How To Choose Your First Himalayan Trek

C hoosing your first Himalayan trek is not easy. On the Indiahikes website, there are over 25 treks to choose from. If I were thinking of my first trek, for sure I would be bamboozled. By the end of this article, I’ll help you narrow down your choices to just two or three.

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Deoriatal Chandrashila is a great trek for first-timers. Picture By: Subhashis Pal

You can’t think of doing a Himalayan trek without getting ready for it. If I was starting out on my fourth or fifth trek, I would still need to prepare.

Don’t choose a trek because it is “easy” or “moderate” on the Indiahikes website. Most of the treks on our website are doable by a fit person, whatever be the grading. Having said that, all treks need physical preparation, even those labelled “easy.”

So how do you choose your first trek?

Consider these points.

When do you want to go?

First, choose the time of the year. There are six great seasons to trek in India. Of these, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter are the most popular, which is somewhat sad. Trekking in early winter can be very rewarding (October and November). The air is crisp, the views are razor sharp. The colours of earth, mountains and sky, bewitching.

Hampta-Pass-Indiahikes-Sourasis-Das-Twilight-at-Jwara-in-July
One of the best treks to do in the months of June-August : Hampta Pass. Picture By: Sourasis Das

What do you want to see?

Next, look for the variety that you want out of a trek. Some love to see big mountains, others like grasslands, some want a thrilling adventure. Snow, for example, is a big draw. So are alpine lakes. You must look to see if a trek can pack in as much variety as possible.

Only a few treks can do that, and frankly, they are the rockstars. That way, most of Indiahikes’ treks are loaded with variety. That makes things easy. Choosing boils down to the season you want to trek in.

Tarsar Marsar-Indiahikes-Sudheer Hegde-grasslands of Aru-1
The mesmerizing views on the Tarsar Marsar Lake Trek. Best Time – July-Sep. Picture By: Sudheer Hegde

How many days do you have?

Duration of a trek also matters. Most Himalayan treks are a week long, which usually works best for most trekkers. Longer treks require more preparation, so I am not getting into them.

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Standing above the clouds at Bhrigu Lake Trek. Best Time – June. Picture By: Sandeep CS

Here is my definite list of first-time treks

I have left out many which you must not try as your first trek. Either they are hard or the variety is less. I have put them down in a calendar manner so that it is easy for you to pick them. They are usually a week long.

Note: All treks that I have listed here will have good dollops of snow from the last week of December until June. So don’t worry too much if Delhi is at 45º. You will still get snow.

January: Sandakphu, Dayara Bugyal or Brahmatal
February: Sandakphu or Brahmatal
March: Dayara Bugyal early March onwards. From mid March, Kuari Pass, Deoriatal Chandrashila or Har-Ki-Dun are superb.
April: Dayara BugyalDeoriatal ChandrashilaKuari Pass or Goechala. Prepare more for Goechala, it is harder than most treks.
May: First half, Har-Ki-Dun or Goechala. Second half. Roopkund and Goechala are splendid.
June: Roopkund, Buran Ghati, Hampta Pass are at their best.
July: Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar, Valley of Flowers, Hampta Pass. Kashmir must not be missed.
August: Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar, Valley of Flowers, Hampta Pass
September: First half, Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar Marsar. Second half: Roopkund, Rupin Pass.
October: Roopkund, Goechala. The colours are brilliant.
November: Kuari Pass, Sandakphu. Between the two, Kuari Pass is not to be missed.
December: First half: Kuari Pass, Sandakphu. Second half: Kedarkantha, Deoriatal, Brahmatal and Dayara Bugyal.


What you should do now

1. If you need more help in choosing a trek: Head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find help in choosing a Himalayan trek in a specific season.

2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.

3. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our free guide here.

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Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. Long years of trekking and facing problems in getting information about trails led Arjun to start Indiahikes. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking, he leads Indaihikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India.

22 thoughts on “How To Choose Your First Himalayan Trek

  1. Hi, I am planning my first trek sometime this Nov/Dec. Would be interested to know if Deoriatal/Chandratal would be a good option? kuari pass seems like a lot of snow (from the pics). Is it same for Deoriatal?

    1. Hi Ishani, the Kuari Pass trek shows winter photos. In November, there is usually no snow on any of these treks that climb to the 12,000 ft mark. But they make for terrific early winter treks – both Kuari Pass and Deoriatal. If you are looking for the thrill of a summit climb, go for Chandrashila. However, if you are looking for views of India’s big mountains and up close, then Kuari Pass is the trek to do at this time of the year.

