September is definitely one of the best times to experience the true essence of the Himalayas. The monsoons are almost over and all you see around is lush green landscapes releasing misty fragrances. It’s during this time that the snow is almost completely melted, even on the high peaks, and you can actually catch sight of the entire mountain from the base till the summit. Sometimes, during the day, the fluffy clouds flow down so low that you are able to walk through them and catch a glimpse of what is beyond those clouds. And on clear nights, you can just look outside your tent and just be amazed at all the gleaming stars that shine to give you that galactic experience!

Exciting Treks in September – Click Here to Explore!

Now as pleasant and refreshing the weather is during September, it’s not the most popular time to go for a trek in the Himalayas. When I came to think of it, I could not really find any particular reason for that. So I decided to speak to a lot of fellow trekkers and mountain lovers to find out that reason. After having a chat with a bunch of folks, I came to a conclusion that no one really had any substantial reason as to why not go trekking in the Himalayas during September. The most common thread that I could gather up was that the trails are wet and slippery and there are chances of landslides. Now all those things are true. Hiking on slippery trails could be a bit dangerous but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it also becomes more adventurous and fun. Surely you are going to have a couple of clumsy falls while climbing down, but in the true spirit of adventure, you are going to shrug that mud off your back and continue hiking to your destination. And that’s what trekking is all about, right?! So trust your instincts and plan that autumn trek in the mighty Himalayas.

Must Read: Best Monsoon Treks in the Himalayas

To make it easy for you to decide, I’ve listed down some of the most popular treks for the month of September, below.

Best Himalayan Treks in September

1. Har Ki Doon Trek

Har Ki Doon

  • Maximum Altitude – 3550m/11650ft
  • Region – Garhwal (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 6N/7D (Ex. Dehradun)

One of my absolute favourites, Har Ki Doon Trek has the distinction of being one of the oldest trekking trails in India. The valley is located in the high altitude region of Garhwal and is a part of the Govind Ballabh Pant National Park. Sankri serves as the base camp for the trek and from there it usually takes around four days to hike to the valley and back. The most enticing feature of this valley is the unspoilt dense forests and the riverside camping which offers a blissful experience for nature lovers, bird watchers and shutterbugs. An after monsoon trek to the Har Ki Doon valley is highly recommended for both, the experienced and the beginners.

Explore Har Ki Doon Trek

2. Indrahar Pass Trek

Indrahar Pass Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 4342m/14245ft
  • Region – Mcleod Ganj (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 3N/4D (Ex. Mcleod Ganj)

Located at a high altitude of more than 14000 ft, Indrahar Pass lies in the Dhauladhar Ranges of Himachal Pradesh. Due to the high altitude, the pass is covered in snow from October to April which makes it difficult to trek to the top. And during the peak monsoons also it’s not the best place to go hiking due to the heavy rainfall, thus leaving trekkers only a handful of months (including September) to trek here. The trek takes you through some of the prettiest landscapes in the Dhauladhar ranges covered with dense forests of cedar and rhododendron trees. During the trek, you even get a chance to hike to a glacier known as Laka Got.

Explore Indrahar Pass Trek

3. Beas Kund Trek

Beas Kund Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3700m/12140ft
  • Region – Manali (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 2N/3D (Ex. Manali)

Beas Kund, a small alpine lake, is the source of Beas River that flows through the entire Kullu Valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh. During autumn, this is one of the most popular treks to do around Manali due to the fact that the weather is absolutely clear and you can locate peaks such as the Friendship Peak, Ladakhi Peak and hanuman Tibba. The trail is filled with a heap of boulders and makes for a terrific spot for photography. During the trek, you will be camping in one of the most scenic campsites in the entire Himalayas, and that is one of the many reasons this is an extremely popular trek in the area.

Explore Beas Kund Trek

4. Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib Trek

valley of flowers

  • Maximum Altitude – 4600m/15090ft
  • Region – Joshimath (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Easy to Moderate
  • Duration – 5N/6D (Ex. Haridwar)

One of the most popular treks during the monsoon, Valley of Flowers is also one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Himalayas. Located in the remote Chamoli area, it is an Indian National Park known for its stunning meadows and the variety of flora. During the monsoons, hundreds of unique varieties of flowers bloom in this region and the entire valley looks like a watercolour painting on a colourful canvas. One of the other reasons this treks is very popular is the fact that one gets to trek to one of the highest located Gurudwaras in the world – Hemkund Sahib. Although one is advised to plan this trek in the first half of September as the unique variety of flowers are on full bloom during this time.

Explore Valley of Flowers Trek

5. Hampta Pass Trek with Chandratal Lake

Hampta Pass with Chandrataal

  • Maximum Altitude – 4270m/14009ft
  • Region – Manali (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 5N/6D (Ex. Manali)

Although it’s open only for a few months, Hampta Pass is one of the most trekked mountain passes in the entire Himachal Pradesh. Technically located in the Pir Panjal range, Hampta Pass acts as a passage between Lahaul’s Chandra Valley and the Kullu Valley. During the expedition, you will be spending the night at some of the prettiest campsites in this part of the Himalayas. Another reason of its popularity is its proximity to the shimmering blue lake known as Chandratal Lake which is located at a high altitude of 4250m and can be driven to. During September, the weather remains rather pleasant but you should be prepared for a couple of cold nights.

Explore Hampta Pass Trek

6. Markha Valley Trek

Markha Valley

  • Maximum Altitude – 4270m/14009ft
  • Region – Ladakh
  • Grade – Moderate to Challenging
  • Duration – 8N/9D (Ex. Leh)

A tributary of the Zanskar River in Ladakh, Markha River originates at the junction of Langtang Chu and Nimaling Chu. The barren land that the river flows through is known as the Markha Valley. During the trek, one gets to hike through some of the remotest mountain villages in the entire Himalayas. Since the trail goes through Hemis National Park, one gets a chance of sighting some the rarely seen animal species such as the snow leopard. All along the trek, one also has an amazing view of the Kang Yatse which is one of the highest mountain peaks in the entire region. Being a challenging trek, one is advised to prepare for a few weeks before going on this expedition.

Explore Markha Valley Trek

7. Nag Tibba Trek

Nag Tibba

  • Maximum Altitude – 3050m/10000ft
  • Region – Tehri Garhwal (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Easy
  • Duration – 1N/2D (Ex. Dehradun)

Ideal for a weekend trip to the mountains, Nag Tibba Trek offers a legitimate Himalayan trekking experience in a span of just two days. Anyone travelling from Delhi can just travel overnight to Pantwari village in Tehri and start the trek in the same afternoon. The hike from Pantwari to Nag Tibba base is rather easy and doesn’t take more than four hours. An early start on the next day will make sure you reach the top and be back in Pantwari by three in the afternoon. The short trek is absolutely perfect for beginners and for people wanting to give their kids their first trekking experience.

Explore Nag Tibba Trek

8. Everest Base Camp Trek

Everest Base Camp trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 5500m/18045ft
  • Region – Sagarmatha (Nepal)
  • Grade – Difficult
  • Duration – 13N/14D (Ex. Kathmandu)

Although Everest Base Camp Trek (EBC) has the word Everest in it which makes it sound like a daunting task, it’s really not that difficult a trek. Anyone carrying a few high altitude trek experience can plan this expedition after putting in a couple of months of physical training. One unique thing about trekking to the EBC is the fact that instead of camping in really harsh conditions you will be staying at comfortable tea houses (guesthouse) throughout the trek. Besides the surreal trekking experience, you will also have an exhilarating experience during the adventurous Lukla flight. And of course, you will get to see some of the highest mountain peaks on the planet such as Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse and Mt Makalu among others.

Explore Everest Base Camp Trek

There are plenty of other treks that you can go on during this time but I’ve put together the list basis various factors and a bunch of my experiences. So beat that scepticism and plan that Himalayan trek in September!

 

Trekking during the harsh Himalayan winters is not the most comfortable adventure to pursue, but it has its takers. From walking in knee-deep snow to regular snowfall sessions, trekking in the month of January offers constant thrills. Although the weather can be biting cold with temperature hitting as low as negative thirty degree Celsius in some places, the milky-white landscape makes it all worthwhile.

Explore Popular Treks in the Himalayas

Due to the inaccessibility of a few high altitude passes, many treks in the state of Himachal Pradesh are not operational in the winters but Uttarakhand, on the other hand, offers plenty of options for snow treks. Over the last few years, Ladakh has also gotten quite popular as a winter trekking destination.

Explore Exciting Winter Treks in India

As hard as it may have been to compile, I’ve tried to put together a list below, of the best treks in the Himalayas in the month of January.

12 Best Himalayan Treks in January

1. Chadar Frozen River Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3500m/11480ft
  • Region – Zanskar (Ladakh)
  • Grade – Moderate to Difficult
  • Duration – 8N/9D (Ex. Leh)

chadar-frozen-river-trek

One of a kind, Chadar Trek offers an experience matched by no other trek in the country. It derives its name from the word Chadar (Sheet), which is referred to the sheet of ice i.e. the Zanskar River which gets frozen in winters due to sub zero temperatures. Located in one of the coldest and uninhabitable places on earth, this trek gives an opportunity for one to walk on a frozen river and even locate frozen waterfalls. Although the hike itself is not so much treacherous, walking on thin ice makes is a challenging and exhilarating experience.

Explore Chadar Trek

2. Kedarkantha Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3810m/12500ft
  • Region – Garhwal (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 5N/6D (Ex. Dehradun)

shutterstock_1610282374_kedarkantha

Located in Western Garhwal, Kedarkantha is one of the most popular treks during the winter season. Although the trek is operational pretty much throughout the year, it’s during the winters is when this area is the most crowded. This is also one of the few treks where a less experienced trekker can get an experience of doing a proper snow trek. During the winters, certain stretches of the trail gets covered in knee-deep snow which makes it a winter wonderland. One unique part about this trek is that in a short span of time, one gets to summit a peak.

Explore Kedarkantha Trek

3. Brahmatal Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3840m/12600ft
  • Region – Chamoli (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 5N/6D (Ex. Dehradun)

brahma-tal-trek

One of the most stunning places to go for a trek in the entire Himalayas, Brahmatal Trek is a favourite of many seasoned trekkers. The sheer beauty of this area mesmerises one as soon as one starts hiking towards the first campsite i.e. Bekaltal. After the shutting down of Roopkund Trek a couple of years ago, this has become one of the most crowded places to go for a trek. From the summit, one gets to witness amazing views of Mt Trishul (7120m) and Mt Nanda Ghunti (6309). Although not a difficult trek, beginners should prepare for a few weeks.

Explore Brahmatal Trek

4. Har Ki Doon Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3550m/11650ft
  • Region – Garhwal (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 6N/7D (Ex. Dehradun)

har-ki-doon-8

One of the oldest treks in the country, Har Ki Doon trek offers probably the most beautiful riverside campsite in the entire Himalayas. Although it is not as popular as some of the other treks in the region, anyone who’s been there will tell you that it’s one of the most gorgeous places that they have ever seen. During the winter season, the entire valley is covered in a thick blanket of snow which makes the trek a little challenging and quite adventurous. During the expedition, one also gets to see some of the prettiest mountain villages.

Explore Har Ki Doon Trek

5. Kuari Pass Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3814m/12516ft
  • Region – Joshimath (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Easy to Moderate
  • Duration – 4N/5D (Ex. Haridwar)

kuari_pass__1_

Located at an altitude of 3814m, Kuari Pass is also known as the Curzon Trail. The trek is ideal for someone looking to catch a glimpse of few of the highest mountain peaks in the country. From the top of the pass, one has a view of Nanda Devi (7816m) along with other high peaks such as Dronagiri (7066m), Kamet (7757m) and Trishul (7120m) to name a few. This is also an ideal trek for a beginner looking for a winter trek experience. The trail is filled with rich flora and fauna including Rhododendron, Oak and Deodar trees.

Explore Kuari Pass Trek

6. Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila Trek via Deoria Tal

  • Maximum Altitude – 4000m/13123ft
  • Region – Rudraprayag (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Easy to Moderate
  • Duration – 3N/4D (Ex. Haridwar)
On the way to Tungnath
On the way to Tungnath

Chopta is a village located in the meadows and is a part of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. Over the last few years, this area has started to receive a lot of travellers from all over the country. Although a short trip, one gets to experience different aspects of the mountain life during the course of the 4 day trip. From spending time at the gorgeous Deoria Tal to taking blessings at the Tungnath Temple, from climbing the slopes of Chopta to summiting the Chandrashila Peak, this trek offers an amalgamation of unique experiences.

Explore Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila Trek via Deoria Tal

7. Dayara Bugyal Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3657m/12000ft
  • Region – Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Easy to Moderate
  • Duration – 2N/3D (Ex. Dehradun)

dayara bugyal

Dayara Bugyal trek is located in the stunning alpine meadows of a remote region in Uttarkashi. This trail takes one through some of the most scenic and vast landscapes in the area. Ideal for less experienced/beginners, the expedition starts from the village of Barsu and offers views of peaks such as Gangotri (I, II, III), Black Peak and Srikanth etc. The trail is filled with forests of Deodar, Silver Oaks and Rhododendron trees. The hike to the Bakaria top is rather relaxing and the views from the top are absolutely splendid.

Explore Dayara Bugyal Trek

8. Nag Tibba Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3050m/10000ft
  • Region – Tehri Garhwal (Uttarakhand)
  • Grade – Easy
  • Duration – 1N/2D (Ex. Dehradun)

nag tibba

If someone is short on time and looking to hike in the snow then they should look no further than Nag Tibba. The trek starts from Pantwari village and offers a relatively easier hike considering the well laid out trail throughout. After reaching the base, one has to camp overnight and then hike to the top and back on the next day. There is a beautiful little temple at the top which is usually covered in knee-deep snow during the winters. One can also catch a mesmerizing sunrise on the second day if the hike to the top is started early.

Explore Nag Tibba Trek

9. Prashar Lake Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 2750m/8956ft
  • Region – Mandi (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Grade – Easy
  • Duration – 1N/2D (Ex. Mandi/Kullu)

prashar-lake-trek

A weekend getaway for people living in North India, Prashar Lake trek is one of the most popular short treks in the winters. During the summers, one can even drive to the lake but it becomes impossible to do it in winters due to the heavy amount of snow. The hike starts from a village called Jwalapur, which is easily accessible by road. Even during the peak winters, it should not take more than four to five hours to reach the lake from the starting point. One of the signature experiences of this short trek is the lake side camping.

Explore Prashar Lake Trek

10. Hampta Valley Snow Trek

  • Maximum Altitude – 3080m/10100ft
  • Region – Manali (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Grade – Easy
  • Duration – 3N/4D (Ex. Manali)

pic17_u3g9gp-1

Located in one of the most popular trekking destinations in the Himalayas, Hampta Valley is also one of the prettiest places to go for a winter hike. After spending a day in Manali to acclimate, the trek starts from a village called Prini on the second day. During the expedition, one gets to explore quaint Himalayan villages such as Sethan and Chika. The trail is breathtakingly beautiful and presents some of the most picturesque views of the entire Kullu Valley. In January, the Hampta Pass top is closed due to heaps of snow but a hike till Chika is also good enough for mountain lovers.

Explore Hampta Valley Snow Trek

11. Sham Valley Trek

• Maximum Altitude – 3750m/12300ft
• Region – Ladakh
• Grade – Moderate
• Duration – 5N/6D to 7N/8D (Ex. Leh)

Sham-Valley-Trekking_1455607704

Also known as the Apricot Valley, Sham Valley is one of the least explored valleys in the entire Ladakh region. One of the major reasons for that is the fact that most of the villages in the valley are not accessible by road and can only be trekked to. While travelling from Leh, one can drive up to the village of Likir and from there the hiking starts. The major points of attraction on this trek are quaint Himalayan villages such as Hemis and Nurla etc. During the winters, the weather in the valley is biting cold but the snow covered trails and the magnificent landscape makes it a treat for the eyes.

