A peak winter trek, with delicious views of Mt.Trishul and Mt.Nanda Ghunti
Not many winter treks can be done in January and February. Brahmatal that way is a classic winter trek for that period. For one, most of the trek is on snow, which makes it terribly exciting.
Frozen glacial lakes
Trekkers love camping beside the frozen shores of Bekaltal. And further they climb to a near-frozen lake of Brahmatal. Just the sight of these two lakes is enough to fill your heart.
Thrilling climb to the Brahmatal summit
Then, when you get to the open, snow covered meadows near Brahmatal, the full grandeur of the trek hits you. Stretched across the sky are the big mountains of Garhwal, and everywhere around you are the white undulating snow fields of Brahmatal.
Unmatched summit views from the top
One more reason to do this trek in March and April is the crackling view from the summit. In May and June, when it is peak trekking season, the smoky haze over the mountains makes the views disappointing. However, in winter, which often extends to March, mountain views are worth dying for! More often than not, you see clear blue skies that stretch across the horizon. From the Brahmatal Top, you see mighty Himalayan ranges in every direction. Summits that rise above 7,000 meters are common and no where else in our country can you see these big mountains at such close quarters. Just to see this magic, one must trek between mid December and March.
Because this trek is largely unexplored, there is almost no crowd. The silence of the forests is deep enough to hear a hare scampering through the snow. All you’ll hear is the soft crunch of snow under your feet and perhaps a few bird calls.
With such untouched settings, not only in December, but through January, February and March, Brahmatal makes for the perfect winter trek.
Day 1: Reach Lohajung
Lohajung is the base camp for the Brahmtal trek. The best way to reach here is from Kathgodam. The route, once you cross Nainital, is beautiful. You drive along mountain roads, through forests. You also get glimpses of the Garhwal mountains in the distance on a clear day.
- Altitude: 7,600 ft (2,316 m)
- Drive time: 10 hours drive from Kathgodam
Once you reach Lohajung, you find yourself face to face with the beautiful Nanda Ghunti peak. If you reach before sunset, the colours of the peak will enthrall you.
Lohajung is at the centre of 12-15 nearby villages. There are a couple of local stores where you can buy jackets, hand gloves, caps, shoes etc. if need be. However, it is advised that you carry all required things for trek beforehand and not rely on these shops. You will have mobile network in most parts of Lohajung.
Lohajung, as the locals say, is the place where Goddess Parvati had a war (jung) with the demon, Lohasur. Hence, the name, which translates to ‘War with Lohasur.’
Day 2: Lohajung to Bekaltal
- Altitude: 7,600 ft (2,316 m) to 9,689 ft (2,953 m)
- Time taken: 5 hours, 5.8 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate; gradually ascending through forests on well defined trails
- Water sources: The first point where you can refill your water bottles will be around 3 hours into the trek, followed by another at the place where you stop for lunch
The trek begins from Lohajung central market (chowk). Move upwards from Bisht General Stores (compass direction 3000 NW) on the well marked, human-made trail. Walk through the upper region of Lohajung and then through the forest trail with a few more houses. After a short trek, spot Mandoli village on your left.
As you climb higher, on your left, you will be able to see the Kali Valley, where Kali and Pindari Rivers join. Follow the water pipes that supply water to Lohajung, as they lie along the trek trail. After some time, cross a small cluster of homes called Budla, on the left. Here, you will find rhododendron trees, which make this part of the trail very beautiful from February to March.
At approx 8,500 ft, you will find a 10 metre bridge (known as Link-gaad), which will help you cross the stream. After around two hours, you will reach Begum, where you can rest for some time. This place provides splendid views of Navali Bugyal (145o SSE) and Bagdi Bugyal (125o SE).After 10-15 minutes of walking from Begum, you will find another stream. From here, an hour’s walk will bring you to Gujrani stream. From here, it is approximately 75 minutes walk to Bekaltal. This lake is a beauty in the midst of oak forests.
You can camp near the small adjacent lake, Khopdaliya.
