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Getting around Nagaland takes time, the roads are by far some of the worst in India, you will have a problem finding a place to stay since a number of hotels/guesthouses in the area is minimal, and only a very few of them accepts foreigners, and at last, very few people speak English in the area.
So Nagaland is absolutely not set up for tourism yet. The only other foreigner I saw in the two weeks I stayed in Nagaland was an older American guy with a private driver and guide.
Another “problem” you will face in Nagaland is that EVERYTHING closes down after dark, and absolutely everything is closed on Sundays, no shops, no restaurants and no transportation, so if you’re in a hurry, you should probably skip Nagaland.
Typical Scenery in Nagaland, a lot of green hills, but very few trees around.
Normally when I travel I’ll try to stay away from mainstream places as much as I can, going to tourist places “gives” me nothing, they are often overpriced, seems very fake, and often you even have to pay to take photos.
Luckily you can still find real authentic places, that’s not mentioned in guidebooks, got no guesthouses and no busloads of tourist, but it’s getting harder.
One of the last authentic places you can visit in Asia is Nagaland in North East India.
The state is inhabited by 16 major tribes while most of the tribes live in cities and got a “normal” life these days you also got some tribes that still try to live a more traditional way.
The best place to meet the headhunters is the village of Longwa in North East of Nagaland in the Mon district; the village is literally on the Burma (Myanmar) border, the house of the king (yes they do have a real king) is located on the border, so half the house is in India the other half is in Burma (Myanmar).
The first thing you have to do when to arrive in Longwa is to visit the King, to present him with a gift, preferably a bottle of rum or whiskey.
The king had passed out for the evening when I arrived after some heavy opium smoking, but one of his 60!! wives allowed me to stay.
It’s not much to do in Longwa except soaking up the culture and enjoying the view into Burma; it’s no shops, no restaurants, or guesthouses. But some of the locals invited me to join them for hunting with ancient hunting rifles(with black powder), dynamite!! and fishing with electricity!
Disappointingly the hunt was a bit of a letdown, we didn’t catch anything, but I didn’t expect to catch anything either since it seems like the locals have been overhunting for years, even walking around the thick jungle for hours, we didn’t even see or hear a single bird. The Konyak tribe killed everything in the wilderness a long time ago.
When I got back to the village after hours of tough hiking, I got to meet some very stoned locals.
The only thing the locals seem to be doing is to smoke opium and walk around.
And of course, since the next day was a Sunday and Sunday = no transportation, I got stuck for another day, that day I used to seek out some on of the headhunters for some photos.
Additional info about Nagaland
How to get there
Like I have already mentioned, getting to Nagaland takes time, it’s no airport or no train going to Nagaland, so the only option is to take the local buses that only run when it got enough passengers, or to hire a jeep.
Assuming you are already in North East India, the first thing you have to do is to head to the city Sivasagar in the state of Assam, from Sivasagar there’re 2busses leaving a day IF there enough passengers to the town of MON in Nagaland, it’s only about 100km between those in towns, but the road is absolutely horrible and can take up to 8hours!
You will not make it all the way to Longwa from Sivasagar in a day, so you will have to spend a night on Mon.
From Mon, there’s 1buss and a few jeeps leaving in the morning, the distance from Mon to Longwa is only about 35km, and that road is probably the best in all of Nagaland, but it will still take 2hours coz it’s very narrow and steep.
I took the jeep to get to Longwa, but the bus back to Mon, the bus was more comfortable than the jeep, BUT everyone on the bus was sick and was vomiting the whole way.
You will most likely also have to spend a night in Mon on the way back towards Assam.
Where to sleep
Got a few guesthouses, but only one that accepts foreigners, an unnamed guesthouse next to the Bank with the only Atm in town.
800rps for a double room with western toilet and shower. The owner speaks English and is very helpful; they got a tiny restaurant on the top floor.
No guesthouse in the village, have to ask around for homestay. I paid 1000rps a night for a tiny room with 2 beds, included breakfast and dinner.
Safety in Nagaland is the concern, “all” the men in Longwa is stoned from opium-smoking 24/7, and since most of them are old warriors you should be a bit careful, the local kids started to throw stones when I didn’t have candy or a pen for them.
Nagaland is a dry state, so it’s nowhere to but alcohol, so it’s a lot of home-brew or liquor smuggled in, and, unfortunately, the locals got aggressive when drunk.
There’s an ATM in Mon that accepts foreign bank cards (visa), but don’t count on it having any money. There is NO way to get money in Longwa.
In General, Nagaland is more expensive than the rest of India.
No beer in Nagaland
Nagaland is famous in the west, for one thing, that’s not the headhunters, but for their Chilli: Bhut Jolokia or more famous as the Ghost Chili Peper,
In 2007, Guinness Book of Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chilli pepper, 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce(2500), the Ghost chilli is rated at more than 1 (1,041,427)million, Scoville heat units (SHUs).
I’m a big fan of spicy food, but in Nagaland, I made the big mistake of ordering spicy food, I can’t describe the shock got when I took a big bite of the Bhut Jolokia, I instantly started to sweat, got a massive headache, and my hands started to shiver.
Where to go Next? What About Arunachal Pradesh? Or watching one-horned rhinos in Assam in Kaziranga National Park.
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