Mr. Martin had contacted us from Slovakia and had explained to us his interest of exploring and sighting endangered Reticulated Python Species that are found across parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in North East India. We had identified certain places in Assam where we would carry out our search for these creatures and two of these places in out Itinerary were Garbhanga Reserve Forest and the Chandubi Lake areas near Guwahati city of Assam. He also wanted to film some of the ornamental fish varieties found across Assam. he had contacted us in the month of December 2017 to plan his visit to Assam and Meghalaya. After many attempts of refining the Itinerary we were finally able to fine tune it to complete his visit across Assam and Meghalaya in 20 days. The final date of his arrival was scheduled on April 7, 2018. The Itinerary for our travel looked like this:
- April 7th – Arrive at Guwahati Airport
- April 8th – Garbhanga Reserve Forest Area
- April 9th – Chandubi Lake
- April 10th – Chandubi Lake
- April 11th – Chandubi Lake
- April 12th – Chandubi – Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (late afternoon Jeep Safari)
- April 13th – Pobitora (early morning Elephant Safari) – Mawphlang – Cherrapunji
- April 14th – Cherrapunji (Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trek)
- April 15th – Cherrapunji – Guwahati (Evening Rongali Bihu celebrations)
- April 16th – Guwahati – Hajo
- April 17th – Guwahati – Zoo and Umananda Island
- April 18th – Guwahati – Nameri National Park
- April 19th – Nameri National Park
- April 20th – Nameri National Park – Majuli Island
- April 21st – Majuli Island
- April 22nd – Majuli Island
- April 23rd – Majuli Island – Pani Dehing – Dibru Saikhowa National Park
- April 24th – Dibru Saikhowa National Park
- April 25th – Dibru Saikhowa National Park – Guwahati
- April 26th – Dipor Bil area – Guwahati Airport
We will include the details of his tour for the first 7 days of his visit around Guwahati beginning from his arrival at eh Airport upto his visit to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
I had just finished my tour with Mr. Vivek and family from Bangalore on April 6th where we covered parts of Assam and Meghalaya. And it so happened that I had bumped my car into a tree near the Kaziranga Orchid Park and I didn’t have much time to get it repaired. In the morning of April 7th I decided to pay a visit to the Hyundai Service Area near my house at Beltola in Guwahati. I did not have much time in hand as I had to start to the Airport by 5 PM to reach in order to welcome Mr. Martin who was scheduled to arrive at 6.30 PM. The service center had accepted my car and they took almost three hours to get the job done. It was already 12 PM and I had to rush back home. My passport renewal application was pending at the local police station where they had kept my application on hold as I had to verify my documents. It took me another hour time there and finally rushed home to have some lunch and take some rest after a long 8 day tour and another 20 days to go. I finally left home at around 5 PM to the airport. I decided to grab a coffee and a burger at a small joint near the airport called as the Hits Cafe and by the time I reached Airport it was around 6.10 PM. The fight from Delhi was scheduled to arrive at 6.30 PM but it got delayed by 15 minutes and the flight finally landed at 6.45 Pm. It was another 20 minute wait as Martin had brought in a lot of luggage which included fishing rods from Slovakia and it took time for him to clear the airport baggage redemption center. Finally we left the airport and went on to my home where he was scheduled to halt for the next 2 days.
We decided to make a quick stop at the Decathlon store at Azara in Guwahati as Martin had to pick up some items for his fishing requirements. After shopping at Decathlon we headed home and reached at around 9.00 PM. Martin was completely exhausted after his long flight from Slovakia to Assam with transit at New Delhi so he decided to get fresh quickly and have his dinner and retire to bed early. We discussed our plans for the next few days over dinner and then we went to bed. The next day we had planned to go to explore the Garbhanga Reserve Forest area after a quick stop at the local fish market to get a glimpse of the various fish species that are sold here and are available in the Brahmaputra river and the local ponds and fisheries of Assam.
