25 Best Trek Photos of The Year 2021

25 Best Trek Photos of The Year 2021

Category Photo Story

By Swathi Chatrapathy


Today, we have a special treat for you.  We have put together the 25 Best Trek Photos of the Year 2021.

It has some of the best photographs taken by our trekkers (many of them look professional), our own team members and some from our photo trekkers. 

We have handpicked these photos to showcase a few of the best moments, best sceneries and emotions that trekkers experienced in the year 2021. 

For us at Indiahikes, it was a wonderful experience to put this post together. It gave us a flashback of the entire year through photographs. 

We hope it does the same for you too. We hope it reminds you of your own trek. If not that I hope it takes you along with the photographer on many different treks. 

We would love to know which photograph you liked and why. Drop in a comment at the bottom of the page. I’m sure the photographer will love reading your thoughts too. 

25 Best Trek Photos of The Year 2021

1. A hug atop the Chandrashila summit. Picture by Vivek Saini

Shutter speed – 1/1250 | Aperture – 5.6 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 10mm. (Mobile phone photography)

For us, this is perhaps the best photo of the year 2021. It captures such a wonderful moment on top of the Chandrashila summit. The composition of the shot with the Chaukhamba massif in the backdrop, the bright colours, all of them make it one of the most special photographs we have seen.

It also has a wonderful story behind it. “The trekker wearing yellow was the life of this trekking group. Right from Day 1, he was full of enthusiasm, motivating other trekkers and keeping everyone lively.

On the summit, though, something changed. He wrote a postcard to a dear one, and became very contemplative. He went quiet, sometimes crying, sometimes angry. Noticing this, a fellow trekker, whom he had encouraged throughout the trek, went towards him and gave him a tight hug. Both of them burst into tears while hugging. It made almost all of us emotional,” shares Vivek Saini, our Slope Manager, who was leading the trek.

2. Alpenglow on Mt Shivling as seen from Tapovan. Picture by Dr. Haridarshan

Shutter speed – 1/2500 | Aperture – 5.6 | ISO 800 | Focal length – 50mm.

When we received this photo as an entry for a photo contest, we were stumped. Without thinking twice we knew this would win a prize. The framing, the clarity, the rightly captured colours, they all point towards someone incredibly adept at photography.

It’s no surprise that this was a planned shot, where the photographer waited for this exact moment. “I knew I would get to see a sunrise on Mt Shivling. It’s something I had waited for for a long time. I had set my camera up to take this photo. When it finally happened, though, I was overwhelmed. The entire journey towards this moment came rushing back to me, and I was wondering Am I really here?” shares Dr. Haridarshan, who took the photograph.

3. Dreamy forests on the Tarsar Marsar trek. Picture by Shreenath Ramachandramurthy

Shutter speed – 1/640 | Aperture – 4.5 | ISO 200 | Focal length – 24mm.

Most professional photographers swear by the perfect light of the “golden hour,” which lasts for about an hour right after sunrise and an hour right before sunset. But what you do with this sunlight is what matters. And with this photo, Sreenath, has used the morning light so magically, that we were left speechless at this shot.

“I remember we had started off the day early on that cold morning. With all the mountains, tall pine trees and mist surrounding us, the sun seemed elusive. As the entire team was longing to feel the sun rays hitting the skin, all of a sudden, when we emerged from behind a steep hill… the sun god arreared! I just had to look for a tree through which the brilliant rays diverge,” says Shreenath.

4. Phulara Ridge seen like never before. Picture by Nitesh Kumar

Shutter speed – 1/2000 | Aperture – 5.6 |ISO 400 | Focal length – 140mm.

Sometimes, it takes an experienced trekker to find different perspectives to show the same location. Our Senior Trek Leader, Nitesh Kumar, is blessed with not just the experience, but also with a keen eye for photography. This photo of Phulara Ridge showed us such a different angle of trail, an angle we have not seen before. It also gives trekkers a clear idea of the scale of the mountains in the backdrop.

