The Sainj Valley trek: A weekend trail that goes straight to heart of Great Himalayan National Park
Now, trekking inside Great Himalayan National Park is a privilege. Let us tell you why. It is one of the most pristine and uniquely rich ecosystem in the world. So much so, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And because of its unique protected status, not only are the rich flora and fauna of the park undisturbed, so are the communities living inside it. And the Sainj Valley trek takes you right to the heart of this!
The trek starts at the magnificent meadows of Shangarh. Hemmed in by pine trees, these landscaped grasslands with mountains overlooking it, will remind you of Kashmir. This is a comparison we do not make lightly. The grasslands of Kashmir are the very cream of crop. And there are more meadows to come. Then, the trail takes you through dense forests, ringing with different bird cries. When the trail finally opens out of the forest, you get remarkable views of the Sainj valley and the mighty peaks surrounding the Raktisar glacier. The trail continues into ancient villages, apple orchards, and then finally, the Pundrik lake which is shrouded in local mythos.
You get all of this in a weekend trek! Frankly, we feel this is far too rewarding especially from a place that is so close to the unfortunately urbanised Kullu. This is the trek where you will get to see villages and their unique temples that are from an era gone by.
The Sainj Valley is part of four valleys that comprise the Great Himalayan National Park. That is, the Tirthan Valley, Parvati Valley and Jiwa Nala valley. Most treks in Parvati or Jiwa Nala valley are inaccessible for beginners. Tirthan, Sainj’s twin valley, is far more well known and therefore, more crowded. That is why, we believe the Sainj Valley serves as a perfect, undisturbed introduction to the wonders of trekking inside the rich ecosystem of Great Himalayan National Park. All over two days!
What to Watch out for
The meadows of this trek are large, textured and can give the much famed Khajjiar grasslands a run for it’s money. The greatest part of the meadows on this trek are is that it is so easily accessible. On most treks, getting to grasslands is a two day affair through forests. On this trek, the meadows are where it all begins!
It takes you a while to realise you are approaching the Pundrik lake from the trail. After all, all you see on the surface is a thick layer of grass and leaves, with tree trunks floating absently in the middle. The stories surrounding the lake say that there used to be a paddy field there, until the local deities from nearby valleys fought, effectively stopping the cultivation. The lake is named after Pundrik rishi, who is said to have blessed the land with his spiritual knowledge years ago.
Since the trail goes through the Great Himalayan National park and its rich forests, expect to spot (if not spot, at least hear their cries) a wide variety of birds. Our explorers found the Blue Magpie, Western Tragopan, Himalayan Griffon, Yellow billed Chough, Himalayan whistling Thrush, Little Forktail, Great hill Barbet, Verditer flycatcher, black/white cheeked/red vented and red whiskered Bulbuls, Brown fronted pied Woodpecker.
The Traditional Villages
The villages inside the great Himalayan National Park are largely untouched. Which means the architecture, the Kulluvi culture of the inhabitants are insulated from the modern world. You see homes made from dead deodar found in the national park, old temples built for local deities, a single government school and gaarats (grind stone). These mechanical grindstones, run by water, grind flour for these villages. This makes for a unique cultural experience.
Trekkers often ask us these questions about the Sainj Valley trek:
These questions have been answered by Saurabh Sawant, Head of Documentation at Indiahikes.
❖ How can I go to Shangarh in Sainj Valley?
Shangarh is located inside the Great Himalayan National Park. It is also the starting point of Sainj Valley trek. Located at an altitude of 6,900 ft above MSL, the GPS coordinates of Shangarh are
If you are travelling from Manali, the best way to reach Shangarh is by private transport. Shangarh is just 97 km from Manali and takes about 3 hours by road.
If you are coming from Delhi on the other hand, then travelling by public transport is preferable. The distance from Delhi to Shangarh is 549km.
Board any bus before 6pm from ISBT Kashmiri Gate to the Manali Bus Stand. It is a 11-12 hour bus journey from Delhi to Aut. Alight at Aut bus stand and board a bus to Neuli via Sainj. From Neuli, you can get a shared cab towards the Shangarh village or you can also hike up the 10 km road.
To read more about planning your travel to Shangarh from the major metro cities of India, click here.
❖ What is the best time to visit Sainj Valley?
Sainj Valley trek is the perfect weekend trek near Manali. Sainj Valley can be accessed all year round but the best time is the summer season– late February to April.
The region receives heavy snowfall over the winter season. With the increase in temperatures aided by the transition to spring, the snow starts melting and the region takes on a green hue. The clear skies during this period are the perfect background setting for pictures of the unique temples in the valley.
Shangarh (6,900 ft) to Tindadhar (6,365 ft); 4-5 hours. Cab cost per vehicle is Rs.2,500.
Day 2: Tindadhar (6,365 ft) to Pundrik lake (6,875 ft) and return to Ropa (4,987 ft); 4 hours.
Drive to Aut from Ropa.
1. Stay will be arranged in tents.
2. Meals during transit are not included in trek fees.
Detailed Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Aut to Shangarh. Trek to Tindadhar.
