10 classic treks in the Himalayas

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These 10 classic treks in the Himalayas are on the eternal wish list of every trekking enthusiast. This list is arranged in no particular order. Go on any of these treks and you will be rewarded with an experience of a lifetime.

1. Hampta Pass trek

Rarely do the Himalayas present a trek that pack in everything – easy access, dark pine forests, open meadows, glacial valleys and an adventurous crossing of a pass that leaves the heart pumping. The Hampta Pass trek in Himachal is tailor made for those looking to experience the high Himalayan adventure.

It is a trek that comes with built in bonuses. And there are many. The first would be its easy access – you start the trek from Manali town – unlike most treks that start from a remote village. Two, you can add on an exciting day long trip to Chandratal a high altitude alpine lake – its deep blue colour is a rarity. Add to this the return jeep ride over the Rothang pass and it is almost like experiencing two treks at one go.

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Max Altitude: 4400 m
Duration in Days: 4 to 5 days
Difficulty Level: Easy
Best Time: June to Mid November

2. Valley Of Flowers Trek – The Stairway To Heaven

Valley of flowers trek is around 55 kms combined with an arduous trek to Hemkund Sahib. The Valley Of Flowers is an 11 kilometer stretch  full of high altitude Himalayan flowers like rhododendrons which blossom during the short period of the monsoon. During this monsoon period the Valley Of Flowers changes colours every fortnight and the flora is a treat to the eyes.
The base for this trek is at Joshimath
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Max Altitude: 3900 m
Duration in Days: 4 to 6 days
Difficulty Level: Easy
Best Time: July to Mid September
3. Roopkund Trek  

The Roopkund trek is full of breathtaking meadows and amazing views of the mighty
Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti. Adding to all this scenery is the mystery of the Roopkund
Lake with its human skeletons .Why are there so many human skeletons here? Indulge the detective in you and unravel the mystery

It's got everything going for it. Deep virgin forests, gurgling brooks, breath-taking campsites, miles of undulating meadows, snow and ice, and the taste of a great adventure as you climb from 8,000 ft to 16,000 ft in 4 days.
Your trek starts at Lohajung (7,700 ft), a tiny pass, in the heart of the greater Himalayan range, 85 kms from Karanprayag

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Max Altitude: 5030 m
Duration in Days: 5 to 7 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Best Time: May to October

4. Markha Valley Trek

A rather sought-after trek in the Ladakh region, the Markha Valley trek route does not disappoint anyone! It gives you  the chance to ascend the top of two very high passes, Gandala La (4800 m) & Kongmaru La (5150 m) and lets you feast your eyes on stunning sights from the summit. You also come across the charming Markha Village that is a trove in this cold semi-arid terrain of Ladakh. Other delights include witnessing the way of life of the region, crossing several streams and rivers and enjoying a trail through remote gorges and unbridled grazing grounds.
Your initial two days of the Markha Valley trekking will be spent for acclimatisation as it is vital for a healthy trip ahead. In the meanwhile unravel monasteries, museum, fort, the local market place and Leh Palace. Cross over Ganda La (4800 m) and arrive at the winsome Markha Village that is laced with green fields and willow trees and has barren mountains in the backdrop. Other thrills include camping beside a gurgling stream, getting the stunning view of Kangyatze Peak and more. Till the final day, there is something to revel in every step of the way.
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Max Altitude: 5150 m
Duration in Days: 9 to 12 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Challenging
Best Time: Mid June to October
5. Chadar trek – The Ultimate Adventure

