Blessed with scenic grandeur, an unmatched landscape and hiding in its folds many an enticing trekking trail, the Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh is the perfect escape for adventure and nature lovers alike. It is one of the few destinations in the world to have earned the status of a World Heritage Site for its breathtakingly beautiful locales marked by lush green rice fields, snow-capped mountains, towering pine trees, and bamboo groves. Soak up the beauty of this enticing destination to the fullest with these top things to do in Ziro Valley:
Spend Time in Apatani Villages
Apart from its scintillating natural beauty, the native Apatani tribe also adds to the uniqueness of the Ziro Valley. Experience the indigenous culture of this place by spending some time in the Apatani villages of Siiro, Baro, Bula, Hong and Hari. You can sign up for a guided tour of these villages, visit the local homes, and interact with the natives. If you time your visit right, you can even witness some traditional festivals and animist ceremonies observed by the Apatani people.
Try the Local Cuisine
The food and drink of Ziro Valley are as far removed from the culinary patterns of the mainland as its culture and lifestyle. Get a real taste of the destination by indulging in the local cuisine that mainly comprises rick, pork, fish and beef. If you happen to visit during a ritual celebration, the customary Mithun meat and pork are a must-try.
Rice served with boiled veggies, wild boar, beef and pork cooked with bamboo shoots are some of the staple foods here. Chicken and eggs not only serve as food items but are also used for decorating totems and altars here. If you are open to trying new foods, forest rodents are a local delicacy you ought to try. Guzzling down some Apong, a home-made rice beer served as a welcome drink in Apatani homes, is certainly one of the top things to do in Ziro Valley.
Visit the Tarin Fish Farms
A visit to this high altitude fishery definitely makes the cut as one of the top things to do in Ziro Valley. Several varieties of fish capable of surviving at high altitude are bred in ponds here and their fingerlings sold to farmers during the paddy cultivation season. This helps the Apatani grow both fish and rice in their fields at the same time. If the paddy cultivation season coincides with your visit, do take time out to visit the farms and marvel that the cultivation techniques employed by these tribal people to make optimum use of limited resources at their disposal.
Pay Homage at the Donyi-Polo Shrine
The Apatani people follow the Donyi-Polo religion and are worshippers of the sun, the moon and elements of nature. Typically, this animist religion is free of places of worship but the region does have a few designated Donyi-Polo shrines where the villages gather for mass prayers every Sunday. Pay homage at one of these shrines to observe a whole new way of obeisance and witness the Shamans make prophecies.
Go Trekking in the Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
Just 32 km from the Ziro Valley lies the Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, a prominent reserve sprawled over an area of 337 sq km. The elevated location and lush green landscape crisscrossed by Sipu, Pange, Subansiri and Karing rivers make this wildlife sanctuary the perfect retreat for nature lovers. Add a trek through the stunning spectrum of alpine and subtropical forests to your list of things to do in Ziro Valley and lose yourself in the dense groves of ferns, silver fir, bamboo, orchids and rhododendron. If you are in luck, you may even spot a clouded leopard or two.
Walk Through the Bamboo Grove
A walk through the Bamboo Groove must feature on your top things to do in Ziro Valley. The blue-clad pine growth here is a testament to the unique farm forestry skills practised in the region. This unique destination is also popular for its one-stem Monopodial Bamboo variety, also known as Japanese timber bamboo or giant timber bamboo. It is the perfect place for a hiking tour.
See Exotic Flower Species at the Tipi Orchid Research Centre
The Tipi Orchid Centre is home to a large variety of exotic orchid species grown over an area of 10 hectares. The key attraction of this research centre is the Orchid Glass House with a central fountain and pond surrounded by over 1,000 species of the flower grown in hanging baskets and pots. If you are invested in horticulture practices, you can also explore the tissue culture lab, orchidarium, herbarium, museum and garden on the premises.
Shop at the Hapoli Market
Embark on a shopping spree quite unlike any other at the local Hapoli Market. Frogs, dried rats, meat steaks, bamboo shoots, Tapyo salt, ferns and local herbs are some of the top items for sale at the various small kiosks here. You can also shop for handmade bamboo and cane items.
Stay with the Locals
In recent years, the Ziro Valley has warmed up to the idea of tourists and travellers, and many locals are opening up their homes as an accommodation option for their visitors. Book a homestay and experience the unique Apatani way of life, huddled around a family hearth, sipping local tea or Apong and listening to their fascinating tales.
Including each of these nine top things to do in Ziro Valley will make for a fulfilling travel experience. The only other thing required to savour the experience in true earnest is time. So make sure you set aside at least four days for your stay here, excluding the travel time. To know more about planning your trip, check out our travel guide to Ziro Valley.