ChaloHoppo to Tawang
Embark on a journey through white snowy roads that once was a bloody battlefield to ultimately reach a monastery where you experience absolute calm. The beautiful valleys that precede the mountain town quietly invite you to stay a little longer. Don’t book your return tickets yet!
- Reviews 1 Review5/5
- Vacation Style Holiday Type
- Activity Level Leisurely
- Group Size Medium Group
Tawang is truly mesmerising. With frozen lakes, snow capped peaks and the second largest monastery in the world to boast about. But the experience of Tawang is accentuated by the journey that leads you to it. Stop and admire the valleys towns of Sangti and Dirang, live in homestays and be at the receiving end of Monpa hospitality before you drive higher to listen to the tales of the brave men in camouflage. Everything about the road to Tawang is heartwarming as long as you are prepared for the freezing temperatures.
Highlights of the tour:
- Morning chants at Bomdilla monastery
- Make momos with locals
- camp next to Kameng river
- Try the local brew of the Monpas
- Drive through one of the highest motor-able roads in the world
- Visit the historic bum la (pass) situated at 15,200 feet
- Experience Monpa homestay
- Stay in comfortable, clean and hygienic accommodation
- Breakfast on all days
- All permits, entries etc
- Internal travel during the trip
- English Speaking guide
- Your Personal Purchases
- Anything not mentioned in the Inclusions
- Excess stay & meals due to bad weather conditions/strikes, resulting in flight delays or any other form of transport
- Day 1 Begin the long journey to the Monpa mountains
Start the drive from Guwahati airport and make your way to Bhalukpong, which is on the Assam- Arunachal Pradesh border. This is mainly a stop-over before you make your way up to the West Kameng district. If the weather permits, sit around a fire but don’t let it keep you up too long – you have a long but beautiful journey ahead (trust us when we say that these bonfires get really addictive).
Overnight at Nameri Eco Camp/Prashanti bungalow/Wild Mahseer
- Day 2 A night in Bomdila
Wake up comfortably and drive from Bhalukpong to Bomdila (4 and a half hours under normal circumstances- varies with road conditions). On the way, if nature interests you, you can stop and walk around the Tippi Orchid Sanctuary which houses dozens of different orchid species from around the region (please note that different plants bloom in different seasons). Thereafter, move on to Bomdila and check into the Monastery guest house by evening. Step out into the market and shop for local memorabilia in the evening. Sleep early to wake up early if you would like to experience the monastery life in the mornings –when all the monks and sleepy students come out to start the day with prayers and chants.
Overnight at Bomdila Monastery Guest House
- Day 3 Drive up one of the highest motor- able roads in the world
Wake up very early and walk to the Gompa on time for the morning chanting. Walk around a little after the prayers before you return to your guesthouse for breakfast. Thereafter, make your way towards one of the highest motorable passes in the world –Sela pass. Stop for a cup of tea and some hot maggi as you appreciate the magnificent beauty of the Sela lake. Shortly after, stop at the Jaswant Ghar, a war memorial dedicated to a hero not known as well as he should be. Learn more about the love story of Sela and Jaswant and how it affected the Sino-Indian war in 1962. Thereafter, make your way to the Monpa town of Tawang. On reaching, check into your guest house and rest for a while. Visit Urgeylling Gompa, the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama. Return to your guest house for an evening of leisure.
Overnight at Tenzing/Dolma/Yangzom Guest House, Tawang
- Day 4 A 600 year old bridge and traditional paper making
Wake up early and leave your guesthouse after a hot cup of tea and a light breakfast. Once done, we can head out and start the day by lighting butter lamps in the Tawang monastery –the fountainhead of Buddhism in Arunachal Pradesh. Meet the Lamas and learn more about the culture and history of the land. Then, move towards Khinmey gonpa. This monastery belongs to the oldest sect of Mahayana Buddhism which we will tell you more about when we are there. Once done, drive to Nuranang falls. Relax there for a while and experience the grandeur of the waterfall. After spending some time there, proceed to Mukto basti, one of the older villages in the region where you will get to see the art of traditional handmade paper making in one of the cottages. Walk around the village and try some local food while you are there. After your walk, make your way back towards Tawang. On the way, visit Chaksam, a hanging bridge built in the 14th century connecting two banks over the Tawang chu. The current of this river is extremely strong so we don’t advise you to step near the water. Walk around with the local guide and learn more about the history of these bridges. Return to your guesthouse and rest for a while. In the evening, you can step out for a while and try a local cafe. Finally, return to your stay and let a fire warm you up before you call it a night.