  2. For the first timers , although many people opt for easy or moderate ones but why not the difficult one on the first trip only? If your body is fit and fine why not taste the endurance of the difficult one ?
    Because until or unless u haven’t test your body you can’t decide
    Views pls regarding this opinion

    1. Hi Sushant, if you’re fit, you may, by all means, go for a difficult trek as your first one. But you will not have the knowledge and learning that you get from your first easier Himalayan trek, which is extremely useful on a difficult trek. For instance, it’s better to understand your capability of handling extreme temperatures on a shorter, easier trek than getting into a long one and suffering with too few or too many layers. There are several little things like this that you learn on your first trek.

      Besides, you will definitely appreciate a difficult trek more once you have done an easy one. I wouldn’t recommend Rupin Pass, Pin Bhaba Pass or Kashmir Great Lakes to anyone as their first trek, no matter how fit they are. To be able to appreciate the extent of the grandeur of these treks, it’s imperative to experience something slightly less grand before.

  3. Hi Swathi

    I am interested in Brahmatal Trek in Dec which is scheduled from 22nd to 27th.But the batch is full.Is there any chance that I can join that batch if any one cancels in the last moment.

    Kindly let me know regarding this.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Mamta, Brahmatal is a great winter trek. But if batches are full, there are not likely to be too many cancellations. There might be last minute cancellations but that wouldn’t be conducive for you if you have to book your travel. I would suggest picking another date or perhaps going for the Dayara Bugyal or Kuari Pass treks during the same time.

  4. I want to do Deoriatal or Har ki Doon trek in April 2018. Kindly suggest preparedness in terms of equipments and physical fitness.

    1. Hey Vivek
      The Deoriatal trek has one very long of day of trekking. You will be required to cover about 14 km in one day which requires a good amount of fitness. For both these treks, try and aim at completing a 5 km run in less than 40 minutes. You can rent trek pole, trekking shoes and padded jacket from Indiahikes for both these treks. You can get the details for this over here – https://www.store.indiahikes.com/collections/rentals

  5. Hi,

    I’ve been on various treks in South India before, like Kolli Hills and Kumara Parvatha. I run regularly and practice Muay Thai. This is just to give you an idea of my fitness level.

    How difficult or easy would the Buran Ghati be? Would it be more fun to do the Rupin Pass? I’m looking at June-July as a time frame..
    I don’t know when I’d be able to do a Himalayan after that, so I’d like to have a good package of difficulty, scenery, experience, everything in one trek.

    If you have a third suggestion other than the two I asked about, I’d love to hear it, too! Please help me out with the equipment and other requirements on the one you suggest? Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Abha,
      If you are regular with the fitness routine you’ve mentioned, Buran Ghati will be a good trek for you to go on. In June, you’ll find a lot of snow. The rappel down the snow wall at the pass is a lot of fun 🙂 At the same time, the meadows around Dayara and Litham will be lush green. The trek also has forest trails on the first couple of days. So, it’s a good mix of everything you’d look for in a trek.
      You can find the list of things you need to carry on the trek here.

  6. Hi,
    Can Roopkund be my first high altitude trek. Though I have done some smaller ones like Kheerganga, Parasher Lake, Nag Tibba.
    I am confused between Roopkund, Hampta Paas and Har Ki Dun. And I want to plan somewhere in may. Can you suggest.

    1. Hi Srini,
      Yes, Kashmir Great Lakes can be your first trek if you are fit. Bring your distance up to 5 km regularly before you go on the trek.
      You can go on a course of Diamox once you reach Srinagar, to reduce chances of getting AMS on the trek.

  7. Hey i am planning to do my first trek in the month of may and would wish to see snow. Which of the treks will be a good beginner? Har ki dun/kedarkantha/Gaumukh Tapovan?

    1. Hi Aakash,
      Har ki Dun and Kedarkantha will be good for beginners. However, you will not see any snow on these treks in May. If you are really fit, you could consider Roopkund. If you can wait till June, Bhrigu lake is a good option for beginners and you will also find snow there..
      We would not recommend Gaumukh Tapovan for beginners.

  8. Hi we are beginners and planning for a trek around April 15-30 this year. We have done two 10K runs in 1 hour 20 mins and few small treks (fitness measure). We want to experience snow atleast one day and a mix of landscapes. We are looking at Kuari pass and Kedarkantha. We do not want very easy or difficult ones. We are open to new choices too. Can you help us choose our good fit!

    1. Hi Ramya,
      You are likely to find more snow on the Har ki Dun trek in the second half of April than at Kuari Pass or Kedarkantha. Since Har ki Dun is a valley trek, snow stays here for longer. However, snow keeps melting everyday (there’s usually no fresh snowfall after first week of April) so the earlier you go the better.
      Har ki Dun is neither too easy nor too difficult and fits your requirement for a moderate trek.

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