A lot has been written about the frozen river Chadar trek. Every year, in the months of January and February, headstrong trekkers dare to attempt the trek i.e., walk over the frozen Zanskar river that is the only route for locals to reach Leh. However, it is best explained in a series of photos. After all, a photo is worth a thousand words.
So without further ado, here’s what’s so special about Chadar Trek and why it should be on your travel wish-list for 2019:
The temperature here drops to around -30 degree Celsius and is the most suitable for being tread on in the winter months, hence.
Trekkers start this exploration from Chilling and hike further up to Naerak(they can return from this point itself) and then Lingshed. The entire ice trail is about 105 kms long and trekkers walk about 15 kms each day
A road between Zanskar and Leh is under construction which will make it easier for the locals to commute. However, it poses a great threat for the wildlife including snow leopards in the area.
Frozen Naerak falls.
The fluctuating temperature in the valley makes and breaks the ice in the river. So, trekkers are to use extreme caution in a terrain such as this.
The gigantic brown mountains that outline the frozen river present a great visual.
Locals cook food here in caves and it is served in caves. How dreamlike!
Impeccable trekking gear should be made use of while carrying out this trek. The ice sheets thin down over different times of the day.
Camping is an absolute delight on this trek! Enjoy incredible starry nights. Star-gazing is definitely something you should check off your list when you’re here.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and set out for this dreamland! Chadar trek can be undertaken by experienced trekkers each January-February. This is a perfect trek for your travel goal list.
Almost all mountaineers wish to scale the mighty Everest on some lucky day of their hiking career. And why not? The feeling of touching the roof of the world, world’s highest mountain-the magnificent Mt. Everest (8,848 m), the sheer magnitude of which makes everything else feel puny and irrelevant: the feeling of having accomplished a feat like this is an ultimate life goal for trekkers worldwide. Many mountaineers prepare all their lives for it and yet a small percentage really ever makes it. Isn’t that alone so chilling to comprehend? EBC or Everest Base Camp trek is a stepping stone for many trekkers that wish to someday conquer this ginormous mountain.
For some trekkers, EBC trek alone is a huge travel goal! Rigorous training, honing patience levels, developing sustainable trekking stratagem, investing in reliable trekking gear are the many tasks on the to-do list when you are planning for an EBC trek. Add to that, the project of finding qualified trekking outfitters and trusting the uncertain weather. Discussing with professionals and booking early will take away half of those troubles and yet a few loopholes will still remain.
Naturally, when the achievement is so humongous, the stakes are higher. Sometimes, life-threatening even. You can do best by putting some faith in your luck and winging it or you can know what to do if you face some serious problem on your EBC trek, the possibility of which remains significant. Here’s a complete guide to knowing what to do when things don’t go as planned on your EBC trek:
Mt. Everest is in a very remote region and at a very high altitude doubles the risk factor. However, the chances of getting medical aid get scarcer as we go up. A mishap like a simple leg injury; life-threatening high altitude sickness like AMS (Acute Motion Sickness), HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) or HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema); natural disasters like earthquakes, avalanches, and rock-falls can prove fatal. At such an altitude, one has to be rescued with the help of a helicopter and escorted to the nearest medical facility. An emergency evacuation via helicopter could cost more than US$10,000!
Next, never self-diagnose!
The symptoms of altitude sickness can vary with each body type. One should never self-diagnose, chances are you will be wrong and will worsen your condition further. Medicine delayed is medicine denied.
Update your guide regularly. Believe you, they have been doing it for years and know this like the back of the hand. Trusting their advice is not only recommended, but it is also necessary.
Eating garlic, drinking plenty of water, and sufficient rest can reduce the symptoms but ultimately descending is the only cure.
Lukla is a small airfield with a very short landing strip. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous airfields in the world. Being a small airfield, only small aircraft like Dornier 228 having short take-off and landing capabilities, are operated. These aircraft do not have the ability to operate in bad weather and very low visibility. That means it can get cancelled or delayed for safety reasons if there is a bad weather condition. Always take a few grace days after your return to Kathmandu so that this does not affect your flight back home. In case you reach Kathmandu on time as per your schedule you can spend the free days to explore this colorful city of Kathmandu for its rich culture.
All flights to Lukla leave from Ramechhap Airport, which is about 140 KMS and 4 and half hours drive from Kathmandu, since September 2019. In a way, it is better, as Kathmandu Airport had congested air traffic causing flight delays, really not a good thing for the mountain flights which have to leave early mornings to get a good weather window.
Different alternate options you can choose from, in case your Lukla flights get cancelled are:
1. Wait and try again the next day When we wait we are be given the last priority as others have already booked for the scheduled date. Therefore, when flight gets cancelled, we reschedule it for the next day. And this means that sometimes we don’t get them at the earliest. However, we try our best.
2. Pay for an expensive helicopter to get in or out There are choppers available for this very case. But the catch is that they offer expensive rides to get into Lukla or return back to Kathmandu. This is totally not in our hand. Sometimes they offer less and sometimes the price they offer is really high. There aren’t any fixed prices for the choppers so far and is totally dependent upon the situation. Chopper to Kathmandu is an option. Another option is a chopper to Phaplu from Lukla which may cost USD 800 (per chopper). Note: A chopper can carry 6 people. Add to that, 12 hours sharing jeep drive to Kathmandu.
3. Hike to Phaplu + Drive to Kathmandu(Cheaper Alternative) It is a 2 days hike to reach Phaplu from Lukla and then it takes 12 hours sharing jeep to Kathmandu. This is a way cheaper option for getting out to Kathmandu in the worst-case scenario. Meant for those who do not want to pay for an expensive helicopter or cannot wait for next day’s regular flights.
WATER RESOURCES-Staying hydrated is essential! There are many natural sources of water all along the trail. It is advised to carry some water purification tablets and a good reusable wide mouth water bottle. You can get bottled water all the way till EBC but it gets more and more expensive as it gets closer to the EBC. Also, bottled water is NOT a good idea as every other bottle means more and more garbage is created.
Responsible eco-tourism means one is not encouraged to leave behind anything other than their footprints.
There aren’t any ATMs located on the EBC trail. Remember to carry cash from Kathmandu itself. Currency exchanges on the trail offer especially inflated rates so it is advised to keep enough local currency with you i.e., Nepali Rupees.
Do not worry about food at all. Plenty of tea houses line up the trail and typically, all kinds of nutritious or sugary food is available all the way right to the top. Dal-Bhat(dal and rice), chowmein and spaghetti are easy finds.
You will get sufficient data if you are in possession of a local sim. Most lodges will offer Everest Link and you can buy a Wi-Fi data pack to go with it. The wi-fi is slow, generally. You are likely to remain unavailable to your friends and family.
Even though helicopters are constantly hurrying up and down this vast network of mountains, it is extremely costly to be used for supplying materials. This is exactly why you will find everything priced pretty heavily, the further up you trek.
Beautifully nestled in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, Bir Billing is the hub of all kinds of adventure activities. Famously called, “Paragliding capital of India”, Bir attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year. Bir is a part of Billing Valley. The paragliders are launched from Billing and land down at the stunning site in Bir, after covering the distance of around 18 km. The landscape of Bir Billing features deep gorges, impressive snow peaks, misty woods, flowery meadows, lush green valleys, glistening lakes, gushing waterfalls and enthralling lakes.
A melting point of cultures
Amidst the scenic and serene settings, striking temples, soulful monasteries and stupas represent a perfect blend of Himachali and Tibetan culture. Not only Himachalis, a sizable community of Tibetan refugees also resides in the village. The Bir Tibetan Colony features several monasteries and local restaurants, where travelers can enjoy lip-smacking delicacies with an essence of the friendly culture that Bir offers. The incredible sight of bhikkhus and Tibetan monks offering prayers in the monasteries give a sense of peace to one’s soul.
Many-splendoured Tea Gardens Famed for organic tea farms, the Bir Tea Factory is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bir. As the tea factory remains open to the public travelers, visit the place along with their children to learn about the plantation skills of India’s most consumed hot beverage. Hills are always suitable for tea production and this is why one can find various kind of tea that are grown in the garden and processed in the Bir Tea Factory.
The factory is located in close proximity to Bir Bazaar, from where one can buy a selection of dry fruits, fragrant tea, handmade articles etc. In the tea garden, a sight of men and women labours dressed in traditional attires with a beautiful basket on their back is a great capture to the cameras of photographers.
Paragliding, Hand-gliding, Motorbiking, River rafting, Trekking and Camping: Bir Billing has it all!
Soaring High: Tandem Paragliding One ofthe major highlights of Bir Billing is Paragliding. Nothing could be more eventful than flying under the sky from where you can see a whole different world around. Remarkably, Bir is considered as the world’s second best site for paragliding after Lake Como in Italy. Paragliders are launched from a lush green valley of Billing, which is situated at a height of about 2400 metres. And these paragliders land in the grassland at the western edge of the Bir Tibetan Colony in Chowgan.
Keeping the protection in mind, beginners get a chance to enjoy an adventure-packed ride in a two-seater glider with a skilled trainer. Bir witnesses a huge crowd in October as it hosts the event of ‘paragliding pre-world cup’ every year.
Trek To The Top
Bir Billing offers a number of trekking options to the adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. This activity gives you an opportunity to explore the exotic Himalayan flora and fauna, stunning rivers, gushing streams and waterfalls. From easy to difficult and 1 day to 1-week treks are available near the Bir Billing. Some of the trekking destinations include Sach Pass to Pangi Kareri Lake, Manimahesh Lake and Chamba over Jalsu Pass.
Camping in Bir
Staying at hotel becomes dull at times, especially when you’re surrounded by the mountains and lush greenery. To have a wonderful experience in the lap of nature, you need to avoid the option of hotel booking as Bir gives you a chance to spend a night under the glittery sky at some of the exquisite locations. While living in tents, you can enjoy the sights of splendid vistas of nature.
Plan a weekend in Bir If you are on long holiday and have explored enough of Bir Billing, then you can opt any destination from the list of wonderful weekend getaways near Bir Billing.
There is no dearth of amazing weekend getaways from Bir Billing. Getaways like Manali, Leh, Ladakh, Kullu, Shimla, Dharamshala and McLeodganj offer peaceful surroundings that revitalize your mind and body with exciting activities. Other nearby attractions include:
Deer Park Institute
Sherab Ling Monastery
Drukpa Kagyu Monastery
Chowgan Tea Gardens
Tashi Jong Village
If you’re looking for accommodation options at Bir Billing
Tatva Bir Camp
Siddhartha Greens Bir Billing
Hotel Paul Manor
Big Mountain Camps
Camp Oak View
If you’re looking for some food joints…
Cafe Cloud Door
How to Reach this Amazing Holiday Destination? Bir Billing is very well connected to other Indian states. As it is situated away from the hustle-bustle of city amidst the snow-capped mountains, one has to put an extra effort to reach there as there is no direct flight or train available from the major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. However, the travel journey to Bir is joyful and a one of its kind experience.
