The Complete Guide To Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
Trekkers think when it comes to great treks you can’t beat treks like Rupin Pass or Buran Ghati. And when we talk about Har Ki Dun with Ruinsara, they think it is a poor cousin. That’s making a big mistake.
The Har Ki Dun trek with Ruinsara is one of the best complete treks that we have seen.
It has terrific ancient culture, mountain views, forests, grasslands, meadows, rivers, streams and even an alpine lake. This trail is not difficult on the legs which makes it just the right adventure especially when compared to other summer treks.
With Ruinsara added on Har Ki Dun, a good trek becomes great. One of the most complete treks that you will possibly do.
“It’s like doing a whole new trek by just adding two days”, says Arjun Majumdar, our founder.
Use these pointers to navigate through this extensive trek guide:
- What I Like And Don’t Like About Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
- Best Time To Do Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
- Weather And Temperature on Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
- How Difficult Is Har Ki Dun Trek?
- How Safe Is Har Ki Dun Trek?
- How To Reach Har Ki Dun From Dehradun?
- How Long Is Har Ki Dun Trek?
- What To Pack For Har Ki Dun Trek?
- Other Information To Know About This Trek
What I Like And Don’t Like About The Trek
Sandhya, our co-founder, will take you through the Har Ki Dun Trek on this page. She has explored and put on the trekking map of our country few of the greatest treks in India. It was also her decision to expand our older Har Ki Dun route to include the Ruinsara Tal route as part of the itinerary.
Most trekkers know Har Ki Dun for its culture and history and trek to only Har Ki Dun but end up missing out on the beauty and variety the Ruinsara Tal has to offer.
I list below some of my top sections from the trek. They include both the culture and the beauty aspects. But reading is one thing while experiencing it is another.
So I would strongly urge every mountain lover to do this trek to experience this rare blend first hand.
What I like about Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal
1. The trek from Taluka to Gangad
This is one of the most underrated sections of the trek. In less than five minutes of starting your trek, you find yourself on an undulating trail right beside the Thamsa river. You are constantly under a canopy of fresh green.
Quaint old wooden bridges across the river appear out of nowhere giving you great picture opportunities. You cover miles on this trail without breaking a sweat.
You’ll notice that the coniferous forest gets denser as you go further. The narrow trail snakes through this dense dark forest for a good hour before opening up to the traces of civilization — the ancient village of Gangad.
I am not used to such leafy starts on treks. It was almost like a walk in a picture-perfect pine tree park. I cherished every minute of it.
2. The meadows of Kalkatiyadhar
You never hear trekkers talk about any campsite on the Har Ki Dun trek. Like everyone else, I assumed Kalkatiyadhar to either be a small settlement or just beside it.
Quite contrary to my expectations, Kalkatiyadhar turned out to be a vast green meadow. What blew me away was the expanse of the valley. We were in the middle of multi level cricket-field-sized meadows, set at a vantage height.
To my distant left the trail climbed towards Swargarohini peaks, which were just peeking in the horizon. To my far right were dense jungles with mountains rising behind it. This was the trail to Ruinsara.
To my right across the river was a meadow set amidst a boundary of pine trees. Behind me I could trace the trail all the way down to Seema and even see the Kedarkantha summit miles away behind Kotgaon.
Such open settings above 10,000 ft in the mountains with trees, meadows, rivers, big mountains together in a single frame are not settings you experience in every trek.
3. The stories of the ancient villages
A lot has been said everywhere about the ancient villages of Har Ki Dun. You spot these villages from a distance, spread out on the mountain side, with houses almost hanging in the air. I could not wait to climb up to them and see what the interiors looked like.
Spending a night in the village home takes you back hundreds of years. The stories of the village elders and the smiles of the youngsters are something that you want to capture and take back with you.
The villages complete the famed Har Ki Dun experience. On our trek, you get to stay in at least two different villages – Gangad and Osla.
4. Devsu Thatch: The best kept secret of the trek
Devsu Thatch turned out to be the best kept secret of the entire Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara trail. You hardly see much of this meadow from anywhere else but when inside it. The secret is indeed well wrapped around by pine trees!
I loved the meadows because they flow down from top to bottom for 600 meters and stretch for almost 2 km in length. Flowering bushes border the meadows throughout while tiny colorful flowers grow from the ground almost everywhere in spring.
Being higher than its counterpart Kalkatiyadhar on the other side of the valley, you get the best views of the triangular valley here.
I remember running from one end of the meadow to another in the evening to capture my sunset shots as every corner seemed to offer a different view.
5. Har Ki Dun and Ruinsara Tal valleys
Har Ki Dun valley and Ruinsara Tal are the two valleys which this trek celebrates. Very rightfully, these are amongst the most beautiful sections of the trek.
I loved the expanse of the Har Ki Dun valley. The valley has everything going for it. Big snow clad mountains towering right in front of you. A big river flowing right in the middle. Lovely green meadows stretching far and wide. I could sit there and just take in this scene the whole day.
Ruinsara Tal on the other hand feels like a far away world. The isolation grips you. It’s just you, the mountains and the lake. Looking at the mountains reflecting in the clear blue lake had a big calming effect on me.
For me, Ruinsara Tal was like reaching the pinnacle of a trek even though there was no real summit.
What I don’t like about Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal
I loved Har Ki Dun to the full because of the change Ruinsara Tal route brought in. I am not sure if I would have the same feeling if I had to repeat the first three days of the trek as is on the last three days as per the regular Har Ki Dun trek itinerary.
Best Time To Do Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
One of the best things about Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek is that it can be done almost eight months in a year.
Starting in the spring month of March, you can trek through the summer until late June. Then the monsoon arrives, shutting down the Govind Pashu Vihar Sanctuary for about 3 months.
Thereafter the trekking season resumes in September continuing till mid January next year. The heavy snow laden trail thereafter makes it impossible to trek for the rest of the winter until later in Spring.
Here’s a table highlighting the specialties of each season:
Season What You Will Get To Experience Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal in Spring (March – April) – Snow patches on trail
– Abundance of wildflowers
– Grasslands start turning brown to green
– Warm days and cold nights
Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal in Summer (May – June) – Expect early monsoon showers
– Valley turns lush green because of rains
– Warm days and cold nights
Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal in Autumn (September – November) – Lesser people on the trail
– Valley is completely green when season resumes
– Grasslands turn brown as autumn progresses to winter
– Crisp chill in the air during the evening and nights. But days are warm
Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal in Winter (December) – First snowfall by mid-December
– Valley turns into a white winter wonderland.
– Sub-zero temperatures at night
Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek in Spring/Summer (March to June)
The trek opens in mid March. In March, you’ll see the valley covered in patches of snow. Especially starting from Kalkatiyadhar all the way to Devsu Thatch.
The snow patches are remnants of the winter gone by. The reason for the snow this late in the season is that the valleys leading to Har Ki Dun and Ruinsara Tal are narrow.
As you head into the summer months of April and May, the snow melts the few grasslands along the trail and starts turning brown and then green. April and May are also Spring which sees an abundance of flowers blooming in the woods and the meadows.
If there is a popular season then March to June is the best time to do Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek.
But as the monsoon month draws closer, rains start getting more frequent in the valley. Frequent showers starting late May turn the valley greener and greener all the way to late June.
The trek then closes for the monsoon season.
Har ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek in Autumn/Winter (September to December)
It is in September that the valley reopens again for the trekkers.
There are lesser people on the trail as compared to the spring and summer. The views are equally spectacular.
If you’re someone looking for solitude then September to December is the best time to do Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal.
In September you’ll notice the monsoons have turned the valley into a lush green. The air is also clearer offering you a better view of the surrounding landscapes.
As autumn arrives, the temperatures start dropping and there is a crisp chill in the air. You’ll observe the high mountain peaks experiencing the odd snowfall or two.
But down in the valley the greens start turning to a shade of brown until they’re golden in the month of October and November.
The valley experiences its first snowfall usually in mid-December. It is a wonderful feeling to experience the first snowfall of the season.
Making snowmen and having a snowball fight is something that trekkers cherish and remember for a long time.
At Indiahikes, we wind up the trek for the year by the end of December.
Beyond December, the snowfall gets heavy and tends to accumulate up to several feet. This blocks the trail to campsites beyond Kalkathiyadhar and it is virtually impossible to complete the trek.
Weather On The Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
First thing to understand is that there are 4 different seasons to do this trek. And the weather conditions are different in each of the seasons.
