The Complete Guide To Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass
Trekking in Kheerganga seems to be the first Himalayan experience for many. Everyone is captivated by the swaying pine trees, the bubbling Parvati river, and the shaded trek to the hot springs at Kheerganga.
Yet, this is only a precursor to a great trek that lies beyond Kheerganga.
Why trekking in Kheerganga is incomplete without Buni Buni Pass
Trekking to Buni Buni pass, which is a day’s distance from Kheerganga is where real trekking around Kheerganga begins. You leave behind the crowded pilgrim’s trail to enter a dense oak forest. A brown carpet of leaves lines the forest floor. There is no one trekking there except you.
Suddenly the forest gives away to spectacular views of big snow-capped mountains. Below, the superb Parvati valley stretches till far away. Right below the pass, we set up camp in the meadows. The next day, along another superb forest route, we descend down to Barsheni.
For those trekking to Kheerganga, Buni Buni pass is a natural, more beautiful extension.
Day 1: Reach Barshaini. Trek to Kheerganga
Barshaini is the base camp for the Buni Buni pass trek. The best way to reach here is to drive from Bhuntar, 3 hours away. Bhuntar falls on the Delhi – Manali road before Kullu. Get off here if you’re taking a bus. Plan to reach Bhuntar by 7.00 am
A good way to acclimatise is to arrive a day early and stay at Kasol or Manikaran, both very beautiful places. Barshaini is a small village. The highlight of this village is a small dam under construction on the Parvati river. You will spot a village named Pulga on the opposite bank of the river. You can walk around Barshaini and explore the village.
- Altitude: 7,261 ft (2,213 m) to 9,222 ft (2,811 m)
- Time taken: 3 hours drive to Barshaini; 5-6 hours trek to Kheerganga
- Trek gradient: Easy. Initial level walk for 900 m followed by a steep ascent for 600 m. Very gradual ascent all the way to Kheerganga, except for a 300 m steep ascent which occurs 5.4 km from Barshaini.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. You can refill your water bottle at a stream, 3.55 km into the trek.
The trail from Barshaini to Kheerganga is very popular among trekkers. Kheerganga is known for its hot springs.
Take the trail leading out of Barshaini. Around 900 m from Barshaini, you will reach an under-construction dam on the Parvati river. The Tosh River meets Parvati close to the dam.
Once you cross the dam, take the trail going uphill on the left. After ascending for around 600 m, you will reach a dhaba. This is a good spot to take a break since the views around are good, and you can hear Parvati and Tosh rivers below you.
The trail changes as you leave the dhaba. It is covered with pine and chestnut trees. The ascent from this point is very gradual. Enjoy the jungle trail with the river flowing by. You will spot several trees fallen on this trail. You can use these as landmarks, if required.
After 2.55 km from Barshaini, you will reach a small stream. Cross over to the other side using the log bridge. There’s another dhaba around 200 m from the stream. Walk past this and continue on the trail. You will reach another stream in about a kilometre. This is a good place to refill your water bottles.
There will be a big rock on the trail around 300 m from the second stream. You will need to bend and negotiate your way around it. Within 5 minutes of trekking past the rock, you will spot a village to your left, on the opposite bank of the Parvati river. This is Natkhan, a beautiful village with a few huts.
After around 700 m on this trail (4.2 km from Barshaini), you will reach another dhaba. Continue past this. In fact, you will cross many dhabas on this trail. They all serve as landmarks and also have decent refreshments in case you wish to eat. You will reach another dhaba within a kilometre of this one.
Around 5.4 km into the trek, you will hear a loud sound made by a waterfall. The trail turns steep from here for about 300 m. This part is also rocky and muddy. You will be greeted at the end of this steep stretch by a huge waterfall. You can stop here to take in the view.
The trail eases off after the waterfall. A kilometre on this trail will bring you to another waterfall. This is a good spot to take a break and eat something.
Around 7.55 km from Barhsaini, you will hit a rocky section. Be careful as you navigate this since it is a little tricky. The ascent is very gradual. In about half a kilometre from here, you will reach a big patch of an earlier landslide. Around 30-45 minutes of trek from here will bring you to Kheerganga.