Flight: The Kangra Airport is situated at a distance of 68 km from Bir Billing. The airport is situated in Dharamshala and is very well connected to and from Delhi and Mumbai. However, passengers can board a non-stop flight from Delhi to Dharamshala and a connected flight from Mumbai. Notably, the air route remains closed due to bad weather, especially in winters. After reaching the airport, travelers have to hire a taxi or board a bus to reach Bir.
Train: At present, one can get a toy train that takes you to Bir Billing. Kangra valley railway runs a toy train from Pathankot, which covers the distance in 7 hours via Ahju.The distance between Pathankot and Bir is around 143 km.
Taxi or Bus: If you’re among those who always look for astounding vistas or adore long drive then you should visit Bir either by taxi or bus. You can board a bus from the Inter-state Bus Terminal (ISBT) and it takes around 12-14 hours to reach Bir. Notably, the distance between Delhi and Bir is around 520 km.
If you have decided to hit Bir Billing by road then you can follow these routes:
Route 1:Delhi>Ambala>Banur via Chandigarh bypass>Kiratpur>Anandpur Sahib>Nagal>Una>Kangra>Palampur>Baijnath>Bir
Route 2: Delhi>Ambala> Banur via Chandigarh bypass>Kharad>Kiratpur>Bilaspur>Mandi>Jogindernagar>Bir
Is Bir Billing Accessible throughout the Year? The entire summer season is an ideal time to beat the heat of hot cities like Delhi and Chandigarh. Here, the weather remains pleasant and the temperature ranges between 10°C and 22°C. Notably, the monsoon season receives moderate to heavy rainfall and the region might become prone to landslides causing blockage of roads. So, this is not an advisable season for a visit.
Despite the harsh and cold weather in winters, Bir experiences a heavy flow of tourists. Also, the months of October and November are perfect for paragliding and the average temperature ranges from 4°C to 12°C. The temperature drops below freezing point at night in the months of December and January.
What are you waiting for? Plan a trip to one of the most splendid tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh to explore the fun like never before!
Nature’s resplendent display of wonders peaks in the North-eastern region of India. With Tibet in the north and east, Bhutan on its east, Indian state West Bengal in the south and Nepal on its West, Sikkim is one of the most important tourist locations in the North-East. Almost 35 percent of it covered by Kanchenjunga National Park, this state is the least populous and the second smallest state in the country.
Trekking in Sikkim: Nature and Nurture
Although home to a multitude of tourist spots, cultural fests, trekking summits owing to its proximity to the Himalayas and its abundant flora and fauna unique to this region, three of the most happening treks stand out as ideal getaway to the Himalayas. Goecha La is the best trek if a majestic view of Kanchenjunga and exploring Kanchenjunga on an intense expedition is one of your travel goals, Sandakphu is a picturesque trail for the trekkers that think the journey is as important as the destination itself and an excursion to Singalila offers up, close and personal views of the Singalila range and spotting rare wilderness in the Singalila National Park.
Here’s a complete breakdown of the three jewels of North-East:
Home to world’s highest mountains like Kanchenjunga, the trek to Goecha la is for those on the lookout for a trek that challenges them within and almost simultaneously delights them with the richness of natural beauty surrounding them. Exotic flora and fauna, alpine meadows, glacier basins, this place in Sikkim is a treasure trove for travelers curious to seek Nature’s wonders.
Best season:Best time to visit the Kanchenjunga National Park is from the last week of March to May during which the days are bright and nights are cold. Monsoons remain incredibly unfavorable because of the high possibility of landslides, blocked transportation, slippery trails, etc. Post monsoon, in the months of September and November, one can capture crystal-clear views of all the peaks. This is a good time to head to Goecha la. Due to heavy snowing, winters remain unfavorable for this trek.
Goecha la offers splendid views of world’s third highest mountain Kanchenjunga and Pandin, Tien Chenkhang, Koktang, Jopuno, etc.
Explore the stunning stupas, monasteries, temples and wildlife sanctuaries located in the region
Traverse through lush green pasturelands, vibrant fauna, rare wildlife species, alpine meadows and glaciers to reach your final destination
Spot Eurasian tree sparrow, pied bush cat and green-tailed sunbird and enjoy the rare sight of Himalayan endangered species like musk deer, red panda and blue sheep in the Kanchenjunga National Park if you are lucky!
In Lamuney, walk through clouds and camp under the glittery sky at night
Sandakphu trek is a brilliant trek for the simple reason that it offers unmatched views of the highest peaks in the world (Sleeping Buddha i.e. Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Annapurna range) and the journey to that spot on the map is filled with mesmerizing natural wonders itself. At many a point, the exhaustion of trekking through dense forests is lifted by the joy of sighting a meadow as vast as the eye goes. Trekking alongside Siri river and staying in the guest houses or camping right there is another matter of delight. The trek offers striking views of everything you expect from a retreat into the lap of nature: forests, waterfalls, alpine meadows and then some.
Best season: While in the spring, the trail to Sandakphu is covered in the most scenic way possible by rhododendrons among other exotic flora (spot the magnificent mangolia from Chitre to Meghma!), the trek is accessible even in winters and the snow-laden trails are as charming as the destination itself.
One of the most beautiful rhododendron treks; trek in Spring to behold the beauty with your own eyes as you make way to the Sandakphu summit
Explore the vibrant Buddhist culture as you start your trek from Chitre village; pay a visit to the splendid monasteries and stupas around
Camping in Singalila National Park; enjoy the days of camping amid North East’s natural beauty; wake up to a sunrise on Singalila range and spot blue bamboos in the jungle!
Tumling’sguest houses set on the serene river bankside; Tumling lies on the Indo-Nepal border and houses many a beautiful tea estate in the region; you can look at the entire Sandakphu trail from the ascent after Tumling
Kalaphokri or ‘Black Lake’: After Tumling, reach the bean-shaped black lake that refuses to freeze even in deadly winters. Believed to be divine, the lake is surrounded by an array of Buddhist flags found fluttering in the wind.
Magnificent view of Sleeping Buddha (Kanchenjunga and sister peaks) and a 180 degree view of world’s highest mountains including Everest,Makalu, Lhotse, Nuptse, Baruntse, Chamling, Chomolonzo, Machapucchare, Chomolhari and other peaks of Annapurna range.
Singalila Pass (and Phoktey Dara trek)
The Singalila range marks the western borders of Sikkim and Darjeeling with Nepal. You have a fantastic opportunity to trek to the passes and ranges that lie within India and/or Nepal. Once you reach Singalila pass, trek further to Kalijhora; the top of Kalijhora is Phoktey Dara which offers a spectacular viewpoint. In the far left (west), the majestic Everest group of peaks and to the right, three sisters– Chamlang, Baruntse, Kanchendzongha, Simvo, Pandim, Tenzingkhang, one after another. The entire Kabru range (North, South, Dome) Fork I/II, Rathong, Frey peak (just above Chaurikhang, HMI base camp area) are south to the gigantic Kanchenjunga and form a semicircle in front of the massif.
Best season: March-May and October-November are the best seasons to head out on an exploration of the Singalila range.
Panoramic views of four of the five world’s highest peaks including Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu and more
Singalila range lies on the Indo-Nepal border: the western borders of Sikkim and Darjeeling with Nepal
Visit Kitam Bird Sanctuary and Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary to spot the Red Crossbill and Parrotbills. If you are lucky, you might spot the endangered vividly colored Satyr Tragopan or a Kalij Pheasant as well!
Walk through rich forests canopied by rhododendron, magnolia and bamboo
Witness spellbinding sunrise at Kalijohra
Stay at beautiful campsites in the evening which is near a hill slope thickly covered with Magnolia and conifers
Access remote locations that are extremely sparsely populated so enjoy the exclusivity of it all
Trekking in the North-east is a growing interest of the young trekkers for it offers an exclusive opportunity to witness distinct culture, communities located in remote locations however so incredibly beautiful, that it makes the trekking experience wholesome and worth it.
There are several places in India that are considered to be the spiritual destinations, however, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra has something special to boast about. It is a journey which represents a unique bond between nature’s creativity and the sheer spiritual energy that the place emanates. Being a perfect exemplar of the “image of God” recreated by the sacred texts of the religions across the globe, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is popular for providing a lifetime kind of experience. It not only helps to revive the lost connection with one’s own self but also offers a chance to get appealed by the feelings of being integrated, unified, organized and whole.
The major attractions of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra include a Parikrama of Mount Kailash and a holy dip in the Mansarovar Lake. The journey is also famous for the difficult feat that the trekking enthusiasts have to cover in order to fulfil their passion for adventure and thrill. Being one of the most arduous treks, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra also gives a chance to live an epic climbing adventure.
Best Time to Visit: The best time for the trekking expedition to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake is considered from mid-May to mid-October. During this time period, the weather remains steady and visibility of the region is at its finest. Moreover, the temperature levels are cool throughout the day. In addition, it is believed that the best time for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is during Saga Dawa Festival. Being one of the important festivals in Tibetan Buddhism, it witnesses a huge flock of tourists who wish to have a quick glance at the cultural roots and traditional heritage of the region.
Tracing Our Steps To The Holy Abode of Mount Kailash Before signing up for the trekking expedition to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar trek, there were several things that gave me cause to wonder. In the moments when my decision was swirling around the waves of uncertainty, I was confident of rediscovering the most neglected “me” on the journey. With a streak of adventure and a hope for joy, I stepped into the unknown zone to battle against the nightmares of living into a world of constructions.
The trekking expedition to Kailash Mansarovar Yatra took its flight when I reached Kathmandu, the sprawling capital of Nepal. Perched at an elevation of about 1,400 meters, it lies on the bowl-shaped Kathmandu valley which is the spiritual heart of the state. It is believed that the valley is created from the bed of a sacred lake by deity Manjushri and is symbolic of the beautiful patchwork of terraced fields and sacred temple towns showcasing the glory of the architects and artisans of Nepal. The beauty of the place was immensely captivating and drifted my mind to the astounding scenic views that nature beholds. Despite getting tired after such a long journey, the curiosity to explore more of the area was intact. But the call of drowsy eyes and waning strength made it difficult for me to play my curiosity to the fullest.