In the earlier part of the year, we have the spring and summer season. The seasons start in March and end in June.
After a monsoon break of two months, the season resumes again for the latter half of the year.
The trek then resumes again in the autumn month of September. This leg of the season ends in December with the arrival of winter.
So, what kind of temperatures and conditions can you expect in these different seasons?
Take a quick glance at this chart.
Spring (mid-March to mid-April)
During the day the temperatures hover around 12-15° C in March. While at night the mercury drops to under 5° C.
In spring the day time temperatures make it a pleasant hike through the valley. While the nights are going to be cold.
Summer (mid-April to mid-June)
The summer months are a few degrees warmer than spring. Days are still pleasant. While nights aren’t as cold.
As you move towards the end of the season, you’ll experience the first of the monsoons showers. Clouds and rain tend to cool down the temperatures by a few notches.
Expect the mercury to fall below 10° C if it’s overcast or the rains. At night the temperature may hover around 0° C.
As July arrives, the valley experiences heavy rains making trekking almost impossible.
Heavy rains would mean Thamsa river overflowing. The wooden bridges across the streams may be underwater or sometimes even washed away.
All this makes trekking almost impossible.
Therefore, there are no treks in July and August.
When trekking resumes in September you can expect the weather conditions to be chronologically reverse of what it was in spring and summer.
Autumn (September – November)
You might get the last of the monsoon showers here or there. But otherwise, the conditions are very favourable for trekking.
Day time temperatures are in the 15-18° C range. The monsoons have turned the whole valley a lush shade of green.
Nights get colder and are around 5-8° C on the thermometer.
Month on month you can expect the temperature to drop by 2-4° C both during the day and night as you head closer to December.
The nights get extremely cold starting December and the temperature frequently falls well below 0° C. This is true even for the initial campsites.
We’ve noticed that it is by mid-December that the valley receives it’s first snowfall.
The valley that was a golden shade of brown turns a pristine shade of white. For trekkers wanting to experience a winter wonderland, mid-December to end of December is the best time to do the Har Ki Dun trek.
After January, there is a snowfall roughly every couple of weeks owing to western disturbances. And there is not enough sun to melt the snow on the trail.
This leads to accumulation of snow and making trekking impossible.
The Har Ki Dun trekking season for the year has ended and will restart in the coming spring.
Please note that sometimes during Winter, the higher campsites can become difficult to reach, especially after fresh snow. So the route and the trek will change during this time. Leave it to our team to help make the best of the trek during the winter.
How Difficult Is Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek?
At Indiahikes, while rating a trek difficulty we consider a number of factors. These include, altitude gained every day, length of trek every day, highest altitude, nature of the terrain, weather etc. Based on this, we rate a trek as easy or difficult or somewhere in between.
Har Ki dun- Ruinsara Tal Trek is a moderate trek on a difficulty level ranging from easy to difficult.
You start from Kotgaon which is at an altitude of 6,455 ft. You reach a maximum altitude of 11,811 ft at Ruinsara Tal on day 6 (via Har Ki Dun at 11,700 ft on day 4).
In terms of terrain, for most part it is an easy hike through the valley.
But there are 2 big reasons why we rate the trek as a moderate one. They are:
– The long distance you cover every day: Expect to hike an average of 10 km a day
– The lack of multiple exits: There is only one. The way into the valley is the only way out. So this makes evacuations a bit challenging.
Having said that it is still a trek that can be done by fit first timers.
You will need at least 4 weeks of solid preparation for this trek. You can begin preparation by going for brisk walks and then do brisk jogs to improve your cardio. Your target should be to cover 5 km in 37 minutes comfortably by the start of the trek. Here’s how you can get fit for the Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Tal Trek.
How Safe Is Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek?
In fact it is an excellent choice of trek to go on as a solo trek too. Here’s why:
4 reasons why Har Ki Dun is perfect as a solo trek in the Himalayas
– You do not need a guide to do the Har Ki Dun trek. The trail is well marked and there is no chance of getting lost. Moreover being a popular trek, you’ll always have company on the trail to ask for guidance.
– The trail is not dangerous or tricky at any section. So you do not require technical expertise or guidance to do the trek.
– Food and stay are easy on the Har Ki Dun trek as there are home stay facilities in the villages on the trail.
– Information on the Har Ki Dun trek is easily available, including GPX files and details of the route and the local know-how. Use these to your advantage if you’re trekking on your own.
Having said that there are multiple factors that impact your safety on a trek like Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal. We, at Indiahikes, have listed those factors and described them in great detail:
Safety of Har Ki Dun Trek – Terrain wise
The good news is that the Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek does not have too many sections that pose a challenge in terms of terrain. The long distances covered on the trek might tire you, but there aren’t many tricky areas on the trail that will test you too much.
Here are the only sections where you’ll need to be extra cautious:
1. Overhangs above Ruinsara Gad while trekking towards Swarnadhara: There are several sections on the trail from Rainbasera to Swarnadhara, where you have to traverse overhangs above the fast-flowing Ruinsara river. These are narrow uneven trails. If you’re trekking in a snowy season, you might have to navigate over steps cut across snow bridges. This could make you prone to slips and falls.
Safety advice: Tread carefully on these sections. Avoid any form of distractions, especially talking to other trekkers. Do not look towards the valley. Do not hold hands of other trekkers. Do not use mobile phones or cameras in these sections. Take short, firm steps to navigate these sections. Ideally step on snow bridges only where there footholds.
2. River crossings with a rope and pulley system (if bridges have been washed off): The entire Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trail is laid out along the length of the Thamsa river and the Ruinsara gad. There are hardly any sections where you’re not accompanied by a river / stream.
This means you’re constantly crossing rivers and streams on this trek. Most of the time, there are wooden / cement bridges that help you across.
But it is not uncommon to see wooden bridges washed off by the river. In such cases, you may have to get across the river with a rope and pulley system.
Safety advice: In these sections, closely follow instructions given to you by the Technical Team. Don’t do anything outside what the Technical team has asked of you.
| Trekking with Indiahikes? If there are no bridges across the river at key sections, the Indiahikes technical team will set up a rope and pulley system. Every trekker will be seated in a harness, secured to a rope and sent across the river using a pulley system. This is completely safe, as it is set up from scratch by our technical experts. It is an adventure with a big adrenaline rush!
| Note: It becomes a tricky situation if you’re going by yourself alone or with a team. In such a case:
– Firstly on your way into the valley check if there are places to cross before or after the washed out bridges to cross the river. If not, then it is better to abort your trek.
– Secondly, while on your way, keep a track of where you’re crossing back and forth between the banks of the river. Recording your trek on a trail tracking app like Gaia or Wikiloc is a great way to do that. This will help you retrace your way back to the starting point.
– Finally, if you’ve made it into the valley and encountered broken bridges, then hike a bit further ahead or back and see if there are safe spots to cross. Usually narrow places with well placed rocks to cross across are ideal and weak flow of water are ideal.
Also time your crossing for really early in the morning. At such times usually the flow of the river is quite weak with mountains tops which melt to for these streams and rivers freeze at night.
Safety of Har Ki Dun Trek – Weather wise
When it comes to weather the trek is safe throughout the times it is open.
However, there are few times when the weather does impact the nature of trail and terrain.
If you’re trekking to Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal in winter (December), and the year’s winter snow has already come in, expect to start seeing snow as soon as you enter the trail (sometimes even from Taluka).
As for later months, given that Har Ki Dun is a deep valley and doesn’t see much sunlight, it retains snow all the way till the end of April, and sometimes early May. If you’re trekking in summer months, expect to see snow from Kalkatiyadhar onwards.
The snow makes the trail slippery. However this can be managed with the right gear – namely microspikes and gaiters.
Ensure your microspikes are worn before you step on snow. Hard snow is extremely prone to slips. A small slip can result in injuries like a ligament tear, a sprained ankle or even a fracture. Always put your foot on footholds made by earlier trekkers.
Look out for deep footholds. Do not try to make new paths of your own. Avoid overtaking one another or fishing out your camera for pictures.
At Indiahikes, our technical team makes footholds required for trekkers to step on.
As mentioned above you’ll find this snow section right after Kalkatiyadhar campsites. The trail is lined with snow and requires caution.
Usually these narrow sections do not require ropes. However, if the snow is feeble, the technical team does use ropes to take the team forward.
The technical team will also be assisted by the Indiahikes Trek Leader.