- Altitude: 3,231ft (985 m) to 6,365 ft (1940 m) via 6,900 ft (2104 m)
- Time taken: 2 hours drive from Aut (25 km); 4 hours trek (6 km)
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Gradual ascent throughout
- Water sources: Carry two litres of water. There are waterfall enroute for a refill anytime you want.
- GPS coordinates: Lat 31° 44’39” N, long 77° 12’ 31’’E (Aut); Lat 31° 45’57” N, long 77° 21’ 20’’E (Ropa);
Reach Aut on your own from Delhi. Aut is a town on the Delhi-Manali highway, 40 km ahead of Mandi.
On the bank of the Beas river in Aut is the famous Markandey Rishi temple. The river is surprisingly quiet here and widens at the confluence with Sainj and Tirthan rivers.
We will pick you up at Aut (before crossing the tunnel if you are coming from New Delhi, Chandigarh etc) and drive to Shangarh, which is around 25 km away. The road to Shangarh heads North West, going through the 3 km long Aut tunnel. On the way, you see the huge lake formed by Larji dam at the confluence of Beas, Tirthan and Sainj rivers. This lake is home to several species of migratory birds in winter.
The trail begins next to the forest guest house at Ropa. It ascends gradually. After about 1 km, you see a stream flowing along the trail. You hear the musical tone of its waters more often than you see it.
The trail here is rich in flora and fauna. You are surrounded by thick vegetation. Spruce, fir, deodar and rhododendron are the prominent trees here. You hear several bird cries – some of the noteworthy species found here are the blue magpie, western tragopan, Himalayan griffon, yellow billed chough, Himalayan whistling thrush, little forktail, great hill barbet, verditer flycatcher, black/white cheeked/red vented and red whiskered bulbuls, brown fronted pied woodpecker. A variety of butterflies also cross your path here.
As you climb, you will pass a number of dams on the Sainj river, built by the Himachal Power Corporation Limited. After a series of hairpin bends for about an hour of trekking, the trail opens into a valley. You get remarkable views of the Sainj valley and the mighty peaks of the Raktisar glacier. Continue on this trail for another two hours. You pass the villages of Lower Nai and Dalogi before reaching the campsite Tindadhar.
Take the trail that goes uphill into the valley from the campsite. This takes you through dense forests. In thirty minutes, you reach a waterfall, almost hidden by thick vegetation. It is massive. The water slides down in 3 steps over a height of 12-15 metres. Locals call this place Nuhada. Spend some time here before heading back to the campsite.
Day 2: Trek from Tindadhar to Pundrik Lake and back to Ropa. Drive to Aut.
- Altitude: 6,365 ft (1940 m) to 6,875 ft (2,095 m) to 3,231 ft (985 m)
- Times taken: 4.5 hours trek; 1.5 hours drive to Aut
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Gradual ascent to Pundrik Lake. Continuous descent to Ropa.
- Water sources: Carry one litre of water. You can refill your water bottles at Sarahan.
- GPS Coordinates: Lat 31045’30” N , long 770 20’ 42’’E (Upper Nai)
Head out on the trek today after breakfast. Take the same trail that you took to go to the waterfall on day 1. This goes through thick vegetation.
The trail continues through the forest for about 40 minutes, till you reach the village of Sarahan. Here, you get to see the uniquely constructed homes of this region – animals are kept at the ground floor and human occupants live on the first floor. The children of Sarahan are warm and welcoming.
Just beyond the village, the trail is lined with pine trees on either side. The village deity, Jehar devta, is placed at the end of this trail. It is surrounded by a number of iron tridents/trishuls and red flags.
After this, the trail opens into a clearing. This is surrounded by pine and deodar trees on three sides and farms on the fourth side. You also see a variety of flowers and hear the chirps of birds. Spend some time here taking in the views.
Want to see the same setting in winters? Here you go-
There are two beautiful man-made structures in this clearing – one is a carved wooden temple dedicated to Pundrik rishi and the other is a government school. The temple has some fine craftsmanship on deodar wood. The school serves students from surrounding villages up to class 8.
Continue beyond this clearing for about 20 minutes till to reach another meadow. There are different routes to reach this meadow but they are all easily approachable. You find knee length grass growing here. It takes you a while to realize that it is actually floating above water. This is the Pundrik lake.
The lake runs for about 400 metres and the trail goes alongside. It is surrounded by giant pine and fir trees. Thousands of people from the valley visit the lake every year in October to celebrate the birth anniversary of Pundrik rishi.
Spend some time here but do not enter the water. Drinking alcohol or consuming non vegetarian food are also strictly forbidden here. All of these attract a fine of Rs.5,000.
To return, trace your way back on the same trail to Sarahan. From Sarahan, take the road trail to Ropa. This is a straightforward, descending road. It will take you around 2.5 hours to reach Ropa.
Plan Your Travel for the Sainj Valley Trek
It is great to see you going on the Sainj Valley Trek, An Enchanting Forest Trek In Himachal Pradesh. While it is a great trek to do, you need to get your travel plan worked out perfectly. Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do next. Use this guide and nothing else to plan your travel.
