Hello again, with another travel tale all the way from Dzukou Valley. Recently I traveled to Dzukou Valley with Priyangshu and his buddies and it was a sweet and sour experience. I have to tell you a back story why my traveling went sour over the course of the journey.
My Diagnosis with Lupus:
In January 2018, I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis, an autoimmune disease caused by SLE (systemic lupus erythematous). What happens in Lupus is that your immune system acts against your own body. The army of antibodies that help you fight against diseases loses the capacity of differentiating between healthy body cells and foreign invaders. This results in antibodies attacking your own healthy body tissues and make your immune system very weak.
Lupus nephritis happens when it involves the kidneys. The common symptoms are butterfly rashes over your face, swelling in feet, ankle, joints, arms and fingers. Extreme body pain, high fever and fatigue.
It is a very serious, even life threatening if not treated in time and is incurable to this day.
If you don’t have any slightest idea about Lupus, Selena Gomez, ring a bell? The pop star is diagnosed by Lupus too. Her condition worsened and she had to undergo a kidney transplant in 2018. In my case, however, I didn’t have to undergo such drastic changes, as I was in my stage 1 of Lupus, I am lucky to have diagnosed early and I am still undergoing treatment.
I am still not healthy, my body is still recovering. As a result of Lupus, I can’t travel long distance especially in over-night buses and other vehicles. If I travel in a bus overnight, my swelling and joint pain returns and it worsens if I don’t take a proper day to rest after traveling. During my trek to Dzukou, I didn’t get a single day of rest throughout the entire trip.
My Journey to Dzukou Valley:
My journey started from Guwahati taking an overnight bus to Dimapur. There I met up with the group and started our journey to Kohima without any rest. After being on the road for almost 18 hours, my body started to react. I had swelling and pain in my fingers, feet and worst my ankles and I was limping throughout the day.
After a night stay in Kohima, our trekking journey to Dzukou started the next day. I was the slowest trekker in the entire group because of my body and ankle pain. This continued till I got back to Guwahati.
The weather conditions didn’t help me either. It was raining throughout the entire trek and the trek route got very muddy and slippery which was another reason why I was the slowest. I literally trekked like a snail. You will know the reason why I took my time as I have laid down my raw experience as how it is to trek Dzukou Valley during Monsoon.
After going through so much during the trek, I couldn’t enjoy the Valley as much as I wanted. My excitement fizzled out, on my way to the rest house. Due to the rain and my body pain I missed out on enjoying the beauty of the valley and I just couldn’t wait to get back to Guwahati and give the proper rest and attention that my body needed.
So here I am almost after two months, I am all ready to share my very intimate experience in trekking to Dzukou Valley and other important travel tips that may help you in planning your Dzukou Trek and enjoy the the best of everything Dzukou has to offer.
10 Things You Must Know before heading to Dzukou Valley:
1. Dimapur is very hot during summer
Nagaland as a mountainous state screams cool and easy going place. But when we reached Dimapur it was hot as hell (during summer). It is flat as any other plain area and dusty all around. There are lots of shops around the bus stand, where you can shop trekking gears, raincoats and other necessary equipment for the trek.
We hired an entire Sumo just outside the Dimapur Railway Station and headed towards to Kohima. It took us 6 hours to reach Kohima as our Sumo broke down on the way. A very Great way to Start the journey!
2. The road from Dimapur to Kohima can be better to worst
The only way to travel from Dimapur to Kohima are by Bus and SUVs. You will find Sumos at the Dimapur Railway Station in abundant. You can either go for shared Sumo or private Sumo by booking the entire Sumo. As we were a group of 7 people we booked the entire Sumo.
The road is fairly good and fairly bad. We had our ups and downs. But one thing is for sure, if you have traveled in North East India before, the road between Dimapur and Kohima will remind you of the roads in other North East states.
The road made me nostalgic. You will come across beautifully led road like in Meghalaya, small villages on the side of the road that you came across while traveling in Sikkim and very poor condition road in between as in Aalo (Arunachal Pradesh). Fret not, with good company and music, you will thoroughly enjoy the journey!
3. Plastic is banned in Dzukou Valley
Good News! Recently, Dzukou Valley became a Plastic Free Zone. It’s entirely not possible to give up on plastic as you are going away for a few days into the valley and you need to carry things alone with you, as a result plastic bags can’t be given up entirely. To keep the valley clean and plastic free, you have to follow certain rules when you make the entry into the Valley.