5. The Tilandi campsite on the Brahmatal trek. Picture by Dhaval Jajal 

Shutter speed – 1/750 | Aperture – 1.7 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 5mm.

We started the year 2021 with this terrific setting on the Brahmatal trek. We love this photograph for two reasons (1) It shows us why the Tilandi campsite is favourite among trekkers, especially after a fresh bout of snow. (2) It gives us a reality check on how difficult it is to manage a trek in such settings. You can see our kitchen tent is almost buried in snow. A path has been dug out just to help trekkers and mules and provisions reach the campsite. All this, in one of the windiest campsites.

From a photography point of view, Dhaval Jajal, who shot this photograph, truly understands what makes a good composition, following the rule of thirds and climbing to such a lovely vantage point to get this shot.

6. Not a team when we started, but a team when we reached the top at Sandakphu. Picture by Sanghamitra Kumar

Shutter speed – 1/1250 | Aperture – 2.1 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 5mm. (Mobile phone photography)

When we received this photograph as part of our October 2021 photo contest, we were immediately taken in. Especially because of the story the photographer shared with us.

“Every time we start a trek, we don’t know whom we are trekking with. They are all strangers from different parts of the country. But over 5 days of trekking, we get to know the best and worst of each other, we help each other, we care for each other. We reach the summit together as a team. I wanted to capture this sense of togetherness in a photograph,” shares Sanghamitra who took the picture.

At Indiahikes, we have always believed that a trek goes way beyond just going from point A to point B. It brings people together. It forms communities. This photograph beautifully captures our thought. And what better than having the Sleeping Buddha in the backdrop?

7. My trek memory book. Picture by Vishnu Sivanandan

Shutter speed – 1/1600 | Aperture – 1.6 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 85mm.

A gem of a photograph, especially because this year, we saw a heartening growth in the number of children trekking. This picture is especially dear to us because of the Trek Memory Book that the children in the picture are holding — something we created this year, which children have come to love.

The photograph captures such a lovely moment between the two girls, sitting in the middle of a clearing at Dayara Bugyal.

8. A rare view of the Samiti Lake on the Goechala Trek. Picture by Abhijit

Shutter speed – 1/500 | Aperture – 11 | ISO 200 | Focal length – 10mm.

We have seen many photographs of Samiti Lake on the Goechala trek. But rarely have we seen it with such snow cover and such stark reflections in the lake. This photograph had to be timed perfectly to capture such still reflective waters and striking colour contrasts. The wide angle frame rightfully captures the magnificence of the Samiti Lake.

9. The final ascent towards Kedartal. Picture by Aarnav Subbaramu

Shutter speed – 1/200 | Aperture – 14 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 21mm.

“When I shot this photograph, I was completely mesmerised by the colours I was seeing. The blue of the sky, the gleaming white snow, against the contrast of brown accents left me in awe. When I saw trekkers adding colour to the frame, I lifted my camera and captured the moment,” says 14-year-old Aarnav, our youngest photographer featured here.

From a photography point of view, this is a perfect example for clever use of leading lines, and also following the rule of thirds flawlessly. Not to mention, the view of plumes drifting from Mt Bhrigupanth and Mt Thalaysagar adds to the drama!

10. Wishing for a home in the mountains. Picture by Sachin Prabhakar

Shutter speed – 1/400 | Aperture – 8 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 400mm.

“This was shot on the last day of our Kashmir Great Lakes trek at Naranag. After seven beautiful days of trekking, crossing beautiful meadows, forests, boulders and rivers, there comes the last day where we have to bid adieu to everyone until next journey,” recollects Sachin Prabhakar, the photographer. 

“That day, I remember, all of us were wishing we had a home in the mountains, so that we would never have to say goodbye. By sheer coincidence, we suddenly saw this little home in the meadows. A small cottage soaked in morning light,” he smiles. 

