Most of the people cannot understand the big deal about trekking around the Himalayan region and so was the case with me until I hiked on one! Thousands of adventurers and mountaineers throng the Himalayas every year and not all of them come here to challenge Mt.Everest because there is so much more to explore here. Hiking on the Himalayan trails can be best described as therapeutic. There is a sense of serenity about them and calmness that travelers on these roads soak in while negotiating this treacherous but stunning region in the Indian sub-continent. The sheer scale of the mountains, alluring snow clad mountain peaks, lush vegetation and rustic character of Himalayas is enough to overpower and make an addict out of you. Here, we bring five trails that define the true Himalayan experience and some of them do not need you to be a mountain climber or a true blue trekker.
Tsurphu to Yangpachen (Tibet)
Tibet, also fondly referred to as “Roof of the World” offers awesome trails and Tsurphu to Yangpachen is probably the most popular of them all. A trek covering 50 Kilometers (31 miles) over 3-4 days takes you from the pretty Tsurphu monastery and culminates at the majestic Yanpachen monastery touching camping havens like Leten, Bartso and Dorje Ling on the way. Everyday trekkers cover about 15 kilometers (9 miles) and camp on the flats or around the tiny settlements that are abundant around here. This trek is a window to Tibet’s spectacular landscape and its vibrant yet mystic culture. Massive grasslands with small nomadic villages here and there will greet you through the trek. In fact, nomadic village like Bartso offers a great opportunity to camp around the nomadic tribes here. Sip into the Tibetan cuppa of butter tea and do not be surprised if the friendly tribes or nuns at Dorje Ling nunnery invite you for some get-together over a cup of tea!
How to Reach Tsurphu:
Reaching Capital City Lhasa: Flights into Lhasa run only from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Kunming, Qamdo, Shanghai, Xi'an, Xining, and Zhongdian. The only international flight allowed inside is from Kathmandu, Nepal. Qinghai-Tibet Railway connects Xining, Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing to Lhasa. Overland tour buses connect Nepal to Lhasa. Another route that is open to foreigner tourists is from Gulmud but it is accessible only if the tourists hire a private tourist vehicle.
Lhasa to Tsurphu: One has to hire a 4WD to Tsurphu which is 79 Kilometers (49 miles) by road. The drive is rough since the road is bumpy and takes you from 11,994 feet (3656 m) to 14,700 feet (4500 m). Going to Tibet is no cakewalk and one has to be aware of quite a few regulations. We have made a detailed article on the same that is given below.
We have a bunch of interesting tours of Tibet on our Tours Page that you should definitely checkout
Jomolahari Laya Gasa Trek (Bhutan)
217 Kilometres (135 miles) of virgin landscapes in the most pristine environment of the Carbon Negative Bhutan is what this trail promises to deliver. And it does……beautifully!! The trek is typically spaced over 12-13 days and the highest elevation it touches is 4080 m (13,385 feet). River valleys, Alpine forests, small charming villages, rich wildlife and vast meadows along the trail give you beautiful glimpses of the natural beauty that Bhutan is famous for. The trek begins from an Army Camp in Gunetsawa Village near Drugyel Dzong. On your journey from Paro to Drugyel Dzong, you will get to see and hike to the most famous landmark of Bhutan- Taktsang Monastery which is also known as Tiger’s nest because it is built on the edge of a cliff! Overnight stays are common on this trek in order to acclimatise better with heights and temperatures. These stays also offer great opportunities for hiking in the areas around the camp. You would also be able to witness the rich wildlife of Bhutan on this trail with spectacular views of Mount Jomolhari in the backdrop. Jomolahari Laya Gasa Trek takes you through the most popular mountain passes of Bhutan like Gobu La, Nyilila and Sinche La pass. Another highlight of this route is the famous Mo Chuu River Valley which has an abundant spread of nature in form of heavy vegetation, waterfalls and of course the mighty Mo Chuu River itself. This beautiful trek culminates at the remote village of Gasa which is famous for its Dzong (Fort) which is a unique architectural marvel in itself!
