Kuari Pass – The Best Himalayan Trek For Beginners
If you are stepping into 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 an easy-moderate trek, which makes it easy enough for someone starting out in the Himalayas. But more than anything else there are three things about the trek that stay with you.
Ancient Forest Trails
First, are the beautiful forests on this trek. These forests are very old. They are mostly of oak and rhododendrons. Somehow, the forests are laid out perfectly. It is never too thick, never too thin. Every time you walk through the forests, you can see into the distance, which gives you a sweeping view of the forests. This is what makes the forest spectacular. There is something else magical about the forests. Every now and then, you get out of the forests to a clearing or a meadow and then get back in. This interplay of two different kinds of landscapes is something to watch out for.
Secondly, the campsites. Undoubtedly, you must look out for them. While we have many treks in the Himalayas, there are very few treks with campsites with such spectacular settings. Trekking is not always about going from place to place. It is also about the camping experience. Be it the Chitrakantha campsite in the heart of the forest or the Khullara campsite with Mt Dronagiri rising in the background. This is where the Kuari pass trek really makes it superb for someone starting out in the Himalayas.
Mountain Views from the First Day
Finally, the mountain views. Even from the first day of the trek you get to see superb mountain views. Mt Nanda Devi, Dronagiri are right in front. As you go higher, more mountains reveal themselves. They span the horizon making it a spectacular show.
Even if you leave these aspects out, the Kuari Pass trek is a superb trek. The beautiful sights and challenges of the trek make it a trek worth doing – whether it is your first time to the Himalayas or not.
Itinerary in brief
Day 1: Reach Dhak, the base camp. Transport from Zostel, Rishikesh will be arranged by Indiahikes. It costs Rs. 6,000 per Bolero (5-6 seater), and Rs. 9,000 per Tempo Traveller (12-13 seater) for the transport one way. This amount is shared by trekkers. Pick up will be at 6.00 am. You will reach the base camp, Dhak by 5 pm.
Day 2: Trek from Dhak (6,900 ft) to Guling/Akhrotghetta (9,832) ft; 4 km, 5-6 hours
Day 3: Guling (9,832 ft) ft to Khullara (11,100 ft); 2.5, 3-4 hours
Day 4: Khullara (11,100 ft) to Chitrakantha/Tali (11,031 ft) via Kuari Pass (12,516 ft); 7 km, 8 hours
Day 5: Chitrakantha/Tali (11,031 ft) to Auli (8,625 ft); 8 km, 4-5 hours.
Day 6: Drive from Auli to Zostel, Rishikesh. The transport costs Rs 6,000 per Bolero (5-6 seater) and Rs 9,000 per Tempo Traveller (12-13 seater). You will reach Rishikesh by 7.00 pm
Please note that you will be staying at a guest house in Auli. The stay on all other days is in tents (3 per tent).
It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.
The Kuari Pass trek begins at Dhak. The drive from Rishikesh to Dhak is a beautiful one. The route is along tributaries of Ganga. The road goes along hugging the mountain side and you see the forests and valleys of Garhwal below you.
- Altitude: 6,900 ft
- Time Taken: 8-10 hour drive from Rishikesh
Day 2: Dhak to Guling/Akhrotghetta
- Altitude: 6,900 ft (2,103 m) to 9,396 ft (2,864 m)
- Time taken: 5-6 hours trek from Dhak to Guling
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Continuous ascent – steep for the first 20 minutes followed by 45 minutes gradual ascent. Steep again for 60-70 minutes followed by a mix of gradual and steep ascents for 1.5-2 hours
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. There is one water source around 2.5 hours into the trek, after you have crossed Upper Tugasi village.
Dhak has a few grocery stores and a dhaba.
The trek begins with an ascending, dirt trail that leads away from the main road, towards Tugasi village. This is the trail going inside the village. You will reach a T point where you need to take a sharp left. The trail goes through a series of level walks and gradual ascents along farms. The mountain ridge here is barren with few or no presence of snow-fall in winter season. Look out below for Dhauli-Ganga River forging its way past Vishnugad-Tapovan Hydro Power Station. The trail is well defined and meanders along the mountain ridge with a series of steep and gradual ascents. Observe a rain shelter at a distance ahead on the trail. This shelter is the first landmark of the trek before reaching Kharchi Village. This takes around 20 minutes to reach.
