I was asked by my boss last week why could he find an Everest Base Camp trek online for just under ₹55,000, when the one MHE offers is more expensive. “YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT MORE AFFORDABLE” he said.
Let me say at the start, you get what you pay for. if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. And always read the fine print.
Let’s assume you select the EBC-Gokyo trip offered by one of "India’s Largest Trekking Community". The listed price is around ₹54,590 - for their September/October 2017 departure. What does that include? Here's a quick comparative, to help you out:
Yes, at first glance we look more expensive. Once you add in all the above, you’ll find that you aren’t saving much at all, and adding a lot of aggravation to your trip.
Our prices include all taxes, staff, accommodation on twin share, food on trek, the required drinking water of 5 - 6 litres per day for every trekking day and transport from the time you land in Kathmandu to the time you leave for home.
Perhaps most importantly, all our guides and sherpas have relevant experience and training, certified by the Nepal government, and as with all MHE trips, your safety is our prime concern. There will always be an experienced MHE trip leader; we won’t leave you to wander the trail on your own, and if you feel unwell there’s always a sherpa by your side. If you need to be medically evacuated, a quick decision will be made, the insurance company contacted and if weather permits, you will be airlifted as soon as possible.
We are upfront, we are responsible, we’ve got decades of field experience, and we care about you. Do let us know if you'd like us to refer you to guests who have done this trek with us - feel free to speak with them directly.
Himachal Pradesh has some stunning mountain treks to be savoured. These mountains are so beautiful and offer so much variety, from the trans Himalayan districts of Lahaul and Spiti, to the green Dhauladhars that it becomes difficult to choose what I would call the top 5 treks here, however, I will list my favourites and tell you why I chose them.
Chandratal to Baralacha
An introductory trek to the area of the trans Himalaya. Today you can drive almost to this beautiful lake nestled amid green meadows where shepherds graze their sheep and the buttercups turn up their deep yellow faces to brighten your path. After an acclimatising day here, you start your walk along the valley of the Chandra river up to the cross roads of the Himalaya - the Baralacha Pass. The walk is along scree slopes and across streams, watching the spread of the river into myriad, silvered channels when the valley spreads, and growing into a raging torrent where it narrows. You camp in meadows by streams, observing the nomadic shepherds and getting some of their stories. You finally top out into a chocolate and cream world at the top of the Baralacha pass. This is the cross roads into the valleys of the Chandra, the Bhaga, the Spiti and the Tsarap rivers. Basically the head waters of the Chenab, the Sutlej and the Zanskar rivers. A trek I would grade as comfortable if you have taken the precautions that altitude always demands.
Duration : 5 basic trekking days, add a few for acclimatising and travel to and from. 7 to 8 days.
Season: Mid May through September.
For inspiration on treks in the Chandratal area click here.
The Indrahar Pass or Across the Dhauladhar
This is one of the most used passes across the Dhauladhar, traditionally used by shepherds getting their flocks from Kangra into the high pastures around Barmour in the Ravi valley.
I first did this trek following the shepherds, starting from Macleodganj, across the pass and down into the valley of the Ravi river. It is a green trek on both sides unlike the passes that cross the Great Himalayan ranges. You get to see, if interested, the Tibetan community in exile and their temple, school and monastery where the ancient tibetan arts are being revived. Then once you cross the pass you come into the valley where ancient Hinduism has been preserved in the temples of Bharmour and Chamba. No conquests got to this protected valley and thus the ancient art of the miniature painting was preserved as well as the unspoilt temples.
Duration: 6 -7 trek days, add 3 for travel. 10 days.
Season: mid May - June. Sept - Nov.
The Pin Parvati Pass
This is a magical trek, up along the valley of the Parvati river, which branches off the Kullu valley. You visit the temple and gurudwara at Manikaran and hear the legend of the hot spring. Carry on up along this beautiful river to the village of Pulga where you start your trek. Up above the hydro electric project you start walking to Khir Ganga, where you can lie in a hot bath to soak our your first days aches - carry on up the valley till you reach the holy lake Mantalai, the source of the Parvati and said to be a tantric centre of great power. This is where you challenge across the Pass starts - this is normally glaciated and a long pass to cross, but it brings you across into the Pin River valley and the village of Mud, where you meet the road head and drive into the Spiti valley. On the one side you start with green forest walking through oak and red rhododendron trees, to where the red of the rhododendron turns to pink, lavender and then white as it turns from a tree to a shrub with the changing altitude. Then across the pass - you meet the spiring rock and dust mountains of a land where time stood still and the mind has room to soar.
Duration: 7 -8 trek days, add 4 for travel. 12- 14 days.
Season: mid May - June. Sept - Nov.
The Chandrakhani Pass
Himachal is a fast progressing state where the roads are providing connectivity almost everywhere, but there are still a few areas that need to be accessed by foot. This pass takes you from the Kullu valley into the Parvati valley via the ancient village of Malana. A lost village in it’s high mountain fastness protecting a people and culture based on the ancient Greek. From the meadows of the Bijli Mahadev temple which you reach through forests of high deodar, you climb through the Chandrakhani pass, down to Malana village and on to the road head near Kasol. A village that has grown to be a hub of young tourists with all sorts of cafe’s and bars. Malana has gained fame as defining of the quality of marijuana that grows there, however, the trek is a lovely walk through great mountain scenery.
Duration: 3 -4 trek days, add 2 for travel. 6 - 7 days.
Season: mid May - June. Sept - Nov.
