Trekking has always been my idea of an escape from the tediousness of daily life as I always feel close to the hills. I believe in not just ticking off destinations from my bucket-list, but also in having phenomenal experiences which will leave memories that last a lifetime. Being a mountain aficionado, Annapurna Base Camp trek promised to be just the kind of adventure I was looking for.

Known for its towering peaks, unspoiled beauty and narrow slopes, Nepal has always been on my mind ever since I started trekking, and I was finally able to travel there this March. It is a very popular trek among trekkers due to its unfathomable beauty that blows you away in amazement. Essentially a moderate tea-house trek that features the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif along with panoramic views of Machapuchare, this is one of the most staggering journeys you will ever take.

Walk though the grassland of Annapurna Base Camp
Walk though the grassland of Annapurna Base Camp

Trek Details:

Maximum Height: 5,415 m
Trek Time: 11 Days
Distance Covered: 34.4 km
Level: Moderate
Start/Finish: Pokhara
Nearest Airport: Pokhara Airport
ATM Point: Lake Side Pokhara

Highlights of Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp

Annapurna Base Camp
Annapurna Base Camp
  • Nestled at 1,400 m with a spectacular Himalayan backdrop, Pokhara valley serves as the starting and ending point to the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
  • As you journey through the hills, you will be fascinated with the lifestyle, culture and hospitality of the Magar, Thakali and Gurung people.
  • For resting, you can easily find guest houses and tea points throughout the trek.
  • Communicating with the locals won’t be problematic as the residents are quite friendly and are very helpful with tourists.
  • Don’t forget to watch the gorgeous sunrise and sunset on each day, as the exquisiteness of the different shades of the sky will take your breath away.
  • Experience the wilderness of this unspoiled region and revel in the diversity of flora and fauna species.
  • Relax your tired muscles at a hot spring in Jhinu Danda.

My Experience – Annapurna Base Camp Trek

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Pokhara

Arriving in Pokhara: I took a flight from Delhi to Kathmandu, and after completing all airport formalities, hailed a taxi to reach my hotel. The next morning, I took a tourist bus to Pokhara , and checked into a hotel as soon as I arrived. After resting for a while, I headed out to the nearby market to explore the city. Settled on a lake, Pokhara boasts of numerous exciting adventures, entertainment zones, various restaurants and buzzing markets. The city is also the starting point of the Annapurna Base Camp.

Permits to trek ABC: In order to trek to Annapurna Base Camp, you need a TIMs card and a permit (ACAP Entry). These are available at Pokhara, located at a short walk from the tourist bus station. Whether you are trekking solo or with the group, you need to have both the permits as you will be required to show it to the authorities at various check-posts during the trek. Keep the permits somewhere safe from rain, don’t get it wet.
Some trekking companies take care of the permits for you to save you the hassle of doing it yourself. This is what I did when I booked my trek.

Best Route that led me to Annapurna Base Camp

Annapurna - Nepal Himalayas
Annapurna – Nepal Himalayas

My trekking journey started from Pokhara, from where I took a public transport (bus) to Nayapul. You can also hire a jeep/taxi, but I suggest you to take the public transport as it would be cheap if you are travelling solo. The scenic countryside route adorned with curvy bends and turns from Pokhara to Nayapul would take around 1.5 hours. From Nayapul, I climbed uphill following the Burgundi River upstream for a steady 4-5 hours before reaching Tikhedhunga, which is a small charming village with a number of lodges to spend the night in.

After another early morning, I left the beautiful village of Ghandruk and started to trek to Sinuwa where the mesmerizing sunrise was a kick start to my day. Following the Modi River, I ascend for some time and crossed the bridge over the Kimrong River. Then, climbed a steep trail that took me the staggering village of Gurung people, Chhomrong where the nature excellence left me awestruck with its enchanting beauty.