Safety of Har Ki Dun Trek – Altitude wise
The Har Ki Dun trek starts at 6,900 ft and climbs to 11,900 ft. You may feel that the trek does not climb very high.
However you must not overlook the fact that you reach as high as 9,900 on the second day of the trek at Kalkathiyadhar.
The Har Ki Dun trek also has long distances to cover everyday making it a bit tiring for someone who is not adequately prepared.
This quick height gain and fatigue of walking long distances can make some people prone to develop AMS at the Kalkathiyadhar campsite. Watch out of symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, a mild lingering headache or inability to sleep at night.
If your symptoms do not subside on basic treatment for AMS and rest, it is better not to go further into the trek.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, at any point in the trek, inform your trek leader about your condition immediately if you feel any symptom of AMS. All Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to take care of your health and safety during medical emergencies of any sort.
In the case of AMS, early detection and treatment can ensure your successful trek completion.
If you are trekking on your own, the immediate step to take would be to start on a curative course of Diamox which is 250 mg every 12 hours followed by ample rest. The earlier you treat these symptoms, the higher the chances of recovering and completing the trek.
If the symptoms don’t alleviate after treatment, it is best to head down to Kotgaon immediately. Do not continue the trek if any of the symptoms persist.
Here is a complete guide to Altitude Sickness:
Exit points on the Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek
In case of any emergency, it is important to know how to exit from the trail quickly.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Har ki Dun trek, the farther you go into the valley the more difficult it is to make a quick exit.
Har Ki Dun trek has only one exit which is retracing your way back to Taluka and Kotgaon.
Which means, in case there are any medical emergencies, you have to descend all the way to Taluka and then take a vehicle to the closest medical help.
From Taluka, you can hire a jeep to Purola. Evacuation may take up to 24 hours since you are deep in the valley and the roads connecting Kotgaon and Purola are notoriously bad.
Closest Hospital to Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek
For mild medical issues, the closest medical assistance can be found in Mori and then in Purola. This includes simple fracture, sprain, etc.
Government Hospital; Mori
Mori – Sankari Rd, Mautar, Uttarakhand – 249128
Primary Health Center; Mori
Mori, Uttarakhand – 249128
Ph: 01373 234 486
Barkot, Uttarakhand – 249141
Swami Vivekanand Dharmarth Chikitsalay
Barkot, Uttarakhand – 249141
Ph: 095576 19690
How To Reach Har Ki Dun From Dehradun
The Har Ki Dun trek starts from the village of Taluka. The total distance from Dehradun to Taluka is 200 km. Here’s a short guide to reach Har Ki Dun.
Dehradun to Kotgaon Public Buses or Private Buses or Shared Taxis Kotgaon to Taluka Private Taxis Taluka to Har Ki Dun and Ruinsara Tal Hike
| If you are an Indiahikes trekker, transport will be organised from Hotel Grand Legacy, Dehradun. The shared taxi will start at 6.30 am and costs Rs.6000 per cab and Rs. 9000 per tempo (shared among 5-6 trekkers)
Dehradun to Taluka via Kotgaon by Bus
Dehradun to Kotgaon
This is the best and the cheapest way to get to Kotgaon.
There are 3 buses (2 private and 1 state transport bus) that leave from Dehradun bus stand, next to the railway station.
– The private buses from Dehradun to Sankri (near Kotgaon) depart at 5.30 am and 6.30 am.
– The state transport bus from Dehradun to Kotgaon departs at 8 am.
It is a 9 hour journey to Sankri and will cost you Rs.350 approximately.
What to watch out for on the drive from Dehradun to Kotgaon
The drive to Kotgaon takes you through Mussoorie, Nowgaon, Purola and Mori before finally bringing you to Kotgaon. Trekkers need to especially watch out for the section after Purola until the base camp, where the drive curves through a dense pine forest.
The scent of pine engulfs you as you make your way towards your base camp. After you drive through the length of the pine forest, you enter Mori. The Tons river starts keeping you company here, gushing quietly alongside.
It is no wonder that this is one of the most beautiful drives in the Indian Himalayas.
Kotgaon to Taluka
By the time you arrive at Kotgaon it might be late afternoon or early evening. You’ll not find buses from Kotgaon to Taluka. Finding a shared taxi to Taluka at this hour of the day may be difficult.
Moreover, it is not advisable to make this journey in the latter part of the day.
The drive from Kotgaon to Taluka will be meandering through some dangerous curves. Also, the road is landslide prone.
There aren’t as good or as many options to spend the night at Taluka either.
Stay at Kotgaon for the night. And look for a shared vehicle to Taluka the next morning. This way, you can start your trek straight after you reach Taluka the next morning.
You may opt to stay at Sankri, which is near Kotgaon.
There are a number of guest houses at Sankri.
You’ll find shared taxis plying between 7 am and 3 pm between Sankri and Taluka.
It’s an hour’s drive through a landslide prone kaccha road and will cost Rs.50. But you’ll have to wait until the taxi is full.
Or you can hire an entire taxi yourself but it will set you back by Rs.1000.
Dehradun to Taluka via Kotgaon by shared Taxis
You’ll find shared taxis to Sankri (close to Kotgaon) at the taxi stand next to Dehradun Railway station. You will have to wait until the driver finds at least 5 people to share the ride.
Also there might not be direct taxis to Sankri. In which case, take a taxi going towards Purola or Mori (could cost approximately Rs.300). From Purola / Mori, you’ll find shared taxis to Sankri (approximately Rs.150).
The entire journey will take about 7 hours. But, only if you don’t have to wait for fellow passengers. 9 hours is closer to reality.
Once at Sankri, you can reach Taluka as described here.
The return journey from Har Ki Dun to Dehradun
After you finish the trek at Taluka, you can once again take a shared taxi from Taluka back to Sankri.
By the time you’re back at Sankri it will be around 2 pm. Therefore, stay the night at Sankri and plan for your return journey early next morning.
There are four private buses from Sankri to Dehradun.
Timings of the buses from Sankri to Dehradun:
- 4.30 am
- 6.00 am
- 7.30 am
- 9.00 am
There is also a state transport bus that leaves from Farfalla (3 km walk from Sankri) at 7.00 am going to Dehradun.
Or you could get a shared taxi from Sankri for your journey back to Dehradun. The route will be reversed from what is described above.
How Long Is Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek?
The Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek is approximately 70 km long.
You start at Kotgaon, 6,455 ft (1,967 m) and head to Har Ki Dun, 11,700 ft (3,566 m). From there you move on to Ruinsara Tal, 11,811 ft (3,600 m) which is the max altitude you reach on this trek.
The ascent through the trek is very gentle and gradual. In fact, it has the gentlest ascent compared to any of the top treks in India.
What makes it challenging though is the length. Expect to walk an average of 8-10 km everyday.
What To Pack For Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
Before you start shopping and packing for the high altitude Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek, watch this video to get a clear idea about what you need to take along.
Complete Video Playlist: How To Pack For Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal 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
Mandatory Documents to carry on Har Ki Dun Trek
Carry an Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, a passport will do.
You will need to submit your identification to the forest department. Without these, you will not be allowed to trek.
| Tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack to prevent them from getting wet.
If you have registered with Indiahikes, you also need to carry the Disclaimer Certificate and the Medical Certificate.
For an exhaustive list of things to carry, click here.
Other Information To Know About This Trek
Network and Connectivity on Har Ki Dun
Network and connectivity is sparse in Har Ki Dun. But there are few locations where you can rely on a good network for communication.
We have put down the network zones in the entire trek from all three routes in the table below.
Location Phone Network Strength Phone + Internet Strength Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal BSNL
– – Base Camp – Kotgaon BSNL
Intermittent / Unreliable
Intermittent / Unreliable
The last ATM en route to the base camp is in Mori. Mori has an SBI bank with an ATM attached to it. However, the ATM has been found to be empty of cash many times.
In such a case, you may head out to an SBI authorized cash withdrawal center. You can swipe your card and get cash from the person servicing the desk. This center is located on the first floor, two buildings to the right of SBI.
Although Mori has this possibility, we strongly encourage trekkers to bring cash or to withdraw cash from the 3 ATMs available in Purola (SBC, ICICI and Axis Bank ATMs).
Kotgaon are the last points that are electrically connected. However, the electricity is extremely intermittent and can be absent for most part of the day during winter/late summer (when monsoon starts to set in).
