- Breakfast is included throughout plus 11 lunches and 12 dinners. Please allow about GBP40 (approx. US$60) for the additional meals and drinks. Mineral water, soft and alcoholic drinks are not included and are available in most of the hotels. Soft drinks are generally cheap, but beers can approach Western prices. Whilst camping, the staff will prepare simple but plentiful and nutritious food. Breakfasts typically include porridge, eggs, cereal, toast and jam and plenty of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Lunch on trek is usually served as a picnic en route, with soup to start, local bread, fruit where available, cheese, eggs and tinned fish. There will be afternoon tea and biscuits on arrival at camp followed by dinner later, which is usually soup to start, a pasta, rice or potato based main course with fresh vegetables, followed by dessert, tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Boiled water, which is safe to drink, is provided on trek.
- Accom: camping
- Accom: hotel/lodge
- Guided Group
The group flights arrive into Delhi in the morning and we join the transfer to our hotel. Rooms in the hotel are usually available at noon. The rest of the day is free to relax and recover from the flight or for individual exploration of Delhi. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel during the day. There will be a group briefing in the hotel lobby this evening.
Train to Kathgodam; drive to the picturesque hill station of Almora.
We take the early morning train from Delhi for a 5.5hr journey to Kathgodam. From here we have a short drive to lunch at Bhimtal and then in the afternoon we have a picturesque drive (70km) to the pretty hill station of Almora. The drive takes around 3-4 hours.
Drive to Munsiyari (2290m)
We have a wonderfully scenic drive through the hills to Munsiyari, the start point for our trek. The road winds up and down the spectacular hill scenery of Kumaon to Chaukori for lunch, where on a clear day we may get out first glimpses of the Indian Himalaya. We continue on the roller-coaster ride up and down valleys and further up into the hills, past the huge waterfall at Birthi and finally in the early evening we reach Munsiyari. The town is set dramatically on a hillside above the roaring Gori Ganga River, with excellent views of the snow-capped Panchchuli peaks. Distance 208km, 8-9hrs driving
Trek to Lilam (1850m).
We start trekking this morning and descend (sometimes on a new road track and sometimes through fields) down to the roadhead at Chilam Dhar. From here a short rocky descent brings us to the river from where we climb up to the small village of Lilam set high above the Gori Ganga. We camp at Lilam or 30mins further on at Pamdeo. We pass through sub-tropical vegetation as we climb towards the Johar Valley. Approximate walk profile: distance 16km, 5-5.5 hours walking.
Ascend a spectacular gorge, through thick forest to Bodgwar (2450m).
From Lilam the trail enters a spectacular gorge. Etched into the cliff face above the Gori Ganga River, the hillsides above are covered in mixed rainforest. We have a hard morning with a very steep climb on a narrow, rocky trail to the Nain Singh Pass at 2670m. The trail is spectacular and on a clear day we can see one of the Panchchuli peaks across the valley. From the pass we descend through thick forest to the Gori Ganga River at Raragiri, where we cross a side river by bridge. From here we follow the Gori Ganga upstream on a rocky trail that undulates high above the river to the small settlement of Bodgwar (2450m). We camp just beyond the rest house. Approximate walk profile: distance 15km, 7.5-8 hours walking.
Follow the Gori Ganga River up the narrowing gorge, passing waterfalls, to Railkot (3140m).
From Bodgwar we follow the Gori Ganga River all day through more narrow gorges. The trail climbs high above the river. There are rocky parts of the trail and in some places the trail has been repaired and we will find well-made stone steps. After Nahar the trail levels out by the river before climbing again to Mapung where we have lunch. In the afternoon we continue up the valley to Railkot. The scenery is spectacular as the river thunders below us and we pass impressive waterfalls. The valley begins to widen out near Railkot and we camp just beyond the small settlement. Himalayan Tahr (similar to wild goats) are often spotted in this area. Approximate walk profile: distance 14kms, 7/7.5 hours walking.
Pass Martoli village to Milam (3450m), the last major settlement before Tibet.
Today we trek to Milam and the walking becomes a little easier than the past few days. We climb out of Railkot onto a rough jeep track. This takes us gradually up the valley. Just above Railkot are the ruins of the old village which look like a fortress. A little further on we may see Tirsuli on a clear day (from this trek we see Tirsuli mountain, not to be confused with Trisul which is further to the west). We continue along the jeep track to cross a bridge across the Gori Ganga just below Burphu Village. We continue up the valley with tantalising views ahead of Tirsuli, Hardeol and Rishi Pahar. As we come to Bilji village and if the weather is clear, we can see Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East across the valley rising above the Pachu Glacier. It is usually windy and dusty in this part of the valley from 11am to 5pm and we will be glad to reach our camp at Milam. As this is the last village before the border there is quite an army presence here. Milam and the Johar Valley were home to a number of the famous Pundit explorers, the most famous one, Nain Singh lived in Milam and his ruined house is still there. This border region was an active trade route for centuries. Despite the closeness to Tibet, the villagers trace their ancestry back to Rajput tribes, who migrated from Rajastan in the 12th century to Kumaon. In the 16th century they moved up to the Musiyari area and established trade relations with Tibet. Grains such as wheat, barley and rice were exchanged for salt, wool and Tibetan ponies until 1962, when the border was closed. Approximate walk profile: distance 18km, 7 hours walking.
Day walk to explore Milam Glacier with its magnificent views.