At the rain shelter, the trail turns sharply to the right and you’ll have the valley to your left. You can see it curving around the mountains up ahead. The trail for the next 45 minutes ascends gradually, with a few switch backs in between. It leads you to Lower Tugasi. You will find multiple trails leading out of Lower Tugasi. Take the one that goes past the two water based flour mills and turns steeply to the left.
This trail climbs rapidly to Upper Tugasi through several switch backs. You will pass a lot of cultivated land here – wheat fields, poppy, cultivated flowers. You will also see streams that feed the flour mills below. Avoid drinking from these since the water is not clean. You will reach Upper Tugasi in 30-40 minutes.
From Upper Tugasi, the trail continues to climb steeply. The fields are behind you now, but the trail is still populated by villages at regular intervals. Dronagiri stands out prominently among the mountains all the time you’re on this trail. It’ll take you about 30 minutes to cross the last settlement. The water source that you find after the last hut is safe for refilling your water bottles.
It will take 1.5 – 2 hours to reach Guling from here. The trail is a mix of steep and moderate climbs. Around 15 minutes before Guling, the first oaks appear and you are soon inside a mixed forest. The trail takes you around the same valley that you saw when you started from the rain shelter. But this keeps getting narrower as you gain altitude. The Guling campsite is inside the forest.
Look back as you approach Guling. Hathi and Ghora parvat make their first appearance here.
Day 3: Guling to Khullara
- Altitude: 9,396 ft (2,864 m) to 11,125 ft (3,391 m)
- Time taken: 3-4 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Moderate ascent all the way to Khullara
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from streams along the trail.
The trail today ascends all the way to Khullara but it’s not as steep as the previous day. Within 40 minutes of starting from Guling, you reach the first clearing. You will be surrounded by oak forests on all sides. Continue on the trail leading into the forest. You will reach the second clearing after about an hour. All this time, you will cross small streams along the trail. The water in them is clean and you can drink it.
Throughout the day, you see Dronagiri to the left, slightly at the back. You will also get glimpses of the Hathi Ghoda peaks. The peek-a-boo that the mountains play through the forests makes for very enchanting sights.
The Khullara campsite is located in a clearing.
Day 4: Khullara to Chitrakantha/Tali via Kuari Pass
- Altitude: 11,100 ft (3,352 m) to 11,503 ft (3,506 m) via 12,516 ft (3,815 m)
- Time taken: 8 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Steep climb for 1-1.5 hours followed by a moderate ascent for 1.5 hours. Slight descent for about 40 minutes to Kuari Pass. Descent for about 1.5 hours followed by 1 hour ascent easing off into a moderate descent for about 2 hours.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from streams along the trail.
The trail from Khullara begins to climb steeply out of the tree line. In 1-1.5 hours you reach a ridge, which is a part of Lord Curzon’s trail. From here 360 degree views of the Himalayas open up before you. On one side you see Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Dronagiri, Nilgiri and Hathi Ghoda peaks. Straight ahead of you are Trishul and parts of Nanda Devi. Continue on this trail to reach the upper grasslands of Kuari Pass.
From the ridge, trek up to Kuari top. This is a moderate climb with a few switch backs. It will take you 40 minutes to reach the top. A gradually descending trail from here will bring you to Kuari Pass in about 40 minutes.
From Kuari Pass, retrace your way back to the ridge. Once you reach the ridge, walk along ahead instead of turning towards Khullara. An hour’s moderate climb will bring you to Jhandi top, which is on top of the ridge. The views from Jhandi top are even better that what you get at Kuari Pass.
From Jhandi Top, start descending towards the Chitrakantha meadows. This is a forest trail and the mountains get hidden behind the tall trees. You will reach Chitrakantha in 1-1.5 hours. From Chitrakantha, you get 180 degree views of the mountains. Dronagiri is again very prominent here.
The trail from Chitrakantha to Tali dives deep into the forest. You are surrounded by oaks, pines and rhododendrons. The forest is so dense that hardly any sunlight reaches in. The Tali forest camp is around 40 minutes ahead on this trail. The campsite is located right in the middle of the forest, with a stream flowing close by. You are surround by tall trees on all sides.
Day 5: Chitrakantha/Tali to Auli
- Altitude: 11,503 ft (3,506 m) to 8,790 ft (2,679 m)
- Time taken: 4-5 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradual ascent for about 40 minutes followed by a 20 minutes steep climb. Around 45 minutes of gradual ascent which eases off into a descending trail for about 3 hours.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles at Padiyar and once you enter Auli.
