Difficulty

Easy-Moderate | Level 3

Duration

6 Days

Highest Altitude

12,598 ft

Age

8 to 55 years

Duration

6 Days

Age

8 to 55 years

Difficulty

Easy-Moderate | Level 3

Highest Altitude

12,598 ft

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Trek fee

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Kuari Pass Trek

The Only Trekkable Mountain Pass in Winter

Kuari pass is a mountain lovers’ delight. 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 Dhak, 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.

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Kuari Pass Videos

Watch these videos to prepare well for your trek

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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 6.00 am sharp. This cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs 7,500 per vehicle (5-6 seater) and Rs 11,000 per Tempo Traveller (12 seaters) for the transport one way.

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 9,265 ft

Moderate continuous ascent throughout the day from Karchi village. A bit of steep climb for the first 20 minutes followed by a 1.5 - 2 hours gradual ascent through the forest cover of oaks and maple trees.

Day 3

Trek from Akhrotghetta to Khullara

Trek Distance: 2.5 km | Trek Duration: 4-5 hours | Altitude gain: 9,265 ft to 11,014 ft

Moderate ascent to Khullara through golden and brown oak forests on all sides. Look back and take a glance at the stunning mountain views which open up as you reach Khullara.

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 10,890 ft via 12,598 ft

A long day with the climb to the Kuari Top with a steep ascent. Join Lord Curzon's trail and reach the top. The list of the big mountains from the Kuari top is almost close to reading a menu card. The trek later takes you on the windy ridge with a combination of ascent, and descent to the lovely forests of Chitrakantha and Tali.

Day 5

Trek from Tali to Auli. Drive to Joshimath

Trek Distance: 8.10 km | Trek Duration: 7-8 hours | Altitude loss: 10,890 ft to 9,390 ft

A day to witness and soak into the views of Mt. Nanda Devi. The initial climb to Tali lake through the forest and then trek on a sharp ledge. The mountains get bigger as you walk on the lovely Gorson Bugyal to end the trek at Auli.

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 7,000 per vehicle, shared among 5-6 trekkers and Rs 10,500 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

- 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. This is required for trek permissions.

- 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

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

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

Please note: Twin sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.

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.

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 6.00 am sharp. This cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs 7,500 per vehicle (5-6 seater) and Rs 11,000 per Tempo Traveller (12 seaters) for the transport one way.

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 9,265 ft

Moderate continuous ascent throughout the day from Karchi village. A bit of steep climb for the first 20 minutes followed by a 1.5 - 2 hours gradual ascent through the forest cover of oaks and maple trees.

Day 3

Trek from Akhrotghetta to Khullara

Trek Distance: 2.5 km | Trek Duration: 4-5 hours | Altitude gain: 9,265 ft to 11,014 ft

Moderate ascent to Khullara through golden and brown oak forests on all sides. Look back and take a glance at the stunning mountain views which open up as you reach Khullara.

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 10,890 ft via 12,598 ft

A long day with the climb to the Kuari Top with a steep ascent. Join Lord Curzon's trail and reach the top. The list of the big mountains from the Kuari top is almost close to reading a menu card. The trek later takes you on the windy ridge with a combination of ascent, and descent to the lovely forests of Chitrakantha and Tali.

Day 5

Trek from Tali to Auli. Drive to Joshimath

Trek Distance: 8.10 km | Trek Duration: 7-8 hours | Altitude loss: 10,890 ft to 9,390 ft

A day to witness and soak into the views of Mt. Nanda Devi. The initial climb to Tali lake through the forest and then trek on a sharp ledge. The mountains get bigger as you walk on the lovely Gorson Bugyal to end the trek at Auli.

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 7,000 per vehicle, shared among 5-6 trekkers and Rs 10,500 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

- 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. This is required for trek permissions.

- 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

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

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

Please note: Twin sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.

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.

Campsites at a Glance

At Indiahikes, we are very particular about choosing terrific campsites. For the Kuari Pass trek too, after a lot of back and forth, we have settled on these terrific campsites, which trekkers have come to love and have a great experience.

Watch out for the first campsite of Kuari Pass. As you ascend from the forest section, you get to see the lone Walnut tree. This would be your Akhrotghetta campsite. Picture by Supriya.

The next campsite of Khullara is best known for sunset and sunrise. It is in the open clearance. Do not miss the alpenglow on the mountains of Mt Dhronagiri, Mt Hati Goda, and Mt Neelkanth from this campsite. Picture by Ramshankar Sahu.

Your third campsite is Tali. The campsite is surrounded by a beautiful forest setting which has a pin drop silence into it. Picture by Jothiranjan

Why I Believe Everyone Must Trek: A Note from the Founder

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Trekking transforms lives. It has changed my life completley. When I see my colleagues at Indiahikes, all of them have been impacted greatly. The transformations have been profound and irreversible. 

I see it in our trekkers too. I have seen them change professions, careers or start a new life. I have seen them get in and out of relationships, and start new projects. These are life-changing experiences. 

I have seen children building resilience. I have seen families come together. When I see those above 55, I see them rediscover passion and a sense of purpose. These are not small gains.

In the mountains new professions, new economies and new businesses have opened up. Our staff no longer go to cities to earn their living. Their income has increased. Above all, they are happiest working in this world. Trekking has been truly transformative.  

Everyone must trek. It transforms lives far more than you imagine. 

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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.

Trekkers en-route from Khullara campsite and ascending to Kuari Pass. Look behind for the massif of Mt Hati Goda, Mt Drongiri, Kamet, Neelgiri Parvat, and many others on a clear day.

Picture by: Valay Bhatt

The Push to the Summit

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.

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PRO TIPS

Why Fitness Matters on Kuari Pass Trek

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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.

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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.

Leaving Mountains Better

Green Trails is our promise to leave the mountains better. We have removed over 1 lakh kilos of the waste left behind by others on trekking trails. Yet this is a small percentage of what we do. Green Trails dives into reducing the use of resources, reducing our carbon footprint and bringing about a change in the daily practices of our trekkers too.

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