It is perhaps the dream of every trekker to have a home in the mountains, and this photograph does absolute justice to the dream.

11. A surreal ridge walk on the Gidara Bugyal trek. Picture by Khush Gala

Shutter speed – 1/2000 | Aperture – 2.2 | ISO 125 | Focal length – 10mm. (Mobile phone photography)

The ridge walk at Gidara Bugyal is one of the most magical walks a trekker will do in his/her life. On your left, you see the vast expanse of Gidara Bugyal stretching beside you. On your right, you see more meadows — Dokrani, Dayara Bugyal — stretching as far as your eyes can see. Ahead of you, you see the Gangotri ranges, Mt Srikanth, Mt Draupadi Ka Danda, Mt Jaunli and the Gangotri Peaks.

This walk lasts about 2 hours, but you will wish that it never ends. This photograph by Khush truly captures the grandeur of the ridgewalk like no other photo has so far.

12. A sense of gratitude. Picture by Sachin Prabhakar

Shutter speed – 1/500 | Aperture – 4 | ISO 120 | Focal length – 35mm.

“This was shot just after crossing Gadsar Pass,” recollects Sachin. “It was a tough pass crossing and almost all of us were at the peak of our emotions that day. As we sat on top of the pass, discussing what this trek meant to each of us, I could see a deep sense of gratitude in Aditi and Subir. 

“This trek is something Aditi and Subir always wanted to do. After so many physical odds they were able to complete the trek. They were on top of the world — literally and metaphorically,” shares Sachin.

This is one of those rare photographs that captures raw emotions of a trekker. Most photographers capture laughter and happiness. Very few have the presence of mind and skill to capture other powerful emotions. This is one of those rare photographs that does.

13. Colours of spring on the Deoriatal-Chandrashila trek. Picture by Rahul Sen

Shutter speed – 1/1250 | Aperture – 5.6 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 244mm.

“I took this photograph purely for the colours,” shares Rahul Sen, who trekked to Deoriatal-Chandrashila as a Photo Trekker with Indiahikes. He trekked in the rhododendron season, when the trail was alive with blooming flowers.

We love this photo for the warmth, the lovely golden light, the colours and the interesting composition of the frame.

14. The dark forests on the Pin Bhaba Pass trek. Picture by Sayandeep Roy.

Shutter speed – 1/200 | Aperture – 5 | ISO 250 | Focal length – 39mm.

From many years of seeing trek photographs, we have noticed that it requires a different skill to take photos of forest trails. Most times, the photo gets too over or under exposed, the forest looks too scanty, or too overgrown. But here’s a photograph that captures the forest as prettily as it is. We love the earthy charm the photograph has, with splendid greenery, showing us how dense the forest truly is.

“At that point, I was walking a bit ahead of the group with the idea of looking back and getting a nice show. It was the first day of the trek and the greenery of Bhaba valley was already very prominent around us,” shares Sayandeep, who trekked with Indiahikes as a photo trekker.

“This particular spot looked majestic and soothing at the same time, with the dense forest ahead and a trail cutting through it. I waited for the trekkers to pass me in order to provide a sense of reference. That’s how this picture came about,” he shares.

15. A new trek in the new land of Lahaul. Picture by Jothiranjan B

Shutter speed – 1/1000 | Aperture – 7.1 | ISO 250 | Focal length – 105mm.

When the Atal Tunnel opened up last year, we knew that it would open up a totally new world of trekking to trekkers, in Lahaul and Spiti. And we were not wrong, as you can clearly see from this photograph. It shows us the stark colours and contrasts of Lahaul on the Miyar Valley trek.

“I was fascinated by the red flowers throughout the valley floor. When the trekker walked ahead of me wearing a red backpack, it put a smile on my face. I wanted to capture the contrast between the reds and browns, and the trekker sat perfectly in my frame,” shares Jothiranjan B, the Chief Photographer at Indiahikes.