Day 3: Bekaltal to Brahmatal
- Altitude: 9,689 ft (2,953 m) to 10,440 ft (3,182 m)
- Time taken: 5-6 hours, 7 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial steep climb for an hour brings you to a meadow where you ascend gently, followed by a gradual descent to Brahmatal.
- Water sources: None. Make sure that you fill 2 litres of water before starting the trek since this will be a long day
The trail starts out of the campsite and climbs steeply into the Oak and Rhododendron forest. After an hour of ascent, the trail opens out to a meadow.
The gently ascending meadow walk brings you to the highest point of the day at 11,500 ft. From here, it is a very gradual descent to Brahmatal.
All through the day’s trek, you will see the Almora and Nainital side of the valley. The big mountains in the vicinity, Trishul, Nanda Ghunti and the rest are just there but still hidden.
The Brahmatal campsite at 10,351 ft is 500 meters away from the lake.
Day 4: Brahmatal to Tilbudi via Brahmatal Pass
- Altitude: 10,440 ft (3,182 m) to 11,240 ft (3,426 m) via to 12,200 ft (3,734 m)
- Time taken: 7 hours, 6 km
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate; slow zigzag walks while ascending, steep descent.
- Water sources: None. Make sure you carry 2 litres of water from the camp before setting off.
Today is the most visually fascinating day of the entire trek.
Start By 8 A.M, Until you reach the pass it would be all ascent. Proceed towards Brahmatal lake. The trail ascends gradually through thick Rhododendron and oak forests. Take the trail going up clearing the tree line. After few zig zag turns and and an sscent, you will see Brahmatal Lake behind you if you turn around, shining in the sun. On a clear day you will witness fascinating changes in color because of the angle of the sun and reflections.
As you go further you find small meadow which get water streams when the high snow melts. As you ascend further, the lake disappears. Instead, behind you appears a wide open valley. You can see Tharali and Gwaldam, places that you crossed on the way from Kathgodam.
You might feel that you are about to reach the pass as every top visible ahead would feel like the last ascent. After crossing the huge damp meadow, the final assault towards the pass begins.
Last few steps towards the pass might be tiring but don’t give up as the majestic Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti await to welcome you. The view will be breathtaking.
Take a moment at the pass. Don’t stop for long as the winds will be strong. Descent with mountains on your left and valley on your right. This part of the trail is completely new .
After the initial descent from the pass, the trail will ascend again through Alpine grass. Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti accompany you on the right. As the ascent ends, you reach a platform like area from here you get a 180 degree view of the Himalayan range. Mountains such as Chaukhambha, Mandi, Mana, Nilgiri, Neelkanth, Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Maitoli become visible.
As you continue further, a sharp narrow descent awaits you. This ends in an open ground called Bada Tilbudi. This marks the tree line and beginning of Rhododendron and oak Forest. A descent of 1 hour will bring you to a clearing surrounded by trees on all the sides. This is Tilbudi campsite.
From the campsite, you can clearly see the entire trail of the Roopkund trek, including Ali Bugyal, Asia’s largest meadow.
Day 5: Tilbudi to Lohajung via Wan
- Altitude: 11,240 ft (3,426 m) to 7,600 ft (2,316 m) via 8,000 ft (2,438 m)
- Time taken: 6-7 hours, 3.5 km trek + 1 hour drive to Lohajung
- Trek gradient: Moderate.
- Water sources: You will find one spot to refill your water bottles, near a hamlet, about 4-4.5 hours into the trek)
Begin the descent to Wan right after breakfast. The trail goes through thick oak and rhododendron forests once again. It is well made all the way to Wan.
After about an hour from starting, the trail comes out of the forest into an opening. You will find a water source here. This place is called chota Tilbudi.
Continue on the trail from here. In half an hour, you reach another opening. The boundary wall of Wan begins here and the village is visible below. It will take you another half an hour to walk through the village and reach the road head.
Indiahikes will arrange vehicles to take you to Lohajung from Wan.
Day 6: Lohajung to Kathgodam
Click here for details on getting back after your trek.
If you have an additional day in Lohajung before or after your trek, visit Ajan Top, an easy trek that you can do on your own.