Begin the trek today with a moderate climb to Tali lake. This should take you around 40 minutes. At Tali lake, you’re above the tree line so you start getting mountain views again.
A 20 minutes steep climb from Tali lake brings you to an overhanging trail which cuts through a cliff. Continue on this trail. You can spot Lower and Upper Tugasi villages way below in the valley and also see rhododendron forests form above. After about 40 minutes of moderate ascent, the overhanging trail ends abruptly at Gorson Bugyal.
At Gorson Bugyal, the trail turns sharply to the left. Wide mountain views open up to the right and behind you. You will trek across the entire length of Gorson Bugyal, which gives you enough time to savour the views. This is a lovely, descending walk. In 2-2.5 hours you will reach Padiyar. From here, the trail enters an oak forest. Within 15 minutes you reach Padiyar temple. You can take a break here if you wish.
From Padiyar temple, the trail continues to descend. Upper Auli, which is the end of the ski lift (number 10), appears in 10-15 minutes. Auli is 1,000 ft below this. You will reach after gradually descending through the meadows for 1-1.5 hours. The trail in this section is quite populated.
Once you you reach Auli, get to GMVN.
Day 6: Drive from Auli to Rishikesh
Please note, the Kuari Pass trek has issues related to availability of water in the natural water sources. Campsites may vary at times depending on availability of water.
How to get to the basecamp – Dhak
Delhi → Rishikesh → Dhak
The base camp for the Kuari Pass trek is Dhak, 256 km from Rishikesh.
Indiahikes arranges transport from Rishikesh (Zostel) at 6 am on Day 1 of the trek. The cost of this transport is Rs.6,000 per cab and Rs.9,000 for a Tempto Traveller. This amount will have to be shared by trekkers. You can pay the driver directly. You will reach Dhak by 5.00 pm.
How to reach Rishikesh
Rishikesh is well-connected to most cities in India. The closest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport (It is the Dehradun airport, but is closer to Rishikesh than to Dehradun). It is just 20 km from Rishikesh. The closest railway station is the Haridwar station, an hour’s drive from Rishikesh. And there are plenty of buses that ply directly to Rishkesh.
Travelling from the Jolly Grant Airport to Rishikesh
If you decide to fly to Jolly Grant airport, make sure you reach at least one day before your pick up. You will need to stay there overnight and make it to the pick up point at 6 am on Day 1 of your trek.
If you’re travelling from the airport, there are buses that ply from there to Rishikesh every hour.
Pre-paid taxis are also available from the airport but we wouldn’t recommend these as they charge exorbitant amounts — Rs 800 to Rs 1000.
Instead, flag down a taxi (bargain a bit) with taxis outside the airport. Usually most passengers take taxis from the airport. Try to hook up with co-passengers on the flight for your taxi ride to Rishikesh.
If you’d like to travel by train, take a train from Delhi to Haridwar and then a bus to Rishikesh
Haridwar is just an hour away from Rishikesh. And there are several trains that ply from Delhi to Haridwar. The day trains are best suited to your needs.
In Haridwar, the ISBT bus stop is across the road from the railway station. There are buses which ply at frequent 10-15 minute intervals to Rishikesh. It takes about 1 hour to get there.
Taxis are also available but buses are convenient enough.
Trains that would suit you best:
Dehradun Shtbdi (Train No: 12017). It is an AC train that leaves at 6:45 am from New Delhi Railway station (NDLS) and reaches Haridwar at 11:30 am.
Dehradun Jan Shatabdi (Train No: 12055). It leaves Nizamuddin station at 15:20, arrives at 19:33 at Haridwar.
Note: Do not take a train to Dehradun, its longer to reach Rishikesh from Dehradun railway station. Take the train only up to Hardiwar.
Bus from Delhi to Rishikesh
In case you do not get a train ticket, there are regular overnight Volvo AC buses from Delhi’s ISBT Kashmiri Gate to Rishikesh. You also get Non-AC buses.
Buses are frequent and not usually crowded. You can get a bus almost every half hour. Buses take 8-9 hours to get to Rishikesh from Delhi. AC bus tickets cost about Rs 900. Take a bus that reaches at 5:30am.