Explore Sham Valley Trek

12. Snow Leopard Trek in Spiti Valley

  • Maximum Altitude – 4480m/14700ft
  • Region – Spiti
  • Grade – Moderate
  • Duration – 6N/7D (Ex. Shimla)

snow-leopard-trek

Less of a trek and more of an exploration expedition, Snow Leopard Trek in Spiti Valley is one of the most unique hiking trips in the Himalayas. During the winters, one can enter the Spiti Valley only from Shimla as the road from Manali to Spiti is not accessible due to snow. The valley is located at a really high altitude and that’s why one needs to take extra precautions when it comes to hydration. From Kibber, one gets to explore different parts of the area to catch that one rare glimpse of the stunning beast that is the snow leopard. Apart from snow leopard, one can also sight other majestic animals such as the Tibetan Wolf and the Blue Sheep.

Explore Snow Leopard Trek in Spiti Valley

There are lots of confusions and questions around trekking like, when will the trekking start? What all will be the precautions to be taken? Will it get more expensive? Will it be safe to trek? Which company to trust? Things to keep in mind before booking with a company?.. and many more like this. It is a fact that trekking in India is one of the most popular adventure activities which means many people’s earnings are also dependent on this popular outdoor activity/trip.

In the prevailing COVID 19 situation, nobody in their capacity could give concrete foolproof answers, including me. To make life easier for everybody, I have tried to address a few of these uncertainties, from my own experience and from what I have understood after analyzing and speaking with experts in the industry.

1. When will the trekking start? 

shutterstock_1518801341-manali

Irrespective of the lockdown status of different states and the aircraft or trains starting services, trekking operations can be started as soon as the Government gives a nod for tourism activities. It also depends upon when governments of Himalayan states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir, Ladakh, North Eastern States , or the Western Ghats States like Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra releases their individual advisories for trekking operation and start welcoming the trekkers. These states have the most popular trekking trails like Chadar trek, Sar Pass trek, Hampta Pass trek, Kedarkantha trek, Sandakphu trek etc., respective state governments consent is very important before trekking starts. Whichever state first decides to open their doors for trekkers and rolls out the SOPs and policies, trekking activities will start there with people starting to come.

2. Who will trek First? 

Ideally, the one who can drive up to the trek start point in an own or private vehicle from their home would be the safer and first lot. Followed by the people who fly down and drive up to the trek start point in a private vehicle. Slowly and gradually when things get better and the COVID-19 contamination worry reduces, more people will be trekking on different slopes. 

3. What are the precautions to be taken by the trekkers? 

The trekkers need to take all the necessary precautions advised by the government and shared by the trek operator without any fail. Adding to that few important and general precautions suggested are 

  • Travel to the trek start point in an own or private vehicle rather than in public transport or shared vehicle
  • Carry your own camping gears(Tent, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Mat, Sleeping Liner, Water bottle, etc) and cutleries(Plate, Spoon, Mug, Fork)
  • Sign up for private treks or the treks with small group sizes of 10 to 12 people. 
  • Priority to be given to the company’s quality in operating treks safely and following the SOPs rather than the pricing where safety could be jeopardized. 
  • Trekkers need to focus on quality rather than just only the price.

4. What will be the major precautionary steps taken by the companies? 

The trekking companies must follow all the general measures advised by the respective governments and the specific trekking operation related measures advised by organizations like ATOAI(Adventure Tour Operators Association of India). The major measures are likely to be and not limited to what is mentioned below. 

  • The company must have all the transactions and paper works done online to minimize direct human contacts. 
  • The company should have the capacity to arrange sanitized private vehicles, for transfers from trek start point and endpoint. 
  • The company must be willing to operate treks for private groups of families or close friends rather than groups of unknown people.
  • The treks must have small group sizes, ideally not more than 10 to 12 participants in each group.
  • The company must check and record the temperature of every trekker and staff daily, using non-contact thermometers. The data must be made easily accessible to everybody in the team.
  • The oxygen level of every trekker and the staff must be checked and recorded daily.
  • An evacuation plan followed by a quarantine strategy must be in place in case any member of the team is found to have an abnormal temperature or oxygen levels.
  • The company must ask the trekkers to bring their own tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and cutleries. Sanitizing these gears everyday and every time after use may not be practically possible in the wilderness but at the same time mandatory in case used by different people on different days. By owning gears and using it personally reduces the chances of contamination.
  • The company must provide adequate support and information to the trekkers regarding all the precautions to be taken and about the SOPs.
  • The company must provide adequate support in selecting and purchase of equipment. 
  • The company should provide proper solutions to sanitize the cutlery after every use. 
  • The kitchen tent and dining area must be well sanitized before and after every use. 

Must Read: Positive Evolution in Indian Adventure Travel Post COVID 19

5. Will the trek become more expensive? 

climbing-mistakes

Answer to this is quite simple and straightforward ‘Yes‘. If the trek needs to be safe, sanitized, sustainable for the environment and at the same time the trekkers get fun-filled deeper value added adventure experience, the price would definitely spike up. The real question to ask is, is it really worth going outdoors compromising the safety of the people at your service and your own? What about the sustainability of nature? Who will carry back all those extra trash you are taking up in those pristine nature to keep oneself safe from one another? When the number of people in a group reduces for the safety and sustainability, the overheads are not decreasing like the cost of the support staff or the vehicle transferring the group. So it’s obvious that when the cost will be divided between the smaller number of people individual costs go a little higher side.

Another important thing to consider is, the guides and all the trekking staff across the country have been jobless since lockdown. People going on trek is their only source of income. After such a long gap of non employment, the trekkers getting back to slopes is their only hope. In this situation, squeezing their livelihood for the trekkers benefit may not be the right way forward. When the trekkers start looking for deals and cheaper options a crazy price war gets triggered, which ultimately boils down to squeezing the trekking staff’s remuneration or cutting the corners by compromising the safety or hiring less experienced or qualified staff.

6. Which Company to trust? 

This is a tricky question and mostly dependent on many factors and your gut feel. But as a rule of thumb, top points you can refer to make the process easy are below. Go with the company or the operator who 

  • Can show you a track record of safe and value added trek operations through previous customer feedback or reviews in reputed domains like TripAdvisor or Google.
  • Voluntarily share the SOP’s and safety precautions followed by them to ensure safe and sustainable trek operations
  • Ensure a small group sized and private trek departures
  • Has the expertise, knowledge and advised you to opt for less popular and beautiful trails over the crowded famous trails
  • Provides or advises you to opt for adventure insurance as a default option or mandatory for the trek
  • Proactively provides you all the latest government or governing body advisories and ensure it to be followed
  • Not offering illogical discounts and deals which could boil down in compromising the safety.

Conclusion

location-shoting

Whatever happens trekking will be one adventure sport which will catch up really fast, as soon as the situation gets better. There lies a huge responsibility on the companies operating trekking and equal responsibility upon the trekkers. By now all of us must have understood the importance of nature and keeping it intact for our future. Sustainable operations of trekking is inevitable, when we say sustainable it must be giving value added rich experiences to the trekkers without adding further damage to the ecosystem and the local culture or the people. 

The trash issue may arise in the post COVID – 19 scenario trek operations due to the extra usages of disposable masks, hand sanitizers, gloves and many other personal protection equipment. Trekkers and the companies must take this additional responsibility of bringing these non-biodegradable materials back from and dispose off the right way. It will also be great if reusable personal protection equipment is used over the disposable and non-biodegradable.

COVID- 19, may give humans one more chance to make things right towards nature, so let us utilize this opportunity in the right way to re-live and re-nurture this world into a better one for our future generations. 

COVID -19 pandemics have brought devastation in the World economy and disastrous effect on the travel industry. When the whole world is fighting to come out of this, COVID -19 is successfully establishing it’s strong empire over humanity. We, humans, are one among the greatest survivors of all living creatures, even this will be survived by us with our strong capability of evolving and transforming for better.

Indian adventure travel was needing a major restructuring and remodelling long back. As Shannon Stowell, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) President says “We have the opportunity to enact change that perhaps we never felt the freedom to do before, If there was ever a time to rebuild right, the world has the opportunity.” Indian adventure and travel industry should take this as an opportunity to make things right. It’s high time that we start to make our great outdoors a place for sustainable tourism activities. It’s a widely accepted fact that adventure is going to be the major travel solution preferred by people post this world pandemic. This is the best time for the Indians to start learning, understanding and making adventure and outdoor travel part of their lifestyle.

Explore Adventure Trips in India

So let’s look into some positive adaptations we can plug into our regular adventure travel. These will help us progress towards making adventure travel positively evolve and become part of our regular new normal lifestyle post-pandemic

1. Own Personal Camping Gear

webp-net-compress-image-6

As we all are super excited to go out as soon as the pandemic situation relaxes. The first thing travellers would be willing to do is to travel to the nearby camping locations, in nature’s adobe. Which may not require travel in public transportation like air or train. Even though the camping company would be doing everything for the safety and hygiene of the campers, having their own gear helps to be more confident and less worried about sanitation and hygiene. Having your own camping gear like a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat etc will make travel easier and less stressful since these gears will be of personal use the chances of contamination become feeble. Personal camping gears is a good investment which can be reused on all the upcoming camping trips to other destinations as well. If gears are given proper care, it will last for years and having your camping gear makes travel much safer, hygienic and economical.

2. Own Crockeries

Post this pandemic situation, the biggest worry in the back of mind while eating in a campsite would be about the hygiene of the crockeries used. An alternative solution could be using disposable crockery, which can become a disaster when it comes to waste management in the wilderness. The sustainable and safe solution is carrying your own reusable crockery (Plate, Spork, Lunchbox and Bowl). This will be your personal which can be reused after washing, on your every trip to wilderness and nature for years.

3. Campsites for self camping

shutterstock_346326092-self-cammping

It is commonly agreed by the industry experts that post-pandemic, people would prefer to travel in small groups composed of close family members or friends in their vehicles or privately hired vehicles. When the camping gear and crockery are easily accessible and owned, then self camping would be the best way to be safe and away from the crowd. The concept of camping will evolve for better and many open campsites will emerge to cater to the need. Many of the previously operated assisted camps would also open up their space for people to camp on their own.

4. Explore More Outdoor Activities

1

 

Most surveys reveal that post-pandemic people would want to go to open less crowded places in a small group. This would be possible only by involving in an outdoor adventure like trekking, camping, kayaking, scuba diving, paragliding, surfing etc. Gyms, Swimming pools and cinema halls will be of less popular options.

Explore Popular Treks in India

Exploring more and different adventure sports will give an idea which sport suits the best for each individual. Once that is understood it is obvious to take that particular sport seriously and make it part of life. Having command over an adventure sport allows exploring more remote and beautiful places in the world away from the crowd and chaos. There are many sports to explore and to develop command over it, like, mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, kayaking, sailing, paragliding, scuba diving just to name a few.

5. RV (Recreational Vehicle) or Campervan Culture

People ready to travel once it’s safe would prefer RV’s if it’s readily available and its associated logistics are in place. RV’s give a sense of adventure and safety, as once sanitised and cleaned properly the whole trip can be covered worry less. Being a private vehicle external contamination is very minimal and the stress of choosing different hygienic accommodation, in different destinations of a trip becomes irrelevant. The culture of RV touring which was not popular in India will soon catch up. It would be a very convenient option for both domestic travellers and later even for international travellers.

6. Watersports To Get Popular

webp-net-compress-image-3

India, though having diverse geographical and climatic features, watersports did not catch up with general travellers to its full potential. When travelling becomes safe again, people would love to go to less crowded places closer to their home avoiding public transportation. For people living in many parts of our country water bodies would be more viable options than the mountains. Rivers, lakes, backwaters, lagoons, ocean and beaches viable for watersports will be the preferred travel destinations. Adventure sports with easy or short learning curves would get popular very soon. Paddlesports like, Stand Up Paddling, Kayaking, Canoeing and rafting would likely get more attraction followed by surfing, sailing and scuba diving.

7. Awareness of Outdoor and Adventure activities

In the new normal life post-pandemic, when outdoor activities and adventure travel become the popular way of travel, the awareness around adventure ethos and sustainable travel operations become very important. There would be lots of awareness generation by every organisation related to adventure travel, which in turn make the whole concept more popular.

Adventure Travel in India will evolve for better

Now, it may not be clear when exactly is it going to be safe to start travelling or when exactly it will be the new normal for adventure travel. But one thing is clear, adventure being closest to nature and most of the time far away from crowded places, this is the one kind of travel which can be carried out with much confidence. As it says, “Survival of the Fittest”, the survival of this industry also depends on how fast the industry is evolving to become the fittest to receive the guests by giving them safe, hygienic and deeper adventure experience. It is also imperative that the outdoor and adventure companies do all it takes for the guest safety and to provide confidence to the travellers so that they can entrust their life and travel dreams to them.

When travel becomes safe and we are on the other side of this pandemic, sustainable and ethical travel needs to be the priority of both traveller and travel company. Every adventure operator’s priority needs to be the traveller’s safety and providing meaningful experiences. The mass tourism with hundreds of people on a trail or a campsite has to be replaced with smaller closed groups who can appreciate nature and the adventure activity itself. The pricing of the adventures must reflect the quality, safety and value addition in an experience rather than just being a deal; conscious understanding of this must be there with both the traveller and the adventure company.

That time of the year when the colours around you are vibrant, and the weather is just perfect for everything you wish to do, you know it’s Autumn. Autumn is indeed the perfect weather for trekking.  The tree leaves turn orange, and the views are splendid in November. So if you plan on going trekking in November, fret not! We have amassed the perfect curation of treks for you.

10 Best Himalayan Treks in November

1. Everest Base Camp Trek

ebc

If you love challenges and are looking for breathtaking views of the highest peak in the world Mount Everest, then this trek is perfect for you! You will be trekking in the trails of the footsteps of legendary adventurers like Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Everest Base Camp Trek entails trekking at extremely high altitudes and tough terrains. Mesmerizing views of snow-capped mountain peaks is an icing on the cake. You will pass beautiful quaint villages, scenic glaciers and gorgeous valleys. You can start your trek from Lukla in Nepal and trek all the way to Kala Patthar at 18192 feet which is above South Base Camp.

Explore Everest Base Camp Trek

2. Annapurna Base Camp Trek

abc

Annapurna is one of the most difficult mountains to scale, so trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp is also quite an achievement. The Himalayas is a collection of more than 14 mountains that are more than 8000 ft high, which are also known as eight-thousanders. Annapurna was the first mountain of eight-thousanders to be scaled. On this trek you can glance at the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges and also get a close-up look at the massive mystic peaks of the eight-thousanders (Machapuchare, Annapurna South and Hiunchuli). You can start your trek from Pokhara, following which you will encounter lush forests filled with oak, pine, rhododendron, fern, bamboo trees and rice fields. The trails are long and tricky, but the sights are unimaginable. You will be crossing beautiful small villages like Sinuwa, Chomrung, Dovan. Nepalese culture is quite warm, you are sure to take back many pictures and memories.

Explore Annapurna Base Camp Trek

3. Har Ki Dun Trek

shutterstock_1569946366_harkidoon

A part of the Garwah Himalayas, Har ki Dun lies closer to the border between Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The trek is beginner-friendly, so if you are new at trekking, this could be perfect for you. Enroute, you get an opportunity to soak in the beauty of Sankri, Taluka, Osla and Jaundhar Glacier. Enjoy splendid sights of snow-capped mountains at Jaundhar Glacier, witness exotic flora and fauna at Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, and right vegetation at Osla with Himalayan backdrops. Har ki Dun is a trek popular among many trekkers, for its moderate level of difficulty and scenic vistas.

