Trek Of The Year 2017
Indiahikes has collaborated with Uttarakhand Tourism to open this trek to Chaainsheel Bugyal. Together, we are running it as the Trek Of The Year 2017. It is a moderate trek that will suit a beginner as well as an experienced trekker. So if you’re looking for a moderate trek, this is your best option.
Three reasons why you must do the Chaainsheel Trek
Walking on untouched high altitude meadows
The Chaainsheel Bugyal trek is one trek you must do for its meadows. In June, the meadows come alive with fresh grass, making them lush. You’ll want to take off your shoes and run your feet through the soft carpet. Shepherds bring out their sheep to graze in these meadows. It’s a complete storybook setting. And the icing on the cake? You camp right in the middle of these bugyals on three days of the trek – a new meadow each time!
Dark forests that open out to wide clearings
At the same time, you are never too far from the tree line. You walk through forests of deodar, silver birch and rhododendron shrubs on the first two days. In fact, the campsites like Sunaooti Thatch are small meadow-like clearings in the forest. The thrill of walking out of a forest into a wide open bugyal is unmatched.
The fantastic views of the Garhwal Himalayas
Once you are out in the meadows, you are constantly trekking on a ridge. You get wonderful views of the gentle slopes of Thola Sheer, and Bandarpoonch mountains. These stay with you from Day 3 till the very end of the trek.
Whom is this trek meant for?
The Chaainsheel Ghati trek is a moderate one. This is a good trek for beginners as well as experienced trekkers. Trekking at high altitudes is physically demanding and you need to prepare and get fit irrespective of how experienced you are as a trekker.
Here’s short itinerary of Chaainsheel Bugyal trek
Day 1: Reach Balawat. The drive from Dehradun takes around 10 hours. Transport will be organised from Dehradun at 6.30 am. Cost of cab – Rs.5,500 per vehicle.
Day 2: Balawat (6,283 ft) to Sunaooti Thach (10,400 ft); 5-6 hours, 8 km
Day 3: Sunaooti Thach (10,400 ft) to Samta Thach (11,647 ft); 5-6 hours, 14 km
Day 4: Rest and exploration day.
Day 5: Samta Thach (11,647 ft) to Tikula Thach (10,203 ft) via Sarutal; 5-6 hours, 8 km
Day 6: Tikula Thach (10,203 ft) to Dagaan Moriyaach (9,416 ft); 4-5 hours
Day 7: Dagaan Moriyaach to Chinwa; 3-4 hours. Depart for Dehradun. You are expected to reach Dehradun at 10.00 pm.
Indiahikes, in collaboration with Uttarakhand Tourism Department, will be organizing the government’s Trek of the Year: Chaainsheel Bugyal. It is located in the Kothigaarh-Bangaan valley of tehsil Mori, district Uttarkashi.
Day 1: Dehradun to Balawat
- Altitude: 6,283 ft
- Time taken: 9-10 hours, 215 km
Balawat, the base camp, is around 215 km from Dehradun. The pick up will be arranged from Dehradun Railway station at 6.00 am at an extra charge of Rs. 5,500 per vehicle. This is to be divided among trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
The drive to the base camp will be one of the most beautiful mountain drives you’ll ever witness! Watch out for the pine forests after Purola and the journey by the Tons river after Mori.
The first day will be at Balawat village. Experience the local village of Uttarakhand with its wood carved houses, the Mahasu Devta temple, and apple orchards.
Day 2: Balawat to Sunaooti Thach
- Altitude: 10,400 ft
- Time taken: 5- 6 hours, 8 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. 1 hour ascent followed by a mix of level walks and gradual ascents
- Water sources: First water source is about 1 km from Balawat. Second one is about 2 km from Balawat
As first days of Himalayan treks go, this is a long day. The day starts through apple orchards and deodar trees. You begin climbing as soon as you start from Balawat. The ascent to Monda village takes about an hour. From Monda, the trail enters a dense forest with pine, deodar and oak trees. The trail through the forest is a mix of level walks and short ascents.
The tree line begins to thin as you gain altitude. 5 km into the trek, you reach Balchaa Bugyal- a lovely spot for bird watching. Balchaa is known for giving the Forest Research Institute of Dehradun, a specimen of wooden log of the world’s thickest deodar tree.
As you move up, you will reach Kharlla Bhushyaali. Sunaooti Thach is another 3 km from here. The campsite here is a large patch of grassland. It is surrounded by meadows that stretch across 2-3 km. You are above the tree line here.
From Sunaooti Thach, you get a 270 degree view of the snow capped peaks: Swargarohini, Black Peak, and trans Himalayan mountains of Lahual and Spiti. You can even spot Nag Tibba, Rupin and Buran Pass! Camp here for the night.
Sunaooti Thach gives a good glimpse of what this trek has in store.
Day 3: Sunaooti Thach to Samta Thach
- Altitude: 11,647 ft
- Time taken: 7-8 hours, 14 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Long day. Level walk for about an hour followed by a gradual ascent.
- Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water from Sunaooti Thach
The trek today begins with a level walk through a beautiful forest trail. The forest is filled with oak, birch, and rhododendrons.
You will traverse the beautiful meadows of Butaha Thach covered with silver birch trees and white rhododendrons. It is said that our epics were written on silver birch (bhojpatra) leaves. The meadows comprise around 5 km of the trail today. Butaha Thach is one of the best places on this trek for views of the Himalayan ranges around.
As you climb on the ridge to Samta Thach, mountain views start opening up. This is a flat, almost golf course like, meadow. You get 360 degree view of snow capped peaks.
