Trekking in itself is a challenging journey on foot to scale the altitude of mighty mountains. Add to it the ambience offered by winters, and the challenge increases multifold.
Winter Trekking in the Himalayas is usually from November till the end of March. It is not a favourite season of lethargic trekkers. But it is a golden opportunity for the energetic souls and adventure buffs, who seek adrenaline rushes with every breath. The difficulty bar is raised quite a bit due to higher altitudes and lower temperate. It's a unique wilderness experience that offers breath taking views of mighty mountain peaks veiled with pure, white snow.
Winter Treks offer abundance when it comes to quiet, expansive snowscapes. Trekkers often lose the sense of time, while treading the footsteps left in the snow. For a few, Winter Treks are an excuse to step out of their comfort zones while for others it's an escape from monotonous, cacophonous city life.
Winter Kuari Pass Trek: A snowy trail in the heart of Garhwal Photo BY:- Akshay
is a beautiful place in Uttarakhand. This trek gained popularity around 1900's when some eminent personalities of British era undertook this route. Some names of the British enthusiasts include Eric Shipton, Bill Tilman and the very well known Lord Curzon. It's important to note that the trail of this trek is called the Curzon Trail.
" Kuari Pass is one of the most beautiful treks of winter. Temperature usually do not go below -8C, making it a moderate trek," says Rakesh Pant,
It is a luxurious walk through Himalayan meadows. The beauty is so picturesque that you forget the toughness of the trek. A number of peaks grab your attention - like Nanda Devi, Neelkant , Dronagiri, Mukutparvat. You get a chance to have a close look at these famous peaks during this trek.
This trek also allows you to walk through jungles of Oak and Deodar trees. This jungle is home to many wild animals like Leopards, Himalayan Black bears and a few others. Rhododendron flowers are also seen abundantly. These bright coloured flowers are used for soft drinks and are known for some medicinal use as well. The highest point of the trek, Kuari is at 13990 ft and offers an extraordinary view of the world. The trek also lets you visit Auli, a famous skiing destination.
"What mesmerised me was the pure white carpet of snow that covered every inch of what my eyes could capture. Sheer bliss," says Neha Mohta travel blogger and a trekker with Trek the Himalayas
Photo BY:- Arti Visaria Patil
The list of best winter trekking is incomplete without mention of this classic winter trek. It is a perfect blend of scenic views, walks through remote Garhwal villages and of course, the joy of trekking on snow. It will be surprising to know that the winter snow sets in by mid-December and usually stays up to mid-April. Located in the Govind Wild life Sanctuary and National Park in Uttarkashi, Kedarkantha is one of the easiest winter treks.
Brahmatal Trek: A trail made by the gods
For someone who has never been to a winter trek, Brahmatal Trek is a must on the list for this winter. Situated in Uttarakhand, the trek offers ample opportunities to experience winter like never before. It is a wonder of winter with just the right amount of snow to tease the trekkers and give them a taste of what winter trekking is like. The trail seamlessly binds adventure with ease to present an experience that is a magnet to avid trekkers. This unique trail passes though vast forests with high peaks following you wherever you go. With a few peaks touching 7000 metres, the experience of treading the path is truly an enchanting one.
"I have been part of many trekking but this one is beyond describing in words. It's a real fantasy. It's like I am beholding paradise with my open eyes. Each and every click is arresting," says Vaibhav a photographer and trekker with Trek the Himalayas
These winter treks, along with a few others amp up your trekking experience in the cold times. The beauty of these trails can rival some of the best trekking trails of the world. No matter how much we write about these trekking, it can only be felt once you trek these expanses personally. And if you're lucky, you can peep into the lives of the locals as they live and breathe Himalayas every single day.
Truly, time stands still, as you walk on the snowy paths, following the footsteps of trek leaders. And when you look up, it's as if the moment is frozen in time. Just for you.
Region :- Uttarakhand Duration :- 6 Days Grade :- Easy To Moderate Max Altitude :- 12,100 Ft.
It is a well-known fact that with winter season comes the unbearable cold and snow on the path brings additional challenges. Yet, no one can deny that the dove-white snow also brings immense adventure with alluring mountain views. Dayara is the best choice, that is comparably easy plus offers sublime highlands.