- Click here to get a quick view of your travel plan (Skip to section)
- Click here to plan onward air/train booking (Skip to section)
- Click here to plan return air/train booking (Skip to section)
- Click here to plan hotel booking (Skip to section)
- Click here to learn how to reach Manali on your own (Skip to section)
1.Here’s a quick view on how to plan your travel.
Day 0: Book your air ticket to Chandigarh or Delhi. If Chandigarh, proceed to Sector 43 and take a bus to Manali, get down on the way at Aut (40 km after Mandi, get down before the Aut Tunnel, this is the exact location). If Delhi, book an overnight bus to Manali, get down on the way at Aut. Click here for more explanation.
Day 1: Drive Aut to Shangarh; 26 km 2 hour
Trek Shangarh (6,725 ft) to Tindadhar (~6,000 ft); 4-5 hours, 6 km
We organise transport to Shangarh from Aut. Our vehicles leave at 8:30 am sharp. A sumo vehicle costs Rs 2,500. Trekkers can travel together and share this cost.
Day 2: Trek Tindadhar (~6,000 ft) to Pundrik lake (6,980 ft) and return to Ropa (4,987 ft); 4 hours
Drive Ropa to Aut; 1.5 hours. You are expected to reach back to Aut by 3:30 pm.
Book your return bus ticket (Manali to Chandigarh/Delhi bus). Catch your bus at Aut. Coordinate with the bus conductors for your pick up from Aut. Buses usually pass Aut between 4 – 6 pm.
Day 3: Book return flight/train ticket from Chandigarh or Delhi. Do not book plane tickets to your hometown from Delhi on Day 2. Click here for more explanation.
2.Planning your onward flight/train booking
If you are travelling from Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai or any other city, book your
air tickets for Day Minus One, which is the day before Day 1 on the itinerary. Example: If your trek start day is 25 September, then book your air tickets for 24 September to either Chandigarh or Delhi.
| Important Note: While taking a bus to Manali, please note that you have to get down at Aut (before Aut Tunnel), Aut is 40 km after Mandi and 70 km before Manali.
There are two options for your flight tickets.
Option 1: Fly directly to Chandigarh.
Book your flight to Chandigarh. Land at the Chandigarh airport and directly head to Sector 43 (which is the main Interstate bus terminal of Chandigarh). You get AC airport buses to Sector 43, from just outside the arrivals. It is about 10 kms and the buses run every half hour or so. A ticket costs Rs 60 for these buses.
Always target to reach Chandigarh by around 7.30 pm. It takes an hour or so to get out of the airport and get to ISBT in Sector 43. Getting a bus connection to Manali may take about half an hour or so. It is usually an 8-9 hour bus journey to Aut (223 kms on mountain roads).
Avoid reaching Chandigarh post 7.30 pm, unless really pushed to it.
| Tip: Use HRTC or Himachal Tourism buses. They usually run on time.
Pro Tip: If you are in a group of 3-4, then it may make sense to take a taxi from Chandigarh airport to Aut directly. A taxi charges about Rs 3,800 for the trip. You can book a taxi from Goibibo or Ola in advance. We use this system often.
Option 2: Flying to Delhi
Flying to Delhi may be a lot cheaper than getting to Chandigarh. Make sure to book a flight that reaches Delhi by 4.00 pm. You must arrive in Delhi on Day Minus One and not on Day 1.
| Note: If you notice the difference in air ticket prices between Delhi and Chandigarh less than Rs 1,000 then book directly to Chandigarh. The rest and shorter travel time is worth the difference.
Bus to Manali: Take the bus before 6pm from ISBT Kashmiri Gate to the Manali Bus Stand. It is a 11-12 hour bus journey from Delhi to Aut. Take a bus that leaves Delhi at around 5.30 pm.
| Tip: Use HRTC or Himachal Tourism buses. They usually run on time.
Pro Tip: Avoid taking buses that are expected to reach Manali after 9 am. The route is prone to very bad traffic jams. Often with 3-4 hour delay.
Option 3: Flying to Bhuntar
Flying to the Kullu Airport is a risky and expensive option as it is a small airport and flights can get cancelled easily if the weather is bad. Make sure to book a flight that reaches before 9.00 am. You must arrive in Delhi/Chandigarh on Day Minus One and not on Day 1.
| Cab to Aut: There are cabs available right outside the airport. They will charge around Rs. 3000 from Bhuntar to Aut.
| Bus to Aut: Regular buses ply from outside the airport (from the highway), almost all buses will go to Aut, recheck with the bus conductor before hopping. After 6 pm you won’t get frequent buses. Bus fare will be Rs. 35-50.
3. Planning your return flight/train booking
Booking your return tickets requires some thought. First, always book your return ticket keeping in mind the monsoons. It generally causes delays in the mountain roads with slower moving traffic.
Option 1: Flying out from Chandigarh
You get buses at Manali bus stand from 8.30 am onward. The bus journey is 9-10 hours.
Take a night bus post 8 pm to Chandigarh, you will reach by 6 am. Book an afternoon flight from Chandigarh to your home city.