Note: Whichever mode of transport you choose make sure you reach Rishikesh a day earlier, Day 0.
Getting back to Delhi
Auli → Rishikesh → Delhi
The trek ends at Auli. The drive back to Rishikesh from Auli takes around 7 hours. Indiahikes arranges transport from Auli to Rishikesh. The cost of this transport is not included in the trek fee. The cab fare will be Rs. 6,000 (Bolero) or Rs 9,000 (Tempo Traveler). This will have to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver. You will reach Rishikesh at 7.00 pm. You can take a train back to Delhi – Mussoorie Express (23.15) or Nanda Devi Express (00.55) the same night.
If you are travelling further from Rishikesh, you can book your transport post 9 pm, keeping two hours as buffer time in case of road blocks in the mountain roads.
If you’re travelling out of Delhi the next day, make sure you keep enough buffer time for booking your onward journey, to factor in train delays.
How to get fit for the Kuari Pass trek
The Kuari Pass trek is classified as an easy-moderate trek. You start the trek at 8,800 ft and reach a highest point of 12,516 ft, gaining an altitude of 3,759 feet in three days. In addition to this substantial altitude gain, you will cover a total trekking distance of 20 km. This requires decent fitness levels.
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 get fit 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.
What to take on the Kuari Pass trek
Things to get for the Kuari Pass Trek
Kuari Pass is a high altitude trek with snow. You’ll need enough warm layers and accessories to keep you warm and help you trek comfortably. So pay careful attention to this entire section.
- A list of everything you need for the trek (Skip to section)
- Useful videos to help you with your gear (Skip to section)
- A list of medicines for your trek (Skip to section)
- A list of mandatory documents (Skip to section)
First, The Essentials. You cannot do the trek without these.
1. Trekking Shoes
Kuari Pass requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have good grip, have ankle support and can handle snow. Here is a quick video on how to choose your trekking shoes.
| Buying Tip: The Trek series and MH series are good options by Decathlon. They are tried and tested. There really isn’t any necessity to buy the higher priced models. Here is a list of other budget shoes that trekkers are using.
| Rental: We have the Trek series and the MH series by Decathlon available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are already broken into and in good condition. Rental shoes are not dirty or unhygienic. This is how they are kept clean. Rent here.
For a trek like Kuari Pass, you need a 50-60 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.
| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.
| Rental: The 48 litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack. Rent here.
Wearing layers is the mantra in the mountains. Layers give you maximum protection from all elements. And when the weather changes in the mountains (as it happens every few hours), you take take off or put on layers as required.
Base layer: 3 T-shirts
Wear one T-shirt and carry two. Carry full sleeve dry-fit T-shirts (preferably collared). These prevent your arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trek, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn you in no time.
Dry-fit T-shirts quickly dry your sweat, they are easy to wash and in case of a rainy day, they dry quicker. Round neck T-shirts are ok, but collared ones are better.
| Cotton or Synthetic? As Indians, we love cotton. Down in the plains when the heat is a blistering 40°C it makes sense to wear cotton. But it takes a long time to dry when it gets wet. In the mountains, where it is cooler, synthetic is what you wear. They wick sweat rapidly and keep you dry. (But they do tend to smell quickly, so carry a roll-on deodorant with you.)
| Buying tip: You can get dry-fit T-shirts from Decathlon. Also, stores like Reliance Trends, Max have dry-fit T-shirts. They don’t usually cost much.
| Pro Tip: If you are extra susceptible to cold, you could get a set of thermal inners. In our experience, wearing two T-shirts over another works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space, since you’re already carrying them.
4 Insulation layers
For the Kuari pass trek, you will need at least 4 warm layers.
You will need 1 pair of inner thermals, light fleece layers, 1 light sweater and 1 padded jacket. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
For your outer later, a padded jacket serves the purpose here. You don’t really need a water resistant material. But you need an outer padded jacket that keeps the wind and cold out. Ensure your padded jacket has a hood as well.
| Do you need a down/feather jacket? Not really. A regular padded/shell jacket will do. This video here will help you to learn more about the difference.
| Note: Down/feather jackets are really not available these days. Many jackets masquerade as down/feather jackets. They are essentially fine polyester-filled jackets. They mimic the function of a down jacket but are usually expensive.
| Rental: Padded jackets made by Fort Collins are available on rent at the Indiahikes store. They are custom made for Indiahikes and trekkers find them terrific, even in winter. Rent here.
