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Travelling through the Northeast

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Much of the region (particularly Nagaland) is easiest reached through tour operators, but it is possible – and richly rewarding – for the adventurous to travel independently, though this demands considerable amounts of time, energy and perseverance. Be prepared for bureaucracy, language barriers, long drives on terrible roads, basic accommodation and (except in Assam) extremes in temperature. Consider hiring your own jeep and driver, at least for part of the trip, and using public Tata Sumos, jeeps that operate like shared taxis and are generally much quicker than buses. If travelling in winter, bring a sleeping bag and thermals, as much of the accommodation is not set up for cold weather. People rarely drive at night because of the threat of banditry, and, since the region shares the same time zone as the rest of India despite being so far east, the sun rises and sets early and a lot of places close by 6pm. Outside Guwahati, money-changing facilities are rare, so bring what cash you need with you. There are regular bandhs (strikes) throughout the region when shops, restaurants and public transport shut down – during a typical three-week trip you’re likely to lose at least a couple of days to bandhs.

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