Option 2: Flying out of Delhi
Assuming you are not staying overnight at Aut, you get buses to Delhi starting in the evening at 5 pm from Manali Bus stand. The travel time to reach Delhi ISBT is around 14-15 hrs. If you are booking a flight from Delhi and taking a bus, then book a late morning flight post 9 am.
| Tip: Experience the different cafes in Manali and take a night bus after 9pm to Delhi. Then onward flight to your cities on the evening from Delhi.
Option 3: Flying out of Kullu
Flying out of Kullu is expensive. Take a cab from Aut to Bhuntar Airport.
4. Planning your hotel/stay
Hotel options at Aut
➤ Gateway Homestay It’s right net to Beas River, Rooms are descent. The food here is delicious. The cost is Rs 800-900 for a one-night stay.
Book online at least before 2 days.
Contact Number: 086793 75454
➤ Hotel YS Triple Nine It’s in the middle of Aut, a 3 star hotel with a price range of Rs 2500-3000. You can get on the spot rooms availability here.
Contact Number: 098160 04999
5. What if you miss the Indiahikes pickup? Getting to Gulaba on your own.
If you miss the Indiahikes pick up from Aut. Here is how you can get to Shangarh base camp on your own.
If you are at Aut, take a bus to Shangarh as quickly as you can. Regular buses ply from Aut to Shangarh. It’s 26 km and takes around 1-1.5 hour to reach Shangarh.Tata Sumos/Boleros also run along this route.They charge Rs. 2000 per vehicle. It takes around 1 hour to reach Shangarh.
How to get fit for the Sainj Valley trek
The Sainj Valley trek is classified as an easy trek. From Ropa at 4,987 feet, you will gain about 2,000 feet to Pundrik Lake. Though the altitude gain is not much, the continuous ascent can be quite demanding.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
–>Target completing 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin.
–> Gradually increase your pace by running 4 times a week and bring it down to 5 km in 40 mins.
–>If you are 45 years or above, try to cover 5km in less than 47 minutes.
If you are somebody you prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 18 km in 60 minutes.
How to send us a proof of your fitness routine? It is not mandatory on this trek, but you can still send us.
Record your run on an app like Nike Run. Start recording your run when you start running. At the end of your run, hit the stop button.
Take a screenshot of the summary of your run and upload.
Here is 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.
Things to get for the Sainj Valley Trek
Sainj Valley high altitude trek. The trekking gear you need to carry for this trek is different from regular treks. So pay careful attention to this entire section.
- A list of everything you need for the trek (Skip to section)
- Useful videos to help you with your gear (Skip to section)
- A list of medicines for your trek (Skip to section)
- A list of mandatory documents (Skip to section)
First, The Essentials. You cannot do the trek without these.
1. Trekking Shoes:
Sainj Valley requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have good grip, have ankle support and can handle snow. Here is a quick video on how to choose your trekking shoes.
| Buying Tip: The Trek series and MH series are good options by Decathlon. They are tried and tested. There really isn’t any necessity to buy the higher priced models. Here is a list of other budget shoes that trekkers are using.
| Rental: We have the Trek series and the MH series by Decathlon available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are already broken into and in good condition. Rental shoes are not dirty or unhygienic. This is how they are kept clean.
For a trek like Sainj Valley, you need a 20-30 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.
| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.
| Rental: The 48 litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack.
Wearing layers is the mantra in the mountains. Layers give you maximum protection from all elements. And when the weather changes in the mountains (as it happens every few hours), you take take off or put on layers as required.
Wear one T-shirt and carry two. Carry full sleeve dry-fit T-shirts (preferably collared). These prevent your arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trek, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn you in no time.
Dry-fit T-shirts quickly dry your sweat, they are easy to wash and in case of a rainy day, they dry quicker. Round neck T-shirts are ok, but collared ones are better.
| Buying tip: You can get dry-fit T-shirts from Decathlon. Also, stores like Reliance Trends, Max have dry-fit T-shirts. They don’t usually cost much.
| Cotton or Synthetic? As Indians, we love cotton. Down in the plains when the heat is a blistering 40°C it makes sense to wear cotton. But it takes a long time to dry when it gets wet. In the mountains, where it is cooler, synthetic is what you wear. They wick sweat rapidly and keep you dry. (But they do tend to smell quickly, so carry a roll-on deodorant with you.)
| Pro Tip: If you are extra susceptible to cold, you could get a set of thermal inners. In our experience, wearing two T-shirts over another works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space, since you’re already carrying them.
3 insulation layers:
The highest altitude you reach on this trek is 15,000 ft. At these altitudes it can get freezing cold even in the middle of summer. You will need at least 3 insulation layers for this trek.
You will need 2 light fleece layers, 1 full-sleeve light sweater. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
1 Outer layer:
A padded jacket serves the purpose here. You don’t really need a water resistant material. But you need an outer padded jacket that keeps the wind and cold out. Ensure your padded jacket has a hood as well.
| Do you need a down/feather jacket? Not really. A regular padded/shell jacket will do. This video here will help you to learn more about the difference.