Two trek pants
Two pairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry one just in case it rains. Trek pants with zippered cut offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon in case of small stream crossings / rain.
| Buying tip: Go for pants with zippered pockets. They come in handy to keep your phone, handkerchief or pocket snacks.
| Track pants or trek pants? Stretchable track pants make a good backup and can double up as your thermal bottoms. But track pants are not trek pants — so don’t use them as your main outerwear. Keep them only as a backup.
Mandatory Accessories, without these too you won’t be able to do the trek.
These accessories are mandatory. Don’t go to Kuari Pass without them. Trekkers generally put off purchasing / borrowing the accessories for the last minute. We suggest the opposite. Start gathering these accessories first.
Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. On a trek like Kuari pass, expect to walk on long stretches of snow. A small overexposure to direct sunlight on snow can lead to snow blindness (about a half hour’s exposure). That’s because fallen snow is like thousands of mirrors that reflect direct UV rays. So you need sunglasses with UV protection.
| Wearing tip: Wear sunglasses if the trekking day is bright and sunny (on open sections, meadows). On a snowy section you must absolutely never take off your sunglasses until the section has been fully crossed.
| Buying Tip: Try getting sunglasses that wrap around instead of those that have openings on the side. Even peripheral UV ray exposure is not a good idea.
| If you wear spectacles: If you wear spectacles, you can get oversized sunglasses that you wear over your regular glasses (available at Decathlon). If that is cumbersome, photochromic lenses work equally well. Here’s a quick guide on managing sunglasses with spectacles.
| Contact lens users: If you use contact lenses, you can use them on the trek too. The lens solution will not freeze. You will also not face any problems in changing your lens in your tent. Just carry enough cleaning solution with you to clean your fingers well. Wear your sunglasses over your contact lens. Read this article for more guidance on managing contact lenses on treks.
A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sun strokes, quick dehydration and a sharp drop in trekking performance.
| Tip: In the mountains, the general rule is to keep your head covered at all times. During the day a sun cap protects you from the harsh rays of the sun (it is doubly stronger with naked UV rays). A sun cap keeps your body temperature in balance. In the evening/early morning, the reverse is true. Your head loses your body heat quickly. A woolen cap prevents heat from dissipating from your head.
| Pro Tip: Sun caps with flaps are a blessing for trekkers. They cut out almost all UV leaks. They prevent sun burns in every possible way. They are a lot more effective than sunscreen lotion. A wide brimmed sports hat also helps to prevent sunburn in a big way.
3. Synthetic hand gloves
On a trek like Kuari Pass, you want the gloves to keep you warm. Get synthetic hand gloves that have waterproofing on the outside and a padded lining on the inside. If you find the combination difficult to get (not likely), wear a tight fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove. Hand gloves are mandatory on this trek.
4. Woollen cap or Balaclava
Ensure these cover your ears. In the cold mountains, you lose maximum heat from your head, not from your hands, feet or the rest of your body. Which is why you need to keep your head protected, especially when the sun is down. Early mornings, late evenings, a cold trekking day are when you must use your woollen cap.
Your ears are sensitive too, so a woollen head cap that covers your ears is absolutely essential. A balaclava is a modern version of the woolen cap. It covers your ears, neck and parts of your face as well. Do not get a woollen cap that only covers your head.
5. Socks (3 pairs)
Apart from two pairs of sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks. Sports socks give you cushioning plus warmth. Again the mantra is to wear synthetic socks or at least a synthetic blend. Cotton socks soak in water and sweat. They are very hard to dry.
As for woollen socks, they help you to keep warm and snug in the night. If you cannot get woolen socks, wearing two sports socks serves the purpose as well.
Trekkers are often confused about whether they need to get a headlamp or a handheld torch. You need to get a headlamp because it leaves your hands free to do other activities. On the Kuari pass trek you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.
| Buying tip: Ensure your headlamp covers a wider area and is not too focused as a single beam. On a trek, your headlamp must help you see around you as much as ahead of you.
