Dzukou Valley is undoubtedly the best and most well known destination of Nagaland. The route invites visitors all year, except monsoon and showcases the sights of gorgeous green valley that divides Nagaland with Manipur.
This trek location is ideal for solo travellers as the trail is well made and really easy to climb. The chances of getting lost are not very high and doable in a day.
Dzukou Valley which is often known as Dzükou Valley or Dzüko Valley among the locals is close to Kohima District, the Capital of Nagaland. The valley is known for its beautiful streams, birds, startrails and gorgeous green meadows that scale the whole region.
How did I trek to Dzukou Valley
Like any North Indian, planning to visit Nagaland for the first time, I was also worried about commencing the trek without any issues. I asked on a lot of forums to ensure if the route is clear and in case I found someone who was going to the trek during the same time. I was travelling in Manipur and Nagaland was next. I was hoping that I find someone and don’t end up spending huge amount of money in order to complete the trek properly.
I reached Nagaland and met a bunch of backpackers who were there for Hornbill Festival. Like me, everyone had planned to solo trek to Dzukou Valley and we all decided to start next morning together.
Solo trek to Dzukou Valley is easy but if you are one of those who wishes to meet other trekkers and it boosts your confidence to see that other people are on that route too, then there are some specific time periods during which it will happen. This I will address further in the blog.
How to plan a solo trek to Dzukou Valley
A solo budget trek to Dzukou Valley will take a minimum of 4 days in total.
Day 1 – Travel to Dimapur from Guwahati, start in the morning with Janshatabdi so that you are able to catch the Sumos leaving Dimapur around 12. By 6 or 7 you’ll reach Kohima.
Day 2 – Leave for Dzukou Valley, finish your trek
Now you have to options. Either return on the same day, for this you’ll have to start every early in the morning and then reach the top by 12 PM. You’ll be back to Kohima by 6 PM max.
Stay on the top and start climbing down on day 3
Day 3 – Return to Kohima, either spend the day sightseeing or proceed to Dimapur.
How to plan your arrival and departure in Guwahati for Dzukou Valley trek
Guwahati is the biggest town with fully functioning airport, railway station and bus stand. To fly anywhere back you’ll have to reach Guwahati.
Option 1 – Arrive in Guwahati and Depart from Guwahati by flights/Train
In this case, you will need to return to Kohima after the trek and a) either start for Dimapur say day to reach the station by evening or b) spend a day in Kohima and start next morning to catch an afternoon train from Dimapur. Option a. is more tiring.
Select a flight that leaves you in Guwahati before 10 AM. This way, you’ll find a train leaving from Guwahati at 10:30 AM and reach Dimapur by afternoon. Get your ILP made and then catch a jeep to Kohima, reach the town by night and rest before you start the trek.
While returning, keep your flight from Guwahati in the night or next morning just in case there is some transport related issue. Spending the night in Guwahati is not a bad idea.
You can use these tips in case you have a train from Guwahati
Option 2 – Arrive and Depart from Dimapur by flight or train
There are a few trains from Dimapur that leave for Delhi, Patna, Mumbai and Bangalore. Set your time to leave from Kohima in such a way that you are atleast two to three hours before the train departs so that you don’t end up missing it.
In case of a flight, you can land in Dimapur although the flights will be a little costly but it will save your time.
You can also arrive in Guwahati and leave from Dimapur and vice versa.
Best time to trek to Dzukou Valley
Best time to trek to Dzukou Valley is either during the early monsoon or the post monsoon season. During this time, the valley is in its greenest of the green.
Another suggested time to visit Dzukou Valley is during Hornbill Festival. A lot of travellers arrive in Nagaland and plan to attend the festival and trek to Dzukou Valley. You’ll find someone to accompany on the train.
Best time to spot stars in Dzukou Valley
December is the best time to spot stars in Dzukou Valley. Monsoon season and the months closeby make the whole area foggy so star photography in Dzukou Valley is almost impossible. In December, you won’t be disappointed.
Where to stay in Dzukou Valley
The day you arrive in Kohima, try to find a home stay in Kigwema that is like 3 km before the Dzukou Valley base.
There is a huge dorm on Dzukou Valley where you can rent a space for INR 100, they will also give you some blankets and mattresses for INR 50 each. The food is prepared on advance notice for INR 150 for a veg thali.
Keep in mind that you’ll not see the same greenery as the months of September and July but the trek experience is thrilling nonetheless.
Keep in mind that the top of Dzukou Valley is very cold and reaches around 0 degrees in night. Make sure that you have enough warm clothes to survive the night.
How to start Dzukou Valley Trek
There are two points to start Dzukou Valley trek. One route goes from Jakhama which is extremely difficult and will take a whole day to climb. During monsoon, this route is not suggested because of landslides and waterfalls.
The easier one is at Vishwema which makes Dzukou Valley trek easier and almost 3 km shorter. The route shows better views of the valley so most of the trekkers choose it.
You can still return from Jakhama route in December if you have a good pair of shoes.
So how was my Dzukou Valley experience and if I’ll return again
My Dzukou Valley experience was amazing. I had never thought that I’ll end up meeting so many travellers and suffering together in that freezing cold weather. It was a good experience but I couldn’t see the same green trails and valleys like it is during July or September.
Also, a few days before my trek, a part of the valley burned down because of some irresponsible tourists. It was very sad to see that black patch in the middle of the valley. Also, I had gone to Valley without charging my camera batteries. By the time I reached on the top, the charge was gone and I was only left with a bunch of shots that couldn’t even do justice to the star photos.
Surely, I’ll try to return to Dzukou Valley and next time I’ll plan when the greenery is at its fullest.