Note: Down/feather jackets are really not available these days. Many jackets masquerade as down/feather jackets. They are essentially fine polyester-filled jackets. They mimic the function of a down jacket but are usually expensive.
| Rental: Padded jackets made by Fort Collins are available on rent at the Indiahikes store. They are custom made for Indiahikes and trekkers find them terrific, even in winter.
Two trek pants:
Twopairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry two just in case it rains. Trek pants with zippered cut offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon in case of small stream crossings / rain.
| Buying tip: Go for pants with zippered pockets. They come in handy to keep your phone, handkerchief or pocket snacks.
| Track pants or trek pants? Stretchable track pants make a good backup and can double up as your thermal bottoms. But track pants are not trek pants — so don’t use them as your main outerwear. Keep them only as a backup.
Mandatory Accessories, without these too you won’t be able to do the trek.
These accessories are mandatory. Don’t go to Sainj Valley without them. Trekkers generally put off purchasing / borrowing the accessories for the last minute. We suggest the opposite. Start gathering these accessories first.
Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. On a trek like Sainj Valley, you are in a permafrost region (there’s snow all around the year). Expect to walk on long stretches of snow. A small overexposure to direct sunlight on snow can lead to snow blindness (about a half hour’s exposure). That’s because fallen snow is like thousands of mirrors that reflect direct UV rays. So you need sunglasses with UV protection.
| Tip: Try getting sunglasses that wrap around instead of those that have openings on the side. Even peripheral UV ray exposure is not a good idea.
Wear sunglasses if the trekking day is bright and sunny (on open sections, meadows). On a snowy section you must absolutely never take off your sunglasses until the section has been fully crossed.
| If you wear spectacles: If you wear spectacles, you can get oversized sunglasses that you wear over your regular glasses (available at Decathlon). If that is cumbersome, photochromic lenses work equally well. Here’s a quick guide on managing sunglasses with spectacles.
| Contact lens users: If you use contact lenses, you can use them on the trek too. The lens solution will not freeze. You will also not face any problems in changing your lens in your tent. Just carry enough cleaning solution with you to clean your fingers well. Wear your sunglasses over your contact lens.
A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sun strokes, quick dehydration and a sharp drop in trekking performance.
| Tip: In the mountains, the general rule is to keep your head covered at all times. During the day a sun cap protects you from the harsh rays of the sun (it is doubly stronger with naked UV rays). A sun cap keeps your body temperature in balance. In the evening/early morning, the reverse is true. Your head loses your body heat quickly. A woolen cap prevents heat from dissipating from your head.
| Pro Tip: Sun caps with flaps are a blessing for trekkers. They cut out almost all UV leaks. They prevent sun burns in every possible way. They are a lot more effective than sunscreen lotion. A wide brimmed sports hat also helps to prevent sunburn in a big way.
3. Synthetic hand gloves:
On a trek like Sainj Valley you are going to be handling snow quite a bit. You’ll need gloves to grip something or to steady yourself in snow. You also want the gloves to keep you warm. Get synthetic hand gloves that have waterproofing on the outside and a padded lining on the inside. If you find the combination difficult to get (not likely), wear a tight fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove. Hand gloves are mandatory on this trek.
4. Woollen cap or Balaclava:
Ensure these cover your ears. In the cold mountains, you lose maximum heat from your head, not from your hands, feet or the rest of your body. Which is why you need to keep your head protected, especially when the sun is down. Early mornings, late evenings, a cold trekking day are when you must use your woollen cap.
Your ears are sensitive too, so a woollen head cap that covers your ears is absolutely essential. A balaclava is a modern version of the woolen cap. It covers your ears, neck and parts of your face as well. Do not get a woollen cap that only covers your head.
5. Socks (3 pairs):
Apart from two sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks. Sports socks give you cushioning plus warmth. Again the mantra is to wear synthetic socks or at least a synthetic blend. Cotton socks soak in water and sweat. They are very hard to dry. As for woollen socks, they help you to keep warm and snug in the night. If you cannot get woolen socks, wearing two sports socks serves the purpose as well.
Trekkers are often confused about whether they need to get a headlamp or a handheld torch. You need to get a headlamp because it leaves your hands free to do other activities. On the Sainj Valley trek you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.
| Buying tip: Ensure your headlamp covers a wider area and is not too focused as a single beam. On a trek, your headlamp must help you see around you as much as ahead of you.
7. Trekking pole (a pair):
Trekking poles give you stability and balance. They reduce your energy consumption by almost 40%. On the Sainj Valley trek there are steep ascents and descents. A pair of trekking poles will make the difference between a comfortable and a strenuous trek. In India we tend to use a single trekking pole. However, two trekking poles give you greater stability and balance. They also increase your walking pace.
| Rental: Imported side-locking trekking poles are available on rent on the Indiahikes store.
On a trek, the weather can change quickly. A bright sunny day can turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. Carry a poncho or a rain jacket to tackle this. A poncho is a big rain cover with openings for your arms and your head. It is extremely effective because it covers both you and your backpack. It is extremely light and weighs next to nothing.
Rain jackets are more streamlined and less cumbersome but weigh more. Rain pants are really not required. Dry fit trek pants dry quickly even if soaking wet.
| Rental: High grade ponchos are available on rent on the Indiahikes store.