So, we strongly encourage you to bring additional batteries for your cameras and a power bank with more than 10,000 mAh to last you the entire trek.
Protip Beware that the power from your batteries will drain faster in the cold temperatures of this region. So, put the batteries in a small pouch and keep it inside your sleeping bag to keep them warm during the night.
Cloak room facility on your Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek
For your Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek , you have the opportunity to drop your luggage at the base camp for the duration of the trek.
At the end of the trek, the cloak room belongings can be picked up at the base camp on your return.
Please do ensure that you do not leave valuable belongings in our cloak room facility. If you do so, do inform our staff so that they can take the necessary precautions to keep it safe.
Day 1: Drive From Dehradun to Kotgaon
It is a 9-10 hours drive from Dehradun. Transport will be organised from Hotel Grand Legacy, Dehradun at 6.30 am. Cost of the cab – Rs 6,000 per vehicle (shared among 5-6 trekkers) and Rs. 9000 for Tempo Traveller
Day 2: Drive from Kotgaon to Taluka. Trek from Taluka to Gangaad
Drive Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours | Trek Distance: 8.5 km | Trek Duration: 5-6 hours
Day 3: Trek from Gangaad to Kalkatiyadhar
Trek Distance: 7.4 km | Duration: 4-5 hours
Day 4: Kalkatiyadhar to Boslo via Har Ki Dun
Trek Distance: 9.1 km | Duration: 5-6 hours
Day 5: Boslo to Swarnadhara/Untigad
Trek Distance: 6.2 km/8.6 km | Duration: 6-7 hours
Day 6: Swarnadhara to Devesu Thatch via Ruinsara Tal
Trek Distance: 13.7 km | Duration: 7-8 hours
Day 7: Devsu Thatch to Taluka
Trek Distance: 16.3 km | Duration: 9-10 hours
Day 8: Drive back from Kotgaon to Dehradun
You are expected back in Dehradun by 8-9 pm. We can drop you at the Dehradun railway station.
The cab costs Rs. 6,000 per vehicle (6 seater) and Rs 9,000 per tempo traveller.
Please note that you will be staying at a lodge in Kotgaon. The stay on other days is either in village homestays or in tents.
What this itinerary means:
This Short Itinerary offers a quick glance at the Indiahikes route, the campsites, the altitudes, distances and time taken everyday.
We have chosen this route to give you the best experience of Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Tal trek. We’ve arrived at this one after many explorations and experiments on other routes. (We still continue to explore more trails in the region.)
This is part of why you trek with Indiahikes.
When you sign up for a trek with Indiahikes, you are signing for an experience beyond the trek. Our team works tirelessly to design an itinerary that gives you a transformative experience. We also focus on the safety aspect of the trail, the environmental impact and the information we have on the trail, which we share with you transparently.
Screenshot the itinerary and save it on your phone. It comes handy while planning your travel too.
It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek. Since Kotgaon will have limited facilities to photo copy, do not leave this till the end.
Day 1 (Pick-up Day): Reach Kotgaon
Kotgaon, base camp for this trek, is a small but pretty village with 250 houses. A few dhabas and shops make up the commerce scene in Kotgaon. In peak season, it is usually bustling with trekking activity as it is the basecamp for many treks – Kedarkantha, Bali Pass and Borasu Pass. The village offers a beautiful view of the sun setting behind the greater Himalayas. The peaks of Swargarohini shimmer in the evening sun, standing tall over the ridges beyond Kotgaon.
The drive to Kotgaon will take you through Nainbagh, Naugaon, Purola, Jarmola, Mori Naitwar (a left turn from Naitwar will lead you to Dhaula, which is the base camp for Rupin Pass and Bharadsar lake trek), and finally Kotgaon.
- Altitude: 6,455 ft (1,967 m)
- Time taken: Kotgaon, the base camp, can be reached in 8-10 hours from Dehradun. Transport will be arranged from Hotel Grand Legacy, Dehradun at 6.30 am.
Day 2: Kotgaon to Gangad via Taluka
- Altitude: 6,455 ft (1,967 m) to 8,160 ft (2,487 m) via 6,916 ft (2,108 m)
- Time taken: 5-6 hours. 12 km drive to Taluka + 10 km trek to Chillurgad
- Trek gradient: Flat gradient for first 3 kms. After Beeda ka Thatch is a gradual ascent and Descent all through the trail.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles in the river along the trail.
There is a four-wheel-drive road that connects Kotgaon with Taluka.
If you’re trekking on your own, you can either hire a jeep (locally) for this, subject to the condition of the road, or walk toTaluka. This is a landslide prone route, and is often closed during the monsoons. The trail to Taluka is almost level, going through 10-11 mountain bends. On the way, there are three big streams, almost submerging sections of the road in water. The hike is scenic, going past a series of wild roses and irises and bamboo, chestnut and cedar (deodar) trees. Just 2 km before Taluka, there is a campsite beside a stream. You can camp here if there isn’t enough time to go to Puani Garaat i.e if you’re hiking from Kotgaon. There is also a GMVN Guest house at Taluka for accommodation. The dhaba food is very basic.
Trekkers with Indiahikes drive from Kotgaon to Taluka (12 km, 1 hour). Taluka is a small village with concrete houses. This is quite a contrast from the architecture in neighbouring villages like Kotgaon, Osla and Gangad, which are close to 300 years old. We start the trek towards Bhida Ka Thach from Taluka.
Next to the forest guest house, the trail descends to the river valley of Thamsa and continues through a series of forests, while the river remains on your right. This shepherds’ trail goes along the river on a level walk. Around 10 minutes into the hike, spot the first cemented bridge over a small stream. Another 15 minutes of level walk will have you reach another bridge, this time, a wooden one. These two spots are conducive to fill up drinking water.
From here, walk uphill for 15 minutes till you see a small clearing next to the river. You can set up an emergency camp here if need be.
Another 10-15 minutes later, you’ll come across a spot where you can climb down to a tributary of River Thamsa. Look for a wooden bridge to cross this river, which is just below Datmir village. After crossing the tributary, you’ll reach a camping ground in a couple of minutes. From here, facing the inner part of the valley, locate two trails, one moving upwards and another going straight ahead. Take the second route straight ahead.
The trail from here is in bad condition as it is prone to landslides. After 10-15 minutes of level walk, you will find land cleared by shepherds to set up temporary night shelters. From here, the trail climbs up, alternating between upward and level walks. Around 10 minutes into the hike, look out for your first landslide-prone section. You may have to come down the river and cross the section that has caved in due to landslide. Around 20 minutes on this trail will lead you to a spot where there is a wooden bridge to cross over River Thamsa.
Ignore the bridge and proceed ahead. After 5 minutes, the trail turns steep and criss-crosses upwards. This section will take about 15-20 minutes to cover. During monsoon, expect this trail to be completely covered in mud. The trail will now relax with a series of level walks. Soon you’ll approach a stream coming down the hill on your right, with a wooden bridge over it.
For trekkers trekking by themselves, they can camp at the further camp site of Puani Garaat. The trail picks up a little altitude as you enter the forest again. After 30-40 minutes, look for an old village across the river on your left. This is Gangaad. From here, 20 minutes later, take a diversion towards your right until you reach a dhaba next to a wooden bridge. Behind the dhaba is a small hut, where locals use the momentum of water to run a mechanical turbine that grinds cereal into flour.
Just 25 metres before the wooden bridge, on the right is Puani Garaat. There is also a cemented structure here. Since it’s incomplete, it is not possible to stay in it comfortably. However, if the weather is getting bad and you can’t proceed, you may stay there. This is the campsite and you can pitch your tent here for the night.
An alternative for Puani Garaat campsite: Those who want to camp at Osla have to cross the wooden bridge.You will then get onto the left side of River Thamsa and trek along the river to reach Osla.
An alternative route from Puani Garaat: To reach Seema, one has to trek straight up on the true right of the river all the way to Seema. There are a few steep ascents, but the trail relaxes into a gradual walk often. The landscape and terrain will remain like this for around 90 minutes.
From Seema, walk straight towards a bridge over Thamsa and get onto the left side of the valley. From here, look for a small cemented bridge some 60 metres above you. There is a small broken trail that connects to this bridge. Soon, you will connect with the level trail coming from Osla on the left. It goes straight ahead and will lead to Har-ki-dun.
Continue on the trail by heading to Osla village, which involves crossing the bridge and walking alongside the river till you reach Osla.
