15 Best Himalayan Treks To Do In 2017

I am often asked about a dream list of treks – Himalayan treks I would want everyone to do. It is almost like making a dream team of the best cricketers of the world. It is an impossible task!

Here, I have tried to put together a motley group – treks that I feel are a class apart. Many of them could be names you have never heard of. Look them up in more detail on our list of treks.

To make things easier, I have classified the treks under their best seasons. This will help you narrow down your choices easily.

Late Winter: Mid March until Mid April

There are two Himalayan treks I think you must do. Don’t try to do both. Do one or the other. Deoriatal from March until mid-April, or Kedarkantha in April.

Both treks come alive when they are under a blanket of snow. Yet, when the first whiff of spring drifts in late in March, a sprout of green erupts around the snow. The contrast between the snow and green is what makes trekking in this season special.  

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Snow covered bridge at Kedarkantha. Picture by Sanyam Raheja.

Deoriatal is a trek that needs to be timed to perfection. You must do it when the Rhododendrons are in bloom. That’s between the last week of March and the third week of April. Looking down the slope at Chopta, or even around the lake at Deoriatal, is like finding a hillside on fire. Shades of scarlet, vermillion, red and pink streak the forest. The summit climb on snow is great too. From the summit the views leave most trekkers thunderstruck. You are standing in the lap of the highest mountains in India, all within touching distance.

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The trail to Chopta from Chandrashila. The number of rhododendron trees you see will leave you absolutely mesmerised. Picture by Sandhya UC

Kedarkantha, on the other hand, is a personal favourite of mine. I have not seen many treks that turns into a fairyland as Kedarkantha does in April. This trek is always special because of its clearings. Not many treks in our country have such pretty clearings, especially in this number. Early in spring when these clearings are still under snow, the grasses around the clearings burst alive with their new shoots. It is a vibrant green around a snowy setting. Camping in these settings is when you feel truly blessed.

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The Juda ka Talab Campsite is in a lovely clearing just five hours into the Kedarkantha trail. When there is snow, this place is a fairytale! Picture by Jai Pandya

Spring: Mid April until Mid May

In May, especially around the second week, the Gaumukh Tapovan trek is the trek to do. What makes it special is the startling views of Mt Shivling and the Bhagirathi sisters. Add to that the spectacular sunrises and sunsets. It is common to see great sunsets and sunrises in the mountains, but the ones on this trek are the best I have seen! 

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Mt. Shivling, Gaumukh-Tapovan Trek. Picture by Atul Rana.

Most trekkers, of course, attach a spiritual ring to this trek. Getting to Gaumukh, the source of River Ganga, is indeed a religious experience. Somehow anyone on the trek feels a strong draw to this.

Spend time as close as possible to the mouth of the glacier. Look out for the massive ice blocks – as big as cars – that fall with thunderous roars from the lip of the glacier. The sound echoes through the gorge. This is regular business at Gaumukh.

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The yawning mouth of the Gaumukh glacier, the origin of River Ganga. Don’t miss the ant-like trekkers! Shot on the Gaumukh-Tapovan Trek by Atul Rana.

Another trek to do is the Pangarchulla summit. Again, this trek has to be timed well. You need snow to climb the summit. Without snow, the trek becomes difficult with many exposed boulders. So in April until mid May, when the snows are high, is when you should go. Apart from being stunningly beautiful (a lot of the trek is on the Kuari Pass trek route), this trek is meant for the adventure seekers. Getting to the summit gives you a strong adrenaline rush. But it does require a good amount of stamina and strength.

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Trekkers making their way up the snowy flanks of the Pangarchulla summit.

Summer: Mid May until June

For the coming summer, I am going to introduce some treks that you may not have heard of much. The regular treks are far too crowded to make them attractive.

In June, head to Buran Ghati, the latest favourite of our trekkers. What you’ll particularly like about this trek are the grand visuals that meet your eye everyday. The meadow of Dayara, where you camp, is calendar material. As you progress through the grasslands of Litham and further on to your high altitude camp at Dhunda, the alpine visuals are incredible. As you climb higher, the nervous tension of an impending pass crossing will linger about. When you finally get to the pass and look down the vertical wall of Buran Ghati, it is what true adventure is all about!

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This is what we call the “Wow Point” on the Buran Ghati trek. You exit the treeline and you’re welcomed with this view. Trail on the way to Lithum, Buran Ghati Trek. Picture by Amit

Another trek that I highly recommend is Rupin Pass. In mid June when the country is reeling at 40°C, the snowfields of the Rupin Pass transport you to an Arctic world. Besides the adventure of the pass crossing, the scenery on this trek changes every hour! Sometimes you need to look back just to get your bearings right!

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The view of Kinnaur ranges after crossing the Rupin Pass. Picture by Vinod Krishna.