16. A home away from home on the Sandakphu trek. Picture by Prajna Pujary

Shutter speed – 1/1800 | Aperture – 2.8 | ISO – 200 | Focal length – 10mm. (Mobile phone photography)

This is a picture that made us go “wow!”, not for the location or the composition. It’s purely for the colours and the morning light that’s been captured at the right moment. It’s hard to believe that this is a shot from a remote Himalayan village in India and not from any European setting.

17. Monsoon pals on the Hampta Pass trek. Picture by Pritish Bhanushali

Shutter speed – 1/400 | Aperture – 5.6 | ISO 500 | Focal length – 122mm.

We don’t usually get too many macro shots from our trekkers. Most of them are so mesmesrised by the scenery that they ignore tiny details on treks. Which is why we loved many shots taken by Pritish on the Hampta Pass trek.

“When I reached the Jwara campsite, I got awestruck with all the colorful flowers I was surrounded by. I kept my bag in the tent and rushed to the flower field to smell them, feel them, look at them and try to capture them. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw this small insect. I kept looking at it for a few minutes, it was so beautiful and, in that moment, I said to the Universe, “I came here to see you, big mountains, but you came and surprised me in such tiny form!” The universe is truly filled with surprises if we know how to look at it with the eyes of a child, filled with wonder.

Trekking in peak monsoon, when the valley of abloom with flowers, you get to see not only a lush valley, but lots of small bugs and insects too. It’s a dreamland for entomologists and macro photographers.

18. A sunrise from the Chandrashila Summit. Picture by Vivek Saini

Shutter speed – 1/1250 | Aperture 2.8 | ISO 200 | Focal Length 10mm. (Mobile phone photography)

Another photograph to treasure by Vivek Saini, Slope Manager at Indiahikes. When he sent us this photograph on our internal Whatsapp group, we were in disbelief. The colours couldn’t be real!

“I was in disbelief too,” he says. “This photograph was completely unexpected, because when we started our summit climb, the sky was completely grey, marred by clouds and cold mist. It was a cold ascent to the top. All our hopes of seeing a beautiful sunrise from the summit had gone away. But the mountains had something else in store for us.

“As we climbed higher, the black and white landscape slowly turned pinkish. Once we reached the top, we saw a small golden light gleaming through the clouds. Over the next 15 minutes, magic unfurled! the entire sky transformed into unreal colours. I didn’t have to do much, except fish out my phone and take a picture,” he says.

19. Mt Trishul as seen from the Brahmatal summit. Picture by Jothiranjan B

Shutter speed – 1/1250 | Aperture – 5.6 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 244mm.

“Last year, when I started the Brahmatal trek, I had my eye on just one photograph. Throughout the journey, that’s what I dreamt about. I wanted to take a close-up shot of Mt Trishul from the Brahmatal summit,” recalls Jothiranjan.

“As soon I reached the top, I pulled out my heavy telephoto lens, set it up on my tripod and took this photo. Despite having been a photographer for the past decade, this particular shot was very special to me,” says Jothiranjan, Chief Photographer at Indiahikes.

20. The vast expanse of Miyar Valley. Picture by Mayur Srivatsav

Shutter speed – 1/80 | Aperture – 6.3 | ISO 200 | Focal length – 24mm.

“When we started the Miyar Valley trek, for a long time we were in a very narrow valley. Cliffs walled us on both sides and we walked straight ahead,” says Mayur Srivatsav, Film Maker at Indiahikes.

“It was a “wow” moment for me when the valley suddenly burst open into such a vast expanse. The greenery was almost like velvet, with a wide gentle river flowing in the middle. It became even more special when I spotted our campsite in the distance,” says Mayur.

21. The Bracken Glacier on the Warwan Valley trek. Picture by Ashwin Sasidharan

Shutter speed – 1/800 | Aperture – 7.1 | ISO 160 | Focal length – 48mm.