Kheerganga has a lot of dhabas, hotels and camping spots spread all over. Cross Kheerganga and trek for about 800 m. This place is secluded from the crowd of Kheerganga. It is a beautiful and quiet place to set up camp.
Day 2: Kheerganga to Buni Buni Pass
- Altitude: 9,222 ft (2,811 m) to 10,987 ft (3,349 m)
- Time taken: 5-6 hours, 4.8 km
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Steep ascent for 1.3 km followed by descent for 1.5 km. 700 m of ascent which eases off into a gradual walk till the Pass
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. You can refill your water bottles from a couple of streams around 2.5 km into the trek.
Start from Kheerganga by 8.00 am. The trail today is a delight – you have dense jungles, beautiful clearings, and snow clad mountain view. It has everything you could ask for in a trek.
The trail begins with a steep ascent in a dense forest. Maple and pine trees are predominant here. You will also see some flora such as cobra lilies and zeromium. There a lot of monkeys in the jungle. You will need to be careful while trekking in this section. The trail is steep and is laden with leaves and roots.
After 1.3 km in the jungle, the trail suddenly opens into a clearing. Views of snow clad mountains open up before you. To the west is Ali Ratni Tibba (5,682 m). You can also spot some glaciers in this direction. If you look towards the south west, you will spot Buni Buni pass. This clearing is called Kungti Thach. It is a popular place for shepherds who bring their sheep here to graze. You will find some channi or shepherds’ tents pitched here.
From Kungti Thach, the trail descends for about 1.5 km. Juniper, birch and rhododendrons grow here in plenty. Rhododendron is the state flower of Himachal Pradesh.
Be careful here since the terrain is rocky. A trekking pole will be very helpful here. You will soon cross a stream. In 1.5 km, you will reach another stream. Cross this using bridge of stones.
The trail begins to ascend after the stream. This stretch is rocky and muddy. After 700 m of ascent, you will reach a beautiful meadow. Buni Buni Pass is a 10-15 minutes trek from here, on a gradually ascending trail.
Buni Buni Pass is at an altitude of 10, 987 ft. The views from here are majestic. You can spot Tosh village from here. Walk ahead of the pass for around 500 m to pitch your tents. There are a few shepherds’ tents around. You will also find a water source here. Rest and enjoy the views. The sunset here is beautiful – this is a good spot to capture it through a time lapse.
Day 3: Buni Buni Pass to Barshaini
- Altitude: 10,987 ft (3,349 m) to 7,261 ft (2,213 m)
- Time taken: 3 hours, 7.46 km
- Trek gradient: Easy. Descending trail all the way.
- Water sources: Two litres of water should last the entire trek. There is one source on the trail to refill your water bottles.
Start by 8.00 am from Buni Buni Pass. The trail to Barshaini is through Kalga village. The trail descends all the way through forests.
In about 500 m from the Pass, you will reach a channi (shepherds’ tent) alongside a green coloured pond. Continue past this for another 1.2 km till you reach another channi. This one is next to a stream. Another kilometre down this trail brings you to a beautiful meadow. There’s a channi here as well. You can spot Kalga and Barshaini villages from here.
Once you cross the channi in the meadow, the trail enters a forest again. It is muddy, moist and strewn with leaves. Be careful since there will be parts that are slippery. 1.5 km of trek through this forest will bring you to a beautiful clearing. You can spot a village ahead – this is Kalga. There are a few huts and apple orchards around. Do not pluck apples from the trees – you will have to pay a fine of Rs.5,000, if caught.
Trek past Kalga village. In 200 m, the trail merges with the one you took on Day 2, on the way to Kheerganga. Barshaini is 1.6 km from here. It’ll take you 15-20 minutes to reach. If you take a cab from here, you will reach Barshaini by 3.00 pm.
