incredible Dzukou Valley

This goes on the Top 10 natural places list I’ve been so far on this ride.

A Google Earth of the area SW of Kohima, showing the Dzukou Valley. It’s actually more a dip in a high plain than a valley. (the iPad has this new feature where you can draw on a screen grab, pretty cool!)

Here’s the GPS track, which as you can see corresponds with the above

It’s a project to get to from town, even now in the dry season, and a wet mess of a climb when you want to go for the flowers, from late April to July, in monsoon.

First is the drive from Kohima to the point where you leave the main road and take a rough 4X4 road for an hour. Then it’s an uphill climb for another hour, including a very steep climb at the end for 40 minutes. Then a 2 hour beautiful hike through the valley

The elevation profile. The valley is at 2500 meters

The steep bit

Special places often have botanically unique features, this has at least two, and they’re magnificent. First is the Dzukou lily, Lilium chitrangadae, pic from the web. It’s found here and nowhere else, for more Dzukou lily, and valley, wiki

The second is what gives the valley its unearthly feel, a low dense bamboo that restricts the growth of competitive plants for most of the terrain. Plus there are rhododendrons everywhere. The flowering season is from late April for the Rhodies until June/July for the lilies.

So, here we go. The drive in

Start of the hike

Start of the steep bit. Every once in a while there are stone steps, made on site

My guide. Ashamed to say I have forgotten his difficult Naga name. He didn’t say much but smiled continuously

This huge tree on the trail is Rhododendren arboreum. This was the biggest we saw and was, without exaggeration, at least 60 feet tall. The world record was measured at 108 feet in 1993 on Mount Japfu, right next to us here. More here r. arboreum wiki

At the top of the climb, before the hike into the valley. The polution here is extreme. It’s not only the blown engines but the nightly garbage fires by the side of the road

Japfu, behind

The first glimpse into the valley

Walking in

Incredible

Rhodies

Close up for gardeners

This view to the rear bluff is least a mile deep. Never seen anything like this place

Into the valley a couple of hours later

The hut at the end. The usual thing is to stay here 2 nights with the middle day for exploration. I should have done this

Had lunch here

Then reversed the hike out.

This empty beauty, like a few other places I loved, appeal to me far more than the spectacular stuff.

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