9. Rain cover for your backpack:
Backpacks are your life. You carry all your dry clothes, your warm gear in your backpack. It is important that your backpack stays dry at all times. Modern backpacks usually come with built in rain-covers. If your back pack does not have a rain-cover, ensure you get a rain cover by either (a) buying a rain cover (b) or cutting a large plastic sheet to the size of your backpack. You can roll the plastic sheet around your backpack and keep it in place with a string or elastic.
| Pro tip: It’s good practice to compartmentalise your clothes, accessories and other things in plastic covers inside your backpack. That way, even if it rains and your backpack gets wet, your things are water-proof inside the backpack.
10. Daypack (20-30 ltrs, optional):
Some trekkers opt to offload their bags to a porter on the Sainj Valley trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer. Your main backpack that carries most of your equipment is accessible only at the campsites.
A daypack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not daypacks. Do not get them.
Other mandatory requirement
1. A toilet kit:
Keep your toilet kit light. Carry just the basics — toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, toilet tissue roll, a small moisturiser, lip balm, and a roll-on deodorant. You will not be able to have a bath on the trek, so don’t overload on soaps and shampoos.
| Pro tip: Carry miniature-sized items. You will not need more than that. If you’re travelling in a group, share one toothpaste for all.
Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Sainj Valley.
| For women: If you are likely to have your periods on your trek date, don’t worry about it. You can use your pads, tampons or menstrual cups on the trek. There will be toilet tents where you can get changed. Make sure you carry ziplock bags to bring back your menstrual waste. Don’t leave behind any waste in the mountains. Watch this video to learn how to dispose your sanitary waste.
Carry a lunch box, a mug and a spoon. Your lunch box must be leak proof. You are expected to wash your own cutlery. Trekkers often expect Indiahikes to wash their cutlery. When you allow Indiahikes to wash your cutlery, your cutlery becomes part of a mass washing system. You immediately invite germs, bacteria to settle on your cutlery. Incidence of stomach disorders rises exponentially.
| Pro tip: Carry stainless steel cutlery. Avoid fancy high grade plastic cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery is infinitely easier to wash in cold water. Grease is easier to remove and hygiene is at the highest. Watch this video on why steel cutlery is better than plastic.
3. Two 1 litre bottles or a 2 litre hydration pack:
Sainj Valley has long walking days. You need to carry two one litre water bottles to keep yourself hydrated over the distance. If you are used to a hydration pack, then that is ok too. If one among the two bottles is a lightweight thermos, then that helps you to store warm water on a really cold day or for late evenings and early mornings.
| Rental: You could rent lightweight thermos flasks from the Indiahikes store.
4. Plastic covers:
Carry 3-4 old plastic covers to keep your used clothes. You could use them even for wet clothes. Re-use old plastic bags for this and do not buy new ones.
Useful videos to help you with your gear:
- What to take on your trek
- How to pack your backpack
- How to choose your trekking shoes
- Trekking shoes vs sports shoes. How are they different?
- How to layer up on a Himalayan trek
- Why you need a trekking pole
- How to manage sanitary waste on a trek
Personal medical kit
Carry these medicines with you, easily accessible at all times. Do not take any medicine unless you have consulted your trek leader.
- Diamox (1 Strip): Be on a course of a half tablet Diamox starting from Delhi every 12 hours (125 mg). Carry on the medication until you descend down to Barua. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Sainj Valley trek.
- Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is a paracetamol. It helps to tackle fever, mild pain
- Avomine (4 tablets): Carry this especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop one half hour before the start of your road journey.
- Combiflam (5 tablets): Take a combiflam if you get a sudden twist of the leg or a muscle strain. It is a pain reliever. It also contains paracetamol.
- Digene (4 tablets): Take it if you feel the food that you’ve taken is undigested. Alert your trek leader immediately. It could be a sign of AMS.
- ORS (6 packs): Consume a pack of ORS water at least once a day, usually mid day when you are in the middle of your trek. It replenishes essential salts lost while trekking. Tip: It also makes cold water easier to drink.
- Knee Brace (optional): Carry this if you are prone to knee injury or have known issues of knee pain.
Our trek leaders carry a high altitude medical kit with them which also consist of Life Saving Drugs. If there is an emergency our trek leaders know how to tackle it. Meanwhile, contact your trek leader before consuming any of these medicines listed here.
| Pro tip: We find that these medicines by trekkers are rarely used. But you cannot do away with them. At the end of the trek please donate unused medicines to your trek leader. Some of these medicines get distributed to villages on the trek and some are added to the Indiahikes medical kit.
Mandatory Documents to carry
These are documents required for legal purposes by Indiahikes and the forest department. Without any of these, you will not be allowed to trek.
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, passport will do. This is required by the forest department for your identification.
- Disclaimer certificate. This is a legal requirement. Download the PDF, read carefully and sign it. This must be handed over to your Trek Leader during registration at the base camp – Download PDF
- Medical certificate. There are two sections in this. The first part must be filled by a practising doctor. The second part must be filled by you. Without the medical certificate the forest department will not issue permissions for your trek. It is also a requirement by Indiahikes – Download PDF
| Pro tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack. This keeps them from getting wet.