From Chhomrong, as I walked up and down the hill, I came across a scenic route that led me to the Chomrong Khola River where the encompassed view of bamboo, rhododendron and oak forest will enthral anyone crossing this path, and from there I hiked up to Sinuwa. I stayed overnight at Sinuwa while enjoying the breathtaking view of river and the lush green forests.

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Then in the morning, I travelled through the rich species of flora and fauna on my way to Hinku Cave and then finally to Deurali. From Sinuwa, I trekked till Bamboo passing the Kuldhigar onto the steep staircase to Dobhan and then crossed a suspension bridge. On reaching Sinuwa, I spend the night in a lodge and took rest after a gruelling trek of 6-7 hours.

As the morning unfolded, I continued my journey to Annapurna Base Camp. The route from Deurali to Machapuchare requires you to be tough and cautious as it is known to be the avalanche prone area. On reaching Machapuchare Base Camp, the valley opens up wide and features beautiful snow peaks. Then, after few hours of climb I entered the Annapurna Base Camp and enjoyed the magnificent vista of mighty Mountains. I stayed overnight at the camp and thoroughly cherished my triumph over the highland. Got up in the middle of the night to spectacle the Milky Way galaxy that illuminated the entire sky; I had goosebumps!

After absorbing the beautiful sunrise at Annapurna, I descend

till Bamboo, and followed the same route to Jhindu danda. On reaching Jhindu Danda, I settled my luggage and proceeded to relax in hot springs. Uh! It was so relaxing, it gave my sore muscles a soothing caress. I stayed overnight at Jhindu Danda. In the morning, I descended through the same route and reached Nayapul, from where I took a bus to Pokhara.

Which is the best season to plan your trek to ABC?

Annapurna Base Camp is accessible throughout the year apart from the late winters and monsoon season. Slippery and muddy monsoon trails, and winters trail laden with heavy snowfall makes both the season difficult to trek. The best season to trek this wonderland is during spring (April, May) and autumn (September to November). During this time the climate is not harsh, visibility is clear and the routes are uncomplicated and trouble-free.

Important Information

Camping in the Annapurna Sanctuary
Camping in the Annapurna

Annapurna trek requires medium-level fitness as you need to hike daily for 6-7 hours. At an altitude of 5,000 m, the oxygen levels will be low, and you might face breathing issues. You need to start exercising a month before your planned trip to increase your stamina. You need to carry medication in case you face AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Some must-have items to include on your trek are:

Trekking shoes
Trekking pole
Warm clothes and an extra pair of woolen socks
LED flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
Sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, lip balm and mosquito repellent
Water bottles, energy drinks and bars
Emergency medical kit

“Trekking to the Himalayas of Nepal is an experience to be treasured. The picturesque valleys, startling rivers and towering peaks embellished with fluttering Himalayan flags everywhere, is definitely a treat to any traveller’s eyes. To sum up, a trek with nature in Nepal will give you far more happiness and peace than you will ever seek.”

Highlights of this exhilarating expedition

  • The scenic route along the Paro Valley will be your first encounter with the stunning natural landscape of Bhutan.
  • Monasteries, temples, scenic spots, local food shops, and the famous Taktsang Dzong are one of the most majestic, mesmerising and memorable places you will ever see; these places altogether give Paro Valley a significant mention.
  • A short hike to Chimi Lhakhang monastery, also known as the Temple of Fertility, in Punakha.
  • An overnight stay in the capital city of Bhutan is amazing in its own way. The local markets, handicrafts, tantalising local food and the small little cafes will make your stay wonderful.
  • A Ride to Phobjikha, which is the winter nesting grounds of the endangered Black Necked Cranes. Catching a glimpse of this stunning species is a must-do on your trip.

img_20180917_154737As I entered the mystical land of Bhutan, it seemed the old traditions and customs were still preserved like the olden times. The unspoiled terrain made me wonder on the existence of such a place in this contemporary era. If you are in the mood for a road trip, here’s a tip – the Kingdom of Bhutan is best experienced from the seat of a motorbike. I drove past vibrant monasteries and unique houses, surreal panorama, and stopped for lip-smacking local food. As I reached the high mountains it enveloped me in all its loftiness.

