Everything You Need To Know About The Dzukou Valley Trek
In recent times, the Dzukou Valley Trek has become one of the most sought out treks in Northeast India. It was like a pearl in an oyster’s shell hidden deep in the vast ocean. Around the year 2015, it became even more famous as its identity was disclosed with its pictures of rolling hills blowing up on the internet. The topography looks like a stretch of green carpet laid effortlessly with the numerous dense hills running past it. It is situated behind Japfu Peak, Nagaland’s next highest, at 2452m and 8000 ft above sea level.
What Is The Dzukou Valley Trek?
Known to be one of the best kept secrets of Northeast India is the Dzukou Valley in Nagaland. Situated at the border of Nagaland and Manipur, wanders come here in search of solitude amid nature. The Dzukou Valley is awfully described to be in a comatose state with all its ethereal elemental beauty. It tends to put a spell-bound magic on its visitors that puts them in a trance like state. The extensively spread out rainforests and the Northeastern valley of wildflowers is a treat to a wanderlust soul. You cannot help but surrender your senses to the gateway paved with flowers and lush.
It is a huge misconception that the valley’s name ‘Dzu-kou’ is translated to cold waters. The story passed down in regards with its name, in the oral traditions, summarizes it to a land of great fertility but not for the appropriate vegetation. Thus, for these reasons, ancestors gave it the name Dzüko as in ‘cold heart’. Soon after it was renamed to Dzukou from Phephu. ‘Dzukou’ comes from the local dialect that can be interpreted as ‘dull and soulless’. It seems quite ironic considering how breathtakingly vivacious it looks.
Best Time To Experience The Dzukou Valley Trek?
The best time to visit is when the flowers are in full bloom during June to September. It is also the monsoon period, which makes it a bit more difficult to trek. The surrounding and the pathway is always moist and damp as the entire place receives eight months of showers of rain in a year.
What Are The Dzukou Valley Trek Routes?
There are two routes to reach the Dzukou Valley. One is via the Zakhama village which is steeper, shorter and far more difficult. This route is often favoured upon by trekkers who are experienced (or have visited the area more than once). The other route is via Viswema village which is the longer route. This involves comparatively easier ascends and descends throughout the trek.
Dimapur is the closest air terminal. You can hop into a cab from there to reach the capital city, Kohima, which is about 74kms and approximately 2hours drive away from Dimapur. After reaching Kohima, you can then proceed according to your choice of route.
From the Capital city of Nagaland, Kohima, Viswema village is about 25kms drive away. After you reach Kohima, you can go to the Network AOC stand where you can avail shared cars to Viswema. You will be directly dropped at your base camp where also the road to accommodate a car ends at Viswema village and your trail then begins. You don’t need to worry much, as you will find drinking tap water every half hour of the trek.
In case you choose the Zakhama route, you need to first drive to Zakhama village that is 20kms away from Kohima. Similarly, you can avail the shared cars from Network AOC stand at Kohima to reach Zakhama. They will drop you at Zakhama Check Post where there is a small tea stall. To begin your trail, walk along the stream from the Check Post. Keep in mind that you will find drinking tap water every 3kms of your journey.
How Long Does It Take To Complete The Trek?
It does not take long to reach the valley. The entire trek to the valley takes about 5 to 6 hours via Viswema route, which is 22kms of distance in total from Kohima (1km steep hike + 4 to 5kms straight walk to resthouse while walking in the valley). As soon as you climb up a few kilometers from Viswema village, you will find a veil of thick mist and clouds encompassing the village down below.
The trek from Zakhama village (which is relatively shorter route) takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on your pace, which is about 16kms of distance from Kohima (5 to 6km steep hike + 1 to 2km to resthouse while walking in the valley). The Dzukou and Japfu, also known as the twin rivers, accompany you along your journey providing nothing but serenity. The Dzukou Valley Trek is an embodiment of flora and fauna surrounded with cosmic clouds. It showcases the idyllic beauty of nature that brings tranquility to your entire being.
Ideally you can complete the trek and get back to Kohima village in a day. That is considering the right season, weather and expertise. This is usually advised against as there is so much more to explore after reaching the valley. Also the sun sets pretty early considering you are in the northern part of the country. Thus, many companies extend this trek to two to three days. This allows the trekkers to enjoy the ascends and descends without worrying about rushing. It gives you ample time to soak in all the emerald green terrains with vivid hues made by the flowers spread across them and take rest.
You can stay at the resthouse on top of the valley for the night. There are dorms where they serve you with food, blanket and shelter for the night. For higher rates, you can get better rooms as well. There are designated tent spots near the rest house for Rs.100 in case you want to pitch your own. There are natural caves, too, by any chance you want to experience the wilderness at its best (just make sure to pack right).
The steep hiking and damp weather conditions make it difficult for a few trekkers to reach the valley (but hang in there). It is only a few hours trek to get a view of the quintessential beauty that takes your breath away. The ecosystem of the valley is filled with vitality and rare species like the Bhutan Glory. It has pristine streams running in between small cascading waterfalls. Legend claims that the water of the stream has healing properties. One look at the Dzukou Valley makes it worth all the labour put into it.
The Dzukou Valley Trek Essentials
For making an entry into the Naga Hills, you would require an Inner Line Permit (ILP). The permits are provided at the DC court in Dimapur or from Nagaland Houses in Kolkata, Guwahati and Dimapur. In addition to paying for the ILP, there is an entry fee for Dzukou Valley as well (that can be paid along with your ILP). There is a charge for cameras, too. There are no drones allowed. They are strictly prohibited and if found you will be asked to erase your memory chip.
Always remember that since it rains 75% of the entire year, the area is moist and slippery. Do not forget to pack and gear up accordingly. For staying and food at the dorms on top of the valley, there is remuneration. They also charge for the tenting spot that they allow you to use.
What Makes The Dzukou Valley Trek Special?
The Hornbill festival is held in the close vicinity during the month of December. Although wildflowers do not bloom at that time, you can swing by the festival, enjoy the festivities and a good trek. One of the perks during winter, other than the festival, is that there is a chance you can enjoy snow-clad mountains in the horizon during your trek.
At its peak season, the valley is filled with light and colours from the glorious flower assortments and the crystal clear waters. The valley is, at most parts, covered in dwarf bamboos. More importantly, you can witness very rare species of flowers like the Siroi Lily and the one and only Dzukou Lily (which is native to only this place). There is also the availability of chopper service at Dzukou Valley where you can ride a helicopter and take in the invigoratingly luscious natural beauty.
While on your trek you will notice numerous tree trunks and branches that are charred. Although it somewhat looks like contemporary art installations which makes the terrain look eccentric, if you keep digging deeper, another legend emerges out of it. The locals believe that it is a place haunted by spirits who do not let trees bear any leaves. It is a cursed land where the trees are surrounded with a lush of grass and blooming flowers depicting vitality yet the trees don’t. Others believe that the locals burn the trees each year to keep the spirit at bay (and more are the theories related to charred woods). It is quite intriguing how such scenic beauty is tied up with supernatural mysteries.
There are many speculations regarding the location of the valley. Some say that the location of the Dzukou Valley is under a crater of a now extinct volcano, while others state it is the result of a meteor impact. While all these have no hard evidence backing them up, it is believed that the Dzukou Valley is two to four million years old. The valley is not just limited to its mesmerizing fauna and exotic flowers. With its fascinating history of numerous legends and myths surrounding the place, it really makes this place one of a kind.