Added to the changing scenery, this trek has few of the best campsites. Camping at the foot of the Rupin Waterfall, at Dhanderas Thatch, is an experience by itself! Another favourite campsite is Ronti Gad on the other side of the pass; it is rare to get such pretty campsites while trekking in India where you’re surrounded by gorgeous ranges of Kinnaur.

Prepare well though, it is not an easy trek.

Post summer, monsoon: July until Mid September

When rain heals the parched earth of our country, head to Kashmir. Kashmir Great Lakes trek or Tarsar Marsar. Both are great treks. I can hardly pick one over the other. But what sets trekking in Kashmir apart is the landscape. The only thing common about trekking in Kashmir and anywhere else in India is that we are still in the Himalayas. Everything else is different. Being at a higher latitude, the trees and the terrain are very different. The meadows and grasslands of Kashmir, which look as if landscaped by hand, stretch for miles. But really, it is the lakes that you really look for in Kashmir. Both treks boast of super alpine lakes. Camping beside these lakes, staring at the aquamarine colours with snow patches feeding them is an experience of a lifetime.

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The twin lakes of Vishansar and Kishansar on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Picture by Anirban Banerjee

Note: I am aware of the strife in Kashmir. The state often comes to a boil in a few hours. A normal street can become a stone pelter’s paradise. This can scare any trekker. If you want to stay clear of Kashmir, yet want to trek post summer, then there are two other treks that I would suggest. Make that three. I just can’t resist the Bhrigu Lake trek, which is short and easy, but an utter delight.

The Bhrigu Lake trek near Manali gets as close to the splendour of Kashmir meadows as it possibly can. The trek has one of the best grasslands in our country. But I love this trek for another reason. The terrific mountain views of some of the major summits in Himachal Pradesh are unreal. Sitting down on the meadows with this view right before my eyes is what makes me fall in love with this trek.

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Meadows on the Bhrigu Lake Trek. Picture by Sandhya UC.

I’ll follow this up with the Hampta Pass trek, which is right around the corner from Bhrigu Lake, again starting from Manali. This is a more strenuous affair but makes up for all the effort put in with its changing scenery. Cross the narrow snow-filled Hampta Pass and you are in Lahaul. On the other side is a dramatic difference in scenery. The lush green is replaced by a mountain desert, yet not totally brown. These visuals are spectacular.

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Chhatru campsite, Hampta Pass Trek. Picture by Vinod Krishna.

On the Hampta Pass trek, trekkers also get an opportunity to go to Chandratal. I have always felt the bonus of Chandratal is a reason to do the trek. Some mountain sceneries lack words to describe them. This is one of them.

Moving into Uttarakhand, the Valley of Flowers is a classic trek that is superb only when it rains. That’s when the valley comes alive with flowers. When you get to the valley, say in mid July, you could be greeted by a layer of blue wild flowers. Get there few weeks later, the layers could change to purple or mauve. It is never the same flower that you see. They sprout in waves, one wave at a time all the way till September. Trekkers often imagine that they are going to be sloshing about in the rain all the time on this trek. That’s not true. I have seldom seen rain falling for the entirety of a trek.

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The Valley of Flowers. Picture by Pravin Shekar.

Autumn: Mid September until October

This is another dramatic season. The colours of the mountains change rapidly in three or four weeks, starting towards the end of September. The lushness of the monsoon is replaced by a golden brown. Somewhere early in October the higher regions of our treks also see the first winter snowfall. With it comes a crispness in the air that lifts the haze around the mountains. This is when you get the best mountain views. Mountain peaks are sharp, the colours vivid. Of all the trekking seasons in our country, I find autumn the best. The crowd on the trails is drastically low too.

Roopkund is a trek that you must think of doing between mid September until the mid of October. Roopkund is India’s most popular trail in summer. In autumn when it gets even prettier. This is the time to see the splendours of Roopkund. With its terrific forests, the prettiest high altitude meadows and a super adventure of climbing to Roopkund at almost 16,000 feet, I don’t think any trek can get better than this. Look out for one of the best sunsets of your life at Bedni Bugyal.

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Bedni Campsite during sunrise, Roopkund Trek. Picture by Anuja Gupta.

Goechala in Sikkim is another high altitude trek which is superb at the same time. Prone to much rains, Goechala is relatively dry during this period. Goechala is again a classical beauty. The trek takes you right to the foot of Mt Kanchenjunga, which is the world’s third highest peak. It is not everyday that trekkers get to gaze at such big mountains from such close quarters. Even outside Kanchenjunga, there are are other big mountains to see on the trek. Which is why I call it the big mountain trek.

What I also like about Goechala is the variety on the trek. Right from tropical forests where you spot waterfalls, to the high altitude rhododendron forests, to the open grasslands you get everything. In addition you move into higher zones of glaciers and moraines. Most trekkers go for the big mountain views, but I would say, go for the variety. 

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Thansing with Mt Kanchenjunga forming the backdrop, Goechala. Picture by Suresh G.

Early winter: November until December.

In November Kuari Pass will get you with its mountain views and its superb forests. You’ll see the closest views of Mt Nanda Devi, India’s highest summit. This view of Nanda Devi, an isolated mountain, standing tall over the Gorson meadows is rare. Some of our trek leaders tell me that Kuari Pass is definitely one of the prettiest treks that they have done. I give a lot of importance to what they say — because they have seen treks! This trek is superb until the last week of December.

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View of Mt. Nanda Devi at Gorson Bugyal, Kuari Pass trek. Picture by Vaibhav Jain.

Another trek in India that is great in early winter is Sandakphu. You’ve got to be careful about timing your trek to Sandakphu. People go there to see the views of the sleeping Buddha, which is the Mt Kanchenjunga massif. On the other side, three other eight thousanders stand tall — Mt Everest, Lhotse and Makalu. When such is the premium on views, timing the trek to perfection is important. November until December is the time to do it. The views are clear, sharp and a delight for photographers. The Sandakphu trek is prone to fog, mist and cloudy conditions. Which is why though this trek is open all through the year, I would want you to do the trek when your chances of these great summit views are high.

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Sleeping Buddha from our campsite on the Sandakphu trek. Picture by Asim Mandal.

Incidentally, there is no other trek in India that gives you views of four 8,000 meter summits. In fact in the world there are only two other treks that give you that. One of them is in Pakistan and the other is our very own Gokyo Ri-Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal.

Winter: January and February

January and February are true winter months in our country. This is when snow falls the most. Trekking on snow-covered ground is a great experience, but also a difficult one. Water in most streams dry up. Camping grounds become invisible under the snow.

My two recommendations for these months are actually for early 2018.

Brahmatal is a little known trek in Uttarakhand. It is a beauty still doable in January and February. I admit, the higher reaches of the trek are going to be under snow. Yet, despite the snow, it is possible to inch your way to the top of the ridge from where you get astounding views of Mt Trishul, Nanda Ghunti and Chaukhamba. The snow-lined Brahmatal with its little shrine is delightful in its isolation. Trekkers love this trek for its pristine forests, lovely walks under oak trees, and of course, the snow.

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The magnificent Brahmatal Lake. Picture by Neerav Mehta.

Another trek that you cannot afford to miss is the Talle Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. Ok, this is not your usual Himalayan trek. This is a trek through tropical forests, through settings that are like in the Jungle Book. The culture and heritage that you see on this trek is almost unbelievable. Getting to see ancient Apatani tribe and their customs is something like finding lost treasure. This is one trek in my list as well! Don’t miss it.

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On the way to Hong, Talle Valley. Picture by Soumya Mitra.

So then, these are my recommendations for the year. I had to leave out many that I really love. If you think I have not covered a trek that definitely deserves to be in this list, throw in a comment below.

 

Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. Long years of trekking and facing problems in getting information about trails led Arjun to start Indiahikes. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking, he leads Indaihikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India.

33 thoughts on “15 Best Himalayan Treks To Do In 2017

  1. Hi Arjun,

    I loved your article for 15 Best Himalayan Treks to do in 2017.
    But I think you should add Pin Parvati Pass Trek too as it’s one of those treks in which one can experience various levels of difficulty and a drastic change of landscape after the Pass. According to me Pin Parvati is like a roller coaster ride in Himalayas which everyone should take a ride on.

    Regards
    Chahat Channana

    1. Hi Chahat

      That way I would rate the Pin Bhaba Pass higher than Pin Parvati. The variety is infinitely more. The trek gets to Spiti as well.

      However, in this list I have not taken the difficult treks in consideration. That is out of most people’s reach.

      Arjun

      1. Hi Arjun,

        When is India-hikes planning to include Chadar Trek in it’s portfolio. Would love to do the same with India-hikes.

        Regards,

        Abhay

      2. Hi Arjun,

        Wonderful article. I did the Pin Bhaba Pass in June, 2015 and I completely agree with how varied the landscapes and campsites were. It continues to be one of the most beautiful treks I’ve ever done. I’m planning to go for a trek this June as well, and I’m confused between the Rupin Pass, Roopkund and the Pindari Glacier Trek. I don’t want to go on a trail with too many people around. When I did the Bhaba Pass we were the only people on the trail 🙂 It would be great if you could recommend one out of the three. Thanks a lot 🙂

  2. Hello Arjun,
    Thank you, for this wonderful list.
    Also, how do you see Stok Kangri for a trek? Are we not doing it in Indiahikes? I couldn’t take my mind off it lately.