Bhutan Himalayas
Bhutan Himalayas

I embarked on my journey to the Mystical Land of the Thunder Dragon from West Bengal, and entered the scenic territory of Bhutan. I planned the trip with two of my best buddies. Brimming with excitement, we booked a flight to Siliguri, and on reaching, checked-in at our hotel to get freshened up after our journey. Soon after, we set out to try some of the delicious local cuisine. There were so many dishes we wanted to try, but narrowed it down to Kewa datshi, which is a dish made of thin slices of potato fried in cheese and lots of butter, and Jasha maru – a delightful chicken curry which has the distinct taste of ginger. All this was eaten with Himalayan red rice, making up a simple, mouth watering feast! With full stomachs, we settled in for the night.

The next day, we started our Bhutan bike expedition and got ready to leave behind all our worries in the dust.

paro
Paro Valley

We crossed the international border of India on the way to Phuentsholing. Leaving behind the plains and riding towards the mountains made us feel great. The many scenic tea gardens and a couple of wildlife sanctuaries kept us hooked throughout the journey. After some hours of riding on pin-bend roads, we reached Jaigaon in the evening to complete the migration formalities. After the green signal from the verification authorities, we crossed the border and reached the hotel to check-in. And then went for a little exploration of the town. With a late dinner at night and some chit-chat, we dozed off by 11 to wake up fresh for the next day’s adventure.

tigers-nest
Taktsang Palphug

In the morning, after a scrumptious breakfast, we left for the beautiful Paro Valley. The charming town spelled beauty with its colourfully painted and antiquated-wooden shop fronts, restaurants, and numerous monasteries and museums. With two-three halt points for tea breaks, we reach the valley and checked-in at our hotel. After keeping our belongings we rushed out to explore the town. We went to Taktsang Monastery and to the national museum of Bhutan. As we were exploring the museum, I saw one of my friends talking to the guide about the history of Bhutan. My other friend, a die-hard foodie, wanted to try the local cuisine. So, we went to Sonam Trophel restaurant located in the heart of the city and ordered three bowls of hot and steamy Thukpa and a plate of dumplings.

Comfort FoodThe next morning, we left for the capital city of Bhutan, Thimpu, followed by Punakha the same day. The nation’s largest city, Thimphu boasts of city-like vibe laden with modern infrastructure and new-lined streets. After a bike check-up in the capital city, we zoomed towards the valley of Punakha. In the afternoon, after lunch, we hiked towards the Chimi Lhakhang monastery, also known as the temple of fertility. Impressed by the beauty of this nation, Bhutan’s hospitality radiate purity and peace. Now we know why it is called the Land of Happiness!

bhutanAs soon as the morning unfolded, we drove around 80 km towards Phobijkha Valley post breakfast. The valley is quite famous for Trongsa Dzong, which is the largest Dzong Fortress of Bhutan. It played an important role during the 17th and 19th century in regards to the unity of the nation. Then we went to Ta Dzong, which has been converted into a museum. The wilderness of flora and fauna at the Phobijkha valley was phenomenal. As we rode towards the valley, we could see countless birds and animals on our way.

bhutan mountainsWell, after taking this surreal road trip, there is one thing I can say – no blog, or for that matter even this blog, cannot describe the glory and the contentment the Kingdom of Bhutan offers. One has to take the Thunder Dragon Motorbike Tour to see what a gem of a place this country is and why everyone falls in love with this mystical land.

