A SELFISH intrusion by rhinoceros necessitated the closure of Hoolongapar Gibbon Sanctuary days before our visit. No hoolock gibbons for us.
Other than that, Assam’s east gets elephant-sized thumbs up from me. I really rate Kaziranga as a national park. The inland island, Majuli, is a laid-back time capsule. Wish we’d had more time there.
But as the gibbons eluded us, and there are more places further east than we went, another trip might be in order.
There is a lot to like about the eastern reaches of Assam. (Although we didn't go as far east as we would like to have.)
The large river island of Majuli is stress relieving gem.
There are some interesting old ruins in Sivasagar and other parts.
But the undisputed star, and rightly so, is Kaziranga National Park.
There are three zones for visitors: the grassy central zone is its busiest; the east of swampier, and better for birding. (We didn't visit the west zone.)
Kohora is an easy place to stay and getting the safaris organised is easy.
Near the service town of Kohora, the central zone offers morning elephant safari, which gets you nice and close to the wildlife.
Jeep safaris also cover the central zone. There are lots of rhino here.
The rhino aren't troubled by the elephants.
Also scampering around in the long grass are plenty of deer- hog, swamp and barking deer.
Birders tend to head to the eastern zone, but there are plenty of rhino there too.
Bundle loads of buffalo, dozens of deer, pigs, and more.
The Assam roof turtle is a big deal, but like other turtles, they don't do much.
We didn't see elephants in the central zone, but at least 8 in the east.
Poaching is still a thing. This one had been snared on the rear leg at some time.
The wide wetland scenery of the eastern zone was pretty impressive, too. Overall, this is one world class park.
When you've had your fill of animals, Majuli is a slow-paced backwater for some human interaction.
Majuli is home to a number of "satra", Hindu religious centres, some large and famous, others just local.
It's a place of idyllic, low-tempo village scenery.
Friendly families just doing their thing.
Village kids with home made cricket bats and big dreams.
Toothy old gents who should have retired long ago.
Village crafts and cottage industry are common.
There is some clever engineering to be seen.
Weaving is a women's industry, and cycling around you will see them doing their thing outside houses....
Majuli's most famous craft is mask making, which can be seen in a couple of place only.
Visitors are welcomed in to view the whole process, from the wooden frames, to the cloth cover and poo & mud base, painting and drying.
The final products are striking, some man-sized, but nobody expects a purchase.
I could easily have spent another day or two taking this in.
If I was in the area, I'd come back for a second dig.
We only had time for a short taste of island life, but there were places to go.
Sivasagar has some interesting old temples and palaces outisde town, dating back from the 18th century Ahom kingdom. The Shiva temples in town are worth a peek, too.
As well as (again!) some excellent Assamese food, Sivasagar also had the best cricket shop I'd seen!
Nothing to go overboard about, but an OK place for a day or two, on the (long) way to Longwa.
Assam's east definitely impressed us more than the west.
And I'd happily come back to see the parts we missed, in both east and west.