Top 6 Winter Treks in the Indian Himalayas - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Top 6 Winter Treks in the Indian Himalayas

As a thumb rule, most people prefer to explore the spectacular Himalayas in the summer months, but if you are willing to brave the elements, the winter treks in the Himalayas offer the best views. And those are the kind of views that we see in magazines or the television and ones that we often gape in wonder. Here are 6 of my top winter treks in the Himalayas that will make you experience a slice of heaven, if not heaven as a whole.

1) Chadar Trek, Ladakh

Frozen Zanskar River

Chadar, which literally means a carpet, is an ancient winter walking trail over the Zanskar river. Historically, the Zanskari people used to walk many days from the Zanskar valley to Leh to buy food supplies and for trade. This walk would be over the frozen Zanskar river, which is literally like a white carpet.

This is one adrenaline packed trek in icy conditions. You walk on the frozen river, take selfies next to frozen waterfalls, camp overnight in caves, see interesting Himalayan wildlife like the ibex, bharal and may be even the elusive snow leopard, listen to stories of the ancient Zanskaris who walked this trail and simply enjoy the feeling of living and breathing in a white world.

As this is going to be one really cold trek, it is best to pack the right gear.

2) Singalila Trek, West Bengal and Sikkim

Snow covered valley seen on the Singalila Trek

One of my favorite Eastern Himalaya treks, the Singalila ridge separates India from Nepal. This trek which begins in Manenbhanjang near Darjeeling goes all the way up to Sikkim, but most trekkers go up to Sandakphu and Phulat to catch a glimpse of the first rays of the sun on some of the highest peaks of the world, especially Mount Kanchendzonga and Mount Everest. These sensational sunrise views that I mention here is best seen in the winter months of December and January when the air is clear and the morning mist stays away. This trek will also take you close to some rare flora such as the rhododendrons, orchirds and primulas and some of the most beautiful and colorful birds of this region.

3) Eaglenest Trek, Arunachal Pradesh

Sunrise over the Himalayas in Eaglenest

A fairly off-beat Himalayan trail, this trek begins in the Eaglenest wildlife sanctuary in western Arunachal Pradesh and goes all the way up to an abandoned army camp on the India-Bhutan border. This trek takes you through tropical forests, bamboo thickets, pine forests and finally dry alpine lands while allowing you to get close to the diverse wildlife and bird species of this region. As the terrain and trails are fairly confusing and given the fact that is the chance of human-animal conflict, it is best to embark on this trek with a local guide.

4) Kuari Pass Trek, Uttarakhand

Snow covered Auli - enroute on the Kuari pass Trek

Photo Courtesy: under the Creative Commons License (Photo linked to host page on Wikipedia)

Discovered by Lord Curzon, the viceroy of British India, the Kuari pass trek is one of the more famous winter treks in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.  The reason this trek is pretty famous as a winter trek is because it offers spectacularly clear views of some of the highest Himalayan peaks in India, most notably the twin peaks of Mount Nanda Devi and Mount Trishul, Mount Chaukhamba and Mount Kamet. Starting in the temple town of Joshimath, this trekking trail takes you through Bugyals (Himalayan meadows), rhododendron trees, the skiing slopes of Auli, Vinayak pass, Tali Top and finally to the Kuari top, which is located at about 14,000 feet.

5) Namdapha National Park Trek, Arunachal Pradesh

Dense canopy at Namdapha National Park

Photo Courtesy: under the Creative Commons License (Photo linked to host page on Wikipedia)

An Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the Namdapha National Park is located on the eastern fringes of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Myanmar. This third largest national park of India offers one of the remotest trekking trails in the country that takes you through lowland evergreen rainforests, tropical moist forests and alpine meadows. This trail offers you the opportunity to come in close contact with some of pretty interesting flora and fauna of this region like the ‘Sapria Himalayana’ (close relative of Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower), clouded leopards, red panda, hoolock gibbons, stump-tailed macaque, wren-babblers and many more.

6) Dayara Bugyal Trek, Uttarakhand

Famous Bugyals of Uttarakhand

Photo Courtesy: under the Creative Commons License (Photo linked to host page on Wikipedia)

This winter trek takes you through the high altitude meadows of Uttarakhand, some of which is considered the most beautiful in the entire country. It takes you through clear water bodies before offering you panoramic views of the Bhagirathi and Bandarpoonch peaks. During the winter season, one can also indulge in Nordic and Alpine skiing. The trekking trail starts at Barsu and makes its way through Barnala, Dayara Bugyal, Bakaria top and Pichikiya.

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