Difficulty

Easy-Moderate | Level 3

Duration

6 Days

Highest Altitude

12,516 ft

Age

8 to 62 years

Duration

6 Days

Age

8 to 62 years

Difficulty

Easy-Moderate | Level 3

Highest Altitude

12,516 ft

Why Trekking in Jan and Feb is Better than December

Not many trekkers know that real winter sets in only in Jan and Feb in our country, making it a much better snow experience. Click here to read more.

Kuari Pass Trek

The Only Trekkable Mountain Pass in Winter

Kuari pass is a mountain lovers’ delight during the winter season. You have an unending vista of the biggest mountains in India opening up right from day one. You even get to see the clearest view of the full face of Mt Nanda Devi, India’s highest mountain.  

More than this, Kuari Pass is a near-perfect trek. You go through ancient forests filled with oaks and rhododendrons. Just as your eyes are getting used to the tree canopy above, the trail opens into meadows. This interplay of different kinds of landscapes makes the trek very exciting. 

You camp at outstanding locations on this trek. Whether it is the forests of Chitrakantha or the Khullara meadow in the shadow of Mt Dronagiri, each campsite leaves you in awe of your surroundings.

If you are stepping into the Himalayas for the first time then Kuari Pass is the trek to do. It is almost crafted perfectly for the beginner.

To begin with, Kuari Pass is a 4-day trek (6 days when you include the travel days from Rishikesh).  The trek starts from Karchi, a small village near Joshimath in the Garhwal Region of Uttarakhand.  It is situated in the Nanda Devi National Park. 

Kuari Pass is an easy-moderate trek, which makes it easy enough for someone starting in the Himalayas. But more than anything else there are three things about the trek that stay with you.

Kuari Pass Videos

Recommended Videos Before Going For The Trek

playicon'
playicon'
playicon'

Quick Itinerary

A route map of the Kuari Pass trek

Day 1

Drive from Rishikesh to Tapoban

Drive distance: 263 km | Drive Duration: 9-10 hours | Pick up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Live Free Hostel, Rishikesh

Transport will be arranged at 5.15 AM sharp. The costs Rs 8000 per vehicle (5-6 seater) and Rs 12,000 per Tempo Traveller (12 seater)for the journey from Rishikesh to Tapoban. The return journey will cost Rs 8,000 for the 5-6 seater and Rs 12,000 per Tempo Traveller to Rishikesh.

Day 2

Drive from Tapoban to Karchi. Trek from Karchi to Akhrotghetta

Drive Duration: 40 mins | Trek Distance: 2.75 km | Duration: 5-6 hours | Altitude gain: 6,175 ft to 10,035 ft

Day 3

Trek from Akhrotghetta to Khullara

Trek Distance: 2.5 km | Trek Duration: 4-5 hours | Altitude gain: 10,035 ft to 11,014 ft

Day 4

Trek from Khullara to Tali via Kuari Pass

Trek Distance: 7.65 km | Trek Duration: 8-9 hours | Altitude gain and loss: 11,014 ft to 11,053 ft via 12,516 ft

Day 5

Trek from Tali to Auli. Drive to Joshimath

Trek Distance: 8.10 km | Trek Duration: 7-8 hours | Altitude loss: 11,053 ft to 8,546 ft

Day 6

Depart from Joshimath and reach Rishikesh

Drive distance: 263 km | Drive Duration: 9-10 hours
Drop off point: Live Free Hostel, Rishikesh

You are expected to be back in Rishikesh by 7.00 pm. This transport cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs .8000 per vehicle, shared among 5-6 trekkers and Rs 12,000 for a Tempo Traveler

Please note: The distance between campsites may vary by 100 meters depending the weather conditions and the route you take. The altitude may also vary by 100 feet for similar reasons.

IMPORTANT POINTS

Documents required: It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id along with the mandatory documents of the Medical Certificate and Disclaimer form. These documents will be part of the Safety Check-in done by the trek leader when you arrive at the base camp.

Stay facility: There are no facilities at Tapoban. Do not leave things till the end. The stay at Tapoban and Joshimath/Auli will be in a lodge. Do not bring any packaged food, tags from your new clothes or any waste with you. We follow a Dustbin Free Zone and No Wet Wipes Policy at our base camps in line with our spirit of Green Trails.

On the trek, you will be staying 2 in a tent.

Cloakroom facility for excess luggage: We have a Cloak Room facility at the base camp for excess luggage. Do not leave behind any valuables in the cloakroom.

A route map of the Kuari Pass trek

PRO-TIPS

Onward Travel

You'll love the drive to Tapoban! The drive is very scenic along the mighty Ganges. You would be enjoying the view of the Sangam of many rivers which form the Ganges; Devprayag, Rudraprayag, and Karnprayag are a treat for the eyes.

