- 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. In the afternoon we have a picturesque drive (90km) through Bhimtal to the pretty hill station of Almora. The drive takes around 3-4 hours.
Drive to Munsiyari (2290m)
We have a wonderful drive through the hills to Munsiyari, the start point for our trek. The road winds up and down the spectacular hill scenery of Kumaon. 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, 8hrs 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, 6 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 17km, 6.5/7 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 is being repaired and we will find well-made stone steps. After Nahar the trail levels out by the river before climbing again 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 19kms, 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). After a short easy walk along the jeep track we head off uphill to Martoli village. 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. This valley was a major trading centre with Tibet before 1962, but after the troubles, the border was closed and the trade finished. 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 hanging on climbing ropes outside. The bells are donated by climbers or people from Munsiyari to placate the goddess of the high mountains. From Martoli we have a steep descent back to the road track which we follow all the way to Milam. The track takes us down to the river, which we cross by bridge. Climbing up we pass Burphu and Bilji villages before reaching Milam, the last village before Tibet. Milam and the Johar Valley were home to a number of the famous Pundit explorers. 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, 6.5/7hours 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 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), Kholl (6114m), Nanda Gond (6315m), Nital Thaur (6263m) and Nanda Pal (6306m). We have plenty of time to enjoy the views before returning to Milam for the night. Approximate walk profile: distance 6km return, 3-4 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. We turn right 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. Approximate walk profile: 16km, 5.5/6 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 north and south. We visit the north 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 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 Pachu glacier, Nanda Devi East and Nanda Devi. 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, 4.5/5hours 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.
Return to Martoli (3380m).
After our last spectacular sunrise we leave base camp and descend back down to Ganaghar. Descending easily through Mapa we come to the road track, which we follow for a few kilometres. Today we have a real sting in the tail as we leave the road track and have a very steep climb for the last 45mins 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. Approximate walk profile: 14km, 7 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: 23km, 8 hours walking.
Trek to Chilam Dhar; drive to Munsiyari.
A long day as we descend the valley. The trail takes us 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 we descend on a very steep and rocky 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 roadhead. 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: 16km, 8/9 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, 8hrs 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.
Drive to the railway station at Kathgodam. The train takes about 5 hours to reach Delhi.
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.