The village home stay trail in Spiti
To get the truly local flavour and experience the real life style of the people of Spiti, this is a trek that takes you from village home to village home, meeting and living with the families, eating off the produce from their fields - peas, potatoes, beans and the various flours and Satu grains. Wonderfully healthy all that walking, fresh air and fresh food. Then there is the food for the mind and soul that the very essence of the mountains, and the complete sense of immensity and space provide. You can also visit the monasteries along the way, sit in on the monks prayers and post a letter from the highest post office at Hikkim.
Remember though - that it is an actual home stay - they have not provided flushing toilets and mod cons, you would use the traditional outhouse privies with the dry composting technique unique to the area. Your beds are the flat divans covered in traditional rugs and shawls. You sit in the central room around the stove and eat off the low tables the traditional fare. It is a truly immersive experience for those that would relish it.
Duration: 5 - 7 trek days, add 5 - 6 for travel. 10 - 12 days.
Season: Mid May through November.
- Pavane Mann, Director, Unique Explorations, MHE
This blog post originally appeared in sulekha.com
Note from MHE Stories: This article written by Neha Mishra was first published in Tripoto.
It all started with an idea to plan our team’s offsite last year. The industry we come from there is certainly no dearth of ideas but I can’t say the same for ideas that actually work. So what do you get when you put a bunch of people with a penchant for all things adventurous in one room? An unconventional venue for the next team offsite.
MHE Beach Camp, Shivpuri. Thank God! This one actually worked out. You’ll always have the pessimists telling you why something won’t work, but then you have the risk takers telling you why something will. Despite a few glitches,this was one such trip.
Shivpuri is a place for people who aren’t looking for the tried and tested spot. About 14 kms from the town of Rishikesh, the tranquility of the place takes you by surprise.We landed at the Dehradun airport and the bus journey took us about 2 hours, winding down narrow roads and almost quiet surroundings. You just soak it all in, away from the hustle bustle of the city, and trust me you haven’t even reach yet.
My reaction was that was disappointment when we initially got there because all I saw was rocks, a small patch of dry land and then a few run down tents. This is not what we had in mind. The more you see the more you agree with the statement “ One step at a time”. You’ll be amazed by what you see when you get to the foot of the river banks. It’s like being thrown into a sea jungle, all green and blue… like a Pantone shade card come to life. The sun just about setting and added into this gorgeous setting are a myriad of colours mix some yellow, orange and sparkling shades of neon! The moment we are told we haven’t reached the campsite yet, I felt a sense of pure relief …phew. Where is the campsite then?
Having walked some more with the Ganges flowing right under your feet, no traffic, no people, the silence ..you wonder if this is what they called nirvana? Not yet.
The campsite, nestled between mountains and you could get there only by a raft! This is where is starts, the excitement of what’s to come, the short trip giving you a preview of what lies ahead. For now it’s ice-cold water splashing at you, the naked sky above your head, laughter all around with all that excitement in the air. You can’t help but love every moment of this. BLISS.
Sitting around a bonfire warming our city hands, so not used to this cold, singing songs, sharing a thing or two about oneself, the sky covered in a blanket of stars like little diamond dots on a pitch black canvas…. breathtaking. The food at the camp was an amazing mix of Kashmiri style cuisine mixed with a basic North India fare, from mutton yakini to simple dal and rice, eggs in the morning and pakodas with your evening tea…, yummy, needless to say. While the rum you think is keeping you warm, the cold breeze gets the better of you. You may even fall down because you’re simply clumsy but hey…. what’s a holiday without a fall? Nothing and absolutely nothing comes close to the feeling of simply laying on the sand and looking at those stars. I love stargazing and the nights here are simply magical. You don’t need the words or the music. With the wind blowing, the sound of the water, the occasional sounds from the mountains, you’re on your own with your own thoughts, enjoy it….. These moments are what I call a luxury.
I wasn’t even ready for what I saw next, up on a mounted silver sand platform were about 20 tents all lined up, with little lamps forming a curve, marking their territory. We were on the banks of the river Ganges surrounded by regal rocks of the Great Himalayan foothills. It’s like every nook and corner had a secret behind it. I couldn’t wait to get into the water! Just when you think you’ve seen it all you question yourself once again.
I don’t know if you’ll agree with me, but when you’re in the mountains your body clock somehow changes, you wake up early yet feel completely rested. Speaking for myself, I hadn’t slept so well in days. Cocooned in the warmth of my thick blankets and hot water bottle (Yes, I live in the city and we don’t have anything that could remotely be called “winter”)!
For the water lovers, it just doesn’t get better than this. Rafting in the Ganges- words cannot do justice to what you feel when you’re in the middle of that pool of deep blue. Cold, comforting with the sun shining bright. That first hit of ice-cold water smashing in your face, every nerve tingling, it’s an unexplainable feeling. Floating aimlessly in the waters is a luxury very few get to experience.
Surprisingly Rishikesh is also the place I broke my long-standing fear of heights, my first real jump, at 273 feet the first thing you look at is the river flowing down under and the green all around you. Took some convincing but it pays to be a competitive soul. The fear has you in knots, I have to say…” to jump or not to jump”. I needed the magic words from Mark, our jump instructor ” You’re going to go back to camp, sit by that bonfire tonight and have no stories to tell”. That did it, I had to jump. Guess that decision was one of the best I’ve made. Priceless.
With nights around camp cooking our dinner on an occasional night, to sitting out by our tent during the day just listening to some music…Don’t Worry Be Happy was music for my soul. Just felt right.
I love to travel for a reason. So many people, each one with their own choices and thoughts and when all comes together you have this amazing potpourri of music, food, ideas, thoughts…it’s a bond difficult to break away from.
Sometimes you meet the most amazing people and sometimes you find yourself amidst all that quiet, one way or the other you get exactly what you need right that moment.
Funny, this Universe has its mysterious ways.
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