The Mahabaahu

India: Kaziranga & Mighty Brahmaputra River

Small Ship Cruises
The Mahabaahu

You are here

India: Kaziranga & Mighty Brahmaputra River

You are invited to a remote realm of rare wildlife, intoxicating scenery, exotic culture, mighty waterways and remarkable history. Few such secluded and unspoiled corners remain in this world and we are proud to present them to you on this rare and comprehensive survey of India’s lovely state of Assam.

With national parks, temples, monasteries, tea plantations, fresh water dolphins and tribal villages, Assam is still a world of great adventures. A charming jungle lodge and luxury riverboat lay in wait for those who yearn to feast their eyes upon the Asian one-horned rhino, gangetic dolphin and the incalculable natural wonders that are Kaziranga National Park and the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River.

Friendly and curious locals await visitors to share smiles and photos in their villages and temples. Remarkable Majuli Island, chanting priests, ancient Ahom architectural marvels and colonial tea bungalows are just a few highlights of your journey, replete with daily adventure. To broaden and enhance your experience to this distant land you’ll visit Kolkata (Calcutta), India’s intellectual capital where book markets flourish, idol makers toil and colonial architecture takes you back in time to when this was the capital of the English empire in the East. All the while, enjoy the hospitality, attentive service and in-depth knowledge of local guides, MV Mahabaahu crew and your private IE Expedition Leader.

Daily Itinerary

Kaziranga & Mighty Brahmaputra River Itinerary

  • Day

    Depart Home City / Kolkata

    Depart your home city on independent flights. Consider joining one of our many optional extensions to enhance your experience in Asia. Arrive Kolkata where you are met and escorted to your luxurious home for the night, Lalit Great Eastern Hotel.

  • Day


    Early this morning, experience a unique highpoint of visiting Kolkata; a heritage walk through White Town (British Calcutta). Your guide will set the stage for a trip back in time as you wander through these historic and significant areas to the time when Calcutta was the capital of the British Empire in India. Among the many architectural marvels are the Treasury Building, St. John’s Church, Kolkata GPO & Postal Museum, the Old Currency Building and the Central Telegraph Office. Return to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. This afternoon partake in an overview of the prominent sites that not only make Kolkata a unique and interesting city but also showcase its deeply rooted cultural traditions as well as its place in modern history. These include Mother House, the Book Market, the Flower Market, Victoria Memorial, Kalighat Kali Temple and Kumartuli idol market (if in operation). Enjoy an authentic Bengali dinner before returning to our hotel. (B,L,D)

    Photographing elephants on jeep safari in Kaziranga
  • Day

    Kolkata / Jorhat / Embarkation

    Fly to Jorhat to embark the MV Mahabaahu and start our adventure on the Brahmaputra River. Prayed to by members of four religions — Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bonpas — the Brahmaputra is perhaps the holiest river on Earth. Along the way we’ll encounter the unique and exciting cultures of Assam as well as the wildlife along its shores. Brahma is the creator in the Hindu religion. In Hindi, “putra” means “son.” Brahmaputra means the son of Brahma and is the only male river in India. The Brahmaputra has its origins in Angsi Glacier in Tibet, from where it winds 1,571 miles through China, India and Bangladesh before meeting the Bay of Bengal. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    India Cruise: Sibsagar

    Travel to historic Sibsagar, once the stronghold of the Ahom kingdom. It was here the Ahom people retained their sovereignty for almost 600 years. Rang Ghar, which means “house of entertainment” in Assamese, is a two-storied building built by Ahom royalty to serve as a private area to observe local sporting events and other forms of entertainment. Visit Shiva Dol, a bustling 18th century temple where local Hindus come to pray, and Talatal Ghar, possibly the greatest example of Tai Ahom architecture. Enjoy a family-hosted lunch at a tea estate. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    India Cruise: Majuli Island

