Four years after exploring it, and waiting desperately to open it every year, we have finally opened the Warwan Valley Trek!
If you’re not familiar with it, Warwan Valley is in a league above all our treks. It is a trek that overshadows all other treks, including the Kashmir Great Lakes trek.
The Kashmir you see on this trek is a Kashmir that even Kashmiris haven’t seen. When people say ‘if there is heaven on earth and it is Kashmir,’ this is probably the heaven on earth they were talking about.
Take a look at these for instance.
These are pictures just from the last two days of the trek. If you take the sights from the start of the trek, then perhaps I’ll need more than an email to show you the grandeur of the trek.
Why is the Warwan Valley trek so special
You start the Warwan Valley trek on the desert side, near Zanskar, at the Suru valley. Over 6 days, you crossover from the stunning desert side to a luxuriant green side of Kashmir.
During the crossover, you experience what we believe is Kashmir’s greatest adventure.
It is a great adventure because — the changes in the crossover scenery are stunning to say the least. Take for example the river delta where you camp on the first day. It is a lush green delta system, yet surrounded by stark brown shapely mountains.
Further ahead the glaciers and moraines around the Kala Pari mountain are numerous. It is rare to see one glacier tumbling into another and at different levels.
The Lomvilad pass crossing is uniquely interesting. If the weather holds good, there’s even a blue lake on top of the pass!
Frankly, everyday of the Warwan Valley trek is a complete trek on its own — there’s so much variety on the trek.
And it is just not the variety which has captured our imagination — it is the kind of scenery. Arjun Majumdar, our founder, says, “You have never seen sceneries like on the Warwan Valley on any other trek. You are not going to see something like this ever again later either.”
Outside the astounding beauty there’s a lot of thrill on the trek. You cross the Lomvilad Pass at over 14,500 ft — the approach is a thrilling meandering glacier walk. After the pass, you walk along the entire length of the Bracken glacier (around gaping crevasses and rivers gurgling deep below).
Once you cross the glacier, you suddenly find yourself standing before the glorious greenery of the actual Warwan Valley.
From there onwards, it’s unprecedented beauty at every turn.
“Nothing can prepare you for the visuals on this trek,” says Sandhya UC, our co-founder.
Our founders explored the Warwan Valley trek in August 2015. They came back dumbfounded, to say the least. Arjun and Sandhya are two people who have trekked extensively in the Himalayas — they mapped out Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar Marsar, Pin Bhaba Pass and brought it out for the world to trek. For them to come back visually stunned is saying a lot.
Just watch this video of Arjun talking about the Warwan Valley trek. It’ll give you a good idea of what I mean. (I recommend watching it full screen, just for the pictures).
Why hadn’t we opened it for so many years?
Warwan Valley runs through the heart of Kashmir. Along with the drive to and from the base camp, it covers a vast geographical area of Kashmir, many sections of which are sensitive. They are heavily fortified by army camps. We had to be sure that the trek would be safe before we could open it.
Our Chief of Operations Manish Pasad, scoured the area, spoke to the army officers, tourism department and finally gave us a green signal to open up dates. “I visited both, Inshan and Kargil sides, to get an idea about the trek and whether we can run it. The army people on the Inshan side and the tourism authority at Kargil side were very welcoming. The army captain has promised us any support from the army during the trek,” he said.
A word of caution on the difficulty of this trek
Warwan Valley is a difficult trek. It’s tougher than Rupin Pass and Goechala. There are no technical sections, but some sections can be tricky. The days on the trek are very long — usually around 20 km a day. Any day is usually a 10 hour trekking day, if not more.
This requires extreme fitness levels and prior trekking experience. So if you don’t have either of these, save Warwan Valley for later.
There will be a fitness and trek experience screening before we confirm your trek.
Also, this is not going to be a regular Indiahikes trek
The Warwan Valley is going to be like an expedition. It is not going to be like our usual comfortable treks with well-established camps. You will have to reach camp within a certain time, pitch your own tent, perhaps help out a little in the kitchen, maybe even in setting up toilet tents. Campsites and routes could change, depending on the conditions. So expect such uncertainties that come with expeditions.
Onto the dates
We have 2 dates — July 26th and August 26th. We’re taking only 10 members in a team. We won’t be opening any more slots until next year.
The Warwan valley has been a much sought after trek since 5 years now. We have talked so much about it that the stories of the trek have become legendary. I very often have to deal with trekkers wanting to know when the trek will open. I’m glad it is finally open!
Knowing from my experience the trek dates won’t stay open for long — perhaps not even a week. So register for the trek as soon as you can.
For more details about the trek, head over here to the Warwan Valley Trek Page.
If you have any questions, drop in a comment below.
Before I sign off, I’ll just tell you this. We have all been waiting restlessly for this trek. It has been the trek to die for among us Indiahikes team members! In fact, in our office, there’s a lottery on who will get to go on the trek, and even on who will lead the trek!
So I hope you get to see this side of Kashmir too!