A meeting of minds” best describes the first encounter between Andrew Brock and Ashish Phookan in Guwahati, Assam in 2001. Neither knew the other had been pondering how to initiate river cruising on the river Brahmaputra; both jumped at the chance to explore together this exciting idea. The Indo-British joint-venture company, Assam Bengal Navigation, was formed in 2002 with Andrew and Grania Brock, and Ashish and Jahnabi Phookan, bringing together expertise in tourism, experience of global markets and in-depth knowledge of North East India.
Chairman, Andrew Brock, first discovered his passion for India when after Eton and Oxford University he drove out to the North West Frontier on a travel scholarship. He joined one of the main UK tour operators to India and has run his own company, Andrew Brock Travel, from 1981 to 2009. He has Asian river navigation in his blood: his grandfather was a director of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company while another forebear ran Dennys on the Clyde which built many of the paddle steamers for the Brahmaputra and the Ganges.
Managing Director, Ashish Phookan’s background was in tea, with periods working in both London and Assam as a Tea Taster. He still retains an interest in a family tea garden. In 1989 he set up Jungle Travels India in Guwahati with his wife, Jahnabi, handling both incoming and outbound services.
ASSAM BENGAL NAVIGATION is the first and only company with experience of setting up and operating long-distance river cruising in India. Our undisputed expertise has been gained from running cruises on the Brahmaputra from 2003 and on the Hugli from summer 2007. Our knowledge of local conditions on both rivers informed our decision to keep the size of each ship small. We also feel responsible for preserving the ethos of the places we visit, where large numbers of tourists would often be detrimental. An additional bonus of this decision is the friendly atmosphere of a small group. Our highly-praised staff are fundamental to our success and we are most fortunate to have gathered together an outstanding team, carefully trained by us to ensure our own high standards are met.
We have also expanded our portfolio with two jungle lodges. The recently-established Diphlu River Lodge is now the best accommodation at Kaziranga National Park, and at Manas N.P. on the Bhutan border our Bansbari Lodge offers a simpler but comfortable stay.
The "Charaidew" is a 38m long twin-engine steel hulled passenger boat. She has been converted to provide 12 generous-sized twin-bedded cabins, airconditioned and with en suite shower and WC. All cabin accommodation is on the upper deck, as is a bar and sitting area. A dining room is on the lower deck, while a top sundeck will offer additional open-air seating and sun loungers.
Food on board is a mixture of Assamese (milder than most Indian cuisine) and continental. Wines, beer and spirits are available.
“Sukapha”’s 12 en-suite cabins are all air-conditioned, as are the saloon and the dining room. Food on board is a mix of Indian and European. Beer, wine and spirits are of course available.
PRICES 2010-11 SEASON BRAHMAPUTRA
USD 350 per person per night Oct 2010 – Apr 2011
USD 205 per night single supp Oct 2010 - Apr 2011
Prices subject to 2.58 % service tax
Assam Bengal Cruise Company, Guwahati, Assam