Kedarkantha – The best winter trek in the Himalayas
When it comes to trekking in India in winter, the Kedarkantha trek would be your best bet. From December to April, Kedarkantha makes for a terrific trek in virgin snow, with pretty campsites and astonishingly wide clearings in the forests.
Here are the Top 4 reasons to do the Kedarkantha trek in winter
Snow till April
Not many know that on the Kedarkantha trek, the winter snow sets in by the middle of December and lasts until the third week of April. You are likely to come across snow just as you cross the 10,000 ft mark, lying on the forest floor among the pine trees. When you reach the meadows, a huge blanket of white is likely to surround you in every direction.
This trek has the prettiest campsites in the Himalayas. Not all treks can boast of the beauty of their campsites like the Kedarkantha trek. Each campsite is unique in its beauty. The Akroti Thach campsite sits in a clearing surrounded by walnut and pine trees, the Pukhrola campsite is on an open meadow with the Kedarkantha summit in clear view. It is almost as if each one of them competes with the other for the beautiful setting.
Best drive in the Himalayas
The drive to Kedarkantha takes you through Mussoorie, Nowgaon, Purola and Mori before finally bringing you to Naitwar. It is a remote route so exquisite that it is one of the most beautiful drives in the Indian Himalayas. Trekkers need to especially watch out for the section after Purola until the base camp.
Snow peaks all around
This is a huge perk of trekking to Kedarkantha. Right from the Kedarkantha base camp, you’ll see stunning 360 degree views of famous mountain summits. This is jaw dropping. When you get to the Kedarkantha summit, it is as if you have touched the sky and all the summits are at your eye level!
Day 1: Reach Sankri (6,455 ft); 10-11 hours drive from Dehradun. Transport will be organised from Dehradun Railway Station at 6.30 am. Cab costs approximately Rs.5,500 per vehicle.
Day 2: Sankri (6,455 ft) to Juda Ka Talaab (9,000 ft); 4 hours
Day 3: Juda Ka Talaab (9,000 ft) to Kedarkantha Base (11,200 ft); 4 hours
Day 4: Kedarkantha Base (11,200 ft) to Hargaon (8,900 ft) via Kedarkantha summit (12,500 ft); 6-7 hours
Day 5: Hargaon (8,900 ft) to Sankri (6,455 ft); 4 hours
Day 6: Drive to Dehradun; 10-11 hours. The cab costs approximately Rs.5,500 per vehicle. You will reach Dehradun between 6.00 pm and 7.00 pm.
Please note that you will be staying at a lodge in Sankri. The stay on all other days is in tents (3 per tent). You can leave behind luggage (no valuables) that you do not require for the trek at Sankri.
It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.
- Distance: 220 km
- Time taken: 10 – 11 hours
Leave Dehradhun by 6:30 am and reach Sankri at 5:30pm. Sankri is a small pretty village. A few dhabas and some shops make Sankri. Stay at the GMVN guest house slightly up the road. Most trekkers get to Sankri in the evening, which is a good time to lookout for the sun setting on the Greater Himalayan mountain ranges. The peaks of Swargarohini shimmer in the evening sun, standing tall over the ridges beyond Sankri.
- Altitude: 6,400 feet to 9,100 feet
- Distance: 4 km
- Time taken: 5 hours
Take the tarred road out of Sankri until you come to an extension of the Sankri village called Sol. Once you cross the village, the road takes a wide curve. Around 7-8 minutes later, look for a trail to your right that climbs sharply – it is next to a stream. This is the trail that leads to Kedarkantha. If in doubt, wait for a local to pass by and ask for directions. The trail gets into the pine forest and starts to climb sharply until you reach a ridge ten minutes later. On the ridge, the trail evens out and widens for almost the rest of the day.
An hour later, look for a small wooden bridge on your right. A hut that belongs to a shepherd is visible beyond the bridge, about 40-50 metres higher on the trail. You are a quarter of your way to Juda-ka-Talab here.
After a while, the stream that you have been hearing catches up with you. This is your last water point, so fill up your bottles to last until Juda-ka-Talab, another thousand feet higher and 2½ hours further.
Don’t take the trail that goes over the bridge, but continue on the trail that runs to your left – it is clearly visible and forks clearly at the stream. Half an hour later, in a large grove of Maple trees, look for a large trunk of a tree fallen on the ground. Beyond the tree, a dark forest beckons you mysteriously from the southern edge of the clearing. At 8,100 feet, you are half way into your trek to Juda-Ka-Talab here.