Overnight at Tenzing/Dolma/Yangzom Guest House, Tawang
- Day 5 Bum La, Sangetsar Tso and other high altitude lakes
After a comfortable night of sleep, start your day early as you go further up towards the Bum La pass. Be prepared to be mesmerised by the Mighty Himalayas. Bum La is a historic and extremely significant military post which has border meets between India and China every year. It was the same pass that was used by the Chinese to infiltrate India in 1962. The Commander at the post will run you through all the details before you make your way to the gorgeous Sangetsar Tso, a lake brought to fame by the movie Koyla. (You will see many other lakes during the course of this drive based on the weather and clarity.) Lunch can be done at the army shop by the lake. Post lunch, if you want to go slightly further (and if time and weather permit) you can drive up to the Taksang Gonpa (15 minutes drive) where the great Master,Guru Padmasambhava had spent some time to meditate. As per legend, he was welcomed at the site by a tiger. Once back in Tawang, visit the market and pick up some local things to take back home. You can even try out some of the small local cafes in the market. Finally, return to Tawang for a night around the bonfire.
Overnight at Tenzing/Dolma/Yangzom Guest House, Tawang
- Day 6 The beautiful valley of Sangti
After an early breakfast, make your way to the fabled Sangti Valley –the land of the migratory black necked cranes. Meet your host at the homestay while he helps you settle into your rooms in the village. Thereafter, the valley is yours to explore. Whether you choose to laze around by the river or walk around the beautiful valley, Sangti will not fail to impress. You could even borrow the host’s angling rod and try your hand at some fishing if you please. In the evening, sit with the locals while they teach you to make some of their traditional dishes like momos and thukpa. Sip on some of the local brew (aarak or mar chang) while you get to know your hosts better. Spend the evening at leisure.
Overnight in homestay at Sangti Valley
- Day 7 Explore Dirang restfully
Wake up comfortably for a late riverside breakfast. Take your time to enjoy the sound of the river with the beautiful valley around you. Thereafter, we can take a walk around Sangti valley. An early picnic lunch can be organised by the river where you can laze around and even try your hand at some fishing if you like. If you like, you can also drive up to Dirang Dzong and get some lunch in town. Alternatively, just relax in Sangti for the day with the gurgling sound of the river being your music for the day (with all the travelling before this, you might just like a day of rest).
Overnight in swiss tents in Sangti Valley
- Day 8 Settle into the lap of colonial luxury in the tea gardens of Assam
After breakfast, make your way back to the plains of Assam and experience tea life in a heritage property with some old and beautiful tea bungalows. The drive back will take you around six hours. On checking in, get some lunch and rest after which you can explore the garden. A leisurely evening awaits you.
Overnight in Wild Mahseer
- Day 9 Homeward bound
Wake up early and walk around the botanical trail (with an expert) which is a living museum of some interesting local plants. Indulge in a hearty breakfast and do a quick tea tasting round with the Wild Mahseer management before you head back to Guwahati to catch your flights back home. Bid farewell to the North east, but only until we meet again.
Elephant – The Retreat
Comfortable cottages in the middle of a jungle with the river flowing in front of you and fruits growing around you.
The perfect stay for a great experience of the Monastery. Go for an early morning walk for the chanting session and stay for as long as you want.
Tenzin Guest House
A homely guesthouse, situated a few kilometers before you enter the Tawang market with a warm and welcoming host. The host is a teacher at the Tawang Monastery and has done a PhD in Buddhist Philosophy.
A cozy homestay run by an extremely sweet couple, who ensure you have a very raw experience of the region. Nothing fancy, Nothing over the top.
Adjacent to the river with a nice open space, makes for a great last night in the Northeast.
20 days prior to date of arrival: 75% refund
20 to 12 days prior to date of arrival: 50% refund
Less than 12 days prior to date of arrival: 25% refund
Less than 72Hrs prior to the time of arrival: 0% refund
The sources of such warnings should be checked and speaking from the perspective of locals living in the region(three of ChaloHoppo’s 4 member core team are from Tripura and Assam and the fourth one from Kerala) we can say that though some parts of Northeast India do have cases of groups clashing against government forces from time to time, it doesn’t affect a tourist as long as the route is chosen wisely and hours of commute are decided smartly, much like traveling in any other part of the world.
If you have seen warnings in the advisory pages of governments, then we want to remind you that governments will always take precaution and not be in sync with the real situation. Northeast India is absolutely safe with warm and welcoming locals. You should have no issues even going to the most interior places. As with any other tribal dominated region respect the local culture and don’t hurt their sentiments, and you will have a great time in a beautiful place.
The trip starts from the ChaloHoppo campsite in Ziro and ends at Guwahati airport.
Entry to the states of Assam, Manipur*, Tripura, Meghalaya and Sikkim* don’t require any kind of permits and possessing an id card bearing one’s address should serve the purpose and foreign national can carry their passports. However to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram one needs to obtain an ILP or inner line permit which is very simple to get. Foreign nationals need to obtain a PAP or Protected Area Permit. Read our detailed blog (insert link) on where the different ILPs can be obtained from and other related queries.
*Though Manipur doesn’t require an ILP but if one enters Manipur via Nagaland then an ILP is required. People travelling to North Sikkim need to obtain a permit and foreign nationals need to carry a photocopy of their passport to enter Sikkim as the permit is made at the checkposts on producing the photocopy of the passport.