Explore Har Ki Dun Trek

4. Kedarkantha Trek

shutterstock_1610282374_kedarkantha

Explore the beauty of Uttarakhand on the Kedarkantha Trek. The trek starts from Dehradun and takes you to the beautiful quaint village of Sankri, which is inside Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and boasts of exotic flora and fauna. You will then cross Saud Village, where the people live without any modern equipment and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Continue your trek to reach the beautiful Juda Ka Talab, a splendid pond surrounded by lush pastures, maple, oak and Morinda trees. Kedarkantha is considered o be one of the best summits for beginners and has a mesmerizing view during the month of November. Snow-Capped mountain peaks, splendid meadows and beautiful forests are a treat to the eyes. Enjoy gorgeous views of sunsets with your family.

Explore Kedarkantha Trek

5. Sandakphu Trek

mt-k-as-seen-from-sandakphu

Sandakphu Trek is situated in the northern part of West Bengal. The trek starts from the beautiful village of Chitrey, from where you can glance at Kanchenjunga before starting your expedition. As you continue you’re to reach Tumling, you wish cross forests full of oak, pindrow firs and morinda spruces, followed by an alpine meadow with splendid views. This trek is perfect for beginners and is moderate difficulty. It is one of the easiest treks one could take in this region. The views are mesmerizing and the feeling is beyond description. You will also enter Nepal and come back to India on the winding trail, while on the trek.

Explore Sandakphu Trek

6. Buran Ghati Trek

shutterstock_1483899209_buranghati

Buran Ghati Trek is a thrilling pass that lies at a high altitude of 15,000 feet in Himachal Pradesh. Experience lush green meadows, apple orchards, snow-clad mountain peaks, gushing streams, and warm Himachali localities. The trek tarts from the ancient village of Janglik, which is untouched by modernization. As you proceed further, you will cross a forest and reach Dayara meadows which is a sight to behold. You can spot sheeps grazing and enjoy marvelous beauty all around you. Further on, you will catch a glimpse of the mystic Dhauladhar range. Explore the beautiful and calm Chandranahan Lake and breath taking views of Buran Ghati at Dunda. In case of snow, you will also get a chance to rappel which is exciting, thrilling and challenging. This trek will surely not disappoint you.

7. Brahmatal Trek

brahma-tal-trek

Brahmatal Trek is one of the most perfect treks for the month of November. It offers the most splendid views of Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti. This is a snowy trek, with views of lush forests full of ancient oaks and rhododendrons, two beautiful lakes and one meadow. On your way, you will come across a white wall of the Trishul massif. As you reach Jhandi top, you will have the massive Mt Trishul on your right and Mt Nanda Ghunti to your left. At the highest point of the Brahmatal trek, you will also catch a glimpse of Mt Chaukhamba, Mt Neelkanth, and Mt Hathi Ghoda. You can also camp beside the frozen shore of Bekaltal and take back a lifetime of memories.

Explore Brahmatal Trek

8. Dayara Bugyal Trek

4

Dayara Bugyal is a perfect trek for beginners and has the best views to offer. You can experience beautiful alpine meadows and lush green forests. The trek starts from the beautiful village of Raithal, which takes you to a lush forest followed by the splendid Dayara meadows. You can also see striking views of the Gangotri range with Bandarpoonch. The entire trail is a pleasant walk with meadows, villages, temples and majestic views. This trek is definitely one to be added to your bucket list.

Explore Dayara Bugyal Trek

9. Nag Tibba Trek

shutterstock_1008029209

Want to go on a trek over the weekend and experience a summit climb like a trek with splendid views? Nag Tibba Trek is the perfect one for you. The trail will take you through dense forests, ridge walks and mesmerizing views. Resting at 9,915 ft., you can catch the view of snow-capped Himalayan ranges such as Srikantha, Kala Nag, Swargrohini, Bandarpoonch and Gangotri. A short weekend trek from Mussoorie, this trek is great for beginners and trekkers looking for a short weekend trip.

Explore Nag Tibba Trek

10. Kareri Lake Trek

3

Kareri Lake Trek is situated at an elevation of about 2,950 meters in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.On your trail, experience lush green forests filled with chir and chilgoza pines and great views. The trek starts from Dharamkot which is close to Mcleodganj. You will also get a chance to cross the Liund stream by boulders and temporary bridges, which is quite thrilling. It is a short and beginner-friendly trek.

Explore Kareri Lake Trek

We hope you’ve added some of the above treks to your bucket list for this autumn.

Happy Exploring!

Trekking poles are important equipment for an efficient and seamless trekking experience. Many times, the purpose of it is underestimated and people shy to use it, not knowing the actual purpose and the gains of it. This article will help you to understand the purpose and benefits of using trekking poles, understand the different parts of a pole and the best practice of using it to your benefit.

Benefits of Using Trekking Pole

  1. It makes walking much easier and seamless, assists you to balance better in those uneven terrains, with better stability and grip. Having poles on each hand brings in four touchpoints on the ground giving you more confidence and support.
  2. Trekking Poles help reduce the stress and fatigue developed on the knee joints and muscles, developed during the uphill and downhill trek.
  3. It can come very handy is crossing streams and wading water
  4. It is a proven fact that by using trekking poles your upper body muscles get worked out including biceps and triceps beyond the aerobic activity of trekking itself
  5. Last but not the least, it can also be used to build shelters or support your tent as a pole.

photo-2

Different Types & Features of A Trekking Pole

Trekking poles come in different built types with varied features, most common types are adjustable, non-adjustable and foldable. Depending upon your usage, brand and type you select, the poles come with interesting features like shock absorbers and camera mounts. One thing to keep in mind is every additional feature comes with a weight and price added to it.

Adjustable

The height of the pole can be adjusted to enhance stability and balance in different terrains. Generally, pole length is shortened when going uphill and extended when going downhill.

Non-Adjustable

These are usually the lightest type, as the length of the pole is fixed, and it cannot be adjusted. This type of trekking pole comes handy for those people who indulge in activities that need a constant height throughout the activity. 

Foldable

These are not like the adjustable poles, which slide into themselves; these function similar to that of tent poles and are best for packing light. It’s a favourite for ultra-marathon runners.

photo-3

Parts of a Trekking Pole

Strap

The strap is a loop which helps you in securely holding the grip. Depending upon the brand and quality of the pole, it comes with and without padding. A strap with padding supports your wrist far better and gives you good comfort. 

Grip

The grip is the place where you hold the trekking pole. It is usually made of plastic, foam, rubber and cork. The grips also come in many shapes and sizes to fit different hand types. It is better to try the grip before you purchase for better comfort. Cork & foam gives better grip as it does not slip once your hands are wet or sweating, it also costs comparatively higher than all the other materials. Plastic is the most economical grip but it does not meet the complete purpose. A grip made of a combination of cork and rubber would be a good choice for an all-season trekking pole.

Shaft 

Shaft makes up the major portion of a trekking pole and contributes the maximum weight. Shafts are usually made of either aluminium or composite materials of carbon. Aluminium poles are more durable and economical on the other hand the carbon fibre poles are expensive and super light. The carbon fibre made poles are more susceptible to breakage than aluminium poles under high stress. 

Basket

The trekking poles usually come with a small trekking basket which is removable. It can be substituted with a larger basket for walking on powder snow or muddy terrain.

Tip

This is the portion that interacts with the ground. It usually comes with a plastic body and a metal point. The metal points are typically made of hardened steel or carbide, both are harder than the rock which allows the pole to bite better on a rock or icy patch giving extra stability. The tips come with a removable rubber cap that covers the sharp metal tip, this can come handy while carrying the poles in a backpack or when the poles are used in pavements and indoors to protect the surface from scars.

photo-4

Locking Mechanisms of a Trekking Pole

Every trekking pole comes with a locking mechanism irrespective of whether it’s an adjustable one or not, to keep the pole from snapping its length while on a trek. However, the locking system in adjustable poles also helps in adjusting the length of the pole as per the need. Different types of locking mechanisms are internal, external, push-button and combination lock.

Internal / Twist Locking 

This system uses a screw set up to expand or shorten the shaft segments. This system is comparatively stronger and durable.

External Lever Locking

This type of locking comes with an external lever like a clamp to lock the segments of shafts. When using the pole wearing gloves, this locking system comes much handy and easier.

Push Button Locking

In this mechanism, the button gets snapped in a socket and locks itself. To unlock the button needs to be pushed and the shaft segment needs to slide in or out to snap the button in the next socket.  This kind of mechanism may be challenging to operate with gloves on.

Combination Locking

In this type, the pole may come with a combination of different locking mechanisms to improve the strength and efficiency. For example, a particular pole may have a lever lock on the upper shaft and twist-lock in the lower segments of shafts.

photo-5

Right Usage of Trekking Pole

Single or Double?

It is a proven fact that using a pair of trekking poles is much more beneficial than using just one trekking staff (It’s called “Trekking Staff” when a single trekking pole is used). A trekking staff can be conveniently used when the trek is on a relatively flat surface with very little luggage. It is strongly recommended to use a pair of trekking poles when trekking on uneven terrain with heavy backpacks.

Using The strap

The strap needs to be used properly for a comfortable trekking experience. First, adjust the loop for the hand to be put through the strap from below and bring it down to run between the thumb and the fingers and back of the hand.

Right Height

While trekking on the flat terrain the height of the trekking pole should be such that, when holding it the elbow must be bent at a right angle. When going uphill reduce the height by about 5 to 10cms and going downhill reduces the height by 5 to 10cms. 

Conclusion

Trekking poles are going to be useful and handy gear which can make your trekking trip more comfortable. Choosing the right one hugely depends on your budget and usage. 

The unexplored, mysterious & gorgeous states of North-east India are worth venturing to. The Seven Sisters, i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and one brother state of Sikkim are the least explored, most mysterious and arguably the most beautiful region of India. They are connected to the rest of the country by a narrow stretch of land between Bhutan and Bangladesh. They are arguably the least visited destinations in India due to remoteness, permit requirements, and the ethnic tension.

Must Read: 7 Travel Experiences in Northeast India

History of North-East India

north-east-india

Until the 1960s, the entire north east comprised of two parts – The north east frontier agency which is now known as Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. But later on, it was further divided into 7 states and now officially Sikkim as well which makes a total of 8 states.

Must Read: Northeast India– A True Explorers’ Delight

About the 7 Sisters & 1 Brother

1. Assam

199560

Assam is famous for its tea plantations, rich flora & fauna, and one of the greatest UNESCO World Heritage Sites- Kaziranga National Park. Encountering the one-horned rhino is most popular among the tourists, along with boating in the splendid Dawki River near the Indo-Bangladesh border. Majuli in Assam is the largest river island in the world. Nestled on the banks of Brahmaputra, the place offers a rich blend of soothing landscapes, tea gardens, mystic mountain ranges paddy fields, rustic countryside, wooden boats & houses, and vibrant plus colourful culture & traditions.

Capital City: Guwahati

Must visit: Kamakhya Temple, Manas National Park, Assam State Zoo & Botanical Garden, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Molai forest, Phatobihu, Faato Bihu – Mohghuli Chapori

Must do: Brahmaputra river cruise, shopping at Jorhat, Wildlife safari at Manas National Park, experience the ecotourism of Majuli, Kamalabari Satra, and Dakhinpat Satra, Tengapania.

Must Read: 9 Reasons that Make Assam a Great Travel Destination

assam1

2. Meghalaya

meghalaya

Known as the Scotland of East India, Meghalaya boasts of extreme beauty. It is famous for being home to Asia’s cleanest village It is also well known for one of the wettest places on earth, i.e. Cherrapunjee. The living root bridges, beautiful waterfalls, and some of the longest caves in India make Meghalaya an extremely alluring destination.

Capital City: Shillong

Must Visit: Mawlynnong, Laitlum Canyon, Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Balpakram National Park, Umiam Lake

Must Do: Trekking on David Scott trail, rafting in Barapani Lake, kayaking on Kynshi River, camp on Khasi hills

khasihills

3. Arunachal Pradesh

shutterstock_678109096-mechuka-arunachal-pradesh

One of the most remote states, the people of Arunachal Pradesh are mainly of Tibetan origin. The Buddhist monastery of Tawang, Perched at 10,000 feet above sea level, overlooks the Tawang valley near Bhutan is the most popular attraction in Arunachal Pradesh. It has a great collection of Thangkas (Tibetan Paintings). Festivals namely Torgya festival, Dree Festival, Myoko, Ziro, or Tawang festival bring the place to life.

Capital City: Itanagar

Must Visit: Tawang Monastery, Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, Namdapha National Park, Dirang, Parasuram Kund, Daporijo

Must Do: Enjoy the Ziro Music Festival, trek to Ziro, Trek to Sella Pass, Check out Thangkas at Tawang Monastery, visit scenic and exotic Mechuka.

Explore Tawang Motorbike Trip

arunachal-pradesh-motorbike-expedition

4. Nagaland

shutterstock_1363402763-nagaland

Home to 14 different tribal groups, Nagaland is probably one of the liveliest of the seven sisters. Tourists also prefer visiting the heritage village of Longwa to see the famous skull exhibits. You can view Burmese territory from this village.

Capital City: Kohima

Must Visit: Mon, Longwa, Veda Peak, The war cemetery, Kohima Museum, Triple Falls, Tuphema Village, Kachari Ruins.

Must Do: Trekking in Dzoukou valley, soaking in peace at Khonoma, wildlife safari at Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary, hiking at Japfu Peak.

Explore Hornbill Festival Nagaland with Dzukou Valley Trek

hornbill_2_yjg0mr

5. Mizoram

shutterstock_1450576034-mizoram

Mizoram has the highest literacy rates in India and is predominantly Christian. The landscape of this location is quite scenic with lush paddy fields, bamboo trees, and deep jungles. The Chapchar Kut festival is one of the most popular festivals of Mizoram. The Blue Mountain National Park in Mizoram is famous for orchids and rhododendrons overlooking the Chhimtuipui River. Mizoram is situated Eleven thousand feet above sea level and the view is spectacular.

Capital City: Aizawl

Must Visit: Phawngpui Hills, Murlen National Park, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Vantawng Falls.

Must Do: Trekking in the Blue Mountain National Park, Visiting the Palak Lake, mountain biking in the Hmuifang Hills.

6. Manipur

shutterstock_1699128286-manipur

Probably one of the least visited places in north-east India, it is known as the Jewel of the east because of its splendid landscapes. Lemon Festival which is held every January in Kachai and the Kang Chingba Festival are quite popular and vibrant.

Capital City: Imphal

Must Visit: Shri Govindajee Temple, Keibul Lamjao National Park, War cemetery, Sendra Island.

Must Do: Boating in Loktak Lake, explore the ancient Andro village, chariot ride in Moreh near the border.

7. Tripura

shutterstock_1469692751-tripura

Tripura is known for its majestic temples and beautiful palaces. The Ujjayanta place is quite popular among tourists for its rich history.

Capital City: Agartala

Must Visit: Neermahal, Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary, Unakoti, Jagannath Bari, Tripura Government Museum, Rowa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Must Do: Visit Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary, Hike to Jampui Hills, shop the popular bamboo and cane artifacts, enjoy boating in Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary.

8. Sikkim

sikkim

Known as the brother to the seven sisters, Sikkim is home to the popular Pemayangtse Monastery and the highest motorable roads of Nathula Pass. Sikkim offers great adventure activities along with leisure activities.

Capital City: Gangtok

Must Visit: Lake Tsomgo, Gurudongmar Lake, Rumtek Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery, Zemu Glacier.

Must Do: Backpacking through the Yumthang Valley of Flowers, Check out the Singalila National Park, camp at Goecha La Pass.

