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.
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 to recede, snow is still around. A carpet of fresh grass sprouts around these snow patches. It makes meadows and clearings above 9,000 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. Flowers bloom. The landscape is a riot of colours. Spring is in the air.
Birds wake up from their winter slumber. Their voices spring 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 is a big reason to go trekking. What a sight they make! In spring, rhododendrons with their scarlet and pink flowers burst into 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 rhodos are, of course, the scarlet ones. They are not very common so it is terrific to see if there is a scarlet playing hide and seek around a bend! Some slopes have the yellows and whites in between the pinks. Sunlight flirting through these blooms make trekking a joy!
Trekking in spring is great for the crackling summit views.
Let me explain. Two months later, in summer, when it is peak trekking season there is a smoky haze over the mountains. Forest fires, smog, heat and dust contributes to this. Mountain views are disappointing.
Worse, in summer when the sun heats up the earth, the forests transpire, releasing a lot of water vapour in the air. the cool air of the mountains quickly gather up these water vapour and turn them into clouds. It is not uncommon to see a bright clear day patched with lots of clouds by 11 in the morning. The big mountains that you have been planning to see are now almost hidden.
On the other hand in spring mountain views are worth dying for. You get clear blue skies that stretch from horizon to horizon. The air is crisp — the views crackling.
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.
I share with you a list of the best treks to do in between Mid-March and April end. I have left out a few that I feel don’t make this list.
10 Best Himalayan treks from Mid-March to April 2021
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.
5. Kuari Pass
This is a trek that blows everyone’s brains out with its terrific views of India’s highest mountain, Mt Nanda Devi. It is one of our most “complete” treks with few of the best forests, campsites, ridge walks and mountain views.
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.
7. Dayara Bugyal
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.
If you are looking for a power packed thrilling summit climb, climbing all the way till 15,069 ft, then Pangarchulla Peak trek offers it in spades. It’s a difficult trek with a small window when it is accessible to trekkers, that’s only in April. If you are fit, and are looking for an adrenaline rush, go for it.
9. Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Tal
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?
10. Nag Tibba Weekend trek
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.
So those are our best treks from mid-March to April.
| Also look out for 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.
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.