    At Majuli Island, the world’s largest inhabited river island, witness temple priests perform a powerful chant and melody called Gayan Bayan, meant to bring the priests into a trance-like state of prayer. Enjoy a performance called Mukha Bhavana where masks are used by actors to enact an episode from the epic Ramayana. The scene is set in a forest from where Sita is abducted by the demon King Ravan and then the battle fought by Ram, helped by Hunuman and his monkey warriors, to rescue Sita. Pay a visit to a Mishing village. Known for their textiles, Mishing people are a Southeast Asian race believed to have originated in Mongolia. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    India Cruise: Kaziranga National Park

    Continue our exploration of the Kaziranga area with a boat safari along the shores of the park’s eastern range, where the waters of the Brahmaputra and Dhansiri Rivers meet. Gangetic dolphins in particular like this area for the confluence of waters and the fertile feeding that provides. Swamp and hog deer come to the shores to graze while eagles and kingfisher hunt along the surface of the rivers. The ship’s naturalists will be with you to help identify the various species and interpret their behaviors. Onboard, enjoy educational presentations about upcoming activities and attractions. A dance performance by Vaishnav girls depicts the Dashavatar, or ten avatars of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe who comes to life at different times to protect mankind from being annihilated by evil. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    India Cruise: Kaziranga National Park

    Early this morning we return to Kaziranga National Park to enjoy a safari before we sail to Bishwanath Ghat. Walk through this village of friendly locals and children eager to shake hands and practice their English to visit Shiva temple and learn about local silk weaving. Watch for gangetic dolphins in the water and buffalo, elephant, deer and even rhino on the shores as we sail along Kaziranga National Park. This afternoon visit a tea estate to see how local women pluck and harvest the leaves that make some of the world’s best tea. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Kaziranga National Park

    Explore biodiverse Kaziranga National Park on morning and afternoon jeep safaris. Kaziranga National Park is home to the largest number of one-horned rhinoceros in the world, the true star of the park. However, rhinos are not the park’s only attraction. 35 major mammals, including elephant, tiger, hoolock gibbon, capped langur, bristly hare, hog badger, otter, leopard, wild boar, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, muntjac, water buffalo and gaur all call this park home. Among the rich birdlife are the rare greater adjutant stork, Bengal florican, blacknecked stork, lesser adjutant stork, Pallas’s fish eagle, swamp partridge, grey peacock-pheasant, great pied hornbill, green imperial pigeon, babblers and thousands of migratory birds, seasonally attracted to the park from as far away as Siberia. Spend two nights at Diphlu River Lodge. The quaint bungalows feature forest-view terraces, each surrounded by fragrant tea gardens. (B,L,D Daily)

  • Day

    Kaziranga National Park / Jorhat / Delhi

    After a morning at leisure, enjoy lunch in Jorhat before you fly to Delhi. Dayrooms are reserved at Radisson Blu Park Delhi prior to evening transfers for independent flights home. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Arrive Home City

    Arrive in North America the same day. Connect to your flights home. 

Things to Know

What is included in the price of this Brahmaputra Cruise?

Included in the price of your trip are the following.

  • Accommodations, excursions, meals and transportation as listed in the itinerary
  • Services of a private IE Expedition Leader in addition to local guides
  • Arrival and departure transfers between the group hotel and airport no matter what day or time
  • One soft drink or local beer per person per included lunch and dinner off the ship
  • Bottled water on excursions, group transfers, at included lunches and dinners and in rooms daily
  • All gratuities to group service staff except your IE Expedition Leader and Mahabaahu crew

What is the activity level on this trip to India?

A trip to India requires good health and mobility. While we have time scheduled for rest and recuperation, your itinerary in India has a moderate pace, involving wildlife activities and transportation from place to place to ensure that you have maximized opportunity to interact with the wildlife and local culture. Consult your physician if you are in doubt about your ability to enjoy an adventure in India and please contact our office with any questions.