Osla is a small village, about 9,000 ft above sea level. It is famous for a Someshwar Temple. Some people say it is the temple of Someshwar Devta (an avatar of Lord Shiva). The architecture of this temple is a wonder in itself. The villagers of Osla are proud of two things – one, living in the Himalayas and two, their satellite phone. Spend some time here and explore the village before moving on.
From Osla, the trail comprises a few steep sections but generally leisurely level-walks. Within half an hour, you’d have crossed two streams, out of which the second one has a wooden bridge running over it. There is also a local temple to the right. Cross the bridge and traverse around the mountain bend. You can now see a series of meadows in front of you.
After hiking for 15 minutes, you will enter the first of a series of cleared lands. Note that some of the land has been used for cultivation. From here, there are two more mountain bends that you need to traverse. The upward incline will gradually increase as you walk alongside a huge field of boulders and grass. This whole section to reach the top of the mountain bend may take around 90 minutes.
You will see a makeshift wooden bridge below the valley over Thamsa. If you want to trek to the meadows of Dev Thach, Ruinsara Taal and Bali Pass, cross this bridge.
To go to Har ki Dun, ignore the bridge and walk ahead . As you walk past a series of wheat fields, look out for two of the highest residential buildings in this region. The trail ascends over the confluence of Thamsa and Ruinsara rivers to a vantage point with views of the snowcapped mountains of Dhauladhar.
The climb is steep but the beautiful landscape compensates for the struggle. As you reach this vantage point, look for Kalanag (Black Peak) and Bandarpooch ranges looming in the distance.
Day 3: Gangaad to Kalkatiyadhar
- Altitude: 8,160 ft (2,487 m) to 9,922 ft (3,024 m)
- Time taken: 3-4 hours, 6-7 km
- Trek gradient: Easy. Initial descent of 15 minutes followed by mostly level walk for about 90 minutes. Steep climb for 15 minutes followed by a level walk and boulder section finishing off with a gradually ascending trail.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from the river along the trail
The meadows of Dev Thach are clearly visible on your right, across the confluence of the two rivers. At this point, you have crossed 3,000 m altitude for the first time. The valley now separates into two, with Har-ki-dun on the left and Ruinsara Taal, Bali Pass on the right.
As you cross the mountain bend, you are greeted with the sight of the Har Ki Dun peak and Hata Peak, below which is Har-ki-Dun valley. The campsite is now only 4 km away through pine forests and meadows. The trail initially descends as you trek and then becomes level for about 15-20 minutes.
After this, the trail crosses multiple streams. The pine forest has a sizable number of rhododendron trees. There is also a lovely stream gushing down on the way, with a variety of Himalayan alpine flowers along its sides, especially blue poppy. About an hour later, pass through another section of meadows with a delightful growth of chestnut. The smell of cedar and pine wood trees is intoxicating to any nature lover. After another 20 minutes, you reach a small waterfall and leave the meadows behind.
From this spot, you have to negotiate a steep climb of about 15 minutes. Slowly, patches of snow start appearing on your trail and become prominent after a while (snow is seen only till the end of May). After 15 minutes of level walk, spot another wooden bridge.
From this junction there is a short climb of 10 minutes, over boulders, till you reach another camping ground. The final forest stretch lies in front of you. After half an hour over a gradual incline, you traverse the forest ridge from the left side of the valley.
As you cross over, look for Forest Guest House huts just in front of you above a small ridge. Walk for the final 10 minutes along the camping ground next to Thamsa and cross the last wooden bridge to reach Har-ki-dun. Look at the two valleys opening up in front, divided by a stream called Karmanasha. The valley towards your left is going to Maninda Taal and Borasu Pass and the other, to Jaundar Glacier.
Day 4: Kalkatiyadhar to Boslo via Har-ki-Dun
- Altitude: 9,922 ft (3,024 m) to 10,469 ft (3,191 m) via 11,700 ft (3,566 m)
- Time taken: 5-6 hours, 10
- Trek gradient: Easy. Initial descent of 15 minutes followed by mostly level walk for about 90 minutes. Steep climb for 15 minutes followed by a level walk and boulder section finishing off with a gradually ascending trail.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from the river along the trail
When you reach Har-ki-Dun, the sheer beauty of the valley will make you never want to leave the place. So, a rest day at the campsite is highly recommended. At Har-ki-Dun, one can see the vast grounds below Swaragrohini-1 peak. The meadows here are full of alpine flowers. You can explore the entire ground in about an hour or two.
The logical route to Sangla valley (Chitkul, Himachal) via Borasu Pass is also visible from this vantage point.
Day 5: Boslo to Swarnadhara
- Altitude: 10,469 ft (3,191 m) to 11,292 ft (3,442 m)
- Time Taken, Distance: 6-7 Hrs, 9-10 km
- Trek Gradient: Immediate climb after the Boslo campsite later it’s a gradual ascent till the Har Ki Dun.
- Water sources: No water source for the initial 4 km later water sources at regular intervals. Day pack with one litre water is sufficient for the day.
This is going to a long day. Your trail will start from and you have to go for a sharp descend immediately when you leave the campsite. The descend path needs to be taken carefully and you will happen to see the conjunction of two roaring glacial rivers one is Har Ki Dun and the other is Kyarakoti. They both join to become Tamsa river.
You need be a little careful with the trail as during the spring there is bloom of various flowers so don’t damage the flora. Later you will have to cross the Har Ki Dun river. The river which you saw yesterday in its ultimate beauty has became ferocious with its ultimate volume. You will have to cross this river by walking on the makeshift bridge made by log of woods.
Be a little careful and you will easily cross by. Now the trail will be taken over with the eye atching Silver Birch, Blue pine and all sorts of vegetation. The Kyarakoti river will be following next to you with its full power with a continuity of a music. 3 km past the river crossing you will come across two gigantic rocks laying one above the other making a natural shelter below. You may get some survival lessons/tips from your trek leader at this location. You will get your first water source after walking 4 kms.
This place’s name is Chhatri where there is a concrete shade made by Forest deptt. The trail will have snow bridges after winters which may be dangerous at times. Look at the horizon in front and you will see the Black peak. After completing 9 kms you will reach Untigaad. This is a lovely campsite surrounded by water streas all around and snow laden peaks. Take rest for the day.
Day 6: Swarnadhara (11,292 ft) -Ruinsara Tal- Devsu (9,941 ft)
- Max Altitude: Ruinsara Tal 11,811 ft (3,600 m)
- Time Taken, Distance: 6-7 hours, 12-13 kms
- Trek Gradient: Gradual ascent to the lake. Continuous gradual descend till the river crossing of Devsu. Finally a steep ascent to reach Devsu.
- Water sources: Water sources regularly along the way. One litre of water is sufficient.
It is an eventful day as you will see the majestic Ruinsara Tal. The lake is around 1.5 kms from Untigaad. It will hardly take an hour to two to reach this lake. The trail is completely filled with silver birch or Bhoj Patra trees and is mostly rocky. Post monsoon this lake is surrounded with greenery while after witer it looks like a high glacial lake with big chunks of ice in between.
The lake is brown/blackish in colour due to huge vegetation inside. The best view of this lake can be had from the top of a rock right in front where you can get the reflection of the mountains right in front of it. The lake is surrounded with unmanned peaks but the trail ahead goes to the famous Bali Pass trek. Further walking into the trail will lead you to the Kyarakoti Glacier which is the base camp of the challenging Back Peak aka Kalanag. You can also see the hanging glaciers of Swargarohini from this lake.
A shepherd’s hut on a rocky patch of a mountain might surprise you. But it is said that it almost 100 sheep can be held inside that cave. However, there are too many pests and it is better for trekkers to avoid it t The return journey to Untigaad will put you back on the same trail as before.
And after 8 Kms from Untigaad you reach the broken bridge of the confluence point of Kyarakoti and Har Ki Dun rivers. Though this time take the trail towards Devsu. After crossing the Kyarakoti river it will be a steep ascent to Devsu. You will be welcomed with beautiful alpine bushes full of all kinds of flowers and greenery.
This is one of the best campsites of this journey as you will be surrounded with a carpet of grass on the ground. Surrounded by a blanket of trees, with snow laden mountains ahead and the deep blue sky above. If you’re lucky you can spot some Himalayan birds like Monal and Pheasant, and animals like black panther and Himalayan bear. You can even view the Kalkatiyadhar campsite from here.