Next day, I began my sojourn by seeking blessings at Pashupatinath Temple and Budhanilkanth Temple. This was the day when I drove from Kathmandu to Dhunche to reach Kyirong. Here, my way had been blocked by the immigration formalities that need to be completed before moving ahead. Thankfully, I carried all the documents that saved me from any mishap and helped to enter in those geographical boundaries to which nature had not added any fence, unlike humans. If the journey through this place has to be explained in few words, I must say it was a journey of introspection. It not only enlightened me on the superficial construction of boundaries by humans but also offered moments where one can seamlessly relate to one’s own fragmented self.
Further, I reached Dongba, a place of majestic beauty which knows no bounds. Home to a panoramic view of the blue lake Pieko-Tso and the astounding views of Yarlung Zangpo (the Brahmaputra River), the place lends an experience of one-of-its own kind. The beautiful mountain terrains and high plains double the level of excitement of hiking.
The best part about this location is the highs and lows of this terrain that lead to the sight of an abode of purity, Mansarovar Lake. Nestled in the lap of nature at an altitude of 22,028 ft above sea level, it is the highest freshwater lake in the world. The crystal clear blue water of the lake and its emerald green appearance has never failed to sway the mind of thousands of tourists across the world. The view of such an exceptional beauty of nature gave me a plethora of opportunities to turn into a photographer to create negatives for the moments lived in ecstasy and excitement.
And therein arrives the time to start trekking to Mount Kailash. As the first day of Kailash Parikrama begins, Yama Dwar served as the starting point of the trekking expedition. Yama Dwar, the Gates of the Lord of Death, is believed to be the gateway where all mortal bonds have to be shaken off to meet the deity of great religious relevance, Lord Shiva. It is a place of symbolism where truth prevails and the spiritual concept of supreme reality holds value. It also offers the closest views of a place of great religious significance and mythological importance, Mount Kailash.
Standing tall at 21,778 feet, Mount Kailash is considered to be the source of four mighty rivers of Asia including the Brahmaputra, the Ganges, the Indus and the Sutlej. Mount Kailash is a testament to one of the popular sayings, ‘The best views come after the hardest climb.’ When the rays of the sun fell on such a mighty mountain, the whole region brimmed with light and transformed into a matrix of unbelievable possibilities. For a while, it seemed that the Lord himself has sent a messenger to remind that after darkness, comes the light, and that life holds in surprise for those who know how to give fire to the flickering hopes. Before descending through rocky paths and loose stones, it was time to dig deep into those experiences that made this journey worth-undertaking.
Trekking shoes and Trekking pole
Torch with extra batteries
Extra pair of socks
First Aid Medical Kit
To think back to ones’ own childhood, it reminds us of our free self where the idea of a creative life used to inspire us. However, when we started growing, those creative impulses have been slowly replaced by the struggles of life. But one should never forget that life offers a chance to all to design it beautifully. The imbalances that clog lives and limit the innate capacity for joy cannot keep one away from adding a memorable experience to the calendar of his life. So, do not hesitate to play hide and seek with perceived realities to restore the fun that sometimes lies in living life on the edge. And one such experience lies in the trekking expedition to Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
Trekking in Uttarakhand has lately become so much more than an adventure sport. Now a popular destination for weekend getaways, long treks, river rafting, camping, mountaineering, ziplining and other adrenaline-inducing adventures, it has also long been a important location for pilgrims for decades for it harbours the origin of Ganges, Gangotri. The Garhwal and Kumaon ranges offer the most promising treks, courtesy its position in the foothills of famous Himalayan peaks.
The second highest mountain in India and the highest mountain located entirely within the country, Nanda Devi(7,816 m) lies right here in the Garhwal Himalayas; it is the holy site for a lot of cultural festivals that take place annually. Lots of other 7000 m+ peaks loom over this region in North India. Therefore, so far as cultural, geographical and historical importance is considered, Uttarakhand is naturally a winner.
Keeping in mind a lot of factors that make a trek worthwhile, the best treks located in Uttarakhand are Roopkund Trek and Har Ki Doon Trek. These treks offer great views of the Himalayan peaks, challenge one’s trekking skills and endurance in controlled limits and are spread over a comfortable number of days to accommodate the best experiences without exhausting oneself completely.
But the major catches remain: Expansive alpine meadows; lush valleys; dense oak, deodar and pine forests; high altitude lakes, moraines, ridges, hanging glaciers; towering Himalayan peaks looming over. These trek features are entirely unique to Uttarakhand’s picturesque locales and that is what makes it such an invigorating experience for trekkers of all backgrounds.
The best time to visit any of these treks are the sunny summer months: April to June. Avoid monsoon season for there’s possibility of flash floods, landslides, slippery trail and other dangers.
Everything a Himalayan trek can offer! Alpine meadows that stretch as far the eye goes, oak and pine forests, frozen waterfalls, scenic peaks that make this trek incomparable. So picture perfect!
The mystique and the memory of a past forgotten The Skeletal Lake is said to have buried in it skeletons of travelers that were caught in a hailstorm. So far, no conclusive research has shown where exactly the group of travelers was headed. Spooky, right? Visit in the summers so that the lake is not completely covered by sheets of snow.
The adventure, the thrill, the views Roopkund trek, over the years, has remained one of the most popular trekking destinations in North India. Each year, thousands of people set out to make it on this trek. Perhaps, the biggest selling point of this trek are the adrenaline-inducing climb up to the lake and the chilling views of Mt Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Badrinath. The trek is not meant for beginners.
Har Ki Doon, a paradise in the lap of Himalayas on the border between Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh: The valley is reached through Govind Wildlife Sanctuary which is a repository of the most exotic variety of flora and fauna.
Follow Pandavas’ steps to the Swargarohini This trek offers mesmerizing views of Swargarohini – I, II, III, Bandarpoonch and Blackpeak, Ruinsara, etc. In the Hindu mythology, Pandavas ascended to heaven following the very route trekkers take. How is that for some rich history?
In the foothills of Fateh Parvat, Har ki Dun is one of the most scenic valleys and, therefore, perfect spot for your photography passions! So is the nearby Hata valley.
Enjoy camping next to Kalkatti Dhar
Trek to Jaundhar Glacier and spot lush greens and snow-capped peaks. An exhilarating view that will leave you wanting for more, definitely!
Quit being afraid. The world awaits.
Trekking in Uttarakhand is more than an adventure, it is an experience worth a thousand memories that will last a lifetime. Underneath the picture perfect hillocks touching clear skies, in the lush valleys and amid flowing rivulets, through pine and oak lands, find your own nature calling!
Situated at a height of 21,778 feet, the majestic Mount Kailash is said to be an abode of Lord Shiva hailed as ‘destroyer of evil’. The grand mountain is nestled in the South-Western part of Himalayas Tibetan Plateau. Also, located in close proximity to Lake Rakshasta and Lake Manasarovar, Kailash paves the path for four major rivers of Asia i.e. the Brahmaputra, Indus, Sutlej and Karnali.
Therefore, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra doubles as a pilgrimage for ardent Hindus and a journey into the magnificent Himalayas for wanderers.
The Most Fascinating Journey Ever!
The journey to Kailash Parvat is not just a regular yatra, it is a completely life-changing experience for those who undertake it. A hike to this breathtaking, isolated, eternal and fascinating sacred spot is like a journey within oneself. Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is like an experience of a lifetime!
Situated at a height of 15,015 feet, the emerald green and sacred blue Manasarovar Lake is just at a distance of 20 km from Kailash Parvat. The lake is said to be an embodiment of purity which has the power to wash away your sins and heal your wounds.
The spiritual journey involves meditation sessions, satsangs and bhajans which would subsequently be followed by the difficult yet exciting trek to the North face of Kailash. You will get an opportunity at the Kailash Mount to meditate in the presence of the Almighty.
Hidden Jewels on Kailash Route On this journey, one would visit the world’s highest city and the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa. There are several tourist attractions on the way to Kailash such as Jokhang temple, Bhakor Street, Sera Monastery, Potala Palace, and the lively Lhasa market.
One can enjoy the stunning picturesque sights of Darchen, Dirakphuk and Zuktulpuk.
My Journey to Sacred Mount We all arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport which is situated 6 km away from the city centre. After reaching Kathmandu airport, I first met my tour representative, he gave me a warm welcome, and we later moved toward the booked hotel. I completed all the check-in facility and went to relax for a while after lunch. Later, the tour representative introduced me to 9 other trekkers who were set to undertake this exciting journey. He then briefed us about the program schedule. When the session got over, I thought to take a stroll in the hotel garden.
Next day, we woke up to a striking view of sunrise in the valley that was echoing due to pleasing sound of chirping birds. Afterwards, I enjoyed an appetizing breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. Our guide came to the hotel and briefed us about today’s itinerary and then he took us to the most sacred temples in Nepal, Pashupatinath and Budhanilkanth dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu respectively. Our lunch was organised in a Nepali Restaurant, where we savoured some authentic delicacies like Thupka, Sel Roti and Momos. We also paid a visit to the Patan Museum and the Taragaon Museum.
Day 3 involved 6 hours bus journey from Kathmandu to Dhunche. Though the unsteady path was quite tough to handle, the drive through the majestic mountains was lovely. The one thing that propelled us throughout was acquaintance with the rare sights of nature away from the hustle-bustle noise of the city. We spent a night at a booked guesthouse. Next morning, after consuming yummy paranthas and curd, we moved toward Rasuwagadi, a point from where initial trekking began. The moving clouds, lush greenery mountains and chilly wind added an excitement to our journey. After a few hours of walk, we reached Lipulekh Pass where we waited for the Chinese authorities to complete the immigration facilities. After 1.5 hours of monitoring by the officials, we boarded a bus that took us to Kyirong. We spent a night at a lodge in Kyirong. We explored Kyirong markets and monasteries on the 5th day.
Next day, while moving to Dongba, pictorial views of mountain terrains and blue lake, Pieko-Tso and Yarlung Zangpo (the Brahmaputra River) worked as a feast to our naked eyes. After 7 hours, we reached Dongba guest house for night stay.
Now, it was the day to trek to the highest and holiest lake in the world, Lake Mansarovar. We first crossed Mayumla Pass where we had our lunch. Later, we reached Prayang County and we stayed there for 15 minutes to catch a glimpse of striking Mount Kailash.
The view of blue and emerald green lake was overwhelming. The blend of snow-capped mountains, incredible vistas of sand dunes and white clouds were simply majestic and truly breath-taking. This was a spiritual day of meditation and prayers. I experienced a revitalizing and cleansing dip in the purest lake, which is said to have the power to wash away all our sins. We stayed overnight in the camp set on the banks of the lake. Next morning, it was a time to get ready for a trek that was as testing as it was rewarding.
We packed up our stuff and drove to the starting point of the trek, Yamadwar, and then hiked to Dirapuk. En route, we beheld the sights of cliff-top monasteries, and yak caravans gently wandering over snowy passes. Finally, the time to experience the powerful and inexpressible phenomenon of this sacrosanct mountain arrived. For half an hour, we indulged in the exquisiteness and immensity of the esoteric Kailash. We spent a night at its base.
On Day 8, we moved from Dirapuk to the north face of Kailash for meditation and then back to Dirapuk. Then we headed back to Manasarovar and one more night was spent in amidst the mountain and beautiful lake.
Next morning, the journey to Zuthulphuk began with a steep climb up to the Dolma-La Hi
Long gone are the times when adventure was reserved for Christopher Columbus-types. Today, mesmerizing trails laden with snow and rhododendron leading to a majestic view of the literal top of the world are accessible to even people having 9 to 5 lives. Sandakphu trek, a rhododendron trek, is not just a treat for the eye, but a chance to walk alongside the Sleeping Buddha, and so much more! Here are ten reasons why you are missing out if you haven’t planned a getaway to this little paradise yet:
Rolling with the Rhododendrons
Out of the few rhododendron treks in India, Sandakphu trek carried out in the northern part of West Bengal is a beacon of beautiful trails that are covered by rhododendrons in the spring. It’s a spectacle to behold with your own eyes!
Chitrey Monastery: A reservoir of Buddhist culture
The trek will begin from the Chitrey village that boasts of a majestic monastery and stupas. The government of Bengal has recently decided to promote Buddhist tourism and this is definitely going to be the center of attention. And for all the right reasons, just look at it!
Kalaphokri or ‘Black Lake’ A bean-shaped black lake that is circumambulated by fluttering Buddhist flags is another highlight of your Sandakphu trek. It is rumored that even in really low temperatures the lake does not freeze. This lends it a strange charm, an air of mystery even. This will be your next stop after you cross Tumling.
Lushness of Sandakphu’s natural charms: Forests, Waterfalls, Alpine MeadowsThe entire hiking trail looks resplendent in the greens of lush meadows, dense forests and gurgling waterfalls and brimming Siri River. Often times, an exhausting trek through a forest will open up to a splendid meadow. Like, after you cross Lamyadhura.
If you would love the mountainous air with a gentle smell, come down in the spring. Mountain trail through forests showcase blooming flowers all along. Spot magnificent magnolias blooming all along the trail from Chitre to Meghma.
Winter is coming!
Walk the willowy snow-laden trails of Sandakphu trek if you choose to visit in the winters. This way, the destination is not the only scenic spot on your map, the journey is filled with a whole lot of beauty as well!
Wake up to the magnificent view of Sleeping Buddha
Kanchenjunga family of peaks seen from Sandakphu seem to be imitating Buddha in a sleeping position. The view is simply spellbinding.
Right here, one can also spot the ridge between Goecha and Pandim which is basically called the Goecha la trek in Sikkim.
Tumling’s tea estates and guest houses
Tumling, lying on the Indo-Nepal border, houses beautiful guest houses. Lots of trekkers/travelers stay right here in the beautiful guest houses by the side of the ebbing river. To your right lies India and to your left is Nepal. Furthermore, on this trek, you will get to traverse through many a beautiful tea estate in the villages that lie on the border.
After the ascent from Tumling, you will reach a point where from you can look at the entire Sandakphu trail lying ahead all at once. It will be the ultimate power-up you need to push through!
Camping in Singalila National Park
Spend a night camping at the best sites on this trek in Singalila National Park. As you wake up the next day, witness the sun rising from the Singalila range. This is truly what you came all the way for.
You can also spot blue bamboos in the jungle!
Witness the grandeur of world’s highest mountains in a 180 degree view
At Sandakphu, to the west lies Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, Nuptse, Baruntse, Chamling, Chomolonzo, Machapucchare and other peaks of Annapurna range. To the north, Sleeping Buddha and three sister peaks. To the east, Chomolhari. What more could a trek offer!
Is there any other trek that boasts of such spectacular views of the highest mountains in the world, blooming rhododendron alongside mountain trails that lead you through dense forests to vast meadows that are so lush, it fills your heart with an overwhelming joy?
Sandakphu trek can leave you speechless momentarily but it will give you a lot to reminisce and talk about later.
Hampta is a dream come true for trekking enthusiasts who are constantly on the look out for an unforgettable experience in the scenic valleys of Kullu and Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh. Why, you ask? Hampta Pass Trek is literally a paradise filled with eye-catching views and ever modifying scenery that captivates travelers in a lasting trance. Every turn of the trail is an immensely rewarding experience as it reveals nature’s hidden treasures. The rare sights of alpine forests, glaciers, and Himalayan flora and fauna make this expedition truly spellbinding.
Hampta Pass Trek – A Newbie’s Pleasure It’s a moderate trek that goes to magnificent foothills of the Pir Panjal Range and the great Himalayas. As you gain altitude, the trail offers different shades of nature, from green pine forests to the awe inspiring view of Indrasan and Deo Tibba mountains.
A Quick Overview of Elevation Points The adventure began from Manali, situated at 2,050 meters. This is the point from where you will head towards Jobri by road, taking you to Chika at 3,100 meters. You will trek from here to your base camp – Balu Ka Ghera Hampta Pass at 3,600 meters. Also known as the ‘Heaps of Sand’, it is said that brown bears hibernate at Balu ka Ghera in the winters. The place offers the breath-taking sight of the magnificent Dauladhar Ranges.
Trekking will continue to an elevation of 4,000 metres at Shia Ghoru. The next stop will be Chatru and later you will arrive at the crystal clear Chandratal Lake at 4,270 metres. Moreover, steadily flowing streams, the long wavy bridges and a range of vibrant flowers offer great delight and peace.
Measuring the Trek Region: Himachal Duration: 6 Days Grade: Easy to moderate MaxAltitude: 14,100 ft. Trekking Distance: 26 Km
The Friendly Locals: Living in the beautiful Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, the locals are quite reserved about their traditions and living customs. The socio-cultural lifestyle of farmers and artisans is reflected in their conventional heritage. They are ardent lovers of nature and its creation. Uniquely designed handicrafts and paintings can be discovered in the markets. People share a great bond of togetherness and brotherhood. They will surely help you whenever you ask them about the route and even if you’re lucky enough, some may offer you scrumptious traditional delicacies at a reasonable price or free of cost.
A Way to trek Hampta Pass trek originates from the places like Manali, Naggar and Dharamshala. Manali is accessible by rail, road and air and well connected to cities like New Delhi and Chandigarh. The nearest airport is Bhuntar Airport, which is located 52 km from Manali.
Joginder Nagar Railway Station is situated at the distance of 166 km from Manali. Volvos and taxis are considered to be more convenient to reach the scenic destination.
An Amazing Experience of 14, 100 ft. Actually, the story started on a boring Sunday when on the spur of the moment I decided to gift a solo trip to myself. While doing my research, I came to know about an exciting trek to Hampta Pass. I flew from Mumbai to Delhi and then boarded a Volvo AC bus to Manali. As it was going to be my first solo journey, I was very cynical about taking a long bus ride without any familiar faces. Surprisingly, the solo trip ended right in the bus, as a Korean woman sitting next to me was going for the Hampta Pass trek. This is the fun part of solo trips that you move all alone but come back home making several friends. While sharing some wonderful travel stories, Alena told me that it was the 4th time she had visited India.
After reaching Manali, we both rushed to Rambaug Circle on Manali Mall Road where we met our other group members and guide. We stayed at our booked hotel that day.
The next day we were headed towards the base camp – Manali to Chika via Jobra. We drove to a certain point and from there we started trekking. When we began, it started raining. Thankfully, we were carrying umbrellas. We climbed through the forest and lush green meadows. As it was just the first day of hiking, I was literally gasping for breath. At that point, I felt like I should have better trained myself for a month before saying yes to the adventure. However, the enchanting sight of a wide range of deodar and oak trees on the way can make you feel refreshed. The slope seemed to be very easy for my Korean friend who was constantly smiling as she was amazed to see such a pristine beauty of nature!
In the evening, our trek leader briefed us about the program and handed out a route map. In the evening, I captured some beautiful views in my DSLR camera which was recently gifted by my father. Later, we enjoyed dinner at the camp.
We woke to a stunning view of sunrise and after having Chai and Parathas, we were all set to go on a long trek. Though the trek was very challenging, the sights of the valley, rivers and meadows made it all easier. You know what? I did pretty well on the steep trail which was covered with snow. We reached Balu Ka Ghera. The camp was organised at an elevation of 11,900 ft with a stream on one side and river flowing on the other.
Day 3 was the final day! The most challenging yet the most exciting one, we were going to conquer Hampta today! Many of us were excited and nervous. We wore our snow spike shoes, took out our trekking pole and hiked towards the destined end. I was playing safe as I was mostly trekking in the middle troupe. The green valley made our way to the icy mountains and glaciers.
We finally reached Hampta. It was very foggy there so we were supposed to move forward as early as possible. We stayed there for 20 minutes and descended to Shea Goru. It was a slippery route and many group members rolled down when they fell on the ground. And then we couldn’t control our laughter. We created a warm corner of memories by clicking a plethora of pictures that I couldn’t even count. When we reached the spot, we saw that our guides had arranged a bonfire night at our camp. So, we sang and danced together that night!
On day 5, we moved towards Chatru and this was the place that gave us an opportunity to capture the most stunning views we only ever dreamt of. The valleys of Lahaul-Spiti and Pir Panjal Ranges added a charm to the beauty of the place. Notably, Chatru is the base point for three locations namely Spiti Valley, Hampta Pass and Rohtang Pass. We spent the night at Chatru.
Next morning, we had to say goodbyes to some really nice people that we met on the trek. After taking selfies and exchanging some warm hugs, I boarded a cab that took me to magnificent Chandratal Lake, which is said to be a jewel of the mountains. It is believed that the lake was the home to one of Pandavas – Yudhisthira, the eldest son of Kunti. After witnessing the purest form of nature, I hit the road back to Manali.