How safe is the Sainj Valley trek?
The Sainj Valley trek by is supposed to be an easy trek. However, there is one thing that you must be aware of – this trek has continuous climbs over a short period of time. You climb an altitude of over 2,000 ft. ikes, safety of a trekker comes first. You will experience it first hand on the slope. Your team is accompanied by experienced trek leaders, safety gears, high end trek equipment, high altitude first aid kits and most importantly the right information.
If there is a medical emergency on the trek, your trek leaders are trained to handle crisis, especially related to altitude and medical emergencies. Indiahikes team carries high altitude medical equipment, oxygen cylinders, and other emergency kits.
Most situations are resolved by the trek leader’s intervention. If, however, evacuation is required, it is carried out by the Indiahikes team. There are plenty of exit points throughout the trek so any evacuation needed is taken care of. The affected participant is moved down to the nearest emergency medical centre as soon as possible. This can take time, even 1-2 days, especially from high camps. Medical expenses, if required, at the medical centre are to be borne by the participant.
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.
Right from the time you decide to register for the 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
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 Sainj Valley trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Sainj Valley trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Sainj Valley trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required. Your blood pressure levels will be checked if the need arises.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will 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 altitude campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking 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. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain.
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.
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.
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. 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.
The Indiahikes Special Covid Cancellation Policy
We understand the pain of cancelling a trek. As trekkers, we always look forward to treks, and after months of training and planning, if we have to cancel our trek, there’s no greater disappointment than that.
This is why we have one of the most trekker-friendly cancellation policies.
This policy is effective for registrations starting January 5, 2021.
| Face no cancellation charges any time before the trek date
– Cancellation upto 7 days before the start date of the trek — Get a complete cash refund (minus 4% transaction fee). The money is refunded to the same bank account, credit or debit card from where payment was made.
– Cancellation during the last 6 days before the start date of the trek, and not counting the day of the trek — Full refund with 100% of the trek fee in the form of an Indiahikes Trek Voucher. Valid for 1 year from date of issue. Can be used on any Indiahikes trek.
– Cancellation on the start day of the trek, or no show on the start day of the trek — Unfortunately, no refund.
Important note: The Trek Insurance amount is not refundable.
| In the rare event that we cancel a trek, this is the policy we follow:
We almost never cancel our treks. But in case we cancel a trek because of natural calamities (snowstorms, thunderstorms, floods, landslides, earthquakes) or unexpected political unrest, curfews, local riots, or government orders, Indiahikes will issue a voucher for the full amount of your trek fee (minus the trek insurance). You can redeem the Trek Voucher on any of our treks over the next one year.
Important note: The Trek Insurance amount is not refundable.
| The Indiahikes “Repeat My Trek” Policy (trekkers love this!)
There are some thoughts and ideologies that we hold close to our hearts.
- As trekkers, there are times when we have to let go of a trek midway. Sometimes we fall ill, or get hit by AMS or at times simply fatigue pulls us down. At other times bad weather plays spoilsport, or the trail is blocked. It can happen that your Trek Leader sends you down due to a safety or health issue.
At Indiahikes we feel terrible when such an event happens.
Should such a situation occur that you have to drop out from this trek, we want you to know that we feel as bad as you do. You can always come back another time and finish your adventure. For this you do not have to pay Indiahikes any money.
- On the other hand, there are times when you fall in love with a trek. So much so that you want to do it again, perhaps see it in another season. If you ever desire to do a trek again, please do so. You don’t have to pay Indiahikes any money for repeating this trek. Just inform your Experience Coordinator who will guide you through a special internal process.
Our only request: Just register for your trek in advance – you know how it is with our groups – they get booked in advance.
Note: The Indiahikes “Repeat My Trek” policy does not apply to our international treks.
If you cancel any rental gear from our store:
- Cancellation of rental gear 7 days before the start date of the trek — Get a full refund minus 4% transaction charges.
- Cancellation of rental gear less than 7 days before the start date of the trek — Get a voucher for the whole amount. This voucher is applicable on all our future treks.
If you cancel the offloading of your backpack:
The offloading fee will be refunded to your account with a 4% transaction charge.
If you choose to cancel your backpack offloading AFTER reaching the base camp, you will get a voucher of the offloading fee.
| Special Cases That Could Occur:
There are some special cases that could occur when you’re on a trek.
- You may not be able to complete the trek because of bad weather, high snow conditions, or any natural calamity.
- You may have to leave your trek abruptly (could be due to altitude sickness, abnormal BP, unpreparedness for the trek, any emergencies at home)
In the above two cases, you’re welcome to come back and repeat the same trek any time in future. You do not have to pay us for this. If you’d like to repeat your trek, get in touch with your Trek Coordinator and they’ll help you sign up for the trek without paying any fee.
Important note: Your offloading and rental fee will not be refunded in the above two cases.
3. You may not be able to report at the base camp at all (could be due to blocked roads / cancelled flights/curfews), we will try to accommodate you in the next day’s team (if we have one).