Explore: Sikkim Motorbike Expedition

Food of North-East India

ne-food

The food in the entire North-east is fairly mild, due to lack of spices or masalas growing in the area. An exception to this fact is the bhut jolokia also known as the king chilli, which is among the hottest in the world, which is used liberally in most of the states. Some other popular dishes of the north-east are Tibetan momos, Thupkas, Rice which is their staple food, xaag (leaf vegetables), fish tenga (a souring agent), pitika (a vegetable mash) khorika (meat on a skewer), doh neiiong (pork with black sesame seeds), jadoh (rice cooked in meat stock with pork), churpi (fermented rock-hard yak’s cheese), lai patta (mustard spinach) dried river fish, anishi (dry yam leaves) akhuni (fermented soybean), singju (raw papaya and chickpea salad) iromba (fish and veg chutney) and many more interesting dishes.

Must Read: North-East India’s Most Scenic Villages

The north-east is diverse and vibrant in many ways. It is one of the must-visit locations for everyone! So add it to your bucket list and thank us later for such great info!

Happy Exploring!

Do you believe that God is an artist, and earth is his canvas? If you don’t, then this post will definitely make you believe so. The man-made creations are indeed beautiful, but the natural landscapes that you will stumble upon are unbelievably splendid. Take a list at the below natural beauties that you must add to your bucket list.

Most Beautiful Natural Landscapes in India

1. Valley of flowers

valley_of_flowers_uttaranchal_full_view

Valley of Flowers, located in a national park in Uttarakhand is well known for its splendid variety of blooming flora. The scent of the entire valley is heavily floral. The flowers bloom as per seasons, and you can come across some beautiful flowers like Meadow Geranium, Snake Foil, Hooked Stick Seed, Himalayan Rose, Blue Poppy, River Anemone, White Leaf Hog Foot and Dog Flower. The snow-clad mountain peaks, Pushpvati River flowing through the middle of the valley, and the vibrant flowers make the entire location a scenic place.

Explore Valley of Flowers Trek in Uttarakhand

2. Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh

shutterstock_1469446103-belum-caves-ap

Located near Kurnool, Belum caves are the second-longest caves in India. Remains from prehistoric times of 4500 BC have been found here, and also relics from the time when the Jain and Buddhist monks meditated in this cave, along with the vessels used by them. Discovered in the 1880s but unmapped and unexplored till the 1980s, this cave has a very interesting formation of tunnels that will intrigue you for sure.

3. St Mary’s Island, Karnataka

shutterstock_1396908257-st-marys-island-karnataka

St. Mary’s Islands, also known as Coconut Island, North Island, Darya Bahadurgarh Island and South Island are a set of four beautiful small islands in the Arabian Sea in Udupi, Karnataka. It is listed as one of the geological monuments of Karnataka and India. This is the land where Vasco De Gama set his first foot. The shoreline is full of crystalline rocks that were created at the time Madagascar Island got separated from India, which is some million years ago. According to scientific records, rock formations in St.Mary’s Island are similar to the rock formations at Madagascar in Africa. The separation occurred due to sub-volcanic activity. Standing at these rocks and viewing the sunset is indeed a mind-blowing experience.

4. Borra Guhalu

shutterstock_1607519962-borra-guhalu

An architectural marvel, Borra Caves are considered to be one of the longest caves in India, extending up to 80m. Water penetrates from the roof of the caves and reacts with minerals in the rocks forming unique structures on the ground called stalagmites and hanging from the roof called stalactites. A natural Shivling is also formed inside the cave, which tribal and locals worship. Remains from more than 50,000 years ago have been found in this cave.

5. Barren Island

shutterstock_1111053347-andaman-sea-andaman

Barren Island situated in the Andaman Sea, northeast of Port Blair. It is the only active volcano in India, and it erupted recently in 2018. People from around the world are coming to Andaman to witness this phenomenon. The waters surrounding Barren Island are one of the world’s top scuba diving Apart from that, the area around Barren island is famous for crystal clear water, Manta Rays, splendid basalt formations, the topography of past lava flows and beautiful coral gardens. This dive destination is remote but can be accessed by ship from Havelock Island.

6. Reverse Waterfall at Sinhagad

Also known as Maharashtra’s Grand Canyon, only during the monsoons, due to high wind pressure, the water starts to flow back upwards. You can stand on the top of the waterfall behind the railing and enjoy the splash of cold water on yourself. The view is splendid, and you can enjoy this gravity-defying phenomenon with hot Chai and Bhajjis.

7. Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Cherrapunji

living_root_bridges_nongriat_village_meghalaya2

Living root bridges are situated in one of the world’s wettest places, Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. They are certainly awe-inspiring and mysterious. The bridges are living and ever-growing, as they are made of roots of Ficus Elastic, which make them extremely strong and sturdy. They take nearly 15 years to develop fully. Some of the bridges are more than 500 years old. Isn’t this truly marvelous?

Explore Cherrapunji Living Root Bridge Trek

8. Yana Rocks, Karnataka

shutterstock_1709544853-yana-rocks-karnataka

Yana Rocks, of Yana village, lie in the jungles and majestic hills of Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district. They are made of crystalline Karst limestone. The formation has two peculiar rock shapes (known as Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and Mohini Shikhara). A temple inside a cave also lies at the bottom of these rocks, which hosts a splendid festival during Maha Shivratri.

9. Magnetic Hill, Ladakh

magnetic-hill_1553684612

Magnetic Hill is one of the most popular destinations in Ladakh. It is situated near Leh and here illusion seems to defy the rules of gravity. Commonly known as the ‘Gravity Hill’, this place pulls vehicles in an upward direction, creating an optical illusion. The layout of the area and the surroundings, create an illusion of a hill. The road is actually a downhill road, but it appears like vehicles are rolling upwards in defiance of gravity. Truly splendid.

Explore Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Trip

10. Marble Rocks of Bhedaghat

shutterstock_647153026-marble-rocks-of-bhedaghat

3kms in length and situated on the Narmada river, Marble rocks of Bhedaghat in Jabalpur and truly a mesmerizing sight. The gushing Dhuandhar waterfalls along with the Marble rocks is a gorgeous creation of nature. The entire scenery will make you fall in love with nature.

11. Lonar Lake

shutterstock_1104238286-lonar-lakemaharastra

Lonar Lake is situated outside the Lonar town in Maharashtra. It was formed when a meteor crashed on Earth more than 50,000 years ago. It is also known as the world’s third-largest crater. The water of this lake is both saline and alkaline in nature and looks green in colour from afar. This lake is mentioned in ancient scripts like Skanda Puran, the Padma Puran, and Aaina-i-Akbari.

Explore Lonar Crater Lake Trip

So we are sure you are already in awe of these gorgeous natural sights. Ensure to check them out all and strike them off your bucket list. Happy Exploring!

So what happens when you’ve been to Leh numerous times? Bored with the Taj? Stayed in a house boat on the Dal Lake and explored the backwaters of Kerala? Then the quote ‘Been there, done that’ comes to mind. But Wait! This is not all India has to offer. We bet you’ve not even heard of some exquisite places that you could travel to and explore. India is a massive land, and there is more to explore than you could dream of. Read on to explore a little about offbeat destinations in India that could surely tickle your fancy. Here the crowds are less, but the beauty is in no term less than the popular over hyped spots.

7 Offbeat Locations in India

1. Gokarna

shutterstock_491757385-gokana

Literally translated as ‘cow’s ear’, Gokarna is a small temple town on the western coast of India in the Kumtataluk of Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka. It is considered to be one of the pilgrimage sites in India. As per mythology, Lord Shiva emerged from the incarnation of Mother Earth in the form of a cow in Gokarna. The white pristine beaches, waterfalls, and the rustic vibe will make you fall in love with the place. Some popular beaches, named after their appearances are the Om beach, Half moon beach & the Paradise beach. Hippies have discovered the beauty of Gokarna and now are preferring visit here instead of the usual beaches of Goa or Kerala.

Explore Gokarna Beach Trek

2. Meghalaya

nature-4099774_1920

When it comes to the ‘Seven sisters’ Meghalaya is perhaps the most intriguing. Also known as the wettest place on earth, the hills of Meghalaya are full of colorful quaint little tribal villages. The bridges in this place are said to be living as they are made of roots of jungle trees. You would find localities in tartan shawls and banana piths which are turtle-shaped, to protect themselves from the rains. Explore the living bridges, gushing mystic waterfalls & limestone caves of Cherrapunji, also known as the ‘Jewel Crest Of India’.

3. Kannur

shutterstock_1200863209-kannur-kerela

Also known as the land of looms and lores, and also Cannanore is a beautiful city on the northern side of Kerala. Kannur is also called the Manchester of India. Kannur is extremely popular for handlooms, cashews, theyyam rituals, temple festivals, and golden clean beaches unswamped by tourists.

4. Majuli Island, Assam

shutterstock_1717751653-majauli-island

Majuli island also known as Majoli, is the first island to be considered a district. It lies in the Brahmaputra River, and is considered to be the world’s largest river island as per the Guinness book of world’s records. It is a rich blend of soothing landscapes, tea gardens, mystic mountain ranges paddy fields, rustic countryside, wooden boats & houses and vibrant plus colourful culture & traditions. Majuli the cultural and art hotspot of Assamese Vaishnavite philosophy. The spiritual vibe, untouched by humankind natural beauty, and warm local people make this place quite alluring. Unfortunately, due to soil erosion and floods, the island land is reducing drastically. It is said that the island will be completely lost to water in the next 15-20 years. Ensure to visit this beauty before then.

5. Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh

shutterstock_678109096-mechuka-arunachal-pradesh

Mechuka considered to be the hidden gem of Arunachal Pradesh, is situated in the west Siang district. This place which is quickly gaining popularity among the tourists is famous for its hanging bridges, wild berries which can be plucked from the grass & eaten, herds of beautiful stray horses, wooden houses, Tibetan culture, Butter Tea, Millet Beer & the hike to Mechuka La Hill. The beauty of this place will not disappoint you.

6. Bijapur & Bidar, Karnataka

shutterstock_1225865191-bijapur-bidar-karnataka

Bijapur also is known as Vijaypura is famous for Islamic style architecture. Gol Gumbaz which is the largest dome in India, and the second-largest in the world is situated in Bijapur. Bidar which is a hill top city in the north-east of Karnataka is popular for its ancient ruins & monuments and is the least westernized parts of Karnataka. You can explore the real rich culture around you. The place is full of niqab-wearing women and turbaned Sikhs. It is also considered as the coldest and wettest place of north Karnataka. It doesn’t draw much tourists, which makes it more alluring and natural.

7. Kalna, West Bengal

shutterstock_1337394377-kalna-west-bengal

Kalna, the terracotta town, also known as the town of temples lies towards the north of Kolkata along the western bank of River Bhagirathi Hooghly. Kalna boasts of the most beautiful temples with terracotta ornamentations. The splendour and artistic excellence is worth appreciating. Episodes from the Ramayana,the Mahabharata, erotica and hunting scenes are depicted on the walls of the temples. Saraswati Puja, Kali Puja and Durga Puja are the three festivals you must attend at Kalna. The city bursts of colour sound and fun during these festivals.

So if you are now seeking a location which is not swamped by tourists and is at its natural untouched beauty, pick one from the list above. Go explore them before they turn into popular spots drawing large crowds.

Happy Adventuring Off the beaten path!

Routine can get too boring at times. And when it does, you must just pack a few essentials and set out to explore! This is what the hippies did in the 1950s and 1960s and travelled on a path that many ended up vagabonding on in the future. That path came to be known as the ‘Hippie Trail’. Subsequently, the Gringo trail followed in Latin America and now the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’ is the modern rendition of the same.

Banana Pancake trail is more of a fuzzy idea in the head of the travellers than an official route. It is particularly popular routes the backpackers end up visiting. The aim of these wanderers is to explore the local culture, traditions, meet new people, enjoy the local music & food, get adventurous, all on a budget. Travelers don’t follow the same route, but most of them end up meeting each other at some place or the other.

Why the name Banana Pancake Trail?

Tourism reign in the places frequented by foreigners. The local entrepreneurs were smart to sense the demand and started offering what the nomads were looking for – i.e. clean affordable bedding, local themed cafes, and good breakfast. Sensing banana pancakes was a popular breakfast in the west, local hotels and streetside vendors started offering Banana Pancakes to cater to the travellers. Hence the name came to be!

The Beginning

Bangkok’s Khao San Road, Kuta in Bali, and Chiang Mai in Thailand were three of the earliest and the most popular stops on the trail.  Back then when there was no internet, word of mouth was the only way that tourists could gather info on places of their interests. Right then, Lonely Planet published two books Across Asia on the Cheap (1973) and Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (1975) and both became classics. The stops mentioned in these books became a part of the trail. Since then the trail has grown wider due to the Internet, and travellers keep adding and talking about their newly discovered stops.

Let’s read on to find some of the places in India on the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’. Most of these spots are also on the ‘Hummus Trail’, which is a popular trail that Israelis follow post their military service.

1. Malana

SONY DSC

Malana is an ancient village to the north-east of Kullu valley. Malana has stayed secluded for many years, due to its geographic location. It is a formidable task to reach the location in the winters due to snow, slush, rock falls, and loose boulders. It is not a secret that it grows the finest quality of weed in India, and is insanely popular for ‘Malana cream’ which is the most expensive hashish in an Amsterdam Cafe Menu. Tourists flock here for the Kath Kuni buildings, temples, and a hip-hop vibe.

Explore Malana Village Trek

2. Old Manali

shutterstock_733880116-naggar-village

Just across the Manalsu river, starts Old Manali. It is a charming and laid-back place with lots of themed cafes, apple orchards, beautiful mountain trails, and tons of backpackers seeking tranquility.

Explore Scenic Treks in Manali

3. Mcleodganj

shutterstock_1504645868-mcleodganj

A hill station near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, it is popular for its scenic views, lush greenery, Tibetan culture, British-era structures, and Dalai Lama monastery. The place has a spiritual feel to it, which makes it all the more charming. The trek to Triund is very popular here and offers majestic landscape views.

Explore Popular Treks in Dharamshala

4. Kasol

kasol

 

Also known as Mini Israel, Kasol is a hamlet in the Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. Also commonly known as ‘the Amsterdam of India’, this quaint little village is based on the banks of Parvati River has the best of views to offer. It is a popular destination for backpackers, nature lovers and trekkers.

Explore Kasol to Kheerganga Trek

5. Rishikesh

rishikesh-rafting

Did you know that the Beatles spent the late 1960’s writing 48 songs, mostly on the White Album in Rishikesh? Rishikesh has two parts, one which is flocked with families and couples who come here with a spiritual motive, and the other which is a hippie land. Both the sections are on either side of Laksham Jhula. Travellers immerse themselves here in meditation, yoga, good food & music, and lots of self-pampering which include crystal therapy, reflexology, light-healing therapy, and massages.

Explore River Rafting in Rishikesh

6. Goa

shutterstock_590864483-goa

One of the most popular stops for vagabonds. At the end of the 60th century, tourists from the west started visiting Goa and stayed on the beaches of Anjuna, vagator & baga. Goa is the ultimate party haven for fun lovers. It offers a mix of noise & serenity/tranquility. Arambol is one of the most popular stops on the Banana Pancake Trail.

7. Kalga, Tulga & Pulga

shutterstock_1705749007-a-beautiful-view-of-a-house-at-kalga-village-of-kullu-districthimachal-pradesh-india

Probably not as commercialized as Kasol or other similar places, the trio village Kalga, Tulga & Pulga lie in the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. The houses here are small & old, giving the place a charming ancient look. Nomads visit here to explore the Himalachi themed cafes, gigantic pine trees in the Fairy Forest, charming waterfalls & the warm localites.

The Future

While some argue that the original culture is lost on the trail as the entrepreneurs have adapted too much to suit the western traveller’s comforts, some say that it is a safe way to meet new people in a new country, and visit places that have been vetted and approved of by numerous other nomads.

shutterstock_543211045-manali-sunrise

As the internet grows and so does tourism, these travellers do help the economy of these places by generating revenue but the entire process also results in culture mutation. Whatever your stance, you must give the Banana Pancake Trail a shot to know for yourself!