Know About Mobile Connectivity and ATM Facility You should withdraw money from ATM at Manali or Prini. No ATM service is available after Prini. So, if there are chances of falling short of money, it’s better to take some from here.
Mobile connectivity is quite good till Prini but beyond that, you don’t get such facility. You should make sure that all your important calls are made.
Take Note on Temperature and Trekking Time The best time to go for Hampta Pass is from June to August and September to October. The harsh climatic conditions vary at high altitudes, thus, it is important to choose the right time to get acclimatized. There are chances that you witness heavy snowfall and rain during the monsoon season. June to August: The temperature ranges from 20 °C to 15 °C during the day time and 7 °C to -2 °C at night. September to October: The temperature ranges from 15 °C to 10 °C during the day time and 5 °C to -5 °C at night. During this period, trekkers can enjoy the clear views of snow-capped mountains.
Things to Carry
Sweaters, warm jackets, caps and gloves
Trekking shoes, 6-7 pair of socks
Trekking pole, power bank
Water bottles, backpack, energy bars and drinks
A pair of sunglasses, camera
Basic toiletries, bed sheets
Flash light (with spare batteries)
Insect repellent, emergency medical kit
First-aid kit, binoculars, sleeping bag
Got some time? Check out these nearby attractions!
Siyali Mahadev Temple
Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa Monastery
Museum of Himachal Culture & Folk Art
Rahala Waterfall and Jogini waterfall
Tripura Sundari Temple
Don’t Forget to Carry Your Documents You are required to carry your ID cards and photocopies of your driving license or voter ID or passport (along with visa for non-Indian travelers). Passport size photo is a must. When it comes to your fitness for the trek, you may need to show a medical certificate signed from your doctor.
Hampta Pass has been the best experience of my life so far! It came as a confidence booster to me as it had cleared all my hesitation for a solo trip. The natural landscape, amazing trek group and friendly locals gave me a bundle of beautiful memories that will remain entrenched in my heart forever.
Traveling is as much about the experience you gather while on the trip and the pleasure you take when sharing it while after the journey ends. One such place, a favorite among the most adventurous travel enthusiasts, is Hampta Pass and its better half, Chandra Tal Lake.
Read further why you need to go on this trek to make the best memories and tell the craziest stories later.
What’s so unique about this
Hampta Pass is not just splendid in its charm but a rare spectacle at that. It is a narrow pass that climbs out of the Kullu valley and overlooks Lahaul valley’s long, desertous and scenic stretches. There is a vast difference in landscapes that this trek packs.
Traverse through alpine forests, huge rock formations and exotic flora-fauna to reach the glistening Moon Lake, a mythicized beacon of nature. Not only does this trek offer Lahaul’s vegetation and cold deserts, it provides the best views of Dhauladhar ranges. What’s more is that you get to closely observe the culture of the inhabitants of nature’s high altitude marvels. Why travel? Experience.
What’s the trail like
Chikka: You will begin your journey from Hampta Dam. Trek to Chikka, close to Manali, after spending a day acclimatizing at the base camp in Manali.
Balu Ka Ghera: This location is basically a heap of sand (“balu ka ghera”) right below the Hampta Pass. This is one of the best campsites in the entirety of your trek. The whole view is picturesque. It is a lush, expansive plain ground on the bank of a river. Marvel at the surrounding Dhauladhar ranges, the outer Himalayan peaks.
Hampta Pass via Shia Goru: From Balu ka Ghera, you will trek further to Hampta Pass (4270 m) via Shia Goru. Gaze at the desertous Lahaul valley in a panoramic view. Notice the vast change in landscapes this trek has to offer. Descend back to Shia Goru for a star-studded overnight stay.
Chatru and moving on to Chandra Tal Lake –
Chandratal Lake or “Moon Lake”; why it’s the best addition to your Hampta Pass Trek
The cherry on the top (quite literally, since it sits atop the Hampta Pass) is this high altitude glacial lake called Chandra Taal (Moon Lake). In mythology, this is the point where from Yudhisthra (in Mahabharata) ascended to heaven. Surely, the feeling of just standing by its side and holding its reflection in admiration is nothing short of heavenly in itself.
Likely on your last day of the trek before you descend, you will visit the lake. Set out on a early morning and trek to Pir Panjal ranges and to Chandratal from there. Descend back to Chatru, the point where Spiti valley, Rohtang Pass and Hampta Pass meet – for your overnight stay.
So what is the best time to make your way to Hampta Pass and Chandratal Lake?
Best time to take a getaway and spend a charming week in Hampta Pass is from June to late September. Within this time frame, most people visit in June or the next month. It is clad with snow, perfectly and all over. What a breathtaking view!
Hampta Pass, the starting point of your tryst with Himachal Pradesh
Hampta Pass in Himachal Pradesh is a favorite among trekker’s who are not too advanced but have some prior experience. These trekkers love an escape into the beatific Himachal which offers unparalleled views of the Himalayan peaks and is home to some of the most exotic Himalayan scenery and flora-fauna.
Once here, you will forever cherish and long for another visit. Most people go on to trek to other places in Himachal Pradesh after they get back from Hampta Pass. You are likely to continue being on a long and rewarding journey with nature after this one.
So you have finally given in to adrenaline’s demands and decided to go on a motorbike expedition all the way to Ladakh. Or maybe you are still in the process of finding out how thrilling an adventure it is. Maybe you dare to make this journey all by yourself or maybe this is an extended bachelor’s party or a ‘girls gone wild’ trip which is actually going to be something that will be talked about for years to come instead of a night out or a vacation. Or you are someone who is down for some fierce, life-changing experience just for the sake of how valuable an experience like this one is. For all of you, this is a beginner’s guide to exploring how you could have this heck of an experience and take the high road as you embark on your Ladakh Motorbike Expedition, in the land of high passes with all its hauntingly beautiful, snow-clad peaks, rugged and challenging routes that will make sure you have the time of your life.
Ride In The Right Season The preferred season for Ladakh motorbike expeditions is from the months of June,July to September, October. This is the best time to minimise potential dangers and deal breaker weather. Some people choose to do this in winter too. The worst weather to do this is definitely the rainy season so plan accordingly.
How many days of work leave do I need to complete this? You need at least 15 days to comfortably complete a the Ladakh motorbike trip and visit all the places that you should while you have the opportunity. What’s the route like? From Delhi, there are two possible routes that get you to Ladakh. Choose on the basis of three factors: a) how much time you have, b) what all you want to cover and c) what level of danger you desire.
Delhi-Jalandhar-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Karu-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi You will be covering almost 2,300 kms. Best weather and road conditions. Round trip.
Delhi-Manali-Sarchu-Leh-Khardung La-Nubra Valley-Kargil-Srinagar-DelhiYou will be covering almost 2,600 kms. More distance, more challenging routes and rough roads. Covers picturesque Ladakhi locations.
Petrol: On a mileage of 35 kms per litre, you will be needing close to 100 litres of petrol. (Rounded off)
Manali to Ladakh- a ride of a lifetime
I do not have a bike. Where do I find one? If you do not already have a bike that can be your partner in exploration then you will have to rent one. Delhi’s Karol Bagh is one rental hub where from you can rent a bike at a cost as minimal as a thousand bucks per day. If you are starting from Manali instead, you can find bikes there a bit on the costlier side. They range from a thousand to fifteen hundred INR per day. Keep in mind the security deposit and the valid ID proofs that need to be submitted to rent these bikes.
As a general rule, make sure to test drive before you finalise anything. Also, get it duly serviced before you begin your long tryst with the high roads.
Biking Gear Tips If you were thinking you only need a bike to do this, you were wrong. There’s a ton of other things that are easily available everywhere but that you definitely need to make this ride a successful expedition:
The best full face helmet you can get(you can rent this too); a pair of eye goggles of supreme quality; a pair of solid gloves
One or two leather jackets to protect you from the biting winds when they glaze through you; you are going to be mostly covered so sunscreen might not seem that obvious a gear essential to you but having some will not hurt you
Clothes that suit the weather; wisely pack enough some warm clothes that will last 15 days of use
At least two pairs of trekking shoes are important. One will get dirty after some time, trust us
A first-aid kit is absolutely necessary for the rider. And for the bike, a tool kit
MAPS! Make sure you have physical maps as well as GPS readily available to you
Camping materials such as tents, sleeping bags and essential toiletries as per your need
Swiss knife, torch, matchsticks are important for any potential dangers
A camera to capture beautiful and exotic landscapes is also an essential for many. Do not forget chargers, power banks for your phones. Apart from this, not part of the biking gear, but equally if not more important, are the valid ID proofs (including the driving license) you are going to need for the ride to go hassle-free!
What to do while in Ladakh If half of the success of your bike trip is dependent on the bike itself, the other half is the beautiful locations you’re going to be visiting. So, decide beforehand which ones you are sure to visit and plan routes accordingly. Here’s a list of all the Ladakh highlights: Please note that these are the most popular sites. You can very well choose less popular or even off-beat locations to explore.
Pangong Tso Lake 130 kms of stretch of water that extends from India to China. Camp overnight by the sides of deep azure waters. If you visit off season, you are bound to find it completely frozen.
Nubra Valley Be ready to be mesmerized by far reaching cold mountain deserts. The mountainous air here is everything. This is another beautiful campsite.
Magnetic Hill The mystery of Magnetic Hill is such that it is an uphill ride on the Srinagar-Leh highway yet if you were to completely shut your engine down, the vehicle will still keep moving. Test it for yourself!
Zanksar Valley Long stretches of brown surrounded by snow-white peaks. The beauty of Zanskar is a heartening sight.
Lamayuru Monastery On the Srinagar-Leh highway, this Tibetan Buddhist monastery is a must-visit. It is situated at a height of whopping 3,510 m. A masked dance festival is performed here annually.
Shanti Stupa Overlooking all of Leh, this marvel atop a hill (4,267 m) is the perfect stop to witness a beautiful sunset.
Khardung La Pass World’s highest motorable pass called Khardung La at 18,490 feet. Accomplishing this feat is obviously a pass for show-off later.
Drass Valley Drass, the second coldest place on earth. Climb up to the Tiger Hill Peak and then restart your road journey. En route, cross Zoji La pass and enter the breathtaking valley of Sonamarg, which is a famous ski resort.
Health Tips Do not forget that you are going to deal with high altitude so make sure you don’t fall prey to altitude sickness. Carry important medicines to deal with that if need be. Hydrate as many times as you can. It is very important and a very easy thing to pull off. Half of your traveling sickness will go away if you hydrate adequately.
