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India - Assam Tea Gardens
This ride in the north-east of India explores the main tea-growing centre of Assam, on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. Assam is dominated by the Brahmaputra, one of the great rivers of the world. The broad river valley is sandwiched between the Himalayan foothills to the north and the plateau of Meghalaya to the south.
Your base during the ride is a beautifully renovated former planatation manager’s home, set in the midst of the tea gardens. From your veranda you will hear the jingle of bicycle bells, and the chatter of the tea workers, as they walk or cycle to work. Each day the rides explore the surrounding tea gardens and Brahmaputra flood plain. Throughout the area you will see farmers working their fields in a way unchanged for centuries.
As well as riding, our 9 night itinerary includes visits to two National Parks in the area. First to Dibru-Saikhowa, which is a reserve located on the flood plains of Upper Assam. It has a very varied landscape and is a haven for many extremely rare and endangered species of wild life, then to Kaziranga National Park in central Assam. This World Heritage site boasts the largest population of one-horned rhinocerous, as well as herds of elephants, buffalo and tiger.
The 10 night itinerary has the same riding and visits to the two National Parks but includes a two day/one night non-riding visit to the stunning mountain scenery of Arunachal Pradesh and an opportunity to learn more about the hill tribes living in this area.
We can also tailormake shorter or longer itineraries for groups of two or more.
The horses are well turned out Thoroughbreds, many of whom have raced. They are ridden in English tack.
In 2017 the riding centre at Dibrugarh won the FEI Solidarity Award for its Retraining of Racehorses project. You can see more about this here:
You should be a competent and confident rider on a forward going horse. Riding through the tea gardens is at a walk; however, there are opportunities for trot and canter when you explore the countryside. Please note that if there has been recent rain this can make tracks too slippery for much cantering.
The riding time varies between two and four hours per day and averages three hours. There are a number of trail rides exploring the surrounding area of the Brahmaputra and the tea gardens.
On some days you ride through the tea gardens where there is the opportunity to learn about the history and production of tea. Other rides head out through the farms and villages that spread out from the banks of the river. It is sometimes possible to ride out to islands which appear in the dry season. These are sandy and provide perfect going for some faster riding.
Hard hats are mandatory.
When the British established their tea plantations in the mid 19th century, they built bungalows designed to make life as pleasant as possible in what was to them a hostile and strange land. One of the main features of these buildings has given rise to their name - Chang Bungalows. Chang in the local language means “raised on stilts” and the design served multi-purposes - to keep the house cool by allowing the breeze to blow underneath, and to keep both water and animals out. At Dibrugarh you stay in a restored Chang bungalow once home to the estate manager.
There are two spacious and elegant bungalows used for guests - Mancotta and Chowkidingee. Both are set in beautiful and well kept tea gardens.
Mancotta bungalow has six bedrooms each with en suite shower and loo. There are two large rooms on the first floor, each with king-sized beds. On the ground floor there are two standard rooms each with twin beds. There are also two single rooms in an annexe (these two rooms do not have air conditioning). There is a large sitting room with open fire place and large verandas with mosquito protection.
Chowkidingee (formerly known as South Jalanagar) has a total of three bedrooms, each with en suite shower/loo. There are two spacious rooms on the first floor. One has a double bed and the other twin beds. On the ground floor there is a standard room with twin beds (this room does not have air conditioning). Chowkidingee has a comfortable sitting room and a lovely veranda.
When visiting the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park you stay at the Wathai Heritage Bungalow on Limbuguri Tea Estate. The “Manager's Bungalow” has recently been renovated and has a family room and two large bedrooms.
At Kaziranga you stay in a comfortable tourist class hotel.
If extending to visit Arunachal Pradesh you stay one night in the Dibang Valley Jungle Camp which has super views over the Brahmaputra valley.
There are no set arrival or departure days.
Sample Itinerary for Tea Gardens Ride (3 nights)
Sample Itinerary for Tea Gardens Ride with Kaziranga (5 nights)
Sample Itinerary for Heritage Ride (9 nights)
Sample Itinerary for Heritage Ride with Arunachal Pradesh (10 nights)
Select your preferred arrival date:
Shorter or longer itineraries are possible. Please ask for a quote.
|October 2019 - April 2020||Per Person (3 or 4 in group)||Per Person (2 in group)||Single Supplement|
|Heritage Tea Ride (9 nights)||£1,592.68||£1,924.49||£456.24|
|Heritage Tea Ride including Arunachal Pradesh (10 nights)||£1,824.95||£2,206.53||£456.24|
INCLUDES Accommodation; full board in Assam; riding; guides; National Park entry and activity fees; elephant safari and jeep safaris in Kaziranga; permits if require.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT is payable if in a single room. There is no single supplement if you are willing to share and we find you a sharer.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Drinks; camera fees; tips.
NEAREST AIRPORT Dibrugarh.
TRANSFERS Included from Dibrugarh. It is possible to transfer to Guwahati at the end of the ride for an additional cost of £130.98 (2019-20 £157.17) for a vehicle (up to 3 people).
This riding holiday is amidst the lush tea gardens and on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra in Upper Assam in north east India.
The best time to visit Assam is from November to beginning of May and the conditions during this period are ideal for riding holidays. During winter between November and March it is cool in the day and often cold at night. Rain is possible at any time in Assam, which is one of the wettest places in India but most rain falls from May to September which is the period of monsoon.
These are wonderful horses, mostly thoroughbred and ex-racing horses that have been retrained by Manoj Jalan's team of wonderful equestrians led by Jitender. Despite their racing background they were delightful to ride. They are fit,responsive, happy and contended horses - in fact some of the most calm and contented horses I've ever met, which I think reflects on the calmness of Jitender and the way he and the rest of his team ride. Wonderful, wonderful lopey canters but these are a bonus so come without any expectations of anything more than a trot and you will be happy. The real treat is to explore and see the plantations and people at work from horseback and hear all the local chidren calling out 'bye bye' (their version of 'hi, hi'( waving and running alongside in delight... every time you go by).
I have galloped across the Wadi Rum, Okavanga Delta, Tuli Block and Mozambique beaches, improved my dressage on Lusitanos in Portugal and trekked into the stunning Alpujarros among other places but this is right up there as one of my favourite places to have visited and seen from horseback. Go if you can before it gets ruined.
Sara ,WatlingtonOverall rating: 5/5
Assam is a relatively unexplored tourist destination and you will receive a warm welcome which previous guests have found extremely touching. A lovely place to relax, ride and forget yourself.
Breakfast and Bed Tea brought to your room are a definite highlight!