We got up in the morning and examined the area surrounding my home. The beautiful forests cover intrigued Martin and he wanted to explore the area more to identify the varied species of flora and fauna around the place. After our breakfast we headed to the local market where we were to check out the fishes. It was Sunday and every week on a sunday there is a huge market which is setup and traders from across various parts of Guwahati come to sell their goods at the Lokhra sunday bazaar as it is called locally. Villagers who reside in villages in the nearby forest reserves come down with their fresh produce of vegetables and fruits and other local items like dried fishes, locally grown dal and rice, freshly caught fishes, crabs and snails, locally prepared rice beer, silk worms, etc. we explored the products for a while and headed to the fish market where we could see various fishes being sold. Local fishes like Rohu, Catla, Sital, Glass Carp, Bridget, Assamese Carp, Kusia (snakeheads), Sand (a kind of Piranha species), etc. were on sale by various traders. While some species were caught from the Brahmaputra river the rest were brought in from nearby fisheries. Martin was amazed with the variety of fresh water fishes available in the market. He filmed the market for his documentary and after about an hour we left the market to head on to Garbhanga Reserve Forest.
Located in the outskirts of the beautiful city of Guwahati in Assam, the Garbhanga Reserve Forest is a mountainous area covering an area of almost 1500 hectares of land. Providing a green cover to the city of Guwahati, Garbhanga Reserve Forest border the majestic mountain ranges of Meghalaya on the east and north and is bounded by the Rani Reserve Forest to its west and the city of Guwahati and Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary to its south. The area of the Garbhanga Reserve Forest forms a part of the Green Belt region adjoining Guwahati and the forest area of Garbhanga is mostly dominated by the teak tree species. The Garbhanga Reserve Forest are also has moist deciduous forests, mix forests, evergreen and semi evergreen patches along the interiors of the forest area. The Garbhanga Reserve Forest welcomes you to the singing and chirping of hundred of birds species here. Various species of rare butterflies too are home at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest area.
The vast forest cover, unending supply of water from the perennial streams of Meghalaya, the humid yet pleasant climate harbours a variety of wildlife at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest area. Various mammal species of the likes of Elephants, Hoolock Gibbons, Langurs, Leopards, Gibbons, Deer, Sambar, etc. live inside the forests of Garbhanga. For the bird lovers, Garbhanga is home to hundreds of birds belonging to over 128 species. Some of the bird species to be found at Garbhanga are ~
- Black Kite
- Asian Koel
- Indian Cuckoo
- Small Headed Malkova
- White–Browed piculet
- Crimson Sunbird
- Large Woodshrike
- Yellow-bellied Warbler
- Dark–necked Tailorbird
- White-rumped Shama
- White–bellied Erpornis
- Black –crested Bulbul
- Pin-striped Tit Babbler
- Rufescent Prinia
- Common Iora
- White–browed Scimitar Babbler
- Greater Coucal
- Barn Owl
- Spotted owl
- Brown Fish-Owl
- Small Bee–eater
- Blue-tailed bee-eater
- Lineated barbet
- Blue–throated barbet
- Coppersmith barbet
- Small Blue kingfisher
- White-breasted Kingfisher
- Lesser Pied Kingfisher
- Great Slaty Woodpecker
- Fulvous-breasted Pied Woodpecker
- Small Yellow-naped Woodpecker
- Large Yellow-naped Woodpecker
- Greater Golden-backed Woodpecker
- Blue Whistling–Thrush
- Tickell’s Thrush
- Black–backed Forktail
- Spotted Forktail
- Common Stonechat
- Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
- Jungle Babbler
- Small Niltava
- Black-naped Monarch–Flycatcher
- Great Tit
- Chestnut–bellied Nuthatch
- Spotted Munia
- Grey-headed Starling
- Bronzed Drongo
- Jungle Myna
- Grey headed Flycatcher
For complete list of birds at Garbhanga Reserve Forest: Click Here
Garbhanga Reserve Forest is also known for its various species of colorful butterflies. Any visitor to Garbhanga can anytime spot these butterflies flying in front of their eyes. As per records, over 26 species of butterflies are alone recorded here at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest. Some of these species are ~
- Ancistroides nigrita
- Astictopterus jama
- Laubrix salsala
- Matapa cresta
- Notocrypta paralysos
- Ochus subvittatus
- Udaspes folus
- Potanthus spp
- Tagiades gana
- Curetis saronis
- Heliophorus epicles
- Megisba malaya
- Prosotas dubiosa
For complete list of butterflies at Garbhanga Reserve Forest: Click Here
My friends had planned a picnic outing at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest as it was a sunday and they decided to cook traditional Karbi tribe style food here inside the forest. The food was cooked inside bamboo trunks that were put on fire and slow cooking of the meat was done. The menu consisted of rice, pork, country chicken and salad. The food was served on banana leaves do that we do not leave any plastic waste inside the forest and everything would have decomposed in a small garbage pit that was dug keeping the mind the ecology. While the food was cooking we explored the area around the forest. We could hear Elephants roaring at a distant and dared not to venture inside the forest. We walked along the road the road that leads to the local villages inside the Garbhanga Forest. Finally the food was ready and we enjoyed the meal here. Martin did not taste the pork but enjoyed his share of chicken gravy and rice. After a late lunch we headed back home. Since Martin couldn’t find any snakes at the Garbhanga Reserve Forest he decided to go out in search of them at the jungles near my home in the evening. We searched for almost about an hour but our attempt to film a snake was successful and we couldn’t find any snakes although we got to hear may stories about how snakes haunt the daily chores of the local people. We decided to call it a day and came back home to rest for the night.