7. Trekking pole (a pair)
Trekking poles give you stability and balance. They reduce your energy consumption by almost 40%. On the Kuari pass trek there are steep ascents and descents. A pair of trekking poles will make the difference between a comfortable and a strenuous trek. In India we tend to use a single trekking pole. However, two trekking poles give you greater stability and balance. They also increase your walking pace.
| Rental: Imported side-locking trekking poles are available on rent on the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
On a trek, the weather can change quickly. A bright sunny day can turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. Carry a poncho or a rain jacket to tackle this. A poncho is a big rain cover with openings for your arms and your head. It is extremely effective because it covers both you and your backpack. It is extremely light and weighs next to nothing.
| Pro tip: Rain jackets are more streamlined and less cumbersome but weigh more. Rain pants are really not required. Dry fit trek pants dry quickly even if soaking wet.
| Rental: High grade ponchos are available on rent on the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
9. Rain cover for your backpack
Backpacks are your life. You carry all your dry clothes, your warm gear in your backpack. It is important that your backpack stays dry at all times. Modern backpacks usually come with built in rain-covers. If your back pack does not have a rain-cover, ensure you get a rain cover by either (a) buying a rain cover (b) or cutting a large plastic sheet to the size of your backpack. You can roll the plastic sheet around your backpack and keep it in place with a string or elastic.
| Pro tip: It’s good practice to compartmentalise your clothes, accessories and other things in plastic covers inside your backpack. That way, even if it rains and your backpack gets wet, your things are water-proof inside the backpack.
10. Daypack (20-30 ltrs, optional)
Some trekkers opt to offload their bags to a mule on the Kuari pass trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer. Your main backpack that carries most of your equipment is accessible only at the campsites.
A daypack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not daypacks. Do not get them.
Other mandatory requirements
1. A toilet kit
Keep your toilet kit light. Carry just the basics — toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, toilet tissue roll, a small moisturiser, lip balm, and a roll-on deodorant. You will not be able to have a bath on the trek, so don’t overload on soaps and shampoos.
| Pro tip: Carry miniature-sized items. You will not need more than that. If you’re travelling in a group, share one toothpaste for all.
| Pro tip: Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Kuari pass.
| For women: If you are likely to have your periods on your trek date, don’t worry about it. You can use your pads, tampons or menstrual cups on the trek. There will be toilet tents where you can get changed. Make sure you carry ziplock bags to bring back your menstrual waste. Don’t leave behind any waste in the mountains. Watch this video to learn how to dispose your sanitary waste.
Carry a lunch box, a mug and a spoon. Your lunch box must be leak proof. You are expected to wash your own cutlery. Trekkers often expect Indiahikes to wash their cutlery. When you allow Indiahikes to wash your cutlery, your cutlery becomes part of a mass washing system. You immediately invite germs, bacteria to settle on your cutlery. Incidence of stomach disorders rises exponentially.
| Pro tip: Carry stainless steel cutlery. Avoid fancy high grade plastic cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery is infinitely easier to wash in cold water. Grease is easier to remove and hygiene is at the highest.
| Two 1 litre bottles or a 2 litre hydration pack: Kuari pass has many hours of trekking everyday (approximately 6 hours). You need to carry two one litre water bottles to keep yourself hydrated over the distance. If you are used to a hydration pack, then that is ok too. If one among the two bottles is a lightweight thermos, then that helps you to store warm water on a really cold day or for late evenings and early mornings.
| Rental: You could rent lightweight thermos flasks from the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
3. Plastic covers
Carry 3-4 old plastic covers to keep your used clothes. You could use them even for wet clothes. Re-use old plastic bags for this and do not buy new ones.
Useful videos to help you with your gear:
- What to take on your trek
- How to pack your backpack
- How to choose your trekking shoes
- Trekking shoes vs sports shoes. How are they different?
- How to layer up on a Himalayan trek
- Why you need a trekking pole
- How to manage sanitary waste on a trek
Personal medical kit
Carry these medicines with you, easily accessible at all times. Do not take any medicine unless you have consulted your trek leader.
- Diamox (1 Strip): Be on a course of a half tablet Diamox starting from Delhi every 12 hours (125 mg). Carry on the medication until you descend down to Yamunotri. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Kuari pass trek.
- Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is a paracetamol. It helps to tackle fever, mild pain
- Avomine (4 tablets): Carry this especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop one half hour before the start of your road journey.
- Combiflam (5 tablets): Take a combiflam if you get a sudden twist of the leg or a muscle strain. It is a pain reliever. It also contains paracetamol.
- Digene (4 tablets): Take it if you feel the food that you’ve taken is undigested. Alert your trek leader immediately. It could be a sign of AMS.