How to get fit for the Brahmatal trek
The Brahmatal trek is classified as a trek of moderate difficulty. You start from an altitude of 7,600 ft at Lohajung and reach a highest point of 12,250 ft at Brahmatal top. You gain around 4,650 ft over two days of trekking. While this isn’t much altitude gain, there is a lot of snow on the trail in the months of January and February, which makes it a trek of moderate difficulty.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, you can phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
- Target completing 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin
- Gradually increase the distance to 7 km. Target completing this in 63 minutes
- Before you go on the trek, you should be able to walk at least 10 km at a stretch. Target completing this in 90 minutes
In terms of speed, make sure you’re able to jog 5 km in 35 minutes before the start of the trek. If you are 45 years old and above, your target should be completing at least 3 km within 29 minutes before you go on the trek.
Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 15 in each
This is another area you should work on. Trekking with your backpack is not an easy task. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. You can start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards meeting your target within 3 weeks.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here is a guide to help you get fit for the trek in 4 weeks.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
What to take on the Brahmatal trek
- Trekking shoes: Carry trekking shoes and not sports shoes. The trail will be slippery at several places and will require shoes with good grip and ankle support. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Daypack (20 litres): On the climb to Brahmatal Top on the fifth day, you will be leaving your bigger backpack behind at the Brahmatal campsite. So you’ll need a smaller backpack to carry water, snacks and your medical kit. Bring a foldable backpack. If you’re coming in a group, two of you can share a daypack.
On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.
- Five layers of warm clothes: If you’re trekking in winter, carry two sweaters, two fleece jackets and a padded jacket. If you’re trekking in spring (March/April), three warm layers will suffice.
- Three trek pants: Carry light cotton trek pants. One of your pants can be tights that you can wear as an inner layer while trekking, especially on the day of the summit climb. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals: Carry thermals (top and bottom) to keep yourself warm at night. Keep your thermals fresh and don’t wear them while trekking.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are mandatory. There will be a lot of snow in winter and can cause snow blindness.
- Suncap: At high altitude, the sun is extra harsh, as the UV rays don’t get filtered. So carry a suncap to protect yourself.
- Synthetic hand gloves: Avoid woolen gloves as they will get wet if you touch snow. Carry one pair each of fleece and synthetic hand gloves. You can add the fleece glove as an inner layer, and wear two gloves on each hand if you’re more susceptible to cold.
- Balaclava: You’ll need this to cover your head, as most of the heat escapes from your head.
- Socks (2 pairs) and a pair of woollen socks: Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.
- Headlamp / LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole. Looking to rent a trek-pole just for this trek. Just click here. This can be made available to you directly at the base campsite.
- Poncho: At high altitudes, snowfall and rain are quite common and hence it’s mandatory that you don’t get wet.
Indiahikes offers rentals on this trek. You can now rent trekking shoes, trekking pole, padded jacket and poncho instead of buying them. You can collect these directly at the base camp and return them there after the trek. Get the details here.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- One 1 litre water bottle. We recommend the Lifestraw Go. Indiahikes trekkers can get it at a discounted price here.
- One 1 litre thermos flask
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry a few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
- Knee cap, if you are prone to injury
- Anti fungal powder
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
What you need to know about the trek fee
The trek fee of Rs. 8,450 + 5% GST covers all costs of the trek from Lohajung to Lohajung.
Here is what the trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 5 (Lohajung to Lohajung). You will be staying in a guest house at Lohajung and camping on remaining days of the trek (3 per tent).
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Lohajung on Day 1 to breakfast at Lohajung on Day 6 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
- Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
- Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. We provide ice axes, roped, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
- Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.
- Services of an expert Trek Leader – All our trek leaders are qualified in basic / advanced mountaineering courses.
- Services of an expert Trek Team – The mountain staff on this trek consists of well trained guides, cooks, helpers and porters.
Here is what the trek fee excludes:
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Kathgodam and drop you back from Lohajung. This will cost approx. Rs. 5,500 per 5-6 seater vehicle. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to and from Lohajung.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 1,000 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that charges will vary for last minute offloading in case you decide to offload your bag after reaching Lohajung (Rs.335 per day + 5% GST). Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
- Stay at Kathgodam on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please login to your account and cancel. Cancellation requests will not be taken over phone or email.