The next morning our visit was planned to the beautiful Chandubi Lake area near Guwahati. It was a pleasant April morning here, not too cold and neither very hot either. At Chandubi, we had planned our stay at the beautiful Chandubi Jungle Camp which is located just near to the Lake and the reserve forest area of Chandubi. At Chandubi we had a plan of going fishing for various local fish species an also go out looking in search of Python species which are known to inhabit the forest reserves of Chandubi. The Co-owner of the Chandubi Jungle Camp Mr. Kaushik Das had agreed to join us on this expedition to his Camp and we planned to start at around 10 AM to Chandubi from guwahati. After our breakfast we got our bags packed and loaded the items into the car and headed towards Chandubi. Kaushik would be joining us on our way along with our intern Ms. Monisha at Deepor Beel area near Guwahati. We made our first halt at the outskirts of Guwahati which is famous for its bird species especially during winters. Deepor Beel is a beautiful area near Guwahati to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. While we waited here we decided to climb the watchtower here and catch a glimpse of the various bird species here.
We grouped together at the Deepor Beel area and started on our long journey to Chandubi Lake after a planned short halt at Pani area to pick up some meat to be cooked for night dinner. The drive to Rani took us around 30 minutes from Deepor Beel area and we gradually reached a huge market area. Today was market area at Rani and traders like in Lokhra Sunday Bazaar had come down from various areas to sell their produce at this market. We stopped for a while at the local market and then continued on our journey to Chandubi.
The road after Rani starts getting isolated after a while as there is not much of human settlement here. This part of the area falls under the Rani reserve forest division and one can see the forests starting to gradually appear along the driveway. Once we reached the forest watchtower at Rani we had to take a right to Chandubi. We continued on our drive and could see the lush tea gardens of Assam appearing along our journey. There is a small village market area that comes on the way and this is the last point where we can get mobile signal strength after which the network coverage is not strong enough to make any calls to to have data connectivity on the phone. We made a quick stop here making a few phone calls back home and related to work and then continued on our journey to Chandubi.
From here it takes another 20 minutes to reach Chandubi lake. After a while we reached the Chandubi picnic spot area from where we had to cross the lake on a country boat to reach the Chandubi Jungle Camp. We took a while to park our car at a safe spot, unload our luggage from the car onto a boat and then after Martin admiring the natural beauty of the place we headed on to the Chandubi Jungle Camp. On arrival at the Chandubi Jungle Camp we were greeted by the other owner of the Camp, Mr Diganta Rabha, a local who has initiated a lot on the development of the tourism scenario at Chandubi and two young boy Horu and Nayan who helped us carry our luggage to the camp. There were no other guests on that day mostly it being a monday and a working day so we had the camp to ourselves. We were alloted two jungle tents for our stay here for three nights at Chandubi. After settling our luggage in the tents we went on to have lunch. It was already 3PM by the time we settled down here at Chandubi and we were all famished. Lunch was served that was simple yet delicious offering of rice, dal, sabji, chicken, papad, pickles and salad.
After lunch we examined the beautiful Chandubi Lake for sometime and Martin got hs fishing rods ready to go fishing near the area of the Chandubi Jungle Camp . We arranged for earthworms for martin and we sat down along with him to fish. It was not fruitful as we couldn’t catch any fish that day. We decided to go for boating around the Chandubi Lake for a while to observe the areas where fishes could be found. After a while we returned back to our camp. It was time for evening tea and we were served with cups of tea black tea and biscuits. The tea was very flavorful and we discussed stories of how the villagers of Chandubi have relocated many pythons from the village areas into the nearby hills. Martin was in search of a particular species of pythons – the reticulated and the locals did not know the difference between Burmese pythons, Rock python and Reticulated pythons so we had to show them pictures to help them to identity each species an whether or not they have ever sighted a reticulated python in the Chandubi area. Although they confirmed having seen reticulated pythons here but Martin was in doubt so the next day we decided to go out trekking into the nearby forest reserve to search for reticulated pythons.
