North East India is a treasure trove of natural beauty and diverse cultures. The presence of the Eastern Himalayas and the sub-Himalayan ranges in North East India signifies the scope for adventure activities such as trekking and mountaineering.
The states – Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have some of the highest Himalayan peaks such as – Mt. Kanchenjunga (8586m) and Mt. Kangto (7090m) respectively. Other states like Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya are blessed with sub-mountain ranges. The adventure tourism sector in northeastern India is yet to be fully developed.
Treks and walks amidst nature rejuvenate the soul. It has been a healer to me. The continuous climbing and challenging of our limits and the thought of living in the present are liberating. I often go on treks in different states of Northeast India. If you love adventure and want to know where to go for treks in Northeast India, this article is for you.
7 popular treks in North East India.
1. Goecha La Trek, Sikkim
The Goecha La trek is a truly magical experience that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in Northeastern India. This trek is the favourite among both seasoned trekkers and beginners due to its moderate level of difficulty and breathtaking views. The Goecha la trek starts from the small village of Yuksom in the West Sikkim district of Sikkim.
The trail takes you through lush green forests, alpine meadows, and rhododendron forests. As you ascend, you’ll witness the landscape changing from dense forests to open meadows with breathtaking views of the Kanchenjunga range. The trail is also dotted with quaint villages that offer a glimpse into the local culture and way of life.
The highlight of the trek is undoubtedly the Goecha La Pass, which is located at an altitude of 4,940 meters. This pass offers stunning views of the Kanchenjunga range and other peaks such as Pandim and Kabru.
As you make your way up to the pass, you’ll be surrounded by towering peaks, and the view from the top is simply awe-inspiring. The pass also marks the border between Sikkim and Nepal. You’ll get to see both countries from this vantage point. Goecha la trek is definitely one of the best treks in India.
What is the Goechala trek route?
Here’s the Goechala trek route-
1. Yuksom to Sachen
2. Sachen to Tshoka via Bakhim
3. Tshoka to Dzongri via Phedang
4. Dzongri to Thansing via Kokchurang
5. Thansing to Lamuney
6. Lamuney to Goecha la via Samiti Lake
How to reach Goechala?
To reach Goechala, you have to reach Yuksom first. The nearest Airport for Yuksom is Bagdogra in the Siliguri division of Darjeeling District of West Bengal. New Jalpaiguri Railway station is 150 km (approx) to Yuksom and takes about 8 hours.
2. Mount Saramati Trek, Nagaland
Mount Saramati is the highest peak in Nagaland. It is located at 3841 m (12602 ft) above sea level at the India-Myanmar Border. A high-altitude trek, the Mount Saramati Trek starts from Thanamir Apple Village in the Kiphire District of Nagaland.
The Saramati peak trek is fascinating in many ways. It is the land of the Yimchungru Naga ethnic group. Learning about their culture is always a unique experience. At Thanamir, the Yimchungru people cultivate Apples on a large scale. Before our trek in 2016, we were unaware that apples are even grown in Nagaland too.
The best time to do the Mount Saramati Trek is during winter – December and January for snowfall and September for flowers.
What is the Mount Saramati trek route?
The Mount Saramati Trek route starts from
1. Thanamir village near the Thanamir Guest House.
2. After continuous ascending and descending, and a climb of a steep rock wall of about 40-50ft, you will reach the base camp near a small water stream. It is 7-10 hours of trek from Thanamir to Mount Saramati base camp.
3. Start the trek the next morning for an early sunrise. It is another 4-6 hours of trek to Mount Saramati Peak.
How to get to Mount Saramati?
To get to Mount Saramati, first, you have to reach Thanamir Village. Thanamir Village takes about 5 hours from Pungro town. From Kohima to Pungro it is a 12-hour journey. The nearest railway & airport are in Dimapur. One can board shared and rent cars from Dimapur to Kohima.
3. Mount Japfu Trek, Nagaland
Mount Japfu, also referred to as Japvo or Japfii peak, is regarded as the 2nd highest peak of Nagaland. It is located near Kigwema Village about 16.3 km from Kohima town. Mount Japfu has an altitude of about 3048m and is a must-do trek if you are in Nagaland.
In the month of March and April, the trek route is filled with Rhododendron blooms. If you love snow, the best time however is December and January. I missed out on live snowfall by a week. However, I get the chance to see unmelted snow in January 2017.
The trek to the base camp is not that steep. However, the rest of the trail from the base camp involves climbing rock walls. The last part of the climb just before the peak has a rock wall that you have to traverse and use your climbing skills a little.