Carry on the trail through the clearing to re-enter the sparse pine and maple forest on its northern edge. Through a series of switchbacks, the trail climbs rapidly through dense oaks finally emerging out in the open over a rising mound to greet you with the spectacular camp site of Juda-Ka-Talab.
Juda-Ka-Talab is almost too perfect in its setting as a campsite. On your left is the large lake that was once two lakes but now conjoined as one, and on your right is the thick edge of an oak and pine forest. The forest is so dense that light hardly seeps through it. The campsite is a series of gentle undulating mounds that form the clearing and campsite of Juda-Ka-Talab. High above, on your left, is the ridge line through which the afternoon light filters in. The area is entirely in shadows of some of the densest pine forest you will ever see.
- Altitude: 9,100 feet to 11,250 feet
- Distance: 4 km
- Time taken: 2.5 hours
The trail out of Juda Ka Talab is clearly visible and straight forward. The trail rises to a ridge at the edge of the lake. At the ridge, take a sharp left turn and dive into the dense pine forest climbing higher.
The trail veers further left sticking to the slope directly above Juda Ka Talab, though the lake is not visible. Climbing swiftly, the trail pops out at a ridge in another half hour, gaining about 800 feet over Juda Ka Talab. The ridge flattens out with oaks mainly as company.
Continue walking on the ridge to the edge of the meadow and start another sharp climb through the oaks. Half an hour later, the ridge opens out to yet another open meadow on your right with a solitary shepherd’s hut (Hut Point). The setting is strikingly beautiful and calls for a break from the trek. You have less than a thousand feet to climb from here to the Kedarkantha base.
A short climb later, again in the shades of the oaks, the trail opens out to a large clearing on the northern edge of which is another shepherd’s hut. Look behind you for your first awe inspiring 180 degree view of snow ranges surrounding the Kedarkantha summit.
The trail switches direction moving in a northerly direction under the dry oak trees. Usually over snow, the trail climbs gently in two stages to another clearing. You have arrived at the Kedarkantha base camp site, marked by another dilapidated shepherd’s hut.
White peaks stretch from your left to your right forming a wide arc. Bandarpoonch, Swargarohini, Kala Nag and Ranglana stand out from the scores others.
Note: The cold in the open is intense and it often gets windy. Carry enough woolen wear to protect you from the elements.
- Altitude: 11,250 feet to 12,500 feet to 8,900 feet
- Distance: 6 km
- Time taken: 6 – 7 hours
Sunrise from the Kedarkantha Base is something worth getting out of your sleeping bags early for. The Kedarkantha peak is clearly visible from the KK Base. There are many trails that go to the top.
The best route is to catch the northern ridge of the Kedarkantha summit, climb up in a series of switchbacks to reach the Kedarkantha summit. It takes an hour and half to climb the summit from the Kedarkantha base campsite.
The Kedarkantha summit is marked by a square arrangement of stones with a Trishul that points to the sky. Towering over the rest of the region, the summit gives you a 360 degree view of the mighty snow clad ranges of Uttarakhand. The Gangotri and the Yamunotri ranges are clearly visible from the summit, as are the Chanshil Pass and Kinnaur Kailash ranges.
Getting down from the summit, take an alternate route down to your camp following the southern ridge of Kedarkantha. It is a straight forward ridge descent to the oak forest below.
Note: Depending on the amount of snow, many trekkers prefer to climb Kedarkantha from the southern ridge and descend by the northern side. The snow is less on the southern ridge and makes climbing easier. Both routes take approximately the same time, so choose a route depending on the snow.
Get back to your Kedarkantha base camp site by noon and not later than that. A quick lunch later, wrap your camp and begin your descent to Hargaon.
The trail is spectacular as it ascends and descends through oaks, pines and frozen streams. It moves through small clearings every half hour or so. The clearings are a unique feature to the Kedarkantha trail and a rarity in the Indian Himalayas. Some of the clearings are marked by huts of the shepherds.
Continue your descent until you come to the wide clearing of Hut Point. Instead of taking the ridge down from here, descend to the meadow that runs below you. At the end of the meadow, move to your right, cross the open stream and take the trail that moves down the slope but avoids the ridge that runs parallel above. A while later, get to the cluster of four shepherds’ huts that you saw on your way up from the trail on the ridge.
