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.
The Kuari Pass trek begins at Joshimath. The drive from Haridwar to Joshimath 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: 6,696 ft
- Time Taken: 10-12 hours drive from Haridwar
Day 2: Joshimath to Guling via Dhak
- Altitude: 6,696 ft to 9,832 ft via 6,956 ft
- Time taken: 45 minutes drive to Dhak. 5-6 hours trek form 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 is around 11 km from Joshimath. The drive usually takes around 45 minutes. 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: 9,832 ft to 10,492 ft
- 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: 10,492 ft to 11,031 ft via 12,516 ft
- 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. Drive to Joshimath
- Altitude: 11,031 ft 8,625 ft
- 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. Take the exit here to the parking lot and get a vehicle to head back to Joshimath.
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 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.
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, you can phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
- Target completing 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin
- Gradually increase the distance to 7 km. Target completing this in 63 minutes
- Before you go on the trek, you should be able to walk at least 10 km at a stretch. Target completing this in 90 minutes
In terms of speed, make sure you’re able to jog 5 km in 35 minutes before the start of the trek. If you are 45 years old and above, your target should be completing at least 3 km within 29 minutes before you go on the trek.
Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 20 in each
This is another area you should work on. The first day from Auli to Gorson Bugyal involves climbing over 2,500 ft. To accomplish this, you will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and works towards reaching your target in 3 weeks. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
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
If you’re trekking to the Himalayas from late December to February, you will need to take five layers of warm clothes with you – two sweaters, two fleece jackets and one padded jacket. Carry a pair of thermals for using at night.
Another thing you should carry is a poncho, as it might rain or snow at any time. Of course, a trekking pole will help greatly on a winter trek as well.
- Trekking shoes: For this ten day long trek you need trekking shoes with good grip that won’t wear out. You can watch this video to help choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Three warm layers: You will need at least three warm layers (two lights layers such as fleece and woollen and one padded jacket) for this trek.
- Two trek pants: One pair of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case the first one gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair.
- Two collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. These are more important in the winter months. There will be snow at the upper campsites. So carry a pair of sunglasses.
- Suncap: The sun is intense at higher altitudes and a sun cap is absolutely essential to keep your face and neck safe from sun burns.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woolen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. If you plan to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you do not leave the used wipes/tissues back in the mountains since these are not biodegradable. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- One water bottle: 1 litre
- One thermos flask: 1 litre, especially if you’re trekking in winter. Else carry 2 water bottles, one litre each.
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine are life-saving medicines. You MUST carry them with you.
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
- Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
If you’re shopping or packing for the trek, you can download this quick and simple checklist for offline use.
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
Trek fee: Rs. 8,950/-*
*GST at 5% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (camping- 3 per tent)
- All meals – vegetarian (starting from dinner at Joshimath on Day 1 and ending with dinner at Joshimath on Day 5)
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher, etc.)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport to and from the base camp (Haridwar to Joshimath and back)
- Food during transit to and from the base camp
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1,000 plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 350 per day inclusive of tax. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- Stay at Haridwar on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from the inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. Cancellation: 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.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
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% (bank charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
2. The trek fee includes all cost of the trek from the start at Joshimath to the end at Joshimath
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Haridwar railway station at 6:30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Joshimath in shared cabs.
4. Transport:Transport from Haridwar to Joshimath and return from Joshimath to Haridwar can be arranged by us at an extra cost. A shared vehicle costs approximately Rs. 5,500 one way. Participants are expected to share the cost likewise. The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack carrying: 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. 1000/- plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 350 per day inclusive of tax. Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
6. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
7. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 5 km in 30 mins before start of the trek. Unable to do so can make your trek difficult. In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
8. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
9. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
10. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
11. Safety Protocol:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to turn around a trekker if in the opinion of our trek leader they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.
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.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Stay in Joshimath will be in a guest house, where you will be sharing rooms with fellow trekkers. The stay on all other days will be in tents. Each tent accommodates 3 people and will have to be shared accordingly among trekkers.
2. Will you provide us with tents and sleeping bags?
Yes, Indiahikes trekkers will be provided with tents and high altitude sleeping bags that can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC.
3. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Day time temperatures in summer will range from 13-18ºC and night time temperature will range from 0-6ºC. Winter day time temperature will range from 14-18 ºC and night time temperature can drop to -4ºC.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
There will be snow on from December to April. Towards April, you might find snow at fewer campsites or only at the Pass, but this will vary each year, depending on the amount of snow fall.
5. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.
6. How do we reach Joshimath?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Haridwar railway station to Joshimath, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs 5,800 per vehicle (5-6 seater). You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Joshimath will take 10-11 hours.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Joshimath to Haridwar. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Kuari Pass trek?
Kuari Pass in the winter offers the opportunity to trek through snow. Snow can be found on the trail from late December, all the way till April. Spring is a great season to do this trek to see the rhodendrons in bloom. In September-October, the sky clears up after the rain and you get outstanding views of the Garhwal mountains. Whatever the season, you will get to witness the glory of the Nanda Devi peak right from Auli, where the trek begins.
9. Are backpacks, raincoats and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
No. There are several websites that rent out trekking equipment. Indiahikes does not rent any equipment. You may purchase trekking poles and other equipment from the Indiahikes store.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Kuari Pass is an easy-moderate trek. Once you reach Gorson Bugyal from Auli, the ascents are not too steep. This is a good trek for a first timer. The rewards that it offers in terms of view for the effort that one puts in are tremendous. However, it still requires a good amount of fitness so make sure that you prepare before setting off on the trek.