We have a day to explore the Milam Glacier with its magnificent views. The trail continues on past the village for 3km to a vantage point at 3500m, from where we can appreciate the size and extent of the glacier (the glacier is not white ice at the point but covered in rocky moraine). The trail passes through high meadows dotted with sage, juniper, briar roses and miniature gorse high above the terminal moraine. Bharal, or Blue Sheep, are often spotted on the pastures high above the glacier. Peaks at the end of the glacier include Rishi Pahar (6992m), Hardeol (7151m), Tirsuli (7074 m) and Kholi (6114m). There is the option just to walk to the viewpoint and back (6km return trip), or the energetic can continue further to the snout of the rocky moraine of the Milam Glacier. The glacier is not white until much higher up the mountain and there is a small trail up the side of the moraine. It is 6.5km from Milam to the glacier snout and 6.5km back to Milam. We have plenty of time enjoy the views before returning to Milam for the night. Approximate walk profile: viewpoint walk distance 6km return, 3 hours walking, walk to the snout of the glacier 13km, 6 hours walking.
Trek to the small settlement of Ganaghar (3400m); optional walk to twin village of Pachu.
After breakfast we trek 9km back down the valley to Burphu and cross the river. As we walk down the valley we get our final glimpses of Rishi Pahar, Hardeol and Tirsuli. We turn right at the bridge and head back up the other side of the valley on a pretty trail through grazing areas and farm fields. We pass the village of Mapa, again with many houses in ruins and continue climbing gently to the twin villages of Ganaghar and Pachu. The main crops grown in this area are potatoes, chives and a type of spinach. We camp in Ganaghar and the energetic can visit the village of Pachu on the other side of the river. From camp we may get a tiny glimpse up the valley of Nanda Devi East. Approximate walk profile: 16km, 6 hours walking.
Trek up towards Pachu Glacier; camp at Nanda Devi East Base Camp (3950m).
There are two base camps for Nanda Devi East, the Pachu base camp and the Lwanl Gali base camp. We visit the Pachu base camp as we are much closer to Nanda Devi East and the views are much better. Today is quite a tough climb as we are now above 3500m but we will be at camp by lunchtime. The trail climbs very steeply out of Ganaghar through rhododendron and juniper bushes. Nanda Devi East soon appears ahead of us and gets bigger the higher we climb. The trail eases out a bit as we climb higher and higher and finally we emerge into an open meadow, where we camp for the night. Ahead is the rocky moraine of the Pachu glacier, Nanda Devi East, Nanda Devi and Lato Dura. We have lunch at camp and can spend the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the views, or the energetic can hike up the hill behind camp towards Nanda Lapak for even better views. The sunsets and sunrises from this camp are not to be missed. Approximate walk profile: 5km, 3.5/4 hours walking.
Optional day walk higher up the valley for even closer views of Nanda Devi East.
We spend a whole day here with optional walks planned. The campsite consists of a series of meadows, with great views to the peaks of Nanda Devi East and Nanda Devi. We can head further up the valley to the rocky moraine of the Pachu Glacier. We can climb up the left hand side to a ridge for even closer and more spectacular views of Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East. Approximate walk profile: 10km, 5 hours walking.
Return to Martoli (3380m).
After our last spectacular sunrise, we leave base camp and descend back down to Ganaghar. Descending easily below Mapa we come to the road track, which we follow for a few kilometres. We leave the road track and have a very steep climb for the last 45 minutes of the day to our camp in Martoli village. The climb is worth it for our last views of Nanda Devi East up the valley. Set on a grassy plateau high above the confluence of the Gori Ganga and the Lwanl Gad, Martoli is like so many of the villages in the Johar Valley. It is practically deserted, with its stone houses falling into disrepair. Just above Martoli is a small stone temple dedicated to Nanda Devi with great views of the Lwanl Valley. There is an impressive line of bells outside. Many were donated by climbers or people from Munsiyari to placate the goddess of the high mountains. Approximate walk profile: 14km, 5/6 hours walking.
Descend to Bodgwar (2450m).
We have quite a long day today as we descend the valley. The trail takes us gradually down to the road track, which we follow to Railkot. From here an undulating trail takes us up and down on a roller coaster trail down the Gori Ganga Valley back to Bodgwar. Approximate walk profile: 20km, 8 hours walking.
Trek to Chilam Dhar; drive to Munsiyari.
A very long day as we walk back to the road head. We start by descending back down to the bridge at Raragiri from where we climb steeply up through the forest to the Nain Singh Pass (2,790m). From the pass look out for Himalayan Griffin Vultures and Lammergeyers circling overhead on the thermals. We then have a very long and steep descent on a rocky stone step cut trail down to Lilam. Just past Lilam we meet the road track for a while and then have a final descent to a side stream and final steep climb for 30 minutes to the road head at Chilim Dhar. Our jeeps will meet us here for a final 30 minutes' drive back to our hotel and welcome hot shower in Munsiyari. Approximate walk profile: 18km, 9-10 hours walking.
Drive to Almora.
Today we have a long drive from Munsiyari to Almora. We spend the night in or near Almora. Distance 208km, 9 hours driving.
Short drive to Nainital; afternoon free to explore the town.
A short (approx. 2.5 hour) drive brings us to Nainital and the rest of the day is free to explore this attractive hill town.
Transfer to Kathgodam; train to Delhi.
We have the morning in Nainital and after lunch we have a short 1.5-2 hour drive to the railway station at Kathgodam. The train takes about 5 hours to reach Delhi and we will get to the hotel late evening (about 10pm).
Those on the group flight will depart for London in the morning for the daytime flight, arriving in the UK the same day. Land Only arrangements will finish after breakfast.