Warwan Valley Trek: India’s Most Exquisite Trek
The Warwan Valley trek is the most exquisite trek of our country. There is no trek you would have done before this one that can match the experience of this trek. And there will be no trek you do after this that comes close. This might sound like a strong statement to make. However, our founders, who explored this trek in 2015, still stand by it.
After all, Warwan Valley is exceptionally stunning – even for Kashmir. Even if you have travelled to Kashmir before, seen Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and other places the valley offers – you are still going to be bowled over by settings of Warwan Valley. It is very unique to the region.
This beauty is compounded by the valley’s remoteness and isolation. This is a side of Kashmir that even most Kashmiris haven’t seen.
What makes getting into Warwan Valley even more special is the crossover trail. It begins in Trans-Himalayan settings, among barren, purplish mountains around Panikhar. The trail goes through an oasis, river deltas, wildflower meadows and glaciers – all among these stark mountains. It makes for a hauntingly beautiful settings. As the trail slowly moves into the luxuriant greenery of Kashmir, after days of being surrounded by desert mountains, the effect of it is striking.
During the crossover, you experience what we believe is Kashmir’s greatest adventure. It is a great adventure because — outside the astounding beauty there’s a lot of thrill on the trek. The pass day almost feels endless — it has tricky climb up to the pass. And then it is followed by a 2 km long walk on the magnificent Bracken glacier, navigating it’s crevasses, right up to its snout when it pours over in moraines.
The high adventure on this trail makes getting into glorious greenery of Warwan Valley a gift, after long, hard days of trekking.
However, this means that this trek is not meant for everyone. Though it is the most stunning trek you will ever do, it is also a difficult trek. Not only are you walking close to 20 km every day, there are tough stretches such as glacier walks, moraines, overhangs above the river that require to be navigated. You need to be extremely fit with some prior high altitude trek experience to get on this trail.
What to watch out for
The river delta basin of Sumdo
All the while from your trek from Panikhar, the Nala is tumbling and frothing alongside you. And then, quite suddenly, it goes quiet. What was a gushing river is now a wide river basin over a flat plain. The river splits, forks, rejoins and does this multiple times over the basin. In between these splits and forks are grassy meadows, each more lush than the other. This is Sumdo– the confluence of two rivers. You will be camping either here, or a little further ahead at Denora.
Traversing the Bracken glacier
In what is going to be your longest and hardest day, you will encounter the Bracken glacier an hour after you cross over the Lomvilad pass. You see it first from a ledge, a greyish mass tumbling out of the mountain flanks to the bottom. It is a jaw dropping sight. Fifteen minutes of descent later, you are on top of this magnificent glacier. You traverse this glacier, walking for about two kilometers on its hard ice surface, until its snout where it falls over in moraines. The sights you see on this day of the trek will stay with you.
Grasslands between Humpet and Kaintal
The trail to Humpet climbs a hillock which follows a flat grassland. Beyond a hillock is almost always another grassland. These grasslands are the highlights of the day’s trek.
You find grasslands filled with horses grazing in the wild. These grasslands of Sar alternate with a grassy river basin. It is quite an exquisite walk!
The villages of Warwan Valley
The setting of villages in Warwan Valley is too perfect even for pictures. The trail you walk on is bordered with fences. Willow trees jut out between houses. Mud baked lanes crisscross the village. Flower beds line the hills around the houses. To top it, a clear stream runs through the village! All in a way that distinctly resemble the Gaulish village from Asterix comics. This setting is unique to this part of Kashmir.
Here’s a short itinerary for the Warwan Valley trek:
Day 1: Drive from Srinagar (5,200 ft) to Sonamarg (8,795 ft).
Pick up from Sheikh feroze tours and Travels, Srinagar at 1 pm.
Drive distance: 81 km.
Drive duration: 3 hours.
Route: Google maps link
Day 2: Drive from Sonamarg (8,795 ft) to basecamp Panikhar (10,700 ft) via Kargil (9,056 ft)
Approximate cost of travel from Srinagar to Panikhar via Sonamarg & Kargil would be Rs. 2,000 per head.
Drive distance: 185 km.
Drive duration: 7-8 hours.
Route: Google maps link
Day 3: Trek from Panikhar (10,700 ft) to Sumdo/Denora (12,350 ft).
Trek distance: 14 km; 2,122 ft ↑ & 420 ft ↓
Trek duration: 5-6 hours
Day 4: Trek from Denora (12,350 ft) to Kalapari (12,850 ft).
Trek distance: 3 km; 575 ft ↑ & 79 ft ↓
Trek duration: 1.5 hours
Day 5: Trek from Kalapari (12,850 ft) to Kaintal (11,550 ft) via Lomvilad Pass (14,550 ft).
Trek distance: 17 km; 1,950 ft ↑ & 3,281 ft ↓
Trek duration: 11 hours
Day 6: Trek from Kaintal (11,550 ft) to Humpet (10,900 ft).
Trek distance: 16.5 km; 840 ft ↑ & 1,339 ft ↓
Trek duration: 6 hours
Day 7: Trek from Humpet (10,900 ft) to Sukhnai (9,200 ft).
Trek distance: 16 km; 1,415 ft ↑ & 3,094 ft ↓
Trek duration: 7-8 hours
Day 8: Trek from Sukhnai (9,200 ft) to Basmina/ Chaudraiman (8,300 ft).
Trek distance: 17.5 km; ; 1,096 ft ↑ & 2,094 ft ↓
Trek duration: 6-7 hours.
Drive to Srinagar (5,200 ft) via Inshan (8,250 ft), Larnoo (7,000 ft) & Anantnag (5,250 ft).
Drive distance: 153 km.
Drive duration: 8-9 hours
Route: Google maps link
Day 9: Buffer day for trek
Day 10: Buffer day for travel
In case of unforeseen circumstances, we might need to use the buffer days for trek and travel. The buffer day, when used for trek, will be charged Rs 2,500+ 5% GST. day.
Day 10: Buffer day for travel
No charges will be levied by Indiahikes if the buffer day is used for travel purposes. However, the cost of stay after Inshan, till Srinagar, will have to be borne by the trekkers. We will reach Srinagar latest by 8-9 pm on the 10th day.
Please plan your travel back from Srinagar on the 11th day of the trek.
Important points to note:
1. You will be staying in tents overnight (3 per tent).
2. No backpack offloading for this trek.
3. Cost of transport to and from Srinagar is not included in the trek fee. It will be shared equally amongst the trekkers.
4. Keep your original govt. approved ID card with you.
5. In Kashmir, only postpaid sim cards work. You’ll get the best network coverage for BSNL.
Here is a detailed itinerary for the Warwan Valley trek.
Day 1: Srinagar To Sonamarg
- Altitude: 5,200 ft to 8,795 ft
- Distance: 81 km drive
- Duration: 3 hour drive. Pick up at 1 pm
- Route: Google maps link
You will have to reach Srinagar on your own and meet the Indiahikes pick up team at 1 pm. The drive to the Sonamarg will take around 3 hours. This covers quite a bit of your journey and helps you acclimatise. You will most likely be staying at Shitkadi or Gagangir (a little ahead of Sonamarg), where we have our base camp.
The drive to Sonamarg is extremely picturesque. Watch out for the section from Ganderbal to Sindh river. Paddy fields on either side, willow and poplar trees lining up the road and this is just a taste of Kashmir before the trek starts.
Day 2: Getting to base camp – Panikhar
- Altitude: 8,795 to 10,700 ft
- Distance: 185 km drive
- Duration: 7-8 hour drive
- Route: Google maps link
- GPS Coordinates of Panikhar: 34° 6’54.59″N, 75°57’0.41″E
Panikhar is a village so small that you are already in the next village even before you have stepped out of this one. It is a collection of few houses in typical Zanskari tradition. They are usually double-storeyed with large windows, small balconies and a barn below the sloping roofs. Almost always the houses have their own field where the folks grow their own produce. So none of the houses are clustered. Shops are few here. You can get a few last minute supplies here but not enough for a trek. Make sure you’ve made trek purchases at Kargil, including shopping for groceries and greens.
You can stay at J&K Govt’s tourist bungalow. If that’s full, there are a few lodges at the market. The stay should cost you Rs 700-1,000 per room. Ensure that you arrive a day earlier – it will help you acclimatise well. At 10,800 feet, you are already at a considerable altitude. Take long walks across the valley (Panikhar is in Suru Valley). The barren mountains are a terrific contrast to the lush valley in between.
Day 3: Panikhar to Denora
- Altitude: 10,700 ft to 12,350 ft
- Distance: 14 km; 2,122 ft ↑ & 420 ft ↓
- Duration: 5-6 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Denora: 34° 4’24.15″N, 75°50’29.32″E
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Continuously but gradually ascending trail.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. Your first water source will be a stream running down the cliffs, 2.5 hours into the trek. This will be followed by several streams from where you can refill your water bottles, if required.
Take the road to the market. Continue past the sub post office on your left. (The BSNL tower is in the fields on your right). The road naturally curves to the left arriving just above the Panikhar Nala. The river is big and strong.
Walk along the road to the bridge that crosses the river in another 10 minutes. Across the bridge veer left following the river upstream. The landscape changes immediately. The village of Panikhar is no longer visible. Up ahead is the narrow valley that you have to trek on. The govt is making a dirt track for four wheelers.
This was a trekking trail earlier so it becomes fairly easy to walk on. 500 meters into the trek, you’ll find the tents of local authorities check post. Enter your names and details at the check post (very friendly and just a cursory formality) and resume your trek.
The trek climbs very gradually on the four wheeler dirt track, inching deeper into the valley. The landscape ahead continues to reveal more layers of barren mountains. On your right, the milky white river continues to tumble and froth as it nears the confluence with Suru.
Look on your right as the mountains rise almost like cliffs towering many thousands of feet over you ending in jagged ridges that touches the blue sky. The sky, needless to say, is a blue that you have never seen.
Two and a half hours later, the trail suddenly comes across a stream running down the cliffs on your right. This is your first water source for drinking. After this, there is plenty of clear water streams and there is no necessity to fill your bottles.
Ten minutes later, around a small bend, the trail comes up to a wonderful lush green grassy meadows with streams and brooks running across it. A perfect place for a small break, snacks and refill, take a ten minute break here. The locals call it a Doksa ( a meadow).
Further on, the trail continues to climb gradually. Half an hour later, over a bump and another curve, the trail comes across a wide clearing. The first Bakarwal settlements are now visible.
The trail now narrows down to a wide walking track. Continue walking on the trail. Another half hour later, over a wide curve, you get the first glimpse of the two intersecting valley up ahead. Below which is Sumdo, your camp of the day.
In a few minutes, the trail suddenly climbs a mound to top over a stream that needs to be crossed. Convenient boulders make the stream easy to cross. If the water is high, walk a few metres upstream to cross over. From the stream, in another twenty minutes, a spectacular change of scenery unfolds. It comes at you suddenly, so keep an eye out.
The Panikhar Nala suddenly goes quiet. What was a gushing river is now a wide river basin over a flat plain. The river splits, distributing, forks, rejoins and does this multiple times over the basin. In between these splits and forks are grassy meadows, each more lush than the other. You have arrived at Sumdo– the confluence of two rivers. Up ahead, the confluence is clearly visible.