Take care of your partner-in-adventure, your dearest bike Make sure you take the bike for a test drive if you are renting one. Check the lights, the tyres and let the mirrors be. Fill the tank before you set out.
Extra information it wouldn’t hurt to know
From Manali to Leh, there are only two petrol pumps you will find on your way. However, Srinagar-Leh has plenty of pumps.
You will find mechanics on the way. Don’t worry if you get a flat tyre. But it is advised to take all precautions.
Carry enough cash with you for meals and accomodation. You are not likely to find many ATMs on your way.
Only a few mobile network services work in this area. Check with the concerned authorities before you are stranded without network.
Plan a whole day’s route before you set off. And try and set out with sunrise and come to a halt with the sunrise. Riding in the dark is not that safe, still make sure all your lights work.
This is your life. What will you make of it?A Ladakh Motorbike adventure is an experience worth having at least once in a lifetime.
Great people have dubbed the hike to Everest as the “stairs to heaven,” and rightly so. Wrapped in wonderment and thin air, this monument of nature sees travelers from all around the globe, exploring the nearby monasteries and bazaars if not the base camp itself. Naturally, this beacon of glory only deserves the bravest of trekkers to even imagine what an experience it must be to even feel the mountain air that surrounds it, to scale the height and make a life-altering journey to the roof of the world. Here is a list of the most basic to slightly advanced requirements for deciding if you should even consider going on the Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek. This should not be treated as a final word; it is advised that you speak to your doctor and a professional trekker before you decide on making this incredible hike.
1. Are You Experienced Enough? For reasons very simple, more experience with high altitude – especially altitude that can be compared to EBC’s (29,028 ft) – will mean you are already mentally and physically equipped to deal with this to a significant extent. More experience reduces the chances of distress calls that you are most likely to face on a trek like this. With temperature that drops as low as -60 degree Celsius in the coldest month of the year, only trekkers of advanced calibre are advised to do this.
2. Do you have the level of strength it takes to make it to EBC? Recognize your strengths if you dream of climbing the highest mountain of the world:
a) You are generally fit with no life-threatening diseases that may or may not be elevated due to high altitude (eg. heart disease, lung disease). b) You have a great skill in walking for long hours. You will be required to trek for 4-10 hours with sufficient breaks on the EBC trek. The key to surviving this is sustained effort. c) You have a passion for trekking. It is very important to stay focused and inspired throughout this trek. d) You appreciate team work. Know that taking on this journey with a few more interested people will inspire you and help you in crucial conditions that you are bound to face on this heck of a trek!
3. Have you recognized the areas you have to work on? All humans are fallible and all of us have our faults. However, you need to start planning ahead immediately and ramp up your physical fitness training regime at least 6 months prior to the trek. If you have a potential health risk from a heart or lung disease, unfortunately, you will not be allowed to undertake this journey. If you are a smoker or someone who regularly drinks, it will be considerably tougher for you to accomplish this feat as compared to other people who are in a better physical position to deal with the stress of high altitude trekking. Smoking will impair your breathing skills at high altitudes and drinking or influence of any other substance impairs judgement which is a potential health risk again.
4. Do you understand how important acclimatization is? Please note that Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a real health danger triggered by high altitude. High altitude, lower oxygen levels, and low air pressure coupled with exertion leads to AMS, generally felt after 8000 ft and above. The symptoms will include dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath. Most instances of altitude sickness are mild and heal quickly. In rare cases, altitude sickness can become severe and cause complications with the lungs or brain.
To combat with all this, steady acclimatization to high altitude by spending one day or two at some areas before you begin trekking or while trekking is absolutely necessary. Pick itineraries that heed this advice and allow you enough time to acclimatize properly in order to avoid health problems. Generally, an EBC trek should take you 13-20 days to complete.
5. Do you have all the essential trekking gear that you need to bring with you?
a. Sunglasses + Sunscreen
b. Clothing (Base=Thermal wear + First Layer=Warm Trekking T-shirt/Trousers + Second Layer=Fleece jacket + Third Layer= Waterproof Shell Jackets you need in case it is especially cold/rains)
c. Headwear (Hats and buffs to keep your head and face warm to avoid catching disease) d. Gloves (Inner + Outer Insulated) e. Footwear (2 pairs of thermal hiking socks + Hiking shoes. You can also get leg gaiters!) f. Bags and Backpacks (Keep it waterproof!) g. Sleeping Gear h. Trekking Poles i. Medications and Toiletries (A first aid box is necessary. You should also carry medicines for relieving any slight to serious AMS symptoms.)
6. Do you have a fair idea about nutrition on this trek? Consider this very important. Nutrition is extremely important in order to complete the trek in a healthy condition. A proper diet needs to be followed while you are trekking to EBC. Apart from the food that your sherpas/guides will provide you at the tea-houses you stay in and it is most likely going to be a light meal that is easily digestible, you will need the following to soothe your munchies: Herbal tea Electrolytes Light snack bars and energy bars Dried fruit Digestive biscuits
7. Have you started preparing already? Prior to the trek, almost two to three months before the actual trek, you will have to devise an effective exercise regime that lets you build stamina for long treks over time.
a) You can try walking for 4 to 5 kms daily for 60 days before the trek. b) You should do some shoulder exercises like planks. c) Practice a bit of yoga to help improve your breathing problems, if any, and build core strength. d) You can swim/cycle once a week to build a bit of lean muscle.
Very many encomiums written and paeans of praises sung after it, naturally, Mt Everest remains to be one of the most popular mountains in the world; thousands of trekkers decide to undertake a trek to the Everest Base Camp each year. If you think you can handle the glory of being one of those lucky ones to have scaled the skies, good luck!
For people who love adrenaline pumping through their systems and want to experience the thrill of a lifetime, skydiving is just the thing for them. A dive from 10,000 feet above the ground does indeed send a chill down your spine. When it comes to safety, skydiving in India was considered notorious earlier. But now things have completely changed. Skydiving is gaining popularity among the youth as an exhilarating experience, and who can blame them? Just imagine yourself- jumping out of the plane, the wind rushing past as you free fall for the next 30 seconds, and then floating back to land as you gaze at the surreal beauty that is our Earth. So one early morning, I set out to tick one more thing off my ever-growing wishlist for this year – skydiving.
I had done some research beforehand on where to go, and I chose the most reliable and safest skydiving site, Skyhigh India, situated at Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh – Kanpur Expressway, at the ‘Aligarh Airstrip’. After making some inquiries, I came to know that it is the first full-time commercial skydiving drop zone in India that not only matches international standards but is also affiliated to the United States Parachute Association (USPA). After covering about 140 km, in just two and a half hours via the Yamuna Expressway, I reached my destination.
I went inside their training institute and met several adventure lovers from around the world. We all started introducing ourselves to each other. Some of them had already done skydiving in some other countries and they shared their thrilling experiences with me. All this was only building up my excitement, and I couldn’t wait to actually experience it myself!
We were all then introduced to the instructor, who told us that skydiving was initially not considered to be a sport, but was meant to save victims of aircraft accidents and to help with positioning armed forces on the battleground. He further said that at present, Skyhigh India only offers Tandem Skydiving and solo skydiving courses are soon to be introduced. Luckily, we got an opportunity to meet its founder, Rudra Bhani Solanki. In a conversation, we got to know that Tandem Skydiving is perfect for first timers as it is the safest and easiest style of skydiving. All you have to do is follow instructor’s guidance, take the flight up, jump and enjoy the breathtaking views! It all sounded so easy!
The parachute would be your only flying machine to provide you protection up in the sky. In case you’re planning to go for skydiving, just make sure that you get an experienced and qualified trainer, and feel free to talk to the people around you if you have any doubts. At Aligarh Airstrip, I got a parachute that had an installed Automatic Activation Device (AAD). Also, the team provided me ground training where I was trained in all the safety measures. All the parachutes at Skyhigh India are regularly inspected and maintained for safety. In the training session, I learned various tactics and skills which I could later apply while skydiving. The instructors were truly the best, with a lot of experience in this particular field. If you are a first-timer, Sigma Tandem Parachute Systems is highly recommended as there is nothing to worry about. Everyone has to compulsorily undergo a training session of three to four days at the camp, even if they have already done skydiving before.
How It All Went Down
Finally, the day came which I had been excitedly waiting for; the day when I was going to do the skydive. All the equipment that I was supposed to carry had been previously tried and tested, so there was nothing to worry about.
In no time at all, I was taken up in a plane, ascending to the required height. While I was ready to experience the delight of my first tandem jump, I was safely strapped and securely tied together to the instructor by the assisting team. Another instructor made space for us in the aircraft. As I stood near the door, everything appeared so tiny to me, and that scared me a bit. I reminded myself that what I need to do was to rely on my instructor and wait for his guidance. In 30-40 minutes, the plane was in the drop zone. As I was told earlier in the training session, I kept breathing deeply and after five or six deep breaths, I jumped. The free fall lasted for 20-30 seconds, but nothing will be able to describe how I felt. It was exhilarating, with the wind in my face, hurtling towards the ground, at a speed of at least 200 km/hr! Free-fall was the most breathtaking, frightening yet exciting thing I had ever done. My mind was totally blank, as I experienced the thrill of the moment with a broad smile on my face that’ll definitely be back every time I will think about this. The parachute opened suddenly, and then we were floating gently down. My instructor kept guiding me with the basic tricks of the parachute, showing me how to turn it left or right. Together, we both circled and I couldn’t resist yelling at the top of my lungs. I was on the ground in the next 30 minutes.
There is no doubt in my mind that those 30 minutes were one of the most exceptional moments of my life! I would carry this memory for a lifetime. All the credits for that remarkable 30-minute skydive go to Skyhigh India, which never compromises on safety equipment because, for them, the safety of their customers is of utmost priority. The instructors are the best that anyone is likely to find, as they are qualified and experienced. The activity here is safe and promises the best experience.
When it comes to health or body weight, anyone up to 90 kilos is fit to jump. Notably, if you have any heart-related problem, you need to show a fitness certificate signed by your consultant. Skydivers need to wear appropriate clothes as no ill-fitted clothes or strappy sandals are allowed. It is necessary to carry your athletic clothes and sports shoes.
If Safety Is A Concern
My skydiving adventure has reassured me of one thing – there are many safe avenues where people can indulge in this activity without any apprehensions about safety. After some research, I also learned that there were some organisations in the Northern part of India which were rigorously working towards restoring people’s faith and confidence, and aim to make skydiving an accessible activity for everyone.
All the adventure lovers in Delhi, now you don’t need to look for other avenues for Skydiving as you have a perfect option near you. Are you ready to create an unforgettable memory? If yes, then just brace yourself and go for it!