11. If not the Kuari Pass trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
Deoriatal Chandrashila and Kedarkantha are easy-moderate treks and good alternatives. If you’ve trekked before and are very fit, you could also consider the Pangarchulla Peak trek – the route of this trek closely follows the Kuari Pass and comes with the additional thrill of a summit climb.
12. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.1,000 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Joshimath, the amount will be Rs.350 per day inclusive of tax. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. We suggest you read “5 Tips to make Carrying your Trekking Backpack Easy” before making a decision.
13. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
Kuari Pass trek is a great option for children. Anyone above the age of 8 years can go on this trek. Make sure that your child is physically fit to take this on.
14. Who will be with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
15, What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest house at Joshimath will have concrete toilets. On the other days, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 to 4 of these toilet tents depending on the size of the group. A toilet tent will have a deep pit, where one can answer nature’s call. There will be a mound of soil and a shovel to cover it up. These are dry toilets, where you’ll have to use toilet paper. There will be a room freshener as well. It’s the most hygienic and convenient way to answer nature’s call in the wild. Please use plain toilet paper and refrain from using wet wipes since these are not biodegradable.
16. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
17. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
Our campsites are pitched near water sources. For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. There will be water sources on the trail on all days except Day 3, Gorson Bugyal/Padiyar to Chitrakantha.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
You will get mobile network at Joshimath, Auli and Gorson Bugyal only. The signal will be intermittent. Make sure you inform anxious family members about limited connectivity in the mountains. Electricity charging points will be available at the guest house in Joshimath.
19. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. We recommend a pair of rain resistant hoes. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters.
20. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
21. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
22. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
You will be trekking for 4-5 hours every day, except on the day of the cross passing, when you’ll trek for around 7 hours.
23. How do I manage the negative temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At high altitudes, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights.. For these extreme cold temperatures, you need to keep the rule of 3 in mind. The rule of 3 usually takes care of cold that dip to -10°C. It is a simple formula of wearing 3 layers of woolen, inners and lower wear.
Follow this guide:
Wear one thermal and two T-shirts, three layers of woolens (two sweaters and a jacket). For your lowers wear a thermal inner with two layers of track suit. If you are prone to more cold, just add a layer.
The temperatures dip only late in the evening and early mornings. During the day if the sun is out, then you may even be trekking in your T-shirts. Make sure you use your thermal wear only at night and not while trekking.
A woolen cap/balaclava and gloves are a must.
24. What all do I need to carry on the trek?
Click here to get the list of all the things you need to carry on the trek.
25. Is it safe to trek with Indiahikes?
All high altitude treks come with their share of risks. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it. Before you go on the trek, make sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with the safety procedures followed on a trek.
How to get to the basecamp – Joshimath
Delhi → Haridwar → Joshimath
The base camp for the Kuari Pass trek is Joshimath, 291 km from Haridwar.
Indiahikes organises transport from Haridwar to Joshimath. The pick up is at 6.30 am from Haridwar Railway Station on Day 1. The cab fare will be Rs.5,800 per vehicle for a Bolero and Rs.9,000 for a Tempo Traveler. This cost is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver. You will reach Joshimath by 6.00 pm.
Haridwar is well connected to Delhi. You can either take an overnight train from New Delhi to reach Haridwar the following morning –
- 14041 Mussoorie Express – 21.30 – 5.45
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 3.55
In case there are no train tickets available, you can travel by bus from Delhi to Haridwar. You’ll have to book this transport online. You can try the ISBT(Inter state bus terminus) services or www.redbus.in.
Joshimath → Haridwar → Delhi
The trek ends at Joshimath. The drive back to Haridwar from Joshimath takes around 7 hours. Indiahikes arranges transport from Joshimath to Haridwar. The cost of this transport is not included in the trek fee. The cab fare will be Rs. 5,800 (Bolero) or Rs 9,000 (Tempo Traveler). This will have to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver. You will reach Haridwar 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’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.
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
“We were shifted from the Har ki Dun batch and honestly, had our apprehensions. Kuari pass was shorter and situated in a different part of the Himalayas. All our worries started to subside as soon as we met the trek leader and guides at the base camp in Joshimath. We were lucky to have a clear weather and thus, had an eyeful of Mt. Nanda Devi, Mt. Trishul, Mt. Hathi Ghoda, Mt. Chaukhamba to name a few. My favourite campsite was Chitrakantha where we camped inside the brown oak forests along with another batch of trekkers. We went to see the sunset the same evening and like all the other trekkers I was spell bound to see the majestic colours of the sun being reflecting on the giant mountains. I will never forget the stories that Mukesh and Sukhdev bhaiya told us over soup. Their enthusiasm and desire to keep us happy, no matter what, was commendable. We were an accidental batch, and finally, quite happy about it.” –Nandini Kumar, batch of December 2016
“I loved every bit of the trek, the route, the group, the Trek leaders and the guides. The entire kitchen and support staff was extremely caring and selfless in the services provided. The food on the trek was delicious and to provide a variety of menu up in the mountains in sub zero temperature is commendable.” –Madhumathi Sanjay, batch of November 2016
“Indiahikes offers the best of all I have seen in other groups! I must admit it that for the first time in my life I did something which took me out of my comfort zone. Not only this trek helped me to learn a lot of things but also helped me to inculcate discipline in my life.”-Abhishek Jain, batch of May 2016
“Indiahikes is by far the most organized and caring trek company I know, if safety is the point then Indiahikes is the best, also you have routes throughout the country.”-Paramahamsa Kolagani, batch of May 2016