Continue past the cluster of four huts and re-enter the deep dark pine forest that engulfs the trail as it moves further and further away from the ridge. The trail gets exquisitely beautiful as it winds its way down an enchanted forest of pines to reach the Hargaon clearing in an hour and half’s time.
- Altitude: 8,900 feet to 6,400 feet
- Distance: 6 km
- Time taken: 4 hours
The trail to Sankri is clearly marked by stones and its well-paved nature. Descend through the pines and in a series of switchbacks, come to a stream to your left. This is a good spot to fill water. The trail evens out and gradually descends through the pine forest to come to a ridge. From the ridge, catch a view of the vast open Har-ki-dun valley. Slightly below, as you descend, an apple orchard mixed with potato and cauliflower farms greet you. Huts that belong to local farmers line up on the right, standing out in the skyline.
There are numerous trails to Sankri, but the main one is the five foot-broad trail that everyone uses. Resume your descent until you get to the pine forest a couple of hundred feet above Sankri. The trail forks multiple times here, with each heading to a different part of Sankri. Wait for a local to show you the direction to GMVN, which is a sharp detour from the main trail to the left. Descend down to GMVN in ten minutes to culminate a grand trek in the Uttarakhand Himalayas.
- Distance: 220 km
- Time taken: 10 – 11 hours
Drive back to Dehradun through lovely pine forests and beside the Tons river. It’s a long 8 hour drive. Try and get the window seat on the right side to get a good view! Stop for lunch somewhere near Kempty Falls. You’ll reach Dehradun by 8 pm.
You can read these trek blogs to know of some trekkers’ experiences on the Kedarkantha trek.
To read trekkers’ blogs about the Kedarkantha trek, click here.
Banner image by Mani
What you need to know about the trek fee
The trek fee of Rs. 8,450 + 5% GST covers all costs of the trek from Gaichawan Gaon to Gaichawan Gaon.
Here is what the trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 5 (Sankri to Sankri). You will be staying in lodges at Sankri and camping on remaining days of the trek (3 per tent).
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Sankri on Day 1 to breakfast at Sankri on Day 6 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, roped, 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.
- Services of an expert Trek Leader – All our trek leaders are qualified in basic / advanced mountaineering courses.
- Services of an expert Trek Team – The mountain staff on this trek consists of well trained guides, cooks, helpers and porters.
Here is what the trek fee excludes:
- 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 Sankri. This will cost approx. Rs. 5,500 per 5-6 seater vehicle 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 and from Sankri.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 1,000 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. 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 Sankri (Rs.335 per day + 5% GST). Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
- Stay at Dehradun on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from inclusions
Get Yourself Fit
How to get fit for the Kedarkantha trek
The Kedarkantha trek is marked as an easy-moderate trek. It starts at an altitude of 5,600 ft at Gaichawan Gaon and climbs to 12,500 ft at Kedarkantha peak. This means there is an altitude gain of 6,500 ft over the first three days of the trek. Consequently, all the three days leading to the Kedarkantha summit involve constant ascent.
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:
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
–>Target completing 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin.
–> Gradually increase your pace by running 4 times a week and bring it down to 5 km in 40 mins.
–>If you are 45 years or above, try to cover 5km in less than 45 minutes.
If you are somebody you prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 18 km in 60 minutes.
How to send us a proof of your fitness routine?
Record your run on an app like Nike Run. Start recording your run when you start running. At the end of your run, hit the stop button.
Take a screenshot of the summary of your run. We will need a detailed split of each kilometre of your run. This is usually integrated in all running apps.
Note: Make sure your GPS is on when you record your run. If the GPS is off, we will not accept the screenshot.
Upload two screenshots 10 days prior to the start of the trek
For < 45 years age : One screenshot of 5 km in 45 minutes and the second 5 km in 40 minutes.
For > 45 years age : Two screenshots of 5 km in 45 minutes.
If you love cycling, cover a distance of 18 km in one hour and upload the same.
Fitness proof to be uploaded with GPS on and along with your picture.
Here’s a guide to help you prepare for the trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
Things To Take
What to take on the Kedarkantha Trek
If you’re trekking to Kedarkantha in winter, the temperature during the day will be at around 8-12 degrees and at night, the temperature will drop to -5 to -7 degrees. You will need to carry a minimum of five warm layers. Apart from this, ensure you carry your warm accessories such as synthetic (water resistant) gloves, woollen socks, balaclava and thermals. These are imperative on a winter trek.
Apart from this, there might be snowfall in winter. Ensure you carry a poncho to have a comfortable trek.