Tips and Tricks to Venture the Bhutan Thunder Dragon

  • Other than Indians, Maldivians and Bangladeshis, all nationalities must have a pre-planned itinerary and also have to pay $200 to $250 for Visa, depending upon the season you are travelling. Peak seasons (March-May and September-November) and non-peak seasons (December-February and June-August). Indians, Maldivians and Bangladeshis can easily venture into Bhutan solo, as a couple or in a group, with their passport or identity card that has 6-months of validity left.
  • The best time to visit Bhutan is during spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). If you’re planning to visit Bhutan in March, April, October and November, you must book the tour package and flight tickets at least three months before.
  • If you are planning to go alone or as a couple,  take note of the surcharges that you have to pay. Solo traveler- US $40 per night, group of 2 travelers- US $30 per person/per night, group of 3 travelers or more- no surcharge. So gather two of your friends to save money for your tour.
  • The best time to visit the land of Bhutanese and experience their traditions and customs performed during the festivals. Popular festivals are Paro and Thimphu Tshechu that happen during peak season. If you are seeking for more intimate experience, festivals like Royal Highlander Festival, Ura Matsutake Mushroom Festival, Rhododendron Festival, Black Necked Crane Festival, and Haa Summer Festival should be on your to-do list.
  • Pack only the necessary stuff. Do not forget to carry warm clothes as the temperature goes down at night while the weather can change drastically. Also, pack certain emergency medicines for motion sickness as you would be driving on curvy mountain roads for long duration.

“When we talk about a country that truly favors happiness in all manners, it is undoubtedly Bhutan. A country that lags far behind the modern world, giving travelers and riders a taste of what unspoiled nature looks like. The beauty of the emerald mountains, glimmering and gushing rivers, exhilarating roads and happy faces; a ride in such a country will be a blissful experience for each traveler who plans a trip to Bhutan.”

Mount Everest is the epitome that every adventurous trekker around the world hopes to reach. The highest mountain on earth makes one wonder – how does the world look from that incredible roof? But reaching the summit is a herculean task; you require an arduous amount of mental and physical strength in order to reach that lofty height. Trekking to Mt. Everest’s Base Camp, however, is doable, and is an incredible adventure in itself , although you will still have to fight to reach a soaring height of 17,600 ft. To prepare you better to make the climb, here are some tips that will allow you to reach the Foothills of the Highest Mountain in the World.

1) Buy your equipment in Kathmandu

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Trekking poles, gloves, socks, hats etc., all these gears come at rock-bottom prices when bought locally from Kathmandu. The market is a one-stop-destination for every mountaineer who comes to Nepal to trekking up to the Everest Base Camp(EBC). If by chance you need something or have forgotten it, the market in Kathmandu has it all.

2) Bring candies, quick snacks and protein bars

While trekking in the mountain you lose a great amount of energy as you will be walking daily for around 6-7 hours. So, to give your body a shoot up of instant energy, protein bars and chocolates do wonders. These quick snacks are also available on the trek, but you have to spend a lot of money every time you have hunger pangs.

3) Pack Tang

To avoid high altitude sickness, you need to be hydrated and require at least 2-litres of water every day. To be honest, it gets boring after a while, so mixing Tang in your water will help you drink more water and it will also not taste bad or boring.

4) Get purification tablets

Help your pocket and the environment by getting water purification tablets, or you can carry SteriPens as well. Simply fill your bottle for free from anywhere and add the purification tablets. SteriPens also work great, using ultraviolet light to purify water in 30 seconds.

5) Pack a book

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Trekking to EBC takes a lot of time and sometimes it gets pretty boring when you are relaxing at the campsite. You can indulge in some good read to pass time and trust you will love reading midst the high mountains. Tip: You can buy books at Namche Bazar or Kathmandu as well.

6) Get handi-wipes

You won’t be showering for good 15-20 days, as in -10 degree Celsius it gets quite daunting to take a bath. So wet-wipes come to your rescue and shoo away the bad body odor. Carry sanitizers too as you will be trekking in dirt going up and down, on bumpy paths, so sanitizers are the best way to keep your hands clean. Also, do not litter around the used wipes, please carry portable dustbin. Keep the Himalayas clean and green.

