“Gaumukh Tapovan is a trek that I have done twice. Both much earlier, when I was younger. Indiahikes wasn’t yet born. On both occasions, the trek fascinated me for different reasons.
The first time, it was the sight of the Bhagirathi sisters glistening in the moonlight from Bhojbasa. The second time, I was older and I appreciated the trek more. From Tapovan, Mt Shivling rises from its base all the way to its summit. That’s a rare sight — to see a mountain in its entirety. Then the aesthetics of Mt Shivling itself. There are rarely mountains that are as good looking as Mt Shivling. If there was a competition for the best looking summits of India, Mt Shivling would be right there near the top. To see such a beauty from a close range is an honour.
Gaumukh, the source of the River Ganga, itself is reason enough to do this trek. Gaumukh is a sight on its own. Only when you get close to it do you realise how big and magnificent the glacier is! I am not surprised this is the most often repeated trek by trekkers. Every time you visit, there is something new to take back.”
Whom is this trek meant for?
While Gaumukh is a pilgrim’s trail and fairly moderate, the trail to Tapovan is not a beginner’s cup of tea. You will be negotiating a lot of moraine, boulders and will be walking on a glacier. The steep climb to Tapovan will take a toll on your knees. Hence, this trek demands high-levels of fitness and it is suitable for trekkers who have done a couple of high-altitude treks like Buran Ghati, Roopkund, for example. Anyone above 14 years can go on this trek.
Difficulty Level and Preparation
Gaumukh-Tapovan is classified as a moderate-difficult trek. Day 4 is a gruelling experience because of the glacier walk and the steep climb to Tapovan. It requires high levels of fitness and endurance to climb to the meadows of Tapovan. Click here to learn how to prepare and get fit for the trek.
What are the risks involved?
Gaumukh-Tapovan starts at an altitude of 10,055 ft. You are already in rarefied air and will be covering long distances. With significant altitude gain there are chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness. To prevent this we recommend that you stay well hydrated and go on a course of Diamox . An average trekking day here covers a distance of 10-13 kms. The trail from Gaumukh to Tapovan is especially tricky. The route on the glacier keeps changing and having an experienced guide here is a must. After the glacier walk is an extremely steep climb up to Tapovan which takes a toll on your legs. Most of the trek has glacial residue of moraines and scree– which is difficult to walk on. Being informed will help you stay safe on the trek.
Here’s a short itinerary of the Gaumukh Tapovan trek
|Day 1||Drive from Haridwar to Gangotri, which will take 10-12 hours. Transport will be arranged from Haridwar Railway Station at 5:00 AM on Day 1. Cost of cab per person – Rs.1,100.|
|Day 2||Gangotri (10,055 ft) to Chirbasa (11,761 ft); 6 hours, 9 km|
|Day 3||Chirbasa (11,761 ft) to Bhojbasa (13,021 ft); 3 hours, 5 km. Acclimatisation walk to Gaumukh and return to Bhojbasa|
|Day 4||Bhojbasa (13,021 ft) to Tapovan (14,202 ft); 7 hours, 9 km|
|Day 5||Rest day at Tapovan|
|Day 6||Tapovan (14,202 ft) to Chirbasa (11,761 ft); 8 hours, 14 km|
|Day 7||Chirbasa (12,450 ft) to Gangotri (10,055 ft); 4.5-5 hours hours, 9 km|
|Day 8||Depart for Haridwar|
Day 1: Drive from Haridwar to Gangotri
- Altitude: 10,055 ft
- Time taken: 10-12 hours. Transport from Haridwar railway station will be arranged at 5:00 AM
Surrounded by mountains and deodar forests, overlooking the thunderous Bhagirathi river and the thin air – Gangotri makes a stunning setting. Gangotri is known as the source of river Ganga (the actual source being Gaumukh), which is known as Bhagirathi here.
It is said that King Bhagirath prayed to Lord Shiva for salvation of the souls of his 60,000 sons. Shiva obliged and requested Goddess Ganga to release her water, which purified the ashes of Bhagirath’s sons. This mythological story elevated the status of River Ganga as a means to purify one’s soul.