- Trekking shoes: Carry trekking shoes and not sports shoes. The trail will be slippery at several places and will require shoes with good grip and ankle support. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.
- Five layers of warm clothes: If you’re trekking in winter, carry two sweaters, two fleece jackets and a padded jacket. If you’re trekking in spring (March/April), three warm layers will suffice.
- Three trek pants: Carry light cotton trek pants. One of your pants can be tights that you can wear as an inner layer while trekking, especially on the day of the summit climb. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals: Carry thermals (top and bottom) to keep yourself warm at night. Keep your thermals fresh and don’t wear them while trekking.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are mandatory. There will be a lot of snow in winter and can cause snow blindness.
- Suncap: At high altitude, the sun is extra harsh, as the UV rays don’t get filtered. So carry a suncap to protect yourself.
- Synthetic hand gloves: Avoid woollen gloves as they will get wet if you touch snow. You can add a fleece glove as an inner layer, and wear two gloves on each hand if you’re more susceptible to cold.
- Balaclava: You’ll need this to cover your head, as most of the heat escapes from your head.
- Socks (2 pairs) and a pair of woollen socks: Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Ponchos: At high altitudes, snowfall and rain are quite common and hence it’s mandatory to carry a poncho so that you don’t get wet.
Indiahikes offers rentals on this trek. You can now rent trekking shoes, trekking pole, padded jacket and poncho instead of buying them. You can collect these directly at the base camp and return them there after the trek. Get the details here.
- Daypack (20 litres): You will need this to carry water bottles, light snacks and medical kit in case you decide to offload your backpack.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each. For winter treks make sure, one of the water bottles is a thermos flask. We recommend the Lifestraw Go. Indiahikes trekkers can get it at a discount here.
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
- Knee cap, if you are prone to knee injury
- Anti fungal powder
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.) – It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek. Since Sankri will have limited facilities to photo copy, do not leave this till the end.
- Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
MAP & Getting There
How to get to the basecamp – Sankri
Delhi → Dehradun → Sankri
The Kedarkantha trek starts from Sankri, around 180 kms from Dehradun.
Indiahikes organises transport from Dehradun to Sankri. The pick up is at 6.30 am from Dehradun Railway Station on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs.5,500 per vehicle. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
The drive is beautiful, beside the River Tons. You pass through Mussoorie, which is a popular hill station. Stop for breakfast at Kempty Waterfalls, which is a popular tourist destination. You can stop at Purola for lunch. The Dhabas here serve delicious Aloo Parathas. You will reach Naitwar around 4.00 pm.
To reach Dehradun
The best way to reach Dehradun is to take an overnight train from Delhi. There are two trains available from Delhi to Dehradun. We recommend that you take this one –
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 5.40
- 12055 DDN Jan Shatabdi – 15.20 – 21.10 (reach the previous night)
If you cannot find a train, then take a bus. To stay on the safe side, book buses online in advance. Book such that you have some buffer time to make it to Dehradun on time for the pick-up; buses usually get delayed.
Sankri→ Dehradun → Delhi
The Kedarkantha trek ends at Sankri. From here, you’ll be retracing your route back to Dehradun. It takes around 8 hours to drive back to Dehradun. Indiahikes organises this transport for a fare of Rs.5,500 per cab. This is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Dehradun by 6.00 pm.
If you are travelling further from Dehradun, keep a couple of hours as buffer time in case of delay. Book your onward travel from Dehradun post 8.00 pm. If you are travelling to Delhi, you can choose to go back by Mussoorie Express (21.20) or Nanda Devi Express (23.30).
If you want to get to the basecamp by yourself
Take a bus headed towards Sankri from Dehradun. It leaves at 6.00 am from Dehradun Railway station. Be there by 5.40 am to get a seat.
If you are reaching Dehradun late, you can take a bus to Purola/Naugaon and then a connecting bus to Sankri. The last bus leaves from Dehradun Railway Station at 12 noon. If you reach Purola late, you can stay there overnight.
If you are taking a hired taxi, the route is pretty straightforward. First, head to Mussoorie, then move down to Yamuna Bridge, via Kempty falls. Then follow the Yamuna on your left until you reach Damta and further on to Naugaon. Cross the Yamuna at Naugaon and head towards Purola. The route immediately turns scenic, with pine trees overlooking the road.