In the third case, if we cannot accommodate you in the next day’s trek, we will give you a Trek Voucher of the entire trek fee (including your offloading and rental fee), which you can use on any Indiahikes trek within the next one year.
| How to cancel your trek:
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, follow these steps.
- Login to your Indiahikes Trek Dashboard using this link.
- Find your upcoming trek on your home page.
- Click on “Cancel Trek”
- Mention why you’re cancelling your trek on the form that appears.
- Choose either a voucher or a refund (where applicable).
- Click on “Cancel Booking”
How long does the refund process take?
After you have cancelled your trek, if you have opted for a refund, the refund amount will land in the same account that you have made the payment from. It will take 4-5 working days.
If you have chosen a trek voucher, it will land in your inbox within an hour. You will also be able to see it on your Trek Dashboard.
What is a Trek Voucher?
Trek Vouchers are credit amounts added to your Indiahikes account. You can redeem these on any of your future treks with Indiahikes. Every Trek Voucher has a validity of one year.
Important note: Indiahikes Trek Vouchers are non-refundable, not transferable to others or extendable.
How to use an Indiahikes Trek Voucher?
If you have received an Indiahikes Trek Voucher, you will automatically see it when you are making a payment for your next trek.
Once you click on the voucher and apply it, the system will deduct the voucher amount from your payable amount.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Experience Coordinator.
Your trek includes –
Accommodation – Stay is included. You will be camping in tents (3 per tent).
Meals – All meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 2 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
Transport – Transport is provided in shared cabs to and fro the base camp.
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, ropes, 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.
Your trek does not include –
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to the base camp.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 500 + 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 the base camp (Rs.335 per day + 5% GST).
- Stay at Manali on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from inclusions
In the event that you cancel your trek, this is the cancellation policy we follow:
– Cancellation 30 days before the starting date of the trek — Get your full trek fee back in an Indiahikes Trek Voucher OR get a monetary refund with 15% cancellation charges.
– Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days before the starting date of the trek — Get 80% of the trek fee in an Indiahikes Trek Voucher OR get a monetary refund with 50% cancellation charges.
– Cancellation less than 20 days before the starting date of the trek — No monetary refund, get 50% of your fees in an Indiahikes Trek Voucher
A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. The trek has gradual climbs and steep descents. As a measure of your fitness, we require you to be able to run at least 5 km in 40 minutes by the time your trek starts.
Unable to do so can make your trek difficult.
In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training and upload the fitness screenshots on your dashboard. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
Indiahikes has the right to reject trekkers who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charges – Rs 250 per day plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 375 per day inclusive of tax. You can opt for offloading directly your dashboard after your payment is done for the trek.
Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/trolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
Online offloading in advance is possible up to three days prior to the trek start date.
All trekkers will be picked up at Aut at 8.30 am in the morning to Shangarh.
Cab cost per vehicle is Rs.2,000.
Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
Repeat Trekker Policy
At Indiahikes, we believe that the mountains hold all the aces. The weather could play spoilsport, the altitude could mess with a trekker, the unpredictability of nature itself could turn against him. Whatever the reason might be, it is never nice to turn away from a trek midway.
In the event that a trekker has to come down without completing your trek, they can always head back to the mountain and do the same trek again. If this happens, trekkers don’t have to pay the trek fee. They have to just make the optional payment for the insurance amount.
On another note, it could also happen that you love a trek so much that you want to go back time and again. Trekkers don’t have to pay the trek fee for repeating a trek.
Note – The Repeat Trekker Policy holds good only for Indian Treks.
It is not valid for treks we run in Nepal.
These are the different policies when it comes to waiving off trek fee charges.
Scholarship Discount for Kids
At Indiahikes, we firmly believe and encourage children to trek. There’s so much to learn from the outdoors. We want to see more children trekking. Keeping this in mind, Indiahikes has now introduced a 50 percent Trek Scholarship for children on Himalayan treks.
Children between the age of 8 and 12 are eligible for this scholarship. Indiahikes will sponsor half of the trek fee for each child. This scholarship is applicable for easy to moderate treks.
Note - We will have a maximum of three children eligible for the scholarship in each batch. So check with your Trek Coordinator for this.
Discount for a group of 10 and above
If there is a group size of 10 trekkers and above, then we will waive off the trek fee charges for one person.
Note - There is no discount available if the group size is 9 or less than that.
You can register the entire group and send us an email. If the group is registering individually, then the primary participant needs to send an email to the Trek Coordinator with the list of trekkers from the same group.
If you want to make the payment individually, then individual registrations have to be done.
This will be the case for a group of 10 trekkers. So if you have a group of 20 trekkers, then we will waive off the charges for 2 trekkers.
Face no cancellation charges any time before the trek date
At Indiahikes we follow a 31-Point Safety Protocol to ensure that you remain safe even as you trek during the Covid times.
Having said that, we are also aware that travel rules are dynamic and lockdowns are not always predictable.
To address this, we have a very trekker-friendly Cancellation Policy. This cancellation policy allows you to cancel or reschedule your trek till the last day without losing any money.
We will open up dates shortly. Click here to see other similar treks that might have dates.