Day 1: Reach Bhuntar by 7.00 am. Drive to Barshaini (7,261 ft); trek to Kheerganga (9,222 ft); 5-6 hours, 9.6 km
Day 2: Kheerganga (9,222 ft) to Buni Buni Pass (10,987 ft); 5-6 hours, 4.8 km
Day 3: Buni Buni Pass (10,987 ft) to Barshaini (7,261 ft); 3 hours, 7.46 km. Drive to Bhuntar – reach by 3.00 pm
It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.
Getting to Barshaini
Barshaini is the base camp for the Buni Buni Pass trek. Indiahikes will arrange transport from Bhuntar to Barshaini. Pick up will be from the bus stop at 7.00 am. Transport from Bhuntar to Barshaini is included in the trek fee.
Bhuntar falls on the Delhi – Manali road, before Kullu. Board a Manali bound bus from Delhi or Chandigarh and get off at Bhuntar. Bhuntar also has an airport.
The trek ends at Barshaini. Indiahikes will arrange transport form Barshaini to Bhuntar. You will reach Bhuntar by 3.00 pm. Please plan you onward journey after according. Transport from Barshaini to Bhuntar is included in the trek fee.
Frequnetly Asked Questions
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Accommodation on this trek will be in shared tents (3 per tent).
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. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Day time temperatures will range from 20-25ºC and night time temperature will range from 11-15ºC.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
If you’re trekking here in April or May, you can expect to see some snow. You will not find snow here if you’re trekking in October.
5. 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.
6. How do we reach Barshaini?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Bhuntar to Barshaini at 7.00 am. Bhuntar falls on the Delhi-Manali road before Kullu. If you’re traveling by bus, you can ask the driver to drop you off here. Transportation from Bhuntar to Barshaini is included in the trek fee.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for transportation from Barshaini to Bhuntar. You will reach Bhuntar by 3.00 pm. You can plan your onward journey from Bhuntar accordingly. Transportation from Barshaini to Bhuntar is included in the trek fee.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass trek?
This is a trek that is best done in spring or early summer or autumn. Rains and snow make it inaccessible in other months.
9. Are backpacks, raincoats and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
No. There are several websites that rent out trekking equipment. Indiahikes does not rent any equipment. You may purchase trekking poles and other equipment from the Indiahikes store.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Yes, being an easy-moderate trek, Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass is good for first timers. However, you still need to be physically fit to enjoy the trek.
11. If not the Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
Prashar Lake and Nag Tibba are good weekend trek options that you could consider as alternatives. These are easily accessible from Delhi.
12. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.600 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Barshaini, the amount will be Rs.335 per day. 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.
13. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
Yes, you can take your child on the Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass trek. The minimum age requirement for this trek is 8 years. You can bring children along if they’re at least 8 and physically fit.
14. Who will be 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.
15. What are washroom/toilet facilities like on 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. There will be a room freshener as well. It’s 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 bio-degradable.
16. 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.
17. 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. There are also a couple of streams on each day’s trail. You can refill your water bottles from these.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
You will receive networks on Airtel and Idea till Barshaini, after which it will be intermittent. Make sure you inform anxious family members about limited connectivity on the trek. There will be no electricity charging points anywhere on the trek.
19. 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. We recommend the Forclaz 500 or 600 from Decathlon. Of these, the Forclaz 600 is more water resistant. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters.
20. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
21. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on 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.
22. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
Day 1 – Once you reach Barshaini, it is a 5-6 hours trek to reach Kheerganga.
Day 2 – The trek from Kheerganga to Buni Buni Pass will take 5-6 hours.
Day 3 – It will take around 3 hours to trek to Barshaini from Buni Buni Pass.
23. How do I manage the negative temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At high altitudes, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights.. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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’s life 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.
How safe is the Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass trek?
The Buni Buni Pass trek is an easy one. However, there are certain things that you must be aware of. While there are a lot of forest trails on the trek, you also pass through meadows and clearnings. Dehydration is something that is really common if you don’t have enough fluids to hydrate yourself.