At Purola break for lunch. From Purola, the route gets more mesmerising with the road climbing up and descending through thick pine forests until you get to Mori along the Tons River. 5 km out of Purola try to locate the south face of the Kedarkantha peak on your left. The highest peak, it is not difficult to spot.
What are the risks on the Kedarkantha Trek?
Kedarkantha is an easy to moderate trek in terms of difficulty but it goes up to an altitude of 12,500 ft. Which means it’s still a high altitude trek. As with every high altitude trek, the Kedarkantha trek comes with certain risks.
At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure your life is safe, we also expect you as a trekker 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.
From the time you register for a trek, we will keep you informed of safety procedures on high altitude treks. We have listed a few of them below.
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over the years, we have come to notice that safety issues are widespread among unfit, unaware and ill-prepared trekkers. Therefore we have brought in an eligibility criteria for the Kedarkantha trek.
Before registration, you need to meet the fitness requirements. The primary measure for fitness is BMI or Body Mass Index. An ideal BMI is a minimum requirement to register for this trek. You can take a look here.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
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. It contains details of symptoms he should look out for and what action he should take during emergencies as well. These Health Cards will be taken back at the end of the trek.
On the Kedarkantha trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring your Oxygen levels and Pulse rate twice a day. Your blood pressure is measured once every day. Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and immediate action will be taken.
3. 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.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
Kedarkantha is popular for its snowy terrain. If you go on this trek in the months from December to mid-April, you will be trekking on snow. To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes.
These are attached to your shoes and will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can wear over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you. They lead the way on difficult terrain, where there might be too much snow.
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. Our sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degree Celcius.
5. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
What you need to know if you’re going on the Kedarkantha 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.
Like in every winter trek, a common risk factor on the Kedarkantha trek is slippery snow. You will be provided with micro spikes to help you walk better. But if you fall, no need to panic.
Even the smallest wound takes longer to heal at higher altitude. Reasons for this are increasing stress hormones and lower overall oxygen delivery to the tissues. Keeping your wounds clean and covered will prevent infection. To prevent the bruise from festering, apply a triple antibiotic ointment regularly.
Where on the Kedarkantha trek is Acute Mountain Sickness likely to affect you:
Any campsite above 11,000 ft poses a risk of AMS. On the Kedarkantha trek, the Kedarkantha Base camp is at 11,250 ft. It is the only campsite on this trek where you could be affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. From here and while going up to the summit is when you should watch out for symptoms.
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.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader.Only then will he be able to take steps at the right time.
What to do if you feel symptoms of AMS at Kedarkantha Base Camp
Very few cases of AMS have been recorded on the Kedarkantha trek. Nevertheless, don’t let your guard down. If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the video below 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. Evacuation will be done if no improvement is shown. You will be taken down to Sankri as descent is the sure cure for AMS.
Exit points on the Kedarkantha trek:
There is just one exit point on the Kedarkantha trek – the base camp, Sankri. It takes around 5 hours top descend to Sankri from the highest campsite of the trek. Sankri is at an altitude of around 6,500 ft. So any symptoms of AMS will stop showing there.
For advanced treatments, the closest hospital from Sankri is in Purola which is around 54 km away. Please note that these are mountain roads and usually takes around 2-3 hours to cover this distance. It takes longer after nightfall.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If you cannot find your fellow trekkers or anyone else 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, you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Here, 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.
Here is what trekkers have to say about their experience at Kedarkantha Trek
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Stay in Sankri on Days 1 and 5 of the trek will be in guest houses, where you will share a room with fellow trekkers. Stay on all other days will be in tents. Each tent accommodates 3 people.
2. Will you provide us with tents and sleeping bags?
Yes, Indiahikes trekkers will be provided with tents and high altitude sleeping bags that can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC.
3. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Day time temperatures will range from 13-18ºC and night time temperature will range from 0-6ºC in summer. In winter, temperatures will range from 8-15ºC during the day and can drop down to -7ºC at night.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
Yes, there will be snow on this trek from December to April.
5. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.
6. How do we reach Sankri?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Dehradun railway station and to Sankri, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs.5,500 per vehicle. You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Sankri will take 8-9 hours. Pick up from Dehradun will be at 6.30 am.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Sankri to Dehradun railway station. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Kedarkantha trek?
Kedarkantha is a great trek to do in winter because of the crystal clear views and snow filled campsites. Each camp site turns into a fairyland in the snow. Spring is also a good time, because the forests come alive in this season, and the snow stays in parts all the way till April.
