Relax in comfortable homely accommodation and enjoy great food from local chefs
Best time to go: September to May
Journey into the Himalaya
We bring you a taste of the high Himalaya on this trip, along with the beauty of its wooded slopes and valleys, the sprawling green meadows, the unending mountain ranges with snow-capped peaks, and little hamlets and homestays you will never find on the regular tourist circuit.
Witness the majesty of range upon range of purpling mountains that flow in waves as you cross the Jalori Pass, and stand atop its alpine meadows at the divide of the Sutlej and Beas river valleys. There’s hidden mountain trails and back roads that form no part of any grand tourist circuit, the simple local village life, and the apple carts that carry you across rushing streams to the most comfortable village homestays.
When you travel with MHE, you can be assured that we are backed by many years in the business of providing safe and sustainable adventure trips. The staff you deal with in the office, all the way through to the guides and drivers have years of experience in safe and enjoyable travelling behind them. We can advise you on the right gear, the right training, and no question is too crazy for us to answer.
Our trips are designed for your maximum enjoyment and comfort, taking into consideration the environment and conditions, wherever you are. You will find that lodges and facilities higher up are not as luxurious as those in big towns and cities.
We use the best available accommodation. Please remember though that you are in a remote and difficult location, and your expectations should be reduced accordingly.
We believe in sustainable, ethical and responsible tourism. Our guides are all certified and trained, and our drivers all have many years of experience on the mountain roads. Our crew are all insured, and provided with suitable clothing and equipment.
We support the local economy wherever possible, and do NOT encourage giving any gifts of sweets, pens etc to the charming local children you meet along the way. If you are really interested to donate something, please discuss with us first.
Our "all inclusive" trip means that you are not constantly rummaging for money, and you know up front what is included.
Trip starts from: Chandigarh, Punjab No. of days of the trip: 8 No. of driving days: 6 Maximum altitude: 3,120m at Jalori Pass
All-Inclusive Cost: Please call us for details
We are adventure lovers here at MHE and want to make adventure travel accessible to any one who yearns it. That is why we've introduced the Pay Monthly scheme. That's right, you can now pay in manageable monthly instalments! Simply call us for more details.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN DELHI
Arrive in Delhi. A Mercury Himalayan Explorations representative will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. They will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to your hotel. Please try and arrange your flight schedule so you arrive in Delhi by the afternoon as we have a group briefing in the evening. The rest of the day is free for you to rest up after the long flight.
Overnight at Hotel.
DAY 2: TRAVEL TO CHANDIGARH BY TRAIN AND DRIVE TO THANEDAR 195KM, 6 HRS
Travel to Chandigarh by the early morning train You will be met at the Chandigard railway station by an MHE representative. Your cars will drive you straight to Thanedar, about 80 KM from Shimla on the old Hindustan - Tibet road. You will stop for lunch on the way – there are some delicious diners on the main highway itself – time for you to start dipping into the local food! Thanedar, ensconced at an altitude of about 7700 ft / 235m, opens up an amazing vista - a panorama of mountains! The farthest of them are cloaked in snow, others are deodar clad or draped in a soft blue haze. In a gorge, some 6,000 feet below and clearly visible to the naked eye, flows the River Sutlej.
Nestled amongst the acres of apple & cherry orchards that drape the mountain slopes in this region, is the Banjara Orchard Retreat - an eco-friendly getaway that will enchant nature lovers. You will be staying in the Classic and Retreat rooms with attached baths and a well-equipped kitchen to cater to a variety of tastes. Mr. Prakash Thakur, the host, for whom the Orchard Retreat has been a labor of love, is also the resident expert on the history and culture of this little piece of paradise. Thanedar and its surrounds enjoy a special place in Himachal history. In 1916 Samuel Stokes, a social worker from Philadelphia brought the first apple saplings to this place he had adopted as his home. One can still see the 'Starking Delicious' apple orchard that he planted there! You will reach here around 7:30 – 8:30 PM (depending upon how long you halt for lunch). Sit back, relax, enjoy the clean crisp mountain air, and then retire for the night.
DAY 3: DRIVE TO SOJHA 95 KM, 3-4 HRS
Your day begins with a short walk around Sojha town – this is the mountains, you will be amazed how early you can actually wake up here! After a leisurely breakfast you head out to Sojha around 10:00 AM. Your drive will take you across the famous Jalori Pass – at 10,800 feet, this is one of India’s most famous mountain passes. The winding road provides stunning panoramic views – no wonder this road is on every adventure lover’s must-do list! Sojha, just a short drive away and is a little village with a thickly wooded mountainside, densely populated with conifers, deodars and toosh – characteristic of the beauty and uniqueness of Sojha. With unending slopes of emerald forests, verdant and pristine, nature is at its most alluring! Located in Seraj valley, still undiscovered by many, Sojha is a breathtakingly beautiful place. You will be staying at the Banjara Retreat and Cottage, two wooden houses surrounded by wooded forests from which you get a panoramic view of the snow covered Himalayan ranges in the distance. The mornings are particularly invigorating. You can just stroll around, walk up to the meadows or perhaps take the pathway into the jungle. The great snow clad peaks can be seen just beyond the tree line and some of the cloud formations will amaze you. The whole region is a part of the Great Himalayan National and there are numerous gentle walks in the surrounding forests and meadows nearby. You will reach here in time for lunch, which will be served to you at your convenience. High tea will be served in the evening. You can spend the rest of the evening strolling around the property, and then come back to a warm bonfire and dinner.