From the top of Mount Japfu, you can see parts of Dzukou Valley and Mount Saramati and the faraway village landscapes of the Naga people. During the trek, you can also visit the world’s tallest Rhododendron tree ( as per Guinness World Record) located in the Japfu range. It holds the Guinness World record. The tree is still growing and was first discovered and measured in the year 1993.
Are you planning your trip to Nagaland for the Hornbill Festival to be held in December 2023? Add the Japfu peak trek to your list for an adventurous experience. It is not far from the Hornbill Festival Venue – Kisama Heritage Village.
What is the Mount Japfu trek route?
The Mount Japfu trek route starts from Kigwema Village via the Japfu Christian College road. Further ahead, there is a pony farm (horse) and the potato cultivation field from where the forest area starts. There is a basecamp in between for resting purposes.
How to reach Mount Japfu?
To reach Mount Japfu peak, you have to start the trek from Kigwema Village. Shared and rented cars are available from Kohima – the capital city of Nagaland. To reach Kohima, board a vehicle (rent or sharing basis) from Dimapur. There is a railway station and a regional airport in Dimapur.
4. Dzukou Valley Trek, Nagaland
The Dzukou Valley Trek is another popular trek in North East India. The trek takes you through the picturesque landscape of the two northeastern states- Nagaland and Manipur and offers stunning views of the Dzukou Valley. The valley is famous for its vast stretches of green meadows, the rare Dzukou Lily and yellow, white and pink wildflowers.
The Dzukou Valley trek starts from two villages – Jakhama and Viswema. The trekking trail via Jakhama is steep and takes you through dense forests, and streams. Once you reach the top of Jakhama hill, you will be able to see the valley full of bamboo shrubs.
Unlike Jakhama, the Viswema trail is relatively easy but more scenic. Hired cars and sumo vehicles go to the middle of the hill and drop you at the starting point of the trail. The initial part of the trail is steep. However, once you reach the Viewpoint and a rest shed, the view gets better. The rest of the trail is a zig-zag walk for another 2 hours till you reach the Dzukou Valley Campsite.
The highlight of the trek is the view of the rolling hills of Dzukou Valley, which is located at an altitude of 2,452 meters. The valley offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below.
What are the Dzukou Valley Trek routes?
There are two Dzukou Valley trek routes Jakhama & Viswema. In the Viswema route, make sure you choose the right marked trail from the Rest Shed. To the left, the trail goes to Mt. Tempii (Iso). In the Jakhama trek route, cross the river stream in the beginning and keep following the steps till you reach the top of the hill. Then it is a downhill hike till the trail merges with the Viswema route. The rest is a relatively easy trail to the Dzukou Valley Campsite Area.
How to reach Dzukou Valley?
To reach Dzukou Valley, first, you have to reach Dimapur where the regional airport and the railway station are located. From there, shared cars and buses are available till Kohima. From Kohima, you have to hire a vehicle that drops you at the starting point of Jakhama or Viswema Trail.
5. Sandakphu Trek, Darjeeling
The Sandakphu Trek is a popular trek in Northeastern India that takes you through the beautiful landscape of Darjeeling at the India-Nepal border. Sandakphu at 3636m (12000ft) is the highest point in the state of West Bengal.
The trek starts from Manebhanjang and takes you through colourful rhododendron forests and meadows. The uphill steep ascend from Kalpokhri introduces you to the best views. On one side would be the Himalayas and on the other side the clouds below you with a few peaks of hills popping out of the clouds.
Among the fourteen 8000m above peaks, four of them – Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhostse, and Mt. Makalu Can be seen along with other Himalayan peaks from the top of Sandakphu. The view of these peaks forms the shape of the Sleeping Buddha.
I did the trek in the month of December 2017. I was fascinated to know how the Sandakphu trek route passes through places both in Nepal and India during the entire trail. On reaching the top of Sandakphu and witnessing the mighty Himalayan peaks felt like a blessing.
What is the Sandakphu trek route?
We followed this Sandakphu trek route during your trek: Manebhanjyang-Meghma-Tumling-Kalipokhri-Sandakphu top. While returning we followed this trek route: Sandakphu- Singalila National Park- Rimbick-Manebhanjyang.
How to reach Sandakphu?