Day 7: Devsu Thatch to Taluka via Gangaad. Drive back to Kotgaon.
- Altitude: 9,941 ft to 6,455 ft
- Time Taken, Distance: 6-7 hrs, 9-10 kms
- Trek Gradient: Continuous gradual descend till Gangaad. After Gangaad, continuous gradual descend till Taluka. Vehicle transfer to Kotgaon
- Water sources (important): Regular water sources along the trail. Carry sufficient water.
Trail description: Today the trail will take you back in time as we trek to the ancient village of Gangaad. The trail will continue between the forests full of Chir Pine, Needle pine, various ferns and flowering trees. While you will walk on this trail you will see the trekkers going for the Har Ki Dun trek on the parallel side of the trail.
Both these trails join at the Seema bridge after which it will be the same route back to base. Two kms after the bridge you will reach the Chilurgaad campsite and we will further descend to reach the ancient Gangaad village.
Talk to the locals, about their village, their history, their food and culture. But don’t be intrusive. Be polite and respectful.
It’s the last day of your trek. Time to say good bye to the villagers of Gangaad. The route will continue to Taluka the same way as the day you began. It will roughly take 3-4 hrs on an average pace.
The vehicles will take you from Taluka to Sakri and you reach in the late afternoon. You can buy some local made products in Gangaad such as Wool, Honey, Herbs, Organic Rajma, Red rice etc.
Banner image by Vishal Sinha
Plan Your Travel for the Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal Trek
It is great to see you going on the Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Trek. While it is a doorway to the ancient Himalayan culture trek to do, you need to get your travel plan worked out perfectly.
Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do next. Use this guide and nothing else to plan your travel.
- A quick view of your travel plan (Skip to section)
- Planning your onward air/train booking (Skip to section)
- Planning your return air/train booking (Skip to section)
- Planning your hotel booking (Skip to section)
- How to reach Kotgaon on your own (Skip to section)
1. Here’s a quick view on how to plan your travel
Day 1 (Pick-up Day): Reach Kotgaon; 8-10 hours drive from Dehradun. Transport will be organised from Hotel Grand Legacy, Dehradun at 6.30 am. Cost – Rs.6000 per cab, Rs. 9000 per tempo (shared among 5-6 trekkers)
Day 2: Drive from Kotgaon to Taluka. Trek from Taluka to Gangaad ;1.5 hour drive and 5-6 hours trek , 11 km.
Day 3: Gangaad to Kalkatiyadhar; 4 hours, 6-7 km
Day 4: Kalkatiyadhar to Boslo via Har Ki Dun; 5-6 hrs, 10km
Day 5: Boslo to Swarnadhara; 6-7 hrs, 9-10km
Day 6: Swarnadhara to Devesu Thatch via Ruinsara Tal; 7 hours, 13 km
Day 7: Devsu Thatch to Gangaad to Taluka by trek. Then drive (1.5 hours) to Kotgaon, 6-7 hours.
Day 8 (Drive-back Day): Depart from Kotgaon by 7 am. You are expected back in Dehradun by 7-8 pm.
Book your return by train from Dehradun to Delhi on Day 9 after 8pm.
If your taking a flight from Dehrdaun, book it for Day 10
- While getting to Kotgaon, we recommend you arrive a day earlier and stay at Dehradun (Day zero). Get a good night’s rest for the journey the next day.
- We can also pick you from Mussoorie which is about an hour and a half from Dehradun, the distance is 33 kms. The pickup from Mussoorie is at the Library chowk (Library end junction)
Your travel route to the Kotgaon basecamp passes through Mussoorie and Purola.
2. Planning your onward flight/train booking
If you are travelling from Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai or any other city, book your air tickets for Day Zero, which is the day before Day 1 on the itinerary. If your trek start day is 25th November, book your air tickets for 24th November to either Delhi/Dehradun.
There are two options.
Option 1: Fly directly to Dehradun.
We recommend this. It gives you an added rest day at Dehradun. Most metros are directly connected to Dehradun. However, if the cost of the flight ticket to Dehradun is too high, book to Delhi and connect to Dehradun by train/bus. Dehradun Airport in Jolly Grant and 35 km from Dehradun.
Tip: Train is the best option to get to Dehradun. Bus journeys are often delayed by a few hours.
The Dehradun airport is somewhat inconvenient when it comes to city connectivity ( to Dehradun). Airport buses that ply to Dehradun via airport run every hour. In our experience, the hour can stretch to even 1½ hours.
Taxis are available from the airport (plenty). Prepaid taxis are available (look for the pre-paid taxi counter just out of the conveyor belt at the arrivals). You can also flag down a taxi (bargain a bit) with taxis outside the airport. Airport taxis are exorbitant. Cost?
Usually most passengers take taxis from the airport. Try to hook up with co-passengers on the flight for your taxi ride to Dehradun.
Pro Tip: If you want to save real money try to catch an auto just outside the airport terminal complex. They usually come there to drop passengers off. Autos are not allowed to enter the airport complex. They charge approximately Rs 300 to Dehradun.
If autos are not available, walk for further 1.5 km to get to the Rishikesh Dehradun highway. From the highway you can flag down regular town buses or shared autos (shared autos are called Vikrams). Bus fare is about Rs 30 to Dehradun. Shared autos charge about Rs 20.
Option 2: Flying to Delhi
Flying to Delhi may be a lot cheaper than getting to Dehradun. Make sure to book a flight that reaches Delhi by 8.00 pm. You must arrive in Delhi on Day Zero and not on Day 1.
Note: If you notice the difference in air ticket prices between Delhi and Dehradun less than Rs 1000 then book directly to Dehradun. The rest and shorter travel time is worth the difference.
Delhi to Dehradun by train
Next, book yourself in the Nanda Devi Express to Haridwar (Train No: 12401). It is a fully AC train that leaves at 23.45 hrs from Hazrat Nizamuddin and gets to Dehradun at 5:40 am in the morning.
Note: Earlier the Nanda Devi express would depart from New Delhi railway station. From 26 Aug 2019, it leaves from Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. The train now comes from Kota. So expect about 15 to 30 mins delay in arrival. The train number has changed too from 12206 to 12401.
At Dehradun wait for Indiahikes pickup at 6.30 am. Contact your driver by 6.00 am. The number of your transport coordinator will be shared with you a week prior to your departure.
Caution: Do not book on any other train except the Nanda Devi Express. The other option, Mussoorie express, is notorious for its delay. Your pickup vehicle may leave without you. If you do not get tickets on the Nanda Devi Express, take a bus from Delhi to Dehradun, but do not book on the Mussoorie express.
Pro Tip: Take the afternoon Jan Shatabdi express( Train No 12055) from New Delhi railway station (leaves at 15.20 pm) to arrive at Dehradun by 21:10 pm. Stay overnight at Dehradun Take the Indiahikes pickup the next morning directly from Dehradun station.
Delhi to Dehradun by Bus
If in case you do not get a train ticket, there are ordinary, A/C and Volvo AC buses from Delhi’s ISBT Kashmiri Gate to Dehradun ISBT. Buses are frequent and not usually crowded, there are buses till 12 pm. You can get a bus almost every hour. Buses take 7-8 hours to get to Delhi. Ordinary buses cost Rs 400, A/C Rs 525 and Volvo Rs 700.
3. Planning your return flight/train booking
Booking your return tickets require some thought. First, keep some buffer time in mind before booking tickets. If you are scheduled to reach Dehradun around 6.30pm, book your onward bus or train tickets only after 9 pm. In case you are stuck in traffic or get delayed at your lunch spot, you will have some buffer time to catch your bus/train.
Next, if your onward flight departs from Delhi/Dehradun, then book flight tickets for Day 7.
Sometimes trekkers worry if they can book an early morning flight out of Delhi on Day 7. Yes, you can. But book flights that depart only after 8 am. Do not book any flight between 6.00 and 8 am. You may not reach Delhi in time.
How to get to Delhi on time for an early morning flight.
If your flight is early, say between 8.00 and 9.00 am, then there are two options.
Train: Take the Nanda Devi Express from Dehradun station (12402) that leaves at 22:50 to get to Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station at 4.50 in the morning. From Hazrat Nizamuddin you get airport buses from outside the station as well as taxis. Metro train is somewhat inconvenient from Hazrat Nizamuddin.
