The Best Ridge Trek With Endless Panoramic Views
First up, ridge treks are extremely uncommon in our country. There are hardly a handful. And the Phulara Ridge Trek is already looking to be one of the best.
While the Phulara ridge is a huge highlight, there are at least 4 other things to look out for on this trek. I’ll get to those in a bit.
First, let’s talk about the ridge, because from what our explorer, Suhas Saya says, “nothing beats it!” He explored this trail in April 2017 and cannot stop singing praises of it!
The thrilling ridge-walk
This trail starts off from Sankri, which is in western Uttarakhand, almost touching Himachal. If you are familiar with Kedarkantha, it has the same base camp, Sankri. However, the trail to Phulara ridge heads in a different direction.
From Sankri, over two days and two camps, you climb up to the Phulara ridge. That’s when the fun begins. You traverse this ridge for a long time — it’s almost an entire day’s trek.
“It’s a great feeling to be standing up there! There are snow-capped mountains at eye level. Clouds float at your feet. Below you, the ground sweeps down on either side. You’re absolutely on the edge and you walk along this stretch for nearly 4-5 hours! It’s nothing like I’ve experienced before,” says Suhas.
Apart from the ridge itself, he says there are lots of things to look out for on this trek.
First, of course, the mountain views from the ridge
While walking on a ridge is an experience in itself, being able to see big mountains at eye-level is something else!
It’s rare to be at such a high point for so many hours on any trek. You might know that if you have done a summit climb. You stand at the summit for perhaps 20-30 minutes, from where you get great views of the mountains around.
On this trek though, you’re at a high point (around 12,000 ft) for nearly 4-5 hours, and the panoramic view stays with you throughout!
“For me, it felt like the mountains were trekking along with me. I was hoping it would never end,” says Suhas.
Next, the forests
“There are very different forests for such a short trail. You walk through oaks and pines on the first day. And on the last day of the trek, you see different kinds of oaks, pines, dwarf rhodos, silver birches and maples,” says Suhas.
“And there was nobody else on the trail. I had the forest all to myself. I felt like the chirps, the whistles, the rustles were all saved just for me,” he adds with a smile.
With nobody else on the trail, forest walks are always a pleasure!
Then the alpine meadows of Pushtara
Once you’re out of the forest, the alpine meadows suddenly come onto you! Folds and folds of carpeted green hills spread out as far as your eyes can see. “The meadows seemed endless! I remember thinking how there was so much packed into such a short trek!”
And Suhas went when the meadows were just beginning to flower — in April. And he camped right in the middle of it. This is where you’ll be camping too.
Finally, the birds on the trail
When we asked Suhas whether he spotted birds on the trail, he just had one thing to say.
“What birds? I spotted not one not two, but 11 Himalayan monals on the trail.” Monals are very shy birds. It’s super rare to spot them. Monals, next to peacocks are the most colourful birds you’ll ever see.
He also spotted barbets, woodpeckers, Himalayan whistling thrushes, drongos and many other birds whose names he wasn’t sure of.
We hope you can be one of the first trekkers to set foot on this trail.
It’s a trek with a rare highlight of a ridge-walk. Which, frankly, is one of its kind in India.
It’s a 6 day trek, of easy-moderate difficulty. It’s perfect for first timers and an unusual trail for experienced trekkers.
Details about the trek route
Day 1: Reach Sankri
Sankri, base camp for this trek, is a small but pretty village with 250 houses. A few dhabas and shops make up the commerce scene in Sankri. In peak season, it is usually bustling with trekking activity as it is the basecamp for many treks – Kedarkantha, Bali Pass and Borasu Pass. The village offers a beautiful view of the sun setting behind the greater Himalayas. The peaks of Swargarohini shimmer in the evening sun, standing tall over the ridges beyond Sankri.