While you pay the required sum of money to enter the Valley, you must also make a list of all the things you are carrying, especially those in plastic bags, wrappers and water bottles. You have to pay extra for this, which you can entirely get the money back when you bring the used plastic bags and bottles back from the valley.
See, No waste of Money and Clean Dzukou! Hats off to the Government for initiating this.
4. There are two treks to Dzukou Valley: Viswema Trek and Jakhama Trek
Once you are done paying entry fee at the gate, you are all set to go!
There are two trekking routes to reach the Dzukou Valley. One is the Viswema Trek from Viswema Town and the other one is the Zakhama Trek starting from Zakhama Town. It is mostly advised to take the Viswema route as it is easier than the Zakhama route. While returning from the Valley, I highly recommend to take the Zakhama trek route as it is less time consuming.
5. The Viswema Trek can get very Muddy and Dangerous during the Monsoons
This is where my frustration and sadness started. We took the Viswema Trek route as advised and after an hour of climbing the stairs, we reached a resting point. The resting point is the beginning of an easy walking trail along side thick bamboo grasses and wild plants through the valley.
For hours and hours we kept walking which was frustrating enough and added the amount of dirt and mud one may encounter during this easy trek is indescribable.
There were some instances which almost send me to a point where I was about to abandoned the entire trek and just go back. Like a giant boulder between the trail and there was no way around the boulder. You have to climb the boulder with no support, no cracks in the boulder to form a tight grip. My hands and feet were trembling as I was trying to find a place to put my feet, and not fall down into the valley. On top of no holding grips, it was raining which made it very slippery to hold on to the boulder.
I would highly suggest to avoid monsoons and trek during spring and autumn to avoid rain and the muddy trek.
6. Lack of Health Care in the Valley
The sadness heightened when a fellow female traveler fractured her right hand as she slipped in the mud on the way to the rest House. Imagine the pain she went through in a place where there aren’t any health care. Sadly, she couldn’t join her friends to see the valley the day after. At that moment seeing her in that position made me feel blessed to have only body pain and not a fractured hand.
It is obvious that health care won’t be available in the valley because of the remoteness. So be careful, check every step you take and bring your own personal medications/pain relief medicines with you.
7. There are rats in the Dorm room of the Rest House
There is only one rest House in Dzukou Valley, the rest House has public dorms and private dorms adjacent to each other.
One of the public dorm has wooden floor and on the last day of our stay, our dorm was practically empty with only 15 people sleeping in the dorm compared to the 100 trekkers that slept the previous night.
My Scary Encounter with the Rats:
Late at night, I felt something touching my face and quickly retreating. I was scared thinking someone ran their fingers over my face. I froze for a moment because I was the only female sleeping in the dorm. All sorts of horrible thoughts came to my mind, thinking what if someone drugs me and take me to the valley and do things to me and leave my body in the valley.
A deadly silence followed and I gathered enough strength, turned on my flashlight and screamed, “Kun Hoi?” “Who is there?” and the light from the flashlight flooded the room.
I saw huge rats quickly running back to their holes, there were 2-3 big holes in the middle of the floor. I was so relieved to know that rats were running over my face and not a person’s hand. At that moment, rats running over my face didn’t feel so gross.
8. Camping is another way to enjoy the valley
There are so many places to camp in the valley. You can camp right outside the cleared area adjacent to the Rest House. Or if you literally don’t want a soul near you, you can camp right in the middle of the valley. There is a cave where you can set up tent and stay the night. However you have to carry your food, firewood and make your own food.
9. The Dzukou Valley is about an hour from the Rest House
After a tiring trek to the Rest House, we began our final trek to the valley from the Rest House early morning.
It takes an hour to reach the Valley. Also I was all set to get leech loved during the trek but, surprisingly there are no leeches in the valley. It was raining cats and dogs during the whole trek but not a single leech was found. I have no definitive answer to why there weren’t any leeches in the valley.
10. The Jakhama Route is the most beautiful route to trek, with beautiful yet creepy trees shrouded by a thick forest.
The rain didn’t stop, neither did my pain. With continuous body pain, swollen legs and fingers, I was about to lose it. I couldn’t wait to get back to civilization, take a hot bath and sleep in a proper bed.
Engulfed with sadness, while my group enjoyed every single thing about the trip, we headed back taking the Zakhama trek route. As soon as I entered the thick forest my mind was struck by a wave of happiness, and I stared back at the irregular, haunting trees in awe. It was such an eye opening for me. I have never seen such a beautiful yet creepy forest in my life. I was rejuvenated by the clean steep stone steps, the fine rain drops, small stream of water popping up on the way.