Day 2: Gangotri to Chirbasa
- Altitude: 10,055 ft to 11,761 ft
- Time taken: 6 hours, 9 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial 300 m steep ascent followed by a very gradual ascent all the way.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Gangotri. You can refill your water bottles from streams on the way.
The trail to Chirbasa goes through a Forest Check Post around 2 km from Gangotri bus stand. A trail goes up from the bus stand towards the left side inside the forest. The trail runs on the left side of the market area and one can take multiple trails from inside of the market to connect with the trail. Walk till you reach the Forest Check Post.
This may take around 15-30 minutes, depending on where you start from within Gangotri. From here, spot a striking white peak in the distance. This is Sudarshan Parbat (21,345 ft), looking stunning in the background. It lies in a cluster of many major peaks. After getting the permits checked, proceed on the trail that remains on the left side of the mountain ridge throughout the day. The Bhagirathi River remains below, always to your right. There are a few isolated glaciers on the river that are melting rapidly.
In around 15 minutes, you will come across the first of many waterfalls and streams that you will see today. The trail mostly has gradual inclines and level walks. Trek for another 20-30 minutes and you will see another stream gushing below a makeshift bridge. After crossing the bridge, the valley opens up and turns right. Feast your eyes on the several snow-capped mountain ranges on the right side of the valley. After 20 minutes, you will see the third major stream on your path. Sudarshan Parbat is now no longer visible. The trail remains consistent for another 45 minutes. Now, the path swirls further towards your right as you cross the third ridge, giving way to a breathtaking view of the valley. Bask in a healthy presence of blue pine and silver birch trees around you.
A consistent hike of 45 minutes will bring you to a boulder zone over one of the snouts coming from Sudarshan Parbat. Cross the boulders and hike up for about 10 minutes to reach a series of dhabas.
Chirbasa is another 15 minutes away under forest cover. A special mention should be given to Himalayan Environmental Trust, who, along with the Forest Department, have been able to successfully implement an afforestation project in this area. As you pass the check post of the Forest Department, take the trail down on your right to reach the camping ground of Chirbasa. Look for a GMVN hut on a level ground next to Bhagirathi River. Camp here for the night.
Bhagirathi river is to the right of the Chirbasa campsite. The place gets its name from the Chir trees that surround it. You get clear views of the Bhagirathi peaks from Chirbasa. Also visible in the distance is the mouth of the Gaumukh glacier.
Day 3: Chirbasa to Bhojbasa. Acclimatisation walk to Gaumukh
- Altitude: 11,761 ft to 12,450 ft
- Time taken: 3 hours, 5 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial 100 m ascent to get back on the trail. Very gradual ascent all the way to Bhojbasa
- Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water
The valley widens from Chirbasa and offers views of snow-clad peaks. Take the trail from behind the GMVN hut. The trail connects with the Gaumukh trail, which extends from forest check post. This section will take 5 to 10 minutes. Once connected with the primary trail, you will be able to see the Chirbasa campsite below. There is a minor landslide-prone section within 10 minutes from this point. After this section, the terrain is broken in certain sections but is manageable. Look for the first ridge ahead towards your left in the distance. It takes around 30-45 minutes to reach this ridge and cross the bend.
As you trudge through the silent hills, the Bhagirathi peak looms closer into view. After 20 minutes of gradual ascent, look for a stream to your left. Another 45 minutes of similar gradient will have you reach another landslide-prone area. This area has boulder gradient and a stream crossing your path. Climb up for another five minutes to traverse the second ridge/bend. There are 8-9 landslide-prone bends from here. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to traverse this section. Keep an eye for falling rocks and avoid resting. Move swiftly. After crossing this section, you will see a bridge with a stream flowing below. Bhojbasa, the widest point in the valley, is only 1.5 km from this point.
The trek to Bhojbasa is a level walk and very scenic. Around 300 m above Bhojbasa, you get a vantage point. The entire valley ahead of Bhojbasa is visible from here. This is a very beautiful sight. Also visible is a part of the Gaumukh glacier.