“When we started our descent from the highest point on the Warwan Valley trek, we knew what lay ahead,” recalls Ashwin, who was one of the specially chosen team members on the Warwan Valley trek. 

“Slowly we descended, eyes peering to the horizon for a small glimpse of it. And then, suddenly with a single step, the mountain moved aside and we stopped dead in our tracks for we finally saw it. We couldn’t move and we couldn’t talk. We do not know how many breaths we missed. For a while, it was just us and it. The majestic Bracken glacier,” shares Ashwin. 

Often something unexpected takes our breath away. But imagine when something known and expected takes your breath away. After this point, the team had to walk the entire length of the glacier. 

22. Approaching Bedni Kund on the Ali Bedni Bugyal trek. Picture by Yash Trivedi 

Shutter speed – 1/4000 | Aperture – 2.8 | ISO – 100 | Focal length – 25mm.

When you’re a photo trekker with Indiahikes, you get many privileges — one of them is to be able to trek at your own pace. Yash, our photo trekker, was trekking behind the entire team taking shots of the Ali Bedni Bugyal trek in winter. As he approached the Bedni Kund, and saw trekkers standing beside the lake, he found his perfect shot.

Even though we have seen Bedni Kund year after year, Yash’s photo presented a completely different setting of Bedni Kund, frozen in peak winter, with Mt Trishul still looking on in the background. The novelty of this photo is what qualified it to be here, aside from the well-framed shot.

23. A crisp morning on the Tarsar Marsar trek. Picture by Waleed Tak

Shutter speed – 1/100 | Aperture – 11 | ISO – 250 | Focal length – 108mm.

“It was an early morning, we were at our campsite. I just took a walk around when I saw the horseman approaching his horse. The colours, the mist, the crisp outline of the mountains in the backdrop, they all made for a wonderful frame,” shares Waleed.

To us, this is one of the most artistic and cinematic shots we’ve seen recently.

24. A Himalayan Monal on the Deoriatal-Chandrashila trek. Picture by Kishore Reddy

Shutter speed – 1/1250 | Aperture – 5.6 | ISO 100 | Focal length – 244mm.

When a professional wildlife photographer spends a week photographing birds and shares a stunner of a photograph with you, you don’t question it. You share it for the world to see. This is one such photograph by Kishore Reddy, a seasoned birder, who shared a few of the most stunning photographs with us recently.

He spent an entire week in Chopta, to be able to capture these winged beauties. Against the white and brown background, this bird is a stunner! The photograph is one in a million!

25. Three ladies trekking in Kyrgyzstan. Picture by Arjun Majumdar

Shutter speed – 1/600 | Aperture – 2.2 | ISO 40 | Focal length – 5mm.

“I clearly remember the moment I took this photo,” says Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes who took this photo. It was on the last day of our trek in Kyrgyzstan. Over four days of trekking, I’d been astonished by the landscapes of Kyrgyzstan. Day after day, the country had surprised us with its sceneries. It was hard for me to believe that even on the last day, in fact, during the last few hours of trekking, the trail was so beautiful,” he says.

“On the other hand, when I framed this photo, I realised that here were three women, all the way from India, trekking in Kyrgyzstan. It was unthinkable! Even a few years ago, this would have been impossible,” he shares.

So despite the landscape and the terrific greenery in this shot, it is the story behind it that made us choose this photograph.


Swathi Chatrapathy

Chief Editor

About the author

Swathi Chatrapathy heads the digital content team at Indiahikes. She is also the face behind India's popular trekking video channel, Trek With Swathi. Unknown to many, Swathi also writes a weekly column at Indiahikes which has more than 100,000 followers.

A TEDx speaker and a frequent guest at other events, Swathi is a much sought after resource for her expertise in digital content.

Before joining Indiahikes, Swathi worked as a reporter and sub-editor at a daily newspaper. She holds a Masters's in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates the mind more than anything else. Through trekking, Swathi hopes to bring about a profound impact on a person's mind, body and spirit.