This was by far the most content and amazing experience I had throughout the trip. Not that the Valley wasn’t beautiful, but the Zakhama trek took me to a whole another world, think “Lord of the Rings” and “Stranger Things” together. If Lord of the Rings were to shoot in India, this would be the place. I could finally let out a breath of satisfaction and say, This is heaven on Earth!
These were the 10 Things, I wish i knew before heading to Dzukou Valley. Although my time at Dzukou wasn’t sweet as I had planned, I’m definitely planning my next visit to Dzukou soon, keeping these facts in mind, preparing in advanced and hopefully I will succeed in my next trip.
How to Get there ?
Dzukou Valley is stretched in between two states, Manipur and Nagaland. However, Nagaland is the most approachable state to trek to Dzukou due to proper routes and services. On the side of Manipur, the route is difficult and with no any proper services and routes, trekking on this side is almost not feasible. Even trekkers from Manipur, arrive in Nagaland first and start their journey from here.
The first stop in Dzukou Valley Trek is Dimapur. You can reach Dimapur by following ways:
1. By train
2. By Bus
3. By Flight
After reaching Dimapur, take a Sumo to Kohima and stay the night in Kohima.
Price of Sumo from Dimapur to Kohima: 250-300 rupees/person.
Where to stay in Kohima ?
Pine Hotel: Budget friendly stay with room starting from 1000 rupees.
Hotel Japfu: A little on the expensive side with rooms starting from 2500 rupees.
How to Get to Dzukou Valley ?
From Kohima, take a Sumo or taxi to either Viswema or Zakhama Town. It is up to you on which trek you would like to approach the Valley.
Price of a private Sumo from Kohima to Viswema: 2500 rupees.
Price of Shared Taxi from Kohima to Zakhama: 40 rupees/person
Price of Shared Taxi from Kohima to Viswema: 50 rupees/person
Best time to Visit ?
It is best to trek To Dzukou Valley during spring and autumn. Monsoon season brings rain and the temperatures during winter plummets to minus zero degree sometimes.
Cost of Visiting Dzukou Valley?
20 rupees for Local
50 rupees for State People
100 rupees for Domestic Travelers
200 rupees for Foreign Travelers
Camera Fee: 200
Rest House Prices :
Rs 50 per person in public dorm.
Rs 300 per room or 150 rupees per person in private dorm.
Small Blanket – 50 rupees
Double Blanket – 100 rupees
Foam mattress: 50/person
Meals in Dzukou Valley ?
A vegetarian meal consist of fried vegetables, boiled vegetables, daal and costs 200 rupees.
A non-vegetarian meal consist of Pork/Chicken dish mainly made with bamboo shoots, boil vegetables, daal and costs 300 rupees.
There is a shop that is managed by the caretakers of the Rest House. You will get snacks, biscuits, Maggie, rice, daal, firewood etc.
Important Travel Tips:
- It is best to trek Dzukou Valley during Spring and Autumn.
- There is a wooden log in the middle of the valley which acts as a bridge, during monsoon the water fairly goes above knees. If you are thinking of crossing the bridge by foot get ready to feel bone numbing cold water. It is advised to use the rope attached to the log to cross the bridge. In winter, the small river frozes, it is outmost important to carefully walk over the frozen river, as cases of people drowning in the river due to cracking of the thin layer of ice beneath them has been reported.
- Carry warm clothes, warm socks, cap and necessary warm clothing, raincoat, a hot water bag and a flask. It is always cold in the Valley no matter the season or the weather.
- Carry a small blanket of your own if you have space to spare in your backpack. The blanket provided by the Rest House is really thin.
- Take a flashlight/headlight and power banks with you, electricity isn’t a best friend in the valley.
- Carry some wipes and keep it handy, you may need it on the way.
- Carry dry fruits and snacks handy on your way to Dzukou Valley.
- You have to pay double for everything in the shop managed by the Rest House. For eg: if you buy a Chota Munch, you have to pay 10 rupees instead of 5 rupees.
- Wear comfortable trekking shoes/boots.
- Sundays in Nagaland is for Church. Naga people are very religious and public transportation remains close during Sundays.
If you have been this far with me, thank you so much for reading this post. I’m very grateful to have a platform to share my experiences with you. Hope this article helps you plan your Dzukou Valley adventures.
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