Martin wanted to check out the area again so at around 7 Pm we headed out with Bokhonto (our guide) to see the marshy areas around Chandubi and the hollowed out tree trunks which turn out to be snake’s favorite hideout. We headed out carrying a torch and the mobile torches in search of reticulates. We checked out the marsh area along with the inside of the trunk of dead trees but we couldn’t find any snakes. We continued our search for about an hours time but were unsuccessful to trace any snake. We decided to call it a day and return back to Chandubi Jungle Camp. We came back and sat down to discuss further about the python species at Chandubi. One local guy had come in and he had handled many pythons and relocated them from village areas to the nearby forests. It seems he had just relocated a python just two weeks back, He told us the people around the border of Assam and Meghalaya mostly the Garo tribal people of Meghalaya kill these python for their meat. The belly fat of the Python, these Garo tribal people believe has medicinal properties and can cure ailments and also boost physical immunity. This has led to a major loss in the population of pythons around the area. Martin expressed his regrets against such actions of the people an requested the local people of Chandubi to take possible steps to save the number of these pythons. After a while our dinner was served. It was an elaborate feast with various local herbs, chicken, fish, chutneys, salad, papad, pickles, etc. We enjoyed our dinner and then went to bed.
The next day morning we were scheduled to go trekking and hiking into the nearby hills in search of the python that was relocated by the locals of Chandubi from their village. We would be accompanied by Bokhonto who would take us to the hilltop to look out for the python. We just had tea and biscuits and carried our breakfast to be had along the way. The sky was not in our favour as we could see clouds looming over us but we hoped it would change and we continued on. We had to cross through a village and agricultural fields to reach the hill where we were scheduled to climb. We could see huge rocks on one side and Martin said that this would be an ideal place to look out for snakes. I was asked to take control of the camera and Martin and Bokhonto ventured to look out for snakes in the holes of these rocks. They went deep into the rocks and looked out for snakes. But unfortunately the weather was cold and the snakes did not come out of their holes so we had to come back from there disappointed.
Next up we headed to the hills to go to the place where they had relocated the python. It is an adventurous trek going into the depth of the forests cutting across trees and listening to the sounds of the animals around before taking out steps forward. We could hear the roaring of wild elephants and the chirping of various birds that inhabit the forests. It had rained the previous night so we could except leeches on our way to the hills. We just climbed a little to the hills and I could see creatures crawling on my shoes. It did not take me much time to realize that we had entered leech territory and immediately we went aside to remove them from the shoes. Martin had applied some repellent so th leeches did not catch hold of him. We asked Bokhonto to take us from a different route that would not have leeches. There was a way but that would be very steep hike he said. We agreed to take it and it was not a wise decision at all. This route was like rock climbing on a steep hill without any gear. It was indeed a tough hike and finally we reached the top of the hill where we were supposed to look out for the python.
We went to nearby place to rest for a while. While we were resting we could hear the roar of elephants from a close distance. Bokhnoto asked us to wait as he would go check out where the elephants were resting before we could begin our search for the python. He went a little ahead and just when he got down from the high area to the lower one we could see him coming back to us very quickly warning us that the elephants were sitting on a place where they had relocated the python. We thought for a while and Martin took a decision to go back as teasing these elephants would be a huge mistake and waiting was of no use as they would go back from the area where we were waiting. So we decided to head down. It was sad for us as even after all our efforts of climbing the hill we had to come down with no result. We came down the hill and stopped for a while on the plains where we decided to have our breakfast or brunch rather. After resting for a while we walked back to Chandubi Jungle Camp.
We rested for sometime at the Camp and had our lunch at around 2 PM. At 3 PM we decided to go fishing. Bokhonto took us on a boat ride to the other side of the camp where we set our boat and Martin set up his fishing rods. He put the fish feed in the water and then we waited. I set up a contest between Martin and Bokhonto as to who would be able to catch the fish first. Martin with all his modern equipment and Bokhonto with his traditional fishing rod made with bamboo and nylon fiber. We waited for an hour and nothing happened. We couldn’t catch even a single fish. It was another unfruitful day for us an we returned back to our camp. We sat down in the evening to plan down our course of action for the next day and then we had our dinner and went to bed.