The huge pastures and meadows cover themselves with the blanket of white snow to protect its creatures from shivering cold. Walking on this white carpet seems like walking on a frozen sea with beautiful flowers and alpine trees around you. "We have purposefully planned trail passing through the Barnala lake. It is a flawless mirror reflecting the mesmerizing beauty around it," says Rakesh Pant. As you rise up you will find the clear views of the snow-laden Bandarpoonch, Gangotri, Shrikanth peaks. Hiking and camping under the snow-coated alpine forest cover under the glistering dark sky will rejuvenate you for upcoming surprises.
Dayara is suitable for all age group trekkers. "We get positive reviews from kids. They are true admirers of nature. Dayara has become favorite amongst them," says Sandeep Rawat.
Region :- West Bengal Duration :- 6 Days Grade :- Moderate Max Altitude :- 12,000 Ft. Approx Trekking Km :- 46 Kms.
Every trekker wants to get to the top of the world someday. High above the clouds such that the other mountains look an island floating between the ocean of the clouds. One must appreciate and feel the beauty of the top from low before getting to the high. Sandakphu makes this wish come true for every mountain lover. The highest peaks of the Earth, Makalu, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga, and the Everest clustered together soring up stand tall as you try to capture their glimpses.
With the cold season, the snow gets filled in the cracks and gullies from cap to the land. One cannot stop guessing about climbing up them to get to the mountaintop. "We are excited to introduce Sandakphu this season. I am eager to see the happiness our trekkers would experience on this unique trail", says Rakesh Pant.
The entire trek route passes to and fro the Indo-Nepal border, presenting a blend of cultural and geographical variations of the Nepalese and the Indian land. "This trek is worth it in all the seasons. Just to see how Sleeping Buddha formed by Kanchenjunga range changes its color in early sunlight," remembers Pooja, a TTH trekker.
The trail also takes you to the Sangalila National Park, which is flooded with flora and fauna, cheering you up at every step. Unexpectedly, one can also witness the alpine lake Kalpokhri lake, seamlessly merged with the white wonderland.
Chopta Chandrashila Deoriatal - Trekking through the whistling woods
Region :- Uttarakhand Duration :- 6 Days Grade :- Easy Max Altitude :- 13,100 Ft. Approx Trekking Km :- 30 Kms.
A compelling winter trek, Chopta Chandrashila Deoriatal will take you through snow filled highlands, camp by a pristine icy lake, meandering forest trails, stopover at an ancient temple filled with myths, and finally, present a jaw-dropping summit vista. Some of the mightiest peaks of Garhwal Himalayas-Chaukhamba, Bandarpunj, and Kedar Range rise to vision on this trek from early on and maximizes your chances of awe-inspiring peak photography. This trail gets especially inviting in the winters because light pours down upon the enchanting Himalayan scene with a quality of liquid diamond and the clear blue skies provide the perfect backdrop.
Trekking to Chopta Chandrashila Deoriatal in the winters, you will find no dearth of snow and all the peculiar challenges that come with it. Nevertheless, The trek remains a most recommended one, graded easy and okayed for beginning trekkers even in the peak of a snowy winter.
"I passed through Rohini Bugyal two years ago in spring when the trail was overcome with the red of rhododendrons but winter has transformed the path into a canvass of sparkling snow. The experience of winter deepened as we went further and climaxed at the summit of Chandrashila after a truly challenging climb." relates Anuran a regular Himalayan explorer who trekked with TTH one winter.
Chadar Trek: A walk on the frozen Zanskar river
This is a dream of every avid trekker - from India and across the world. It derives its name from the thin layer of ice formed over the Zanskar River in Winter.
" Chadar is one of the most challenging treks. The temperatures at the trail can go as low a -30C, which calls for ample physical and mental endurance," says Rakesh Pant, founder-partner, Trek the Himalayas
At an altitude of 11,123 feet, you need to be ready for some frozen surprises. The 9 day trek covers a distance of approx 75 kms - most of which is on the 'Chadar'. Continual walking on the frozen ice makes the icy layer thin down a bit or at some places, even break. The sweet gurgling sound of the river is music to ears and a hint towards an adventure lying ahead.
Emily Bridger, a trekker with Trek the Himalayas says, "The Chadar trek is an unforgettable experience. I have travelled worldwide but here I have witnessed some best natural views. The experience has made a mark on life."
"The difficulty level of Chadar trek is quite high. We recommend it only to seasoned trekkers who have built good stamina and high fitness levels," says Sandeep Rawat, founder-partner Trek the Himalayas