The cancellation charges are as under:
- Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
- Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
- Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (bank charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
2. The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start at Lohajung to the end at Lohajung.
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Kathgodam railway station at 5.30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Lohajung in shared cabs.
4. Transport: Transport from Kathgodam to Lohajung and return from Lohajung to Kathgodam can be arranged by us at an extra cost. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab (approximate cost Rs. 5,500 per vehicle, one way). The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack offloading: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charge for the entire trek duration is Rs.1,000/- plus 5% GST. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
6. Emergency during trek: During a trek any medical or other emergency might arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
7. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Cardiovascular training before a trek is critically important. Training must include strength and flexibility workout. We have laid out the eligibility criteria here. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
8. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gear/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
9. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
10. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
11. Safety Protocols:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to turn around a trekker if in the opinion of our trek leader they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.
How safe is the Brahmatal trek?
The Brahmatal trek is a moderate one. The trails are well laid out. The altitude isn’t too high – the highest point is 12,250 ft and you gain this slowly over 3-4 days. At 12,250 feet, the risk of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness is relatively low. However, you still need to be mindful of the fact that you are in the mountains in extreme weather conditions, and take necessary precautions to ensure that you have a safe trek.
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow, and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
Right from the time you decide to register for the trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below:
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have introduced an eligibility criteria for the Brahmatal trek. Anyone who wants to register for this trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Brahmatal trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required.
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health, wherein they will be entering details about their health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms one should look out for and what action should be taken during emergencies. These Health Cards will be collected back at the end of the trek.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine. Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high altitude campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
5. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Brahmatal trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At altitudes above 10,000 ft the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness cannot be ruled out. This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours. And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Diamox is a tablet that is available off the counter. You can start your course one day before the trek. Take half a tablet once in the morning and once at night (after your meal). It reduces chances of AMS by 80%. There are almost no side effects of Diamox, except a tingly feeling at your finger tips. You might also feel the need to urinate more often, which is normal as Diamox makes you drink more water. You can learn more about AMS, its symptoms and treatment here.
Note: Diamox is a sulfa-based tablet. If you are allergic to sulfa-based drugs, don’t take the tablet. If you do not know whether you are allergic to sulfa-based drugs, take a Diamox around ten days before your trek and look out for any reactions, If there are none, you can safety take the tablet on the trek.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have symptoms of AMS?
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the below video to understand the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. In this video, Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes will also tell you the protocol to follow when you see someone showing symptoms of AMS.
The one stretch where trekkers have to be safe is when there is snow while climbing to the summit. This is taken care of by providing trekkers with micro-spikes for better traction on snow. Trekkers are also provided with gaiters such that no snow enters their shoes.
Most situations are resolved by the trek leader’s intervention. If, however, evacuation is required, it is carried out by the Indiahikes team. There is a quick exit point on the Brahmatal trek that can be reached within a day – Lohajung. The affected participant is moved down to the nearest emergency medical centre as soon as possible. Medical expenses, if required, at the medical centre are to be borne by the participant.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life -saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker. There are three life-saving medicines that we suggest you always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, do not administer these to anyone without consulting your Trek Leader. If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Also ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the trek and do not skip any meal.
You can watch the video below to learn about HAPE and HACE and how to tackle them. In the video, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema, what the symptoms are and how to tackle them.
Acute Mountain Sickness
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Brahmatal is a 6 day trek. The stay on Day 1 and Day 5, at Lohajung, will be in a guest house, where you will share rooms with fellow trekkers. Stay on all other days of the trek will be in tents. Each tent accommodates 3 trekkers. Sufficient number of toilet tents will be set up for the convenience of trekkers.
2. Will you provide us with tents and sleeping bags?
Yes, Indiahikes trekkers will be provided with tents and high altitude sleeping bags that can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC.
