Day 1: Rishikesh To Ghat. Drive to Nandaprayag and to Ghat and then to Chefna (the starting point of the trek). Night stay in camping. (9-10 h).
Day 2: Chefna To Ghuni. Breakfast and begin the trek. It’s a nice walk next to the river followed by an ascent through coniferous and mixed forests. The walk by a wooded ridge takes us to a village called Ramni (2550m). It is a typical Garhwal village with friendly people and attractive houses with heavy slate roofs and paved alleys surrounded by fertile fields. It has a solar-powered electricity scheme. Night stay and meals in camp at Ghuni. (3-4 h walk).
Day 3: Trek to Semkherk Meadow. This is a long but rewarding day. From the campsite you climb steeply for 1,000ft/ 300m on a good zigzagging track to emerge on open grassy grazing meadows. Snow peaks begin to emerge above the forest to the north. The path continues up through forests of rhododendron, pines and oak with more pastures for summer grazing with shepherds huts. You may meet flocks of sheep and goats moving along the track. The highest point, reached in 2¼ hours from the camp, at 3,064m/ 10,053ft, is the Ramni Pass, also called Binayak Top.
From here it is possible to make out the Kauri Pass, which we will cross on Day 8. From now on there may be a chance to see the multi-coloured monal pheasant but they are very shy, being hunted by the locals for the pot. You then trek gently down across more pastures and open glades, then into lovely forests of horse chestnuts and walnut trees with waterfalls. From here, the trek is a zigzag descent to Camping place. Camp overnight at Semkherk. (2,600m approx, 5-6 h).
Day 4: Trek to Kaliaghat. Day starts with a descent to the colorful village of Jhinjhi. The trail carries on down past small farms through woods to the spectacular suspension bridge at 1,840m/ 6,037ft across the Birehi Gorge, currently inhabited by a large number of monkeys. From here its a very steep climb back to 7,382ft/ 2,250m, where the track eases after a one and a half-hour ascent. From here the path is almost flat passing through fine rhododendron forest with long-tailed magpies flitting about.
There are many streams and waterfalls as the route contours round many deep ravines. If you look down to the deep gorge below you can see the landslide and the Gauna Lake, which burst and flood the whole of the Ganga Valley down to Rishikesh in 1898. After going round the head of a horseshoe valley you reach two lovely rivers cascading down under the path. From here there is a short climb to a spot called Kaliaghat, which is a good campsite near the village of Pana. Camp overnight. (2700m approx, 6 hours).
Day 5: Trek to Dhakaunt Via Sartoli. This is another long, but spectacular day. The route traverses above the village and then starts a steep climb up into a rhododendron forest with many zigzags. It is a broad, well made track and after a number of small summits a Col is reached at 9,842ft/ 3,000m. The path now descends gently, traversing along the valley to open meadows with views across to the Kuari Pass. The track then traverses down around the side of the valley, across several streams, before it plunges down a very steep and loose section, much of which has been washed away by the monsoons - an awkward and loose descent.
At the bottom, you will see that the river has cut through a deep rocky, dramatic gorge to your right. This is wild country and there are no settlements where blue sheep and the Himalayan black bear are said to be roaming here. From the river, it is a very steep climb of about 3,000 feet (900 m) with a small break about half the way up to cross a large stream. A final climb brings you above the tree-line to the campsite on the large pastures where sheep and goats graze in summer, with the Kauri Pass towering above. Camp overnight. (11,000ft/3353m approx, 5-6 h).
Day 6: Trek across Kauri Pass. It is a long day today so that we can take lots of breaks on the pass to enjoy the spectacular views. We aim to cross the pass so that you will have the benefit of the clear early morning the following day. The climb up to the pass is made on a zigzag track to the top. You make a traverse along the high ridge past a shrine to Shiva before dropping down to your camp at Khulara. This is the name given to a clearing amongst the Rhododendrons about half an hour and 500ft/ 150m below Shiva's shrine. Here we await the spectacular views of the morning. We mostly try to go to camping at Tali as there is beautiful view of Nanda Devi (second highest peak of India) from the camp. The other option is to go down to Khulara. Camp overnight. (Kuari Khal, 12,000ft/3,658m); to Tali or Khulara (11,155ft/ 3,400m, 3-4 hours to Khulara and 5-6 hours to Tali).
Day 7: Lay over day (Optional). For the keen types among you, it is worth getting up early to go back up to the pass for the dawn views of the Himalaya but it is only possible if we are camping at Khulara. If people are camping at Tali then they can go the Gorson top which gives people opportunity to see mountain in bigger view. Frank Smythe, who came this way in 1931 en route to Kamet (25,443ft/ 7,757m), the second highest mountain in this region, summed it up beautifully.
"We breasted the slope and halted, silent on the path. No words would express our delight. The Himalaya were arrayed before us in a stupendous arc". Some of the mountains seen are Kamet, Nilkanth (7,141m/23,425ft), Dunagiri (7,067m/23,182ft) and Changabang (6,864m/22,516ft), with even Nanda Devi herself visible if you walk along the ridge for a while. The blinding vision of snow peaks make all the effort worthwhile, for it is often said that this is one of the greatest mountain views in the world.
Day 8: Trek to Auli, Tapovan and drive to Joshimath. A long way below lies Tapovan or Auli. (Auli is in little different direction. Most of summer treks finish in Auli and early summer and early winter treks finish in Tapovan because of the icy conditions on the trail to Auli). It is a 3-4-hr walk to either place. It is a very steep descent to Tapovan, and a more gradual descent to Auli down through woods and pastures. At Tapovan or Auli our car will be waiting for the drive to Joshimath which, although having none of the elegance of its sister hill resorts, does have a charm and beauty of its own. It is the site where the famous Adiguru Shankaracharya attained enlightenment before beginning his campaign for the unification of India and the revitalization of Hinduism.
There is a temple here called the Na Singh where the statue of Na Singh involves a legend that when the arm of the idol finally breaks, the road to Badrinath will be blocked. The arm gets smaller every year! It is the center of the Indian ski scene, and the cable car up to the resort of Auli starts in the middle of Joshimath. Overnight in the Snow Crest Hotel. (6,562ft/2,000m/).
Day 9: Drive to Rishikesh.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia India Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey
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