The drive to Sankri will take you through Nainbagh, Naugaon, Purola, Jarmola, Mori Naitwar (a left turn from Naitwar will lead you to Dhaula, which is the base camp for Rupin Pass and Bharadsar lake trek), and finally Sankri.
- Altitude: 6,397 ft (1,950 m)
- Time taken: Sankri, the base camp, can be reached in 8-10 hours from Dehradun. Transport will be arranged from Dehradun Railway station at 6.30 am.
Day 2: Sankri to Sikolta
- Altitude: 6,397 ft (1,950 m) to 9,300 ft (2,835 m)
- Time taken: 5 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Ascending trail throughout.
- Water sources: A small stream near the broken bridge, around 3.5-4 hours into the trek
The initial ascent is through the lovely pine forest. The trail is wide and marked well. An hour and half of ascent on the trek, you cross a small concrete bridge. Keep your ears and eyes open on the ascent as you spot a lot of birds on the trial. Right from barbets, drongos, treepies, woodpeckers and a lot more. Later, you cross a broken dhaba on the trail. Follow this trail for another 30 mins. This is where you come to the first clearing. It is known as ‘Jainol Thatch’.
Another 10 mins of ascent, you come to the second prominent clearing. This place is called ‘Marikoda’. As you look to the left, one can see the peak of Dhunda. The Phulara ridge can also be spotted from this point.
There are two forks in the trail now. If you follow the trail straight ahead, it’s the one to the famous Juda Ka Talab. You can either follow this to JKT and then take a left from the lake or the better exciting trail which is to explore the trail to the left from this fork. This takes you through the lovely pine forests. The aroma of the Himalayan Cedar or Deodhar Cedar is filled around the area as your legs enjoy a soft crunch through the forest floor. You will hear the tiny bees buzzing, resonating all around the forest. A nice half an hour on the forest path, you reach the main trail. This the trail which comes from JKT. Take the left over here and follow the trail in the forest.
You will be surprised to see a ridge to your right. The sun light cuts across the canopy beautifully here. You start seeing snow-capped peaks being visible now to the left. You will pass a small broken bridge. A stream is flowing down the hill where you can fill your water bottles.
The ascent continues from here for another 40 minutes. The Trail has Yellow Marsh Marigold and purple lilies blooming around. You come across a lovely large rock – The Gecko rock. It resembles the shape of a lizard having its head held high. The trail takes the right which leads to clearing of ‘Sikolta’. A nice meadow patch with broken Gujjar huts. There is another good clearing to the left where you can pitch your tents. To the right, you have the water source. The streams will be running with water post monsoon.
Landmarks on the way:
- A small bridge crossing in the ascent to Marikoda
- Marikoda is the second clearing on the trail
- A broken bridge where the water flows down.
- The meadow of Sikolta
Day 3: Sikolta to Bhoj Gadi
- Altitude: 9,300 ft (2,835 m) to 11,600 ft (3,536 m)
- Time taken: 4 hours
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Ascending trail throughout.
- Water sources: A stream near the bridge, around an hour into the trek.
A good ascent from Sikolta for about 30 minutes through the forest patch. The forest is a bit dark and dense. Watch out for few trees fallen down on the trail. You spot a bridge at down along the trail. A small descend to the bridge and a sharp ascend through a small section of the landslide terrain. This section is just about 100 meters. A nice stream is flowing underneath the bridge where you can fill water. The bridge and the stream separate the valley. Continue the ascend for another 15 minutes to reach a bigger clearing known as ‘Karsu Thatch’. The grass is filled with yellow flowers.
As you enter this big clearing, to the right you see the Kedarkantha peak. You see the decline in the tree line from here. You need to take the gradual ascent and keep to your left. The ascent is a gradual one for another 30 minutes. The rohdo type trees with some Bhoj trees are filled on the trail now. The flowers bloom after the monsoon. The clearings start to open up and you enter the lush green meadows. A treat for your eyes and legs, one can enjoy walking on the green cover now.