Camping is possible in the grassy knolls of Sumdo. Take care to select a knoll that has a slightly higher ground. In the evenings, water levels rise. An alternative to camping at Sumdo is to go ahead slightly along the basin to Denora, which is the farthest end of Sumdo. The same grassy basin exists here – with the added advantage of having gained an extra hour of trek time. Denora is on the basin that faces the valley to the right of the confluence. You don’t see this campsite until you round the bend to face the valley on your right.
Camp here for the day. Avoid crossing the streams to Kalapari. In the evenings, the streams are fuller and laden with more glacier-fed water.
Sumdo/Denora is a dreamy campsite. Getting the opportunity to spend time here is a gift that needs to be cherished.
Day 4: Denora to Kalapari
- Altitude: 12,350 ft to 12,875 ft
- Distance: 3 km; 575 ft ↑ & 79 ft ↓
- Duration: 1.5 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Kalapari: 34° 3’21.81″N, 75°51’0.71″E
Start the day by taking off your shoes. Multiple streams need to be crossed to get to the other end of the basin. The direction to take is the valley to the left, sticking to the right of the Nala that rushes down the valley.
A good landmark is the Bakarwal settlements at the bottom of the valley. The trail climbs to the right of the settlement. Crossing the frigid water of the streams take time. Though waters are not very deep, they are icy. After every crossing, you need to give yourself a few minutes to get sensation back in your feet. It takes about a half an hour to cross the basin.
On the other side, take the trail that leads to the Bakarwal huts. Climb the mound to the right and behind their huts. Five minutes later, the climb flattens out to a large grassy meadows. Looking back, the entire basin of Denora and Sumdo come into view. The panorama is so wide that it takes a complete swivel of the head to capture the entire scenery. The trail from the meadow climbs slightly up to get to another flower decked clearing. If you are in season (July/Aug/Sep), the slopes on your right are carpeted with wild pink flowers.
Half an hour later, the trail climbs out of the mound to reveal the first views of Kalapari meadows. Lovely clear brooks run through meadows making it an ideal place to camp.
Behind again, is the junction of two valleys. Large glaciers dominate the junction of the valley to the right. Ice walls hang almost to the bottom of the mountain. The setting is mammoth and large scale. Waterfalls are on the other side of the river that falls down thousands of feet make the setting complete.
Treat Kalapari as a short rest day, an advanced camp for the pass crossing next day. The pass is on the valley to the right above the gravelly mound. It is not visible from your campsite.
Day 5: Kalapari to Kaintal via Lomvilad Pass
- Altitude: 12,875 ft to 11,550 ft via 14,550 ft
- Distance: 17 km; 1,950 ft ↑ & 3,281 ft ↓
- Duration: 11 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Kaintal: 33°59’54.97″N, 75°43’56.59″E
- GPS Coordinates of Lomvilad Pass: 34° 0’46.11″N, 75°49’9.71″E
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Initial descent on a snow patch followed by a glacier walk lead to a steep ascent to the pass. A gently sloping, snowy 30 minutes walk brings you to a sharp descent and a series of switchbacks followed by a 2 km walk on the Bracken glacier. Trek through rocky moraines for over 3 hours before finally reaching a regular path that lead you to the campsite in the Kaintal meadows.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You will find streams along the trail to refill your water bottles.
In what is going to be the longest day of your trek, it is imperative you start early. A 7 am start is ideal.
Though there are sections of snow on the day’s trek, no special equipment is required. The snow crossings are not difficult to manage, if you have a trekking pole in hand. Follow the trail that heads out of your campsite to the moraines up ahead. The trail snakes through moraines and is clearly visible.
Half an hour later, the trail tops the moraines at a large rock, below which a voluminous clear stream flows. The view of the Kalapari summit and the glacier in front, from the rock of the meadows you camped in, is superb. Look behind the rock at the towering, glacier-topped mountains that overlooks the setting.
The trail from the rocks evens out. Ten minutes later, look for the first surprise of the day. A large green lake, dotted with chunks of snow and ice comes into view. In front, to the right, large blackish glacier feeds the lake. Ahead, the towering ice walls of Kalapari peak almost meets the lake from the summit.
The trail starts around the lake, getting to a large snow patch. Descend down the snow patch to the blackish glacier below. The glacier is hard ice with enough debris as it gives you firm footing.
The glacier is long, about a kilometre wide. Continue walking until you get to its other edge, half an hour later. Towards its end, walk around some crevasses to climb moraines on your right. Note: The Bracken glacier is locally known as the Kaintal glacier.
The trail through the moraines heads towards the open end of the valley. Again, about forty minutes later, get on to another icy glacier, this time, descending from the mountain face on your right. Walking on the moraines gets you directly below the Kalapari peak.
Cross the glacier, veering slightly to the right, to see the trail climb to a narrow opening in the valley that leads to the pass. Climb the small section of a snow patch and get on to the ridge that takes you to the pass.
The moment you get on the ridge, the view all around changes. You get a commanding view of streams that run down to your left and of lakes that form below. On your right are the flanks of Kalapari. The ridge climbs quickly. In about 20 minutes, it tops the pass. The pass is marked by cairns and stones painted in red of Urdu letters. The pass is at 14, 550 feet. The view on the other side of the pass is spectacular.
Large snow fields lead out from the pass. They are gently sloping and easy to walk on. Get on to the snow field in front, keeping a general direction towards the valley opening towards your right. It takes about half an hour to get there.
On your right, a large lake, almost frozen, is in your view. There is a steep boulder section which can be difficult to negotiate as you descend. This is until you get close to the opening of the valley. At the opening to the valley, you get your first view of what lies in store on the other side.