- ORS (6 packs): Consume a pack of ORS water at least once a day, usually mid day when you are in the middle of your trek. It replenishes essential salts lost while trekking. Tip: It also makes cold water easier to drink.
- Knee Brace (optional): Carry this if you are prone to knee injury or have known issues of knee pain.
Our trek leaders carry a high altitude medical kit with them which also consist of Life Saving Drugs. If there is an emergency our trek leaders know how to tackle it. Meanwhile, contact your trek leader before consuming any of these medicines listed here.
| Pro tip: We find that these medicines by trekkers are rarely used. But you cannot do away with them. At the end of the trek please donate unused medicines to your trek leader. Some of these medicines get distributed to villages on the trek and some are added to the Indiahikes medical kit.
Mandatory Documents to carry
These are documents required for legal purposes by Indiahikes and the forest department. Without any of these, you will not be allowed to trek.
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, passport will do. This is required by the forest department for your identification.
- Disclaimer certificate. This is a legal requirement. Download the PDF, read carefully and sign it. This must be handed over to your Trek Leader during registration at the base camp – Download PDF
- Medical certificate. There are two sections in this. The first part must be filled by a practising doctor. The second part must be filled by you. Without the medical certificate the forest department will not issue permissions for your trek. It is also a requirement by Indiahikes – Download PDF
| Pro tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack. This keeps them from getting wet.
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
What are the risks on the Kuari Pass Trek?
The Kuari Pass trek is a moderate, high altitude trek. With every high altitude trek comes the risk of altitude sickness. 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.
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.
But we strongly advocate the statement, “Prevention is better than cure.” Right from the time you decide to register for a trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below.
1. Fitness criteria before registration
A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually. Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have introduced an eligibility criteria for the Kuari Pass trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Kuari Pass trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof.
2. Breaking the ascent at Gorson Bugyal
The general rule to follow for acclimatisation is not to have your camps have more than 1,000 ft of altitude gain each day. This becomes a difficult rule to follow in Indian Himalayas when the mountains climb so quickly.
In Kuari Pass, the trek starts with a daunting 2,500 ft ascent from Auli’s ski lift (around 8,800 ft) to the fringe of Gorson Bugyal (10,500 ft). We break the ascent at the beginning of Gorson Bugyal to allow natural acclimatisation instead of going all the way up to Talli or further to Chitrakantha. It is imperative you don’t climb further than Gorson Bugyal.
3.Monitoring health on a trek
On the Kuari Pass trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required. Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.
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 what symptoms he should look out for and what action he should take during emergencies. These Health Cards will be taken back at the end of the trek.
4. 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.
5. High Altitude Trek Equipment
Kuari Pass will have a lot of snow in December. People often slip and fall on snowy or icy terrain. Individuals who travel to altitude may have noticed that even the smallest cut or wound takes longer to heal the higher the altitude. Reasons for this are increasing stress hormones and lower overall oxygen delivery to the tissues. Wounds tend to get infected more easily as well. Keeping your wounds clean and covered will prevent infection.
Often applying a triple antibiotic ointment regularly will keep the wound from overly drying and aid in healing. Wound healing becomes an issue only at very high altitudes, over 14,000 ft or so.
To avoid falling/slipping on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes.
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. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
6. 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.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you need to know if you’re going on the Kuari Pass 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.
First thing you should know is that Kuari Pass is a High Altitude trek. It climbs up to an altitude of 12,500 ft. So it comes with its fair share of risks – altitude sickness,cold, and and daunting ascents.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS is one of the biggest dangers on a high altitude trek . 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. Since Kuari Pass is largely an open meadow trek, it can get very cold and windy. If your body is not able to tackle the cold, it could accelerate any symptom of AMS you were already having. Before you read further, watch this video to understand the symptoms of AMS.
Where on the Kuari Pass trek is AMS likely to affect you
Over a year of conducting Kuari Pass trek, we have noticed there are two camps on Kuari Pass trek where AMS is most likely to affect you. One is the Chitrakantha camp on Day 3. Although we have broken the first day’s ascent at Gorson Bugyal to allow your body to acclimatise naturally, Chitrakantha is still a camp where you have to watch for signs of altitude sickness. It is important you recognise your symptoms early.