Excursions are typically early in the morning and late in the afternoon, if not all day.  This is to beat the heat and staggering traffic conditions throughout the country.  Your Kolkata heritage walk will be early in the morning and last about two hours. This is all standing and walking with few places to sit.  Streets are level.  Your safaris in the national parks are done by jeep and elephant.  You will have to climb in and out of the vehicles and note that park roads are bumpy and rutted. You will drive at a reasonable pace but it’s still very bumpy.  Safaris tend to last about three hours.  The elephant safari is up to one hour and may require you to ride straddled across the top of the elephant with other guests. It is also possible that you will ride side-saddle.  It depends on the equipment they use that day.

Excursions during the cruise are by vehicle, on foot and by excursion boat.  Walking is easy to moderate with places to sit along the way.  You will visit temples where you will be required to remove your shoes and socks.  They will not permit you to use shoe-covers or socks.  You may have to walk over open ground barefoot for several meters to get where you are going.

What kind of weather can I expect in India?

India has a very wide range of climatic patterns. October to March brings the best weather over much of the country. The coolest months are from November to mid-March while the hottest are from April to July. March and April are typically dry and with less vegetation, offering the best game viewing opportunities. From mid-July to September come the monsoon rains. Kolkata is hot and humid in March and April, reaching temperatures of over 100 F.  Kaziranga and much of Assam is typically about 10 degrees cooler than Kolkata but is still hot and humid if there is no cloud cover.  Visiting in March and April does mean heat and humidity but it also means much smaller crowds, more accessible attractions and more exclusivity with the locals.

What will the food be like and can you handle special dietary requests in India?

With advance notice we can accommodate most dietary requests. Vegetarian food is abundant in India but Kosher and gluten-free diets are not possible to accommodate. The majority of meals on this trip are Indian food, with curry served with every meal, including breakfast. Chicken is the most common protein while rice, beans and potatoes are the most common starches. Indian restaurants and hotels that cater to visitors are used to, and quite good at, preparing non-spicy foods for those who cannot handle the heat.

Are you able to customize a trip to India to feature destinations and activities of my choice?

Yes! If our India itinerary does not suit your desires please contact our Custom Department where a specialist can craft the kind of experience that will make your adventure the trip of a lifetime.


Lalit Great Eastern Hotel

Lalit Great Eastern Hotel

Restored and renovated over a period of seven years, Lalit Great Eastern Hotel has been referred to as the “Jewel of the East” and the “Best Hotel East of the Suez”.  The longest operating hotel in Kolkata (165 years), this 5-star property was built in 1841 as the Auckland Hotel and is an historic landmark, in walking distance of Chowringhee Rd and Park Street. Over the years, the hotel has been the favorite haunt of royalty and celebrities from across the world. Deluxe rooms are 350 sqft and feature free Wi-Fi, mini-bar, safe and tea/coffee maker.

MV Mahabaahu

MV Mahabaahu

“Mahabaahu” comes from “Maha” (mighty) and “Baahu” (arms). Arms in Indian deities represent energies. Hence, Mahabaahu is an entity with mighty energies. Every spacious cabin offers satellite TV, personal safe, mini bar, in-house telephone and en-suite bathrooms. While dining, enjoy a chef-prepared menu of local/Indian and Continental specialties using locally-sourced ingredients. Evenings are spent watching local tribal dances or with an immersive lectures, or simply relax in the swimming pool or library. 

Cabins: 23
Swimming Pool
Onboard Currency: Indian Rupee
Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard and American Express
Elevator: Yes
Smoking: Only in open areas
Length: 180 ft.
Speed: 12 knots

Radisson Blue Plaza Delhi

Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi

Located just minutes from Delhi Airport, the Radisson Blu offers easy access for early flights as well as all the amenities you expect in a luxury hotel, including spa, fitness studio, hydrotherapy lounge and beauty salon.  Our superior rooms feature free Wi-Fi, LCD TV, rain shower, safe and hair dryer.