3. Which are the best seasons for the Brahmatal trek?
As a winter trek, Brahmatal is best done in the months of January and February. However, during late March and April, the rhododendrons run a riot on this trail. You’ll find a variety of them – red, pink, white.
4. When will there be snow on this trek?
You are likely to find snow on this trail in December, January and February. Sometimes, you can get lucky and find snow well into March.
5. At what time should we reach Kathgodam?
It is advisable to reach Kathgodam railway station by 6.30 am. Indiahikes pick up is lined up at that time. You can take the Ranikhet Express from Old Delhi railway station at 10.40 pm. It reaches Kathgodam by 5.30 am.
You can also take the overnight bus from Delhi’s Anand Vihar ISBT to Kathgodam. It is usually an 8 hour journey. Try to get to Kathgodam by 6.00 am to catch the Indiahikes pick up. The cost of the pick up is not included in the trek fee. This usually amounts to Rs.5,500 per vehicle and is to be paid directly to the driver.
6. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.
7. How will we get back to Kathgodam?
Indiahikes will arrange for vehicles (usually a Tata Sumo) to drop you back from Lohajung at the end of the trek. The cost of transportation would be borne and shared by trekkers. It will amount to around Rs.5,500 per vehicle and is to be paid directly to the driver.
8. Are trek poles, jackets and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
Yes, we offer shoes, jackets and trek poles on rent. We also have some equipment on sale. You can order both rentals and purchase online. Check out our store here.
9. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Brahmatal is graded as a moderate trek. Beginners can attempt this trek provided they stick to the fitness schedule and meet the health requirements. Kedarkantha, Deoriatal-Chandrashila, Har Ki Dun and Sandakphu are also good treks for first timers. As in all treks, physical preparation is mandatory.
10. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.1,000 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Lohajung, the amount will be Rs.335 per day + 5% GST. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. We suggest you read “5 Tips to make Carrying your Trekking Backpack Easy” before making a decision. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
11. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
Brahmatal is a moderately difficult trek and requires trekkers to be physically fit. Minimum age for eligibility is 8 years. If your child meets this criterion and is physically fit, you can take her/him along.
12. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
13. Who will be there with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
14. What are the washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest house at Lohajung will have concrete toilets. During the trek, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 to 4 of these toilet tents depending on the size of the group. A toilet tent will have a deep pit, where one can answer nature’s call. There will be a mound of soil and a shovel to cover it up. These are dry toilets, where you’ll have to use toilet paper. This is the most hygienic and convenient way to answer nature’s call in the wild. Please use plain toilet paper and refrain from using wet wipes since these are not biodegradable.
15. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
Our campsites are pitched near water sources. For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. On Day 2 and Day 5, you will find one water source to refill your water bottles. Your trek leader will brief you about these before starting the day’s trek.
16. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
The last electricity charging point would be in Lohajung. You’ll get full network in Lohajung and intermittent signal around the campsites and Brahmatal summit. However, come prepared for the possibility of power cuts at Lohajung.
17. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. When there is snow, we provide microspikes and gaiters. In case you’re looking to purchase new trekking shoes before the trek, this video will help you choose the right pair.
18. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
A trekking pole gives you stability and balance, and helps reduce fatigue. We suggest you watch this video for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
19. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially at high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores, making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
20. How long do we trek every day?
Day 1 is when you reach your base camp, Lohajung. This is a long drive from Kathgodam and will take you around 10 hours.
Day 2, you climb around 2,000 ft to reach Bekaltal in 5 hours.
Day 3 is a 5-6 hour trek to Brahmatal on a trail which switches between steep to gradual ascents.
Day 4, you make an excursion to Brahmatal top, where you get brilliant views of the Garwhal mountains. You gain around 2,000 ft when you get to the top. This round trip trek will take you around 6 hours.
Day 5, you complete your long descent back to Lohajung on a rather steep trail. It will take you 6-7 hours to reach Lohajung.
Please refer to the trek itinerary for more details.
21. How do I manage the negative temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At a 12,000 ft altitude, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights, especially in the winter. For these extreme cold temperatures, you need to keep the rule of 3 in mind. The rule of 3 usually takes care of cold that dip to -10°C. It is a simple formula of wearing 3 layers of woolen, inners and lower wear.
