Your Guide to Trekking in India
While global travel might currently be off the agenda, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan your next adventure. As soon as the world opens up again, we’ll be off to explore some old favourites and some new destinations. And what better country for adventures and exploration than India? So, if you’ve been dreaming of trekking in India during lockdown, we’re here for you with a little helping hand to assist with your plans.
Bordering the renowned Himalayan mountain range, India has long been an attractive destination for trekkers across the globe. Home to some of the most breath-taking and challenging walks, hikes, and expeditions, this mountainous region sees trekkers of all skill levels looking for their next big walking, hiking, and camping experience.
With such a vast and varied landscape, India offers plenty of choice to enthusiastic trekkers of all skill levels. Treks range from one to 15 days or more, with a range of sights, terrains, temperatures, and altitudes along the way. Whether you’re looking to narrow down the ideal trekking route ahead of your trip to India or want to learn more about how to backpack in India, we’ve got a host of locations, tips and tricks to help you on your next adventure.
Don’t forget to pack the appropriate gear. One of the reasons India is such an exciting destination is that it offers many different terrain types and climates to explore. This means an explorer needs solid walking shoes or boots, a trusty backpack and flexible clothing such as a 3-in-1 jacket.
Easy treks in India
If you’re travelling to India for a trekking holiday, it’s likely you’ve already got some trekking or hiking experience under your belt. If you’re not the most seasoned trekker, rest assured there are several options for beginners or those focused on sightseeing and exploring over extreme physical challenges and steep summits.
Nag Tibba, also known as the ‘Serpent’s Peak,’ is located in the lower Himalayas of the Garhwal region. As the highest peak in this region, Nag Tibba offers an unforgettable panoramic view of the Great Indian Himalayas without the challenges or safety risks of other treks in the region.
Trekking time: Up to 1-2 days, depending on route / guide
Distance: 16 KM
Elevation: 3,022 m (9,915 ft)
Known for: Accessible for beginners, safe for beginners, great views
Best time to plan a trek: Year-round, except for monsoon season
Kareri Lake Trek
Located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, the Kareri Lake trek offers a scenic, alpine view along with a breath-taking, mirror-like lake and babbling stream that runs along the trek. It is known for being accessible to beginner trekkers without compromising on views or the overall trekking experience.
Trekking time: Up to 3 days, depending on route / guide
Distance: 26 KM
Elevation: 2,934 m (9,626 ft)
Highlights: Beginner friendly, lake and alpine views, nearby villages
Best time to plan a trek: Spring
Moderate treks in India
For seasoned hikers and trekkers looking to push themselves or tick some famous Himalayan treks off the bucket list, you’ll find countless routes to explore in India. Offering a varied range of terrains, altitudes, and climates, finding a mild to moderate trek is relatively straightforward with a little bit of research and preparation. Treks in this category tend to range from 7-12 days, requiring some physical training ahead of the trip as well as some long-form trekking experience.
Goecha La Trek
Known for stunning views, a scenic and challenging trail, and excellent visibility of other peaks, Goecha La Trek is a popular choice for moderately experienced trekkers. For lovers of flora and fauna, this trek is particularly nice in spring and summer when the forest flowers are in bloom.
Trekking time: Up to 10-11 days, depending on route / guide
Distance: 90 KM
Elevation: 4,940 m (16,207 ft)
Highlights: Views of Goecha lake, grand mountain views, multiple summit views, sunrise views
Best time: Summer, autumn
Hanesh Himal Trek
As a relatively quiet trek (fewer tourists than others), Ganesh Himal is a serene, scenic option for those looking for a truly unique yet challenging experience. This traditional trek offers plenty of changing scenery as well as the opportunity to interact with small local villages for a uniquely cultural and unforgettable trek.
Trekking time: Up to 10-15 days, depending on route / guide
Distance: 70 KM
Elevation: 7422M (24,350 ft)
Highlights: Canyon and snow-capped mountain views, local villages and culture, low altitude
Best time: Autumn
Difficult treks in India
If you’re a seasoned trekker looking for a physically challenging expedition where you can walk, hike, climb, and even grapple, then India is the ideal destination. Within the Himalayas you’ll find several difficult routes with extreme temperatures, steep summits and exciting ascents to thrill any passionate, experienced trekker.
Kalindi Khal Expedition
Attracting experienced trekkers and expeditionists from around the world, Kalindi Khal is known for being an extremely challenging, yet highly scenic route. This renowned trek covers over 100 KM of challenging terrain including glaciers, snow-covered valleys, steep, icy inclines, and difficult summits.
Trekking time: Up to 15 days, depending on route / guide
Distance: 100 KM
Elevation: 5,950 m (19,521 ft)
Highlights: High altitudes, physically challenging, icy and snowy terrain, majestic views
Best time: Spring and summer
Pin Parvati Pass
Known for its biodiversity, this challenging trek offers routes through lush greenery in forests and valleys as well as routes over glaciers and snow-covered terrain. Perhaps one of the most versatile yet difficult treks in India, Pin Pavarti is ideal for experienced trekkers looking for varied scenery and landscapes in a single route.
Trekking time: Up to 15 days, depending on route/guide
Distance: 110 KM
Elevation: 5320 m (17,457 ft)
Highlights: Biodiverse, multi-terrain, excellent views, access to glaciers
Best time: Summer
How to backpack in India – Tips for trekking
Whether you’re a beginner looking to venture out on your very first trek or you’re an experienced expeditionist planning your next big adventure, knowing how to pack for a trip to India is essential.
Before arriving at the base of your trekking route, you’ll likely have to travel considerable distances by air and land, including up to 8-10 hours in a car or bus to reach the start of your trek. While booking websites should provide you with some guidance on what to expect just before and during your trek, it’s important to consider any travelling you may do beforehand as well. Here are some tips on how to backpack in India:
- Research the climate in the specific region you are travelling to, noting down the temperature and general weather conditions (and pack accordingly).
- Ensure you have the correct visas to enter India as a tourist.
- Carry some local currency (the Rupee). Note: some tourists will ask for a price before ordering food or paying for transport services, especially if no price is listed.
- Bring a self-filtering water bottle - avoid drinking tap water (or fruit and vegetables washed in tap water) as your body will not be acclimated to the local water supply
- Enjoy the renowned street food.
- Be mindful of the culture and behave respectfully - research traditions, customs, and etiquette before travel.
Wherever your trekking and backpacking adventures take you, we hope you have a safe and unforgettable experience. Happy trekking!
- Featured image: Nag Tibba - photo by Paul Hamilton (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence)
- Nag Tibba – photo by Paul Hamilton (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence)
- Kareri Lake – photo by Nomadic Memories (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence)