Hornbill Festival, Dzokou Valley and Kaziranga National Park
About Hornbill Festival and Dzokou Valley:
Nagaland – The Land of Festivals & Kaziranga – Home to the One- Horned Rhinov
Nagaland, the land of fascinating and hospitable tribes, is known as the ‘land of festivals’. The tribes here celebrate with gusto and infectious zest. Festivals are considered sacred and participation, though compulsory, is more by choice.Named after the respected and revered Hornbill bird, and held in the beautiful hills of Kohima, the festival is a time of merry making and colorful extravaganza, where all the tribes of Nagaland participate. During this time, there are tribal performances and ceremonies, display of ethnic crafts, sports, food fairs and games. A few highlights are – Traditional Naga Morungs, exhibition of arts and crafts, food stalls, flowers shows, display of herbal medicine, fashion shows, beauty contest, traditional archery and wrestling, local games, musical concert, elaborate dances, and folk songs.
Dzukou Valley, a lesser known pocket of paradise for trekkers and wanderers in search of solitude amidst nature, is situated at the border of Nagaland and Manipur. Located at 2438 meters above sea level and behind the Japfu Peak (Nagaland’s second highest), Dzukou Valley is believed to have gotten its name from its namesake river which means ‘cold waters’.The picturesque landscape offers a panoramic view of gentle rolling hills that are guaranteed to have a spellbinding effect.
A cherry on the cake - Kaziranga National Park! We begin this trip by visiting Kaziranga, spending a night at this world heritage site, spotting few of the rarest animals including the one- horned rhino in this most celebrated national park of India.
- Ensure that you land/arrive into Guwahati latest by 11 am as we will depart from the airport by 12 pm on Day 1.
- Those arriving into Guwahati by train need to come to Khanapara, 10 km away from the railway station for pickup. It would take 45 mins to reach there.
- Take a return train from Dimapur post 6 pm
- Kaziranga - Homestay
- Kigwema – Dawn Homestay
- Hornbill Festival – Kite Manja Campsite
- Dzokou Valley – Dzokou Dormitory
Day 1: Arrival in Guwahati; Drive to Kaziranga National Park ( 4 - 5 Hours)
As we pick you up from the airport, we drive out through the plains of Assam. The road trip of 180 kms takes you through some rural parts of Assam, bringing out the traditional culture of Assam. You will notice each household having a small fishpond in front of their house. We halt for lunch en route. Soon you will enter a cooler area, with fresher air, as you get closer to the national park. On reaching the homestay, relax as you sink in the silence after a long day’s drive.
Day 2: Take the Wildlife Safari; Depart for Kohima – Home to the Hornbill Festival!(260 Kms)
Kaziranga National Park has two safari’s – one over Jeep and the other over an Elephant. There are 2 sessions when these safari’s are conducted, one being early in the morning while the other being in the afternoon. We will go for the morning safari, which begins at 7 am. Generally, there are higher chances of spotting more animals through the jeep safari, hence, we’d recommend you opt for that. Once back from the safari, enjoy your breakfast before we leave for another 8 hour long drive.
This drive is a very scenic one as it transfers you from the plains of Assam into the hills of Nagaland through the state bordering town of Dimapur, the only railway station in Nagaland. The twisting and turning roads swiftly move to a greater height of 4,000 feet, getting you to Kohima while you feel the fresh mountain breeze caress your skin. We eat dinner in Kohima, before driving out to Kigwema, 5 mins away from the Hornbill Festival, where you will spend the night at a very hospitable homestay.
Day 3: A day of celebration – Hornbill Festival!
We get ready early, eat breakfast and leave for the festivities. We leave for the festival grounds to reach there by 10 am, when the festival begins in its full flow. The day’s programme schedule will be shared with you by your team leader in advance.
The first half of the day, we will all watch the cultural dances together, as it is the most awaited for, with all 16 Naga tribes dressed in their traditional colours performing various acts and dances. Once done, we explore all the 16 Naga Morungs – imitations of the households of the different Naga household, which each tribe, selling their own special tribal food. You get an opportunity to have a few pictures clicked with the locals as well. Once done, we move to the food stalls for light lunch, already having munched on some local food. You may also taste the local rice beer, something Nagaland is very well known for.
Later in the day, we visit the World War II museum that has a detailed account of the stories if World War II where Nagaland was involved, along with a documentary explaining the same. Every evening, just before closing the day, there would be a live musical performance using traditional Naga instruments using local music. Enjoy the show before returning back to the homestay. Relax, sit by the fire and slide under the cozy blankets after a day spent filled with excitement and experiences.
Day 4: Another day at the Festival, Stay in tents with the festival premises!
The amazing experiences of the previous day will push you to be ready in time for the festivals. Today, we cover all those activities we did not complete during the previous day after taking into the day’s schedule. A few events may also be happening outside the festival ground limits, in nearby villages or in Kohima. If they’re interesting enough we will try and cover those as well. These will be joint calls made by the team leader with the group. Spend the day in freedom exploring aspects of the festival based on individual interests, however, assembling during meal times, ensuring that no one is lost or misplaced within the huge flock of crowds.
Scan through the shops in the market building within the festival premises, buying souvenirs or naga garments, hand woven with tremendous perfection, more colourful than a rainbow. It’s time to experience spending a night in camping tents, sleeping in sleeping bags that make one feel more cozy than that any bed could! Sit for a while around the campfire while enjoying a musical performance or playing some games, maybe your trip leader might also be in a mood to share his numerous travel stories! Have dinner in the camps before going off to bed.