After Karnprayag, you would be travelling alongside the Alaknanda River. You then enter the beautiful valley of the Chamoli region. Keep your eyes open and look out, the glimpses of the big mountains are visible from here onwards.

Try getting the seat on the left-hand side to get some stunning moments during your travel. The journey itself is a visual treat both ways.

Return Travel

The drive back to Rishikesh follows the same route you took on your way up. The route is along the tributaries of Ganga. The road goes along hugging the mountainside and you see the forests and valleys of Garhwal below you.

Download the GPX file for your Kuari Pass Trek

We go to great lengths to ensure you have a safe trek. So here’s a GPX file to help you navigate without getting lost.

Day 1

Drive from Rishikesh to Tapoban

Drive distance: 263 km | Drive Duration: 9-10 hours | Pick up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Live Free Hostel, Rishikesh

Transport will be arranged at 5.15 AM sharp. The costs Rs 8000 per vehicle (5-6 seater) and Rs 12,000 per Tempo Traveller (12 seater)for the journey from Rishikesh to Tapoban. The return journey will cost Rs 8,000 for the 5-6 seater and Rs 12,000 per Tempo Traveller to Rishikesh.

Day 2

Drive from Tapoban to Karchi. Trek from Karchi to Akhrotghetta

Drive Duration: 40 mins | Trek Distance: 2.75 km | Duration: 5-6 hours | Altitude gain: 6,175 ft to 10,035 ft

Day 3

Trek from Akhrotghetta to Khullara

Trek Distance: 2.5 km | Trek Duration: 4-5 hours | Altitude gain: 10,035 ft to 11,014 ft

Day 4

Trek from Khullara to Tali via Kuari Pass

Trek Distance: 7.65 km | Trek Duration: 8-9 hours | Altitude gain and loss: 11,014 ft to 11,053 ft via 12,516 ft

Day 5

Trek from Tali to Auli. Drive to Joshimath

Trek Distance: 8.10 km | Trek Duration: 7-8 hours | Altitude loss: 11,053 ft to 8,546 ft

Day 6

Depart from Joshimath and reach Rishikesh

Drive distance: 263 km | Drive Duration: 9-10 hours
Drop off point: Live Free Hostel, Rishikesh

You are expected to be back in Rishikesh by 7.00 pm. This transport cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs .8000 per vehicle, shared among 5-6 trekkers and Rs 12,000 for a Tempo Traveler

Please note: The distance between campsites may vary by 100 meters depending the weather conditions and the route you take. The altitude may also vary by 100 feet for similar reasons.

IMPORTANT POINTS

➤Documents required: It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id along with the mandatory documents of the Medical Certificate and Disclaimer form. These documents will be part of the Safety Check-in done by the trek leader when you arrive at the base camp.

➤Stay facility: There are no facilities at Tapoban. Do not leave things till the end. The stay at Tapoban and Joshimath/Auli will be in a lodge. Do not bring any packaged food, tags from your new clothes or any waste with you. We follow a Dustbin Free Zone and No Wet Wipes Policy at our base camps in line with our spirit of Green Trails.

On the trek, you will be staying 2 in a tent.

➤Cloakroom facility for excess luggage: We have a Cloak Room facility at the base camp for excess luggage. Do not leave behind any valuables in the cloakroom.

PRO-TIPS

Onward Travel

You'll love the drive to Tapoban! The drive is very scenic along the mighty Ganges. You would be enjoying the view of the Sangam of many rivers which form the Ganges; Devprayag, Rudraprayag, and Karnprayag are a treat for the eyes.

After Karnprayag, you would be travelling alongside the Alaknanda River. You then enter the beautiful valley of the Chamoli region. Keep your eyes open and look out, the glimpses of the big mountains are visible from here onwards.

Try getting the seat on the left-hand side to get some stunning moments during your travel. The journey itself is a visual treat both ways.

Return Travel

The drive back to Rishikesh follows the same route you took on your way up. The route is along the tributaries of Ganga. The road goes along hugging the mountainside and you see the forests and valleys of Garhwal below you.

Download the GPX file for your Kuari Pass Trek

We go to great lengths to ensure you have a safe trek. So here’s a GPX file to help you navigate without getting lost.

The winter setting is a dreamy wonderland with pines, dwarf rhododendrons, and oak trees surrounding Khullara.

Picture by: Poonam Saini

Khullara Campsite in Winter

Sandhya UC

Co-Founder & COO, Indiahikes

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map a few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the Women of Worth Award by Outlook Business in 2017.

Here’s Sandhya talking about one of our most Beautiful Trek Amidst the Tallest Summits treks in our country.

What I Like & Don’t Like About Kuari Pass Trek

What I Like About the Kuari Pass Trek

Sandhya UC

Co-Founder & COO, Indiahikes

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map a few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the Women of Worth Award by Outlook Business in 2017. Here’s Sandhya talking about one of our most Beautiful Trek Amidst the Tallest Summits treks in our country.