DAY 4: SOJHA - WATERFALL WALK AND DRIVE TO JALORI PASS
After a leisurely breakfast in the morning, you will drive to the start point of a short nature walk to the forest. This is an easy walk of around 30 - 45 minutes. From the road head, there is a slight uphill walk towards Jalori Pass and then a right fork takes you into the forest that leads to a wonderful waterfall! The trail winds its way through a wide variety of pine and many wide leaved higher Himalayan species. The sunlight filtering through the forest, birds chirping and the gentle cold breeze makes it a life-time experience! To quote Mr. Chikkara, one of our guests who came with us for this holiday, “The breathtaking trek through the Cedars, the Spruces and the Pines to the water fall was so rewarding!” You will stop at the waterfall for a while and then walk back to the road head and onto a PWD rest house which offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. A picnic lunch will be served here. After lunch, you can rest for a bit and then walk back to the retreat. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure. The retreat has a small library and some in-house games that can provide you with many hours of merriment. The evening will be around a bonfire. Night stay at the retreat.
DAY 5: DRIVE TO GUSHAINI 30 KM, 1 HR
After a leisurely breakfast, you drive to Gushaini. A little hamlet in the Tirthan Valley, and also a gateway to the Great Himalayan National Park. You will be staying in a lovely little homestay called Raju Bharti’s Cottage, Gushaini
What can you say about a place that makes you think of Alice in Wonderland the moment you enter? Nestled in the midst of the Banjar Valley, just three hours drive from Kullu, you have to cross the Tirthan river in a makeshift apple cart to reach Raju's homestay! As soon as you enter the cottage grounds, you're surrounded by apple, chikoo, and apricot trees and cherry bushes. Four bhutias (mountain dogs) come bounding up wagging a warm welcome...delightful is the word! Often considered as one of the best homestays in the world, Raju Bharti is the man in charge and he and his wife Lata will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. The cottages are rustic but extremely comfortable with running hot water and clean sheets every day. Often, there's fresh trout for dinner (and sometimes even breakfast!) and there’s always a blazing bonfire at night. It's the place to be – indeed, this is tranquility re-defined. You can choose to relax, read a book, or simply take in the divine view. Or you could walk down to the river gurgling nearby and relax there. There are some lovely nature walks in and around the area as well. This is a magical place, a place so far away from the city chaos that you will often wonder if you could stay here forever!
DAY 6: STAY IN GUSHAINI
Another day in paradise. The thing about Raju Bharti’s Cottage is…you could spend all day in their beautiful garden, doing absolutely nothing. If you feel like it, ask Raju to show you some easy nature walk routes that you could take today. Go on, be a little adventurous!
DAY 7: DRIVE TO MANALI 102 KM, 3 HRS
After breakfast, it's time to cross the river again before the short drive to Manali. You'll be spending 2 nights in Manali at The Lama House, perched on a hillside outside of Manali town proper. Lama House is set in orchards, with meadows, streams and uninterrupted views of the Himalaya. Your host Pavane has a lifetime of experience in the outdoors, and you are sure to enjoy her wonderful stories over tea or a glass of whisky. Home cooked locally sourced food and warm comfy rooms ensure your stay here will be memorable.
Overnight at hotel.
DAY 8: STAY IN MANALI
Today in Manali you can enjoy a leisurely homestyle breakfast, before heading out to take a walk, visit the town, or relax and enjoy the views.
DAY 9: DRIVE TO CHANDIGARH AND EVENING TRAIN TO DELHI
Enjoy your last breakfast in the hills, before the drive down to Chandigarh railways station, where we bid you farewell as you board the evening train to Delhi.
DAY 10: DEPART FOR HOME
Early morning departures - transfers arranged to get you to the airport in time to catch your flight back home.
Our "all inclusive" trip means that you are not constantly rummaging for money, and you know up front what is included.
Seven nights accommodation in hotels/camps on twin sharing basis.
All meals - 7 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, and 7 Dinners.
All government taxes included.
COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE:
International/Domestic air fare or train fare.
Unforeseen expenses that demand a change in itinerary like natural forces, changes in weather, road blockages, flight/train cancellations and illness.
Medical, Travel, or Evacuation insurance.
Expenses of a personal nature - tips, laundry, phone calls, beverages.