The Dhunda Top is the highest point of this hill. A small gradual ascent of 15 minutes and a trek for another 10 minutes on the trail to the left, you enter a nice flat meadow patch. This will be your campsite. You have a stream flowing down the valley. This will be your water source.
You can go for an excursion/acclimatization walk to the top of the hill. It’s a long ridge at the top which can take you all the way to Kedarkantha as well. From here you will see Purola region, the peaks of Kedarkantha, Swargarohini, Devkyara, Lekha Top, Vijay Top and few others. The sunset, rising of the moon and early morning sunrise is a beautiful spectacle to watch out for from this campsite.
Landmarks on the way:
- Bridge after the forest patch
- Karsu Thatch clearing
- Green meadows of Bhoj Gadi
Day 4: Bhoj Gadi to Pushtara via Phulara ridge
- Altitude: 11,600 ft (3,536 m) to 9,500 ft (2,896 m) via 12,127 ft (3,696 m)
- Time taken: 6 hours
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Ascend trail upto the ridge. Flat trail at the ridge followed by descent to the Pushtara.
- Water sources: None. Carry at least two litres of water from Bhoj Gadi
The top of the ridge can be seen from the campsite. To start the day, there is a nice ascent. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the top of the ridge. A lot of Himalayan Monals can be spotted on this trail. I saw seven Monals on this day and when approaching the ridge.
The view from the ridge is amazing. The view of the snow peaked mountains of 250 degrees. You can see the ridge going ahead with slight ascents to reach the end of this beautiful trail. As you are trekking, you feel the snow-capped mountains moving along with you.
Another hour of trekking, you come to the end of this trail where it takes a right turn. Few stones kept along the pathway, make you feel like you getting a grand entrance to view the majestic view. The peaks from right to left are Hanuman Top, Sarutal Top, DKD, Bandarpoonch, Kalanag, Swargarohini, Hata Peak(HKD), Ranglana, Devkyara valley, Lekha Top, Vijay Top, Kedarkantha. Take the right from this point where the trail leads. An intermittent signal of Vodafone can be caught at the top. You can see multiple descents and ascents one has to take. The base of Sarutal is where you need to cross.
The trail takes a bit of descent and follows a gradual ascent. To the right is a drop. In the distance across the tall pine trees, is the valley of Purola. This section is not possible to take during the winter months because of snow. This section also does not have water sources. Crossing the snow section during the month of April, May itself is a difficult, tricky section. It took about an hour and 50 minutes with snow. Without snow, it would take about 30 minutes to complete and cross the Sarutal section. Watch for wildflowers and Monals through this section.
Once you cross this valley, you enter the right side of the hill. Few big mountains right in front of you. Take the descent and keep to your right. You will be blown away by the vastness of Pushtara meadows. It’s on the edge and a beautiful place to set up your campsite.
If you cross this valley, you have Taloti. A medium sized gorgeous lake formed by the melting glaciers. Pushtara has a good amount of water to the right side. A small graveyard by the Gujjars can be seen gives a nice chill to the bones. A good place to come up with stories for the night.
Landmarks on the way:
- Top of the ridge. Pathway with stones
- A prominent right turn towards Sarutal valley
Day 5: Pushtara to Taluka. Drive to Sankri
- Altitude: 9,500 ft (2,896 m) to 7,953 ft (2,424 m)
- Time taken: 5 hours trek + 1 hour drive to Sankri
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Descending trail all the way to Taluka.
- Water sources: There is a stream just before you enter the forest, around 1.5 hours into the trek.
The trail would be a complete descent to the village of Thaluka. The first 30 minutes is the descent through the meadows. You see some broken Gujjar huts here. You see the trail coming from the Taloti valley to the right. Take the descent and join this trail. Keep descending and going towards the right. The tree line starts to increase. The floor is laden with beautiful yellow flowers. It feels like a bed to just lie down.
