A Driving Adventure in the North East

Byond Travel and Autocar India, the No. 1 Auto magazine in the country present Driving Adventures, an exclusive series of self-drive journeys, featuring exhilarating offroading, local insight and plenty of adrenaline-fueled fun.

Our first Driving Adventure takes us deep into the hills and mist-covered forests of the North East. Gear up for 9 days of pure fun as you drive through Meghalaya and Assam with your new crew (a mix of the curious, brave and the crazy), enjoying the thrill of freedom, fun, and discovery around each hairpin bend.

But don't expect to be behind the wheel all the time. You'll also set off on jeep safaris in Kaziranga, trek to see the living root bridges in Cherrapunji, have a chat and chai with locals. 

Quick Overview

Trip Dates: 01 Nov - 09 Nov
Availability: Yes, 11 spots left
Places Covered: Meghalaya
Category: Self Drive Adventure Trips

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Cherrapunji: drama everywhere

Immense waterfalls plunge into wide green valleys. Here-one-minute-gone-the-next butterflies gently dance on the air. Bridges of root and tree, strengthened over the years by rain and patience, wait for you to test their strength. 

Watch this video by Two Birds Breaking Free to see a glimpse of nature at its most spectacular. Join us on this trip to experience it in real life.

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Touchdown Guwahati! Let’s get this show on the road.

You’ll be personally welcomed on arrival at the airport by our local representative (it is advisable to reach the Guwahati airport by early morning flight). 

Then, we’re hitting the road running! Climb into your vehicle and you’re off to Cherrapunji, reportedly the rainiest spot on Earth and one of the most beautiful corners in the North-East. The drive is a pleasant one, first on the 4 lane highway, followed by hairpin bends, pine forest-covered hills and waterfalls.

En route, we’ll visit the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures Museum, named among the top 10 museums in India, as well as the Mawphlang Sacred Forest, one of Meghalaya’s most celebrated sacred forests. With its 800-year-old moss-covered, immense trees, it looks straight out of The Lord Of The Rings.
Kick start the day with a trek to the famous Double-Decker Living Root Bridge and then onto natural swimming pools (20 kms).

The bridge is truly a marvel of nature and human ingenuity. The inventive Khasi elders tended the roots of rubber trees over a 100 years, to intertwine and form sturdy pathways over the rivers in the valleys. Now, they are strong enough to hold the weight of an elephant.

From here, we’ll make our way to natural swimming pools with clear, blue water - the perfect place for a refreshing dip. Kick off your walking shoes, put your feet in cold water, and jump in. 

Later, time permitting, we may be able to explore the Arwah Lawshynna Cave, Nohsngithiang Falls (a waterfall woven in seven strands), and the Nohkalikai Falls (the fourth longest waterfall in the world).
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Mawlynnong village (3 hours) on the on NH-40. It’s a pleasant drive through the hills, but may prove a little challenging if it’s a misty Morning. 

This village is famous for being “the cleanest in Asia” – a title that its villagers, but the simplicity and charm of the village and its people is what makes Mawlynnong so special. You’ll discover this for yourself as you walk around, saying hello to the locals, who’ll be happy to invite you in for fresh home-cooked food. 

Don’t forget to stop by the Sky View, an 85 feet high viewing tower made of bamboo. From the top you’ll have a bird's-eye view of the village and, on a good day, the vast plains of Bangladesh.

Then, drive to Shillong where you’ll spend the night.

Today, time to gear up for a long drive to Kaziranga after breakfast, using the wide, open highway, and then smaller, scenic roads.

Given its tall, dense grasslands, tropical wet evergreen forests, interconnecting streams and numerous small lakes, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most beautiful World Heritage Sites in the country. The park is also home to two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses and has the highest density of tigers in the world.

En route, we’ll stop by Umiam Lake. With a view of the undulating Khasi Hills, it makes for an idyllic picnic spot. Water sports like kayaking and waterskiing are on offer, along with boating and angling. Then, we’ll drive until we reach Kaziranga. Rest up, a long and fascinating day awaits tomorrow.
The morning larks are in for a sight to behold. The elephant safari starts early and lasts for about an hour or so, but trust us when we say you’d want to be wide awake to see the rhinos and deer up close.

After the elephant safari, you have the option to hop right back into a Gypsy for another safari which will last two hours. There is yet another jeep safari that goes live in the afternoon, and traditional wisdom says your chances of spotting wildlife are better at this time of the day. In fact, most tiger sightings have happened towards the evening.

After dark, we head back to the lodge where you will spend the rest of the evening around a bonfire, sharing stories from the road.

Snooze buttons are for days you have to go to work. Early this morning, drive to Nimatighat (80 kms /2 hours) to board the ferry to Majuli Island, which was once the largest river island in the world.

Crossing the formidable Brahmaputra on the ferry
is an adventure in itself (it will take about an hour and a half). The ferry carries people, cars, bikes, commercial goods, cows, goats and don’t be too surprised if an elephant is your co-passenger!

Upon arrival on the other side,  head to Majuli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since the 15th century, the followers of saint-scholar Srimanta Sankardeva, who worship Vishnu, have built little monasteries all over the island. You will visit a couple of these monasteries which serve as centres for art; masks for dances and drama are made here.

Later in the afternoon, we will take the ferry back across the river to mainland Jorhat.
This morning, visit the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary,  located 22 kms from the heart of Jorhat. It’s a pocket of evergreen forest, home to the endangered species – the Hoolock Gibbon, the only apes in the country.

Later, drive to Dibrugarh (140km/3 1/2 hrs), called the ‘Tea City of India’ thanks to its green expanse of tea plantations. En-route, we may be able to visit the temples and monuments at Sivasagar, the seat of power of the Ahom dynasty, which used to rule the state for around six centuries.
After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Digboi (80 kms/2 hrs). Here,  visit the Oil Museum (the first one established in India), the 2nd World War Allied Forces Cemetery (where 200 graves are permanently maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) and a Namphake Village, a ‘Tai’ village (its houses are built on stilts made of bamboo and roofs are made of fan palm leaves. 

In the evening: return to Dibrugarh where there’s an option for you to watch the Bihu dance (the most popular folk dance of Assam) performed by an ethnic dance group accompanied by rhythmic songs on the bungalow lawn.
We can’t leave Dibrugarh without visiting one of its famous tea plantations, so we’ll spend some time visiting one. (Please note that the visit to a tea factory is subject to it being operational on the day of the visit.)

Later during the day, proceed to the airport to catch your flight home.

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