You get the first view of Mt Shivling at Bhojbasa. This is an open campsite – you’re far above the tree line now. Bhagirathi river flows right beside the campsite.
You will find igloo-like structures close to the campsite. You have the option of staying in these instead of camping. This requires permission from the Forest Department.
Acclimatisation walk to Gaumukh and back
The valley narrows as you move on the trail to Gaumukh. Take the trail from the GMVN hut going up and connecting with Gaumukh route. It takes 10 minutes till you intercept the primary trail to Gaumukh. From here, it’s a gradual ascent for about 2.5 hours all the way to Gaumukh. After 20 minutes of level walk, you reach the first glacial stream crossing. You can now see Mt. Shivling on the right.
15 minutes later, you reach the second major stream crossing. Then, 20 minutes of level walk on the defined trail will get you to a level camping ground. Climb up the moraine and walk to the vantage point of Gaumukh, which is 500 metres away from the glacier. There is a small open temple of Lord Shiva here. Pilgrims are refrained from going any further unless they have permission to camp at Tapovan. Proceed from the left side of the moraine ridge and climb up another 20 metres. You now get a great view of the Gaumukh glacier. As you proceed, observe the fragmentation of the glacier and debris from the rock fall over the years.
Day 4: Bhojbasa to Tapovan
- Altitude: 12,450 ft to 14,202 ft
- Time taken: 7 hours, 9 km
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Gradual ascent for 2.5 hours. 2 hours glacier walk followed by 1 hour of moderate ascent. Final 1.5 hours is a steep ascent.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. Refill water bottles at Gaumukh.
Reach Gaumukh on the same trail as Day 4.
The trail from Gaumukh to Tapovan is the most difficult part of the trek. It involves climbing glacial moraine and traversing the Gaumukh glacier. You will be traversing steep landslide-prone areas and a glacial stream called Akash-Ganga.
The terminal moraine is a combination of hard ice and boulders and can get slippery in certain sections. Even with cairns marking the route, finding it can be tricky since the route goes over an active glacial basin and is always changing. The initial climb till the top of Gaumukh glacier from the left side is a 100 metre ascent. A local guide is highly advisable here. The climb up the 100 metres can take an hour and a half. The route via the terminal moraine takes almost an hour to traverse and reach. After this, you hit a rock face, which you will have to climb to get to Tapovan.
This climb is adjacent to Akash Ganga, which flows vertically down this rock face. Ensure this section is climbed before lunch time to avoid potential rock fall and increase in volume of water coming down Akash Ganga. The climb takes an hour to two, depending upon the conditions. The climb is a steep incline on loose gravel.
After about 100 metres into the climb, look for spots from where you can cross Akash Ganga. If the volume of water is high, then you need to take your shoes off and cross the stream. Otherwise, boulder hopping is also possible. Take a break after crossing the stream. You can have lunch here.
Tapovan is a steep climb from here. It will take you about 1.5 hours to reach. Look for a suitable camping spot and camp for the night.
The mountain views from the Tapovan campsite are astonishing. You can see Mt Shivling to the right. Meru is to the right of Shivling. On the left side of Shivling, a little behind, is Sumeru. Further to the left you see Bhagirathi peaks, Thenu and Sudarshan Parbat. If you walk to the ashram that is visible from the campsite, Shivling appears even closer.
Day 5: Rest day at Tapovan
Tapovan is a high-altitude alpine meadow below Mt. Shivling, which dominates the landscape. Tapovan is spread over 2 km in length. Although it’s a vast level ground, not all the land is suitable for camping. The area close to Mt. Shivling is wet during early summer due to melting snow and glacial water. These grounds have been used by many sages to meditate over the centuries. There are many such holy men living permanently at Tapovan.
A 1.5 km trek from Tapovan to the adjoining peak that connects to Neelatal brings you to a vantage point from where you get great views of Meru. This takes about 2 hours to reach from the campsite. From here, you can either walk on the ridge ahead to reach Neelatal, or walk back on the same trail to Tapovan. Neelatal seldom has any water now. Manage your time such that you’re back at the campsite by 1:30 PM.