A descent for another 30 minutes, you enter the forest. Wide good trails entering the forest at first. The forest is a big one and is easy to get lost if you go off trail. Initially, trees are spaced with a good amount of light coming through the cover. Later big pine trees dawn over you. You seem like a tiny individual trekking in the big forest. You need to cross some trees which have fallen down on the ground. A troop of curious langurs stares at your trekking technique while they jump effortlessly from one tree to another.
Keep an eye to the right, you see a small village. You won’t be going to this village but gives you the reassurance of following the trail. The descent goes for about an hour and 30 mins through this forest. The last stretch of thick untouched forest and you hear few bells. You spot a herd of cows, goats grazing and also few logging activities indicating that you are close to civilization. Follow the same trail and you see a pathway and a collecting pipe from the stream. There is a big water tank and you see wooden huts with stoned roofing. This is the village of Tumrikot. A beautiful village walks for 30 mins and you reach the end of your trek. The small village of Thaluka has a couple of shops. You can see a clear marking for the Har Ki Dun trek.
Landmarks on the way:
- Broken Gujjar huts
- Logging of timber
- Water Tank, Tumrikot village
How to get fit for the Phulara Ridge trek
The Phulara ridge trek is marked as an easy-moderate trek. It starts at an altitude of 6,397 ft at Sankri and climbs to 12,127 ft at the ridge. This means there is an altitude gain of close to 6,000 ft over the first three days of the trek. Consequently, all the three days leading to Phulara ridge involve constant ascent.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
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
Along with endurance, you need to build your core body strength. You will be carrying your backpack all through the trek and this trek has a lot of climbs. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.
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. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. 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.
Cold temperatures, especially early in the morning and once the sun sets, could make breathing slightly difficult. Doing breathing exercises before the trek will help. Expand your lungs and learn to breathe deep. This will help you inhale more oxygen and help you breathe comfortably.
Here’s a guide to help you prepare for the trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
What to take on the Phulara Ridge Trek
- Trekking shoes: Carry trekking shoes and not sports shoes. The trail will be slippery at several places and will require shoes with good grip and ankle support. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Three layers of warm clothes: If you’re trekking in winter, carry two sweaters, two fleece jackets and a padded jacket. If you’re trekking in spring (March/April) or autumn (September/October), three warm layers will suffice.
- Two trek pants: Carry light cotton trek pants. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals: Carry thermals (top and bottom) to keep yourself warm at night. Keep your thermals fresh and don’t wear them while trekking.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are mandatory, especially in winter. There will be a lot of snow in winter and can cause snow blindness.
- Suncap: At high altitude, the sun is extra harsh, as the UV rays don’t get filtered. So carry a suncap to protect yourself.
- Synthetic hand gloves: Avoid woollen gloves as they will get wet if you touch snow. You can add a fleece glove as an inner layer, and wear two gloves on each hand if you’re more susceptible to cold.
- Balaclava: You’ll need this to cover your head, as most of the heat escapes from your head.
- Socks (2 pairs) and a pair of woollen socks: Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Ponchos: At high altitudes, snowfall and rain are quite common and hence it’s mandatory to carry a poncho so that you don’t get wet.
Indiahikes offers rentals on this trek. You can now rent trekking shoes, trekking pole, padded jacket and poncho instead of buying them. You can collect these directly at the base camp and return them there after the trek. Get the details here.
- Daypack (20 litres): You will need this to carry water bottles, light snacks and medical kit in case you decide to offload your backpack.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each. For winter treks make sure, one of the water bottles is a thermos flask. We recommend the Lifestraw Go. Indiahikes trekkers can get it at a discount here.
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
- Knee cap, if you are prone to knee injury
- Anti fungal powder
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.) – It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek. Since Sankri will have limited facilities to photo copy, do not leave this till the end.
- Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
What you need to know about the trek fee
The trek fee of Rs. 8,950 + 5% GST covers all costs of the trek from Sankri to Sankri.