Also known as the Mystery Lake, Roopkund is a glacial lake located at a breathtaking height of around 16,499 feet above sea level in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The presence of numerous human skeletons, which can be seen in the lake when the snow melts, adds a tinge of mystery to the Roopund trek.
As you set out on the trek, you will encounter verdant green meadows or ‘Bugyals’, soaring snow-clad peaks, and lush dense forests. You can feast your eyes on the magnificent breathtaking views of Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti as you make your way to Roopkund lake. Being one of the most famous sites for trekking in the Garhwal region, it is frequented by people from all across the world.
The starting point for this trek is Lohajung. Replete with rich biodiversity and picturesque surroundings, you can witness nature in its purest form here. It is a little difficult to traverse the curvy and winding roads which steadily gain altitude, but it will lead to an amazing feeling of accomplishment. After walking for around 6 km, you will reach a peaceful village in the district of Garhwal, called Kulling. Filled with natural beauty, this village offers a narrow concrete plain, cutting through houses and fields. While descending down the village and crossing the bed of Neel Ganga, you will come across a moderately steep road covered with a forest of rhododendrons and oak, that connects to the Didna village, situated at an altitude of 8000 ft.
The gorgeous village of Ali Bugyal is the next hamlet you will visit, which is one of the highest inhabited locations in the country.There are two trails from here – you can take either the right side of the trail or the left one. The trail on the right side is slightly ascending, and the trail on the left side is of a steeper nature. However, both sides lead to the same destination.
Moving ahead from here, the next location is Ghora Lutani. You will enjoy gorgeous scenic views as you trek upwards to reach your final destination. A steep altitude gain of around 12,500 ft to 14,500 ft, the long continuous walk, coupled with the high altitude of this location, will challenge you and demand a lot from you. Also, the effect of high altitude can make breathing difficult, but the amazing vista surrounding you will be there to inspire and rekindle the fun of trekking. After reaching the campsite, you can wrap up for the day and retire to relax for the night.
Next day, as you walk towards Bhagwabasa, the terrain seems to look rough and not so easy to traverse. Situated at around 14000 ft above the sea level, the road will take you across Kalyuvinayak temple, which is further 200 ft higher. It is suggested to walk slowly and carefully as the air gets thinner and the quantity of oxygen decreases.
The gift that awaits you at such a height is a look at the final trekking destination, Roopkund. With shining and sparkling Trishul on one side and bell-shaped Nandagunti on the other, the view is simply magnificent and enchanting. It is surely the highest point on the trek with an altitude of more than 16000 ft. Though the path is not that difficult to climb, even the 4 km walk can pull out every ounce of energy that you have and make you feel tired. After covering the hard and steep terrain, a lot of photographic opportunities will be waiting for you at the Nanda Devi temple. You cannot afford to miss this chance of capturing some warm memories with near and dear ones.
Before moving further, you can choose to acclimatise and rest for a day like most of the hikers do. Rest well before you start the reverse journey and celebrate the joy of enduring the perils involved in the trekking expedition to Roopkund. This trek requires a whole lot of determination and courage, however, sheer exhilaration and the thrill involved in reaching Roopkund will become your motivation to complete this trek.
The best time to do this trek is between May-June and between August – September. If you choose to go in May/June, you might not be able to see the skeletons as the lake will be thawed, but on the bright side, the verdant bugyals will take your breath away. However, if you choose to go after the monsoons, the lake will, in all probability, be frozen at the end of September, and you will be able to see why the Roopkund lake has an air of mystery surrounding it.
Trekking in India is an experience only accorded to the luckiest of travellers. It is an exciting way to combine Ecotourism and Adventure Sports to add value to your experience. It challenges you and pushes the best in you to the fore so you always end up learning a few things about yourself by the end of each trek; be it easy, moderate or difficult. India is home to a lot of accomplished travellers who have made the impossible possible. However, they all had to begin somewhere. So, if you are a beginner who is looking for a credible compilation of solid advice that ensures a safe, exciting and environment-friendly travel, read on!
Budgeting The first step towards going on a trek that makes for memories of a lifetime, and definitely begins your long tryst with adventure in India, is to have a budget. Allocating a budget to a trek is now easier than ever. If you plan to avail the services of a travel agency (which is recommended for a beginner), you can easily look up the fixed rates for different treks they offer in a certain region. A few travel companies also give you the option of making the payment in monthly instalments. So, save up because money is no excuse to miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime!
Research A very, very important point is to do a thorough research about the trek you’re going to take. Reading up on blogs such as these will be of great help. Contacting the agency is another way to gain some insight. You can also get in touch with some of your friends who have relevant experience. Your primary research should be based on where you’re going. This entails having information on the kind of region you’re headed to; its climate, flora and fauna, places to visit, local culture, etc. You’re secondary research should be based on how you’re going to do this. You should read detailed itineraries and decide whether it’s something you’re ready for or not. Your tertiary research should be based on what you’re going to need for doing the trek – this includes having knowledge about all the essentials, like water bottles and food items, trekking gear and other accessories, and medical aid that you will need while on the trek.
Easy Trek The excitement to take on tough challenges and shoot that adrenaline level through the roof can be exhilarating. It is important to understand that trekking requires significant training and clarity of thought and judgement to tackle adverse conditions at such high altitudes without compromising your own safety. So, for your first time ever, choose an easy trek. Choose a trek you can imagine yourself completing without draining yourself of motivation. Even though all treks can be tiring, easy or moderate treks are less dangerous and great stepping stones for bigger accomplishments in near future.
How To: Websites enlist all treks and classify them on a grading scale that has at least three scales– Easy>Moderate>Difficult. Look for this information and choose wisely.
Scheduling Scheduling is an important step for having a safe and exciting experience. Contact the guides and the trek operators in advance to know the detailed itinerary. Get in touch with other people who are going with you prior to embarking on the trek. Inform family and friends about your plans so if you need some immediate assistance, they can be called up. Remember, caution is better than cure.
Fitness/Training On the same note, some amount of training prior to the actual trek needs to be taken in order to both build mental and physical stamina and get some motivation. a) Try walking at least 3 km everyday for three weeks up to the final day. Try completing one km in 20 minutes. b) Jog for about 1-2 km everyday for three weeks up to the final day. c) Try doing some yoga to improve breathing. This will help you to handle high altitudes. d) You should try exercising your shoulder and back so you don’t find it difficult to carry your bag on the back and trek for long distances. e) You should not smoke or drink while trekking. So, if you’re someone who smokes or drinks try steadily reducing it and then stopping it in the build up to the final day.
Packing Here is a list of things you might need.
Waterproof and well-broken shoes
Woollens: Sweater, Pants, Shirt/T-shirt, Socks, Gloves
Cotton: Shirt/T-shirt, Underwear
Sunglasses and Hats
Other Accessories: Pocket Knife Ready made energy food (protein bars and other snacks) Flashlights with extra battery Water bottle Your guide/trek operator will provide you with food, water and camps for overnight stay.
Advice a) It’s not a race. Try making the best of your experience instead of competing with others. Do not overly exert yourself. One campsite to another, the journey is far more important than the destination. b) Carry medical aid. A first aid box and medicines that relieve altitude sickness are important. It is advised that you take a course of medicines before you go to high altitudes. Seek medical advice beforehand both from experienced friends as well as the trek operators. c) Wear layers of clothes to help avoid the biting cold. d) Make sure you have sufficient water supplies on you. And don’t forget to carry purifying tablets. You can suck on candies to reduce thirst. e) Do NOT litter. Abide strictly by the environment-conservative rules of eco-tourism. Do not trouble the locals or disrupt their routines or destroy their treasured places of stay.
Sure, trekking takes strength and a resolute mind, but it’s a fun thing to do. Proper training and guidance ensure you have a thrilling experience as you conquer the snow-clad mountains!
When it comes to road trips, the ‘Land of High Passes’ or Leh-Ladakh is the place to be! Extending from the Kunlun mountain range to the Great Himalayas to the south, the mystical region of Leh-Ladakh features jaw-dropping landscapes as far as your eye can go. If you still have not experienced the Delhi-Manali- Leh road trip, you are missing out an absolutely enchanting journey!
So without any doubt, a bike trip to the challenging mountainscape of Leh-Ladakh tops the bucket list of every passionate biker. Having said that, conquering the rebellious mountainous terrain of Leh-Ladakh is not every biker’s cup of tea! Especially on your way to Leh, you may come across extreme, unruly roads but the spectacular views along the ride, make up for all the pain gone through. However, to better tackle the rugged landscape of this Himalayan wonderland, here’s your Leh-Ladakh bike trip guide to make your journey thrilling and safe!
Best Time to Explore Leh-Ladakh on a Bike Trip
The months of June to September is the best time for a road trip to Leh-Ladakh as the snow melts away by this time leaving the mountain passes clear and safe for travel.
Best Route Options for Leh-Ladakh Two-Way Bike Trip
Consider New Delhi as a base to start your bike trip to Leh-Ladakh. Manali to Leh, and Srinagar to Leh, are the two prime routes offering decent traversable roads and gorgeous landscapes along the way. Here are the details of the two routes: Route 1: Delhi → Manali → Sarchu → Pangi → Leh → Khardung La → Nubra → Kargil →
Srinagar → Delhi
Approximate Distance: 3,649 kilometers
Places to travel through in Leh-Ladakh
If you are passionate about offbeat traveling, then a bike trip to Leh-Ladakh is something that you need to experience. As you begin your expedition from the concrete jungles to the valley of the gods, feel the air turning nippy and crisp with every kilometer you tread. Ride through high-altitude passes, and take on the extreme twists and turns, to reach this Himalayan refuge, that conjures up an ethereal vision with lofty, snow-draped peaks, plummeting valleys, and quaint monasteries. Here are the prime places to bike your way through in Leh-Ladakh:
Zanskar Valley– The best thing about Zanskar Valley is its remoteness. Tucked in one corner of Ladakh between two alpine lakes, conquering the treacherous trails of this valley is no child’s play! Ride your way through an impressively rugged terrain under the appeasing hues of the blue skies taking in the splendour of the sweeping landscapes, dreamy cave monasteries and settlements of this Trans-Himalayan region.
Khardung La Pass– Imagine freewheeling on the world’s highest road pass taking in the stunning scenery that goes all the way down from the snow-laden terrain to the emerald-green oasis of Upper Leh! Set at a vertigo-inducing altitude of 18,379feet, Khardung La Pass is about 40 kilometers away from Leh. It is considered one of India’s most dangerous motorable roads that could test the patience of even the most seasoned bikers! A ride along the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is a must-try when you are here.