How to get fit for the Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass trek
The Buni Buni Pass trek is classified as an easy trek. However, there are several sections that are rocky or slippery. Navigating these sections safely requires that you be fit and strong.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 4 km in 30 minutes
The trail from Kheerganga to Buni Buni Pass has a couple of very steep ascents. This requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin your fitness regime by jogging everyday. Jog at a slow pace to start with and slowly keep increasing your pace day to day. You should be able to jog 4 km in 30 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 20 in each
This is another area you should work on. You may have to walk through snow depending on the months you go in and this could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 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’s 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.
Things to Take on the Kheerganga Buni Buni Pass trek
Satopanth Tal is a high altitude trek. The trekking gear you need to carry for this trek is different from regular treks. So pay careful attention to this entire section.
- A list of everything you need for the trek (Skip to section)
- Useful videos to help you with your gear (Skip to section)
- A list of medicines for your trek (Skip to section)
First, The Essentials. You cannot do the trek without these.
1. Trekking Shoes:
Satopanth Tal requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have a good grip, have ankle support and can handle snow. Here is a quick video on how to choose your trekking shoes.
| Buying Tip: The Trek series and MH series are good options by Decathlon. They are tried and tested. There really isn’t any necessity to buy the higher-priced models. Here is a list of other budget shoes that trekkers are using.
For a trek like Satopanth Tal, you need a 50-60 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.
| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.
Wearing layers is the mantra in the mountains. Layers give you maximum protection from all elements. And when the weather changes in the mountains (as it happens every few hours), you take off or put on layers as required.
Wear one T-shirt and carry two. Carry full sleeve dry-fit T-shirts (preferably collared). These prevent your arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trek, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn you in no time.
Dry-fit T-shirts quickly dry your sweat, they are easy to wash and in case of a rainy day, they dry quicker. Round neck T-shirts are ok, but collared ones are better.
| Buying tip: You can get dry-fit T-shirts from Decathlon. Also, stores like Reliance Trends, Max have dry-fit T-shirts. They don’t usually cost much.
| Cotton or Synthetic? As Indians, we love cotton. Down in the plains when the heat is a blistering 40°C it makes sense to wear cotton. But it takes a long time to dry when it gets wet. In the mountains, where it is cooler, synthetic is what you wear. They wick sweat rapidly and keep you dry. (But they do tend to smell quickly, so carry a roll-on deodorant with you.)
| Pro Tip: If you are extra susceptible to cold, you could get a set of thermal inners. In our experience, wearing two T-shirts over other works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space since you’re already carrying them.
3 insulation layers:
The highest altitude you reach on this trek is 15, 100 ft. At these altitudes, it can get freezing cold even in the middle of summer. You will need at least 3 insulation layers for this trek.
You will need 2 light fleece layers, 1 full-sleeve light sweater. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
1 Outer layer:
A padded jacket serves the purpose here. You don’t really need a water-resistant material. But you need an outer padded jacket that keeps the wind and cold out. Ensure your padded jacket has a hood as well.
| Do you need a down/feather jacket? Not really. A regular padded/shell jacket will do. This video here will help you to learn more about the difference.
Note: Down/feather jackets are really not available these days. Many jackets masquerade as down/feather jackets. They are essentially fine polyester-filled jackets. They mimic the function of a down jacket but are usually expensive.
Two trek pants:
Two pairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry two just in case it rains. Trek pants with zippered cut-offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon in case of small stream crossings/rain.
| Buying tip: Go for pants with zippered pockets. They come in handy to keep your phone, handkerchief or pocket snacks.
| Track pants or trek pants? Stretchable track pants make a good backup and can double up as your thermal bottoms. But track pants are not trekking pants — so don’t use them as your main outerwear. Keep them only as a backup.
Mandatory Accessories, without these too you won’t be able to do the trek.
These accessories are mandatory. Don’t go to Satopanth Tal trek without them. Trekkers generally put off purchasing / borrowing the accessories for the last minute. We suggest the opposite. Start gathering these accessories first.
Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. Especially in the month of May and October on a trek like Satopanth Tal, expect to walk on long stretches of snow from Chakrateertha to Satopanth Tal. A small overexposure to direct sunlight on snow can lead to snow blindness (about a half hour’s exposure). That’s because fallen snow is like thousands of mirrors that reflect direct UV rays. So you need sunglasses with UV protection.
| Tip: Try getting sunglasses that wrap around instead of those that have openings on the side. Even peripheral UV ray exposure is not a good idea.
Wear sunglasses if the trekking day is bright and sunny (on open sections, meadows). On a snowy section, you must absolutely never take off your sunglasses until the section has been fully crossed.
| If you wear spectacles: If you wear spectacles, you can get oversized sunglasses that you wear over your regular glasses (available at Decathlon). If that is cumbersome, photochromic lenses work equally well. Here’s a quick guide on managing sunglasses with spectacles.
| Contact lens users: If you use contact lenses, you can use them on the trek too. The lens solution will not freeze. You will also not face any problems in changing your lens in your tent. Just carry enough cleaning solution with you to clean your fingers well. Wear your sunglasses over your contact lens.
A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sunstrokes, quick dehydration and a sharp drop in trekking performance.
| Tip: In the mountains, the general rule is to keep your head covered at all times. During the day a sun cap protects you from the harsh rays of the sun (it is doubly stronger with naked UV rays). A sun cap keeps your body temperature in balance. In the evening/early morning, the reverse is true. Your head loses your body heat quickly. A woollen cap prevents heat from dissipating from your head.
| Pro Tip: Sun caps with flaps are a blessing for trekkers. They cut out almost all UV leaks, prevent sunburns in every possible way and also they are a lot more effective than sunscreen lotion. A wide-brimmed sports hat also helps to prevent sunburn in a big way.
3. Synthetic hand gloves:
On a trek like Satopanth Tal you are going to be handling snow quite a bit especially in the month of May and October, You’ll need gloves to grip something or to steady yourself in snow. You also want the gloves to keep you warm. Get synthetic hand gloves that have waterproofing on the outside and a padded lining on the inside. If you find the combination difficult to get (not likely), wear a tight-fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove. Hand gloves are mandatory on this trek.
4. Woollen cap or Balaclava:
Ensure these cover your ears. In the cold mountains, you lose maximum heat from your head, not from your hands, feet or the rest of your body. Which is why you need to keep your head protected, especially when the sun is down. Early mornings, late evenings, a cold trekking day are when you must use your woollen cap.
Your ears are sensitive too, so a woollen head cap that covers your ears is absolutely essential. A balaclava is a modern version of the woollen cap. It covers your ears, neck and parts of your face as well. Do not get a woollen cap that only covers your head.
5. Socks (3 pairs):
Apart from two sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks. Sports socks give you cushioning plus warmth. Again the mantra is to wear synthetic socks or at least a synthetic blend. Cotton socks soak in water and sweat. They are very hard to dry. As for woollen socks, they help you to keep warm and snug in the night. If you cannot get woollen socks, wearing two sports socks serves the purpose as well.
Trekkers are often confused about whether they need to get a headlamp or a handheld torch. You need to get a headlamp because it leaves your hands free to do other activities. On the Satopanth Tal trek, you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.
Ensure your headlamp covers a wider area and is not too focused as a single beam. On a trek, your headlamp must help you see around you as much as ahead of you.
7. Trekking pole (a pair):
Trekking poles give you stability and balance. They reduce your energy consumption by almost 40%. On the Satopanth Tal trek, there are steep ascents and descents. The trek up to the Satopanth Tal is pretty steep. A pair of trekking poles will make the difference between a comfortable and a strenuous trek. In India, we tend to use a single trekking pole. However, two trekking poles give you greater stability and balance. They also increase your walking pace.
On a trek, the weather can change quickly. A bright sunny day can turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. Carry a poncho or a rain jacket to tackle this. A poncho is a big rain cover with openings for your arms and your head. It is extremely effective because it covers both you and your backpack. It is extremely light and weighs next to nothing.
Rain jackets are more streamlined and less cumbersome but weigh more. Rain pants are really not required. Dry fit trek pants dry quickly even if soaking wet.
