The majestic Himalayan mountains bordering Northern India have attracted thousands of people from all over the world. Some people say they find God in the Himalayas. Whether or not you find God there, a trek in the Himalayas is sure an unique, lifetime experience. Be it the low oxygen levels, the biting cold weather, dangerous spots in the trail, being in the middle of nowhere… and you are panting, out of breath… You wish to go back to your cosy bed in the hotel from where you started. You know the destination is far, far ahead. And you are stuck in between, breathless in a no-man’s land. And it becomes a matter of survival then… Its a state where the mind blanks out and your higher self takes over. Every trekker in the group stops talking and somehow at this moment, everyone is more connected than anytime else… stopping to help others cross dangerous places, offering water bottles…
The first time might be a little scary. It was scary for me as well. But then on repeated treks, I have started enjoying it. The state of clarity and calmness that comes during such moments is mostly unavailable in the midst of our chaotic, busy, city life. As I have discussed with other trekkers in the group, everyone feels the same after the trek… “What happened there! I have no idea how I managed it. It was a case of mind over body. I have never thought in my wildest dreams I could trek like this!”. If this has triggered your adventure appetite, then read below for some of the popular treks in the Himalayas.
Tryst With Beas:
This is a perfect trek for beginners. I went with the Countryside team and loved it. There are two camping spots, first Dhundi and then Bhakartaj which is farther away. Depending on the season, it might be dry or fully snow-cladden. When I went, we had to climb through knee-deep snow. The destination spot, Beaskund, is the origin of the river Beas and where you can find the purest water, possibly heaven…
Chopta Valley Trek:
Known to be the ‘Mini Switzerland’ among travellers, Chopta valley boasts of breath-taking views and a wide variety of flora and wildlife. You can camp at Deoria Tal and trek to the beautiful lake there. Witness the untouched, virgin beauty of the evergreen forests surrounding it. If you wish to trek higher, you can visit the Tungnath temple that is located at an altitude of 3660m. This trek can be done by beginners too.
Chadar Trek / The Frozen River Trek:
I don’t even have to say anything about this trek. It’s one of the most popular Himalayan treks. Just google for the images and awe at it!! The trek involves crossing the frozen Zansar River during winter. Its tricky to walk on ice as it tends to crack and one needs to be aware of the safe paths (remember the scene from Harry Potter where Harry walks on it :p). It is a 14km trek which takes 8-9 days. As night falls, trekkers can camp in the ice caves there, chatting and warming up inside their sleeping bags. An adventure of lifetime for sure… Only very experienced trekkers can opt for this.
Valley of Flowers:
It’s nothing less than a gateway to Alice’s Wonderland… At an altitude of 3600m above sea-level, there lies an enchanted, hidden valley protected by the snowy mountains. Bustling with beautiful and vibrant colors of a wide variety of flowers in the backdrop of the Himalayas, the park is spread over an area of 87.5 sq.kms. It has the largest collection of floral species, crystalline streams and cascading waterfalls and is worth a visit during the monsoons when its drizzling.
Roopkund – Kuari Pass Trek:
Uttaranchal is popular for its surreal, high-altitude lakes. Roopkund, also known as “Mystery Lake” is one of them. It got its name as human skeletons and remains of horses from the Paleolithic age were found here. Does that sound even more exciting? I would like to go digging there :p The trail passes through alpine meadows, lush greenery and coniferous forests. One can see the majestic ranges of Nanda Devi, Kamet, Trishul, etc from here.
Tips for beginners in trekking:
* Conservation of energy is the key for trekking in the Himalayas. I have made the mistake myself on my first couple of treks. And I see some others do it now. Walking too fast, running around, talking too much, etc, isn’t advisable. You would waste all your energy and stop in the middle of the trek and return. So slow and calm is the most important if you wish to complete the journey.
* Mind is the most important. Calm down your mind and focus only on the next step. Looking too much ahead can overwhelm you.
* Physical fitness obviously needed. One of the very simple tips passed on by my tour guide – a month before beginning the treak, start using the staircase everytime instead of the lift. 😉
* Carry energy foods with you like chikki, protein bars, chocolates, packaged milkshakes, dry fruits and nuts. Usually if you go in an organised package, they will provide you.
* Sunglasses and sunscreens – both highly important in the Himalayan treks.
* Finally, for beginners, I would suggest to go with tour operators who can advise on all the safety rules and precautions. I have gone with Countryside regularly and found the experience excellent. One of my friend also recommended Foliage Outdoors.
So have you been on any Himalayan treks? Share your experiences below.
Written by: Archana Gurusamy