Samta Thach is perhaps the most beautiful meadow you will cross on this trek,. The diversity of vegetation and flowers here is astonishing.
Day 4: Rest and exploration day
Day 5: Samta Thach to Tikula Thach via Sarutal
- Altitude: 10,203 ft
- Time taken: 5-6 hours, 8 km
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Gradual ascent for 2 hours followed by gradual descent for 1.5 hours to Sarutal. Undulating trail for about an hour, finishing off with a descent
- Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water from Samta Thach.
Chainsheel Pass is about 2 km from Samta Thach. You reach here on the way to Sarutal. Enjoy views of Pabbar Valley from the Pass. There is also a motorable road to the Pass. The road was constructed as late as 2009, connecting the land locked Dodra and Kwar villages to rest of Himachal. At Chainsheel Pass, you enter the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh.
You will go through bugyals of Saunyi-Sunai, Budeek Dhar on the way to Sarutal. These bugyals act as table top, among the amphitheater of mountains. Sarutal lies perched between these undulating meadows and the setting will astonish you. It is a special, secret lake, sitting with a twin among these meadows. It is because of the shepherd that the presence of this lake was known. The sunset turning the bugyals golden is a sight that will stay with you. Tikula Thach is a little over an hour away from Sarutal.
Day 6: Tikula Thach to Dagaan Moriyaach
- Altitude: 9,416 ft
- Time taken: 4-5 hours, 5 km
- Trek gradient: Easy. Steady descent all the way to Dagaan Moriyaach
- Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water from Tikula Thach
Today we move from bugyals to the dense forests of Dagaan Moriyaach. The forests mainly comprise of oak trees. You pass through meadows of Falchi, Dupaaltu and boulder areas of Kotjaani. The camp for the night takes you back to the trees after days on meadows. A sense that your trek is coming to an end sets in here. .
Day 7: Dagaan Moriyaach to Chinwa village. Depart for Dehradun
- Time taken: 3 – 4 hours, 5 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Steep descent for about 1.5 hours which eases off into a level walk
- Water sources: None till you reach the river – around 1.5 hours into the trek.
The trek starts in the forest and descends steeply for about 1.5 hours. Once you hit the river bed, the trail levels off. Chinwa village is the road head from where you can get transport for Dehradun.
The drive to Dehradun is long. Start your day early so that you can reach Dehradun by 10.00 pm.
How to get fit for the Chaainsheel Bugyal trek
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. 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.
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.
- Trekking shoes: 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.
- Three Warm Layers: You will be trekking and camping at high altitudes. It will be cold at the higher altitudes so make sure you have at least three layers of warm clothes to protect yourself.
- Two trek pants: One pair of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case the first one gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair.
- Two collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one. 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 fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness.
- Suncap: The sun is more harsh at high altitudes so wear a suncap to protect your face and neck.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. If you plan to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you do not leave the used wipes/tissues back in the mountains since these are not biodegradable. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used 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.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets
- 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)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- 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)
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
Trek fee: Rs. 7,750/-
GST at 5% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (camping – 3 per tent)
- All meals – vegetarian
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher, etc.)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport to and from the base camp . Shared taxis will be arranged. It will cost Rs.5,500 per vehicle. The total cost is to be divided among trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
- Food during transit to and from the base camp
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 250 per day + 9% service tax. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- Stay at Dehradun 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 e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
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.
The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start and to the end of the trek.
2. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Dehradun railway station at 6:30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Balawat in shared cabs.
3. Transport: Transport from Dehradun to Balawat and the return can be arranged by us at an extra cost. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab (Rs 1000 per person). 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. You can choose to come independently to the base camp.
4. 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 is Rs 250 per day + 5 per cent GST. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
5. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may 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.
6. 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.
7. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
8. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
9. 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.
10. Safety Protocol:
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. 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.
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. Anyone who wants to register for the Chainsheel 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 Chaainsheel 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.
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.
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.
How to get to the basecamp – Balawat
Delhi → Dehradun → Balawat
The Chaainsheel Ghati trek starts from Balawat. Balawat is around 215 km from Dehradun.
From Dehradun, Indiahikes organises transport to Balawat. We organise the transport at 6.30 am from Dehradun Railway Station on Day 1. The fare of this transport is not included in the fee. It costs Rs.5,500 per cab one way and this fare is shared by trekkers. You will have to pay the driver directly.
The drive to Balawat is beautiful, beside the River Tons. You pass through Mussoorie, which is a popular hill station. Stop for breakfast at Kempty Waterfalls, which is a popular tourist destination. You can stop at Purola for lunch; the Dhabas here serve delicious Aloo Parathas. You will reach Balawat around 6.00 pm.
To reach Dehradun
The best way to reach Dehradun is to take an overnight train from Delhi. There are two trains available from Delhi to Dehradun. We recommend that you take this one –
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 5.40
If you cannot find a train, then take a bus. To stay on the safe side, book buses online in advance. Book such that you have some buffer time to make it to Dehradun on time for the pick-up; buses usually get delayed.
Chinwa → Dehradun → Delhi
The Chaainsheel Ghati trek ends at Chinwa. From Chinwa, you’ll be retracing your route all the way back to Dehradun. Indiahikes organises this transport for a fare of Rs.5,500 per cab. This is to be shared by trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Dehradun by 10.00 pm.
If you are travelling further from Dehradun, book your further travel from next day. If you are travelling to Delhi, you can choose to go back by Mussoorie Express or Nanda Devi Express.