Day 5: A Hidden Paradise – Dzokou Valley Trek (5 – 6 Hours)
Wake up early in the morning for an amazing adventure, one that will awaken many unused muscles in your body! As you watch the sun rise through a sky smeared with shades of orange and red, get your day packs ready with all your warm clothes as it would be a cold night up in the dormitory at Dzokou. Carry as minimum luggage as possible as you’ll have to pick your own bags.
The start point to the trek is an hour’s drive away from the campsite. We eat some breakfast on our way to get enough energy to be able to climb up. Get off the car as we begin our 12- km trek with an initial steep climb for about an hour under a thick cover of trees. As you get up, with the forest clearing out, you find yourself in the middle of clouds with a green carpet of grass spreading all over the hills. Rest at the top, with fabulous views of clouds hitting across the cliff. Now, it’s a long but less tiring stretch with no further incline, a flat walk meandering through the hills. With very little trees and short grass all over the place, the route offers views of a far stretching landscape that feels very satisfactory to the eye.
After walking for about 3 hours, though with amazing views throughout, we get to our destination – Dzokou Dormitory. The dormitory, made fully of wood is located just at the edge of the hill, overlooking the valley. Drop your bags, rest for a while as you sip in some tea along with the favourite food in the hills – Maggi.
Dzokou Top, situated at 9,000 feet above sea level, offers an amazing sunset, hence, we walk a little ahead to find the best spot that would be apt to get all those perfect group pics and display pictures you crave for. Eat a fixed thali cooked by the caretakers, the only food available here. Spend the night cuddling inside your sleeping bags, well protecting you from the fierce windy cold night.
Day 6: Explore the valley, then walk your way back to civilization; Night Carnivals in Kohima
Wake up early not only to watch a golden sky under the sunrise, but also to find the valley covered in morning frost. We walk all the way down into the valley, where you’ll find a stream covered in ice. Slide a little over the ice as we make way to a few caves located down there. As we get back to the dormitory, get done quickly with breakfast and have your bags packed.
Not spending too much time, we move for our return journey towards the base village of Viswema, where we started off from. The return journey would be easier as there would be no incline on the way. On reaching down, we drive back to the homestay. Freshen up, take a relaxing hot water bath and rest till the evening.
Refreshed, now we make way to Kohima to walk along the night carnivals – night markets in the city with multiple stalls of street food, games, a local mela and some shopping stalls. After a surely tiring day, it’s time to help the sore muscles recover as we drive back to the homestay for the night’s sleep.
Day 7: Local Sightseeing in Kohima, International Music Festival in Dimapur and Drop (75 Kms)
We would be in no real hurry, giving you the much needed rest. On waking up, we bid goodbye to the hospitality offered by the Naga’s at the homestay, preparing to leave with all bags packed after breakfast.
We visit the World War II Cemetry, Church and a Musuem in Kohima, before moving back down to the plains. It would be a 3 hour drive back to Dimapur.On all evenings during the Hornbill Festival, from 6 pm onwards, the city of Dimapur organises an International Rock Music Festival. Those interested can opt to visit the programme, else we would drop you directly at the Dimapur Railway Station.
Things to Carry
- A photocopy of your Identity Proof (Passport / Voter ID Card/PAN Card/Aadhar Card/ Driving License)
- A small day pack for the trek to Dzokou Valley
- Good shoes and a pair of slip-ons
- Water Bottles
- Woolen or Fleece Gloves
- Cotton socks
- Thermal Inners
- Fleece Jacket
- 1 pair of trek clothes
- Other clothing of your choice
- Camera or Binoculars
- Ready to eat snacks
- Cap, Sunglasses
- Headlamp/ Torch
- Toiletries – Sunscreen, Moisturizer, light towel, lip balm, wet wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, Hand Sanitizer, Mosquito repellent, if required
- Polythene Bags or Zip-lock Bags – These help to segregate wet clothes, used wet wipes or sanitary napkins on trek
- Any medicines that you normally consume - Please consult your doctor in this regard
What is included in the tour
• Stay in comfortable, clean, and hygienic Dormitories/Homestays/ Tents on a triple basis
• Breakfast and Dinner from Day 2 to Day 6
• Dinner on Day 1
• Breakfast on Day 7
• Sleeping Bags and Mattresses at Dzokou Valley Dormitory
• Internal travel during the trip in Chevrolet Enjoy/Sumo/Swift Dzire
• Pickup from Guwahati
• Drop at Dimapur Railway Station
• Professional guidance of experienced trip leaders.
What is NOT included in the tour
- Expenses of personal nature
- Lunch on all days
- All activities separately opted for
- Wildlife Safari Expenses
- Entry to the festivals
- Inner Line Permits for Nagaland
- Entry to the International Music Festival
- Transportation till Guwahati on arrival day
- Transportation from Dimapur onwards on last day
- Excess stay & meals due to bad weather conditions/strikes, resulting in flight delay or any other form of transport.
- Anything not mentioned in the Inclusions
- The heavenly festival of dance, culture and food - Hornbill
- Surreal, off-beaten trek to Dzokou Valley
- An optional cycle ride to Khonoma Village
- Sightseeing in and around Kohima
- Night carnivals in Nagaland