Top 10 Best Himalayan Treks for Summer & Autumn
There’s no better way to beat the blistering heat of the summer, in the Indian subcontinent, than going for a vacation in the mountains. Summer holidays are an ideal time to introduce your children to trekking. For adults too, an adventure in the mountains is a perfect escape from a mundane corporate life; and experience the great outdoors. Autumn is also a popular trekking season with the excellent weather condition. In fact, this time of the year coincides with several public holidays. So here’s bringing to you the list of the Top 10 Best Himalayan treks for the Summer & Autumn.
1. Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
Best time: July-September
Kashmir, the crown jewel of India, offers one of the most gorgeous treks which showcases crystal clear high altitude alpine lakes. A trek here is a photographer’s delight. It feels like you’re walking on God’s most creative canvas with lush green meadows and picture-perfect postcard scenes.
Wildflowers, pine trees and adorable mountain animals such as horses on the grasslands, will surely put a smile on your face. The trek is safe and near the tourist-friendly Sonamarg; extremely peaceful in this picturesque surrounding. Life here is simple with fresh air, warm and kindhearted people of Kashmir and not a sign of tension to be seen on anyone.
The trek is moderately difficult, with long days of trekking. You average 8-9 hours every day and experience an altitude gain of 1500-2000ft. The highest altitude point is 4200 meters and does not require any technical experience. This trek is good for amateur trekkers or even first-timers.
The starting point is Srinagar. The trek is from Sonmarg to Naranag via Nichnai Pass which has the most splendid views of Himalayan meadows. The trail leads you through the foothills of various snowy mountain peaks, past several glacial lakes and over three mountain passes.
The highlight of this trek is the exquisite turquoise lakes you pass each day. This adventure will surely leave with memories for a lifetime as well as some incredible display wallpapers.
2. Everest Base Camp Trek: One of the most popular Himalayan Treks
Best Time: March-May & September-November
The trek to the base camp of the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest is like no other. It’s an ideal adventure to add to your bucket list especially for those who live for the adrenaline high.
It is one of the highest trekking routes available in the world, reaching a high point of almost 18,000ft. This is an extremely picturesque trek with lush green forests in the beginning to glacial moraine near the Base Camp. The trail leads you across narrow bridges, including the world’s highest suspension bridge known as the Hillary-Norgay suspension bridge, to cross multiple streams of the Dudh Kosi river (named so because of its white colour), to waterfalls and to trekking on snow, it’s the ultimate challenge.
The trek starts with a short propeller jet flight Kathmandu to Lukla. Over the next eleven days, the trek takes you through the Khumbu district of Nepal, rich in Sherpa culture. With storybook destinations like Namche Bazar and the Tengboche Monastery, you finally reach the Everest Base Camp. The hospitality of the Sherpa community is legendary. We stay in traditional Sherpa tea lodges during the trek, which is comfortable and provide amazing homemade food.
You won’t find a market like Namche Bazar anywhere else. With splendid views of snow-capped peaks such as Thamserku and Khongde, it’s a great place to buy any kind of mountaineering gear, sleeping bags and also has excellent bakeries as well as the highest Irish Pub in the world.
An early morning trek takes you to the summit of Kalapathar on the last day before heading down to watch the sunrise over Mt Everest. The trek to Kalapathar though tough rewards you with excellent views of Mt Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse.
From here our descent begins and once we reach Lukla, hop on the same twin-propeller Dornier and journey back to Kathmandu which marks the end of the trek.
Climbing and living with the team is a lot of fun and will give you memories to cherish for life. Clear mountain skies and the scenic ever-changing landscapes are a sight for sore eyes.
This is a moderate to difficult trek, requiring extensive hours of trekking at high altitudes. However, it does not involve any technical experience of rock climbing or mountaineering. You do need to prepare yourself well for this trek. A good way to start would be climbing stairs on a daily basis and increasing the duration. Regular running, cycling and weight training would also help. As your stamina improves, try climbing stairs with a light backpack to get accustomed to the weight while trekking.
3. Goecha La Trek
Best Time: April-June & September-October
Hidden in the northeast of India, the Goecha La Trek takes you to the majestic mountains of Sikkim. It offers amazing views of India’s highest mountain- Kanchenjunga as well as a 360-degree panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga range.
The beauty of India’s northeast is highly underrated and unexplored. The Goecha La trek is safe and away from the crowded city life. The highlight of the trek is seeing the sunrise over the grand and ice-capped, Kanchenjunga.
Though Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world, it is often considered as the most challenging one to climb because of harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain. This trek gives you a chance to witness the mighty mountain by trekking close to its Base Camp.
Sikkim is a hot-spot for its biodiversity. The trekking route is filled with lush green rhododendron forests and in the summer-spring time, you can spot a gorgeous variety of flowers in full blossom. Sikkim’s orchids are world-famous as the state is known to have 556 species of them.
Sikkim’s land has abundant birdlife with more than 550 species constituting around 30% of all the birds found in the Indian sub-continent and is the best place for exquisite bird photography. You might also spot some endangered mountain bears and snow leopards.