Thousands of feet below is a greyish moraine-filled glacier. On opposite mountains are greenish grasslands, though sparse and mostly snow laden. Stick to the left most flank of the valley and begin your descent. The descent is easy and sometimes over snow.
Within half an hour you get to ledge with an astounding view. To your right are huge mountain flanks. Out of the flanks emerges a wide glacier that tumbles to the bottom in a greyish, crevasse filled mass. It is a sight that most trekkers have never seen.
From the ledge, the trail descends steeply to the glacier in a series of switchbacks in fifteen minutes. Step on to the icy glacier, avoid the crevasse in front by walking around it to the left. This is the magnificent Bracken glacier.
Descend on the almost flat glacier, keeping a line around the centre of the glacier. The glacier is a rock-hard ice with hundreds of channels of rivulets running over it. Moraines on the surface make it easy to walk on.
Continue walking on the glacier for a kilometre or so downstream until the icy surfaces gives way to the boulder-y moraines. Deviate to the left flank of the moraines and continue to descend through the rock. At this stage, you will be able to see the Kaintal valley below.
The valley initially is a rocky basin followed by grasslands. The grasslands are your camping ground target of the day. The descent through the rocky moraines is hard on your legs and knees. The trail is barely perceptible. Keep a general downward direction and you are likely to bump into the barely visible trail now and then.
It takes over two hours to descend through the moraines to get to the edge of the glacier and a faint upper grassy area. It is another hour of descent through very rough moraines before you get to the basin of the river that emerges from the bottom of the glacier.
The trail is still not easy as you need to cover more moraines and boulders. It is easily another hour before you get to your ground target of flat grassy meadows of the initial Kaintal grasslands. The grasslands come in large patches. The trail is now more regular. Continue walking on the trail keeping the river always to your right.
It has been one of the longest and hard days of trekking. The Kaintal meadows is a just reward for the day’s trek. The beauty of the meadows is worth the price of the long descent through the moraines.
Day 6: Kaintal to Humpet
- Altitude: 11,550 ft to 10,950 ft
- Distance: 16.5 km; 840 ft ↑ & 1,339 ft ↓
- Duration: 6 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Humpet: 34° 4’0.39″N, 75°36’13.00″E
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Walk in the meadows with several gradual ascents and descents on grassy mounds interspersed along the trail.
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles at several streams that you will cross today.
Nineteen kilometres can look really long for an average trekker. However, on the Warwan valley trek, such distances are the norm. The walk after the pass crossing is level. Covering such distances don’t take long.
From Kaintal, take the trail that hugs the side of the river. Walk past a few Gujjar huts on your left. Within minutes, you’ll get to a clear stream to hop over. There are plenty of such streams along the trek to Humpet. There really isn’t a necessity to fill water at the camps.
Beyond the stream, the trail opens up to a wide river basin. All around the basin are wide, lush, green meadows. Approximately 2 km long, it takes about a half hour to cover the distance end to end. (You’ll of course stop now and then just to take in the beauty.)
The grassland is filled with horses grazing in the wild – a sight that is a treat for the eyes. Beyond the grassland, a small stream needs to be hopped over. Right after the stream, get on to the trail that climbs the grassy hump in front.
The view from the top of the hump is spectacular. The trail to Humpet is always an alternative between a wide river basin, usually meadow-y, or the trail climbs to a grass hump. If the hump looks too high, take the trail that skirts around the hump on the edge of the river.
Two hours later, approximately 6 km, the trail again drags down to another lovely grassy river basin. This one is especially marked by square rocks that lie on its grassy surface. Almost every large boulder is chiseled like a square. This is the square rocks meadows- a good spot for a short break.
Climbing another hump brings you to a set of Gujjar huts on top. On the other side of the mountain, look for the pass opening of the Bobban Gully trail. This is the alternate, direct trail from Sumdo. The route is shorter but more strenuous. Horses, too, can’t take this trail.
Getting down from the hump brings you to the large Sar grasslands. Sar is usually the grassland where you camp if you’ve descended down the Bobban Gully route.
Sidenote: There are 7-8 streams to cross, usually at the end of every grassland. Most of these streams are easy to hop over. Two of these streams, however, require you to take off your shoes and wade across. The water though, is never more than knee-deep, usually lower.
Continue on the Sar grassland as the trail takes a wide curve to the right in a northerly direction. The Bracken glacier finally goes out of view. After the long Sar grassland, the basins become shorter and more gravelly. Towards the north, intersection of two valleys in the distance comes into view. Humpet is at bottom of the intersection on the left. It takes another two hours of crossing three other basins and skirting around edge of humps to finally round the last edge to get to Humpet.
The view changes completely at Humpet. On the opposite bank of the river is Thangkam, a small Gujjar/Bakarwal settlement. The trail takes a sharp curve to again face West. In the East are the snow-capped barren mountains of Ladakh. On the West are the lush green snow-capped mountains of Kashmir.
Humpet is a many layered grassland. Climb one of the ledges where there is also a clear stream flowing down. Camp on the ledge to get a commanding view of Thangkam, the wide Kaintal river basin and the lovely grasslands of Humpet.
Day 7: Humpet to Sukhnai
- Altitude: 10,950 ft to 9,225 ft
- Distance: 16 km; 1,415 ft ↑ & 3,094 ft ↓
- Duration: 7-8 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Sukhnai: 33°59’0.39″N, 75°30’52.05″E
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial climb followed by continuous descent for about 3.5 hours. This is followed by an undulating trail which culminates in another descent for a couple of hours.
- Water sources: You will find plenty of streams along the trail to refill your water bottles.
