After 6 days of hiking up and down hills and over mountain passes we arrived at one of the most spectacular Himalayan views. The panoramic view from Kuari Pass was a wonderful surprise.
Uttarakhand state has some of the most beautiful mountain views in the Indian Himalayas. We did a 7-day trek passing mountain villages, through thick forests and over small passes to reach the incredible Kuari Pass. The gorgeous views began even before we started trekking. On the drive to our 1st campsite we had stunning scenery with the huge white-capped mountain range of Nanda Devi towering behind red, orange, purple and yellow fields of ripe amaranth. We knew then that the hike was going to be extraordinary.
On the first day we saw many spindly karshu trees and then walked through forests of rhododendron, pine and oak. At times the trail would emerge out of the forest to pass through small meadows where shepherds bring their flocks of sheep and goats to graze for the summer. In these meadows were the rustic summer huts where the shepherds live for a few months each summer.
Soon we climbed up to the first small pass, Ramni Pass (3064m), where we had great views of the snowy peaks in the distance. After the pass we walked through a forest of massive walnut trees. We picked at least 1 kg of walnuts but didn’t realize until we tried to eat them later that they were too fresh to be removed from the shell. We would have to dry them out for weeks before they would be edible. That night we camped in the small village of Jhinjhi where we were entertained by curious local kids and adults. They brought a beautiful butterfly for us to see, and of course asked for 100Rs ($2) for their efforts.
The next day we walked around the deep contours of the valley through more forests of rhododendrons and pine to reach the small village of Pana on the other side of the valley. We looked back across the valley to see Jhinjhi and its fields. On the trail we saw a cow that had been killed overnight. Our guide suspects it was killed the night before by a leopard who would come back at night to feed. Further on we were excited to come across a large troupe of the beautiful, gentle Grey Langur Monkeys. There were at least 100 of them sitting on the boulders and in the trees curiously looking at us as we curiously looked at them.
The village of Pana is set on the mountain slope surrounded by terraces of amaranth and corn. In October the crops were ripe, so the fields were bright red, yellow, orange and purple. It made for a gorgeous setting. Our assistant guide is from Pana. The next day he brought us to his home where his mom cooked us lunch. The kitchen/dining room was very basic. She cooked the meal over a fire as she sat on the floor behind it. We sat on the floor across from her while we drank chai tea and then ate our dal and rice lunch. Our guide said she is about 40 years old.
From our campsite above Pana we had an incredible view of the peaks of Nanda Ghunti (6309) and Ranti (6063).
After Pana, the trail goes through a wild, uninhabited forest. The valley below is steep with deep rocky cliffs jutting up from the river. The trail was surrounded by high rocky walls and in one area the rock wall was covered in long grass with a waterfall cascading across the width of the rock. It was beautiful.
Since it was nearing the middle of October when we were there, shepherds were bringing their flocks of sheep and goats down to the lower valleys where it’s warmer. As we walked up the hill, a flock of at least 500 sheep and goats were walking down. There were several new born baby sheep being carried in a sidesaddle on a horse.
That night we camped 250m below a ridge that was the start of Kuari Pass. Richard ran up to the ridge in time to see the sun setting behind the mountains and giving a gorgeous alpenglow on Nanda Devi (7,816m) and Hathi Ghoda (6,700m).
We all woke early on our final morning so that we would see the sunrise from Kuari Pass (3800m). As soon as we reached the top of this ridge we were astounded by the amazing 180° view. We could see the high snow-covered Himalayas including Neelkanth (7,141m), Dunagiri (7,067m) and Changabang (6,864m).
As we followed the ridge, the sun began to shine on them giving a gorgeous morning alpenglow. On a knoll above the pass, we made chai tea and watched the sun rise beside Nanda Devi (7,816m), the tallest mountain in India. After a cold hour spent watching the day begin, we started our descent to the small village of Tapovan (2,500m). For most of the descent we had gorgeous views of the majestic Nanda Devi and the incredible mountain ranges around.
Interested in doing this trek? Click here for route details.
Coming up next: The Ganges: Hikers, Hippies and Holy Sadhus
To read about more of our adventures go to Destinations.
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