Happy Exploring!

If you are an avid biker, and can’t wait for the lockdown to get over to ride your bike again, we feel you. We can’t take out our bikes right now, but we can read about beautiful biking routes in India & dream about crossing them off our lists after COVID-19 is over. For wanderers and dreamers, India has the most perfect routes. The joy of experiencing new cultures, new mystic lands on your two wheels is unparalleled with any other joy in this world. The prospect of biking on an endless road entices the kid in you to just to set forth on a journey of self-exploration.

We Ride- To Love, To Heal, To Communicate, To Touch, To Feel, To Breathe, To Live, To Fly.

While you may have seen endless bikers chose Leh Ladakh as their biking destination, it indeed is spectacular, but there are many more mesmerizing motorbiking trips in India worth exploring.

Take a look at the most loved and most scenic motorbiking routes in India, in no particular order-

1. Delhi To Leh Through Manali – Leh And Leh – Srinagar Highway

shutterstock_724767439_ladakh

Hands down, the most popular route in India. This is the dream ride of many, the views in this route will leave you speechless. You will come across cobalt blue skies, bright rainbows and glistening lakes as pure as magic, this route entirely is magical and will leave you spellbound. Beauty & More Beauty. You will cross Chandigarh, Manali and reach the beautiful Jispa. This route will throw everything one can wish in a motorbiking adventure tour, from long plain highways to tricky mountain passes to river crossings. You get to cross the mighty passes like Rohtang La, Baralacha La, Tanglang La, Chang La, Zoji La and the mighty Khardung La which is considered to be the highest motorable pass in the world along with many other low and high passes of interest. This exceptional motorbiking adventure will take you through some dream locations like Manali, Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, Leh, Kargil, Dras and Srinagar. Your entire journey will be filled with beauty every single minute of it.

Explore Leh Ladakh Motorbiking Expedition

2. Cliffhanger Route-Sach Pass

clifhanger

If you love extreme adventure, then this one is for you! Sach Pass is a high altitude pass in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. It’s located at an altitude of 4,420 meters and connects Chamba valley to Pangi valley. The pass is open from June or early July to mid-October. The roads are narrow and unmetalled. The terrain is pretty rough, the road is quite uneven and the weather is quite unpredictable. It is the gateway to the Pangi Valley. You can enter this route either from Kishtwar in Kashmir, Chamba or Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Due to the extreme riding conditions and scary cliffs, the route is fondly known as the “Cliffhanger Route”. If you want to travel the off-beaten route, with a majority of the ride being dirt and mud track then Sach is a great choice.

Explore Cliffhanger Route-Sach Pass Motorbike Expedition

3. Spiti And Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh

5

Spiti is a desert mountain valley that lies in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh in India. This mountainous cold desert with mesmerizing valleys, beautiful landscapes, wide snowfields, the sun-kissed snow peaks, and gorgeous glaciers is often compared with Ladakh. The entire route will leave you spellbound, the access to the valley is usually from Shimla via Rampur and Pooh or from Manali crossing the Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass. The Shimla access is open throughout the year and is a favourite route for extreme snow rides. The access from Manali is closed in winters due to the heavy snowfall on the high passes. It has fewer travellers than Leh and is relatively less crowded, which is a plus. The scattered villages in Spiti come along in your way while the pristine stream of the Spiti River is your near-constant companion. The entire route is scenically spectacular.

Explore Spiti Valley Motorbike Trip

4. Guwahati in Assam to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh

tawang

Tawang also is known as Dawang, will flatter you with utmost natural beauty wrapped in spirituality. The ride from Guwahati to Tawang will expose you to breathtaking views, the ride in Assam until entering Arunachal Pradesh is scenic plain farmlands and forests. Winding mountainous roads with hairpin bends start marks the entry into India’s northeastern-most state. 80 % of Arunachal Pradesh is covered with forest and mountains, which will give you a raw and untouched by humankind feel.Connected to the rest of India via the Sela Pass, Tawang, also known as the ‘land of Monpas’, is a historically well-known town, forming an important part of the Silk Route and also a reminder of the sacrifices of the men guarding our nation in the borders. The natural beauty and solitude of Gudpi and Chong-Chugmi ranges, Tawang chu River and Tawang valley are spectacular.

Explore Tawang Motorbike Trip

5. Sikkim

sikkim-silk-route

Super clean, full of greenery and ‘all organic’ since 2016, Sikkim entails plunging, super-steep valleys loaded with lush trees, rising in the north to the spectacular snow-laden eastern Himalayan peaks. Sikkim is also home to the world’s third-highest mountain, Khangchendzonga (8598m).

Feel the cool mountain breeze on your face as you head towards scenic Gangtok and then to the North Sikkim Plateau where you will be left speechless to see Gurudongmar Tso Lake. Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India, located at an altitude of 5,425 m (17,800 ft). Unveil hidden gems as you ride towards Yumthang Zero Point, where you will come across lots of snow, crooked pathways and probably a frozen river. The entire route is scenic and consists of Emerald alpine valleys and mystic waterfalls. The entire place is bursting of colours, from the monasteries, temples, to the sky and also the warm-hearted people.

Explore Sikkim Motorbike Trip

6. Bhutan

shutterstock_1374222482_tiger-nest

Bhutan is no ordinary place. Also known as Druk Yul, meaning “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Bhutan is home to the pristine eastern Himalayan landscape, where snow-capped peaks sit tall above lush forests and lovely small villages. The villages are full of majestic dream-like fortress-like dzongs and monasteries, many of which host spectacular tsechus (dance festivals). Ride along Bhutan’s west-east highway which is as challenging and thrilling. The entire road trip is dotted with winding roads that go up and down thousands of feet, which will keep your adrenaline rushing. Some of the dream locations a rider can’t miss riding through in Bhutan are Phuentsholing, followed by Paro, Thimpu, Punakha, the beautiful Phobijkha Valley. You will come across spectacular valleys, ridges and quaint villages. The chanting of monks and clinking of chimes in the monasteries will surely put you in a trance-like a state!

Explore Bhutan Motorbike Tour

7. Bangalore To Kerala & Tamil Nadu

kerala

This road trip will be full of different flavours. Start with your ride to the city of beautiful and clean beaches, Pondicherry. Explore the beautiful French colonies and its architecture. Head towards Thanjavur, which is famous for art, painting, and architecture. Then ride to Rameshwaram, which is famous for beaches, temples and is known as a revered site for Hindus in India; a part of the Char Dham pilgrimage. Then ride out to Madurai, Munnar, and The beautiful Ooty. Savour all the different flavours that come across in your route. Enjoy the lush green trees with tea plantations and the backwaters and paddy fields. The entire route will leave you mesmerised. Kerala is rightly known as God’s own country.

Explore Bangalore to Kerala Motorcycle Tour

9. Rajasthan Circuit

udaipur-shutterstock_137123798

Rajasthan Motorbike Tour is the perfect dose of adventure. Start your riding trip from Mandawa – a quaint 18th-century town which is popular for its spectacular haveli architecture. Explore the magnificent view of the “Blue City” from the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.  You will also come across the stunning City of Lakes – Udaipur. The sunsets here are truly mesmerizing. Ride to the sacred land of Pushkar which is famous for its Brahma Temple. End your trip in the colourful city of Jaipur, also known as the “Pink City”. Your trip will be full of royal forts, castles, palaces, vibrant markets, desert villages and warm people.

Explore Rajasthan Motorcycle Tour

10. Uttarakhand

uttarakhand-motorcycle-tour

For travel lovers, nothing could be better than exploring the Himalayas from your two wheels. Devbhoomi, meaning Land of Gods encompasses raw nature and the scenic Himalayas. It is also home to several glaciers including the Ganges. In this route, you will ride from Delhi to the beautiful land of Rishikesh, followed by Chopta, where you can undertake the Chopta Chandrashila trek. You can then proceed towards Joshimath and Auli which is a Himalayan ski resort and hill station. You will come across coniferous and oak forests, along with the Nanda Devi and Nar Parvat mountains. HEad towards Kausani and soak in the panoramic view of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchchuli peaks. When you reach Binsar, wildlife will truly amaze you. You can then ride to Jim Corbett with your cameras ready (not while riding) and then back to Delhi with beautiful memories.

Explore Uttarakhand Motorcycle Tour

So, while you are locked in and reading this on your couch probably, feel free to wander off to one of your favourite routes in your thoughts.

Four wheels move the body, and two wheels move the soul.

Manali situated in the northern end of Kullu, Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill station with snow-capped mountain peaks, cool weather, and eye-pleasing surroundings. It is situated at a height of 2050 m in the Himalayas and is nestled in the scenic Beas valley. It is a very popular destination for adventure sport lovers. Manali is a perfect mix of tranquility & fun activities. A lot of tourists engage in activities like paragliding, river rafting, trekking & mountain biking. The localites in colourful puttoos, Tibetan ladies donning ankle-length multi-colour striped pinafores, Buddhist monks, and men in woolen gonchas make Manali a lively place.

Explore Popular Treks in Manali & Manali Leh Manali Motorbike Trip

Read on to know the top 5 destinations one must not miss while visiting Manali:

1. Hidimba Devi Temple

shutterstock_1443282647-hidimba

Also known as Dhungari temple, or Hadimba Temple is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, wife of Bhima, a popular figure in the Indian epic Mahābhārata. The temple is enclosed by a cedar forest called Dhungiri Van Vihar at the foot of the Himālayas. There is an interesting story behind this temple. The temple is built around a cave where Devi Hidimba performed meditation. Hidimbi supposedly lived there with her sibling Hidimb, who was said to be quite brave and fearless. Born into a Rakshasa family, Hidimba wished to marry the one who would defeat her brother Hidimb. During the Pandava’s exile, Bhima, one of the five Pandavas, defeated Hidimb while in Manali. Subsequently, Hidimba married Bhima and gave birth to their son Ghatotkacha. Nestled away in the snow-capped mountains, this temple has a unique exterior with wooden doors and attracts tourists from all of the place for its history and beauty of the surroundings.

Explore Skiing in Manali

2. Naggar Village & Castle

shutterstock_733880116-naggar-village

The splendid village of Naggar is situated at stone throw distance from Manali, along the left bank of river Beas. It is an ancient town in the Kullu district and was once the capital of the Kullu kingdom. This place has a charm of its own. It is usually not swamped by tourists which makes it all the more alluring. Naggar Castle (now a heritage hotel) is the most popular attraction of Naggar. This castle was built by Raja Bhosal more than 500 years ago. The castle survived the earthquake of 1905. While most of the houses in the surrounding were completely ruined, the castle’s use of earthquake-proof techniques helped it sustain despite the calamity. In 1978, the castle was converted into a rest house and subsequently a heritage hotel run by HPTDC. The castle is an extremely scenic property. There is a sacred slab of stone called Jagti Patt in the castle. Being the only surviving castle in Kullu district, it is believed by the localites that this Jagti Patt stone protects everyone against the ill eye. The museum in this castle is also quite popular among the tourists.

Expolre Naggar to Manali Snow Trek

3. Solang Valley

shutterstock_752913262-solang-valley

Situated 14 km to the northwest of Manali, Solang valley is one of the most loved destinations. A favourite among adventure lovers, there are options to paraglide, horse-ride, and drive open jeeps in the beautiful mesmerizing valley. In winter, when it is covered with snow, skiing is the trend. Once the snow begins to melt, zorbing comes into the picture. You can see people in huge transparent balls rolling up and down inside the ball shrieking with joy and excitement. If you are new to skiing, you can also avail of the classes from ski institutes at this location. Solang Valley is also quite popular for its tea and many tourists like to carry back tea leaves with them. You could also hop onto the rope-way cable car and soak in the splendid view of glaciers and snowy mountains.

4. Jogini Waterfall

Jogini falls also known as Jogni, is one of the most popular trekking destinations. Situated near the Vashishth Village, the Falls are merged into the Beas River. You can start the trek from Vashishth Temple, where you can enjoy the hot springs known for its therapeutic effects. At the base of the fall, you can plunge into the small pool of cold water and make lifetime memories. Post that, you can also visit Jogini Mata Temple. Overall, the trek is a beginner-friendly trek and has scenic views with apple orchards and pine trees. If you love mild adventure and nature, then this is the perfect destination for you.

Explore Beas Kund Trek in Manali

5. Old Manali

shutterstock_1195206577-old-manali

Ever heard of the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’? It is the name given to growing routes around Southeast Asia travelled by backpackers and other tourists. The Trail has no clear geographical definition but is used as a metaphor for places that are popular among Western tourists. Old Manali is a part of the Banana Pancake Trail. To enter this hippie land, just cross over to the Manalsu River. If you don’t like huge crowds, then this is for you. Lined up with great restaurants & themed cafes, fresh pure air, drinking water that comes from waterfalls, foreigners all around, amazing trekking trails, old Manali has a lot to offer. There are great music festivals organized in this place. Not the ideal location for families or honeymooners, old Manali is preferred by younger people for its hip vibe. Some of the places will give you a retro feel. Visit old Manali and soak in the majestic views with lesser crowds around.

So these 5 spots were difficult for us to shortlist, but if you are pressed on time make sure to visit these 5 for sure. With something for everyone, Manali will definitely please you!

You’ve often heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. As a photographer, it’s your job to convey those words through your picture! It’s important to use emotion and freeze moments to click great pictures! When you summit the top of the mountain and click that incredible view, the photo should be great enough to gush back all the memories even when you look at the picture years later. Not just that beautiful view you captured, but probably the snowy rocks you crossed on the way, the cold wind splashing water on your face from a nearby waterfall, the gorgeous pine trees, the memories you had with your squad. The photo is powerful enough to tell a story.

You don’t take a photograph, you make it’ –  Ansel Adams

So read on to know some basic tips to capture great pictures!

1. The early bird gets the worm

sunset

Yes, you read that right! If you want to capture that amazing unique shot, you better get there before the place is swamped by tourists. The best pictures are captured early in the morning and around sunset. The light is just right to give your pictures the right glow and warmth. Sunsets are also great for photography as the lights are quite eye-pleasing, and the lights around are beginning to turn on. Shooting pictures at noon on a bright sunny day is an absolute NO. Take that time to trek, rest, explore. Leave travel photography for mornings & evenings.

2. Rule of Thirds

This is probably one of the most important tips in mastering travel Photography. This can be easily done by using the grid feature on your camera. Once you turn that on, your screen will break up into thirds, horizontally & vertically. It is important to place the focused object on the grid lines, instead of the plain old boring centre. This will bring life to the image & make the photo interesting. Also, always remember to keep the horizons straight. Never click pictures while you are moving.

3. Lightweight Travel Tripod

This is more important than you can imagine! A Tripod is perfect for those sunrise/sunset shots, low light photography, gushing waterfalls, and panoramic landscapes. With the tripod, you can easily shoot slower shutter speeds and concentrate on the composition of the image rather than worrying about the handshake & blurry images.

4. Experiment with Composition

Never be satisfied with your first idea of a click. Experiment in various ways and then settle with the best output. Try shooting from different angles, but also from different distances. Take that shot standing and the second one may be lying down. Wherever possible, try to include a powerful foreground, midground, and background elements. This gives the viewer a 3D experience.

Take a look at the below picture:

54513107_649691525535925_5168969541653370131_n
Photo Credit – @arindam_10 (Instagram)

Your attention will be first drawn to the rocks (foreground), the river then (the midground), and then the distant mountain (the background). This makes a normal image exceptional.

5. Human Element is powerful

Do you remember how viral were Murad Osman’s Follow Me Pictures? Reason? Human element. A human element always makes a picture personal. The viewer should be able to relate to that element and think of it as himself. How do you do that? Show the back of the human element, or maybe a silhouette. Or just have the face looking somewhere else. How to make a picture powerful depends on your decisions while clicking.