The day’s trek is dramatically different from the day earlier. From the Humpet, the trek descends down two valleys to the meticulous grasslands and the supremely beautiful village of Sukhnai.
Take the trail that heads out of Humpet towards the end of the valley in a westerly direction. The trail initially climbs the mounds behind Humpet, before topping at a ridge. From this ridge, you have clear views of Gujjar huts on your left and the valley below. It is a narrow valley with the Kaintal Nala rushing down in gorges at the very bottom. Silver birch trees come in view.
Get down as the trail leads to the first treeline of silver birch trees. The trail rounds a curve to hang precariously over a very steep edge of the valley that heads to the bottom directly. There are multiple trails. Take the topmost trail, which is relatively safer. Take confident steps, skirt the tricky zone, which is not long. Continue to descend until you get to a small waterfall on your left. This is a good spot to fill water. The descent down the valley is rapid and quick. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the end of the valley. Coniferous trees hang overhead.
At the junction of the valley, a clearer river from the valley on the right joins the Kaintal Nala to form a bigger river. This bigger river now flows south, down the valley on your left. There is small clearing at the end of the valley. Army outposts used to exist here. Now, it is an overgrown clearing which is called Police kotha. Look up to the other side of the valley to spot the trail that leads to Sheshnag and to the Amarnath yatra.
At this junction, you have entered the true Warwan valley and Kashmir. Also, for the first time, the trail gets into a North-south direction (all the way to Inshan), the true direction of Warwan valley. Continue on the trail as it begins its descent down the valley. The valley is still very narrow, with only occasional small clearings. For most times, the trail hugs the edge of the valley overlooking the river. There are times, for brief moments, the trail hangs directly over small landslides that leads to the river. Looking down can seem a risky proposition. Take confident steps to clear this tricky section.
There are plenty of streams to hop over on the descent so water is never really a problem. Two hours into the descent, spot the wooden bridge over the river that crosses over to the Sheshnag trail. If you are early in the season, this will be a snow bridge. Only once the snow bridge has melted, the shepherds put up the wooden bridge that you see later in the season.
The clearing before the bridge is a good spot to take a brief rest before continuing on the trek. Cross the bridge and turn left heading downstream. You are still on a southerly direction but now on the true right of the river. The trail is more distinguished and broader, an indication that it is more frequently used.
Within ten minutes of the bridge, the trail runs into a larger stream that needs to be crossed. If the water is high, you’ll perhaps need to take off your boots to cross over. The trail rises and falls after the stream. In about half an hour, the trail again gets into a zone of overhangs that leads directly into the river. As earlier, confident steps should see you through the tricky patch in ten minutes.
Beyond the overhangs, you get the first views of the mound of Sukhnai in the distance. It is a lovely view of pristine grasslands that is now a mound in the centre of the valley. It is still a long distance away but serves as a useful beacon. In another half hour, the trail drops down to the river suddenly. At the bottom is a small grassy clearing right beside the river. Stop at the clearing for lunch- which almost looks like an ideal picnic spot.
After lunch, continue to descend towards the mound of Sukhnai. The trail now opens up to a wider valley with lovely grasslands to view on the other side. Along the way, spot the streams that tumble down the grasslands, besides coniferous trees. Gujjar huts making the setting too perfect even for pictures. It takes another two hours to finally get to the mound of Sukhnai. The grassy mound is extremely pretty with horses grazing peacefully on it.
The trail veers to the right of the mound, sticking to the bottom and finally emerging at the farmlands of Sukhnai ten minutes later.
This part of the trek is startlingly beautiful, with fences on the border of the trail, with neat farmlands below. Flowers grow abundantly on either side of the trail. The trail climbs a small mound to reveal the first houses of pretty Sukhnai a little distance away. Below on your right, look for the bridge that crosses the river to lead to settlements on the other side. The setting is extremely beautiful.
Continue on the trail that leads to an old stone hut directly above Sukhnai village. It takes another half hour to get to the hut. Topping the hut, reveals for the first time the entire village of Sukhnai below you. It is startling to see a closely packed village settled in such a picturesque setting- almost like the Gaul village of Asterix.
Getting down to Sukhnai, there are many bylanes that takes you deep inside the village. Avoid getting into them. Take the uppermost trail of Sukhnai and climb out of the village, past some houses and shops, to the stream that borders Sukhnai on its southern edge.
Look for a camping ground upstream. There are plenty of spaces to camp.
If you need more privacy, head further down the trail to Inshan trail, crossing the stream over a wooden bridge. You can camp anywhere as the grasslands on your right, but look for a running stream for your water source.
Stay close to Sukhnai- you can replenish supplies, buy tidbits or even chat with locals. There is also a phone booth in Sukhnai where you can make calls. The army also has an outpost at Sukhnai. In an emergency, you can seek the Army’s help. The army is helpful and love interacting with trekkers. The vast pastures of Sukhnai is almost dream-like. The rest of the day can be spent just loitering about and clicking photographs.
Day 8: Sukhnai to Basmina / Chaudraiman
- Altitude: 9,225 ft to 8,300 ft
- Distance: 17.5 km; 1,096 ft ↑ & 2,094 ft ↓
- Duration: 6-7 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Chaudraiman: 33°51’5.92″N, 75°32’18.43″E
- Trek gradient: Moderate. The trail gently descends and ascends throughout the day.
- Water sources: You will pass several streams and villages where you can refill your water bottles.
The trail beyond Sukhnai gets extremely picturesque. You are in a valley, with vast tracks of grasslands, farms and pastures on either side.The Marwah river slices the valley on the left as it meanders its way towards the Chenab.
