My First Solo Trip: Trek to the Rainbow Falls, Meghalaya

Hey guys, it’s been a while I haven’t written anything about my travels. Honestly,  2019 wasn’t very travel friendly year for me, I did travel to a few places but it wasn’t that satisfying. This year, hopefully things will go well, I get to travel and experience happiness through traveling again.
And I’m very proud to tell you guys, I went on my first ever Solo Trip to Rainbow Falls, finally I gathered the courage to go on a Solo Trip for this Valentine’s Day. For those who don’t know about Rainbow Falls, you must have heard of the legendary Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya. Home to both Single and Double Decker living root Bridges in a small Village, Nongriat it is located in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. Just an hour from the famous double decker living root bridge is the Rainbow Falls, one of the most famous and strenuous trek you will come across in Meghalaya. More than 3500 stairs leads to this little paradise of turquoise water which you only dream of seeing in some foreign exotic beaches.

Major Tourist Attractions on the way to Rainbow Falls Trek:

  1. Single Decker Living Root Bridge
  2. Jingkieng Ksainar Steel Suspension Bridge
  3. Double Decker Living Root Bridge
  4. Natural Swimming Pool
  5. Rainbow Falls
If you are a frequent reader of my travel blogs, you already know I always face my fair share of blunders and embarrassing moments during my travels. This solo trip was no different, as long as these embarrassing moments aren’t harmful or life threatening, it is a great way to learn some new lessons which is always welcomed in my life.
 Let’s get the journey started:

Day 1

My journey started from Guwahati, early morning at 6 am on 16th of February. I got into a shared Sumo from Khanapara Bus Stop. I wanted to get some sleep, but I was too excited about this whole solo trip and couldn’t rest my eyes. I reached Shillong (capital of Meghalaya) quite early at around 8 am. I faced my first travel blunder right after I stepped out of the Sumo. It was a Sunday, and being a Christian state, public transport from Shillong to Sohra wasn’t available. I almost had it in my guts, that I might not find a public transport since it’s Sunday, but I went anyway. Let’s face it, traveling is not always smooth and doesn’t go as planned.
I wandered around police Bazar looking for a place to have my breakfast and possibly a restroom. I did find a small sweet shop and had Chole Bathure and Chai but couldn’t find a restroom. After breakfast, I asked around again for public transport, to no avail. Finally a private cab owner approached me and he offered me to take me to the Tryna village (the start of the trek to Rainbow Falls) at a price of 2000 rupees.
I could have stayed in Shillong and head to Sohra the next day but I was desperate to get out of Shillong, as staying a night in Shillong wasn’t in my itinerary. With sudden change of plans and increased travel costs, we started our journey from Shillong to Sohra and finally to Tryna Village. One thing good about getting a private cab is you can listen to your favorite songs and take in the views of the beautiful journey without any interruption. I went on my full “paisa wasuli” mode and blasted my favorite songs on the speakers and enjoyed the journey throughly.
It took us 3 hours to reach the little village of Tryna. The road leading to the Tryna village is not as beautiful and smooth as the road you will encounter during your journey from Shillong to Cherrapunjee. After a bumpy ride we reached Tryna Village at around 12 in the afternoon. I was greeted with another disappointing surprise. A new rule has been issued from January 2020, all tourist attractions in Nongriat including Rainbow Falls will remain closed on Sunday. I was on the edge of losing my sanity, as I saw the sign and the guides that were hovering around me to take me to a nearby guesthouse/Homestay.

Finding a Homestay:

Greenland Homestay In Tryna

I took a few stairs down and asked a woman about Homestay that might be open even in Sunday. She pointed me to a nearby Homestay, Greenland Homestay. With little hope I knocked at the door and I was greeted by a gentleman, Mr. Korbar. With everything going south, I could smell my own desperation as I asked Mr Korbar, if I can get a room for the night.

Mr Korbar greeted me with a smile and asked me to follow him to the Homestay. The Homestay is basic with two beds, a table and a trash can. Two windows next to the beds to look out of the room. If you are always traveling in budget, you know these basic Homestay are the best thing. A place to lay down your weary body and earting home cooked food at affordable prices is a must.

Window view from my room

Immediately after check in, Mr Korbar brought me lunch. I had a bowl of Maggie, Omelette and Milk Tea. I was still upset about not being able to trek down to Nongriat even after spending ridiculous amount of money to get to this place. Mr Korbar was very kind to give me some company when I told him, this is my first solo trip. We talked about a lot of things, traveling and life. I even got WiFi to check my messages from Mr Korbar as I didn’t have any cell reception on my phone.
As evening approached, I sat outside my room and took all the silence and the beautiful view of the mountains right in front of my eyes. The calmness of the evening took over my mind and I was immediately at ease. Over the years, I have trained my mind not to dwell on things that upset me. I was very upset, when I first entered the Village. But after the delicious lunch and the soothing sound of breeze I was happy again and looking forward for the next day.