Ladakh can be a difficult place to travel. The mountains are steep and in the winter snowfall closes many of the mountain passes and makes the few roads treacherous. Some villages become completely inaccessible between November and March. One method of accessing snow-bound villages during the winter is trekking on top of the ice of frozen rivers. The Chadar trek is one such route, connecting villages in the Zanskar valley (deep in the mountains) with Chilling (on the road to Leh) along the frozen Zanskar River. This route has been used for centuries for trade and transportation, and is most reliable in February when the ice is most stable.
Now, We should make it clear that the Zanskar river is big and fast-flowing. For most of its length between Chilling and the Zanskar valley the river is confined within a steep canyon. If the idea of walking over frozen river ice with a large pack on your back and very cold rushing water a few inches below your feet is terrifying, then you are not alone.The hike from Chilling to the Zanskar valley takes more than a week, and at night porters usually sleep in caves in the canyon walls.
This trek is considered as one of the most exciting and unique treks – a very special and an extraordinary trek on shiny ice on the bank of Tsarap River. You will be dropped by a vehicle at Chilling Sumdo (crossed road) then your trek leads in a narrow valley filled with breath-taking views of ice-peaks and unexpected hanging icicles that will attract your gaze for some time. You will spend the night at cave camps with the help of a bon fire that will keep you warm and relaxed.
The  trek begins at around 9:00am and by then the sun's up and blue skies bring cheer despite the cold temperatures. The trek goes along the Tsarap River in the region of Nyerag,  Lingshed and constitutes to Zanskar!
Needless to say, having a good guide is critical on the Chadar trek. Trekking on the ice is intimidating. A covering of snow makes  it difficult to assess its thickness. At times you have to walk along a narrow margin of ice, constrained by the canyon wall on one side and deep rushing water on the other. Slipping in or falling through would not just be cold; it could be fatal. The water is deep and fast, and you would likely be swept under the ice in seconds.
For better or worse, the Chadar trek is an endangered activity and within 5 years will cease to exist in it's current form. A road is currently being blasted out of the rock face above the river. When completed, winter access to the Zanskar valley villages in the interior will be relatively straight-forward. The road will certainly be safe and more convenient than the river, but its completion will mark the end of an ancient local practice.
The ‘Chadar’ is a perfect example of this resourcefulness of the Ladakhis and their indomitable spirit, in the face of such daunting odds. The term ‘Chadar’ means blanket in the local language, thereby giving an indication to the nature of this whole experience. Large sections of the river Zanskar, which is one of the mightiest rivers in Ladakh, freeze over in the dead of winter and are covered by a thick blanket of ice. This frozen blanket or ‘Chadar’ is the only way in and out for Zanskaris in winter, when the road and various other caravan routes are closed due to heavy The icy wonderland of the ‘Chadar trek’ snowfall blocking the high passes. It has been their traditional trade route in winter for Centuries. The seven to eight days walk from chilling to Padum is both challenging as well as an incomparably exiting experience. The landscape aquires a pristine grandeur in winter as the trail enters into the gorge of the Zanskar, where temperatures sometimes drop to –30 to - 35 Degree Celsius.

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Max Altitude: 3890 m
Duration in Days: 9 to 12 days
Difficulty Level: Very Challenging
Best Time: January to March
6. Stok Kangri

The stunning Stok Kangri Peak displays multiple thrills along the way and towers at a height of 6,000m. Located in the dreamy destination of Ladakh, the Stok Kangri Climb is ideal for both novice and experienced trekkers.
Though, the Stok Kangri trek does come along with some challenges, some of them being dealing with thin air on high altitudes. For this very reason, the first three days are reserved for acclimatisation. The route taken to the summit is among the shortest. Begin with an ascend from the charming Stok Village.
The experience entails crossing a glacier, climbing long stretches and manoeuvring and long and steep ridge leading to the peak. Feast your eyes on Ladakh range, Zanskar range, Indus valley and Leh City. Also during the Stok Kangri trekking, make way through Hemis National Park that is renowned for the endangered snow leopard.
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Max Altitude: 6153 m
Duration in Days: 9 to 12 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Challenging
Best Time: June to October
7. Goecha La trek – A specular view of the mighty Kanchenzonga
The biggest reason to do the Goechala trek is the grand views of big mountains that you see. You don’t just see one summit — the Kanchenjunga. But 14 other big summits. That’s a lot for any trek — especially as close to the eyes as on the Goechala trek. It is no wonder trekkers consider Goechala to be the closest to the big mountain treks of Nepal.  
 Yet, to see the big mountains you need clear views. It is only in Oct-Nov with the haze out of the way that you get the best views. The mountains are razor sharp, the sunrises and sunsets jaw dropping. For photographers it is always Oct-Nov. Like any season, there are flip sides too. Oct-Nov is early winter in India. The air is crisp and cold. Temperatures dip to minus beyond Thansing. Early winter snows could block the final access to Goechala on some days. Yet, with all its flips, Goechala is best done in Oct-Nov.
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Max Altitude: 4950 m
Duration in Days: 10 to 15 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Best Time: June to October
8. Dayara Dodital Trek
Dodi Tal in Garhwal Himalayas - mysterious, alluring, and simply stunning! It is at a height of 3024 meters above mean sea level, north of Uttarakashi. Crystal clear waters are bounded by dense Oak Woods, Pine, Deodar and Rhododendrons. The lake is full of fishes and is known for some of the rarest species like the Himalayan Golden Trout.

