When I got back from Annnapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal, two of my toe nails were trying to fall off. There were at least four days when we started out trek in rain and ended it in rain. On the Everest Base Camp Trek after I reached Tengboche I found the walk so tough that I wrote on a piece of paper- beat me with a stick if I talk about trekking ever again. Of course, I have trekked again after that. So why do we trek in spite of all the discomfort it involves? And call it a holiday too! I have no answer to that but I can surely talk about some of my most beautiful treks.
The trek starts from Govindghat. The first day is spent walking along the Lakshman Ganga River to reach Ghangaria. This is a tea house trek. That means you can stay in small lodges and order food out of a menu. That is an ultimate luxury on a trek. The next day you walk to the Valley of Flowers. As the name suggests it is full of all kind of exotic flowers in monsoon but some of the best views are a long walk away into the valley. Next day a trek to Hemkund Sahib is possible. It is a steady uphill climb of 8 kilometers, so take it slow, sit down often to have tea at the stalls. The reward is the beautiful high altitude lake. A note of caution though, this year (2013) the region has been affected by the massive flooding in Uttarakhand.
Also known as Lord Curzon’s Trail, we started the trek from Auli. Our first camp was Gurson Buhgyal. On a clear day right from the first camp you get unmatched views of Nanda Devi. From the Kuari Pass base you can see Chaukhamba, Trishul and a host of other high peaks. It is very scenic trek. On this one you need to pitch tents and carry food though.
I first saw a picture of the lake on a blog run by some good folks from Himachal Pradesh. I knew I had to go there. The place is close to Mandi. There is a good weather road right up to the lake but we thought it is more fun to trek. We took a government bus to Bagi. After bread, omelet and tea at the dhaba where the bus dropped us, we started climbing up. The local boy running the shop told us it is a 1.5 hour walk, then he added- for you it may be 5.5 hours. You can stay either at the forest department guest house or the temple dharamshala. The latter option is for the adventurous only. There are two canteens at the ancient Prashar Temple and the forest department cook can make something for you on wood fire if you ask him nicely.
When I say Spiti think Ladakh like landscapes but less touristy. Spiti has no airport so the mass tourism has not reached it yet. Kaza is the district headquarters of Spiti. Close to it is the beautiful Ki Monastery. The place feels so remote even now and yet there is this splendid architecture which goes back many centuries.
We trekked through Langza, Komik, Demul, Lhalung and Dhankar. You can do it as a home stay trek. The hospitality of the locals and their food is awesome. The only thing that can surpass it is the view. Extra tip, try the local beer Chang.
Reaching to the base of the highest mountain in the world requires some effort. While trekking I was never sure if I would ever reach the base camp. It has been my toughest trek, the most rewarding as well. Solukhumbu region is home to some of the tallest and most beautiful mountains in the world other than Everest. There is Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, Tham Serku and more. It is a tea house trek again. I have to say thank god for that small mercy, the trek is tough as it is.
If you have trekked before and not been to Everest Base Camp, I would say that is the trek for you. If you have not trekked before I would say give Valley of Flowers or Prashar Lake a try. In the end, I guess I trek for the unsurpassed views and for its slow pace. On the Annapurna circuit it took me 12 hours to reach Humde from Ledar. On some other days I have reached London from Delhi in 9 hours!