Iora Resort

Iora Resort

Nestled amidst the rolling hills of lush green tea gardens and conveniently located just off National Highway 37, IORA is a luxury resort at Kaziranga, a perfect blend of the tranquility of Assam and the comforts of a modern Luxury resort. IORA offers a serene, rejuvenating experience with liberal doses of warm Assamese hospitality and supported by the best in state-of-the-art amenities.

Field Leaders

India Wildlife Expedition guide Aishwarya Maheshwari

Aishwarya Maheshwari

Expedition Leader

Aishwarya is a dedicated conservation biologist with 10 year experience working with leading tourism, research and conservation organizations to preserve and protect the various fragile ecosystems of India. His education, experience and enthusiasm lead WWF India to give him the lead role in the “Snow Leopard Project” for five years, which resulted in significant improvements in conservation of the species as well as sustainable development. Later, he went on to lead other projects across Central and Southern Asia to curb poaching.  At Earthwatch Institute India, Aishwarya led groups in Corbett Tiger Reserve as part of the Citizen Science Program and is passionate about the relationship between eco-tourism and ecological conservation.  Aishwarya has dedicated his life to the study of the relationships between man and animal and how to use that knowledge to further conservation and the enjoyment of guests who come to India for safari.  He has been published and sited in multiple publications and given lectures at many universities and government council meetings about conservation biology.  Most of all he cares deeply for guests on our safaris and does everything he can to ensure an educational, meaningful and, above all, fun experience for visitors. 

India guide Vibhav Srivastava

Vibhav Srivastava

Expedition Leader

Vibhav brings more than a decade of field study and expertise to his role as Expedition Leader for International Expeditions' India Wildlife Safari. Since graduating with an advanced degree in Botany, Vibhav has worked as a naturalist, wildlife biologist and researcher. His experience in the field includes serving as the head of field conservation for a tiger protection NGO and studying the socioeconomic impact of villages located near protected forests. Vibhav has published papers and articles to a variety of textbooks and magazines, and even brings experience as an announcer for Air Varanasi! The group Tour Operators For Tigers (TOFT) selected Vibhav as one of India's Top 5 Best Naturalists!


Asian Elephant

The Asian elephant is smaller than the African variety, with smaller ears and a larger trunk. Like the cow, the elephant is considered sacred in India. One of India's most beloved gods, Ganesh, is elephant-headed, and elephants are used in religious rituals throughout India. In Jaipur, there is an Elephant Festival held each year on Holi, and in Kerala a spring festival called Thrissur Pooram features an astonishing display of elephants decorated with gold trappings.

Indian Leopards

Another one of the big cats found in India, the leopard roams all over the subcontinent in large numbers. It’s extremely good at adapting to a wide variety of habitats, and is a skillful and stealthy hunter. Though populous, leopards are highly elusive and hard to spot without an experienced guide. Both Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks are great places to see them in the wild. Leopards – especially the mysterious and rarely-seen snow leopards – feature in many local myths and stories.

From: $7,998 per person
12 Days, 11 Nights
Guest Capacity
18 Guests
Trip Type
Travel Style
Expedition Destinations

Trip Highlights

  • Five-night cruise on the Brahmaputra River on the deluxe MV Mahabaahu
  • Exciting wildlife such as Asian one-horn rhino, Asian elephant, guar, barasingha, spotted deer and gangetic dolphin
  • Two nights in a deluxe lodge in Kaziranga National Park
  • Full exploration of Kolkata from a 5-star hotel
  • Professional IE Expedition Leader throughout, in addition to local guides and cruise staff
  • Interaction with Mishing people and other unique tribes and religions in the remote state of Assam
  • Local food in each destination
  • All gratuities (except Expedition Leader and Mahabaahu staff) are included
  • Airport transfers are included
  • Optional extensions to other of India's magnificent national parks or cultural attractions as well as neighboring Nepal