Did you know Mount Saramati is the highest peak in the state of Nagaland in Northeast India? I surely didn’t know before I went for the Mount Saramati Trek in 2016.
About Mount Saramati
Mount Saramati Peak trek was my first high-altitude trek. According to the Kiphire District website, the altitude of Mount Saramati is 3,826m (12,553 ft). However, a few articles have also cited the height to be 3841m (12602 ft).
Mt. Saramati marks the border of India and Myanmar. You will see a white pillar written “India” in English in Hindi, and “Myanmar” in Burmese and English languages.
You can witness the river Chindwin from the Peak. Unfortunately, the clouds covered the hills and therefore, we couldn’t see them.
This trek was a collaborative initiative of the tourism department of Nagaland, the Global Adventure Association (GAA) of Assam & Nagaland Association for Adventure Mountaineering & Education (NAAME). You can read about it in this article by Morung Express News Portal.
In this article, I have shared a detailed 7-day Mount Saramati Peak trek guide & my personal experience of the trek – how it changed me. It introduced me to the world of adventure and mountaineering.
My first write-up on my blog was on Mount Saramati. The Mount Saramati Trekking experience turned out to be the pioneer of my travel blogging and mountaineering journey.
You can find the guide for the Mount Saramati Trek towards the end of the article. (FAQ Section). I have also written my experience and trek guide to the second highest peak of Nagaland – Mount Japfu.
Mount Saramati Peak Trek Expedition
Every time the train halted at the Dimapur Railway Station during my journeys, my soul would yearn for the distant hills that stood guard at the periphery of Dimapur, the largest city of Nagaland in India.
Never did I ever imagine that I would eventually be climbing the highest peak of Nagaland, the mighty Mount Saramati. Located at the India-Myanmar border, Mt. Saramati has an altitude of 3,841 m (12,602 ft).
Day 1- Guwahati to Kigwema – An Introduction.
To represent Assam and be the first team from the state to attempt to summit the Saramati peak enthralled me. With the team of the Global Adventure Association, the expedition began. Fun and laughter involved us in the five-hour train journey from Guwahati to Dimapur.
Leaving the only plains tract of hilly Nagaland – Dimapur, we headed to its capital city Kohima on the 4th of April, 2016. We reached our destination somewhere on the outskirts of Kohima surrounded by high hills and dense vegetation.
Day 2 – Kigwema to Pungro – the Revelation
The Romanticism of the Morning Sun at Kigwema
The romanticism of the dawn, the clouds against the hills, the sun and its dispersion effect playing with the beauty of clouds, the sound of the roughness of water, the cheerful birdies flying up from their nest for the day filled that Kohima’s morning walk full of happiness. A perfect start to our Mt Saramati trekking expedition.
The Day long Journey with stops in Jessami & Meluri Town
A 12-hour journey from Kohima to Pungro (Kiphire District), through the heart of the hills of Nagaland introduced us to its lush green terrace fields, jhum patches, maize cultivation and streams flowing beside those fields.
Comparing the shapes of the clouds to fish and gorillas; jhum patches to the maps of countries like Australia and India. Stopping at check gates, visiting Jessami (Ukhrul Dist of Manipur), peeling sugarcane with the incisors and canines, ‘pomegranate conversations’ and its mention in the Assamese Bihu folk songs are some of the moments that made the journey worth it. The lunch at Meluri town (Nagaland) with pork and boiled mustard greens was delicious.
We reached G.A Guest House, Pungro around 7 in the evening. Experiencing the day right from dawn to sunset is something I have never done before. It was the icing on the cake when the jovial Extra Assistant Commissioner (EAC) of Pungro Mr Chonpenthung Ezung visited us, briefing us about the village Thanamir and his trekking experience to Saramati Peak. The session was filled with deep inputs about trekking, laughter, and best wishes.
Gazing at the canvassed sky of twinkling stars and the lights of the villages shining brightly down the hills gave a thrill of being in space. The sensation of the chilling blow of wind, the galaxy of stars, a glimpse of lightning above the faraway hills, are the moments I shall treasure of that Pungro evening.
