India
Nagaland Hornbill Festival Tour

Venture to India’s last frontier – Nagaland.

On this private tour you will journey to a remote and inaccessible region which borders Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as Burma, to experience the Hornbill Festival, an annual inter-tribal festival that promotes the cultural heritage of Nagaland.

Join with the local tribes as they celebrate with traditional arts, dances, folk songs, and games set amidst immaculate replicas of tribal hutments. With pristine national parks, home to rhino and tiger you can also spend time exploring the nature of this wonderful region.

India’s north east region of Nagaland could not be more different from commonly held preconceptions about the world’s largest democracy. You will visit tribal cultures that are only now just beginning to move into the 21st century and meet and interact with the Naga people, once feared headhunters. It is a privilege to spend time in their villages and learn more about their very distinct customs, still maintained in the face of the onslaught of Hinduism.

Travel to the jaw-droppingly beautiful region of Assam perched on the edge of the Himalayas, and search for rhino and tiger in the remote Kaziranga National Park. The highlight of this trip is the opportunity to learn more about the kaleidoscope of diverse cultures that make up India’s north east and experience the Hornbill Festival. This is a region more akin to South East Asia than to the subcontinent – and we spend as much time as possible exploring villages and meeting local people.

Nagaland and Assam are wonderful states to visit but it must be emphasised that tourism is still relatively new to the region and lags behind many other parts of India. The infrastructure is inadequate with some very poor road surfaces adding to journey times and contributing to traffic congestion in places. The region is attracting more visitors but facilities and services for tourists are still limited. However, you will see a very different side of the country- this truly is undiscovered India.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track
  • Culture 
  • History 
  • Wildlife 

Tour pace

Busy

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary

Arrive in Kolkata, India’s second largest city. Kolkata encapsulates modern India – a hectic and vibrant city teeming with life. Overnight at Lytton Hotel or similar.

Transfer to the airport for a flight to Dimapur (15kg checked bag allowance and 7kg hand baggage). On arrival transfer to Kohima, approx. 2hrs drive. Overnight at Greenwood Villa or similar (B)

Today visit the Hornbill Festival, which takes place at Kisama Heritage Village. This open-air museum has a representative selection of traditional Naga houses and morungs (bachelor dormitories) with full-sized log drums. Performances begin at 9am. The festival is attended by all of Nagaland’s major tribes. It features traditional arts, dances, folk songs and games. All this takes place amidst immaculate replicas of tribal hutments complete with wood carvings and hollow log drums, which are beaten in haunting symphony at the end of the day. There is plenty of handicraft and food stalls as well as heady rice beer to indulge in. After sundown, the main attraction is the Hornbill National Rock Concert, where bands from all over the country come to compete. This is followed by a night market in town. Overnight at Greenwood villa or similar (B)

This morning, visit the Kohima World War 2 cemetery, a tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Japanese invasion of the Second World War. After the visit, attend day 3 of the Hornbill festival. Overnight at Greenwood Villa or similar (B)

Today visit Khonoma Village, a picturesque village outside of Kohima and home to the Angami tribe. After visiting Khonoma village, attend day 4 of the festival. Overnight at Greenwood Villa or similar (B)

Today we travel to Jorhat (approx. 6hr drive), a major tea centre conveniently located for visiting the nearby Majuli Island. Overnight at Thengal Manor or similar (B)

Take the local ferry on the mighty Brahmaputra River to Majuli Island, noted for its beautiful rural setting and the traditional Assamese architecture. It is also famous for its monastic retreats where the worship of Lord Vishnu is through dance, music and poetry. Overnight at Happy House or similar (B)

Today we take a walk around the village and visit one of Majuli’s unique monasteries, established in the 15th Century, where you will witness a special dance performance by some young monks. Overnight at Happy House or similar (B)

Take the ferry back to Brahmaputra and drive to Kaziranga, which was declared a game reserve in 1926 to save the Indian one-horned rhino from extinction. Overnight at Wild Grass Resort or similar (BLD)

Kaziranga National Park is a World Heritage Site offering great opportunities to spot the iconic Indian Horned Rhinoceros – more than 75% of the world’s population reside within its boundaries. Other wildlife is also plentiful and includes water buffalo, elephants, tigers, swamp deer, barking deer and hog deer as well as 400 species of birds. We explore the park and hope for good game sightings. Overnight at Wild Grass Resort or similar (BLD)

Drive from Kaziranga to Shillong (approx. 7 hours), the capital of Meghalaya state. This evening you may want to stroll around the Police Bazaar, the ‘hip and happening’ area with fancy shops and restaurants, where local bands offer the latest in rock and rap. Overnight at Tripura Castle or similar (B)

This morning we take a city tour of Shillong and the best way to enjoy its sights is on foot. With no significant monuments, the attractions here lie in the scenic beauty, parks, waterfalls and panoramic views. Places worth visiting include the decorative Ward Lake in the heart of Shillong and the Bara Bazaar where you can see local and hill-people, mostly women, trading their wares including interesting jewellery and handicrafts. The afternoon is at leisure. Overnight at Tripura Castle or similar (B)

Transfer to the airport for a short flight to Kolkata (15kg checked bag allowance and 7kg hand baggage).to connect with your onward flight (to be booked departing after 1930 hours) or further accommodation can be arranged in Kolkata (B)

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

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Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

India - Nagaland Hornbill Festival Tour Map

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Dates & Price.

The Nagaland Hornbill Festival Tour is a private departure.

Contact us for tailormade tour options and prices.

Tour Notes

We offer this tour for private departures only, and the recommended start date is 29th November. Prices begin from £2750 per person, based on two people travelling.

Return flights from London to Kolkata start at £500. Contact us for a quotation.

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Overland transport in private vehicle
  • Domestic flights Kolkata – Dimpur / Gwahati – Kolkata (15kg checked bag allowance and 7kg hand baggage)
  • All accommodation
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
  • Local ferry

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Camera fees for Kaziranga National Park – 200 Rupees per person per visit for a camera and 1,000 Rupees per person per visit for a video camera

A trip that exceeded expectations. Well supported in India and excellent heritage hotels and comfortable vehicle.

Julia Killick, UK