The trek starts through trekking in lush rainforests for the first 3 days from Yuksom and over a period of 9 days with an altitude gain of 10,000 ft takes you to the peak of Goecha La at 16,200 ft. An integral part of the trek is the Samiti Lake, with still crystal clear blue waters that reflect the surrounding mountains like a mirror.
Though no mountaineering or trekking experience is required, one should be in a good physical condition and should be able to walk for 4-6 hrs every day with a light backup. Good cardio and running every day will make the trek easier as the air is thin and it is at a high altitude.
Camping in the midst of mountains which are more than 7000m tall with hardly any other soul in sight except for your team members is an experience of a lifetime.
4. Gokyo Ri Trek
Best Time: March-May & September-November
A less explored trek of the Everest Valley in Nepal, this trek follows a unique route in the Everest region.
The highlight of the Gokyo Ri trek is a chance to witness the most beautiful high altitude lake system filled with turquoise glacial meltwater. The Gokyo lakes are one of the highest freshwater lake systems in the world. It follows the same path as the Everest Base camp journey till Namche Bazar and then takes an alternate route which leads to the Gokyo Ri valley and ultimately the Gokyo Ri peak at 17,000 ft. The 360-degree view of the Gokyo ridge is the most unbelievable sight in the whole region.
This path is less crowded as the bulk of travellers choose to go the Everest Base Camp route and this route still remains untapped to a large extent.
Apart from the unimaginable beauty of the lakes and glaciers, you get to see some remarkable views of 3 of the highest peaks in the world apart from Everest, namely-Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyo all above 8000m in height.
The trek is tougher than the Everest Base Camp trek and involves long hours of trekking in high altitude. It will take almost the same amount of days- 15 days including 11 days of trekking so do prepare yourselves well. It is also one of the best trekking routes for great panoramic and scenic photography.
5. Markha Valley Trek
Best Time: July-September
Incredible India would be incomplete without mentioning the gem of a beauty that Ladakh is. The Zanskar Himalayas along with the crystal clear river Zanskar offer a ‘heaven like’ trekking opportunity.
For years, the region of Markha was unexplored by modern trekkers and explorers and has been recently discovered. Even now, you can only spot some shepherds and monks and till date remains far from the crowds.
Starting from Leh, over a period of 8 days, you walk through high mountain passes, the highest point being at 5260 m. You will be able to spot the Stok and Zanskar mountain ranges. The trek takes you through lush green mountain valleys, different from the usual dry landscape of Ladakh. Markha Valley is also home to a variety of animals and birds that thrive on the vegetation.
The Hemis National park is where the treks start and is home to some incredible species such as the Tibetan wolf and brown bears. You also find a few small and adorable mammals such as the Himalayan Marmot (that look straight out of the movie Narnia) and also the mountain weasels. On the trail , you may often spot some gorgeous mountain flowers and fruits such as the Seabuckthorn berries.
While heading to the start of the trek, we cross the confluence of the mighty Indus and the Zanskar rivers. This is like a painting turned into reality where two distinct shades of blue water meet. Photographs cannot do this justice and is a sight to be seen to truly appreciate it. Tibetan culture is an integral part of Ladakh. You can notice this in the way people live, their warmth and courtesy, as well as the architecture marvels such as the giant Stupas, prayer flags and Mani walls.
The Markha Valley trek is an easy trek, perfect for beginners who are looking for their start in High Altitude Trekking. With a steady rise in altitude and a short trekking duration, the trek offers a balance between difficulty and remoteness.
6. Druk Path Trek
Best Time: March-June, September-November
Bhutan, the ‘carbon-negative’ country, is known for its mesmerizing beauty. Trekking here will rejuvenate you and calm the soul with the beauty of nature. A beautiful and comparatively inexpensive country, it should definitely be on your list.
The Druk Path Trek is a complete wilderness experience straight out of the movies. Set in the pristine country of Bhutan, over a period of 9 days including 5 days of trekking, this trek shows you the most alluring views of the countryside with blue pine forests, yak pastures, high ridges and crystal clear lakes.
The rest of the non-trekking days are utilized for sightseeing with a hike up to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery and a full city tour of Thimpu.
You will be able to see the snowy peaks of Mount Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Gangster Puensum. Two high passes are also crossed namely Simkota Tsho (4110 m) and the highest point of the trek at Phume La Pass (4210 m)
Starting from the Paro Airport, it follows the wilderness route between Paro and Thimpu. It is a comparatively short and easy trek.
Though there will be several hours of walking, it is great for amateur trekkers as well and does not require any technical training.
Buddhism is the most practised religion in Bhutan, the country has amazing monasteries and its culture will leave you intrigued. The warmth and hospitality of the people in the mountains is something you will remember for years to come.
7. Kareri Lake Trek
Best Time: May-July & September-November
Kangra in Himachal is a popular hill station and many of us have often come here during our summer holidays to enjoy the cooler climate.
However, unknown to many is an unimaginable, beautiful high altitude lake near this region which can be reached by making the trek to the Kareri Lake.