The valley is populated by villages every 5-6 km. The villages themselves are extremely pretty, almost from another era. The trail is now more frequented by villagers moving from one village to another. Step onto the trail as early in the morning as possible. If you have camped near Sukhnai, there are two streams to cross one after the other. On one of them, if the streams are water laden, you’ll perhaps need to take off your shoes.
Walk on the trail taking in the pastures on the way. In the distance on the other side of the river is the pretty village of Rekenwas.
Keep to the right of the river until you get to a wooden bridge over the Marwah river, in about an hour. On the other side of the bridge is the Rekenwas village, perched on top of a hillside.
Across a fallen top on the other side of the bridge is a shorter trail to the village. Take the trail and cut through the farms around Rekenwas to get to the village in another ten minutes. The village is interesting as it is pretty. The moment you step foot into the village, the sweet smell of pines, of the wooden houses gets to you. The villagers are curious. They may come out of their homes to see an ‘outsider’. Spend ten minutes chatting with them and continue on your way. From the centre of the village, take the upper trail out of the village to get on to the main trail towards Inshan.
From Rekenwas, the trail enters another good section of the trek. The ferns and pastures open up in grand colours all around. Vast tracks of land on either side, unblemished as far as the eye can see, stare at you. The trail gently descends. Ten minutes outside the village, two barn houses close to Gumbar village come in view. A small patch of coniferous trees lie beyond the houses. From your spot on the trail, the setting is as perfect as it can be.
Keep to the trail as it get closer to the barn houses. Villagers on horses are common, almost like how people use scooters in the cities. After a while, it isn’t surprising to find horsemen galloping towards a village raising a cloud of dust behind them! Almost like an incredulous scene from a movie.
Getting closer to the barns, gets you to another barn house on your right. Soon after the barn, the trail splits. Take the trail to the right, avoiding the trail to the left that heads towards Gumbar.
Looking back on the trail at the pretty barn house will remind you of a fairytale countryside that you would have imagined but never been to.
The trail climbs a small mound before descending towards Margi, a village still some distance away. On your left, spot the roofs of some houses of Gumbar village.
Continue on your trail for the next half hour until you get to a barn made of reddish wood. The trail curves around the barn, gets to its end, and turns right again, along a stone wall that gets to a wooden bridge over a stream. The setting around the stream is very picturesque, though the water is not too good for drinking. You are just outside Margi village. Cross the wooden bridge, continue on the trail for two-three minutes until you get to another stream. The water is clear and safe for drinking.
Across the stream, the trail bifurcates. The trail ahead gets into Margi village. On your right, at a right angle is the trail towards a wooden bridge over the Marwah river. Don’t take the trail to Margi, but cross over the Marwah river. Turn left and in short climbing burst, get on the main trail directly opposite Margi on the other side of the river.
Continue on the trail with Marwah on your left and Margi slowly getting out of the view on your left. The trail takes a wide curve towards the right, getting into view of the village of Basmina for the first time.
The village, however, is much further away. Again, vast lands of unbroken green pastures line the heart of the Warwan valley. Rolling hills with carpeted grasslands rise from either end of the valley. Pines dot the hills as its upper fingers. Every fold of the mountain has a shiny, glistening stream running down to meet the ever growing Marwah.
It takes close to an hour to get to Basmina village. A clear stream fences the village on one side. Cross the wooden bridge to enter the village. The village is much bigger with shops, people and lot more houses. Run offs from the stream channels through the village, as they supply water to the houses. The villagers, ever curious, will stop you to ask you questions about your trek. The roads have now reached Basmina village and you can now choose to end your trek here.
To get to Chaudraiman: Continue on the trail through the village as it leads out of it in ten minutes. Outside the village, the Marwah moves away from the trail towards far left of the valley. The trail on the other hand, takes a path that is sometimes on the centre and at times to the right of the valley. The trail continues along pretty farms with their picket fences on either side. The setting is extremely pretty.
The trail is wide enough for a four-wheeler with multiple walking lanes. It is another 6 km to Chaudraiman- which takes about an hour and half for most trekkers.
A lovely grassy hump on the right suddenly climbs as you get closer to Chaudraiman. On the other side, the Marwah suddenly spreads out in a wide basin, spewing out distributaries. It is extremely grassy with horses and cattles grazing in the mini meadows that are formed in the basin. Lovely pine trees with shady banks overlook the basin as it threads its way through.
No matter how much your heart wishes to camp, you are forced to move on to Chaudraiman. The village comes into view in another fifteen minutes.
A medical dispensary, few government houses signal the start of the village. Continue on the trail and head towards a side trail on your left that leads to a wooden bridge over a large stream that cuts through the centre of the village. Cross the stream, veer left and get to the taxi stand two minutes later. Chaudraiman is connected by road to Inshan, Larnoo, Anantnag and further onto Srinagar. Shared vehicles are frequent and there isn’t any difficulty in getting vehicles that will take you to Larnoo, across the Mangan Pass.
Larnoo is 4 and half hours away and sometimes takes 5 hours to reach. From Larnoo there are instant connections to Anantnag – another 1 and half hours away. From Anantnag, instant connections are available to Srinagar that usually takes about 2 hours to reach. It does not make any sense to book a vehicle for yourself to Srinagar. It will be expensive. Shared vehicles are common and widely used. It is also possible to book all the seats of a shared vehicle, if you have a lots of trekking gear.
At Chaudraiman, trekkers have completed 84 km of the trek. It is possible to trek further to Inshan, another 6 km away, to complete 90 km of trekking. You can get vehicles at Inshan as well.
The trek from Chaudraiman to Inshan is also pretty as it overhangs the Marwah river. The river below again fans out to a very pretty basin, making it an exquisite sight. Small villages pop out on the left of the trail making the scenery complete.
