Anini Seven Lakes Trek: All You Need to Know

The only relationship you can have with Anini Seven Sister lakes is a love & surprise one. I have plenty of stories to tell about our seven sister trekking.


Trekkers Dairy

12/23/20226 min read

Anini Seven Lakes Trek: All You Need to Know

Explore Unexplored North East India, Arunachal Pradesh, Trekking

So, We finally did it… At least parts of it. Even though all the objectives were not achieved, it was a major personal milestone for me. I’ve been thinking about the Anini Seven Lakes Trek ever since it was revealed to the world a couple of years ago and this region is among the 40 most unexplored regions of India in my list.

This area is so remote that hardly anyone knew about this trek apart from some local hunters whose natural abilities are beyond the comprehension of city dwellers. Local mountaineers and officials planned to develop it into a tourist circuit and only around 2020, the images of the high altitude lakes started going viral in the SM and suddenly it became the most sought after trek in North East India.

The Dibang Valley has many other attractions that I’ll explore in the near future. It’s also going through some turmoil due to controversy over a power project being constructed in the ecologically fragile region. Maybe I’ll explore that issue some day.

Usually I just love to roam around on my own or with one or two people I know. But this is just not that type of a place and you can’t do such multi-day trek without guides. So, it was going to take some adjustments from my end.

So, the trip started from Dibrugarh where I met some Summiters Adventures who planned the trek from Kolkata to Kolkata with another client. We quickly reached Roing and then Anini the next day after a longish ride but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the road conditions were pretty good. Construction of the highway has been going on here and although not complete yet, there were many smooth stretches, cutting down the commutation time to around 7-8 hrs.

At Anini we checked into a newly built homestay built at sort of a hillock overlooking the town, consumed some local liquor called Yuchi and met the local operators of Mishmi Trekkers who handle the trek operations on the ground. As some people had cancelled their bookings, we were left with only three people for this expedition and along with us, three local boys joined as guides/porters.

Here, it is noteworthy that most of these local guides have been recently trained and it has given them a new source of livelihood. Tourism is still new in this area and this is a good example of economic upliftment in remote regions.

Emuli Grasslands

The next morning, we had a hefty breakfast with local rice and eggs and set out in a car towards Emuli, the starting point which is around 22 KMs away from town. A car had been arranged and our guides had got the supplies already. They had also taken a few live chicken but we dissuaded them and got them returned. It took around one hour to reach the trekking point. So, Emuli Grasslands is exactly what the name suggests. It’s a lush green grassland, somewhat reminiscent of Shola grasslands the Wester Ghats ( you can see a bit of it in my Nethravathi Trek post). It’s around 5-6 KMs from the roadhead to the first camp at the end of the grasslands.

The initial part of the walk was easy. We passed shrubs of tall grass dotted with giant ferns. As a matter of fact, there’s much to see here although we were in a hurry. A lot of wildflowers and insects can be spotted in the grass if you have the eye for it. I think these grasslands should be treated as an individual attraction, not just the first day of a trek.A good start…

As we gained elevation, the vistas got better as we saw the slender Mathu River below, with rolling hills towering over the gorge. The first half of the trek was easy but it became extremely steep after a while. The second half of the day involves at close to 70 degree gradient and tall pine trees also start showing up. The “end” of the trek looks close from a distance but it took around 4.5 hrs to finally cross the grasslands and reach the edge of the rainforest (that’s for the next day).During the later part of the hike we were also assaulted by dumdims (small blood sucking flies), that left visit bytemarks on the skin. We were carrying repellants but they turned out to be ineffective. Much later, back at the homestay, our hosts told us that a mixture of Dettol and mustard oil works better for this purpose!Anyway, this is where a wooden Hut has been built and a few tents have been set up. This is called the Aniku Camp, where we settled down.

Into The Rainforest

Although steep, the first day was enjoyable and we didn’t have much trouble. But the second day showed us what’s in store for the rest of the trip. The grassland gives to a thick rainforest here. It’s so dense that the canopy prevents light from reaching the ground. The entire route is full of mud and they gleefully call the camp the Keechad Camp (Mud camp).It is also remarkably steep, just like the first day, with the additional difficulty of the mud, where the boots were getting sucked into. The progress was slow and it took another 8 hours to negotiate it. However, at the end of the day we were pleased to find the wooden cabins built deep in the jungle.

The Lake and other Alpine Delights

The third day was a difficult one to start. Some muscles were protesting after the previous day. But there were more pressing problems. The weather had begun to deteriorate and the information we had was conflicting. Our guides were saying that the third day will be easy… Probably to console us. It soon became apparent that this day won’t be easy too.The first half of this trek was the same as the previous day. A mercilessly steep hike through the muddy slopes that took forever. Eventually, we reached a point from where one could see the first glimpse of the first lake, the Kamu lake. However, it was obscured by a thick veil of mist. By that time we had already reached an altitude of more than 3800 meters. The lake was actually below us. Actually, the lake is formed in sort of a crater and we saw no way to get down to the lake. The campsite is located overlooking the lake.

Soon, we realised that we’ll have to circumambulate this huge, elliptical lake and reach the other side, where the campsite is located. So, this brought new challenges. We were now above the treeline. The view of the lake started getting better as we proceeded. However, now we were in a region dominated by huge boulders.Technically we were no longer climbing steep gradient but it was even more difficult as we were repeatedly climbing up big rocks and then climbing down through crevices and then climbing up again. At some places there was no way to simply hike up. So, ropes have been fixed here by the team to climb up.It looked neverending and the day was tiresome but finally we reached the camp in the afternoon and albeit for a brief period, got good golden hour light and clocked pictures of the lake to our heart’s content.

Reluctant Retreat

So, this was it. We were exhausted already and it started raining incessantly that night. When we woke up in the morning, we found out that the lake has become completely invisible. So, the doubts started creeping in. What if it remains the same in the next lake too? What’ll be the use of all the hardwork? And return will be far longer and more difficult then. If I was in better shape I would have still pushed forward with a bit of risk. Another option was to spend a day at that camp to rest and to wait for the weather to clear. However, there’s no guarantee of clearing up after a day. Also, the guides were also not too keen to extend the trip by additional days (there was a question about supplies too).So, with a heavy heart we took the decision to return. On hindsight, it was not the wrong decision because we got intermittent rainfall for the next couple of days too. The return was still faster and we reached back camp 2 in around 6 hrs.

A Note on Flora and Fauna of Upper Dibang Valley

Here, I must take a moment to discuss the flora and fauna of the region. I think the name Seven Lakes Trek makes it sound exciting but the lakes grab all the attention but there’s much more to explore here beyond the lakes. If you are interested, you’ll find real joy here is in finding interesting plants, insects, birds,and animals, if you keep your eyes open.Nature of the flora and fauna kept changing everyday. We spotted plenty of insects in the grasslands of Emuli. Birds were visible too although hard to spot. Once we entered the rainforest, we spotted scores of mushrooms of varied colours and shapes. Vishwanath spotted a big snake and clicked as shown below.Various wildflowers were visible still although we were past the peak flowering season. Some part of this forest is actually a thick rhododendron forest. It was autumn already and I could identify them from the leaves. One can only imagine the views when they bloom in the spring!