Here is what the trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 5 (Sankri to Sankri). You will be staying in a lodge at Sankri and camping on remaining days of the trek (3 per tent).
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Sankri on Day 1 to breakfast at Sankri on Day 6 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
- Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
- Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. We provide ice axes, roped, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
- Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.
- Services of an expert Trek Leader – All our trek leaders are qualified in basic / advanced mountaineering courses.
- Services of an expert Trek Team – The mountain staff on this trek consists of well trained guides, cooks, helpers and porters.
Here is what the trek fee excludes:
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Dehradun and drop you back from Sankri. This will cost approx. Rs. 5,500 per 5-6 seater vehicle one way. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to and from Sankri.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 1,000 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that charges will vary for last minute offloading in case you decide to offload your bag after reaching Sankri (Rs.350 per day).
- Stay at Dehradun on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from inclusions
Terms & Conditions:
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please login to your account and cancel. Cancellation requests will not be taken over phone or email.
The cancellation charges are as under:
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (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 costs of the trek from the start and end at Sankri.
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Dehradun railway station at 6.30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Sankri in shared cabs.
4. Transport:Transport from Dehradun to and return to Sankri can be arranged by us at an extra cost. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab (approximate cost Rs. 5,500 per vehicle one way). The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack offloading: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
6. Backpack offloading charge for the entire trek duration is Rs. 1,000/- plus GST of 5%. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 350 per day. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
7. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
8. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 4.5 km in 30 mins before start of the trek. Unable to do so can make your trek difficult. In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
9. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
10. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
11. Route changes, postponement, delay or finishing the trek a day earlier: Under some extraordinary circumstance, your trek may end a day earlier or start a day later. This may become necessary due to inclement weather, snow and ice conditions, political restrictions or any other cause. In the event of a change, postponement or delay, participants have no right to refund of the trek (in whole or in part) or other compensation for any injury, loss or damage. Trek fee is not charged broken down in terms of days but is a composite fee for the whole trek.
12. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
13. Safety Protocol:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to turn around a trekker if in the opinion of our trek leader they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.
What are the risks on the Phulara Ridge Trek?
Phulara Ridge is an easy to moderate trek in terms of difficulty but it goes up to an altitude of 12,127 ft. Which means it’s still a high altitude trek. As with every high altitude trek, the Phulara Ridge trek comes with certain risks.
At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure your life is safe, we also expect you as a trekker to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it.
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
From the time you register for a trek, we will keep you informed of safety procedures on high altitude treks. We have listed a few of them below.
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over the years, we have come to notice that safety issues are widespread among unfit, unaware and ill-prepared trekkers. Therefore we have brought in an eligibility criteria for the Phulara Ridge trek.
Before registration, you need to meet the fitness requirements. The primary measure for fitness is BMI or Body Mass Index. An ideal BMI is a minimum requirement to register for this trek. You can take a look here.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health. It contains details of symptoms he should look out for and what action he should take during emergencies as well. These Health Cards will be taken back at the end of the trek.
On the Phulara Ridge trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring your Oxygen levels and Pulse rate twice a day. Your blood pressure is measured once every day. Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and immediate action will be taken.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will also be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine.
Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
If there is snow on the trail, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes.
These are attached to your shoes and will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can wear over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you. They lead the way on difficult terrain, where there might be too much snow.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. Our sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degree Celcius.
5. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
What you need to know if you’re going on the Phulara Ridge 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.
Even the smallest wound takes longer to heal at higher altitude. Reasons for this are increasing stress hormones and lower overall oxygen delivery to the tissues. Keeping your wounds clean and covered will prevent infection. To prevent the bruise from festering, apply a triple antibiotic ointment regularly.
Where on the Phulara Ridge trek is Acute Mountain Sickness likely to affect you:
Any campsite above 11,000 ft poses a risk of AMS. On the Phulara Ridge trek, the Bhoj Gadi campsite is at 11,6000 ft. However, the trek climbs gradually, so chances of getting hit by AMS are very slim.