9. Are trek poles, jackets and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
Yes, we offer shoes, jackets and trek poles on rent. We also have some equipment on sale. You can order both rentals and purchase online. Check out our store here.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Kedarkantha is suitable for beginners and experienced trekkers alike. This is an easy trek. However, you still need to be physically fit to do this.
11. If not the Kedarkantha trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
Dayara Bugyal Winter trek and Kuari Pass are other treks that you could explore. These are both easy treks, have beautiful forest trails and have mind blowing mountain view. You can find snow on both these treks till March.
12. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.1,000 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Naitwar, the amount will be Rs.335 per day + 5% GST. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. We suggest you read “5 Tips to make Carrying your Trekking Backpack Easy” before making a decision. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
13. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
Kedarkantha is suitable for anyone above the age of 8 years. However, you need to ensure that your child is physically fit for the trek.
14. Who will be with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
15. What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest houses at Sankri will have concrete toilets. On the other days, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 or 4 of these toilet tents depending on the size of the group. A toilet tent will have a deep pit, where one can answer nature’s call. There will be a mound of soil and a shovel to cover it up. These are dry toilets, where you’ll have to use toilet paper. There will be a room freshener as well. It’s the most hygienic and convenient way to answer nature’s call in the wild. Please use plain toilet paper and refrain from using wet wipes since these are not bio-degradable.
16. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
17. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
Our campsites are pitched near water sources. For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. You will find 1 or 2 water sources on the trail on all days of the trek.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
You will receive signals till Sankri. Electricity charging points will be present at the guest houses.
19. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. We recommend a pair of water resistant shoes. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters.
20. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
21. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
22. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
Day 1 – You will be picked up from Dehradun for the 10-11 hours drive to Sankri
Day 2: Trek from Sankri (6,455 ft) to Juda Ka Talaab (9,000 ft); 4 hours
Day 3: Juda Ka Talaab (9,000 ft) to Kedarkantha Base (11,200 ft); 4 hours
Day 4: This is the longest day of your trek. Kedarkantha Base (11,200 ft) to Hargaon (8,900 ft) via Kedarkantha summit (12,500 ft); 6-7 hours
Day 5: Hargaon (8,900 ft) to Sankri (6,455 ft); 4 hours
Day 6: Drive to Dehradun; 10-11 hours.
23. How do I manage the negative temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At high altitudes, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights.. For these extreme cold temperatures, you need to keep the rule of 3 in mind. The rule of 3 usually takes care of cold that dip to -10°C. It is a simple formula of wearing 3 layers of woolen, inners and lower wear.
Follow this guide:
Wear one thermal and two T-shirts, three layers of woolens (two sweaters and a jacket). For your lowers wear a thermal inner with two layers of track suit. If you are prone to more cold, just add a layer.
The temperatures dip only late in the evening and early mornings. During the day if the sun is out, then you may even be trekking in your T-shirts. Make sure you use your thermal wear only at night and not while trekking.
A woolen cap/balaclava and gloves are a must.
24. What all do I need to carry on the trek?
Click here to get the list of all the things you need to carry on the trek.
25. Is it safe to trek with Indiahikes?
All high altitude treks come with their share of risks. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it. Before you go on the trek, make sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with the safety procedures followed on a trek.
Terms & Conditions:
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please login to your account and cancel. Cancellation requests will not be taken over phone or email.
The cancellation charges are as under:
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (cancellation charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
2. The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start and end at Sankri .
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Dehradun railway station at 6:30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Sankri in shared cabs.
4. Transport:Transport from Dehradun to and return to Sankri can be arranged by us at an extra cost. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab (approximate cost Rs. 5,500 per vehicle one way). The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack offloading: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
6. Backpack offloading charge for the entire trek duration is Rs. 1,000/- plus GST of 5%. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 335 per day plus GST of 5%. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
7. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
8. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 4.5 km in 30 mins before start of the trek. 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. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
9. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
10. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
11. Route changes, postponement, delay or finishing the trek a day earlier: Under some extraordinary circumstance, your trek may end a day earlier or start a day later. This may become necessary due to inclement weather, snow and ice conditions, political restrictions or any other cause. In the event of a change, postponement or delay, participants have no right to refund of the trek (in whole or in part) or other compensation for any injury, loss or damage. Trek fee is not charged broken down in terms of days but is a composite fee for the whole trek.
12. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
13. Safety Protocol:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to turn around a trekker if in the opinion of our trek leader they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.