Join Me on My Nagaland Hornbill Festival Tour!

Posted on July 10, 2017 by

 Come witness a Nagaland Hornbill Festival Tour with me!

nagaland hornbill festival tour

My first WildJunket tour was such a success that I am going to be running more tours from now on! This is my third tour and a trip that I’m particularly excited about as I’ve been planning it for the past year or so. Join me on 3-10 December 2017 for a trip into Nagaland, a remote and far-flung region tucked into the far north-eastern corner of India. It’s largely unknown to the world, even to Indians. Nagaland’s dazzling hills and valleys – right on the edge of the India–Myanmar border – will transport you to a different world and era.

Nagaland is home to some 16 Tibeto-Burmese tribes, or nearly 2 million people, many of whom have been fighting a remote and rarely reported war for independence from India since the early 1950s. These headhunting tribes used to valiantly fight off intruders — of course today they are a shadow of their once fierce self. Although a number of insurgent groups are active in the state, Nagaland is relatively stable these days and it’s safe to visit.

On this 8-day trip, we’ll be traveling around the central region of Nagaland starting from Dimapur. The trip will take us into locals’ home, visiting the headhunting tribes that Nagaland is so famous for, traversing the backroads that weave their way into the mountains and waterfalls of the region. As always, it’ll be a small-group adventure trip, focusing largely on discovering and learning, in a flexible manner.

If you’re interested to learn more about Nagaland, here are some good reads:

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nagaland hornbill festival


The Hornbill Festival

We will be visiting Nagaland during the annual Hornbill Festival, which is undoubtedly the best time of the year to see the state. The festival draws all the tribes and sub-tribes of Nagaland to the foothills below the lofty spurs of towering Mount Japfü where the festival is held (Kisama). It’s the biggest festival of the year for many of the tribes, who will dress in their traditional garb, that usually involves horns, beads, feathers, sea shells and elaborate headdresses.

There’ll be a colorful mixture of dance, parades, games, sports, and religious ceremonies. The festival both showcases the culture and tradition of tribal peoples, and reinforces Nagaland’s identity as a unique state in India’s federal union. A lot of older folk in the villages travel to Kisama to attend this festival and meet people from other villages from Nagaland because they haven’t met before, hence leading to cultural assimilation.

Read more about the festival here.

nagaland hornbill festival


What This Nagaland Tour is About

My goal is to organise a trip that doesn’t feel like a tour. Think of it as a bunch of independent travelers having an adventure together, with a knowledgable local guide, meeting local tribes and witnessing a major festival in Nagaland. That’s the style of my WildJunket tours

It’s a very small group (anything from 3 to 13) and the arrangement is informal and flexible. We have a rough itinerary but it’s not fixed; we can always make changes. We’ll be traveling in SUVs (Mahindra Bolero or Toyota Innova), with 3-4 persons in each vehicle. Basically there’s a lot of freedom and flexibility.

This trip will not feel like a tour. Think of it as a bunch of independent travelers traveling together, with a knowledgable local guide, meeting local tribes and going deep into a remote part of the world.

This trip will be culturally immersive and experiential, allowing us to learn and experience the Naga culture from ground level. What draws most people to Nagaland is its rich tribal culture, and this tour will definitely give you lots of opportunities to meet local tribes, learn about their traditions and understand their culture on a deeper level.

nagaland hornbill festival tourMy WildJunket tour to Tibet


Why This Nagaland Hornbill Festival Tour is for You

Firstly, the trip costs US$1380 for 8 days and includes all accommodation, transport, meals, activities and guide. You won’t need to spend on anything except personal items and souvenirs. Do a bit of research and you’ll know that this is one of the lowest prices you’ll pay for a 8-day tour in Nagaland.

The tour runs from 3 to 10 December 2017. Nagaland experiences a mild winter, and the weather is at its best in December. The climate will be sunny, temperatures will be mild (ranging from 5°C at night to 17°C in the day), and landscapes will be lush and green.

As for the itinerary, we’ll be experiencing the absolute best of Nagaland in a relatively short span of time. Nagaland is not easy to get to, and because of the lack of proper infrastructure, getting around is quite difficult and expensive. So joining a tour is the most feasible way to explore Nagaland properly.