7) Give Yaks and Sherpa’s way at all time

While trekking, if you see yaks or Sherpas coming your way, stand aside and give them way. You don’t want to be thrown down from a cliff. Also, the Sherpas and the porters work very hard to supply food and other stuff to the every base camp. Do your bit by helping them in making the route clear and free from obstacles as they carry loads of kilograms on their back.

8) Keep batteries close to your body

Whenever, you are trekking keep the batteries close to your body. Keep it in the inner pocket or wherever you feel safe because at high altitude the batteries drain faster and you don’t want to come back with no pictures at all. You can charge your batteries at some halt points, but you will have to pay loads of money (Rs 350 approx.) per hour to do so. Also, remember to keep your batteries in your sleeping bags as the temperature dips very quickly at night. Carry extra batteries if you want to be on safe side.

9) The best views comes at early morning

Spend a day or two in Namche Bazar; acclimatize while having fun exploring really popular tourist spots!

Try to wake up early in the morning to get the perfect views of the lofty mountains. At noon, the clouds comes as an obstacle to your view. You can see Mt. Everest at very few points, Namche Bazaar and Tengboche gives the best views of the mighty mountain. Take photos to make it a memory for a lifetime.

10) It is not a race, take your time

everest

Get acclimatize to the altitude, take extra day if you need, walk slow and drink plenty of water. Nobody will ask you how long you took to reach EBC. They are going to be happy and amazed that you reached the base. Walk at your own pace, enjoy each moment because this adventure will be the best of all.

11) Carry a good first-aid kit

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We always recommend that our trekkers carry their personal first-aid box, containing any medicines they might require, because there is no guarantee that you will get the right kind of medicine in an emergency. Make sure to have pain relievers, lip balm and sunscreen. Diamox is another necessary medicine for avoiding high-mountain sickness. Many people take it before the trek, but we don’t recommend it unless the trek leader or the doctor on site advice it.

12) Pack well but less in weight

Keep it light!
Keep it light!

It is necessary for you to pack well that leads in less kilograms. Pack only those things that are really required on the trek. Try packing a few times before your trek and make sure the weight do not exceed to more than 15 kg. It will be great if you pack till 10 kg, because it is only you who will have to carry it all to the base camp. Porters are there to carry your other belongings. Tips: You can climb upstairs with your 10-15 kg backpack a few times to let your body adjust to the weight.

13) Useful tips for women

Girls, please make sure you tie your hair, do not leave it open. You will be trekking in dirt and you also won’t be able to take a bath. So if you leave your hair open, by the end of the trek you will have dreadlocks and you might have to cut your hair. So make a braid or tie it in a pony or a bun, choose whatever you feel comfortable in. Same goes for men if they have long hair.

Another tip for Women – please carry period pain tablets, and make sure you carry biodegradable pads or tampons if you are not comfortable using menstrual cups. At high-altitudes, you may get periods prior to your date. Also, make sure you discard the used pads in dustbin, if not, the biodegradable pads are preferable due to unavailability of dustbin at some locations.

14) Best views of Everest on the flight to Lukla

Lukla

Make sure you book your seat either at the front or back of the plane on the left-hand side to get amazing views of the highest mountain in the world. You can glimpse Mount Everest even before your trek, and the views from the plane will get you charged up for the upcoming adventure.

15) Relish each moment

everest-from-base-camp

You are one of the few lucky people in the world that gets to experience this, enjoy every moment and appreciate every moment you can. You might suffer, you might get tired but the rewarding views at Everest Base Camp is just worthy for each of your effort.

Ask any motorbike fanatic for a destination for a road trip, and without a second thought, it will be Ladakh. The next time when wanderlust itches, take a motorbike trip to Ladakh and surrender yourself to the beauty of the Land of High Passes. Tough terrains, barren lands, pristine blue lakes, gigantic mountains and patches of greenery urge you to take the untraveled path. The exorbitant charisma of this scenic land is branched into several places that make road trip a splendid one. If you also have been bitten by the travel bug and you need to feed your wanderlust, travel to Ladakh!

