Across India, from mid March until April, people are not really trekking. Parents are overwrought with kids’ exams. Deadlines in offices somehow hang in the air. Or trekkers simply seem to be keen on the trekking rush in May/June.
Meanwhile, quietly on the side, a splendid season of trekking between Mid March and April slips by.
This worries me. I’ll tell you why.
Mid-March marks the beginning of spring
In mid March, when winter starts winding up its business, snow is still around. A carpet of fresh grass sprouts around these snow patches. It makes meadows and clearings above 10,000 feet a delight. The lush grass with ankle-length flowers against the backdrop of snow is a visual treat. Shaking off the harshness of winter, new leaves start sprouting on trees and old leaves fall. Flowers bloom. The landscape is a riot of colours. Spring is in the air.
Just to see this magic one must trek between mid March and April.
In spring, birds wake up from their winter slumber. In the lower hills colourful birds flirt here, there and everywhere. Bird calls ring through the forests. For those who love bird photography this is the time of the year to trek.
If these were not enough, there is the magic of rhododendrons.
For me, the rhodos are reason enough to go trekking between mid March and the end of April. What a sight they make! In this season, rhododendrons burst into full bloom. It is as if the hills are on fire! When rhodos bloom they envelop trees. Sometimes it is difficult to spot leaves through the flowers!
My favourite, of course, are the scarlet rhododendrons. In a rhodo forest of pink, suddenly there’s a scarlet bloom! They are not very common so it is terrific to trek a little ahead just to see if there is a scarlet playing hide and seek around the bend!
The most common are the pink rhodos. And they usually come in a row. So you could be walking for half a kilometer under a hue of pink. Some slopes have the yellows and whites in betweens the pinks. Sunlight flirting through these blooms make trekking a joy!
On a more practical front, trekking in March and April is great for the crackling summit views.
Let me explain. Two months later, in May and June, when it is peak trekking season there is a smoky haze over the mountains. Forest fires, smog, heat and dust, everything contributes to this. The long distance mountain views are disappointing.
Worse, in May and June when the sun heats up the earth, past 10 am, wisps of clouds start floating in. The big mountains that you have been planning to see since the start of the trek are now almost hidden.
In March and April, mountain views are worth dying for. You get clear blue skies that stretch from horizon to horizon. The air is crisp — the views stunning.
I remember last year when I was trekking to the top of Chandrashila summit, I stood for a moment to take in what I was seeing around me. There they were, right in front of me, like a fan of playing cards, the entire range of eastern and western Gharwal mountains of India. I was seeing the greatest mountain ranges in India at their sharpest best.
Another time, I took a short walk to the summit of Hatu peak near Shimla. It was the second week of March. There too the sprawling summit views took my breath away. This time I was gazing at summits of eastern Himachal. So sharp they were that I could tick off almost thirty or forty summits in the horizon.
When you walk into a tourist office and see a big landscape picture of mountain ranges — the photographs are almost always taken in early winter or in March/April.
In March and April, outside the rhododendrons, go on treks for the clear views of mountain ranges.”
While the thoughts of spring flowers and snowy mountains linger in your mind, I’m sharing with you a list of the best treks to do in between Mid-March and April end. Do any of the treks on this list and you’ll absolutely love it!
13 Best Himalayan treks to do from Mid-March to April
Click on the names of treks for the dates, itinerary and costs.
THE best rhododendron trek of our country. And to damn everything, it also has the best mountain views from the summit. Can’t ask for more.
Another trail blessed with superb rhodo forests. Kills it with the meadows on top, the lovely Brahmatal lake and jaw dropping views of Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti. This trek is a trekkers favourite.
Super crystal clear views of the sleeping Buddha (Mt Kanchenjunga range). And then you also see 4 of the tallest mountains in the world (Mt Everest included). Not to forget the Indo-Nepal trek experience. Yes, rhodos too.
The closest you can get to the Kanchenjunga massif without actually climbing it. It is right under your nose. Also it is the trek to do for rhododendrons in the east.
Our most popular trek. All the goodness of a winter trek. The snow is still around minus the bone-chilling temperatures. Terrific campsites and a thrilling summit climb. Again, a very complete trek. Can’t ask for more.
One of the best meadow trek of our country, with powdery snow still on them. The views of Mt Bandarpoonch from the meadows can flatten anyone. Great trek for families.
7. Mukta Top
Do the trek for the superb variety in the forests. It changes every day. Charming campsites and a nice climb to the summit. The trek is gaining popularity. I don’t know how long it will stay secluded. Do it while it is.
The cultural favourite — in the early part of the trek you pass through ancient wooden villages that still stand the same despite being many centuries old. The stories and legends of these villages date back to the mythologies. Later, the astounding scenery changes every day can leave anyone breathless. And then Ruinsara Tal pulls all possible expectations from under our feet. Such places exist in our country?
At the Annapurna Base camp you are standing right below the full south face of Annapurna massif. The entire 10,000 feet of the famous wall is right in front. If this view doesn’t give you goosebumps, we don’t know what will.
Our trek leaders rate this trek even better than the Annapurna Base Camp trek. You get to see 23 big Himalayan summits from this trek, including the favourites Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Macharapuche. Lack of crowd on this Nepali trail with excellent tea houses is a big plus. The Khayer lake climb at above 15,500 feet is a huge adventure.
The Everest Base Camp is the world’s most favourite trek. But doing it via the Gokyo Ri changes everything. 5 alpine lakes, crossing the Ngozumpa glacier. Climbing the summits of Gokyo and Kala Patthar, even better views of Mt Everest and fewer crowds. We don’t even know why trekkers stick to the traditional EBC route. Very small window to do this trek though, March April being one of them.
A trek so close to Mussoorie but packs in everything of a big trek. Lovely forests, good rhodos too, terrific sunset views, all packed in a weekend! You can even see snow in early March here.
Best deodar trail out of all our treks. Deodar are the native coniferous trees of India. The heavenly scent of the pines, easy on the legs makes it ideal for anyone looking for a weekend trek near Delhi. Highly recommended.
So those are our best treks from mid-March to April.
Exclusive treks for families:
In the same season, we also have exclusive family treks to Kedarkantha and Dayara Bugyal. We organise the trek specially for families with children, to enhance their learning from the outdoors. You’ll find all the details and dates here.
Most of the groups already have registrations going up, though not full yet. It’s best to sign up now if you want the luxury of choosing dates that suit you.
If you have any thoughts or questions, drop in a comment below. One of us from Indiahikes will get back to you.