Not many people have heard of Nagaland or are interested in traveling to this remote part of the world — so rest assured you’ll be traveling with other experienced travelers who are ready for any kind of adventure! 


Why Travel with Me

I have over 14 years of experience traveling to some of the wildest and craziest parts of the world. For those who don’t know me, I’m an adventure travel blogger and professional travel writer, with a special knack for off-the-beaten-path travel and unusual destinations.

I’ve been to 117 countries on all 7 continents, and have gone on some crazy adventures including expedition cruising to Antarctica, gorilla tracking in Uganda, bungee jumping in New Zealand, traveling undercover in North Korea, and traversing the Silk Road overland.

Another bonus for traveling with me is that I’ll be sharing all I know about building a career in travel. If you’re interested in learning about travel blogging or writing, feel free to fire away and ask me for advice in person! I can even teach you a thing or two about finding work in the new digital industry or publishing. I’m always happy to share my experience and personal tips with you along the way.

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Overview of My Nagaland Trip

  • Dates: 3 – 10 December 2017

  • Duration: 8 Days

  • Start: Dimapur, India

  • Finish: Guwahati, India

  • Maximum Group Size: 13 people (no minimum!)

  • Group Leader: Nellie (that’s me!)

  • Cost: US$1380

EMAIL ME TO SIGN UP NOW!

nagaland tribe tour


OUR NAGALAND TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1 — 3 December: Arrival in Dimapur

You’ll be warmly welcomed at the Dimapur airport, the only functioning airport in the Nagaland state. Dimapur is the largest city in Nagaland and the old capital of the Kachari rulers. We’ll start by exploring the Kachari kingdom ruins, a group of ancient monoliths and contain remnants of the Kachari kingdom’s structure. It houses myriad temples, reservoirs and tanks and was named as the ‘Brick City’ by European scholars. Depending on what time everyone will be flying in, we’ll also have time to explore Dimapur’s market, where you’ll find food in all its infinite variety from worms to birds, rats and dogs. Not for the faint hearted!

Stay overnight in Dimapur.

Day 2 — 4 December: Head to the Capital Kohima

After an early breakfast, we’ll drive to Khonoma village (4 hours), a picturesque, time-warped village that’s known for its legends of brave deeds. Nestled among green hills and rice paddies, the village is famous for its conservation efforts and was awarded with the title of the “first green village of India”. The village also boasts of a pool of master craftsmen, who are proficient in the art of weaving with bamboo and cane.

In the second half of the day, we’ll head to the capital city Kohima just 20km away. It’s the second largest city in the state, and was established as the headquarters of the British empire in 1878. We’ll first visit the State Museum and the 2nd World War Cemetery, where those who died in the intense battle to save India from being overrun by the Japanese in 1944 are buried. We then move on to the handloom and handicrafts emporium and the local market.

Stay overnight in Kohima.

nagaland nature

Day 3 — 5 December: See the Hornbill Festival!

This is the day when we’ll go to Kisama Heritage Village to attend the famous Hornbill Festival. The village is just 10km from Kohima and is the venue for all the traditional dances, folk songs, and sports events of the festival. There are a number of Naga traditional houses here along with some bachelor dormitories which are locally known as morungs. From the auditorium, we’ll get ring side views of the performances and displays. There’ll be traditional dances, craft, sports and games taking place throughout the day.

Stay overnight in Kohima.

Day 4 — 6 December: More of the Hornbill Festival

The next day we’ll spend the day at the Hornbill Festival once again. Along with traditional dance and song, there is also the Naga chilli-eating championship, Miss Nagaland contest and a motor rally. We’ll get to talk to the tribes, take photos and understand a bit more of their traditional practices. In the evening we can attend the Hornbill National Rock Concert and see a modern side to Nagaland.

Stay overnight in Kohima.

nagaland hornbill festival

Day 5 — 7 December: Deep into Tribal Land

Today, our destination is Mokokchung District, a mountainous region bounded by the state of Assam to its north. It will be a 6-hour drive, but along the way we will stop at Elumyo and Humtso villages in the Wokha district, to visit some local tribes and see some orange trees in full bloom. This will be one of our longest driving days; be prepared for terrible road conditions, we may even have to go on a different route if the roads are not opened. If we do change the route, we will visit Longsa village and visit traditional houses built of stones.

Stay overnight in a homestay.