9. Rain cover for your backpack:
Backpacks are your life. You carry all your dry clothes, your warm gear in your backpack. It is important that your backpack stays dry at all times. Modern backpacks usually come with built-in rain-covers. If your backpack does not have a rain-cover, ensure you get a rain cover by either (a) buying a rain cover (b) or cutting a large plastic sheet to the size of your backpack. You can roll the plastic sheet around your backpack and keep it in place with a string or elastic.
| Pro tip: It’s good practice to compartmentalise your clothes, accessories and other things in plastic covers inside your backpack. That way, even if it rains and your backpack gets wet, your things are water-proof inside the backpack.
10. Daypack (20-30 ltrs, optional):
On day 4, you will be coming back to Chakrateertha. So carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack, you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer.
A daypack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not daypacks. Do not get them.
Other mandatory requirements
1. A toilet kit:
Keep your toilet kit light. Carry just the basics — toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, toilet tissue roll, a small moisturiser, lip balm, and a roll-on deodorant. You will not be able to have a bath on the trek, so don’t overload on soaps and shampoos.
| Pro tip: Carry miniature-sized items. You will not need more than that. If you’re travelling in a group, share one toothpaste for all.
Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Satopanth Tal.
| For women: If you are likely to have your periods on your trek date, don’t worry about it. You can use your pads, tampons or menstrual cups on the trek. There will be toilet tents where you can get changed. Make sure you carry ziplock bags to bring back your menstrual waste. Don’t leave behind any waste in the mountains. Watch this video to learn how to dispose your sanitary waste.
Carry a lunch box, a mug and a spoon. Your lunch box must be leakproof. You will need this to have lunch, dinner and breakfast.
| Pro tip: Carry stainless steel cutlery. Avoid fancy high-grade plastic cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery is infinitely easier to wash in cold water. Grease is easier to remove and hygiene is at the highest. Watch this video on why steel cutlery is better than plastic.
3. Two 1 litre bottles or a 2-litre hydration pack:
Satopanth Tal has long walking days. You need to carry two one-litre water bottles to keep yourself hydrated over the distance. If you are used to a hydration pack, then that is ok too. If one among the two bottles is a lightweight thermos, then that helps you to store warm water on a really cold day or for late evenings and early mornings.
4. Plastic covers:
Carry 3-4 old plastic covers to keep your used clothes. You could use them even for wet clothes. Re-use old plastic bags for this and do not buy new ones.
Useful videos to help you with your gear:
- What to take on your trek
- How to pack your backpack
- How to choose your trekking shoes
- Trekking shoes vs sports shoes. How are they different?
- How to layer up on a Himalayan trek
- Why you need a trekking pole
- How to manage sanitary waste on a trek
Personal medical kit
Carry these medicines with you, easily accessible at all times.
- Diamox (1 Strip): Be on a course of a half tablet Diamox starting from Delhi every 12 hours (125 mg). Carry on the medication until you descend down to Badrinath. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Satopanth Tal trek.
- Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is paracetamol. It helps to tackle fever, mild pain
- Avomine (4 tablets): Carry this especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop one-half hour before the start of your road journey.
- Combiflam (5 tablets): Take a combiflam if you get a sudden twist of the leg or a muscle strain. It is a pain reliever. It also contains paracetamol.
- Digene (4 tablets): Take it if you feel the food that you’ve taken is undigested.
- ORS (6 packs): Consume a pack of ORS water at least once a day, usually mid-day when you are in the middle of your trek. It replenishes essential salts lost while trekking. Tip: It also makes cold water easier to drink.
- Knee Brace (optional): Carry this if you are prone to knee injury or have known issues of knee pain.
ATM Point and Mobile Connectivity
Kasol and Manikaran are the last spots for an ATM. In case you require cash after reaching Barshaini, you can swipe your card at Parvati General Store. You will get the amount you require for at 10% charge.
Network is available on Idea and Airtel at Barshaini. Make sure you finish all your telephone calls here. Please inform anxious family members about poor connectivity in the mountains.