Note: Earlier Nanda Devi express would arrive at New Delhi railway station. From 26 August 2019, it has been extended up to Kota. It no longer goes to New Delhi railway station. Instead it goes to Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. The train number has changed from 12206 to 12402.
Bus: The other option is to take a bus from Dehradun. It is about 6½ – 7 hrs journey to Delhi. So if you take a bus that leaves around 9.00 pm, then expect to reach Delhi at around 04.00 am (ISBT Kashmiri Gate). A bus that leaves at 22:00 pm will reach Delhi around 05.00 am. AC Volvo buses are the fastest, so opt for them. Non AC buses can take up to 7-8 hrs for the journey.
From Kashmiri Gate ISBT you get Airport buses or taxis.
Note: Metro trains in Delhi do not start before 5.00 am.
If you are taking a flight out of Dehradun
If you are taking a flight out of Dehradun then stay over night and book yourself on Day 11. Most metros are now well connected by Dehradun by flight.
4. Planning your hotel/stay
In Dehradun, look for hotels around the railway station. There are quite a few options available online and it is not difficult to find last minute hotel booking.
Hotel options at Dehradun
MyRoom252 is a new backpackers facility in Dehradun. Modern, colourful and clean. Bunk beds start at Rs 300. Rooms are available too. It is not too far from Hotel grand Legacy, Dehradun. Shared autos (which are called Vikrams) can get you there. For online booking: http://www.myroom252.com/.
Phone: 086308 81083.
Nomads House is another new backpackers hostel in Dehradun. The atmosphere is good. The place neat and clean. Indiahikes trek leaders love Nomads House. It is about 10 mins from the Dehradun railway station. Bunk beds start at Rs 400, rooms start at Rs 800. Shared autos are easily available to get to Nomads House.
What if you miss the Indiahikes pickup? Getting to Kotgaon on your own.
If you miss the Indiahikes pick up from Dehradun, here is how you can get to Kotgaon base camp on your own.
Bus from Dehradun to Kotgaon
There are 2 direct buses from Dehradun railway station to Sankri. They leave at 7 am and 8 am respectively from Dehradun ISBT. The cost per ticket is Rs 350 – 400/-
If you are reaching Dehradun late, you can take a bus to Purola/Naugaon and then a shared cab to Kotgaon. It costs Rs 150, make sure you reach Purola by 3pm to take the last shared cab to Kotgaon.
Tip: While this bus hopping may sound cumbersome, we do it regularly at Indiahikes. They are a fun and a good way to know the real Uttarakhand. You also get to meet very interesting local people. So while no one wants to miss a pick up, don’t be too disheartened if it happens. You may just experience one of your best travel moments!
There is no network connectivity on this trek. Be sure to make all your phone calls before reaching the base camp. If you are lucky, you might get BSNL network.
How to get fit for the Har ki Dun trek
The Har ki Dun trek is classified as a moderate trek in terms of difficulty level. You trek up to an altitude of 11,768 ft. You start from an altitude of 6,398 ft at Kotgaon and reach the highest point of 11,768 ft at Har ki Dun. This means you gain over 5,000ft. Hence, you need to make sure you are fit for the 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.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
Here’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek.
One month trek fitness routine for easy treks
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 get for the Har Ki Dun Trek
Har Ki Dun is a high altitude trek with snow. In winter, the temperatures drop to negative temperatures. And winter lasts till the end of April. You’ll need enough warm layers and accessories to keep you warm and help you trek comfortably. 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)
- A list of mandatory documents (Skip to section)
First, The Most Essentials. You cannot do the trek without these.
1. Trekking Shoes
Har Ki Dun requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have 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.
| Rental: We have the Trek series and the MH series by Decathlon available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are already broken into and in good condition. Rental shoes are not dirty or unhygienic. This is how they are kept clean. Rent here.
For a trek like Har Ki Dun, 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.
| Rental: The 48 litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack. Rent here.
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 take off or put on layers as required.
Base layer: 3 T-shirts
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.
| 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.)
| 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.
| 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 another works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space, since you’re already carrying them.
5 insulation layers in winter
The Har Ki Dun trek is primarily a winter trek. If you’re going any time between December and April, you will need at least 5 warm layers.
You will need 1 pair of inner thermals, 2 light fleece layers, 1 light sweater and 1 padded jacket. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
For your outer later, 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.
| Rental: Padded jackets made by Fort Collins are available on rent at the Indiahikes store. They are custom made for Indiahikes and trekkers find them terrific, even in winter. Rent here.
Two trek pants
Two pairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry one 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 trek 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 HAr Ki Dun 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. On a winter trek like Har Ki Dun, expect to walk on long stretches of snow. 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.
| Wearing tip: 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.
| Buying 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.
| 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. Read this article for more guidance on managing contact lenses on treks.
A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sun strokes, 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 woolen 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. They prevent sun burns in every possible way. 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 Har Ki Dun, you are going to be handling snow quite a bit. 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 woolen 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 woolen 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 Har Ki Dun trek you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.
| Buying tip: 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 Har Ki Dun trek there are steep ascents and descents. 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.
| Rental: Imported side-locking trekking poles are available on rent on the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
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.
| Pro tip: 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.
| Rental: High grade ponchos are available on rent on the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
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 back pack 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)
Some trekkers opt to offload their bags to a mule on the Har Ki Dun trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer. Your main backpack that carries most of your equipment is accessible only at the campsites.
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.
| Pro tip: Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Har Ki Dun.
| 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 leak proof. You are expected to wash your own cutlery. Trekkers often expect Indiahikes to wash their cutlery. When you allow Indiahikes to wash your cutlery, your cutlery becomes part of a mass washing system. You immediately invite germs, bacteria to settle on your cutlery. Incidence of stomach disorders rises exponentially.
| 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.
| Two 1 litre bottles or a 2 litre hydration pack: Har Ki Dun has many hours of trekking everyday (approximately 6 hours). 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.
| Rental: You could rent lightweight thermos flasks from the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
3. 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. Do not take any medicine unless you have consulted your trek leader.
- 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 Yamunotri. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Har Ki Dun trek.
- Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is a 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. Alert your trek leader immediately. It could be a sign of AMS.
- 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.
Our trek leaders carry a high altitude medical kit with them which also consist of Life Saving Drugs. If there is an emergency our trek leaders know how to tackle it. Meanwhile, contact your trek leader before consuming any of these medicines listed here.
| Pro tip: We find that these medicines by trekkers are rarely used. But you cannot do away with them. At the end of the trek please donate unused medicines to your trek leader. Some of these medicines get distributed to villages on the trek and some are added to the Indiahikes medical kit.
Mandatory Documents to carry
These are documents required for legal purposes by Indiahikes and the forest department. Without any of these, you will not be allowed to trek.
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, passport will do. This is required by the forest department for your identification.
- Disclaimer certificate. This is a legal requirement. Download the PDF, read carefully and sign it. This must be handed over to your Trek Leader during registration at the base camp – Download PDF
- Medical certificate. There are two sections in this. The first part must be filled by a practising doctor. The second part must be filled by you. Without the medical certificate the forest department will not issue permissions for your trek. It is also a requirement by Indiahikes – Download PDF
| Pro tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack. This keeps them from getting wet.
What are the risks on the Har Ki Dun Trek?
Har Ki Dun is a trek of moderate difficulty. And with every high altitude trek comes a flurry of risks – altitude sickness being the biggest risk. 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.
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 Har Ki Dun trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Har Ki Dun 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. Rest Day at Har Ki Dun Campsite
On the fifth day of the trek, we have allocated a rest day at the Har Ki Dun campsite. Prior to arriving at the Har Ki Dun campsite, you would have gained an altitude of 5,371 feet and trekked a distance of 24 km. So your body needs rest to recover from fatigue.
3. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Har Ki Dun trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required. Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.
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 he will be entering details about his health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms he should look out for and what action he should take during emergencies. These Health Cards will be taken back at the end of the trek.
4. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will also 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 campsites for any emergency situations.
5. 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, where there might be too much scree or moraine.
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.
6. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Har Ki Dun trek
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 altitude.
First thing you should know is that Har Ki Dun is a High Altitude trek. It climbs up to an altitude of 11,700 ft. So it comes with its fair share of risks – altitude sickness, lack of easy exit points, unfriendly terrain and extreme altitude gain.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS is one of the biggest dangers on a high altitude trek such as Har Ki Dun. AMS occurs when your body isn’t acclimatising to its surroundings. It can accelerate very rapidly, so it is important to identify the symptoms as soon as you see them. Before you read further, watch this video to understand the symptoms of AMS.