The next is Khullara – the camp after the Kuari Pass assault. This happens when your body has not acclimatised to the altitude of Kuari Pass. Most trekkers take this camp lightly, believing the highest altitude they could have reached is behind them. So don’t let your guard down, keep an eye out for any symptoms.
What to do if you feel symptoms of AMS
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must 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. If you’re not at your 100% at the end of Day, then again, report to your Trek Leader. He will make you descend to Dhak or Auli – depending on which side of the pass you are on. Descent is the most effective cure for AMS.
If Diamox alone doesn’t work, he might administer Dex or Nifedipine, or perhaps oxygen, depending on the circumstances.
While AMS can be treated with medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours. And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Exit points on Kuari Pass trek
Kuari Pass has easy exit points. Every exit point on this trek is a rapid descent so you lose all the altitude you gained. From Chitrakantha, you can descend all the way down to Auli. From Khullara, you can descend to Dhak village. Joshimath, the nearest town, is a 45 minute drive from Dhak.
Joshimath has the closest hospital. Joshimath is a 45 minute drive from Dhak and an hour’s drive from Auli.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either 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 then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
The video below will help you understand what medicines to administer when and how much. 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.
Trek cancellation policy
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.
In the unlikely case of a trek being called off by us 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.
Your trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 5 (Dhak to Auli). You will be staying in Guest house at Auli and camping on remaining days of the trek (3 per tent).
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Dhak on Day 1 to breakfast at Auli 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 – High-quality tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, roped, microspikes, gaiters etc. as required.
- Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc.
Your trek fee does not include:
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Rishikesh and drop you back. This will cost approx. Rs. 6,000 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
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs. 1000+ 5% GST for the entire trek. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. Suitcases/strollers/duffel bags will not be allowed.
- Anything apart from inclusions
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.
If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforeseen 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.
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.The trek has long climbs and steep descents on a daily basis. As a measure of your fitness, we require you to be able to run at least 5 km in 40 minutes by the time your trek starts. If you are 45 years or above, try to cover 5 km in 47 minutes. This is a minimum, mandatory requirement.
If you prefer cycling over running, then try to cover 22 km in 60 minutes.
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 and upload the fitness screenshots on your dashboard. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
Indiahikes has the right to reject trekkers who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
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.
Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1,000 plus GST of 5% for the entire trek. You can opt for offloading directly your dashboard after your payment is done for the trek.
Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
Online offloading in advance is possible up to three days prior to the trek start date.
Discount for a group of 10 and above
If there is a group size of 10 trekkers and above, then we will waive off the trek fee charges for one person.
Note - There is no discount available if the group size is 9 or less than that.
You can register the entire group and send us an email. If the group is registering individually, then the primary participant needs to send an email to the Trek Coordinator with the list of trekkers from the same group.
If you want to make the payment individually, then individual registrations have to be done.
This will be the case for a group of 10 trekkers. So if you have a group of 20 trekkers, then we will waive off the charges for 2 trekkers.
Repeat Trekker Policy
At Indiahikes, we believe that the mountains hold all the aces. The weather could play spoilsport, the altitude could mess with a trekker, the unpredictability of nature itself could turn against him. Whatever the reason might be, it is never nice to turn away from a trek midway.
Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack (have a mule carry it for you). This will cost Rs 1,000 + 5% GST for the entire trek if you inform us in advance. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. Online offloading in advance is possible up to five days prior to the trek start date. You can opt for this from your dashboard directly.
Is there a mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
Where is the pickup point for the trek?
Zostel, Rishikesh is the pickup point for the trek. The pickup time is 6.00 am
Will I get snow on this trek?
You find snow around end of April at the higher camp sites. Post this, you won’t have snow on this trek.
What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest houses at Auli will have concrete toilets. On the other days, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. 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 do not use wet wipes since these are not bio-degradable.
"I do not remember jumping out of my bed with so much to look forward to at 05:30 am in the recent past. And there we were, all of us, not carrying our mountains any more but climbing them", Nishant Jadhav writes about his experience on the Kuari Pass Trek.Read full blog
Click on available dates to Register
- What the colours mean
Available:Registration is on.
Waitlist:The group is full, but cancellations are likely to happen. We have 5 waitlist slots for every group. You may register for the group. Waitlist slots confirmation chances are high if booked more than 30 days in advance.
Last 'x' slots:Indicates the number of slots available in a batch.
Full:Indicates the group is full. No further slots are likely. A full group has 18 members.
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