Pangong Lake– Perched impressively on the Changtangplateau in eastern Ladakh, the 134 kilometers long pristine blue beauty will more than rejuvenate your tired body and mind, making it well worth the long ride up! The world’s highest saltwater lake, the very first glimpse of this brackish lake will make you fall in love with it! An idyllic spot to stretch your legs after along bike ride, spend some time in solitude by the Pangong Lake and enjoy the captivating beauty of the surroundings. Graced by the snowy mountains, the golden sun rays glistening on the lake against the backdrop of vivid twirls of minerals in a starkly arid setting, the Pangong Lake creates a surreal vision for both the eyes and soul.
Magnetic Hill- As they say, ‘nature works in mysterious ways’! The magical stretch of Magnetic Hill invites bikers to be a part of a mystifying experience. At 14,000 feet, you would not be able to figure out if it is the reverse gravity at play or the case of an optical illusion. Boggle your mind by riding on this amazing stretch that works mysteriously – pulling vehicles uphill, defying gravity.
Nubra Valley– Once you land in this picturesque refuge, you will be struck by its utter tranquility and natural magnificence! An austerely gorgeous tuft of land lying in far-flung isolation, find your heart and soul soar with delight as you cruise through this stunning valley. Let your eyes absorb the immense beauty of this valley ornamented by quaint monasteries, vivid orchards, green oasis villages, and the unusual sight of Bactrian camels in a thrillingly stark, arid-white setting.
Other than these beatific locales, you can take a halt at other attractions as the Leh Palace, Stok Palace, Shanti Stupa, Tsemo Fort, Dha and Hanu, Old Town, Tiger Hill, Drang-Drung Glacier, Drass Valley, among others, depending on the duration of your trip.
Limitless deserts, thriving jungles, prosperous rivers and breathtaking views – with every step you take on the Markha Valley Trek you are introduced to nature, beauty, adventure and a heap of emotions felt never before.
With its trail taking you through the Hemis National Park where there’s a good chance you’ll spot a snow leopard to further heading to tiny Himalayan hamlets with huge parachute tents and a unique Buddhist culture to finally crossing high mountain passes that offer you views so enchanting that you almost never want to leave, the Markha Valley Trek has it all!
So if you’re planning your next trekking adventure, look no further! Here are 5 Unbeatable Reasons to do the Markha Valley Trek this summer.
Explore Diverse Landscapes
Unlike the numerous treks that take you through forests or arid deserts of the region, the Markha Valley trek introduces you to landscapes along flowing rivers, green pastures, scenic valleys, and flourishing national parks, and bone-dry desert expanses. On this trek, you will experience excitement– when you spot a snow leopard; hardship -when you cross stretches of the waist-deep Markha River; peace-when you take a stop at the confluence of Indus and Zinchen Rivers; thrill -when you conquer over 17,000 feet at Kongmaru La Pass.
Discover Ancient Buddhist Villages
The Markha Valley Trek takes you through some diverse landscapes and while most of the hike is shadowed by wilderness, there will be days when you will stop by tiny mountain hamlets. Trek through scenic landscapes and pass along river banks; meet the region’s locals and come face-to- face with religious shrines at Lhatos and confront the Mani walls. Mani walls are stone structures that are formed by the compilation of intricately carved stone tablets mostly with the inscription of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ loosely meaning ‘ Hail to the jewel
in the lotus’.
Hike through the villages of Umlung and Hangskar. Much like an eagle nest perched on the tallest tree, the Techa Monastery in Umlung is one of the highest located monasteries and is easily a 1000 years old. Although Umlung offers the comforts of a monastery and a handful of homestays, a visit to Hangskar (the last hamlet in the valley) with its ever welcoming locals and their hot butter tea is a reward in itself. Some of the other villages that you will pass by during the Markha Valley Trek are Spituk, Shingo, and Siku among others.
An Encounter with the Wild
One of the best parts of about the Markha Valley trek is that it takes you through the charming Hemis National Park. Best known for having the highest density of snow leopard in any protected area in the world,
the Hemis National Park with its large population of rare species of wildlife is arguably one of the best parts of this trek. Tibetan wolves, red foxes, Eurasian brown bears and Asiatic ibexes – they are all here. But that’s not all – the region also boasts of being the only habitat of the Shapu in India and is also home to the mountain weasel and the Himalayan mouse. The park is also a bird watcher’s paradise and visitors are often lucky to spot the Lammergeier vulture, the fork-tailed swift, Fire-fronted serin and Tibetan snowfinch in their natural habitat.
Live in Parachute Tents
The Markha Valley trek is also known as the ‘tea house trek’, takes you through diverse terrains and arid deserts but that’s not the only fun part of this excursion. While the villages on the trail have ample homestays that provide the comfort of a home away from home, this adventure also lets you have the experience of camping in parachute
tents. These parachute tents are massive tents where you camp the night with your entire group. Fun much? Oh, you have to experience it to know how much!
Be an Achiever
The trek begins from the green landscapes of the Hemis National Park but don’t let the lush environs fool you, this is just the beginning. The Markha Valley trek takes you through striking contrasts. Trek through the land masses with powerful rivers that are knee-deep if not more and pass through rocky canyons to reach the towering peaks of Ganda La at 15748 feet, and Kongmaru La at 17060 feet. Reach the top and be welcomed by breathtaking views of Ladakh and the Zanskar ranges. It’s a superlative achievement that feels a million times better
than it reads.
It’s not every day that you come across a trek that offers an out-an-out Ladakhi experience. Raw and natural beauty, exciting adventure, the Buddhist culture, the local food, and the warm hospitality of the people
– everything’s covered.
This trip is everything that dream vacations to Ladakh are made of, and if it resonates with your idea of adventure, let there be no place else you head this summer.
What’s expansive, majestic and home to the highest peaks on the planet? Of course, the Great Himalayas! An enigma in itself, the Himalayan Range lures travelers with its arresting landscape of snow-laden mountains, glaciers and plunging river valleys, along with the ever-so-colossal Mount Everest sitting at a whopping elevation of 8,848 meters above sea level.
But there is more to the Great Himalayan range than just natural grandeur…
India’s prime outdoor adventure refuge- Himalayas- house some of the most prominent winter-sports destinations like Gulmarg, Auli, Leh, Manali and Narkanda. While Kashmir offers some of the world’s highest, tough-to-tread but blissfully unexplored ski slopes, just right for extreme snow sport enthusiasts, the gentle slopes of Himachal Pradesh provide a perfect base for novices.
Whizzing past jagged and raw terrains, plunging from great heights will fill you with a sense of exhilaration and make you want to immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of the surroundings. All this at a fraction of the cost in contrast to famous European resorts! Well, does that make you want to go on a snow-sporting vacation right away? If you are still not convinced, here are our top reasons to go skiing and snowboarding in the Great Himalayas:
You Don’t Get To Do This Every Day!
Winter sports in India are not that prevalent. You do not get to experience such activities every day. That makes the Himalayan resort towns even more special. But if you wish to experience uncharted and unique snow challenges, then the Himalayan Range is your eternal playground. Forget the jam-packed and well trimmed Alpine slopes, the Himalayas offer next-level skiing and snowboarding experiences, adding a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going-off-piste’!
Discover Hidden Treasures of Gulmarg
Adventure tourism is on the rise with Kashmir’s Gulmarg leading the pack! Often touted as the Mecca for skiers, Gulmarg has one of the highest ski lifts in the world and it is certainly not just another alpine escapade. While the naturally smooth gradient of Kongdoori Peak makes it an ideal spot for novice skiers to get a hang of the activity, it is the Mountain Apharwat that steals the show! Strictly meant for advanced skiers, it offers an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here, you will find the world’s highest gondola- The Gulmarg Gondola that takes fearless skiers to the world’s most uncharted slopes at a vertigo-inducing altitude of 13,400 feet- almost reaching the peak of Mount Apharwat.
Advanced skiers feeling a little frisky can really push their boundaries in these elevated terrains. How about exploring the hoary playground filled with firs and pines by taking on the mountains from dizzying heights where the Gondolas do not reach? Picture taking a helicopter ride to the most untouched and dramatic mountaintops of the world and get ready for a flabbergasting Heli-skiing experience amid the mystical wilderness of Gulmarg. Those who cannot imagine a skiing holiday without the comforts of gourmet dishes can look forward to an authentic experience with Kashmiri offerings like soothing mint teas, flavored curries, and some warm conversation.
Lose yourself in the picturesque Garhwal slopes of Uttaranchal.. The lesser-known cousin of Gulmarg, Garhwal woos adventure enthusiasts with its intoxicating natural splendor and is just as generous in terms of thrill!
Auli– Enveloped by the mighty Himalayan range, Auli has some of the gentlest slopes covered in just the right amount of snow. The ski-worthy slopes range somewhere between 2000-3000 meters, making it an ideal playground for both amateur and skilled skiers. To enhance the thrill, an 800 meters long cable car runs between Auli and Joshimath offering magnificent views of the Dronagiri, Kamet and Nanda Devi peaks. On top of the mountain peaks, there is a government operated ski resort equipped with amenities and guide which also features a 500-m long ski-lift.
Dayara Bugyal– With multiple trails, gorgeous scenery and an awe-inspiring ambiance, this Himalayan hamlet has skiing slopes extended about 28 square kilometers in area that brings back skiers for more. The magnificent snow covered slopes are a dream to ski and the enchanting views of the Tal and Barnala lakes add further charm to the site.
Mundali– Another entrancing winter-sports destination in Uttarakhand, Mundali offers sublime views and the perfect snowy slopes for skiing adventures. The powdery snow-draped slopes work as a magnet for both amateur and expert skiers. Getting to the hill station is a thrill in itself. Expect to fight through a tough terrain, unmetalled roads and steep treks to reach this unspoiled paradise.
Manali has evolved from being a quaint holiday destination to a promising base for thrilling winter-sports like skiing, heli-skiing and snowboarding. Covered with miles of glaciers and surrounded by snow-clad peaks, skiing trails in Manali takes one through cedar-birch forests and jaw-dropping ridgelines that is sure to raise your adrenalin levels.
Apart from the above mentioned places, the other Himalayan towns that offer memorable and thrilling skiing experience include Pahalgam, Kufri, Narkanda, Solang Valley, Tawang, Yumthang Valley, among others.
Have you been to the Great Himalayas for skiing or snowboarding? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!