  3. Hello
    I am professor and have available offs only in october-Nov and May. I am planning for the Deaorital in May. Do you have any other suggestions for an easy-moderate trek.

    Thanks

  4. Hi Arjun,

    For Jan and Feb month , you mentioned two trek Brahmatal and Talle valley for early 2018.
    we were planning to do the Brahmatal trek in feb month(2017). So, Shall we postpone our trek for next year and look for another trek in month of march.

    Thanks

  5. Hello sir, I’m here to know I which month you suggest me for borasu pass? Is this pass have all the difficulties more than pin parvati because I want something best from my last trek, as I think or planned, make the borasu pass trek in mid or march this year. Tell me the best, Difficult trek more then pin parvati, which I’m done individually without any guide and porter last year.

  6. Hi Sir. I was looking for a winter trek and came across Bramhatal that suits me. I am planning to do it in the last week of March. Is the end of March a good time for this trek. Or I should look for some other trek and do this in Jan- Feb next year?

    1. Hi Aryan, It depends on what you are looking for. if you want high snows, then Jan-Feb. While there will be snow in March, it is the rhododendron jungles you need to watch out for in March. They will be in bloom. 🙂

  7. Hiee sir,
    Kartikey here.
    Sir, i want to go for Rupin Pass in June, I have some questions before that:-
    1) Will there be snow in June there?
    2) Like i am of little heavy body but goes to gym regularly and frankly speaking i does cardio in good amount, like much better than others, which i can assure you i will do more better, so am i eligible for this trek?

    1. Hi Kartikey, I will dive right into your questions: 1) yes! 🙂 2) As long as you are fit, you are eligible.

  8. hi arjun sir,
    i want to do the goechala trek this year so which month is best to do this trek to explore the beauty of this trek.

    Hani Gola

  9. Hi Arjun/Aswati/Swathi:

    I’m a first-time trekking aspirant based out of Chennai. Reasonably fit I guess (done a few half marathons and Olympic level Triathlon events )
    Was wondering if you could suggest a few treks between now and December, as I have a Kilimanjaro trek planned early December 2017.
    Need to acclimatize !

    Thanks,
    Raja

    1. Hello Raja
      Its great that you are pumped for your first high altitude trek. However, you are only as fit as you were last week. For you to be able to trek at 20,000 ft. you need to be extremely fit. I am sure you have started training for it already.
      Secondly, going on a high altitude trek before your trek is a good idea. But it will not get you acclimatized for your Kilimanjaro trek. You could do a few moderate treks like Bhrigu Lake and Deoriatal Chandrashila in September. In October you could try doing a more difficult trek like Rupin Pass. I am just giving you options based on the months you have until December. The idea is to get the experience of high altitude trekking before you scale the Kilimanjaro. Hope this helps.
      I wish you good luck for your Kilimanjaro trek 🙂

  10. Hi we r planning to trek Kedarkanth in Dec17 with IH..we r around 6 frnds frm Mumbai (age 21-26) & we r first time trekkers…hence culd u pls let us knw is it safe to be there as being 1st time trekker on such high altitude…also is there snow in Dec17 since we also want to enjy snow…pls revert.

    1. Hi Ganesh, Kedarkantha is a good trek for first timers. So you can go for it. If you’re trekking with Indiahikes, rest assured that you will be safe. Just prepare well for the trek in terms of fitness.
      If you time your trek during the last week of December, you will see snow on the trek, especially after December 25th ish.

  11. Thank you for this information.
    Which one will you recommend most to do for a couple with 3yrs old in November (4-5weeks trek)

  12. Hi,

    Would you suggest Kedarkantha in the last week of Jan or Brahmatal in the first week of Feb? I am keen on doing a snow trek but unable to decide between the two.

    1. Hi Harshita, go for Brahmatal in these months. It’s a stunning peak winter trek and we have seen trekkers rave about it! Kedarkantha in January is something we are running for the first time in 2018. There is very high snow on this trek. It’s better if you’re an experienced trekker to tackle such high snow.

  13. Hi, I’ve booked the Brahmatal trek on December 27th but I’m a first time trekker with little experience of trekking in The Himalayas. Could you give me an idea about how bearable the cold would be and how difficult the trek is for a beginner considering the amount of snow ? Also is trekking In the Himalayas in winter safe ?

    1. Hi Mrunmayee, this is a trek suitable to first timers in the Himalayas. It is going to be very cold, the temperature could drop down to -10 degrees. But if you have your five warm layers you can tackle the cold comfortably. We expect that there will be a good amount of snow when you’re going. This only adds to the experience. You don’t have much to worry about. Many first timers choose to trek in winter as their first treks. 🙂

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