Yep, here we go again – exploring the Himalayas another way. When friends invited us to join their Himalayan holiday, we jumped at the opportunity – for many reasons – someone else was doing the planning, the plan was going to accommodate the needs of children and finally, food was going to be a no-brainer. In addition, because this trip was planned by a travel agent, transportation by car was taken care of as well.
The trip was for 9 days and 8 nights, towards the end of June (after the snow melting started and before the rains)
Day 1 – We met our car drivers at Chandigarh airport and proceeded by car to our first stop – Thanedar in Himachal Pradesh. Due to road construction, the journey took a lot longer than expected. We reached our hotel (Banjara Resort) late in the evening. Once we settled into our room (either cottage style or hotel room style), we proceeded to the dining area for dinner. After dinner, we called it a day.
Day 2 – after breakfast, we met our guides who took us on a wonderful hike through the villages and nearby walking paths. We visited a remote cave and spent time at the local church. We returned to the resort and after lunch and a short nap, we headed out on our second hike. This was a lot harder due to changes in altitude, but the views were unreal… a chance to explore the mountains where no roads were visible. After the hike, we had a nice dinner by the bonfire and enjoyed some local wine.
Day 3 – half the group decided to go on another hike up Hatu mountain while the rest of us enjoyed the resort a little while longer and met up with the hiking group on top of Hatu Peak. Friends told us that the hike was spectacular… so if you have the energy, definitely do it. Because these are guided hikes, there is no real worry of getting lost. The rest of the day was spent chilling out.
Day 4 – Travel day – after breakfast, we travelled from Thanedar to Sangla. We took a packed lunch with us (must do) and travelled along the Sutlej and Baspa rivers. The views of the Himalayas in this region were breathtaking! We reached Sangla around tea time. Once we settled in our tents at the Sangla Banjara Resort, we headed to explore the Baspa river bank. There is something magical about seeing water that originates from the glacier filled mountains – clear and unchallenged. The evening was spent enjoying the resort facilities.
Day 5 – After breakfast, we set out on another hike…. this time, 8 km of magic in the woods. While the trail followed the river bank, it is important to remember when following the path, the land is NOT flat and follows the ups and downs of the mountain (duh on my part!) We took our time (mainly because of me)… but it was amazing! The guides carried an amazing lunch which we enjoyed a couple of hours into the hike. After the hike, we chilled for the rest of the day.
Day 6 – we drove to Chitkul, a small village beyond which civilians are not allowed. We enjoyed a short hike through potato fields during a slight drizzle. The day was spent taking in the spectacular views.
Day 7 – spent the morning enjoying the resort once again and some of the folks tried their hand in rappelling across the Baspa river. Later in the day we started our journey towards Kalpa – our next destination. We reached Kalpa late in the evening. We enjoyed watching the sunset over Kinnaur Kailash and the surrounding mountains. The accommodation was simple yet clean and inviting. The food provided for dinner was authentic and yummy.
Day 8 – after witnessing a spectacular sunrise, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and headed back towards Shimla. We reached our night halt destination Mashobra around dinner time. After dinner, everyone focused on their packing!
Day 9 – after breakfast, headed back to Chandigarh airport to catch the plane back home.
Tips: Hiking in the Himalayas with guides is an amazing experience. One thing I wish I had done was preparing my family for high altitude walking. I did not bring the proper medication, which could have prevented the mild headaches I experienced. Also, I was not as physically fit as I should have been. This trip has certainly motivated me to get my act together. Finally, I learnt that letting go and allowing someone else do all the planning can work wonders. I wouldn’t have thought about signing up for so many hikes. I am glad someone else knew it would change my life.