You’ve probably heard of the valley of flowers; you’ve probably even heard of Ziro, but only a handful of you may have heard of Dzuko Valley. Between you and me, let’s just say that Dzuko’s unfamiliarity isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Very few have been there, but those who have, including travelers from around the world, vouch for its untouched beauty.
Located in Northeast India – on the border of Manipur and Nagaland – and at 2450 metres above sea level, Dzuko valley reveals itself after a good four-to-five hour trek through several hills clad in subtropical evergreens. Join me as I reminisce my three-day trek to this virgin valley, from Imphal, the capital of Manipur.
Trip to Viswema Village
The best part about the Dzuko trek is that there is very little prep involved if you’ve been on treks before. I hit the road after one night of planning from Imphal with a gang of ten random people.
Yes, a few trekking essentials, such as hiking shoes, a trekking stick, a tent, a waterproof jacket, and a torch light with spare batteries, are essential. But there’s no need for intense cardio or other physical training if you can do at least 20 mins on a treadmill.
I took a shared SUV to Viswema Village in Nagaland; a 114 km or 3½ hours drive past Sekmai and Mao in Manipur, before reaching the starting point. At Sekmai, which is also a local brew town popular for its indigenous rice beer, I stocked up on food items and other essentials. Canned fish and rice cakes are good powerfoods that can be sourced from here. We also had the occasion to sit down to a traditional meal at Mao – the gateway to Nagaland from Manipur.
From the border, it took us about 45 minutes to reach Viswema village. Our kind driver to took us to the very end of a sludgy motorable road which is where most treks to Dzuko start. We were there well in time to start trekking at noon.
Traveler’s Tip: If you wish to travel from Kohima, Nagaland’s capital city, instead of Imphal, it should take you less than one hour to Viswema village. In that case, remember to stock up at Kohima.
Trek up to MMTA Base Camp
After checking our essential hydration and other gear, we began a steep trek up a dangerously mossy rocky incline. We had been told that the first hour is the worst and they were right! After an hour or so, we reached the base. There were two roads: one signed to Mount Tempu and another to Dzuko. There on, the trek got easier; no steep climbs or descends.
Traveler’s Tip: One thing to watch out for are detours. A tried and tested way to avoid getting lost is to follow the most trodden path – easily obvious to the eye.
The next milestone was the base camp maintained by the Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association. The trek to the MMTA base camp took upto 3½ hours at moderate speed – and I was told that no one does it faster as the brief glimpses of the valley in the distance sometimes take your breath away!
A few experiences did stand out; the graveyard of black trees impregnating the deep green hue of the valley scrub was one. The silent murmur of the streams running by my side, between the gorges and under my feet were another. My efforts were clearly starting to pay off.
Traveler’s tip: At the MMTA base camp, the authorities rent out basic cooking utensils for a nominal fee if you and your gang are up to do some cooking at camp.
How Green is My Valley
Once we reached base camp, it was nearing sunset so we kept out break short. The gleaming rays of the evening sun slowly dimming on the white, yellow and purple flowers of the valley was a pretty memorable vision.
The trek down was especially slippery; well, mostly because my eyes were fixed onto the landscapes around me. By the time we reached the valley, the sun had set so we fixed your tent, lit a fire and slept the night away under a starlit sky.
Traveller’s Tip: Once there, you can calm your sore feet under a stream of running water if it’s not too cold.
I woke up to a sight of an endless green valley, carpeted with hues of white, yellow and purple in harmony with the soft guzzling sounds of the stream. As the sun settled that evening, I slung on my camera and walked across the valley, taking pictures of every little thing which caught my fancy. I made sure every moment on this trip was a memory to cherish and something to go back to.
Next morning, when we woke up, packed our bags, refilled our water supplies and traced our way back to the starting point. It was the same trek except that the most difficult bit – the rocky descend to Viswema – was saved for the end.
Traveller’s Tip: Make sure you’ve called your taxi guy there as it may be difficult to find one at the village especially in the evening.
I had always wanted to trek to Dzuko so when the opportunity came up – I am really glad I took it. The trek is fun, safe and to say the very least, amazingly easy on the eyes. I’m already planning my next one in the region.
Closest cities: Imphal, Manipur and Kohima, Nagaland
Closest railhead: Dimapur, Nagaland
Closest airports: Dimapur and Imphal