How to Reach Gunitsawa Village:
You can fly down to Paro where the only International Airport of Bhutan is located. From there you can reach Gunitsawa by road which takes about half an hour covering 16-17 Kilometres (10-11 miles).
Before you make your plans for Bhutan why not check out the best tours in Bhutan that we have specially designed for you
Pin Parbati trek (Himachal Pradesh, India)
This 100 Kilometre (62 miles) trek covers some of the most stunning views that you would have ever come across anywhere and takes you from velvet green lush to barren beauties that Himalayan region is famous for. Though this is a haven for seasoned trekkers, a small part of the trek from Barshaini Village to Kheerganga can be done by almost anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. This trek would take about 11 days and take you to a dizzying height of over 17,500 feet! It goes without saying that hiring a proper guide is an indispensable part of planning to scale this one. The usual route taken is from Kaza Village near Manali to Pin base Camp at a height of 14,800 feet via village Tiya and Valley Shepherd camp. You cannot camp at the main Parbati pass and need to descend to Parbati Base camp the same day. Thereafter it is a continuous descent taking you to picturesque Mantalai lake, a mini flower valley called Odi Thach and onto the hippie camp at Kheerganga. Kheerganga is a perfect spot after the strenuous hike as it is home to natural hot water springs, shelter (if you want one) and quite a spread of food!
Makalu Base camp trail is for seasoned hikers who can endure long walks on harsh terrain and high altitude since we are talking about the fifth highest mountain peak in the world here! From Kathmandu the Capital city of Nepal, this entire adventure takes about 16-20 days and takes you to breathtaking breathlessness at a height of 5000 meters (over 16000 feet)! It is advised that you take long acclimatisation halts lasting a day in between if you are not used to these kinds of heights. Actual trekking starts from the tiny Nepalese village Chichila where you can reach by road. This trek offers rare glimpses of Mount Everest, rumbling and tumbling of river Arun and cultural insights into Sherpa villages that you will leave on the way to Makalu. In fact, this trek gives you vistas that range from sub-tropical forests at the lowlands to snow-capped peaks as you climb up. For wildlife enthusiasts, this trek is a beautifully wrapped gift as it takes the trekkers through Makalu Barun National Park. The forest here is remote and wildlife rules in the pristine environs of the Himalayas. The basecamp has a rugged and barren landscape which rises beautifully against the contrasting white peaks in the background. Oh, and they are just not any peaks….one of them is the mighty Mount Everest!
This trek is one of its kind in the world and what makes it unique is the frozen river over which this trail goes! This is why this entire experience of 70 Kilometres(43 miles) ,spread over 10-12 days needs to be reserved for the harsh winter season when the temperature can be expected downward of minus 20 degrees! The “Wet and Wild” Chader trek is one of the toughest for obvious reasons and starts at Leh from where one needs to take the road to get to Tilad Do. This trek touches Nerak camp via Shingra Koma, Tibb cave and then back. On the way, you will get to see a humongous 50 feet high frozen waterfall as well. It is not only the pristine environment around the frozen Zanskar river that gives you company along the trek but vibrantly colourful monasteries too. However, mostly there is no civilisation on the path and one needs to carry enough food to last during the trek. Due to the slippery ice sheet, progress on this trek can be pretty slow which is fine since “Safe is better than sorry” and tents are usually pitched on the bank of the river. The scenic route here mesmerises you in its frigid cold yet magnificent avatar.
How to Reach
Nearest Airport is Leh and from there one has to reach Chilling by road which is about 64 Kilometres from Leh. Trek begins from Chilling.
These five trails capture the spirit of Himalayan experience and nothing in the world comes close to it. Landscape, people and a dominant presence of something as mighty as the Himalayan range make for a terrific adventure here that touches your soul and turns you into a Himalayaddict!