Also close to Dharamshala, this lake is formed from the melted water of the Minkiani Peak and is the perfect spot for camping and spending the night under the stars!
An easy trek, this is great for young kids, first-timers and amateurs to explore the wilderness and live in the mountains. There is not much to worry about as the trekking period is short and doable for kids from the age of 6 years as well.
You get to walk through lush green pine forests and meadows alike including a comfortable stay on a campsite with great food. You also get a day to explore the city life of Dharamshala- visit the famous monastery, take a whole city tour and visit the famous markets.
This trek is amazing for wildlife photography and you will be able to spot a wide variety of birds.
From the Kareri village, the trek to the lake is for 4-5 km, the highest altitude is at around 9000ft. This is the best trek to introduce your children to trekking and camping. While on the trek you get a chance the evenings beside a beautiful stream.
It’s great to train your body a little before the trek. One can prepare by starting with morning walks, sprints and basic exercise and then increasing the duration of these.
With an opportunity to introduce a new generation to trekking and the outdoors, The Kareri Lake Trek is truly a life-changing trek. There is a lot that one learns outside the classroom and there’s no better time than using the summer holidays for an adventurous escape like this!
8. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Best Time: March-May & September-November
Arguably one of the most beautiful treks in Nepal, the trek to the base camp of the 10th highest mountain, Annapurna is serene with incredible mountain vistas, waterfalls, lush green forests and ice-capped mountains.
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is perfect for people looking for a change from the Everest valley. The trek has significantly fewer people and is also marginally less expensive than Everest Base Camp.
Starting from Pokhara, a hill station famous for its lakes, the trek extends over a period of 13 days including 10 days of trekking. The trail takes you to sights that showcase a 360-degree view of the Annapurna mountain range and then ends at Pokhara. The Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek is a part of this trek. You also get to see phenomenal views of the Machapuchare, Annapurna South and Hiunchuli mountain peaks.
At sunrise, the Machapuchare peak is no less of divine beauty, no wonder it is believed to be one of Lord Shiva’s homes.
Though it is a high altitude trek in the Himalayas, this is moderately easy as the highest point is at 4130m. It is a good trek for beginners and amateurs and does not require any technical mountaineering or rock climbing skills.
An interesting feature about this trek is that since it’s from Pokhara, you get to experience a different culture of Nepal, particularly of the people of the Manang district. On your way back from base camp, you can relax in the hot springs of Bamboo.
It’s also a great trek if you would like to interact with climbers from different countries as it’s a popular route and you’re sure to meet some cool people!
9. Binsar Zero Point Trek
Best Time: Jan-June, Oct-Dec
Located in the lap of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand, Binsar Zero Point is the highest point of Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary at 2420m. This is the northern region of Uttarakhand in the district of Almora.
Extending over 5 days, this is a short getaway that you can also plan with your family and stay at eco campsites. It is great for families with small children or people looking to relax in the Himalayas. It offers mesmerizing views of the snow-capped mountains-Pancchuli, Shivling, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi and Kedarkanth. A scenic trek in the Kumaon Hills, Binsar is also a great place for wildlife photography. The sanctuary is home to over 200 species of birds and animals.
The best way to reach the trek location is from Kathgodam railway station or Pantnagar airport, the trek starts and ends from here.
Binsar offers you a lifetime opportunity to explore mountain villages and experience the rich culture and traditions of the people in the Kumaon Himalayas. From the hustle and bustle of the city life, this is a relatively quick trek that you can do if you have less time on your hand. It remains one of the few untapped beauties of Uttarakhand.
10. Poon Hill Trek
Best Time: March-May, September-November
Located on the trail of the Annapurna Base Camp trail, the Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek in Nepal is a unique sunrise trek. Over a period of 7 days including 4 days of trekking, it shows you some of the most enchanting mountain views.
Breathtaking views of the Macchapuchhre, Gangapurna, Himchuli, Neelgiri and Dhaulagiri mountains can also be seen. The trek starts from Pokhara, you walk through green grasslands and as the altitude increases, you will also be walking on some snow-covered trails. Beautiful flora and fauna and a bunch of waterfalls on the way are a sight not to be missed.
The local people are friendly; they do their best to make you feel comfortable. There are several tree houses & small hotels on the way that offer decent good quality Nepal cuisine which should not be missed such as- momos, noodles, fried rice, dal bhat etc.
The trek ends with climbing the Poon Hill before the break of dawn and reach there at sunrise to witness the unbelievable mountain views as the sun rises up.
Though this trek involves hours of walking, it can be a family trek as well. It is recommended for beginners. A lot of people do this trek as practice for the Annapurna Base Camp trek or the Annapurna Circuit. The Poon Hill trek is a must-do to get a flavour of how trekking in Nepal is.
I do hope this list will help you in shortlisting treks for your next adventure. Based on your time availability and the level of exertion, the Himalayas has an incredible trek waiting for you. Plan now as each of these treks holds an incredible experience that should not be missed. The time is soon to come when we will be exploring the ultimate outdoors again.
Author: Kriti Jain