Greenland Homestay

At around 6 pm in the evening, all the trekkers who trekked to the Rainbow Falls came back and the Homestay was suddenly filled with people from all the over world. I have never seen such a crowd of foreigners sitting in the Veranda and sipping on tea, talking to each other like they were long lost friends. It was a beautiful sight to see. Dinner was served to us at around 8.30 pm, they only serve Indian Vegetarian meals. The meal consist of rice, daal, fried potatoes and salad.

Day 2

Starting the Trek from Greenland Homestay

I woke up at around 5.30 am in the morning, full of energy and ready to go. As I was getting ready, a fellow traveler from Bhopal asked me if we can trek to Rainbow Falls together. I took my back pack, water bottle, snacks and we were on my way down to Nongriat. We started our trek from 6.30 in the morning. I started sweating right after going down 20 stairs. I had to remove my hoodie and resume the trek. A female dog accompanied us to the Single Decker Living Bridge. The first attraction of the trek is The Single Decker Living Root Bridge. An entry fee of 20 rupees is to be paid before entering the Root Bridge.

Single Decker Living Root Bridge

As it is winter, the water has dried up but the view was so amazing. The tangled rubber roots gave it an otherworldly feeling and for some time it felt like I have stepped into a fantasy world. It takes so many years for a Root Bridge to become functional and standing on top of this man made marvel does send you back in time. After taking in the view and some photos we made our way to the village of Nongriat.

The steep stairs that continued till Nongriat did take a toll on me. I could feel the heat and my legs trembling as I made several stops to rest. We came across a steel suspension bridge, that gave me a breather. Looking down at the beautiful blue water and cool breeze brushing my face gave me enough strength to continue the trek. We made it to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at around 9 am.

Jingkieng Ksainar suspension bridge

The entry fees for Double Decker and Rainbow Falls is 30 rupees/person. If you are carrying a camera, video camera or a GoPro you have to pay extra money before entering. Many tourists only trek to Nongriat to see the Double Decker Living Root Bridges. They end their journey in Nongriat and head back to Tryna the next morning. There are plenty of Homestay in Nongriat where you can stay and small restaurants to eat at.

Double Decker Living Root Bridge

We took in all the freshness of the natural pool right next to the majestic Double Decker Bridge, there were no tourist at that time and I was grateful to have this beautiful place to all myself. I took a few snaps of the double decker bridge and headed to our final destination, the Rainbow Falls. You can also have breakfast in Nongriat before heading to Rainbow Falls.

Natural Swimming Pool on the way to Rainbow Falls

About 30 minutes from the Double Decker Living Root Bridge, we saw the natural swimming pool with it’s beautiful blue water. A rusty sign board near the Natural Swimming Pool pointed us to our final destination “Rainbow Falls”. The start of this trek doesn’t have any proper stairs as seen on the way to Nongriat. The trail is rather natural, narrow and steep, you will see signboards on your way where it is advised to watch your step and be alert all the time.

No proper cemented stairs is found on the way to Rainbow Falls

After an hour of trekking through the forest, I could finally hear the sound of waterfall, as I was stepped into a clearing I could see the first glimpse of the mighty waterfall pouring down and bluest water I have ever seen in my life. I froze for a moment as I couldn’t believe what my eyes was witnessing. I have never seen this gorgeous turquoise blue water in real life, I am just lost in words on how to describe the beauty of this place. You have to see it for yourself.

Bluest Water I have seen in my life

The fellow trekker I was trekking with was already way ahead of me and was enjoying the mighty Falls. There is a small shack right before you make your descent to the waterfall where you can have your lunch. I made my way down the stairs and was horrified to see some sticks and branches that have been tied together to use it as a ladder to go near the Falls. I stepped into the ladder praying not to look down and slip. Taking it slow and one step at a time I finally reached the falls. There were already a group of people enjoying and swimming in the cold water.

Last stretch of the trek

I climbed a rock and sat down, taking in all the water droplets coming from the falls. It was refreshing to get wet in the cold water. I sat there for quite sometime thinking about how I almost wanted to give up and go back. All the sweat and pain to reach this tiny piece of paradise was worth it. As trekkers came by it got a little crowded so my friend and I climbed a few more rocks and ended up in a natural pool. The color of this pool was quite different, emerald green in color. It was calm and still, unlike the rainbow falls.

This small paradise was all to myself for 2 hours

My fellow trekker decided to leave early, leaving me all alone near the natural pool. I was glad to have this place all to myself. I dipped my tired legs in the cold water of the natural pool. I stayed there for two hours, just laying on a rock and listening to my music. A middle aged foreigner came by and asked me where to find the Rainbow. He got little upset when I told him that, the time to see the Rainbow over the falls has passed. He left with a few sighs and I was all alone again.
At around 1.30 pm I packed my backpack and made my way back to the falls. And I lost my way, I couldn’t find my way back to the falls and I was terrified seeing there was no one left near the falls. I was all alone, even if I screamed for help, the sound of the waterfall will muffled my voice. I made several attempts to find my way and after climbing three rocks with no way out, I finally remembered the path and quickly made my way out of the rock and climbed back up to the shop.

