying at Assam Bengal Navigation Cruising, full board

Day 7

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Cruise upstream past jungle-covered hills, and turn into the Mayong River. We cruise up in our country boat for a kilometre or two to the roadhead from where we drive to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. This small park has a dense population of the Asian One-Horned Rhinoceros, and we shall be unlucky if we do not spot some of these amazing armoured beasts on a jeep safari around the park. Guests are driven four and a half hours to Kaziranga National Park, where we stay at the superbly situated and very comfortable Diphlu River Lodge, looking across into the park. Kaziranga is a World Heritage site and with a population of well over 1500 rhinoceros is the best place in the world to see these beasts. There are also good populations of tiger, wild elephant, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, wild pig and many other species.

You will be staying at Diphlu River Lodge, full board

Day 8

Kaziranga National Park
We rise at dawn and drive for a few minutes to Kaziranga’s Central Range for an early morning safari, the best way to get really close to the rhino and other animals. After breakfast back at the lodge, we walk through terraced tea gardens and past a Karbi tribal village, then drive to a Mising tribal village, with their distinctive houses raised on piles. After lunch we take a jeep safari in the Western Range, and scan the wilderness from an observation tower.

You will be staying at Diphlu River Lodge, full board

Day 9

Depart Guwahati
Transfer by road to Guwahati, a four hour drive. Board the flight to Bagdogra.

Fly Guwahati to Bagdogra

Drive from Bagdogra to Darjeeling

The journey from Bagdogra to Darjeeling is approximately four hours.

The hill station of Darjeeling takes West Bengals pride of place. Sitting on a ridge 2,200 metres above sea level, surrounded by emerald-green tea plantations and a backdrop of Khangchendzonga mountain range, the scenery is jaw dropping. Explore colonial-era architecture, visit Buddhist monasteries and explore the steep narrow streets bustling with local residents, originally from Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. Darjeeling tea is never too far away.

You will be staying at Glenburn Tea Estate, full board

Day 10

Activities at Glenburn Estate
Activities available include: a day tour around the tea estate with a visit to a tea factory and tea tasting; various hikes to see the suspension bridge to Sikkim across the River Rung Dung, a local village or convent and orchard; fishing; river rafting; spa treatments and cookery lessons.

You will be staying at Glenburn Tea Estate, full board

Day 11

Take the Toy Train Ride from Darjeeling to Ghoom Monastery
Today you will take the train from Darjeeling town to Ghoom Monastery. This is a slow and scenic journey through the streets and winding tracks of the Darjeeling Hills up to the colourful Ghoom Monastery. If the sky is cloud free the views should be incredible. Please note that there are no toilets or refreshments on the train.

You will be staying at Glenburn Tea Estate, full board

Day 12

Drive from Darjeeling to Bagdogra

A drive of approximately three and a half hours by car.

Fly Bagdogra to Delhi

Delhi may be one of the world's largest metropolis, but architectural wonders - new and old - fill the city, hidden beneath Delhi's urban sprawl. Mughal treasures, including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, are complemented by more recent additions to Delhi's architectural heritage, such as the stunning Lotus and Akshardham Temples. Meanwhile, contemporary Delhi thrives in Connaught Place, which - with its colonially-designed buildings, - is the most westernised part of the centre. Globalisation is in evidence, with brand names splashed across every storefront.

You will be staying at JW Marriott Hotel Aerocity, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Departure day. Transfer to the airport.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Glenburn Tea Estate

Glenburn Tea Estate

Surrounded by the Himalayas, The Glenburn Tea Estate is a heavenly, secluded hotel, situated one hour's drive from the town of Darjeeling....

View Accommodation

Diphlu River Lodge

Diphlu River Lodge

Nestled on the banks of the Diphlu River, environmentally friendly Diphlu River Lodge is our first-choice when visiting Kaziranga National Park....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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