The trek from Dodital to Yamnotri takes you through high altitude grasslands and dense virgin forests. The scenery en-route is really astounding! The trek for Dodi Tal commences from Uttarkashi or Kalyani, which can be approached by car. Kalyani to Agoda is a gradual climb through woods, fields and villages along a mule track. The trek from Agoda to Dodi Tal is steep and through thick forests.

Bugyal in the local language means “High Altitude Meadow”. Dayara Bugyal is one of the most beautiful places in Uttaranchal. Situated at an elevation ranging from 10,000-12,000 ft. This vast meadow is second to none in natural beauty in Uttaranchal. During winter it provides one of the best ski slopes in India spread over an area of 28 Square Kms..
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Max Altitude: 3890 m
Duration in Days: 7 to 8 days
Difficulty Level: Easy
Best Time: June to October
9. Pindari Glacier Trek
The Pindari Glacier is a glacier found in the upper reaches of the KumaonHimalayas, to the southeast of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot. The glacier flows to the south for a short distance of about 3 km (1.9 mi),0.25 km in breadth and gives rise to the Pindari River which meets the Alakananda at Karnaprayag in the Garhwaldistrict.
The trail to reach the glacier crosses the villages of Saung, Loharkhet, crosses over the Dhakuri Pass, continues onto Khati village (the last inhabited village on the trail),Dwali, Phurkia and finally Zero Point, Pindar, the end of the trail. Though most of the trail is along the banks of the Pindari River, the river is mostly hidden until after Khati.
The Pindari Glacier trail provides for a 90 km (56 mi) round-trip trek that most people find comfortable to complete in six days.

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Max Altitude: 3990 m
Duration in Days: 9 to 12 days
Difficulty Level: EasyBest Time: May to October

10. Kuari Pass Trek
The alpine meadow of Kuari Pass has been attracting backpackers from around the globe for decades. Being in close proximity to Nanda Devi biosphere, Kuari Pass is at the center of the most remarkable regions of Garhwal known for its unique wild grandeur. In the background below the valley is the entrance to the formidable Rishi Gorge which until 1934 was considered un-penetrable. Kuari Pass is at a relative moderate altitude of 12,200 feet. What it lacks in altitude is compensated with unprecedented views. The beautiful camping grounds of Gulling, Chitrakantha & Tali are the key attraction of the trek. The trails leading from Tali Top to Kuari Pass gives an impression of doing a full scaled Himalayan alpine expedition in truck loads of snow.

Things to look out for on the Kuari Pass Snow Trek
Uninhabited trek routes
The prospect of exploring the less travelled regions of Himalayas in peak winter season where icy winds cuts over the snow bound ridge of Kuari Pass has its own lure. As one moves away from the crowded town of Joshimath one can observe the virtual silence in the air which is really palpable around here. No wonder silence is sacred in the Garhwal Himalayas.

Constantly changing landscape
The trail takes one through a landscape that changes with each uphill heave and downward scurry. From the high passes swathed in silver oak, the route plunges through tunnels of rhododendrons semi buried in wide spread accumulation of snow all around. As you haul yourself up to the top of the pass, enjoy the ensuing day on an undulating spur of flying saucer clouds hovering over high mountains projecting over the ridge line.
Walking through the UNESCO-prescribed Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
The historical route explored by Lord Curzon in 1905 still is popular among back-backers from around the world. The four-day trek is the marquee route along the western rim of the UNESCO-prescribed Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve is a must for any Mountain lover or adventure enthusiast.
Camping grounds covered in snow

The Tali camping grounds in winter is quite a contrast to what one sees in summer. The frozen Tali Lake with the view of Mt. Dronagiri and Mt. Nanda Devi is a spectacle in itself. The return from Tali ridge to Gorson meadows is a rewarding hike down all the way to Skiing slopes of Auli. A prospect of snowfall can never be overlooked.
Unprecedented views
The Nanda Devi, one of the most coveted peaks by trekkers displays herself on this trek like in no other. It’s a treat for the eyes to see this peak, along with several other peaks such as Chaukhamba, Hathi Parbat, Mana and Kamet. Tekking in November will give you crisp and clear views, void of any haze in the air.
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Max Altitude: 4500 m
Duration in Days: 9 to 12 days
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
Best Time: May to October

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