Once upon a time, a mountain man was washing his blanket in a nearby river where he came across a beautiful, precious stone. Ever since then, the valley was named Sunderdhunga, literally translating to 'valley of beautiful stones'. There is no corroboration for this tale but trekkers who have witnessed beautiful boulders spread across the Sunderdhunga River swear by the etymology.
Sunderdhunga Trek remains untouched by the human species, unlike its popular neighbours - Pindari and Kafni Glacier Treks and that's part of the reason behind its unparalleled beauty. The eight-day long journey would take you away from civilization and through dense forests of rhododendron and oak, gushing waterfalls, terraced fields and lush green expanses.
Where is it
Sunderdhunga Valley is located in Uttarakhand and the trek starts from Loharkhet, which is a three-hour drive from Almora.
Buses ply from Delhi to Almora on a daily basis. From Almora, take a cab to Loharkhet and start your trek from there. Before starting your long journey, you could opt to stay in Almora. Stay at Sukoon Homestay or Kesar Himalaya Holiday Home.
The trek is moderately difficult and a prior trekking experience would be beneficial. The trail requires you to go through thick forests, over a waterfalls, rivers and boulders. Trek to the highest altitude at 4,320 metres is a steep and tiring climb but the rewarding views are worth the grind.
DIY or not
It is highly recommended to do this trek with a professional trekking guide even if you're an experienced trekker, as the trail after Jatoli becomes steep and the altitude becomes high.
The trek cost ranges from ₹7,000-17,000, depending on the company you choose to trek with.
When to do it
April to June and September to November is an ideal time to trek, as the weather is pleasant. Avoid the months of July and August as the region gets heavy rainfall during those months.
The seven-day trek starts from and ends at Loharkhet, which is accessible from Kathgodam or Almora by a shared Jeep or cab.
This is route for the Sunderdhunga Trek:
Loharkhet – Dhakuri – Jatoli – Kathalia – Maiktoli Top/Sukhram Caves – Kathalia – Jatoli – Dhakuri – Loharkhet