How to choose your first Himalayan trek

Choosing your first Himalayan trek is not easy. On the Indiahikes website there are over 20 treks to do. 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.

The Valley of Flowers trek is an excellent option for first timers. Picture by Sushant Ale

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.” 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.

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.

What do you want to see?

Next, look for 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 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.

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.

Here is my list of first time treks that you can try

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 so that it is easy for you to pick them. They are usually week long.

Side 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 or Brahmatal
February: Sandakphu or Brahmatal
March:From mid March, Kuari Pass, Deoriatal or Har-Ki-Dun are superb.
April: DeoriatalKuari 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. Of the two, Kuari Pass is not to be missed.
December: First half: Kuari Pass, Sandakphu. Second half, Kedarkantha, Deoriatal.


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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.

6 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.

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