Day 3 – Pungro to Thanamir Village – The Adventure
That Pungro Morning of Clouds
“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.”~Richard Whately
It was 5 in the morning, I stood in the yard of Pungro Rest House and glanced over the fence. Beneath was the mesmerizing view of the blanket of clouds and the villages that could be seen through it.
Amongst the clouds at the top of a distant hill was a church commanding its presence. Beside them were hills signifying their supremacy over each other.
The Thanamir Village Experience
The five-hour journey from Pungro to Thanamir provided some exquisite landscapes. The hills here, upright and somewhat cylindrical resembled those at the beaches in Krabi, Thailand.
Such was the excitement that with the sight of every gigantic hill, I would assume it to be Mt. Saramati Peak.
Thanamir is the base village of Mount Saramati Peak. Known as the ‘apple village’, it falls under the Khongsa Tehsil of Kiphire District in Nagaland. It is inhabited by the Yimchunger Naga ethnic group.
Back in the 1980s, the jawans of the Assam Rifles gifted four apples to the then-village head. He planted them in his backyard and later distributed grafts to the villagers. Apples are grown here on a large scale now. To empower the apple farmers, an annual Apple Festival was organized by the government. Pears are also grown in Thanamir.
We reached early at the village and settled down at the Thanamir Guest House.
A cultural tour of Thanamir Village
The fun and excitement of the village kids roared as we toured their village. They would follow us jumping and dancing along the way.
The village headman played the huge log drum which functioned as an alarm during emergencies or wars. Their unique culture and apple cultivation make the trek to Saramati Peak even more special.
Day 5 – The Mount Saramati Peak Trek begins
That silent morning as I opened my eyes and unravelled my sheets, a husky voice uttering tea ruled the gloomy wooden room. Bed tea with the window view of the sun-kissed hills of Thanamir was a perfect combination.
As the clock hit 6:30 a.m., we headed towards the forest with two villagers as guides. The daunting trek to the base camp of Saramati peak involved continuous ascending and descent of hills.
To maintain that balance of training the mind to repeat the entire phenomenon was indeed challenging. However, the clouds that flew alongside fueled us to move forth.
A rock wall that is approximately 50 feet steep was the biggest challenge of the Mt. Saramati trek.
To have climbed that with no ropes or climbing gear boosted our self-confidence. The self-awareness of grasping the right grips of the rock holds was the key.
Marching through the narrow dark uneven path, our team of 16 were divided into two groups. The ones ahead carried the food materials and the latter followed.
Though I was with the first group, my legs couldn’t match their speed. Exhausted for having walked more than 7 hours, I bid them goodbye.
In a forest, away from everyone, hiking the rest of the trail solo was interesting. As I embarked on my solitary trek, I embraced the warmth of mother nature by kissing the bark of a tree.
Amidst the forest near a top of a hill, every time I saw the glary sky through the spaces of the groves, an imaginary picturesque ‘base camp’ would come to my mind. Surprisingly that would prove to be just another hilltop.
Reaching an edge I took a nap for 10 minutes. As my eyes opened, two clouds approached each other and beside them was the majestic range of towering Patkai hills. Gazing upon them and enjoying the phenomena uninterrupted was soothing.
Coming back to reality, I found my bottles empty and no sweets to keep my mouth wet. Eating the purple-coloured berries from the dark-edged rock surfaces saved me from dry mouth and other illnesses.
Drinking the cold water of the stream after 10 hours of hiking was pure happiness. Uncertain whether I was following the right track, it was solely instinct that helped me reach the base camp.
Day 5-Base Camp to Saramati Peak & the Unrelenting Night Trek
Defying the darkness, we ascended the giant hill beside the base camp for 2 hours to be finally blessed by the orange hues of the sun. The flora with strong roots worked as a trekking stick to support our steps on most of the edged slopes.
Walking by the cliffs and slopes, a slight change of the body angle would have led to a broken body or even death – the thrill and risk of the Mount Saramati trek.
