Best Himalayan Trek – Hey folks. I have dedicated this blog to share the experience of my first ever winter trekking & camping experience in India and I must say it was amazing. I am a person who loves to travel. I truly believe travelling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
For travelling new places, I am willing to walk an extra mile. And that’s what happened when my friends asked me out for the best Himalayan trek. It didn’t take me long to make up my mind. We had decided to embark upon the journey of Kedarkantha trek in December. It was going to be my first winter trek.
Hiking and Camping in India have become a new age hobby across both Gen X and Gen Y. While camping as an outdoor activity give the experience of living overnight, sleeping in a tent away from the comfort of home; Hiking activities, on the other hand, allows you to walk at length on established trails.
The combined experience of going to camping places and hiking from there on can now be seen offered in some of the best Himalayan trekking packages. Amongst several options, we decided to choose the Kedarkantha winter trek.
Trek the Himalayas and you would be rewarded with a breathtaking view of mountains at a very cost effective trekking packages. If I would have to enjoy similar natural scenic beauty by travelling to say Switzerland, it would leave me with a big hole in my wallet.
In India, with such a rich geographical diversity and right promotion, adventure tourism, camping and hiking events has started to pick up. We wanted to try out one of these many camping places. So we opted to winter trek the Himalaya destination – Kedarkantha.
Some of the reasons why we choose the Kedarkantha trek in December over other camping places.
- At the height of 12,500 ft, when at peak, it provides a breathtaking view of a range of 13 other mountain peaks from best Himalayan trek mountain range.
- Legend says the temple of Kedarnath was planned to be built at this mountain peak. Thumb rule of choosing a location for the temple of such a great significance was there should be ‘no sound’ of any life form or animal species.
- They say the Kedar temple was almost ready till the neck (Kanth) of it. But then they heard a ‘sound of a cow’. It was a sign which led them to stop their work. Since the Kedar temple was almost ready till its neck ‘kantha’, it was started to be referred to as Kedarkantha peak.
- Kedarkantha trek cost is reasonably low and the hiking is relatively easy for beginners to try.
To begin with, we started looking for the best Himalayan trekking package. Winter trekking packages are normally a bit expensive to buy. However, to our surprise, the Kedarkantha trek cost was very much within our budget. We explored web and found interesting details on Togedr.
They helped us by planning our event and provided information on necessary preparation work needed before the journey. To ensure health and safety, we had the Himalaya guide expert instruction to maintain the fitness level, so that we are fit enough to be able to jog at least 4 km in 30 min.
Hiking gears and tents would be provided by them. But apart from that, we were briefed to come prepared with winter clothes and backpack. The trek captain was expected to meet us at the base camp village, Sankri.
Day 1: Arrival at Sankri
We started our 5-day trek trip with an overnight flight from Mumbai to Dehradun. A local SUV was arranged for our transit from Dehradun Airport to Sankri. The 7-hour journey to the Sankri brought back memories of my last trip to Manali, which I had three years back with my family.
With every hour of drive, we were coming closer to hills. The mountains and river with the range of thick pine trees, stretching the meadows, providing the beautiful sight of natural living at every min of drive. As if, I was having some kind of conversations with mountains around me.
Our overnight stay at the hotel in Sankri was comfortable. I knew it will be a tiring trek for the next 4 days. So I had prepared my self by having, some stretching exercise, proper diet and sleep.
Day 2: Sankri to Juda-ka-talab
The next day we commenced our trek with a quick briefing from our trek captain. We got introduced to other fellow trekkers. Our small group suddenly became large as we met other fellow trekkers, who too had come for a summit of Kedarkantha trek in December. The briefing included do’s as don’t of the trek. Most of the points, I think are basic and should not be worried about too much.
But I noticed how well it had impacted the group to streamline their expectation out of the trek. With our hiking gears ready and the backpack on, we started our trek walk. It must have been around 4 hours when we reached – Juda-ka-talab. The lake is known for having ice on one side and water on other. To experience the thrill, people even walked on the frozen ice with caution.
The lake site was a good choice for other camping places. So we built our tents at lakeside over there to mark the first day of trekking. It was getting cold. Not freezing though but pleasantly cool. We tried our hands on the snow and hurled few handmade snowballs on to each other. I took my time to create a snowman.
I always wanted to do that all this time. Here we were playing in the snow. Our guide had arranged hot lip-smacking food. I wonder how well they were managing to keep Kedarkantha trek cost so low, without comprising on service. We all ate together like a big family in the comfort of the tent.
Day 3 : Jud-ka-Talab to Kedarkantha peak base camp
We were told to get some sleep as our trek would start early next day 4 am. I woke up around 3 am to prepare for the early morning trek and around at 4.30am we started moving. The sight of sunrise across several Himalayan mountains brought a sense of quiet and peaceful nature.