The next day I got up in the morning and saw Martin already fishing near the camp. The sun was not yet out properly and I went to see Martin fishing. After a while we came back for breakfast. Today Bokhonto was not there so Diganta had offered to take us out fishing. We decided to go to another area for fishing today and we would step out of our boat for fishing today. We took our boat and headed to the area of another camp where we expected to find more fish. We reached the area and set up our fishing rods to find dark clouds covering up the sky. By the time we fixed our rods the downpour started and we had to leave our rods there and run to seek cover at the camp. It rained for almost an hour and we could do nothing but wait at the camp. Diganta brought us some hot tea and biscuits and we waited at the Camp till the rain subsided. We went back to the place where we had kept our rods to see if any fish bit the rod but our luck was again not in our favour. We waited for a little more time but had to return empty handed. While boating back to the camp Martin was able to spot a shoal of baby fishes. These were the Saal fish and the babies were bright orange in color. Martin managed to capture them on an underwater camera and we headed back to the Camp. It was time for lunch and we decided whether to go back fishing again or to look out for snakes. Martin decided to go for fishing again and so we planned another place to look out for fish. This time we went to another part of the lake and decided to fish from the boat itself. Martin set up his rods again and we waited for fish to bite. While waiting we saw our first snake at Chandubi. It got down from the land into the water and then swiftly swam across to the other side. It was about 3 feet long snake. Diganta told us the this was a poisonous snake. After waiting for thirty minutes Martin was successful in catching his first fish at Chandubi lake. It was a small catch but atleast the first catch. We were delighted after and after cutting the fish off the line Martin threw it back into the water. After continuing to fish for another hour and catching two more fishes we finally called it a day and headed back to Chandubi Jungle Camp.
The next morning we were scheduled to leave Chandubi to go to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary near Guwahati. Martin decided to try some quick fishing around the camp but today was no luck. He returned back empty handed. We had breakfast quickly and Martin went on to pack his stuff. He had unloaded quite some stuff from his bags so packing it all back took him almost an hour. By the time we were ready to leave it was around 12 PM. Diganta took us on the boat to the other side of the camp and we bid goodbye to everyone at Chandubi Jungle Camp and moved on our journey to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We had to come back to Guwahati first to go to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. At Guwahati we stopped at a market in narengi to buy fruits, some other stuff and Martin had to withdraw cash from an ATM. After it was over we headed to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We reached Pobitora at around 4 PM in the afternoon. Our stay was booked at the Maibong Eco Resort at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and we were greeted here by the owner of the Resort Mr. Nripen Nath. A pioneer in promoting tourism across the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary region, Mr. Nripen Nath was awarded by the Department of Tourism Govt. of Assam for his excellent contribution in the field of tourism here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We decided to have a cup of tea and some light snacks at the dining hall of the Maibong Eco Resort. There was a pond inside the premises of the Maibong Eco Resort and Martin was immediately interested in fishing here. We seeked permission from the owner to fish here and he readily agreed. I was scheduled to return back to Guwahati so I checked Martin into his room and I bid him goodbye and wished him luck in fishing. After sometime I returned back to my home in Guwahati.
Next morning I reached Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary an Martin was already done with his Elephant Safari here. He was waiting at the dining hall and I greeted him. We were scheduled to leave to Cherrapunji in meghalaya but Martin wanted to see if we had time to go for a Jeep Safari ride into Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We checked that we had time on our hands and also checked for the availability of a Jeep. The owner of Maibong Eco Resort offered us his Jeep to take into Pobitora an after a while an armed guard escorted us into the forest reserves of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. We asked the Jeep driver to take us to areas where pythons were spotted in Pobitora and he was ready to take us there. Wesaw many rhinoceros on our way and also some asiatic water buffaloes, black necked crane and many other birds. We arrived at the point where Pythons are generally sighted here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary but there was none to be seen today. The guard told us that he had sighted on here in January. We travelled further into the jungle and could see the beautiful orchids flowering on the branches of the trees. Martin clicked his pictures and while coming back we were able to sight a King Cobra resting under the sun. However when we approached our vehicle a little more closer it went away into the jungle. At Least we were able to spot one snake here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary if not a python. We came back to the Maibong Eco Resort. Martin packed his bags and at around 11 AM we left Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to head to Cherrapunji in Meghalaya where we were scheduled to do our trek to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat village.