For the sweeping scenic beauty of Ladakh Treks and Passes

ladakh bike trip

The stark blue sky paired with snow-laden mountains, lush vegetation and unspoiled blue lakes together form a surreal scene that every rider wishes to have a view of. The beautiful and robust roads meandering through the bleak mountains will let you ride some of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world. An expedition through Khardung La to Nubra Valley and the road through Leh to Srinagar are some of the best routes in Ladakh region where you can zip through the mountainscapes.

Known as the roof of the world, Ladakh also houses some of the best treks, many of which are on the bucket-list of an enthusiastic trekker. Enclosed between the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, Ladakh’s stark beauty will make you want to stay here forever. The landscapes wear the colors of nature which make the entire landscape a picture-perfect shot for anyone who loves to do nature photography. Some of the most prominent treks of Ladakh are Chadar trek, Markha valley trek and Tso-moriri Lake trek.

For the excellence of starry nights and Pristine Blue Lakes

A starry night in Ladakh
A starry night in Ladakh

The extensive lakes of Ladakh are marvelous in terms of beauty and elegance. The perfect amalgamation of blue sky and water makes the lake a picturesque spot for shutterbugs and nature adorers. Pangong Lake is lately popular among the tourists (thanks to the movie 3 idiots) due to its unparalleled beauty and the dramatic blue color of the water. In winter, every year a gala festival over the frozen lake is organized for ice- skating enthusiasts.

 

The many colors of Pangong Tso
The many colors of Pangong Tso

The feeling of camping alongside the Pangong Lake and coming out of the tent to such a breath-taking view every time, cannot be expressed in mere words. The starry nights near the campsite are so mesmerizing, it will totally bewitched you into its sheer glory. So if you are planning a trip to Ladakh, make sure to visit Pangong Lake. It will surely leave you awestruck with its charming landscapes that will be imprinted in your heart forever.

For the colorful Festivals of Ladakh and its monasteries

celebration at hemis festival
Hemis Festival in Ladakh

The warm culture and vibrant festivals Losar, Hemis and Naro Nasjal will definitely be a pleasure to anyone visiting Ladakh. The festivals are celebrated as a win over the evil, and the rituals follow a procession of troupes dressed in colorful costumes. And singing, dancing and listening to traditional music brings out peace and prosperity within them. The traveler spirit in you will find a deep connection if you let your soul delve in the trance state. And if you could not connect, enjoy the drama performance and click pictures of the colorful surrounding around you.

 The majestic Key Monastery with the magical views of the stars in the background
The majestic Key Monastery with the magical views of the stars in the background

Do not miss a visit to the historic monasteries to have an insight about customs and traditions of the Ladakhi people. The carving and wall paintings of the monasteries depict tenets of Buddhism and Buddha. Some of the monasteries you can explore are Shey, Thiksey, Matho, Phyang and Key Monasteries.

To savor the lip-smacking cuisine of Indo-Tibetans

Devour tasty Ladakhi cuisine. In picture: Thukpa
Devour tasty Ladakhi cuisine. In picture: Thukpa

You must have tried momos and thukkpa of various places, but the authentic flavor of Ladakh is just spectacular to the taste senses. The exotic chilly flavor in the thukkpa and the crunchiness of the fresh vegetables makes it a delightful slurp. And each bite of the freshly prepared momos will make you crave for more and more. The difference in the taste of Indo-Tibetan cuisine is the mystical spice hidden in the valley. It gives their thukkpa and momos a distinct flavor. Also, at many places you will be served with Timok, which is a bread much like an alternative to roti. To combat the freezing temperature, Ladakhi people eat chilies to keep their body warm and ready for harsh winters.