Follow this guide:
Wear one thermal and two T-shirts, three layers of woolens (two sweaters and a jacket). For your lowers wear a thermal inner with two layers of track suit. If you are prone to more cold, just add a layer.
The temperatures dip only late in the evening and early mornings. During the day if the sun is out, then you may even be trekking in your T-shirts. Make sure you use your thermal wear only at night and not while trekking.
A woolen cap/balaclava and gloves are a must.
This video also has tips on how to stay warm on a high altitude trek.
22. What all do I need to carry on the trek?
Click here to get the list of all the things you need to carry on the trek.
23. Can I leave traveling clothes behind and collect them after the trek?
Since you will be starting and returning to the guest house at Lohajung, it is possible for you to leave some luggage behind, if required. However, make sure you do not leave any valuables – Indiahikes is not responsible for loss or damage to any belongings.
24. Is it safe to trek with Indiahikes?
All high altitude treks come with their share of risks. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it. Before you go on the trek, make sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with the safety procedures followed on a trek.
25. What are the places of interest that I can visit before or after the trek?
How to get to the basecamp – Lohajung
Delhi → Kathgodam → Lohajung
The Brahmatal trek begins from Lohajung, a picturesque village in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is also the basecamp of the popular Roopkund trek. Lohajung is situated around 230 km from Kathgodam.
Indiahikes arranges transport from Kathgodam Railway station at 6.30 am on Day 1 of the trek. The cost of this transport (Rs.5,500 per cab) will have to be shared by trekkers. You can pay the driver directly.
The drive to Lohajung is a pleasurable one, as you pass through several Kumaoni and Garwahli hill stations – Nainital, Kausani and Gwaldam. You will reach Lohajung at around 6.00 pm.
To reach Kathgodam
Take the Ranikhet Express from Delhi. It leaves at 10.30 pm from Old Delhi Railway Station and reaches Kathgodam at 5.05 am.
What happens if you don’t get tickets on the Ranikhet Express?
Ranikhet express is a crowded train and often gets booked many days in advance. Firstly, don’t look for an AC ticket. It is an overnight journey and even sleeper berths are comfortable. Book a Tatkal ticket. Your chance of getting a sleeper ticket in Tatkal is very high. If, for some reason, you still don’t get a ticket on the Ranikhet express, there are two options for you.
Take the earlier day’s Sampark Kranti from Old Delhi, which leaves at 4.00 pm. Tickets on the Sampark Kranti are usually easy to get as it is a day seating train. Stay overnight in a hotel at Kathgodam and join the team vehicle the next morning. KMVN Kathgodam is a good place to halt for the night. KMVN is Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam, a government tourist guest house right next to the railway station. The place is decent and clean. You can book online at http://www.kmvn.gov.in/
Take an overnight bus from Delhi’s Anand Vihar ISBT to Kathgodam. Volvo buses leave Anand Vihar for Kathgodam around 9.00 pm. This is an 8 hour journey. There is no online booking, so arrive a couple of hours early at Anand Vihar to book your tickets. No advanced reservation is required. Try to get to Kathgodam early (by 5.30 am) to catch the Indiahikes pickup at the station.
Lohajung → Kathgodam → Delhi
The Brahmatal trek ends at Lohajung. We arrange transport from Lohajung to Kathgodam Railway Station. The cost of this transport (Rs.5,500 per cab) will have to be shared by trekkers. You can pay the driver directly. You will reach Kathgodam around 6.00 pm.
If you are travelling further from Kathgodam, you can book your transport post 8.00 pm, keeping two hours as buffer time in case of road blocks in the mountain roads.
If you want to reach the base camp by yourself
Option 1: Delhi → Lohajung (24 hours)
There is a direct bus from Delhi to Mundoli/Lohajung. It leaves Delhi Anand Vihar terminal at 9.15 pm. You will reach Kathgodam at 4.00 am and Lohajung at 5.30 pm.
Note: This is an extremely long and tiring journey and the buses are not too comfortable. We recommend Options 2 and 3.