6. Patience, patience & patience

stary-night-kedarkantha

Dear photographer, always remembers that the secret to great photography is patience. Have you seen the pictures of the northern lights? You can’t even imagine how much the photographer waited to capture that mesmerizing shot. Wait and think before you click that shutter. Are the clouds really in the eye-pleasing position? Will this shot look better if someone passes the road? Will the sunset look better in the next 10 minutes? Photography requires dedication and waiting for the right moment to capture.

7. Use of Colour

Colours opposite on the wheels generally looks amazing together. Thinks sunflowers and blue skies, arid brown mountains and azure water. The combination is important. Colours don’t need to be balanced. Great shots mainly have one colour in the majority and the other supporting colour in minority.

8. Use the manual mode

Modern cameras may be great, but the manual mode is always better. If you adjust aperture manually, you have more control over the depth of field of your picture. When you manually control shutter speed, you are able to capture motion in better and creative ways. When you manually control ISO, you can reduce the noise of your pictures and also handle low lights or tricky lighting situations.

9. Get lost on purpose

You may capture the sunset like everyone else usually does! But that’s not what makes an exceptional picture. Discover new places only if you make an effort to take the route less travelled. Chances are you will stumble upon a splendid view. Always carry a camera with you! Even if you are just stepping out of your hotel for lunch!

10. Location Scouting

location-shoting

Always do your research before you go to the location. You may discover so many hidden places by Instagram photos or your basic google search. Find out all the iconic locations beforehand. You should know what time does a particular attraction opens, what time is the best time to avoid tourists, how to get to a vantage point, and what time is the best view. You can maximize your time by doing some basic research about your location in advance.

Start practicing today to hone your photography skills so your pictures can be powerful & speak a story.

Don’t shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like!

Leh needs no introduction. Its utmost soundlessness, glistening azure skies, pristine snow-capped mountain peaks, shining lakes and the entire panoramic landscape will leave you at a loss for words.

Leh lies between Xinjiang, Pakistan, Kashmir and Tibet – more than 3,000 metres high at its lowest point. It is also called as “land of high passes”. Leh is encircled with the Himalayas, the Zanskar, the Ladakh and the Karakoram ranges. Three untamed and sparkling rivers, the Shyok, the Indus and the Zanskar flow between these ranges.

Explore Exciting Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

sun-813711_1920

There is so much to do in Leh. You can soak in the majestic beauty while hearing the birds chirping and admiring the colorful flags, go camping, experience the breathtaking sights from the top of the Khardungla Pass, defy earth’s gravity at the magnetic hill, find peace within yourself at Shanti Stupa, enjoy the freezing cold at Drass, or pray for the war heroes at Kargil.

If you are pressed for time, read on to know the Top 5 Must Visit Places in Leh:

1. Zanskar & Suru Valley

zanskar
Zanskar Valley

These valleys are named after Zanskar & Suru Rivers, which are two powerful tributaries of the Indus River. Suru valley lies in Kargil and is full of mesmerising beauty. It is famous for the Nun and Kun peaks. Suru Valley includes Sanku, Panikhar, Rangdum and all three are beautiful in their own ways. The entire place is a mix of Turkish and Tibetan architecture and the quaint houses are reminiscent of that. Panikhar is a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts. Zanskar Valley is as enchanting as Suru valley, but probably a little more well heard of. It is known for its awe-inspiring views, snow-capped mountain peaks, rugged terrain, daunting trails, cave monasteries and azure waters gushing down the valleys. It is also famous for trekking, paragliding and water rafting. Some popular treks are Lamayuru to Darcha, Lamayuru – Padum trek. This valleyis inaccessible for more than 9 months in a year because of heavy snowfall in the region, which makes it all the more luring to tourists. Trekking in this region can be nerve racking experience, hence one needs to be fit, physically as well as mentally to undertake a trek. Overall, it is a magical place with splendid views.

Explore Chadar Trek over the frozen river of Zanskar

2. Nubra Valley

hundar-sand-dunes
Nubra Valley

The Nubra Valley was once on the trading route that connected eastern Tibet with Turkistan via the famous Karakoram Pass. It has been recently opened for tourists. Nubra lies north of Leh, cradeled by rugged terrains & mighty mountains. Since Nubra valley is quite near the LOC, you require an Inner Line Permit to visit Nubra Valley, both as an Indian and foreigner. One of the most popular attarctions in Nubra is the Khardung La Pass.  It has been considered the highest motorable pass in the world, however it is a debatable topic. It is situated at an altitude of 18,379 ft. above the sea level. In Nubra valley, you can explore the Diskit district which is an oasis of tranquility. Enjoy a warm ladakhi meal with the amazing hospitality of the localites and soak in the splendid view.

Must Read: Offbeat Places in Ladakh You Probably Haven’t Heard About

3. Pangong Tso Lake

pangong-lake-ladakh-2
Pangong Tso Lake

This lake needs no introduction. If you have seen the movie 3 Idiots, you probably remember this picturesque lake. The Word Pangong is derived from a Tibetan word Banggong Co which means “long, narrow, enchanted lake”. It is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). Pangong Tso is geographically situated in a disputed territory, claimed both by India and China. The colour of the lake is bluest of blue. It looks magnificent against the arid mountains. The lake is however said to change colours throughout the day. It could be blue, green or even red. Words or even picture don’t do justice to this place. Visit it yourself and absorb in the splendour.

Must Read: Pangong Tso – Things You Probably Didn’t Know!

4. Tso Moriri Lake

moriri-lake-ladakh
Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri, also known as Lake Moriri or Mountain Lake, is at an altitude of 4,522 m (14,836 ft). It is the largest of the high altitude lakes in India. The blue pure river is about 7 km wide at its broadest point and about 19 km long. It is a part of the wetland reserve under the Ramsar site, and that prohibits you from camping or staying anywhere near the lake. This scenic lake attracts a range of wildlife, including migratory birds, marmots and even the Tibetan wolves once in a while. The landscape offers a splendid view with multi shades of blue color. This place can be extremely harsh in winters to visit. In January to March, the lake remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with no options to stay around the lake. Around April, the snow starts to melt and starts transforming into the beautiful multi shades of blue colors.

Must Read: The Great Himalayan Lakes

5. Shey, Thiksay & Hemis Monasteries

thiksey-monastery
Thiksey Monastery

Monasteries are an integral part of Leh. They are all around you, but if you are short on time, you must definitely visit Shey, Thiksay & Hemis. Shey monastery was built in 16th Century AD on a hillock in Shey, 15 kms to the south of Leh. In the past, Shey was the summer capital of Ladakh. The monastery enshrines the Du-Khang with an almost 10 meter high copper statue of Lord Buddha. Thiksey Monastery was built in 1430 AD and it belongs to the Gelukpa Order of Buddhism. A very popular sacred mask dance ritual festival is organised at Thiksey Monsatery from 17-19 Spetember. The Maitreya Buddha statue here is probably the most photographed statue of the Buddha. The 15 m (49 ft) splendid high statue took over 4 years to craft. The Hemis Monastery is the biggest and quite richly endowed monastery of Ladakh. It was built in 1630. It is different from the other important monasteries of Ladakh and is decorated all around by colourful prayer flags which flutter in the breeze and send prayers to Lord Buddha. One of the largest Thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist Painting) is displayed every 12 years during the Hemis Festival, which is held for two days in June-July. The annual festival, celebrating the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava makes the monastery burst with life & colours. The festival, where good triumphs over evil in a colourful pageant, also holds a ‘bazaar’ where localities buy and sell wares. Various rituals and mask dances are performed during this time.

Must Read: I found my road to happiness on the way to Ladakh! and Ladakh – The Land of High Passes

Shanti Stupa
Shanti Stupa

These 5 spots were very difficult to pick for us, as Leh is full of splendid places. So bookmark this page and take note of these locations to make your next trip remarkable.

Spiti which literally translates to ‘The Middle Land’, is a cold desert located high in the Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The place derives its name from the geographical location in between the Indian peninsular mass and the Tibetan plateau. The barren and beautiful land is a part of the Lahul and Spiti district and is often cut off from the rest of the country for as long as six months a year due to heavy snowfall at the high altitude passes. The villages in the valley are some of the highest inhabited places on Earth and that’s why acclimatization becomes extremely important for travellers. The valley’s otherworldly landscape is characterized by barren mountains, treacherous passes, shimmering blue lakes and serpentine rivers.

Over the last decade, tourism has finally caught up in Spiti and travellers from all over the world visit the valley for its surreal moonscapes and the cultural experiences. Apart from seeing the stunning remote landscape, people also visit the place to indulge in some outdoor adventure activities such as motorcycling, trekking, white water rafting and camping etc. Being a relatively small land area, one should try to explore all parts of the valley but for someone who is a little short on time, below mentioned are the five places in the valley which are absolutely not to be missed.

Expolre: Spiti Valley Bike Trip and Popular Treks in Spiti Valley

Kaza

Located at an altitude of 3,650mt (11,960ft), Kaza operates as the sub divisional headquarters of the valley. Although, it is the biggest town in the valley but the population is a mere thirty two hundred. Located on the east bank of the Spiti River, the town is the central point for travellers entering the valley from both Shimla and Manali. It is surrounded by high mountain ridges on all sides and is one of the coldest towns in India. Known for its colourful festivals and the Buddhist architecture, the town is also home to the ancient Sakya Tangyud Monastery. Being in the centre of the valley, a few monasteries and remote villages including Hikkim and Komik can be accessed from the town. The tourist infrastructure is rather minimal including a tiny market, a few basic hotels and a couple of cafes. The primary mode of accommodation is the home stays run by the locals, providing basic amenities but offering absolute value for money.

Must Read: Travel to Spiti Valley to find Love, Peace and Harmony

Key Monastery near Kaza
Key Monastery near Kaza

Kibber

Kibber, also known as Kyibar, is located 19km northwest of Kaza. Situated at an altitude of 4,270mt, it is one of the highest inhabited villages in India. The village lies in a narrow valley and all the houses are located on the summit of a limestone rock from where one gets interrupted mesmerising views of the lush green fields against the backdrop of naked mountains. Only six km to the south of the village, perched on a hill, is the popular Key Monastery. Offering staggering views of the Spiti River, the monastery is the largest in Spiti and serves as a religious centre for Lamas. The village is also home to The Kibber Sanctuary which spreads across 1400 sq. km and is a habitat for blue sheep and snow leopards. A lot of the high altitude treks in the valley also start from Kibber. Accommodation in the village is limited to the quaint home stays run by the villagers.

Must Read: My Fantastic Journey along the Hindustan Tibet Road

Kibber Village
Kibber Village

Pin Valley National Park

Located within the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve in the valley, Pin Valley is one of the highest national parks in the world. The valley shelters over a dozen endangered species of wildlife animals and birds including the snow leopard, Ibex, Red fox, Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle, Griffon and the Himalayan Chough Weasel. The national park, located near the Tibetan border, spreads south of the Dhankar Monastery between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The altitude of the park ranges from around 3,500mt to 6,000mt which makes it an ideal destination for trekking. The most popular trek that operates in the valley is the Pin Parvati Pass Trek. Two significant trails go through the park, one gets you to the Kullu Valley and the other one enters Kinnaur through Bhaba Valley.

Must Read: Why Bhabha Pass Trek Should Be On Your Bucket List

 Trekking at Pin Valley National Park
Trekking at Pin Valley National Park

Langza

Although nestled between the mountains, Langza village is visible from many a mile because of the towering Buddha statue that’s present in the village.  The mammoth golden statue is believed to be around 1000 years old and all the mud houses in the village are built below the statue for auspiciousness. Located at an altitude of 4,420mt, this is considered to be the highest motorable village in the world. The primary reason this village attracts a large no of travellers is the million years old fossils of marine creatures, that are found here under the sedimentary rocks. For serious trekkers, the village offers the gateway to two high altitude lakes known as Tsonyeti and Chumo Tso.

Must Read: Experience of a Lifetime at the Homestays in Spiti Valley

Buddha Statue in Langza
Buddha Statue in Langza

Chandratal Lake

Chandratal i.e. lake of the moon, derives its name from its crescent shape. The shimmering blue water lake, situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau overlooking the Chandra River, is situated at an altitude of 4,300mt. Over the last few years, the lake, located north of Kunzum Pass, has become a paramount tourist hotspot. One of the most significant reasons of its popularity is its proximity to the popular tourist town of Manali. Travelling by road via Kunzum Pass, it usually takes around six hours to reach the last motor able point near the lake. One also has an option of hiking to the lake from Kunzum, which takes around a couple hours and is an experience in itself. Camping near the lake has also become an enticing attraction amongst the tourists.

Chandratal Lake
Chandratal Lake

You can also explore Chandratal lake with Chandratal Lake Trek or Hampta Pass Trek with Chandratal Lake

Must Read: Chandratal – All You Need to Know

 

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.”― Edwin Louis Cole

When we venture out into the wilderness for our biggest adventures, we should also keep in mind that it involves a certain amount of risk. Some serious risk which can even put you in crazy emergencies. But that is what an adventure is all about, right? These emergencies can be handled, if we are well prepared for such uncertainties both mentally, physically and with good knowledge.

Here in this article, I am going to share a few basics which you have to be aware of in case you get into any kind of emergency. In recent times, adventure and venturing into the outdoors have become a lifestyle for many in this part of the world. In every way getting closer to nature and loving adventure is one of the best and nurturing habits one can develop. At the same time, there is much news of lots of accidents and incidents which could have easily been avoided with better preparedness.

Must Read: 7 Principles to Follow for Environment-friendly Adventure

campfire-896196_1920

 

So let’s dive into some tips to handle emergencies!

In case you get into a tricky situation while you were exploring the great outdoors, the first thing you got to do is S.T.O.P

S Stop wherever you are or whatever you are doing. If safe enough best is to Sit and take a deep breath

T Think, what actually happened, where you came from, what you were doing, where or which direction you were destined to go and any important instruction given by the guide which can come useful here in this situation. Having a healthy mind and positive thought process is the most important trait for a successful survivor.

O Observe your surroundings, check for any imminent danger if any, look out for anything favourable or for anything that can be of any help. Observe carefully if you are injured and anything or everything you have with you that can help.

P Plan an efficient strategy for survival in case help doesn’t come immediately. The strategy should be simple and effective, it should be planned in a way that will not have to overexert yourself more than what you can.

After S.T.O.P., Time To Execute The Plan

A normal human in an outdoor setting can generally survive for

03 Minutes without Air

03 Hours without Shelter

03 Days without Water

30 Days without Food

That means, soon after the STOP you need to start action keeping the above points in priority. considering you can breathe easily and plenty of air is available, let’s focus on the next immediate requirements. It is a good practice to leave some kind of traces on the way of your movement, this will help the search and rescue to find you faster and efficiently.

Must Read: Lessons of Survival from a Storm on Mount Everest

Shelter

dsc_3345

In simple language, shelter is to protect you from the harsh elements of nature or imminent dangers which may include but not limited to, sun, heat, cold, rain, snow, wild animals, insects, etc. Strong direct sun with high temperatures can give heat strokes and severe dehydration, the same way very low temperature mixed with wind rain or snow can lead to severe hypothermia in no time.  

The first part of the shelter is your clothing or what you are wearing, do you have a good hat to protect you from direct sunlight? Are you wearing enough layers of clothing to protect from cold and wind? Good shoes to protect your feet from uneven terrain. Once sure about the clothing, it’s time to find a good place to camp or spend the night. If it’s too sunny and you are in an open place then you need to find shade immediately. A good campsite would have easy accessibility to water, it would be a safe place from dangers like a landslide, flash floods, avalanche, or even wildlife. It should also be in such a place that search and rescue can easily identify and reach. It may not be practically easy or possible to find the ideal campsite in a survival scenario, but finding the best possible improves your chances of survival multi-folds.