1. The rare view of Mt Nanda Devi

What I like about the Kuari Pass trek is that it offers easy access to this spectacular view. You see Mt. Nanda Devi from Gorson Bugyal to Auli. After you cross the Gorson Bugyal, the view disappears.

This view of Nanda Devi is one top reason why I would do the Kuari Pass trek. 

Not only, Nanda Devi, you see other big mountains also, like the Dronagiri mountains. Dronagiri and Mt. Nanda Devi stand side by side. You seeNeelkanth, Chaukhamba, Hathi Ghoda all pretty close.

Mt Nanda Devi – Gorson Bugyal offers outstanding views of India’s tallest summit. Picture by Vaibhav Jain

2. The picturesque oak forests 

The lovely oak forests of Kuari Pass are the second reason why I like this trek. These forests are typical in the Uttarakhand region, but you find them only in certain treks like Roopkund, Brahmatal, and Dayara Bugyal. 

Compared to the rest, I like the oak forest of Kuari Pass the best. This is simply because oak forests on this trek are placed so beautifully. These oak forests come in a section where the climb is not very steep. So, you have an easy walk through the oak forest. 

It’s magical to see oak forests in snowfall. Usually, our mind conjures up images of pine forests in snowfall. But here, the experience is different. 

As snow falls through the oak forests, it’s almost like you see bows being formed on the trees. It feels like only the red balls are missing now to complete the look. 

Apart from the look, the Kuari Pass trek has an interesting landscape with oak forests merging into meadows. Unlike the steep forest sections on Roopkund and Brahmatal trek, here it is gradual. So it’s like a flattish oak forest walk where you can appreciate the beauty. And this section is not very long. You come across it on Day 3 and Day 4 of the trek for around one and a half and two hours. 

This, especially with the snow and oak forest combination, makes for a very beautiful experience. 

Kuari Pass trek – A trail amidst the magical oak forests covered in snow. Picture by Sandhya UC

3. The unforgettable walks in the meadows

The next big reason to do the Kuari Pass trek is the Gorson Bugyal. Once you cross the tree line, the Gorson Bugyal stretches in front of you. It’s not like Ali Bugyal. But the setting of this bugyal lingers in your mind long after you are back from the trek. 

As you step into Gorson Bugyal, on one side you have the grand Dronagiri and Nanda Devi.  And then, on the other side, you have these green meadows stretched in front of you. 

The pretty Gorson Bugyal is one part of it. The other part is Chitrakantha. This is a meadowy ridge at 12,000 feet. To walk on this ridge is also an experience to cherish.

What’s great is that the meadows of Kuari Pass are extremely beautiful in any season. If you go in early autumn, it’s lush green. In late autumn it is golden, and it is also extremely beautiful. And winter offers a stark, white setting. 

In all settings, the meadows and the mountain views in contrast are very beautiful. 

Through and through it’s a meadow. The trek ends with the setting of a meadow. During summer, snow melts from the meadow and you have fresh green grass growing.

It is a legendary trail. You have the Lord Curzon trail passing through it. Kuari Pass is an old trek.

Lord Curzon trail passing through Kuari Pass

What I don't Like About the Kuari Pass Trek

1. Trek Route from Auli

I wish the Kuari Pass trek had started from the Auli side. Now, the trek starts from Karchi and ends at Auli. I wish it was the other way round. 

I’ll tell you why. When you trek to Kuari Pass from the Karchi side, all the spectacular mountain views are behind you. I miss having these views in front of me. You get this when you do the trek from Auli. But that route is not very practical. 

From Auli, you tend to gain altitude too quickly while reaching the next campsite at Chitrakantha. And, availability of water here is also a challenge. 

Due to these reasons, it’s better to begin the trek from the Karchi side. But I wish it was the other way round. 

Mt Nanda Devi in the distance as seen from the popular artificial lake at Auli.

Know Your Trek

We have always wanted trekkers to be well-informed before they go on a Himalayan trek. Knowledge is the difference between a safe trek and a dangerous one. It’s also the difference between a wholesome experience and a superficial experience.

Use this section to learn about the Kuari Pass trek. It has in-depth information about each day of the trek, what to expect, and how you need to prepare for it. Many years of expertise have gone into this content. Trekkers find these extremely useful.

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

PRO TIPS

?

Green Trails

Leaving the mountains better than we find them

At Indiahikes, we focus on bringing in new practices that can reduce our impact on the environment.  This is done through constant R&D.  Once these new practices are implemented we focus on achieving the results consistently on all our treks. You will see this as part of our G6 practices. 

Golden 1: Green Sweep - Clean the trail of visible litter.  We have collected more than 1,00,000 kgs of waste since 2016.