Where on the Har Ki Dun trek is AMS likely to affect you:
Over years of conducting the Har Ki Dun trek, we have noticed that there are some campsites where trekkers are most prone to be hit by AMS. Let’s take you through the trek so that you know where it is likely to occur and what precautions you can take.
On the first two days of the trek, between Kotgaon, Taluka and Puani Garaat, it is safe to say that you will not experience any symptoms. They are at fairly low altitudes, with Puani Garaat just touching the border of high altitude (8,280 ft).
On the third day, at Kalkatiyadhar, a few trekkers begin to feel queasy. Kalkatiyadhar is at an altitude of 8,986 ft.
On the fourth day, you climb from Kalkatiyadhar to Har Ki Dun, that is 8,986 ft to 11,768 ft. That is a 2,700 feet altitude gain on a single day. The Har Ki Dun campsite has had several cases of AMS being reported. At 11,768 ft, it is at an unfriendly altitude. Trekkers usually complain of headache and fatigue upon reaching Har Ki Dun.
What to do if you feel symptoms of AMS at Kalkatiyadhar or Har Ki Dun
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 this video to understand how to treat and prevent AMS. The information in this video is rare to find. With this knowledge, you can probably save your own life or another’s trekkers life.
As a first step, your trek leader will run you through the Triple One Test – One Disprin, One litre of water and One hour of rest. If you’re suffering from dehydration, this will solve the problem and you will be fine in one hour. If the symptoms don’t go away, then he’ll begin to treat you for AMS, perhaps with a course of Diamox. If you’re already on a course of Diamox, your trek leader is likely to increase the dosage.
The increased dosage of Diamox usually takes care of the Acute Mountain Sickness. In addition to that, the rest day at Har Ki Dun on Day 5 helps trekkers get enough rest while also getting acclimatised to the altitude.
If you’re not at your 100% at the end of Day 5, then again, report to your Trek Leader. AMS can escalate and turn into HAPE or HACE. He will make you descend to Puani Garaat, where you will be fine. This is the only campsite where exit is possible quickly because it is the closest campsite to the base village, Kotgaon.
If you face any of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness, don’t take them lightly. Report them to your trek leader immediately.
If Diamox alone doesn’t work, he might administer Dex or Nifedipine, or perhaps oxygen, depending on the circumstances.
On the Har Ki Dun trek, there have been cases of AMS being reported. While AMS can be treated with 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.
Exit points on the Har Ki Dun trek:
The safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. On the Har Ki Dun trek, exit is extremely difficult. If you’re hit by AMS at any point on the trek, Puani Garaat would be the ideal campsite to descend to. Puani Garaat has mules. From Puani Garaat, Taluka is a 12 km drive, which takes about an hour to reach. Taluka village has a basic medical dispensary and it can be used only to get first-aid treatments.
For any advanced treatment, Purola has the closest well-equipped hospital in the area. It is 55 km from Kotgaon (base village of the Har Ki Dun trek). Usually, it takes 4 hours to reach Purola. During winters, there will be a lot of snow on the road. It could take longer.
This means that in case there are any medical emergencies, you have to descend all the way to Kotgaon and hire a jeep to Purola. Evacuation will take 24 hours or less since you are deep in the valley and the roads connecting Kotgaon and Purola are notoriously bad.
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.
If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
This video will help you understand what medicines to administer when and how much. Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about HAPE and HACE. Here, you can learn about the advanced symptoms are and how to tackle them.
It is a myth that fit and experienced people are not affected by 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.
Your trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 7 (Kotgaon to Kotgaon). You will be staying at a lodge in Kotgaon and camping on remaining days of the trek.
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Kotgaon on Day 1 to breakfast at Kotgaon on Day 8 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
- Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
- Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. We provide ice axes, ropes, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
- Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.
Your trek fee does not include:
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Dehradun and drop you back from Kotgaon. This will cost approx. Rs. 6000 per cab and Rs. 9000 per tempo one way. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to Kotgaon and back.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 1,500 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that charges will vary for last minute offloading in case you decide to offload your bag after reaching Kotgaon (Rs.350 per day inclusive of taxes).
- Stay at Dehradun on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from inclusions
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. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. The trek has gradual climbs and steep descents. As a measure of your fitness, we require you to be able to run at least 5 km in 37 minutes by the time your trek starts. If you are 45 years or above, try to cover 5 km in 45 minutes. This is a minimum requirement.
If you prefer cycling over running, then try to cover 22 km in 60 minutes.
Unable to do so can make your trek difficult.
In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training and upload the fitness screenshots on your dashboard. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
Indiahikes has the right to reject trekkers who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason are trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1500 plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 250 per day inclusive of tax. You can opt for offloading directly your dashboard after your payment is done for the trek.
Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
Online offloading in advance is possible up to three days prior to the trek start date.
We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Dehradun and drop you back from Kotgaon. This will cost approx. Rs. 6000 per 5-6 seater vehicle one way. A 10-12 seater vehicle costs Rs.9,000 one way. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers.
Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 8 (Kotgaon to Kotgaon). You will be staying at a lodge in Kotgaon and camping on remaining days of the trek. Twin sharing is not possible. Stay is on sharing basis with males and females separately.
If there is a group size of 10 trekkers and above, then we will waive off the trek fee charges for one person.
Note - There is no discount available if the group size is 9 or less than that.
You can register the entire group and send us an email. If the group is registering individually, then the primary participant needs to send an email to the Trek Coordinator with the list of trekkers from the same group.
If you want to make the payment individually, then individual registrations have to be done.
This will be the case for a group of 10 trekkers. So if you have a group of 20 trekkers, then we will waive off the charges for 2 trekkers.
What will the pick up point be? How is travel arranged?
Indiahikes will organise transport to and fro Hotel Grand Legacy, Dehradun and the base camp Kotgaon, on the first day of the trek. This will be in 5-6 seater vehicles. The cost of each vehicle transport one way, is Rs 6000. A 10-12 seater vehicle costs Rs.9,000 one way. It will be shared among co trekkers in the same vehicle.
How to reach the pick up point, that is Dehradun? Any hotels you recommend?
Dehradun is connected by air to most major cities in India. You can either fly directly to Dehradun and spend the night before the pick up. Another option is to fly to Delhi and take an overnight train the Nanda Devi express to Dehradun. Do not take the Mussoorie express as it always late.
You can look at Hotel Drona and Hotel Grand. They are both close to the railway station as well.
How do I prepare for the trek, it is my first trek. What is the difficulty level?
Har Ki Dun is considered a moderate trek. This is because the distance covered on most days is long, an average of around 10 km. Also the trek itself is 8 days which makes it very tiring. It is a good trek for fit first timers.
You need to make sure you are physically fit to walk 10 km on an average in the mountains.
You will need at least 4 weeks of good preparation for this trek. You can begin preparation by going for brisk walks and then do brisk jogs to improve your cardio. Your target should be to cover 5 km in 35 minutes comfortably by the start the trek.
Is there an option to not carry my backpack and do the trek?
Yes, this is called offloading your backpack. It means a porter or a mule will carry it for you. You will receive it at the end of the day at each campsite. It is at an extra charge of Rs 1575 and is for the entire duration of the trek. You need to book and pay for this beforehand online.
Can I bring luggage I do not require on the trek and leave them somewhere before the trek begins?
Yes, we have an option of leaving behind extra luggage you do not need on the trek, at our base camp, Kotgaon. Ensure you leave no valuables (laptops, cash, electronics) in this luggage. There is no extra charge to leaving this luggage at the base camp, and you do not have to pre-book it anywhere.
What do I need to bring on the trek, and what can I rent with Indiahikes?
You will need to bring everything mentioned on the things to take tab.
We have trek poles, shoes, backpacks and padded jackets on rent.
All rental gear needs to be booked and paid for online on your dashboard. It will be provided to you at the base camp before you begin the trek.
Here is what trekkers have to say about their experience at Har Ki Dun-Ruinsara Tal Trek
- What the colours mean
Available:Registration is on.
Waitlist:The group is full, but cancellations are likely to happen. We have 5 waitlist slots for every group. You may register for the group. Waitlist slots confirmation chances are high if booked more than 30 days in advance.
Last 'x' slots:Indicates the number of slots available in a group.
Full:Indicates the group is full. No further slots are likely.
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