Garwhal, Kumaon Himalaya
Key information: Garwhal, Kumaon Himalaya
- These mountains remain some of the loveliest and remotest areas of the Indian Himalayas.
- Many superb trekking options among the area’s peaks.
Walkopedia rating(Top 100)
- Walkopedia rating94
- Natural interest17
- Human interest12
- Negative points5
- Total rating94
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: Variable
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
- Trekking to the high meadows at Bedni Bugyal (3,400m - ish), which have huge and stupendous views, in 5 days or so. You can extend this to the Bhogubasa cave and Rup Kund (see below).
- A 4 day trek, along with a throng of Sikh pilgrims in the high season, to the superbly sited Hem Kund [link] lake (at 4,330m), surrounded by seven peaks, and the Bhyundar Valley (Valley of the Flowers), a large and magnificent glacial valley with florality considered to be outstanding even in Himalayan terms.
- A 7 day trek to the high and mysterious Rup Kund lake.
- The 7 day trail to the Pindari Glacier, to the south of the Massif.
- Milam Glacier and Nanda Devi East Base Camp [link later] in the Kumaon Himalaya. 10 days or so.
- Dodi Tal: a 2-day, mainly forest trek to this lovely lake in the north-west of Uttaranchal, near Uttarkashi.
- A famous trek up the Bhilan Ganga Valley to the base of the huge and dramatic Khatling Glacier [link], set in a great circle of mountains over 6,000m.
- Kush Kalyan/Gharwal Lakes: A fine trek up to the lovely meadows of the Kush Kalyan Plateau and then on up ridges and valleys to gorgeous Lamb Tal and sacred, cliff-girt Shastra Tal, high lakes in rough grasslands with excellent views of peaks all around, the Bandarpunch Range in particular.
- Rupin Pass: this fine trek crosses the remote Dhaula Dhar range, heading north in the Govind National Park from the Tons Valley in the far north of Uttranchal across the 4,540m Rupin Pass to end in the Sangla Valley at the foot of the Kinnaur Kailash Range in Himachal Pradesh.
- Saryu to Ram Ganga Valleys : delightful but not difficult 10-ish day trek at lowish altitude in remote valleys, crossing passes with excellent views of the nearby Pankhwa Dhar range and the further Nanda Devi group. Lovely meadow campsites.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.
Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Trekking in the Indian Himalayas – Lonely Planet
Trekking and Climbing in the Indian Himalaya – Harish Kapadia/Stackpole Books. Quite old (2001) but still useful.
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
Spring (April – June): you won’t get the finest views, but you will wind through whole hillsides of flowering rhododendron and azelea in the lower reaches.
Autumn (October – Nov or December depending on how high you will go): cold nights, superb views.
Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights.
Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported to/from agreed roadheads.
See Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Altitude: can affect some; potentially fatal. Acclimatize appropriately, come prepared to cope, be ready to evacuate people in extreme cases.
- Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change rapidly. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
- Harmful animals, including snakes, stinging/biting insects and plants. Take all appropriate precautions.
- This is remote country: you will have to carry all your food and other supplies and help will be hard to get if things go wrong.
- Health risks: this is a relatively undeveloped country, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill. Come
- prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.
- Be sensitive about photographing people: don’t without permission. Ask permission if in doubt about whether they would mind.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
You can in theory do some of these walks independently, but you will need to be self-sufficient, so come fully prepared.
Almost everyone forms or joins organized/supported expeditions. Given the remoteness of the country and difficulty of getting supplies, many will prefer to do it this way, and travelling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages. Choosing a suitable guide or company is of course vital, and the guidebooks contain good advice in this regard.
If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure requirements are understood and agreed – including how you will eat and the importance of avoiding illness, as well as overnighting and, of course, remuneration!
Traverseline – we have used these (elsewhere) and been very happy
High Places - we have used these (elsewhere) and been very happy
Exodus – do a walk in the western “Outer Sanctuary”
KE Adventures – do an excellent looking expedition
The Mountain Company – do a good looking expedition
Check TripAdvisor for some reviews of this walk and walk organisers which may prove helpful.
PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organisers that you know of – local or otherwise.
Camping is generally the only realistic option once on the trails.
See what the commentary on TripAdvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.
A good range of hotels and other accommodation can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com. If you’re on a budget, Hostelbookers usually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation; or perhaps try for some bargain luxury on Lastminute.com
Other information and tips
Tipping is expected, so come mentally prepared and with enough cash. Check guidebooks for current rates. Do err on the side of generosity if unsure – it will make a big difference to them.
Do be careful, considerate and respectful in all dealings with locals.
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
- www.wikipedia.org: As usual, a good starting place.
- Try www.flickr.com for pictures of these walks.
- Have a look at TripAdvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on this walk and area.
Other things to do in the area
India has a huge variety of great walks. If you are in the countryside, simply heading off to explore will always be interesting, even if it isn’t “pretty”.
Shopping, if you must
We are not a shopping website. But, there are beautiful and interesting things to be found, and anything bought from local people must be of some help to this very poor area. So, wallets out! (And don’t try to extract the very last cent when bargaining!)
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more