Day 6 — 8 December: Meeting the Ao Tribe

We’ll spend the day exploring the Mokokchung District, the land of the Ao Nagas. Although almost all Aos have converted to Christianity, they still maintain their old customs and traditions, especially the tradition of hospitality. The most interesting spot in the district is Longkhum village, a vanguard town in the days of head-hunting. It’s strategically situated at an altitude of 1,846m; on a clear day it is possible to see the eastern Himalayas of Arunachal and beyond.

Nearby is Ungma, the oldest and largest of all Ao Villages. It is said that the whole Ao tribe founded this village when they first entered the land from their ancestral home in Chungliyimti (now within the Sangtam Naga territory). The rich Ao culture and tradition is safely guarded and practiced by the villagers even today and the place is considered to be a living museum of the traditions of the tribe.

Stay overnight in Impur.

nagaland india tour

Day 7 — 9 December: Long Way Back 

The day begins with a drive to Guwahati in Assam state. This is the longest driving day and it’ll take around 7 hours to reach our destination. Of course we’ll be stopping along the way to visit some sites, stretch our legs and have lunch. This will be our last day together so expect to have a nice dinner before bidding farewell.

Stay overnight in Guwahati.

Day 8 — 10 December: Departure Day

We will drop you at the Guwahati airport and say goodbye.


NAGALAND TOUR COST: US$1380

  • Deposit: US$300 due at booking (non-refundable)
  • Balance Due: 3rd November 2017
  • Payment method: Paypal or bank transfer

What’s included:

  • All activities listed in the itinerary.
  • Knowledgeable English-speaking local tour guide and experienced drivers.
  • Transport: Comfortable SUVs, either Mahindra Bolero or Toyota Innova.
  • Airport Transfers: From airport to hotel on day of arrival and departure.
  • All meals.
  • Inner line permit, which will be organized by my local agent.
  • Accommodation: 7 nights’ lodging in comfortable 3-star hotels. You will be sharing a room with another person in the group; If you prefer to stay in one room by yourself, a single room supplement applies.

What’s not included:

  • International flight to Dimapur and out of Guwahati, India.
  • Tips and gratitude to tour guide and drivers.
  • Personal expenses, like snacks, drinks, etc.

SIGN UP HERE!

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FAQ’s

How do I sign up?

Please fill up the form at the bottom of this page, and I’ll respond with payment details.

What if I cancel? What is your refund policy?

Because of the limited spaces on the trip and pre-paid accommodation, the US$300 deposit is non-refundable. Your trip is confirmed once the deposit is received. The full balance is due before 3rd November 2017. 

If you cancel before the tour starts, here are the cancellation charges:

          • Before 3rd November 2017 — 20% of total trip cost
          • Between 4th and 26th November 2017 — 30% of total trip cost
          • After 26th November 2017 — 50% of total trip cost
          • No show — 100% of total trip cost

If I cancel the tour for any personal or political reason, you will get a full refund.

Is it safe to travel Nagaland?

Naga independence movements and guerilla armies, split today into warring factions, have been fighting for both freedom and a greater Nagaland that would unite all the Naga tribes. To date, more than 200,000 Nagas have been killed, along with many Indian soldiers.

However, there hasn’t been any violence in the state in recent years and the chance of a foreign traveler being targeted in Nagaland is extremely low. Foreign travel bodies in the US and UK do NOT having warnings against travel to Nagaland.

Why should I join your tour if I can travel independently in Nagaland?

Nagaland finally levied the Restricted Area Permit in 2012 and is now accessible to independent travelers; but this change hasn’t made venturing outside of capital Kohima or transport hub Dimapur an easy affair. Due to the lack of infrastructure and political conflicts, exploring Nagaland independently can be very challenging and expensive. 

Joining a trip like this is the easiest and best way to travel the region and get beneath its surface. This trip is for those who are looking for an adventure, but prefer to share it with others. 

Where shall I fly into and out of?

The tour will start in Dimapur, the only city in Nagaland with a functioning airport. There are only direct flights from Kolkata to Dimapur. A one-way flight from Kolkata to Dimapur cost around US$50 and the journey is 1.5 hours. Flights from New Delhi cost US$80 each way and those from Mumbai cost US$90 each way, all via Kolkata. 