Loose comfortable T-Shirts NOT COTTON or long sleeved shirts for sun protection
Long trousers (for cultural reasons, we request you not to wear tight pants or
shorts. If you really want to wear shorts, please make them loose fitting and long)
A warm jacket / fleece pullover
A thermal layer (shirt and pants)
A water and wind proof layer (jacket and pants)
Woollen or thermal gloves
Sun hat and sun glasses
Woollen or fleece hat
Scarf / stretchy ‘buff’
Socks – depending on the season bring either warm, woollen socks or cool, breathable cotton socks
Sports shoes / comfortable walking shoes
Sandals or flip flops for indoors
A comfortable day pack with adjustable waist and shoulder straps
Personal toiletries - shampoo, soap, shavers, moisturizer, travel towel, etc
Ziplock bags are handy for convenient leak-proof storage
Sun block and lip balm
Dust mask/ scarf / stretchy ‘buff’ for dusty trails
Personal first aid kit + any personal medications you need to take + water treatment tablets/drops
Camera, batteries and charger, music, book
Airtight and waterproof ‘dry bags’ are great for 1) keeping your clothes dry and 2) storing your dirty
laundry separate from clean clothes!
Sleeping bag liner – either silk, cotton or fleece
WATER BOTTLES - please be able to carry 2 litres of water and have bottles that can handle boiling/hot water
HEAD TORCH and spare batteries
Your sense of humour and adventure!
Make sure your clothing is suitable for extreme cold and warm temperatures - the days get warm, but there is a wind chill factor, so plan for layers.
What to take with you in your day pack:
Please carry the following in your day pack, as a minimum:
2 litres of water (please make sure your water bottles will take boiling/hot water)
Sunscreen, sun glasses, sun hat, lip balm, dust mask / scarf / ‘buff’ to help on dusty trails
Warm fleece or thermal layer and gloves
Water proof layer
Any money you want for snacks/drinks along the trail
CRITICAL – take any personal medications you require during the day – you will not see your kit bag until evening.
The rest you can put into your kit bag which will be carried by the porters, whom you won’t see until camp in the evening. It’s a great idea to use dry bags (ie airtight/waterproof) in your kit bag to store your dry clothes in to keep them DRY in case it rains and one to put your dirty laundry in (to keep from making everything else in your bag smell bad!).
Altitude and preventing Altitude Sickness
Being in a hurry in the mountains can be deadly. Acclimatization is the word used to describe the adjustments your body makes as it ascends to higher altitudes.
Ascending slowly, with appropriate rest days and drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways not to get Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Data indicates that drinking 3-4 litres of fluids (water, soup etc) per day to avoid dehydration helps in the acclimatization process.
You should not plan to go to high altitude if you have heart disease, difficulty breathing at sea level or are pregnant. You should consult your doctor about any known medical conditions if you are considering trekking in high altitude (over 2500m).
Avoid sleeping pills, alcohol and smoking while at altitude as they tend to decrease breathing and lead to AMS.
The first aid kit carried by your guide includes Diamox and other altitude medications and he/she is trained in the identification of AMS symptoms and their treatment. You MUST take their advice. If anything happens to your guide the first aid kit has a Wilderness Medicine handbook with comprehensive information about altitude sickness and other ailments.
When relevant, your pre-trek briefing will include information about what to expect and what to do to avoid AMS before embarking on your trek.
For more information on AMS, please do read up here:
Tipping and cash requirements:
While all main meals are provided on trek, do not forget to bring some money for drinks or snacks that you might purchase on the way. You will be surprised by what is available on the popular trekking routes.
The amount to carry on the trekking routes depends on the area you are going to trek in, so please ask your guide for advice. Tipping is now common but there is no strict rule about how much the tip should be. Needless to say, you should only tip if you are satisfied with the service.
Photographing and interacting with local people:
During your trek you will have many opportunities to photograph local people and the amazing scenery and you will use tons of film/memory space! When you want to take a photo of a person, please ask them first and respect their right to refuse – you will be surprised how easy it is to convey the request to take someone’s photo even when you don’t share a common language!
If you have a digital camera it is considerate (and fun!) to show them their photo and if it’s possible to arrange to have copies printed and sent to them this is an amazing gift! However do not promise to do so if you are not sure you can deliver on the promise, so please talk to your guide about this! Photos can be a brilliant way to establish a connection with local people, but please respect their right to privacy.
Refrain from giving money or food to children. There are many good organisations working to help these children and we recommend you support them instead of encouraging them to beg. One other way is to collect books, pencils and other such articles and donate them to village schools you will find on your way.
Considering the Environment:
There are many ways you can help to conserve the environment of the area in which you trek. Here are some simple tips.
While trekking you have to be careful not to destroy the very environment you are enjoying so much. It is not only for your enjoyment - people and wildlife rely on this environment for their drinking water and food supply and many places are of enormous religious significance to local people.
Pick up any litter along the trail.
Burn all your toilet paper and bury your faeces when not in camp, make sure you go at least 50m away from any water source.
Try and avoid making a campfire - if you must, be sure to use only fallen wood. Do not consume food cooked on wood fires.
Drink boiled/treated water instead of mineral water as the plastic bottles are a problem.
Stick to the trails to prevent erosion and damage to fragile alpine flora.
Ensure all rubbish is packed out (or burnt/buried if appropriate).
All tour participants should obtain their own personal insurance which covers medical and emergency evacuation at a minimum. You will of course also want cover for loss or damage to personal effects, flight or trip cancellation etc.