AMS occurs when your body isn’t acclimatising to its surroundings. It can accelerate very rapidly, so it is important to identify the symptoms as soon as you see them. Before you read further, watch this video to understand the symptoms of AMS.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader.Only then will he be able to take steps at the right time.
What to do if you feel symptoms of AMS on the trek
Don’t let your guard down just because this is an easy-moderate trek. If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the video below to understand how to treat and prevent AMS. The information in this video is rare to find. With this knowledge, you can probably save your own life or another’s trekkers life.
As a first step, your trek leader will run you through the Triple One Test – One Disprin, One litre of water and One hour of rest. If you’re suffering from dehydration, this will solve the problem and you will be fine in one hour.
If the symptoms don’t go away, then he’ll begin to treat you for AMS, perhaps with a course of Diamox. If you’re already on a course of Diamox, your trek leader is likely to increase the dosage. The increased dosage of Diamox usually takes care of the Acute Mountain Sickness. Evacuation will be done if no improvement is shown. You will be taken down to Sankri as descent is the sure cure for AMS.
Exit points on the Phulara Ridge trek:
There are two exit points on the Kedarkantha trek – the base camp, Sankri if you haven’t crossed the rdige and Taluka, if you have crossed the ridge. It takes around 5 hours top descend to Sankri from the highest campsite of the trek. Sankri is at an altitude of around 6,300 ft. So any symptoms of AMS will stop showing there.
For advanced treatments, the closest hospital from Sankri is in Purola which is around 54 km away. Please note that these are mountain roads and usually takes around 2-3 hours to cover this distance. It takes longer after nightfall.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If you cannot find your fellow trekkers or anyone else while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life-saving steps you can take.
Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker.
If you are trekking independently, you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Here, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about HAPE and HACE. Here, you can learn about the advanced symptoms are and how to tackle them.
It is a myth that fit and experienced people are not affected by Acute Mountain Sickness
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Stay in Sankri on Days 1 and 5 of the trek will be in a guest house, where you will share a room with fellow trekkers. Stay on all other days will be in tents. Each tent accommodates 3 people.
2. Will you provide us with tents and sleeping bags?
Yes, Indiahikes trekkers will be provided with tents and high altitude sleeping bags that can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC.
3. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Day time temperatures will range from 13-18ºC and night time temperature will range from 0-6ºC in summer. In winter, temperatures will range from 8-15ºC during the day and can drop down to -7ºC at night.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
Yes, there will be snow on this trek from December to April. Not in other months.
5. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.
6. How do we reach Sankri?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Dehradun railway station to Sankri, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs.5,500 per vehicle. You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Sankri will take 8-9 hours. Pick up from Dehradun will be at 6.30 am.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Sankri to Dehradun railway station. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Phulara ridge trek?
Phulara ridge is a great trek to do in autumn and spring because of the crystal clear views and flower filled meadows. Spring is also a good time, because the forests come alive in this season, and you might even some snow on the trail in April.
9. Are trek poles, jackets and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
Yes, we offer shoes, jackets and trek poles on rent. We also have some equipment on sale. You can order both rentals and purchase online. Check out our store here.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Phulara ridge is suitable for beginners and experienced trekkers alike. This is an easy trek. However, you still need to be physically fit to do this.
11. If not the Phulara ridge trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
Deoriatal Chandrashila and Kuari Pass are other treks that you could explore. These are both easy treks, have beautiful forest trails and have mind blowing mountain view.
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 Sankri, the amount will be Rs.350 per day. 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?
Phulara ridge trek is suitable for anyone above the age of 8 years. However, you need to ensure that your child is physically fit for the trek.
14. Who will be with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
15. What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest house at Sankri 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 bio-degradable.
16. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
17. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
Our campsites are pitched near water sources. For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. You will find 1 or 2 water sources on the trail on all days of the trek.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
Purola, on the way to Sankri, is the last place that you will receive mobile network. Make sure you finish all your important phone calls before reaching Sankri and also inform anxious family members about poor connectivity on the trek. BSNL and Vodafone network is intermittently available at Sankri. Electricity charging points will be present at the guest houses.
19. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. We recommend a pair of water resistant shoes. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters.
20. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
21. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
22. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
Day 1 – You will be picked up from Dehradun for the 8-9 hours drive to Sankri
Day 2 – The trek from Sankri to Sikolta will take you about 5 hours
Day 3 – Sikolta to Bhoj Gadi is a 4 hours trek
Day 4 – This is longest day of the trek. Going from Bhoj Gadi to Pushtara via the Phulara ridge walk will take sound 6 hours
Day 5 – The trek from Pushtara to Taluka will take around 5 hours. Sankri is an hour’s drive from Taluka
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 – Sankri
Delhi → Dehradun → Sankri
The Phulara ridge trek starts from Sankri, 196 km from Dehradun. Sankri is a small village bustling with trekkers. There are around 250 houses in this village, and the views from here are beautiful!
Indiahikes organises transport from Dehradun to Sankri. The pick up is at 6.30 am from Dehradun Railway station on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs.5,500 per vehicle. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared by trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
The drive to Sankri is beautiful, beside the River Tons. You pass through Mussoorie, which is a popular hill station. Stop for breakfast at Kempty Waterfalls, which is a popular tourist destination. You will reach Sankri around 6.00 pm.
Note: In case you have excess baggage, you can keep it at the base camp, Sankri, and collect it after you’ve completed the trek. Lockers are not available, so please make sure that you do not leave behind any valuables.
To reach Dehradun
The best way to reach Dehradun is to take an overnight train from Delhi. There are two trains available from Delhi to Dehradun.
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 5.40
- 12055 DDN Jan Shatabdi – 15.20 – 21.10 (reach the previous night)
If you cannot find a train, then take a bus. To stay on the safe side, book buses online in advance. Book such that you have some buffer time to make it to Dehradun on time for the pick-up; buses usually get delayed.
Sankri → Dehradun→ Delhi
The Phulara ridge trek ends at Sankri. From Sankri, you’ll be retracing your route all the way to Dehradun. It takes 10-11 hours to drive back to Dehradun. Indiahikes organises this transport for a fare of Rs.5,500 per cab. This is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Dehradun by 6.00 pm.
If you are travelling further from Dehradun, keep a couple of hours as buffer time in case of delay. Book your onward travel from Dehradun post 8.00 pm. If you are travelling to Delhi, you can choose to go back by Mussoorie Express (21.20) or Nanda Devi Express (23.30).
If you want to get to the base camp by yourself
There are direct buses from Dehradun to Sankri. They leave at 6.00 am, 7 am and 8 am respectiveley from Dehradun Railway station.
If you are reaching Dehradun late, you can take a bus to Purola/Naugaon and then a connecting bus to Sankri. The last bus leaves from Dehradun Railway Station at 12.00 noon. If you reach Purola late, you can stay there overnight.
If you are taking a hired taxi, the route is pretty straightforward. First, head to Mussoorie, then move down to Yamuna Bridge via Kempty falls. Then follow the Yamuna on your left until you reach Damta and further on to Naugaon. Cross the Yamuna at Naugaon and head towards Purola. The route immediately turns scenic, with pine trees overlooking the road.
At Purola break for lunch. From Purola, the route gets mesmerising with the road climbing up and descending through thick pine forests until you get to Mori along the Tons River. 5 km out of Purola try to locate the south face of the Kedarkantha peak on your left. The highest peak, it is not difficult to spot.
From Mori, follow the Tons to Naitwar, again through some breathtaking mountain scenery. At Naitwar, the road branches off to the right along the Supin, until you get to Sankri an hour later.