Day 6: Tapovan to Chirbasa
- Altitude: 14,202 ft to 11,761 ft
- Time taken: 8 hours, 14 km
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Continuous descent, large sections of which will be on scree upto Gaumukh, followed by level trail to Chirbasa.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Tapovan. The only water source is close to Gaumukh.
This stretch back to Gaumukh is 3-4 km and may take 3-5 hours to traverse depending upon the prevalent conditions. Once at Gaumukh, the route back to Bhojbasa is the same and will only take an hour more. Proceed from here on the same trail back to Chirbasa.
Day 7: Chirbasa to Gangotri
- Altitude: 11,761 ft to 10,055 ft
- Time taken: 4-4.5 hours, 9 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradual descent and level walks on the same route as Day 2.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles at streams along the trail.
The trek involves a gradual descent and a series of level walks, which can be done swiftly. The trek back to Gangotri is the same trail taken to reach Chirbasa. It’s a very gradual descent, which takes far less time to cover than the ascent.
Day 8: Depart for Haridwar
You are expected to reach Haridwar around 7 pm.
Documentation by Vaibhav Chauhan.
The Gaumukh-Tapovan trek is of moderate difficulty. You start at an altitude of 10,055 feet and reach an altitude of 14,202 feet in 3 days. Ideally, you should be only gaining 1000 ft a day. However, the Indian Himalayas climb very quickly. This is called a forced ascent.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 5 km in 30 minutes
For this, you require a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. Make sure you are able to jog 5 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 15 in each
This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover carrying your backpacks and trekking along with your backpack is not a very easy task. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. There will be boulders and moraines on Gaumukh to Tapovan day. It 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 the 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 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.
- Trekking shoes: The trek distance is long and you will have to walk for long distances which need you to have comfortable 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. The Bhojbasa campsite is especially windy. So make sure you have the apt clothes for the climatic conditions. 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.
- 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. If you plan to use wet wipes or sanitary napkins on the trek, make sure you 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)
Please email a scan of your ID document (PAN, Aadhar card or Voter ID) to your Ground Coordinator as soon as you have finished registering for the trek. If you submit the Aadhar card or Voter ID scans, please make sure that we get both the side. This is required in advance to get the necessary trekking permissions.
Please carry the below documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded (PDF), filled in, signed and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp.
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
- Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
If you’re shopping or packing for the trek, you can download this quick and simple checklist for offline use.
Trek fee: Rs 13,450
Service tax at 9% 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 (Haridwar to Gangotri and return)
- Food during transit to and from the base camp
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1800* plus service tax of 9%. We do not accept last minute offloading. It has to be done at least one week prior to the trek. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- Stay at Haridwar on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from the 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 email@example.com. 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.
The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start and to the end of the trek at Gangotri
2. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Haridwar railway station at 5:00 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Gangotri in shared cabs.
3. Transport: Transport from Haridwar to Gangotri and the return can be arranged by us at an extra cost. It will cost Rs.6,500 per Tata Sumo one way. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab. 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 for the entire trek duration is Rs. 1800/-. Last minute offloading is not allowed. You have to inform us about offloading 6-7 days prior to the start of your trek. 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 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.
What are the risks on the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek?
The Gaumukh Tapovan trek is graded moderate-difficult. If you have registered for this trek, then here is some information that you must know in order to have a safe trek. At Indiahikes, we believe that as long as you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can survive easily at high altitudes.
This trek starts at an altitude of 10,055 ft. You are already in rarefied air and will be covering long distances. With significant altitude gain there are chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness. An average trekking day here covers a distance of 10-13 km. The trail from Gaumukh to Tapovan is especially tricky. The route on the glacier keeps changing and having an experienced guide here is a must. After the glacier walk is an extremely steep climb up to Tapovan which takes a toll on your legs. Most of the trek has glacial residue of moraines and scree – which is difficult to walk on.
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 Gaumukh Tapovan trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Gaumukh Tapovan 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 Gaumukh Tapovan 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.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At above 12,000 ft the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness can be quite high.
