I get so excited when anyone says that they’re interested in visiting Nagaland. It really is such a beautiful destination. But you know it isn’t about the beauty alone. Rich with folklores, a culture of tribes, a mist, Nagaland is the sort of place that makes you realize that parts of India can be so different and yet so similar. Personally, I’d urge everyone to go visit our brothers and sisters (okay okay, just friends! 😉 ) in the North-Eastern state of Nagaland. Within Nagaland my best experience certainly has to be of trekking up the Dzukou Valley. Dzukou is a meringue of green rolling hills that seem to running into each other for as far as your eyes can see. Unlike a number of popular treks that offer some stalwart peaks, Dzukou much like the state it calls home is so distinctive and still so magical in its appearance. You won’t be seeing tall towering peaks but instead the greenest of carpets lounging over hills that form mound like shapes. And if you’re looking to take your experience a notch higher, combine your trek to Dzukou along with Japfu which at 3,826 metres proudly bags the title of being the second highest peak of Nagaland and offers the whole valley rich with vegetation as your view. So, are you game?
How to reach: Fly in to Dimapur. Note flights to Dimapur are limited and you will mostly have to connect fly Kolkata. So, make sure to book in advance and plan accordingly. From there, travel either by a local bus or taxi or even a private one to reach Kohima. This journey can take about 4-5 hours depending on the status of roads.
Best time to trek/visit: December to January, May to June
Duration: 5 – 7 days
Altitude: 3,826 metres
Trek route: The route will of course depend on what you decide with your local trekking guide, but possible options include:
Dimapur – Kohima – Dzukou Trekker’s Hut – Dzukou Valley – Vishwema Village – Japfu Base Camp – Japfu Peak – Vishwema – Kohima – Dimapur
Day 1: Dimapur to Kohima
Altitude – 1,444 m
Approximate Distance – 72 kms (by drive)
First step to starting this adventure is going to be for you to arrive in Dimapur. The airport has limited connectivity and you will most likely have to fly out from Kolkata. So, if you don’t live in Kolkata, first fly there and then arrive at Dimapur via a connecting flight. Then hop on to a taxi or a bus so that you may head to Kohima. The drive to the state’s capital just takes a few hours but may get longer depending on the season and the state of the roads. You maybe lucky enough to get some popsicles made out of fresh local pineapples!
Day 2: Kohima to Dzukou Trekker’s Hut
Altitude – 2,438 m
Approximate Distance – 9 kms
Today, your trek starts from the Zakhama (also called and spelt as Jakhama) heck post. You will meet deodar and bamboo forests in between. And, soon the trek gets a little steep. There’s a tiny stream that sprouts up to cheer you on though! From there you shall continue to climb to reach a resting point which holds the name of “Crying Child Valley”. Ah no that is not in reference to your tiredness :p Then as you continue further you will arrive at a pass that offers some stunning views of Dzukou Valley. Take in that view and let the excitement take over as you shall be there for another day! The name Dzukou means “cold water”. Legend has it that once a young man was sent to scout a place where his tribe may settle but he returned to state that those who stay in Dzukou would get chilled to their bones! Don’t worry, that doesn’t actually happen but yes, please pack right cause the night gets chilly and here’s hoping you have some cozy company.
Day 3: Explore Dzukou Valley
Altitude – 2,438 m
Wake up at the crack of dawn. This isn’t a must but it really should be because the sunrise at Dzukou is nothing short of a magical marvel. As you’ll rub your sleepy eyes, you’ll see a sea before you, encircled in between the peaks. Yes, a sea! Made up of clouds. It’s as if the clouds have started floating before you. Spend the later part of your day just exploring the valley. Go up to the huge cross, the caves, the steams and admire all that Dzukou is.
Day 4: Dzukou to Vishwema Village
Altitude – 1,631 m
Approximate Distance – 26 kms
Day 4 shall be the longest one as you make your way to the nearby village of Vishwema. The village offers you a chance to interact with locals and learn about their lives. Ask them what they dream of, what they hope of, what these visitors feel like and more. What’s a place without its people? What’s travelling to a place without interacting with the land’s own inhabitants? And, as Nagaland does have some rich folklore, you might just be in for a treat!
Day 5: Vishwema Village to Japfu Base Camp
Altitude – 3,700 m
Approximate Distance – 11 kms
After resting up from the previous day, you shall make your way towards the Japfu Base Camp. Thick rhododendron forests shall be your mates for the day as you pass through the land’s green vegetation that runs wildly. The lush green landscape leads you to arrive at camp.
Day 6: Japfu Base Camp to Japfu Peak to Vishwema and then Kohima
Altitude – 3,824 m
And, finally, the day arrives when you shall make your much-awaited visit all the way to the top of Japfu Peak. Ideally, you should again wake up early for yet another unforgettable sunrise. The sight is a treat for the eyes. Afterwards, you shall retrace your route to Vishwema. From the village hop on a vehicle that can lead you to Kohima. If you have time in hand visit the War Cemetery to learn of the historic past that has been witnessed here. And, of course, make sure to enjoy the oh so delicious local food!
Day 7: Kohima to Dimapur
Approximate Distance – 72 kms (by drive)
Alas, the end of your trip arrives and you shall have to head back to Dimapur to catch your flight. Hopefully, with the thoughts of Nagaland’s brave tribes, scenic lands and endless memories.
What’s on your to do list for your trip to Nagaland?!