The pull of Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill Ladakh
Magnetic Hill Ladakh

Located 30 kilometers from Leh, Magnetic Hill is one of the most desired spots to visit in Leh. The strong magnetic properties of the hill pull cars uphill. The signboard at the Magnetic Hill invites you to stop your car, switch it off and leave it in neutral. As soon as you do this, your car starts moving uphill at a speed of 10-20 km per hour. People coming to this place make sure to experience this strange phenomenon once in a lifetime.

For bikers, their only love is to get on their bikes and snake up through the barren mountains of the region while enjoying the spellbinding scenic view. Well, I don’t think any biker will want to miss such a heavenly place. So gear up guys, pack up your bags and plan the next trip to Ladakh!

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.

Trek Ladakh Today
Trek Ladakh Today!

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.

Camping in Ladakh
Camping in Ladakh

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.

In Leh
In Leh

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.

Off late, have you been cancelling your holiday plans because everyone around you is too busy to accompany you on the trips? Then, it is high time that you stop postponing your plans and do what you have only imagined in your thoughts all these years – solo travelling. At first, the whole idea of travelling alone might give you a few jitters, but trust me, as you start thinking more about it, all the doubts and negative thoughts would simply fade away. And, once you clear that stage, you are ready for the adventure called Solo Travel. But before you embark on such a trip, first you need to decide on your destination. So, read on and know about some of the top destinations in India, where you can travel completely on your own.

The desert mountain valley of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh is as much an ideal destination for adventurers as it is for the solitude seekers. Nestled high up in the Himalayan Mountains, the scenic Spiti Valley presents wonderful opportunities for moderate to difficult trekking expeditions as well as Jeep safaris. However, those who wish to stay away from such adrenaline-pumping activities and spend their time peacefully exploring the region should opt for a homestay experience. This can be done at any of the six villages of Spiti, namely Demul, Langza, Dhankar, Kibber, Lhalung and Komik. On an average, each of this village has up to three homestays with each having one guest bedroom that can accommodate one or two people. These homestays are basically village homes, with one of their portions converted into comfortable guestrooms. These have been developed by the locals to generate an alternative and sustainable source of income for themselves.

I associate May, especially the May of North India (non-Himalayan regions) with searing heat, dryness and perpetual sweating. But, as they say, “Every cloud has a silver lining”, May is also the time when most schools close for vacations and you finally have the time to go someplace. Most of us visit our grandparents and sit in their house, often doing nothing. I personally never liked going to Lucknow and staying there for 1-1.5 months. We hardly ever went out because it was hot; even after the sun set, there was little respite. The only silver lining there was that I had a cousin, with whom I would run around the house or play cricket in the backyard, but we grow up after a while and feel no excitement in such things.

Did you know tea drinking in India was prevalent since 750 BC? However, it was not tea per say, but more of a vegetable dish that consisted of tea leaves, oil and garlic. Technically, India was introduced to tea by some officers of the British army, who started tea cultivation here with seeds brought from China. This led to a revolution, and by the end of the 19th century, tea produced in Darjeeling and some parts of Assam were exported to different parts of the world, especially Britain. Slowly and steadily, this revolution spread across the entire Himalayan foothills and other parts of the country.

Ask any 20-something about what they cherish the most and see them talk lovingly about weekends. Yes, weekends are truly the best! From extroverts who love to socialise with just about everyone to introverts who prefer to stay back in the familiar comfort of their home, weekends are fervently awaited by each of us. They are after all the only two days in a week when we can ignore work-related mails and focus on ourselves and our loved ones. It is that magical period of time which makes us feel that we were not born to just work, pay taxes and leave the world without having lived at all. Whatever our idea of a good time may include, a weekend is when we indulge ourselves in what we love.