Golden 2: Segregation At Source - Segregate all waste collected so that we do not add all this waste to the landfill.  We have diverted 50% of the waste from landfill through segregation

Golden 3: Food Composting - All our kitchen waste is composted into useful humus for the mountain soil.  All food waste is either eaten by mules or composted at source.

Golden 4: Biotoilets - All our human waste is composted at source through our specially designed dry toilet pits. 

Golden 5: Water efficient dispenser  - We have reduced our waste used per trekker by 70% through specially designed water dispenser systems.

Golden 6: Save energy - We use solar panels for our energy use at our campsites.  We are also in the process of redesigning our stove and menu to reduce the amount of gas used on our treks.

Our trekkers are a big part of us keeping our promise to leave the mountains better than we found them. 

  • Indiahikes trekkers do not carry anything that can harm the environment - be it wet wipes, or any packaged food on the trek.  In fact they practice a zero waste trek.
  • Indiahikes trekkers do not buy any packaged food in the dhabas on the trek - they do not take part in feeding the demand for packaged food 
  • Indiahikes trekkers clean the trails of waste using the eco bag as part of the Green Sweep Initiattive 
  • Indiaihikes trekkers carry their own backpack on the trek. They do not offload unless absolutely necessary
  • Indiahikes trekkers do not pee/poop near any water source 
  • Indiahikes trekkers do not stray away from the marked trail

Trekkers who sign up with us pledge to follow these practices.  When you sign up with us, you do too.

playicon'

Everything you do on a trek creates an impact. The trail you trek on, the water you use, the waste you generate, how you poop, how you cook, what you eat — everything has an impact. The higher the impact, the greater the damage to the environment. 

Yet, when done sustainably, trekking is one of the most environment-friendly sports.

When you trek with Indiahikes, you trek to leave the mountains better than we found them.  This is part of our Green Trails promise.

playicon'

Why Fitness Matters on Kuari Pass Trek

playicon'

On Easy-Moderate treks like the Kuari Pass, you’re likely to trek around 5-6 km each day. Expect gradual ascents and descents along the way. The maximum altitude will be about 12,500 ft. There are no technical sections on these treks, but there could be small sections of steep gradients or tricky patches that require you to be surefooted.

Your goal is to 5 km with an intention to finish within 38 minutes.

Note: If you are above the age of 58 years, you'll also need to submit your Treadmill Test within 7 days of registration.

playicon'
?

Trek Trivia

Things Nobody Tells You About Kuari Pass Trek

The Grand Mountain Views from Kuari Pass Trek

You see Mt. Nanda Devi from Gorson Bugyal to Auli. After you cross the Gorson Bugyal, the view disappears.

This view of Nanda Devi is one top reason why I would do the Kuari Pass trek. 

Not only, Nanda Devi, you see other big mountains also, like the Dronagiri mountains. Dronagiri and Mt. Nanda Devi stand side by side. You seeNeelkanth, Chaukhamba, Hathi Ghoda all pretty close.

Do you know the story behind the naming of Kuari Pass?

The name Kuari Pass was coined in 1905. It was coined by Lord Curzon, who trekked from Ghat, Gwaldam to Kuari Pass. The trail is well known as Kuari Pass or Lord Curzon Trail now. 

Before 1905, the locals did not take this pass and were fairly untouched. The pass was untouched because of the local deity. 

Lord Curzon took this cue from the local language of what stands for Virgin land and termed it Kuari Pass. 

There is another mystery about the name of Kuari Pass. It is said that there was a Japanese traveller who attempted to climb Nanda Devi with her daughter. But, unfortunately, they disappeared on this climb. 

After multiple search attempts, the daughter was found on Kuari Pass, but the mother wasn't. Legend says that the daughter's name was Kurai and the mother's name was Nanda. Hence, the names were given to the mountains.

Did you know that mountaineering ascents to Mt Nanda Devi are banned?

The Indian army conducted an operation on Nanda Devi in 1965. The operation was led by Captain Kohli. To protect themselves from enemies, they planted some nuclear devices in the mountains. This caused a lot of avalanches and the army had to return right away.

After a few years, they visited the mountain again and tried to look for the devices. Eventually, high intel from America tried to find the planted devices. Helicopters from Europe too conducted search operations. But, these devices couldn't be found despite the search attempts. 

These nuclear devices are said to have a lifespan of a century. They can be harmful and could explode at any moment if triggered. It is said that it could affect people right up to Rishikesh and Delhi

It would be life-threatening for anyone visiting the mountain. Hence, trekking at Nanda Devi has been banned.

Available Dates

Avoid December's crowds. Choose Jan, Feb or March.

In Jan, Feb and March, you'll find lesser crowds, more snow deposits and higher chances of snowfall.