Fire-Fire has many uses, it can act as a shelter, protection from wildlife and it can also help you in cooking food or purifying water by boiling it. It also gives you warmth in cold conditions and helps you in drying your wet clothing or shoes. Fire is an integral part of survival, the smoke from the fire can also be used to signal the search and rescue. You can make fire using the fire pack in your emergency kit.

Water

drink

Now, water is a tricky part, you have to continuously drink water at regular intervals to keep dehydration at bay. Water must be treated well before consumption, waterborne infections can be fatal in survival conditions. Water can be treated using the chlorine and iodine water purification tablets in your emergency kit or filter it with a clean cloth and boil it. There is no better way than boiling water to purify. It kills all three microbes like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, which usually causes diseases. If you are at an altitude above 2000 meter then water needs to boil for a minimum of 3 minutes and 1 minute for lower altitudes.

Food

protein-bar

There are many edible plants, fruits, and roots which can be eaten in the wilderness, you should always read and understand about those plants in the particular area, before venturing into an adventure. Hunt down your food using traps or other hunting methods if you feel it’s achievable. You can even make a makeshift fishing hook using the safety pins from the emergency kit and try your luck. The easiest way to have food in the initial days of your survival until the help arrives or you find an alternate method of getting food, is to utilize the emergency food reserve brought with you.  Whatever, the method you are using to find food, the important thing to keep in mind is always eating judiciously and keeping in mind, that the particular food should not make you sick.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that survival conditions are very much demanding both mentally and physically. It is always the mental strength that keeps you going even when your body gives up. Being optimistic and thinking about the happy moments you are going to have soon after surviving this condition, is what can keep you running. Once the above things are in place and you know you are safe, start finding ways to reach out for help. Very soon you will be in safety and back to civilization.

Mountaineering has always been an integral part of the Nepalese tourism industry. The small Himalayan nation in the Indian Subcontinent has been hosting thousands of trekkers from all over the globe, over the last few decades. Eight of the fourteen Eight-Thousanders Mountains are located in the country and summiting these peaks obviously requires a certain level of skill set and a few years of mountaineering experience. For people who are not trained mountaineers but have the desire to see those majestic peaks, there are the base camp treks. Although all the base camp treks offer a unique trekking experience but the two most popular of them are the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek and the Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek.

Annapurna is considered to be one of the most difficult peaks to summit in the entire world, and surely a trek to its base camp is also no mean feat. ABC is located at an altitude of 13,550ft and is a part of the Annapurna Sanctuary, nestled in the Annapurna Range of Himalayas.  The sanctuary is inhabited by a mixed demographic of people following different beliefs such as Buddhism and Hinduism.  In the lower regions, you will also find small communities of small farming communities of Brahmin and Chhetri people. The trek commences from Nayapul, located 40km northeast of Pokhara and is open almost throughout the year.

Standard Routing: Kathmandu-Pokhara-Nayapul-Ghandruk-Sinuwa-Deurali-ABC-Bamboo-Jhinu-Nayapul-Pokhara-Kathmandu

Must Read: Annapurna Base Camp Trek – A Backpacker’s Guide

annapurna

 

Mount Everest, named after Sir George Everest, is the highest mountain on the planet and attracts hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe every year. Climbing on top of the world is obviously something only a handful of people manage to achieve but even trekking to its base camp is considered an accomplishment in itself. The southern base camp of Everest is located at an altitude of 17,598ft and is a part of the Sagarmatha National Park located in northeast Nepal. The Khumbu (Everest) region is home to the extra ordinary Sherpa people known for their endurance. The trek commences from the north-eastern town of Lukla and can be reached by taking an adventurous forty minute flight from Kathmandu.

Standard Routing: Kathmandu-Lukla-Phakding-Namche Bazaar-Tengboche-Dingboche-Lobuche-Gorak Shep-EBC-Gorak Shep- Kala Patthar-Panboche-Namche-Lukla-Kathmandu

Must Read: Lifesaver Tips: Planning Your Everest Base Camp(EBC) Trek

ebc2

 

 Which one to choose: ABC or EBC

As cliché as it may sound, these two treks should not be compared together. As a matter of fact, no two treks should be compared with each other. Still, a comparison, basis various important factors, is done below that might help someone who is contemplating to choose one of these two.

 Accessibility and Season

ABC EBC
People travelling from outside of Nepal may take a connecting flight to Pokhara and then drive to Nayapul. One also has an option of driving from Kathmandu to Pokhara which generally takes around seven hours. Although the trek is doable throughout the year, the summers/monsoons are considered not ideal as the region receives a lot of rainfall and the trail becomes dangerous. Someone looking for a considerably challenging experience should travel during the winters. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the generally the point of origin from people coming from abroad. From Kathmandu, an early morning flight is to be taken to reach Lukla from where the trekking starts. There are primarily two season to do the trek: March to May and Sep to Nov. Although there are some trekkers who embark on this journey during the winters (Dec to Feb) as well, but they have to be prepared for some delays as sometimes a few high passes are closed due to heavy snow and bad weather.

 

Acclimatization

ABC EBC
Getting acclimatized is probably one of the most important factors while trekking to a high altitude area. The acclimatization process is much easier on this trek as the trail offers a unique pattern of ascends and descends on the initial days of trekking, thus making it more comfortable for one to adjust. The average altitude gain per day on this trek is around 1500ft which is manageable and that’s why a rest/acclimatization day is not required. Overall, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) does not pose a major threat here. Getting acclimatized in the Everest region is the most difficult part of the trek as there is a consistent gain in altitude throughout. Starting from an altitude gain of around 4500ft in a span of forty minutes during the Kathmandu-Lukla flight, the average altitude gain per day on this trek is rather substantial. That is why one needs to spend a couple of days as rest/acclimatization days to avoid getting hit by the Acute Mountain Sickness. Usually, these acclimatization days are spent in the popular villages of Namche Bazaar (11,290ft) and Dingboche (14,300ft).

How to prepare for high altitude trek

Terrain and Infrastructure

ABC EBC
Located in the lower regions of the Himalayas, the trek offers jaw dropping landscapes throughout the trek along with spectacular views of various peaks. Initially you hike along the Burungdi River and Modi River and then you enter the dense Rhododendron trail and Bamboo forests. The trail includes several staircases which are relatively steep but they lead to suspension bridges which makes it totally worth the effort. The trail from Deurali to the base camp is an avalanche prone area so you may have to cross the Modi River which could turn out to be time consuming.

The travel infrastructure on the trek is considerably decent with enough accommodation/food options available easily throughout. In case of medical emergencies, a helicopter evacuation facility is available so the correct adventure insurance must be taken if you want financial safety.

The terrain and landscape is quite different on this trek. Initially, you climb along the Dudh Koshi River from Lukla to Phakding/Namche. There are relatively steep climbs to reach Namche and there are a few long suspension bridges as well which provide a fun adventure. After Namche, you hike into the Rhododendron trail and can spot some Himalayan wildlife including Musk deer and the Himalayan Thar. The higher region of Everest is cold and dry and there is not much greenery visible after crossing Tengboche. The trail is easy to walk on but you are almost always ascending.

Being a popular trek, the travel infrastructure is rather good. There are plenty of accommodation/food options available easily throughout. In case of medical emergencies, a helicopter evacuation facility is available so the correct adventure insurance must be taken if you want financial safety.

 

Level of Difficulty

ABC EBC
ABC is considered to be a moderate trek. The trail is not treacherous and the average no. of trekking hours per day is around six to seven. The altitude gain per day is not substantial which makes it easy to acclimatize. Anyone from a novice trekker to someone, who has done a couple of easy to moderate Himalayan treks, can attempt this trek. First timers are advised to prepare for at least a couple of months and should avoid travelling in the winters to make it more comfortable for them. EBC falls under the moderate to difficult category. The trail does not require any technical skill set but there are several steep climbs throughout the trek including a few staircases. A considerable amount of altitude gain every day and the lack of oxygen at high altitude areas make it more challenging. Ideally one should go on at least two moderate Himalayan treks before planning for EBC but there are plenty of first timers as well that have completed this trek. Although a three month preparation time is a must.

abc

Highlights

Basis ABC EBC
Maximum Altitude 4,130mt / 13,550ft 5,643mt / 18,513ft
Origin KTM/Pokhara Kathmandu
Starting Point Nayapul Lukla
Grade Moderate Moderate to Difficult
Open Season Mar-May / Sep-Nov Mar-May / Sep-Nov
Duration ex KTM 10N/11D 13N/14D
On Trek Acco. Tea houses Tea houses
Food Availability on the trek Available in tea houses Available in tea houses
Permit required Yes (ACAP & TIMS) Yes (SCAP & TIMS)
                              Major Summits visible on the trek Annapurna South (7279mt), Fang Annapurna I (8091mt) Ganagapurna (7485mt) Annapurna III (7855mt) Mt Everest (8848mt) Mt Lhotse (8516mt) Mt Makalu (8485mt) Cho-Oyu (8,201mt)

ebc

 

Every trail that you walk, will take you through a different pass, a distinct river crossing, a unique village, a contra distinct sunset viewpoint and an individual feeling of emotions. ABC offers you viridescent trails and hot water springs whereas EBC offers you the awfully adventurous Lukla flight and the centuries old monasteries. ABC presents a variety of unique cultures to learn and a prospect to catch a glimpse of one of the most difficult peaks to climb whereas EBC provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the remarkable Sherpas and gaze at the top of the world.

rsz_shutterstock_188085866_-_camping_annapurna_sanctuary_nepal

Ideally, a trekker should have both of these astounding experiences but if one has to choose one, it really comes down to the extreme basics. If you have around ten days time and are a little short on funds, go for ABC but if you can spare a couple of weeks and can afford to shell out a little more money, it should be EBC all the way.


“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

Trekking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. In India, the number of people trekking to the Himalayas is increasing year after year. There are many new exciting routes getting opened every year, as the popular trails are getting more and more crowded. It is one such activity which can be mastered quickly and every time you go to those mountains you starve for more.

There are few mistakes which most of the people take lightly in their treks and learn them in a very hard way, most of the time even hurting or injuring themselves. Here in this guide, we will discuss those simple mistakes and how to avoid them easily to have a wonderful trekking experience every time you go to the mountains.

Explore: Popular Treks in India

climbing-mistakes

1. Underestimating Altitude

Yes, altitude and the problems related to it are real. The biggest mistake we make is we underestimate this hidden danger. Also most of the time the confusion is how much altitude is high altitude? The end result of this confusion and underestimation is usually ending up to AMS which completely ruins the overall trekking experience and sometimes even aggravates fatal situations like HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) or HACE(High Altitude Cerebral Edema).

11377216_10152872869650779_8759726111764314548_n-960x530

How to Avoid?

Many people show symptoms of AMS even at 1200m/3960ft, and many get acclimatised very fast even at 3500m/11550ft. Acclimatization is completely dependent on person to person and the physical wellness of an individual at a particular point in time. Few simple practices which can avoid AMS, in case you are directly flying into a high altitude place, like Leh in India, Lhasa in Tibet or even Bogota in Columbia, are taking complete rest for 24 to 48 hrs and drinking lots of fluids. An ideal height gain while trekking above 3000m/10000ft is 300m/1000ft of sleeping altitude in a day and a rest day every third day. As a rule of thumb climb high and sleep low for better acclimatization. 

Altitude scale:
High altitude: 2438m/8000ft – 3658m/12000ft
Very high altitude: 3658m/12000ft – 5487m/18000ft
Extremely high altitude: 5500m+ m /18000ft+ ft

Must Read: What are the important steps to take to Acclimatize better?

 

2. Hypothermia & Frostbite

It doesn’t need to be a winter trek to worry about the cold weather and the risks associated with it. Depending on where you are trekking, it can be cold throughout the year, which can make you feel colder, uncomfortable and give you serious illness associated with it. To top it up the mountain weather can be very unpredictable and risky.

How to avoid?

Proper clothing in the proper way combined with the right food and hydration is the success mantra to keep hypothermia and frostbite away. When I accurately say proper clothing, I mean a three-part layering system. A base layer with good wicking properties to wick perspiration away from your skin, a mid-layer that insulates you from cold and an outer shell layer to protect from rain and wind. By layering, you can be comfortable throughout the trek by removing and adding the layers to avoid overheating or getting colder. The layers have to be loose and comfortable by avoiding very tight dresses. Cotton must be strictly avoided and has to be replaced by synthetic or wool. Cotton has the lowest wicking properties and takes the longest time to dry in case of getting wet.

Extremities of the body like ear, nose, cheeks, fingers, and toes are more prone to frostbite when exposed to sub-zero temperatures and cold wind. Protect your hand by wearing fleece gloves as inner and waterproof/windproof shell gloves as outer layer, neck, nose, and cheek by neck gaiters, ears using a headband or a balaclava. Protect your feet by a good quality worn in shoes along with synthetic or woollen socks inside. It’s a good practice to take care of your feet every day after the hike, back in the camp by cleaning, drying and changing wet socks. 

Your body needs more energy to fight against the cold, so it’s equally important to nourish your body with healthy food and fluids. You may not feel like eating or drinking in cold conditions, so it’s a good practice to keep some energy giving munchies and water within reach to keep nibbling and sipping regularly throughout the day.

Must Read: How to Prepare for a High Altitude Trek


3. Wearing Improper Dress

Many trekkers tend to wear too much cotton or denim. I have seen trekkers struggling to complete a trek in tight jeans, fully wet after a river crossing. Some even dare the extreme cold with thick leather jackets.

pexels-snow-1-1

How to avoid?

There is a misconception that jeans are warm since it is a thick material. The basic thing to understand is denim is mostly 100% cotton. A jeanswear once wet will never dry properly during the entire trek which can lead to hypothermic situations. Also changing jeans is not easy and quick, as it is for trekking pants. Jeans are a complete no when it comes to outdoors, it can be a killer dress, as it also restricts movement compared to a good synthetic trekking pant. 

A leather jacket cannot be an alternative for a down jacket or an insulating layer. It can come handy as a windcheater but considering the weight of the material, it’s better to avoid it and have a proper breathable wind/rain cheater for trekking. It’s always layering, one single layer of the jacket will not protect you from the bone-chilling cold in the mountains.


4. Blisters or Shoe Bite

Blisters are one of the most common problems seen while trekking, a few hours down the trek and you’re already suffering to walk due to blisters and shoe bite. 

hiking-1582295_1920

How to avoid?

Major reasons behind blisters are wearing new shoes before the break-in, shoes of not the right fit or size, socks with low or no wicking properties. When you walk for long hours your feet start to swell and sweat, the sweat makes the socks wet and stick to the skin which in turn starts to rub against the inside of your shoes to create blisters.

As a rule of thumb, never wear a new pair of shoes for the first time on a trek. In case you need new boots for the upcoming trek, ensure to plan and buy it well in advance to break in properly before the actual trek. Always choose shoes of the correct size and fit, wear shoes and do trail inside the store itself to self check the comfortability before buying. Try to keep your feet as dry as possible and wear good quality socks with wicking properties like woollen or synthetic so that it wicks the sweat away from your skin.


5. Cramps & Fatigue

Cramps, feeling tired, dizziness and fatigue is not an unusual thing while trekking. Many even have to discontinue the trek or become impossible to enjoy the whole experience due to this. Most of the time the reason behind this is dehydration and losing too many minerals.

How to avoid?

A person is said to be dehydrated when the fluid loss from the body is more than the intake. During a trek depending upon the place and difficulty fluid loss happens through your breathing, urination, and sweating. In colder places with high elevation, every time you breathe or sweat the dry air absorbs more moisture from it. The more you sweat and urinate, the more you lose fluids and minerals along with it, eventually leaving you dehydrated.