Drinking tea with the most gorgeous backdrop

I ate a bowl of hot Maggie and milk tea at the shop. After trekking for 4 hours, a bowl of Maggie in the middle of nowhere felt heavenly and I got to drink my tea looking down at the gorgeous waterfall.
It was so hard to say goodbye to this place, my heart sank as I looked back at the waterfall for the last time before disappearing into the dense forest. With a heart full of energy I started my trek again, I met a lot of people on my way back who has just started their journey to the Falls. I greeted them with a big smile and encouraged a few girls to keep going who almost wanted to go back. I was more happy to see them get excited when I told them it’s all worth it. My heart was full as I greeted more trekkers with smile.

Another small Root Bridge I crossed on my way back.

As I made my way back to the Double Decker Bridge in the afternoon, it became very crowded as the tourists were sitting next to the bridge and taking pictures.

I quickly passed them and made my way back alone. I have finally reached the level where the stairs were so steep, I couldn’t raise my legs anymore. I was limping so badly on my way back, a group of guys offered up their guide to me. The guide was so kind to climb the stairs slowly with me, letting me rest every 10 steps I climbed. He kept my spirit up by telling a lot of stories about his Village and his job as a guide.
I reached my Homestay just after dusk, at around 5.30 pm in the evening. Seeing my condition a foreign female helped me up the stairs. I was to share the room with her, I think she was from Slovakia. I was in so much pain, I quickly took a shower to wash off the sweat and all the dirt. Dinner was served early to the trekkers and I had a good conversation with a married couple from Delhi while having dinner.
As I have told in my last travel blog, I suffer from an autoimmune disease, SLE, my body can’t take the strenuous trek I did for so many hours. The pain in my legs has kicked in right after dinner and I know in my heart that I will be bedridden for a week. I took my medicine and hoped to be able to walk tomorrow morning and reach Guwahati safely.

Day 3

I woke up in so much pain, unable to move my legs properly. I had to wake up early to catch the Shared Taxi from Tryna Village to Sohra. I packed my things up and started my journey back up to the village. As I was existing the village, I met my fellow traveler from the trek and he offered me a ride to Sohra.
I bid him goodbye and got into a shared taxi in Sohra, reached Shillong after an hour ride. From Shillong I took another shared taxi to Guwahati and finally made it back home. Due to my extreme pain, I had to rest my body for a week till I could walk properly again. But the memories of visiting one of the most beautiful places in North East India is worth more than the pain.

How to Reach Nongriat:

The journey to Nongriat is a two part:
  1. From Guwahati to Shillong
Guwahati Airport: Private Cab
Khanapara Bus Stop: Private Cab/Shared Sumo
Paltan Bazar: Private Cab/Shared Sumo

2. Shillong-Sohra-Tyrna

You can either take a Shared Taxi or Private Cab from Shillong to Sohra. Another Shared or Private Cab to Tryna Village.
Contact my driver, Mr. Rahul Barman, 8837317884 for a Private Cab from Shillong to Tryna.

Where to Stay:

Shillong:
Hotel Sapphire near Police Bazar, room tariff starts from 2000 rupees.
Tryna Village:
Greenland Homestay, 400 rupees per bed, not inclusive of food.
Nongriat Village:
Greenland Homestay, 400 rupees per bed, not inclusive of food.

Best Time to Visit:

Best time to visit Rainbow Falls is during Monsoon, the waterfall is fuller, the mountains are drenched with rain and makes it more pleasant to trek.

Travel Costs:

Shared Sumo from Guwahati to Shillong: 200 rupees
Shared Sumo from Shillong to Sohra: 100 rupees
Shared Sumo from Sohra to Tryna: 70 rupees
Private Cab from Guwahati to Shillong: 2000-3000 rupees
Private Cab may cost around 2000 to 3000 rupees from Shillong to Tryna Village.

Entry fees:

Single Decker Living Bridge: 20 rupees/ person.
You have to pay extra for Cameras.
Double Decker Living Bridge and Rainbow Falls: 30 rupees/person.
Extra money needed to be paid for Cameras and GoPros.

Food cost on the way to Rainbow Falls:

Bowl of Maggie and Milk Tea: 50 rupees
500 ml Water Bottle: 20 rupees
500ml Soft Drinks: 35 rupees
Note: The price of all the items you buy during the trek is doubled.

Travel Tips:

  1. Pack light, carry only the essentials, the more weight you carry, more difficult it will be for climbing the stairs up and down.
  2. Stay hydrated. Carry enough water, snacks/dried fruits and protein bars to keep you going throughout the trek.
  3. Carry wet wipes to clean yourself from the dirt and sweat. Make sure to dispose them in waste basket.
  4. Carry mosquito repellents to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes and bugs.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes/trekking boots.
  6. Cell reception might not be available during the trek.
  7. You have to pay double for every item you purchase during trek as the shopkeepers take great risk trekking everyday to their shops.
  8. As a new rule has been issued, best to avoid traveling to Tryna Village on Sundays.

We have reached the end of the travel blog. Although I spent sleepless nights and was bedridden for a week after the trek, I thoroughly enjoyed my first solo trip to Rainbow Falls and I am sure you will plan your trip to Rainbow Falls soon.  If you have reached this far, thank you so much for reading.

Until next time, Love Nancy!

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