I learned from other trekkers that this was one of the best Himalayan treks. We the fellow trekkers there shared a common bond walking in a chain in the footsteps making our way through the snow. After 3 hours of trek, we reached the Kedarkantha peak’s base camp. The sight of the peak from the base camp was majestic.
The sheer might of the mountain standing tall for 1000s of years. I stood there watching Kedarkantha for some time, leaving a bit of me, and a bit of my time to its legacy. We offloaded our hiking gears and relaxed for some time.
We had some Maggie noodle and a hot cup of tea and spent the day at the base camp playing with snow, admiring mother nature, clicking selfie, creating memories. One of the interesting conversations is expense tracking to identify the real Kedarkantha trek cost.
We concluded that it is a much better deal to book a trekking package than to do it yourself. We were sure that we had got the best winter trekking deal of the year.
Day 4: Kedarkantha base to Kedarkantha peak; descend to Hargaon camp
The day on which we walked all this distance had arrived. With so much of excitement and energy, we were all set to begin the early morning trek at 4 am again today. I would not have imagined waking up so early. But out here it had become a part of my routine.
It’s a different world out here at the top of the mountain. We walked together every step in rhythm, undeterred by the cold breeze hitting us, we kept on walking our way. The first ray of sunlight across the mountains brought a rare and spectacular view I had ever seen in my life.
The physical exertion of the long walk was very much compensated by the pleasure of the beautiful sight mother natural endowed upon us. With our hiking gears on, within a couple of hours of trek, we had risen to 12,500 mark of our destination. We had finally reached the Kedarkantha peak summit.
We all felt like a winner. I felt like a fighter and an achiever as I conquered my own fear. I really could see the reflection of similar feeling amongst other trekkers. From here we had the spectacular view of Himalayan mountain range. The view of 13 other mountain peak from this point was breathtaking.
I felt like being at the top of the world. I took few selfies with my friend to mark the Moment. But more than that, with my own eyes and sense, I tried to absorb as much as I could, savoring every moment of my time out there. I spent some time connecting with mother nature. Even after such a tiring trek, I felt so rejuvenating, feeling alive and one with almighty. I was at peace. Simply at peace.
We enjoyed our limited time at the mountain peak. Post lunch we started our walk again to descend back to the Hargaon camp. The first of 150 ft was done by a smooth slide from the peek to the base below. It was natural adventure ride. Compared to uphill trek, the descending walk was much easy.
We continued our walk for another 4 hours to descend to 8900 ft at the Hargaon camp. We reached the base by 6 pm. It was a long day and we had stretched ourselves to the limits we thought we are incapable of. I had a nice sumptuous meal and I quickly went to my tent to relax. Before I could realize, I was fast asleep. I remember I had slept like a baby that night. So far it was the best day of camping in India.
Day 5: Hargaon to Sankri
The last leg of trekking has come and we started the walk of the last 6 km stretch. This was mostly through the dense pine tree forest. After days of walking, I felt as if I have mastered the art of walking through the woods. I had learned so much in last 4 days about life in the mountains.
The need of special hiking gears while trekking at such spots. So many real-life stories and the hardship of people on the mountain made me realize how privileged I was in my life. I have started to feel so grateful for everything around me.
I am sure the same effect this trip must have had on other fellow travelers who make their way through this trek in last few days. The last day of the trek completed the circle once we reach Sankri. It felt like coming back to civil life with people around you.
Before we depart, we waved our fellow trekker farewell. We wished them the adventure in life and luck in their upcoming trek and camping in India. We shared a common bond, hiking Kedarkantha trek in December and I vividly think of them at times now.
Day 6 : Sankri to Dehradun
The trek was officially complete and we were rewarded with a lifetime of an experience. It was totally worth spending every single minute of last five days trek. As we made our way we ensured our trek guide was happily tipped. So that he ensures forthcoming trekkers have a good time and experience trekking with them. In a way, it was my bit to spread happiness in the world.
I noticed I was happy and wanted other to have a taste of similar happiness. I must say a part of me had changed. Thanks to all those who in some way or another contributed in helping me have this wonderful experience. On my way back to Dehradun, as I was departing away from the mountains, a silent promise was made. I promised my self that I will come back again next year.
I hope you got a glimpse of amazing Kedarkantha trek in December through these words. But don’t just listen to what I say, go and see for yourself. Trek the Himalayas yourself. Observe how just one adventurous winter trek changes your entire perspective. It will help you grow inside. Go and try some adventure. Travel more. Life begins at the end of the comfort zone.