The next trail looked amazing but daunting too. We could see the peak distinctly as we headed above.
The aroma of flowers welcomed us as we neared the Saramati peak. Summiting the peak at 9:30 a.m., the happiness of being the first team and the youngest lad from Assam to summit Mount Saramati Peak felt empowering.
The Saramati Peak bid us farewell with drizzle. We arrived at the base camp by 2 p.m., only to realize the scarcity of food. An unrelenting night trek awaited us.
Everyone hoped to descend that 50 feet rock before nightfall. Our feet ached; the soles felt as if they were being pricked by a needle. For the number of times I fell on those bumpy roads, folks named me “Gravity”.
I still cherish the moment when after having climbed the hill, I saw the glittering stars and the chain of hills it illuminated. It was my dream to view such night scenes.
The rain by midnight aggravated our situation. We slipped and slid along the muddy trail. Our minds were baffled when we couldn’t recognize the cut marks of the trees that guided the trail. After hiking for another 3 hours, we decided to camp in the forest.
I distinctly remember that particular moment of tying a rope into a branch of a tree with drenched clothes to fix the plastic sheet and thus shun the rain. I felt like I was in a dream and the moment I woke up, I would be in Thanamir Village. Sleeping around 3 a.m. on that narrow-edged path in a lateral position was, in fact, the weirdest sleep I have ever had.
Day 6 – Thanamir to Pungro – The Saramati Triumph
An hour of sleep rejuvenated us. It was 4 a.m., a misty morning and drizzle. The guide made us ascend and descend two hills the opposite way – a funny and infuriating episode. The jubilation of recognizing the bark I kissed cured my aching body.
Seeing the village from a hilltop gave us a sense of relief. We reached Thanamir by 7 in the morning, successfully completing the expedition. Fearing that my sole would bleed, I hesitated to take off my socks. The sole was as rugged as the hills of Mount Saramati.
What followed next is hard to recall as I slept the whole journey from Thanamir to Pungro. Though we had plans to celebrate our successful summit of Saramati Peak by dancing Bihu, soothing ourselves through sleep tended to be solace for everyone.
Day 7 – Pungto to Guwahati: Homecoming.
The rain continued as it bid goodbye to us. We left Pungro early through the thick fog and heavy rain. It was another 16 hours to Dimapur.
Stopping by Kohima, the city revealed its enchanting beauty. That journey through the busy traffic at night, the driver deciding to take a shortcut to Dimapur while we enjoyed the mesmerizing views of the bustling Kohima’s night sky and finally reaching the Railway station by 11 p.m was amazing.
Surprisingly, we missed the train and had to board another at 3 a.m. The Mount Saramati trekking expedition concluded the next day in Guwahati with the Founder and General Secretary of GAA, Mr Bikram Boro greeting us with sweets and love.
Tips for Mount Saramati Peak Trek in Nagaland
1. Choose the right transportation.
From Dimapur to Kohima or Pungro
Dimapur is the only railway station in Nagaland. After reaching Dimapur, there are buses and shared cars that go to Kohima.
To go directly from Dimapur to Pungro, a hired sumo will cost you at least Rs 1300. There is also a helicopter service to Pungro from Dimapur every Wednesday which costs around Rs 1500-2000.
From Kohima to Pungro
From personal experience and friends who have done the trek, I have found that the transport costs take away most of the budget.
Instead of travelling to Kigwema in a reserved/hired car, travel by shared sumo vehicles to Kohima town and stay for the night.
Next day, start your journey early on Day 2 from Kohima. Halt your day and stay either at Pfutsero town (Phek district of Nagaland) or Kiphire town.
From Pungro to Thanamir
There was no public transportation from Thanamir to Pungro before. You had to hire a bike or car to take you to Thanamir.
In 2023, a shared sumo vehicle goes to Thanamir which costs Rs 250 per seat. But if the seats do not get filled, you have to pay Rs 3000 for the vehicle to drop you at Thanamir Village from Pungro.