Option 2: Delhi → Rishikesh → Lohajung (cab)
From Delhi, get to Rishikesh/Haridwar and hire a Sumo to Lohajung. The route: Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Karanprayag – turn right to Tharali – Debal – Mundoli – Lohajung
Note: Most taxi operators may not have heard of Lohajung. So, you’ll have to show them the direction as given above.
Option 3: Delhi → Rishikesh → Karanprayag → Lohajung (bus)
From Rishikesh Bus Stand., take any bus on the Joshimath/Badrinath route and buy a ticket to Karanprayag. It is a 6-7 hour journey from Rishikesh to Karanprayag. Take a bus that leaves as early in the morning as possible, preferably around 6.00 am. From Karanprayag Bus Stand, take a shared Jeep to Tharali (47 km). The road to Tharali runs along the Pindar river.
From Tharali, take a shared taxi to Debal (14 km). Once you reach Debal, contact our transporter, Raju Shah Ji on +91 8979 321 600. He will help you with an onward transport to Lohajung (24 km).
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
“This was the my first high altitude trek with you guys.Such a great management & coordination by the crew that made this trek easy n relishing.
I have been trekking most of in Western Ghat, Maharashtra from last 5 yrs. During this entire trek seen such amazing beauty of nature, Himalayan mountain range, people, foods.
Just wants to say you will find yourself during trekking that what happened with me. Soon i will be coming for my next much more difficult trek with you team along with my friends.
Our trek Leader Mahi is so good & calm, all team mates are so nice. Every person in trek is unique in its way. Completely shocked when we get know that our Co-guide Bhagat Singh ji is 57 years old & done 200 treks so far.
Just two things bothered my one is the Liner cloth which is handed over to us at Lohajung base camp, consumed lots of space in our bags.
It’s actually life saver during night but you guys should inform people ahead of their trek so they can manage their space.” – Rohan Vijay Khandare, batch of December 2017
“Trek overall was good. My suggestion is to inform ur next batch about the weather and all (ask from previous batch) like…
28th batch all expected for Snow but it was not der. So ur job is to inform us early only like on 26 or 27 that snow is not der” – Rohit Ahuja, batch of December 2017
“You guys are doing a terrific job. Few things can be done on ensuring the safety of trekkers. Also trekking is best when combined with some stories or the areas trekkers are visiting. You guys can organise some story telling sessions during the evening at camp sites.” – Neerav Mehta, batch of January 2016
“It was a fantastic trek with excellent view and moderate difficulty level. Enjoyed walk over the snow and steep slopes. Most amazing part was the Trisul and Nanda Ghunti range from such a close proximity (though we were lucky to have good weather with us) The trek guides and leader was amazing. The overall setup by Indiahikes was brilliant..”- Somnath Mukherjee, batch of January 2016
“Our experience in snow was great! I loved the way Indiahikes managed the trek with perfection and humility.”- Krunal Desai, batch of January 2016
“I loved the group, the stay, the food and the very helpful staff. The trek is memorable for I made some good friends and the fact that I made it to the summit. Our guide was an angel in disguise. He was very therapeutic especially after a hard day of trekking. He not only accompanied us to the summit but kept us in good spirits throughout the trek.”- Thirumurugan Somasundaram, batch of January 2016
“Everything about Indiahikes and the trek was Fantastic. The food was too good. Thanks to the kitchen staff for providing us with delicious food. Having gulab jamun and gajar ka halwa at 11,000ft, when it’s cold is just so amazing. Hats off to our ground co-ordinator Prathima. From the beginning till the end the coordination was superbly done, with instant replies for our mails and calls. This actually applies for the entire Indiahikes team. Well managed, the rules and regulations and everything is just perfect.”-Vidushi Yadav, batch of February 2016
“loved everything, right from the coordination among the trek leader & trek guides, their responsibility to handle the trek team, the food quality as well as the variety, hot water arrangements, cleanliness & hygiene at campsites, to the humbled & very grounded staff! Kudos to you guys for your efforts in retaining the actual spirit & meaning of Trekking!”-Sakshi Dhamija, batch of February 2016