A wide-mouth water bottle or a hydration bladder is a must for any trek. Hydration system may get a little cranky in cold conditions but is a great alternative for bottles. Continuous supply of water is the mantra, a healthy human will need approximately half a litre of water for every hour of moderate trekking. Mixing water with little rehydration salts (electrolytes) or by nibbling some healthy snacks in between along with water will compensate your mineral and fluid loss from the body. A well-hydrated body copes well with tiredness, muscle fatigue and acclimated much better and faster. Keep a close watch on your urine colour it should be always pale, if not that means you are not hydrating well.


6. Packing Too Much – Heavy Backpack

In every group of trekkers, you can see a few struggling to even carry their own backpacks because of being too heavy. Few struggles just because it’s not packed well or the backpack is not the right one for the particular trek. The funny part is, after all this struggle by the end of the trek they realise they have not used even 10% of what they have packed.

How to avoid?

Carry only what is most necessary, the pair of dress you are wearing plus 1 spare t-Shirt and a lower is enough to handle a 2-week long trek. Pack only the most essentials needed, to layer yourself, you seldom need an extra pair.  Purchase a backpack specially designed for trekking, other normal ones do not serve the purpose well. A 50L trekking backpack is enough to pack everything needed, including the sleeping bag for a person on a 2-week trek. Carrying a light backpack will help you to enjoy the trek more efficiently and comfortably.


7. Avoiding Trekking Poles

Many consider trekking poles as an additional burden and underestimates its purpose. Few feel using a trekking pole can affect their style status and others may think them to be inferior.

How to avoid?

In fact, a trekking pole serves a lot of purposes and can be a life saviour by providing stability in rough and tough terrains. It acts as a third leg and reduces the stress on your knees significantly. It can be a trusted buddy in the tricky river crossings and daunting downhills. Having a trekking pole makes your trekking experience very much enjoyable and less tiring.


8. Packing Too Many Toiletries

Wet wipes that can last a lifetime, a complete makeup kit, deodorant, big shampoo bottles, hair conditioners, complete shaving kit, and a big tube of toothpaste; just to name a few contents in a rookie trekkers kit of toiletries. They mostly have very urban reasonings for packing all this, not realising the fact that they would rarely be using any of this during the trek.

How to avoid?

The fact is, you do not need a large number of toiletries on a trek. A small tube of soap, a similar quantity of toothpaste, a small sunscreen lotion, a toothbrush and a toilet roll is all you want to survive a trek. Every other material would just increase the unwanted weight of your backpack. Wet wipes are not biodegradable and are very heavy, they are strictly not to be used on a trek. Above everything, these non-essential things just increase the weight of your backpack and eat up the much-required space for the essential items. 


9.Starting Late And Speeding The Pace

One thing you notice in the trekking group is that the morning starts always gets late. You can see a few already ready with the backpack to start the trek and few still packing the bags or having breakfast. After a late start, it is a race to reach the destination on time.

How to avoid?

In the mountains, the valleys get dark earlier than in the plains as the Sun goes behind the mountains much before the actual sunset. Leaving late in the morning means you have already lost a fair amount of daylight, which means you will have to speed up your paces unwantedly just to reach the campsite before dark. Trekking in darkness is no fun and it gets very cold as soon as the Sun goes behind the mountains. 

It is ideal to pack and leave the camp as early as possible so that you have enough time to trek in the daytime. This will help you to walk at your comfortable pace with enough rest and time to appreciate nature. For a good trekking experience, it is advised to walk at a comfortable steady pace by avoiding unwanted speeding up or running, which can get you tired and worn out very fast.


10. Not Using Sunscreen And Sunglasses

A common habit noticed in many trekkers is that they shy out to use sunscreen and sunglasses. There is an ignorant thought process that the dark skins do not need sunscreens, the result is sunburns and skin irritations. In snow and icy conditions not using sunglasses can even bring temporary loss of vision called snow blindness.

How to avoid?

The UV rays are very strong up in the mountains and unfortunately, they don’t know to distinguish white skin from the dark. UV rays directly on the skin can create severe irritations and burns. It is advised to use sunscreen generously on every place where the skin is exposed. Also for effective protection, it is good to reapply whenever the cream gets visibly worn away from the skin.

Nobody wants to get blind in the middle of an interesting and challenging trek. Snow blindness can be very painful and burning with red eyes, in other words, it’s just sunburned eyes. Snow reflects more than 80% of the UV rays and in high altitudes, the sun’s UV rays are stronger than in lower places. It is very important and mandatory to wear good quality dark coloured sunglasses, covering the complete eyes, every time you are in the mountains during daylight.


11. Forgetting The Essential Medicine and Menstrual  Products

first-aid-2553789_960_720

I have seen trekkers reaching the remote villages high up in the mountains and realising that they have left their medicines back in the home. 

In the middle of the trek, a lady comes up to the guide and asks help to arrange a sanitary pad for her friend as they never expected the periods during the trek.

How to avoid

Understand most of your prescription medicines, especially the specific brands may not be easily available outside your own city. The remote mountain towns would rarely have a pharmacist who keeps all kinds of medicines. Even if you find one, it is near impossible for him to procure the medicine, as per your need, before you leave for your trek. It is imperative that you have all your prescription medicines carried with you from your home. Always carry a little extra, so that in case your trip gets delayed due to any unforeseen circumstances you are not running out of your much-needed medicines. It is also a good habit to carry a small simple personal first aid kit, always while on the trek. 

As a rule of thumb, always expect to get your periods while on the trek. Keeping this in mind, make it a practice to carry menstrual products which may also include the medications if any, to be taken with on every trek. Even if you do not get your periods on the trek, it’s good to have, as you can always share it with the person in need.


Conclusion

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

5

There are many simple mistakes like the few topics mentioned above, which people make in treks mostly due to ignorance or because of lack of guidance. In the mountains even simple mistakes can be fatal, it is important that you read a lot, understand and discuss with experts, to prepare yourself well before venturing out or signing up for adventures. That will ensure a safe, enjoyable and memorable experience.

Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me the truth

The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.

When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.

These are some of my favourite quotes from the very powerful movie ‘ Into the Wild’. I could watch this move over and over again. The power of a good movie is that it inspires you to bring our the best in you and also takes you to beautiful places around the world from the comfort of your couch.

Must Read: 12 Books to Give you some serious Wanderlust

Below is a curation of great travel/adventure movies that will get you googling the locations and make you want to visit that place after COVID is over.

  1. Into the Wild (2007): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7ArZ7VD-QQ

into-the-wwild

If you watch only one movie from this list, make it this one. Christopher McCandless, a young graduate, decides to renounce all his possessions and hitchhike across America. During his journey, he encounters several situations that change him as a person.

IMDB Rating – 8.1/10

 

  1. Everest 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBLP–JVXk4

everest

On the morning of May 10, 1996, climbers (Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin) from two expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. With little warning, a violent storm strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. Challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable, the teams must endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures in an epic battle to survive against nearly impossible odds.

IMDB Rating – 7.1/10

 

  1. Meru 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weunwz1jZVo

meru

Three elite climbers fight through feelings of obsession and loss as they struggle to climb Mount Meru.

IMDB Rating – 7.7/10

 

  1. Maiden Trip 2014 –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4s8iob7FBY

maientrip

Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old sailor, sets out on a two-year voyage to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

IMDB Rating – 7.5/10

 

  1. Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara 2011 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQR_bxragHk

zindagui-na-milegi-dobara

Friends Kabir, Imran and Arjun take a vacation in Spain before Kabir’s marriage. The trip turns into an opportunity to mend fences, heal wounds, fall in love with life and combat their worst fears.

IMDB Rating – 8.1/10

 

  1. Wild 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfMvJi6fouA

wild

After an encounter with a wolf, a young woman (Lilith Stangenberg) casts off societal conventions to live a life free of hypocrisy.

IMDB Rating – 6.5/10

 

  1. Touching The Void 2013- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtnqVZEktyg

touching-the-void

The movie concerns Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’s disastrous and near-fatal climb of Siula Grande in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes, in 1985. It is based on Simpson’s 1988 book of the same name.

IMDB Rating – 8/10

 

  1. The Motorcycle Diaries 2004 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2okWfJziwY

motorcycle-diaris

Ernesto ‘Fuser’ Guevara, a medical student, finds his calling in life when he sets out on a motorcycle road trip across South America with his friend, Alberto Granado, a biochemist.

IMDB Rating – 7.8/10

 

  1. The Darjeeling Limited 2007- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayyZ3assvhg

darjelling

After the death of their father, three brothers set out on a train journey across India, in an attempt to rediscover their lost bond. The experiences that they have to force them to introspect.

IMDB Rating – 7.2/10

 

  1. Captain Fantastic 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_zDRjAoZdQ

captain-fantastic

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Leslie and their six children live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from society, Ben and Leslie devote their existence to raising their kids — educating them to think critically, training them to be physically fit and athletic, guiding them in the wild without technology and demonstrating the beauty of co-existing with nature. When Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered offspring into the outside world for the first time.

IMDB Rating – 7.9/10

So go ahead and watch these inspirational movies this quarantine season and give yourself some great wanderlust.

The Himalayas, which translates to the abode of the snow, has been home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in India. For decades, a flock of tourists has been visiting places such as Shimla, Manali, and Kashmir Valley, etc. during the busy summer season. But over the last decade, there has been a gradual shift towards less explored areas in the northern Himalayas, especially among the relatively young travellers.

Out of all the relatively new tourist destinations, Ladakh has become the most visited over the last decade. It is usually the first destination on everyone’s travel bucket list. Although people visit Ladakh for various reasons the primary one of them is to get away from the usual busy tourist towns and explore something remote and unique. Historically, our country has not been very big on long road trips but that has completely changed over the last few years. Travelling to Ladakh by road has become one of the most sought after road trips in the country. That has probably been the biggest factor in the growth that Ladakh has seen in the number of travellers over the past few years.

Must Read: Why is Spiti Valley a distant cousin of Leh Ladakh?

Morreh Plains in Ladakh
Morreh Plains in Ladakh

Meanwhile, Spiti has also been creeping up into the same category as Ladakh but has always remained a distant runner-up. As beautiful as the place may be, it hasn’t lived up to its true potential as a commercial tourist destination and has only remained a niche place to visit. Having said that, people who have travelled to Spiti will swear by it as the most beautiful place they have ever seen. The landscape of the valley is truly similar to no other place in the country.

Read: Lahaul Spiti – The Enigmatic Valley

ki-monastery
Key Monastery in Spiti

While both Ladakh and Spiti are located in the same region and offer quite similar landscapes, the resemblance is only visible on the outer layer. Beyond the landscape, both these places have so many unique things to offer to someone looking for an authentic Himalayan experience. Now let’s address the million-dollar question; Ladakh or Spiti. Ideally, one should explore both of these places but if one has to choose one, it comes down to their personal choice. Still, a comparison based on different factors is done below, which may help you decide.

Accessibility

Ladakh Spiti
  • Ladakh is well connected to all the major cities through air transport with frequent flights throughout the day to Leh. If travelling by road, then the most common route is the Manali Leh Highway. Manali to Leh generally takes three days including two overnight halts which helps in acclimatizing. One may also start from Srinagar and reach Leh via Kargil.
  • Spiti can only be directly accessed by road as there’s no airport in the valley. Nearest airports are Shimla and Kullu but both are not well connected. The two most common points to enter the valley by road are Shimla and Manali. From Shimla, it generally takes three days to reach the valley and two days if you enter from Manali.

 

Tourist Season

Ladakh Spiti
  • Ladakh is open throughout the year as one can directly fly to Leh and explore the surrounding areas. Although, Ladakh is primarily a road trip destination and the roads to Leh, from Manali and Srinagar, generally remain open between June and early October.
  • Spiti does not have an airport nearby, yet it is accessible pretty much throughout the year by road if you enter from Shimla. Although there may be several roadblocks during the winter season so the ideal season to explore the valley is similar to that of Ladakh i.e. June to Oct.

 

Altitude And Weather   

Ladakh Spiti
  • The altitudes in Ladakh vary a lot in different places. The city of Leh is located at a moderate 3500m but the mighty Khardung La stands at 5,359m which generally happens to be the highest point in a road trip to Ladakh.
  • The temperature in Summers:- 0 to 25 degrees
  • The temperature in Winters:- -30 to 5 degrees
  • The average altitude in Spiti remains slightly higher around 4000m. The highest motorable in the valley is Kunzum Pass situated at an altitude of 4,551m.
  • The temperature in Summers:- 0 to 20 degrees
  • The temperature in Summers:- -20 to 5 degrees


Travel Infrastructure

Ladakh Spiti
  • Over the years, Ladakh has rapidly developed as a major tourist destination, thus the infrastructure is also well developed. The roads inside the region are mostly tarmac and easy to access. Accommodation is also easily available throughout the region. One has the option of choosing from upscale hotels to basis guesthouses and homestays to backpacker hostels. There are plenty of eating joints throughout the entire region with Leh having a few upscale restaurants as well. Cell reception is available in major towns with internet cafes in Leh. Public transport is minimal.
  • The tourist infrastructure in Spiti is minimal at best when compared to Ladakh. The roads aren’t in particularly great shape. The valley receives fewer people thus the lack of funding from the authorities.  Accommodation in Spiti is easily available but one has to choose between a basic hotel and a homestay. Although, a couple of backpacker hostels have opened up recently. There are a few cafes that serve different cuisines in the valley but one mostly has to manage with the local Dhaba style food. Basic cell reception is available in major towns. Public transport is minimal.

 

Leh-Castle-and-Kibber Village
Leh Castle and Kibber Village

Things To Do/Attractions

Ladakh Spiti
  • Incomparable landscape from vast plateaus to shimmering blue lakes.
  • Biking at a few of the highest motorable passes in the world.
  • Ancient monasteries.
  • Trekking and Camping.
  • White water rafting.
  • Indulge in Ladakhi/Zanskari food.
  • Popular Places: Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri Lake, Hanle, Sarchu, Khardung La, Chang La.
  • Picturesque landscapes from vast barren lands to beautiful lakes.
  • Ideal for road trips.
  • A few of the oldest monasteries in the world.
  • National Wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Trekking and Camping.
  • White water rafting.
  • Indulge in Tibetan food.
  • Popular Places: Kaza, Kalpa, Chitkul, Chandratal Lake, Dhankar Lake, Kunzum Pass, Rohtang Pass.

 

khardungla-and-chandratal
Khardung La Top and Chandratal Lake

Adventure Offerings

Ladakh Spiti
  • Every year, Ladakh attracts thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the globe. Getting a picture clicked on a motorcycle with Pangong Lake as the backdrop has become an adventure certificate in itself. Apart from Ladakh motorcycle trips, Ladakh is home to some of the very popular treks such as Stok Kangri and Markha Valley. In winters, the Chadar Trek is operational which happens to be the only frozen river trek in India.
  • As the landscape in Spiti is quite similar to Ladakh, it automatically becomes a great place to go for a motorcycle trip. Although, trekking and backpacking are more popular in the valley. The most popular treks in the valley are the Pin Bhaba Trek and the Kanamo Peak Trek. It is also home to some of the most beautiful wildlife sanctuaries such as the Pin valley National park wherein you can spot the endangered species of the stunningly beautiful snow leopard.

 

 Biking at Pangong Trekking at Pin Bhaba
Biking at Pangong and Trekking at Pin Bhaba

Both of these places have more resemblances than differences because of the similar kind of landscape and cultural demographic. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult to choose one over another. It eventually comes down to the fact that what kind of experience are you looking for. If your idea of travelling is to have a tonne of adventure and see some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world, then Ladakh is the place for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for more immersive travel experience and wish to indulge more in cultural things, then head to Spiti. Ladakh being a popular destination is quite crowded during the season so it becomes the perfect place to meet from all over the world. Spiti, on the opposite, is ideal for solo travellers who are looking to spend some quality time with nature.