Don’t know about you, but 2016 was amazing for me. I started the year with a bang, and that’s how it ended. Doesn’t it feel great when everything falls into place and all your dreams are realised just as you wanted them?! I hope it does not sound like I am bragging, but I get excited just thinking about it. Some moments that I had been longing for ever since I can remember, happened in the past few months. Here is an account of things that I checked off my bucket list this year:

What goes in your mind, when you read about someone else’s adventurous trekking expedition, especially in the Himalayas? Do you hear an inner calling? Does your heart and mind tell you that someday, you too should do this? Then, what is stopping you? Every year, thousands of amateur trekkers go on their first expedition into the Himalayas. All that one requires is a basic physical fitness level, necessary trekking equipment, a bit of mental strength and loads of zeal. We have listed down a few trekking trails in the Himalayas that are perfect for beginners like you. Read on to know about them so that you can start planning your impending desire to trek in the Himalayas.

Bestowed with dense forests and charming tea gardens, the town attracts thousands of tourists round the year, not just from parts of India but abroad as well. A place that promises a perfect escape from the hustle bustle of the city, the town of Bir offers numerous outdoor activities and thrilling sports; thus making it equally popular among tranquillity seekers, adventurous souls and nature lovers.

Life is a journey. In this long voyage, you meet people, make acquaintances and then continue on your way. But, some people are such that their memory remains with us forever. The same can be said about places. You visit tens and hundreds of places in your life, if not thousands, but the memory of only a few of those stays. Bhabha Pass in the Spiti Valley is one such place, a trip to which one just wouldn’t forget.

One has different shades of blue and snowy peaks to allure you and the other takes you close to the world’s highest peak. Still wondering which teahouse trek to go for first? Everest base camp is a dream for anyone who gets into the flavour of trekking, Everest being the world’s highest scalable mountain peak. Annapurna main of the mighty Annapurna range is the 10th highest peak in the world. Not many know that the toughest peak to scale is also The Annapurna main and not K2.

The Everest is undeniably majestic! The world’s highest mountain overlooks the world from an altitude of more than 29000 feet above sea level. This is the highest you can get without your feet leaving the ground. I have been fascinated by it, ever since I saw it first in my general knowledge book, when I was in school. At that time, I didn’t really know the true magnificence of the giant, but over the years, as I have learnt about Everest and the Everest region, I have become more and more intrigued by it.

Little did I know that my short adventure trek to Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila will turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime! I could so much relate to a quote that I read recently by Lin Yutang, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow”. But for me it was more like an adventure which I survived and at that moment all I wanted to do was to go home and be warm and comfortable!

The only reason that this trek is so close to my heart and I will remember it forever is because I remember how I almost gave up! I gave up on walking further, to save myself from all the pain. It’s good to travel in a group sometimes. If I was on a solo trek I would have been stuck somewhere in the mountains. Not that I mind that, but I would have been surely hopelessly lost!

After much chaos and last minute cancellations, I somehow embarked on my journey to the Land of Llamas! It was more of a photographic journey than a road trip! I tried to capture every moment of the trip to avoid regretful moments later. This kind of backpacking and pre-booked trip turned out to be the best of all my travels! It was probably the first time that I pre-booked the hotels and the car; I can still reminisce the baffled voice of the driver when I was trying to explain to him a different and a new route to reach Ladakh, but somehow he understood.

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” ― Freya Stark

This line pretty much sums up the kind of person Freya Stark was. She believed in travelling unimaginable distances, seeing endless possibilities, even when most could see none. For those of you, who don’t know who this wonderful woman was, she was a British-Italian traveller and explorer, renowned for her writings about the Middle East. Her parents are known to have been quite liberal, resulting in her knowing numerous languages as a child, even though she never went to school.

What comes to your mind when I say the word, ‘August’? Let me tell you what comes to my mind. As soon as I hear this word, I think of heavy rain showers, cool breeze and greenery. The idea of trekking in August, usually when the monsoon is at its peak, came to my mind when my friend commented in one of our conversations, “You don’t go for trekking during the monsoon!” My spontaneous reply to him was “Why not?”, and then he was silent.

The question sure may have got him thinking, but I was thinking a lot about it too. Why do people not go for trekking in August, which is only beautiful and soothing? That day, as soon as I reached home, I started researching on “trekking in the monsoon.” My search made me realise something.