However, the logical end of the trek is at Chaudraiman. It makes sense to take a vehicle immediately and reach Srinagar by late night, saving a day and ending a trek that will remain one of the most wonderful memories of your life.
Drive to Srinagar (5,200 ft) via Inshan (8,250 ft), Larnoo (7,000 ft) & Anantnag (5,250 ft)
- Distance: 153 km drive
- Duration: 8-9 hour drive.
- Route link: Google Map link
We will leave for Srinagar as soon as we reached Chaudraiman. Expect to reach Srinagar by late night. The drive from Chaudraiman to Srinagar is rough – there is no road in most places. However, even with the bumpy journey, you will enjoy the beauty of the settings. Watch out for Margan pass, it connects Warwan valley to Anantnag. It is extremely picturesque!
Note: In case of unforeseen circumstances, we might need to use buffer days for trek and travel.
Day 9: Buffer day for trek
In we use the buffer day for trek, Rs. 2,500+5% GST will be collected from the trekkers.
Day 10: Buffer day for travel
No charges will be levied by Indiahikes if the buffer day is used for travel purposes. However, the cost of stay after Inshan, till Srinagar, will have to be borne by the trekkers.
Please plan your travel back from Srinagar on the 11th day of the trek.
Trail elevation graph
How to get to base camp- Panikhar
Srinagar → Kargil → Panikhar
The Warwan Valley trek starts from Panikhar. Panikhar is small oasis in lower Suru Valley, 67 km south of Kargil. We’ll be picking you up in a Sumo/Tavera cab from Srinagar. The pick up with be organised at 1 pm on Day 1 from Sheikh Tours, Sathu Barbara Shah Chowk (near flour mill), Srinagar. Here is the location of the pick-up point.
Stay will be arranged at Sonamarg.
If you are trekking independently, you can take a shared taxi from Srinagar. Leave Srinagar early as the last shared taxis for Panikhar leave Kargil taxi stand by 1:30-2:00 pm.
On the second day, transport will be arranged from Sonamarg to the basecamp Panikhar via Kargil, a distance of 188 km. The cost of travelling from Srinagar to Panikhar would have to be borne by the trekkers and it would approximately be Rs. 2,000 per person.
Chaudraiman → Larnoo → Anantnag→ Srinagar
The transport is taken again after the trek from Chaudraiman. You will be changing vehicles at Larnoo and then again, at Anantnag. The travel from Chaudraiman to Srinagar will take 8-9 hours.
The cost of travelling will be borne by the trekkers and it would approximately be Rs. 2,000 per person.
You are expected to reach Srinagar on the last day latest by 8-9 pm. Book your flights for next day if you are planning to leave right after trek.
Only BSNL Post paid connectivity available.
How to get fit for Warwan Valley trek
Warwan Valley has been graded as a difficult trek. On most days, you are covering 20 km in high altitude. Trekking for 20 km each day with a backpack on can tire out even the most hardy trekkers. This trek demands you to be in your top physical condition.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60 minutes
On the Warwan Valley trek, you are trekking an average of 20 km each day in a terrain that is not too friendly. To prepare your body, begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 10 km in 60 minutes. It takes time to cover this distance in a given time- so start slow, and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
Strength – Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each set
This is an important area you need to work on. At the end of this trek, you would have completed a 84 km in 6 trekking days. For a trek like this, you must strengthen your core muscles.
Flexibility determines the amount of movement your bones can make in any direction around joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.
It is an aspect that will help you trek comfortably. Stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and lower back muscles regularly, promotes relaxation in the tissues reducing the strain on your back. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, for a 84 km trek, can become a strain. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek in 4 weeks.
Also consider HIIT training regime for a trek like this one.
Things to get for the Warwan Valley Trek
Warwan Valley is a 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:
Warwan Valley requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have good grip, have ankle support and can handle snow. You will trek long distances everyday. The trek also involves multiple river crossings and glacier walk as well. 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 Warwan Valley, you need a 50-60 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.
| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.
| Rental: The 48 litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack.
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 other 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 14,550 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:
Two pairs 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 trekking 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 Warwan 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 Warwan Valley, you can expect to walk on long stretches of snow during the early part of August. 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 Warwan Valley, you are going to be handling snow quite a bit during the month of July, August. 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 woollen 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 Warwan 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 Warwan 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 Warwan Valley trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a day pack is mandatory. In your day pack 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 day pack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not day packs. 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 Warwan 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:
Warwan Valley has long walking days on each of your trekking 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 Shimla 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 Warwan 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 Warwan Valley trek?
The Warwan Valley trek is a difficult one. One of the reasons it is a difficult trek is that the you are covering 20 km per day in terrain with loose mud, moraines, overhangs and where the trail is sometimes barely perceptible. There are a lot of tricky sections on this trek. Pushing your body in that high an altitude without being acclimatised may be dangerous. There are very high chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness.
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 altitudes.
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 Warwan Valley trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Warwan 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 Warwan Valley trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required.
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, wherein they will be entering details about their health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms one should look out for and what action should be taken during emergencies. These Health Cards will be collected back at the end of the trek.
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
Depending on snow/ice condition of Lomvilad Pass, trekkers are provided micro-spikes for better traction on snow. Trekkers are also provided with gaiters such that no snow enters their 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.
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.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Warwan Valley trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At altitudes above 10,000 ft, the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness cannot be ruled out.
All the campsites on the Warwan Valley trek are at considerably high altitudes and you walk long distances every day. Trekkers can develop symptoms of altitude sickness at any of the campsites.
At any campsite, inform your trek leader about your condition immediately if you identify any symptom of AMS. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to a lower campsite.