2. Carry fewer items
Always carry light when you trek. You won’t believe it, I took my laptop to Thanamir Village. Here are a few must carry –
- Raincoat/Poncho – I took an umbrella and I regretted it a lot.
- Sunhat – I bought one at Pungro. But it fell down during the night trek.
- Odomos Mosquito Repellent: I used Odomos for the first time in my life during the trek.
- Good Hiking Shoes
- A good Rucksack: I had blisters using that blue backpack during the trek.
- A lightweight tiffin box & Spoon: I took a stainless dish plate which I don’t recommend.
Where to Stay During Mount Saramati Trek?
You can stay at Morung Homestay in Kohima town or at Dawn Homestay in Kigwema. We stayed at Dawn.
At Kiphire & Pungro
You can stay at Tsatongse Anar Memorial Guest House and GA Rest House in Kiphire town. At Pungro you can stay at GA Rest House. GA rest houses are government accommodations. You can find the contact number of these accommodations on the Kiphire District Website.
You will be staying at the Thanamir Guest House in Thanamir Village.
During the Mount Saramati Trek
There was a wooden base camp during our trek in 2016. This wooden hut is now used as a Kitchen.
FAQ on Mount Saramati Peak Trek (Answered)
Where is Mount Saramati Located?
Mt. Saramati is located near Thanamir Village of the Pungro sub-division in the Kiphire district of Nagaland.
How do you get to Mt Saramati?
To get to Mt Saramati, you have to reach Thanamir Village in the Kiphire district of Nagaland. The Saramati Peak trek starts from Thanamir Village.
In which mountain range is Mt Saramati located?
Mt Saramati is located in the Purvanchal range, a sub-mountain range of the Himalayas in North East India.
Which is the highest peak of Nagaland in Northeast India?
Mt. Saramati is the highest peak of Nagaland in Northeast India.
How to reach Mount Saramati?
To reach Mount Saramati in Nagaland, Dimapur has the nearest regional airport & railway stations. From Dimapur, shared taxis and hire cars are available till Kohima. From Kohima, there’s a 12-hour journey to Pungro. From Pungro, you can reach Thanamir Village from where the trek starts.
What is the best time to visit Mount Saramati?
The best time to visit Mount Saramati is from September to April. We went in September 2016 and saw flowers. Mount Saramati receives snow in the winter months – December to March.
Is Saramati the highest peak of Naga Hills?
Yes, Saramati is the highest peak of Naga Hills. The second highest at present is Mount Japfu.
Does Mount Saramati Peak Nagaland receive snow?
Yes, Mount Saramati Peak Nagaland receives snow during winter.
What are the flora and fauna of Saramati Mountain Range?
We saw varied species of mushrooms, flowers and medicinal trees in the Saramati Mountain Range. A clouded leopard was also spotted for the first time around 3700m of the peak in the winter months of 2021.
What is Mount Saramati also known as?
Mount Saramati is known as the “Crown of Nagaland”. It is the pride of the Naga ethnic groups.
How much does the Mount Saramati Trek Cost?
The Mount Saramati Trek costs around Rs 15,000 to 20,000. This includes all the guide fees, entry fees, basecamp fees, accommodation and meals.
Does Mount Saramati receive snowfall?
Mount Saramati receives snowfall every year. You can read this article by East Mojo.
If you have been to Nagaland, I bet you have heard of the Dzukou Valley trek and Mount Japfu Trek.
Plan for the Mount Saramati trek during your next visit to Nagaland. Visit the remotest corner of the state at the India-Myanmar border. Meet local Naga ethnic groups, eat apples, and be mesmerized by the Naga Hills.
The camping stories and the memories of climbing and descending that steep rock wall at night will always be precious to me.
I made a lot of mistakes during the Mount Saramati Peak trek. Make sure you follow & note the above tips while planning your Mt Saramati trek.
To perceive the strength within, we ought to put ourselves in circumstances that test our limits. The Mount Saramati trek transformed me into a more vibrant human being. Experiences empower the soul.
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