Monpa Trail Trek, Arunachal Pradesh
Indigenous to Tawang and Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh, the Monpas are considered to be a nomadic tribe that rely on predominantly on farming and livestock. Closely associated with Tibetan culture and strong connections with Bhutan and Sikkim regions, the Monpas have settled in large numbers around Dirang and Tawang. This trek explores routes along the low lying tropical regions of the Eastern Himalayas where small rural Monpa settlements thrive. A shorter version of the Bailey Trail Trek, it introduces you to the winter lifestyle of one of the major tribes of Arunachal.
Duration: 8 days
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Max Altitude: 3400m
Starts from: Lagaam, near Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh
Ends at: Phudung, near Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh
INR 25,500/- per trekker
Reportin Location: Guwahati, Assam
Lagaam – Thungri – Chander – Sangti – Phudung – Dirang
custom trek dates
Day 1: Drive from Guwahati to Bhalukpong
Day 2: Drive from Bhalukpong to Lagaam (2700m)
Day 3: Trek from Lagaam (2700m) to Thungri (3200m)
Day 4: Trek from Thungri (3200m) to Chander (3400m)
Day 5: Trek from Chander (3400m) to Sangti (2600m), drive to Dirang
Day 6: Drive from Dirang to Bomdila
Day 7: Drive from Bomdila to Guwahati via Tezpur
Day 8: Buffer Day
Arrive at Guwahati and drive to Bhalukpong (5 to 6 hours)
We start our journey into the Arunachal Himalayas from the Guwahati Railway Station and leave the city chaos behind us as we drive through beautiful countryside roads and neatly lined up houses towards Tezpur. Bhalukpong is a further 60 kms ahead from Tezpur and is situated on the Assam – Arunachal border and houses one of the entry check posts for Arunachal. A breezy drive along the Kameng river and through reserved forest areas is a refreshing experience.
We stay in a guest house near the check post on the first day. Across the road barrier, small restaurants and shops line up the sides of the street. A quiet little town, Bhalukpong is an ideal, quiet halt for most travellers heading to Arunachal.
Drive from Bhalukpong to Lagaam (7 to 8 hours)
All vehicles heading towards Bomdila, Dirang and Tawang have to leave in the early morning hours, as the distances are long, roads high and winding and the weather on the high passes typically turns bad as the day progresses. It is a thrilling drive through the lone road that heads deep inside West Tameng district of Arunachal, as we pass along a number of army camps and posts. Driving through foggy conditions with poor visibility is challenging and best navigated earlier in the day.
The road climbs up the mountains steadily from Bhalukpong. Through army camps and dense misty forests, the road winds further on towards Dirang. Along the way, we pass through Bomdila, a lovely hill town spread out on the mountain slopes. The long drive ends by late afternoon, as we take a detour before Dirang at Munna Camp and head up an unpaved road to reach Lagam. Dirang, situated on the banks of a river by the same name, is located a mere 15 kms down the main highway from Munna Camp.
Located in a small clearing in the forest high up in the hills, Lagaam provides a wonderful setting for a night’s camp before we trek further and higher up into these Eastern Himalayas.
Trek from Lagaam to Thungri (5 to 6 hours)
We trek through lush green forest trails, ascending steadily for the next few hours; the sights of the valley below getting more impressive with the ascent. Couple of hours of gaining altitude and the trail then joins a broad motor-able path winding in from Chander, an alternate starting point for this trek. Although motor-able and used now and then by army vehicles, the path is now used only by the occasional trekkers and locals plying on this route. The gradient eases from here on and Thungri is another hour away. Lagaam, Pangma and Thembang can be spotted from the trail for a while as move along the now broad path adorned every now and then with Tibetan prayer flags.
All of 2-3 huts located in a clearing on a nondescript ridge leading to Chang La, Thungri serves as the trek’s first camping site or otherwise a place for the locals to inhabit the these mountain slopes with their livestock during the summer. It is cold here though and the heavens open up without much notice, as is always the case in these parts of the Himalayas. Better to stay inside the tent once the sun goes down and get some rest before the climb to Chang La.
Trek from Thungri to Chander (5 to 6 hours)
The view from Thungri on a clear cool morning is breathtaking! Clouds floating above the valley and snow clad peaks peeping above them in the distance. It is up to the weather to put on display the Gorichen range, a sight bound to amaze.
We are on the broad motor-able path again, but this time heading along the top of the ridge back towards Chander. We hike on the same trail as yesterday for most part of the day. We stick to the broad path and ascent for a while as we approach Chander. Located at the highest point along the ridge, Chander is a small settlement that overlooks valleys on either side. Being high and exposed to the elements, it does get quite cold here. We camp overnight here before our trek down into the Sangti Valley.
Trek from Chander to Sangti (4 to 5 hours), drive to Dirang (30 minutes)
It’s all downhill from Chander to Sangti. We trek in a different valley now from the slopes we had hiked on during the initial two days of the trek. Steep at times, the trail descends through forests initially before passing through terraced fields adjoining small settlements along the way. Engaging in conversations with friendly locals along the way, we make our way down to the road-head near the river below. A short drive from here to the guest house at Dirang brings the day’s journey to an end.
Drive from Dirang to Bomdila (2 to 3 hours)
The drive starts early in the morning again and it takes 6-7 hours to reach Bomdila. Bomdila is a charming hill town we had seen glimpses of during the drive before the start of the trek. Now we get to spend a day in this well known tourist spot; experiencing the Buddhist culture, exploring monasteries and chatting up with the friendly locals.
Drive from Bomdila to Guwahati via Tezpur (7 to 8 hours)
The last day of our sojourn in North East India – the drive back to Guwahati takes about 8 hours. An early start by 6 am is thus imperative to ensure we reach Guwahati before sunset. Remember that we are in the eastern part of India, the winter days here are much shorter than you’d expect! Once at Guwahati, we bid our adieus and enjoy the comforts of the city once again after the long drive.
We strongly recommend setting aside an extra day for this trek. Delays are common during road travel in Arunachal. The extra day can also be utilized for a short hike from Thungri towards Changla, weather and other conditions permitting.
INR 25,500 per person
All inclusive, including transport to / from Guwahati
Trek cost includes:
Trek cost does not include:
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, also known as Guwahati International Airport is the primary international airport for travel to the North-Eastern States of India and is situated 22kms away from Guwahati city.
Guwahati (GHY) is also well connected by train with other major cities in India, through the New Jalpaiguri junction.
Reporting Date & Time:
Day 1: Please plan on reaching Guwahati latest by 10 a.m. on Day 1. We plan to leave Guwahati by 11:00 a.m. on Day 1.
Return Date & Time:
Day 9: Please plan on return travel from Guwahati on Day 9, taking into account a buffer day.