We will all be ending this trip in Guwahati in the Assam state of India. There are direct flights from there to Mumbai for $100 each way (3hours), to New Delhi for $50 each way (2.5hours) and to Kolkata for just $28 each way (2hours).

nagaland mountains

Do I need a visa to enter Nagaland?

Most nationalities (from 113 countries) require a visa to enter India, but now you can get an e-Visa online before arrival. Application must be made at least four days before your date of arrival and can be made as early as 120 days in advance. The visa is valid for 60 days from the date of arrival, and can be obtained twice in a calendar year. Note that there are many fraudulent e-visa sites — follow this link for the official Indian e-visa website.

To visit Nagaland, both foreign & Indian tourists need to obtain the Inner Line Permit (I.L.P) to visit Nagaland. My local agent will be helping us apply for the I.L.P. We need the scanned or photocopy of your passport & visa, with two passport size photograph, which has to be sent to us at least one week prior to the departure (26 November 2017).

Will I be picked up and dropped off at the airport?

Yes we will provide transfers from the airport. Just let me know your arrival/departure time and we will make sure you get picked up from the airport.

Where will we be staying?

Our accommodation will be in comfortable 3-star hotels and homestays. They are all centrally located in each city/town. Rooms will be equipped with air-conditioning/heating, hot water supply, and private bathroom. If you are traveling solo, you will be sharing a room with another person in the group.

What if I want my own room?

I can arrange this for you at an additional cost (subject to availability). Let me know in your email.

Do I need travel insurance?

Our tour doesn’t include any travel insurance. I always recommend having travel insurance regardless of where you go — even if you just travel twice a year on vacation. I’ve been using Travel Guard annual travel insurance since I started traveling in 2003 and recommend it to anyone who travels often.

How much spending money do I need?

As all accommodation, meals, transport and activities are included, you’ll only need money for personal expenses. I estimate just $150 for tips and souvenirs. This amount of course varies depending on what you spend on.

How many people will be on the tour?

There is no minimum on the number of people, but there will be a maximum of 13 people on the trip. We want to keep the group small, so you get a better experience and it feels more like a group of friends traveling together. 

Feel free to email me with any questions you have or write them in the comments below!


TESTIMONIALS

I’ve had the pleasure of traveling with Nellie three times and it has always been a blast! When we met traveling in Africa, her passion and love for travel were infectious. Our group had so much fun that we decided to travel with her again, this time to hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain! If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have known about this challenging and rewarding adventure! She organized this second trip so that it ran without a hitch. I joined her first WildJunket tour, to Tibet, and it was a great experience again. I wholeheartedly recommend traveling with Nellie.

— Brian Fung, Canada 

I have been traveling with Nellie for 10 years. She was my first tour guide. I was pretty nervous as a solo traveler. I was worried about booking flights online, customs documents and local customs. She reassured me. She has showed me the best tapa bars in Spain, train travel in Morocco, elephant sanctuary in Bali, Singapore high rises.

She is currently planning our Ethiopia tour next month. I’m not sure what to expect in Ethiopia, but I know that is will be exciting and with lots of food. She handles everything promptly and answers all my questions.

— Melinda Countway, Canada

Nellie is a great travel partner! Her resourcefulness, spontaneous spirit, love for food and especially for travel and exploring made the whole trip super fun. We either always have something fun to do, or we’ll simply sit and marvel at the beauty of our new surroundings. We would also have fun throwing instant pop-quizzes at each other, because it’s more meaningful to learn about the place instead of just going there. I look forward to our next trip together!!!

—- Tay Yan Bing, Singapore

What an amazing trip with Nellie on her first WildJunket tour! Tibet is a gorgeous land, filled with rich history and vibrant culture. It was wonderful to visit Tibet’s ornate temples and sacred monasteries with like-minded travellers on this once in a lifetime adventure. We also spent a beautiful night at Everest Base Camp, gazing at the brilliant stars and then waking up to the stunning sight of Mount Everest in the morning! It was unbelievable! Huge thanks to Nellie of Wild Junket and Sonam of Tibet Vista for ensuring that we had an amazing experience in Tibet. I learned so much and will absolutely treasure these experiences!

— Hannah Enightoola, Trinidad

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ENQUIRE ABOUT THE TRIP HERE!

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

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