This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours.And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have symptoms of AMS?
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the below video to understand the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. In this video, Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes will also tell you the protocol to follow when you see someone showing symptoms of AMS.
Exit points on the Warwan Valley trek
There are no easy exit points from this trek. After crossing Lomvilad Pass on Day 4, you are committed to completing this trek – because you are trekking through very inaccessible region. This is part of the charm of trekking in Warwan Valley and also its danger. It is highly imperative you are prepared for this trek.
Most situations are resolved by the trek leader’s intervention. If, however, evacuation is required, it is carried out by the Indiahikes team. The affected participant is moved down to the nearest emergency medical centre as soon as possible. However, evacuation, especially after crossing Lomvilad Pass, will take days. In Warwan Valley, you can only be turned around from Kalapari or Denora via Pankihar. It is important you understand these risks before coming on this trek. Medical expenses, if required, at the medical centre are to be borne by the participant.
In case of a medical emergency, Kargil has a district medical centre, which can be accessed from the Panikhar side. On the Chaudraiman side, Anantnag has the closest hospital, and Larnoo has a medical centre. Smaller centres are present at Chaudraiman, Inshan and Bismai, but these can provide only very basic treatment. It could take over a day to get to any of these places, depending on which point in the trek you are.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life -saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker. There are three life-saving medicines that we suggest you always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, do not administer these to anyone without consulting your Trek Leader. If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Also ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the trek and do not skip any meal.
You can watch the video below to learn about HAPE and HACE and how to tackle them. In the video, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema, what the symptoms are and how to tackle them.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then your trek leader will be able to take steps at the right time.
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.
The Indiahikes 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.
Given that, we have one of the most trekker-friendly cancellation policies.
Take a look at the Indiahikes cancellation policy below. This policy is effective starting January 29th, 2020.
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
In the rare event that we cancel your trek, this is the cancellation 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, government orders, unexpected global health issues, 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 once it has been paid for.
If you cancel any rental gear from our store:
- Cancellation of rental gear 7 days before the starting date of the trek — Get a monetary refund with 4% cancellation charges.
- Cancellation of rental gear less than 7 days before the starting date of the trek — Get a voucher of the whole amount you have paid for the rental gear. This voucher is applicable on your 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.
1. You may not be able to complete the trek because of bad weather, high snow conditions, or any natural calamity.
2. 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.
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 Trek Coordinator.
The Indiahikes “Repeat My Trek” Policy (trekkers love this!)
At Indiahikes, we can’t help but fall in love with a few trekking trails. And we love revisiting them, perhaps in other seasons, when treks take on a totally different hue. In such cases, we do not like the thought of having to pay for it. Our trekkers shouldn’t have to pay either.
So if you have loved a trek that you did with us and want to repeat it, you’re welcome to sign up for the trek. We will not charge you for this. (Many people think this is a rumour, but it’s true.)
To repeat your trek for free, just get in touch with your Trek Coordinator. We’ll help you sign up with no charges.
Note: The Indiahikes “Repeat My Trek” policy does not apply for our international treks.
Your trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 2 to Day 7 (Panikhar to Sukhnai). You will be camping on all days of the trek (3 per tent).
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Panikhar on Day 2 to lunch at Sukhnai on Day 8 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.
Your trek fee does not include:
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Srinagar and drop you back from Chaudraiman.
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to and from Aru.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed.
- 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 long climbs and steep descents on a daily basis. As a measure of your fitness, we require you to be able to run at least 5 km in 30 minutes by the time your trek starts. Alternatively, you can do cycling of 25 km in 60 minutes or walking 10 km in 75 minutes. This is a minimum, mandatory requirement. 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 candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
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.
How is travel arranged before and after trek?
Your pick up point for this trek is at Srinagar at 1 pm, on Day 1. On your first day, we will take you to Sonamarg. On Day 2, we will be going to Panikhar, the base camp via Kargil. The cost of travel to base camp would be about Rs 2, 000 per person.
The Warwan valley trek ends at Chaudraiman. From here, we will be arranging local transport to Srinagar. Since the booking of the transport is going to be on the fly, we would advise you to not be in a rush to leave. Keep this day only for travel back to Srinagar. Keep about Rs. 2,000 (per person) for this leg of travel. This is a more cost effective option - as getting a vehicle from Srinagar to Chaudraiman and back is going to skyrocket your transport expenses.
Can a beginner do this trek?
This is a difficult trek. The terrain changes constantly over the days- rubble, glacier, moraines and a narrow path that precariously overhangs the river. Each day is long, covering nearly 20 km. It totals to almost 84 km in six days. The added weight of a backpack can tire out even the most hardy trekkers. It demands high physical fitness and prior high altitude trek experience.
Is there an option to not carry my backpack and do the trek?
No. Backpack offloading is not possible for Warwan valley trek. The trail in most places is either barely there, or narrow, or is on an overhang. Mules/ horses cannot walk on this trail.
Why is the buffer day required?
The buffer day is required to stave off unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather. It is wiser to keep a buffer day in the picture when planning your travel out of Srinagar after the trek. You are traveling to areas where there is no is tourist infrastructure, so traveling is likely to take time. Keep buffer days in mind.
Is there mobile network on this trek?
Mobile network will be unreliable beyond Kargil. Please inform anxious family members about poor connectivity during the trek. Prepaid SIMs do not work in Kashmir.
Can I leave my luggage behind? Is there a cloak room facility I can use?
Unfortunately, with Warwan Valley being a crossover trek, we cannot arrange for a cloakroom facility. You can consider leaving your luggage behind at hotel in Srinagar independently, at the hotel of your choosing.
We will open up dates shortly. Click here to see other similar treks that might have dates.