Kulu Valley Trekking Adventures
After the madness and heat of Delhi we follow the Beas River as we head towards the Himalaya, finally arriving in Manali. It's a welcome respite as the air is cooler here and the town is much less frenetic. Although a haven for travellers, Manali's old town is beautiful retaining much of its original charm. Our short exploration of it certainly gets the group excited for the 10 day-trek ahead. Next morning with our kitbags expertly secured to a pack of hardy horses we begin our adventure.
The trail begins as it means to go on, steeply. We gain altitude quickly but it's a half day and so once settled in at our campsite, with spirits and energy levels still intact, a group of us venture off, to see what lies in store for us in the morning.
Our group is a mixture of all ages. Many are hardened walkers whilst the rest compensate their lack of experience with a real enthusiasm to sample the remoteness and rugged mountains that this part of the Indian Himalayan range typifies.
With our crew of guides, cooks and porters there are over 25 of us, all brilliantly led by Dibbs, who has the fitness level of a marathon runner, the agility of a mountain goat, and an upbeat attitude, which proves to be invaluable throughout the trip.
The scenery changes every day; from verdant alpine slopes, through breathtaking valleys and grassy meadows, we cross huge glaciers on our way over passes as well as dense forest and rolling pastures. Often there is no trail. This isn't trekking on one of the 'Coca Cola routes' found in other parts of the world. We are in true wilderness, passing only the occasional hardy gaddi (nomadic shepherds) with their flocks of cattle.
Half way through the trip there is a well-earned rest day at the remarkable village of Bara Bhangal. Surrounded by peaks and terraced fields, bathed in sunshine this village is both welcoming and friendly. We visit the school and wander through tiny streets, as the local people prepare for the mass migration to the gentler climates of the Kanga valley as the harsh winter encroaches. They are happy to see us but think of us as slightly daft. Two days later as we cross the Thamsar Pass my thoughts concur with this! We promptly begin at 4am with a steaming cup of tea bought to us by our trusted crew. It's an arduous slog across boulder moraine which we begin in the dark, a long steady trickle of bleary-eyed people guided only by head torches and Dibb's encouraging banter that never wanes. The rewards at the top are exceptional, with valleys either side and Tibet's holy Mount Kailash in the distance.
We camp every night, each campsite different from the last and most with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. As the sun goes down and the vast starry sky descends, our group gather in the mess tent and drink copious amounts of tea, eat a fantastic array of freshly prepared food and swap anecdotes from the day's walk. By the end of the trip we all feel extremely honoured to have seen this very special part of the world and celebrate our successful walk back in the relative civilisation of McLeod Ganj.
Article written by
Asia Regional Manager, Exodus
Emma travelled on Exodus' Beyond Kulu