Gaumukh and Tapovan are the highest campsites on the trek. Trekkers tend to develop symptoms of altitude sickness at these camps. That said, Gangotri, where the trek begins, is itself at a high altitude, and you ascend close to 1,500 ft each day, which means that you need to take utmost care on all the days of ascent.
Do not proceed to Gaumukh if you have symptoms of altitude sickness. Inform your trek leader about your condition. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to Gangotri.
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.
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.
Exit points on the Gaumukh Tapovan trek:
The safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. If there is an emergency anywhere before Gaumukh, then exit to Gangotri is relatively quick. However, at any point above Gaumukh, the exit becomes complicated, since it’s a long walk to Gangotri, which is the only entrance to the valley.
Gangotri has a government dispensary. For any advanced treatment, Uttarkashi, around 100 km from Gangotri, has the closest hospital.
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.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then your trek leader will be able to take steps at the right time.
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.
How to get to the basecamp – Gangotri
Delhi → Haridwar → Gangotri
The Gaumukh-Tapovan trek starts from Gangotri. Gangotri is around 286 km from Haridwar.
From Haridwar, Indiahikes organises transport to Gangotri. We organise the transport at 5.00 am from Haridwar Railway Station on the first day of the trek. The fare of this transport is not included in the fee. It costs Rs.6,500 per cab one way and this fare is shared by 5-6 trekkers. You will have to pay the driver directly. Transport can also be organised from Rishikesh (Tapovan) upon request.
You will reach Gangotri at around 5 pm.
To reach Haridwar
The best way to reach Haridwar is to book the ever reliable Nandadevi Express.
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 3.55
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 Haridwar on time for the pick-up; buses usually get delayed.
Gangotri→ Haridwar → Delhi
The Gaumukh-Tapovan trek ends at Gangotri. Indiahikes organises this transport for a fare of Rs.6,500 per cab. This is to be shared by 5-6 trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Haridwar by 6 pm.
If you are travelling further from Haridwar, keep a couple of hours as buffer time in case of delay. Book your further travel from Haridwar post 8 pm. If you are travelling to Delhi, you can choose to go back by Mussoorie Express or Nanda Devi Express.
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
“The trek was awesome. It was what I had expected from it. There were challenges and reward during the entire period which was satisfying. Also, the batch had amazing people that made the trek more enjoyable. The trek leader, Jude, did an amazing job in keeping the group together and looking after everyone. Also, the trek team including the kitchen staff and porters did a wonderful job in providing us with all required amenities and looking after us.” – Ashish Manchanda, batch of May 2016
“It was refreshing. Barren lands and mesmerising peaks around, give a different energy. Barren lands also mean lesser oxygen than jungle treks. However, this trek is not generally for those who wish scenery changes often. I’m one of those who’d like scenery changes. Glacier walk was fun, though.” –
Srujan Akumarthi, batch of May 2016
“I absolutely loved the trek!!! The glacier crossing and climb to Tapovan is an experience in itself. One you have climbed to Tapovan, it feels like you have arrived in heaven (no exaggeration!)! The views of the peaks Mt.Sivling, Meru and Bhagirathi sisters will haunt you for months. One word, Exceptional! On the first campsite,Chirbasa, i was hit with AMS. I was asked to stay back and join the next batch if i got better. I continued my trek with 2nd batch and met the first batch at Tapovan and returned with them.Here are the things that went well: – All campsites offer great views – Technical staff is exceptionally talented and competent. – Awesome desserts. Gajar ka halva and kaddu ka halva were to die for. – As I was down with AMS, I was left behind with one of the technical guides, Sukhdev. He took very good care of me until the next batch of trekkers arrived. – TL Aashay is fun and Sukhdev & rockstar Rahul are sweethearts.” – Sushma Honnappa, batch of May 2016
“It was refreshing. Barren lands and mesmerising peaks around, give a different energy. Barren lands also mean lesser oxygen than jungle treks. However, this trek is not generally for those who wish scenery changes often. I’m one of those who’d like scenery changes. Glacier walk was fun, though.”
-Srujan Akumarthi, Batch of May 2017