There are two ways to reach Sandakphu. First via the historical land rover vehicles. The other is of course through trekking. Reach Manebhanjyang from New Jalpaiguri Railway Station or Siliguri Station. Bagdogra is the nearest airport for Manebhanjyang. Though shared cars are available from Siliguri to Manebhanjyang directly, if you don’t get one, you can reach board a vehicle that goes to Darjeeling. From Darjeeling, cabs are easily available till Manebhanjyang.
6. Nongriat Trek, Meghalaya
Nongriat is a famous village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. It is famous for the Double Decker Living Root Bridge.Meghalaya is known for cascading waterfalls, caves and the most captivating – the bridges that are made from the roots of rubber trees.
The Living Root Bridge is a centuries-old tradition of the Khasi ethnic group of Meghalaya. It has recently been added to the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage site. Nongriat Village has a unique living root bridge one above the other. The Nongriat Trek involves continuous descending of steps from the starting point at Tyrna Village and ends at Nongriat Village. Check out this video below from my recent visit to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge.
Apart from the Double Decker Living Root Bridge in Nongriat Trek, don’t miss out to visit the stunning Rainbow Falls ahead of the village. The trail from Nongriat to Rainbow Falls is mostly an upward ascend.
I would always suggest the best time to do the Nongriat trek would be during winter for clear skies and natural blue water pools. However, if you love and Monsoon months – the view is heavenly too. From Tyrna village, you will see the gushing waterfalls everywhere in the far way hills.
What is the Nongriat trek route?
The Nongriat Trek route starts from Tyrna Village and ends in Nongriat Village. The trail consists of continuous steps roughly about 3500. You will also cross other small living root bridges and suspension hanging bridges along the trail. I would recommend you to stay near the Double Decker Living Root Bridge to explore better.
How to reach Nongriat?
The only way to reach Nongriat Village is by trekking down from Tyrna Village. You can get shared and rented vehicles from Cherrapunji (Sohra) town which is located about 12.2 km from Tyrna. Buses shared taxis and cars on hire can be availed for Cherrapunji from Shillong- the capital city of Meghalaya.
7. Monpa Trail Trek, Arunachal Pradesh
As the name suggests, the Monpa Trail trek is in the land of the Monpa ethnic group of Arunachal Pradesh. The Monpa trail trek starts from Sangti Valley of Dirang in the West Kameng district and ends in Thembang Village.
I did the Monpa Trail trek in 2019. It was my first visit to the state of Arunachal Pradesh. We went through the Guwahati- Bhairabkunda- Shergaon- Rupa-Bomdilla-Dirang route to reach Sangti Valley. The journey was long but worth every moment. The virgin forests, the feeling of being above the clouds, crossing Bomdilla on a cold evening and finally reaching Sangti Valley at sundown after crossing a hanging bridge- it was satisfying.
Sangti Valley is one of the most scenic and remote destinations. If you wish to have a peaceful time during your overnight haul on your trip to Tawang, Sangti Valley is the place. It is located beside the Sangti River.
The best about the Monpa trail trek is the people and the scenery. Learn about the Monpas, their culture and their lifestyle at the same time enjoying the views of the Gorichen Mountain Range of the Eastern Himalayas. The following video was captured from Khalibok Village during the Monpa Trail Trek.
How to reach Sangti Valley for the Monpa trail trek?
To reach Sangti Valley, first, you have to get to Dirang town in Arunachal Pradesh. Shared cars or buses can be boarded either from Tezpur or Guwahati in Assam. From Dirang, you have to hire a car to Sangti Valley.
What is the Monpa Trail Trek route?
Here’s the Monpa Trail Trek route –
1. Starts from Sangti Valley
2. First stop – Khalibok Village
3. Second stop- Chander Village – the topmost point of the trek.
4. Chander to Pangma.
5. Finally, from Pangma to Thembang.
While most trekkers confine their adventurous treks to Goecha la and Sandakphu in Northeast India, I would highly recommend you to go for other high altitude treks in Northeast India such as – Seven Lakes trek, Bailey Trail Trek, Zawru Valley Trek in Arunachal Pradesh and Mount Saramati Trek in Nagaland.
The treks in North East India have a deep connection with its culture, folklore, adventure and nature. Have a wholesome experience during your treks in Northeast India.
The northeastern region of India also has some of the most offbeat treks in India. It is an unexplored trekkers’ paradise.
Which are some famous treks in North East India?
Goecha La Trek, Mount Saramati Trek, Seven Lakes Trek, Bailey Trail Trek, Dzukou Valley Trek, Monpa Trail Trek, Nongriat trek and Sandakphu trek are some famous treks in North East India.
I hope these article will help you plan better for your adventure trip to Northeast India.