Travelling to Ziro valley is no easy task, especially in the monsoon season, which is when we decided to visit! But if you decide to make the journey to Ziro, India’s mysterious and unique tribal land, you won’t regret it! In this article we will share with you how to reach Ziro Valley and also our personal experiences and tips to help you survive the journey!
How to Reach Ziro Valley? Ziro Valley is best reached via Assam’s largest city Guwahati. Once in Guwahati the best route is to take the 7hour train journey to Naharlagun Station, then catch a shared sumo taxi to Ziro Valley.
But a journey to Ziro Valley is not always a simple one. It was not an easy task for us to reach this beautifully remote region of Arunachal Pradesh. We experienced a few challenges along the way that we would like to share with you so that you are as prepared as you can be for your trip to Ziro Valley!
You can watch our journey to Ziro in video below:
Step 1. Reaching Guwahati
Your first step to reaching Ziro is to make your way to Guwahati. Luckily there are many flights and trains arriving into the largest city in north east India. The below table outlines travel times and prices from India’s main cities to Guwahati:
Step 2. Train from Guwahati to Naharlagun
Now that you have arrived in Guwahati you must catch the train to Naharlagun, a town in Arunachal Pradesh and the closest train station to Ziro. Below we have listed the train times and prices to help with your planning. We recommend to take the Donyl Polo Express which departs Guwahati daily to ensure you arrive in the morning as opposed to at night.
Train travel tips for foreigners: train tickets are best purchased on Cleartrip. However, Naharlagun Station did not show up as an option to book on Cleartrip, perhaps because Arunachal Pradesh requires a permit for entry. So we booked to Tatibahar station and just got down at Naharlagun which was an extra hour on the train. If you want a detailed guide to train travel in India you can check out our full guide to Indian train travel here.
Step 3. Get Your Permit Stamped
Travellers must have Inner Line permits in-order to enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Even Indian citizens not from the state of Arunachal Pradesh need Inner Line Permits. (You can organise your Inner Line Permits in Guwahati.) When you arrive at the station you will be asked by station staff to get your permits stamped. They will guide you on where to go and this should only take about 15-30mins. make sure you have your passport on you!
Step 3. Bus or Taxi to Itanagar
Now you have arrived at Naharlagun Station you need to get yourself to Itanagar which is about 15km & 30minutes drive away. There are two obvious options, Bus for budget travellers & Taxi for those who can afford it.
Taxi: You should find quite a few taxi drivers willing and waiting to take you. We found this station to be very quiet when we arrived in the early morning, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait a bit. We were on a budget so opted to take the bus but I am guessing a Taxi would cost you about ₹700/$10USD
Bus: When you arrive ask locals and or the station staff what time the bus is expected and where to wait. We waited about 90mins for the bus to arrive. Ask the bus drive to drop you at the sumo stand in Itanagar. The bus ride will take you close to an hour and cost you about ₹30/$0.40USD
Step 4. Sumo to Ziro
The journey from Intanagar to Ziro is about 110km. However, the ride will take about 6-10hours depending on traffic, road and weather conditions. We travelled during monsoon which is probably the most dangerous time to travel.
We encountered terrible road conditions and plenty of landslides that caused major delays. The ride was extremely uncomfortable with very bumpy roads and very little seat space.
The drivers will literally cram 11 people into one normal sized jeep. So be prepared for a very long uncomfortable ride, but hey it’s all part of the adventure! The roads were some of the most treacherous we have ever been on but the landscapes and views along the way were absolutely breathtaking!
A bonus tip is to make sure your bag is fully covered in a waterproof plastic, your bag is going on the roof and if it rains, all your gear will be soaked when you arrive at your destination. A simple bag cover wont cut it, you need to fully wrap your bag in plastic to keep it dry…..a large rubbish bag should do the trick! Locals are smart and many use the those woven plastic laundry bags!
Sumo is the common word used to describe jeep or truck in Norh East India. You can book your sumo at the sumo stands in Itanagar, a set of travel counters on the main road that runs through town. You have two main options for Sumo’s to Ziro…..shared or private.
Private Sumo to Ziro: You will see a few sumos lined up waiting for private clients. It will be easy for you to get a private driver if you have the $$ to pay. The ride will be much more comfortable than a shared sumo and you should easily secure a ride quickly. We couldn’t afford this and from memory it was going to cost about ₹15,000/$210USD for a private sumo from Itanagar to Ziro.
Shared Sumo to Ziro: Securing a shared sumo from Itanagar to Ziro was the most difficult part of the journey for us. Mainly because many of the shared sumos were booked the day before, so we just couldn’t find any spare seats!
We walked from travel counter to travel counter trying to find spare seats, with no luck. We were almost going to give up our search and stay one night in Itanagar before in a lucky last ditch effort we scored ourselves two seats on sumo heading to Ziro. So with this in mind, we would recommend trying to book your Sumo in advance or be prepared to spend one night in Itanagar. From memory a shared sum0 ticket from Itanagar to Ziro was about ₹800/$11USD
Accomodation in Ziro Valley
To be honest, accomodation options are slim pickings in Ziro and are often times rundown and over priced. In fairness, accommodation is not the reason you travel to Ziro anyway, it’s the unique culture and landscape that draws people to this remote and fascinating place! To help with your trip planning here are some local accommodation options in the area.
|Camp NorthEast Guide Ziro:|
Camp in the forest in Ziro Valley. Motorbike rental also available here.
A local homestay with traditional breakfast served daily.
|Hotel Zimin Ziro:|
A newly opened and slighly more luxurious accomodation option in Ziro
Comfortable chalets on a large property featuring a restaurant, lovely garden & playground
Where is Ziro valley located? Ziro Valley is located in the remote Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal Pradesh is located in North East India and is one of the seven sisters, it is said to be India’s least populated and least visited state.
How to reach Ziro Festival? Ziro Festival is best reached via Assam’s largest city Guwahati. Once in Guwahati the best route is to take the 7hour train journey to Naharlagun Station then catch a shared sumo taxi to Ziro Valley.
We hope this step by step guide to reaching Ziro Valley was helpful!
Cheers, Native Travellers
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