As an alternative to Nepal, northern India offers an excellent experience of Himalayan trekking, away from the more popular circuits in its smaller neighbour. In the northwestern Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and especially Ladakh is a spectacular and rugged trekking region amongst Buddhist monasteries and ancient forts. In India's far notheast, Sikkim offers hiking with views of peaks like Everest and Kanchenjunga. Between these lies one of the finest Himalayan circuits around Nanda Devi, India's highest mountain at 7816m.
Travel to Indian Himalayas
Organised group tours: The following tours for Indian Himalayas are available:
This is the finest introduction to trekking in Ladakh. The itinerary reflects over 30 years experience in Ladakh and in our constant search for upgrading treks our 'Beyond the Markha Valley' would be hard to beat. In essence we extend our classic trek from the Markha Valley, following established trails linking whitewashed settlements and tiny monasteries to the vast grazing pastures of Rupshu. Rupshu is the home of the Khampa, the original mountain nomads and is perfect for those looking for an unusual and remote trek. This is a stunning trek that explores the Ladakh heartland, where the flutter of prayer flags and the ancient mani walls reflect the deep seated Buddhist heritage and where views of the Zanskar Range stretch to the borderlands of the Tibetan Plateau.
Led by Lonely Planet author Garry Weare, this is an outstanding trek and an ideal introduction to the visually stunning and culturally rich region of Ladakh, high in the Indian Himalaya. We explore this rugged land characterised by exquisite Buddhist monasteries and ancient forts where the snow leopard seeks out the highest ridges at the margins of the season. We have scheduled our trek to coincide with the famous Hemis Festival complete with masked dances and much celebration. Finally we journey to the vast lakes of Rupshu and camp in spectacular terrain on the borderlands of Tibet.
The classic traverse of the Indian Himalaya from Manali to Leh. On this stunning trek we cross three Himalayan ranges - the Pir Panjal, the Great Himalaya and the Zanskar Range, providing a rugged and challenging walk in this unique region of the Himalaya. From the verdant valleys of Himachal Pradesh we ascend to the isolated whitewashed settlements of Zanskar with its ancient monasteries reflecting a deep-seated Buddhist culture akin to Tibet. The Rupshu region provides a further contrast with its deep gorges and wild, windswept landscape explored by only a handful of trekkers each season. This trek envokes a true sense of adventure and exploration as we cross high passes, rushing glacial rivers and immerse ourselves in a land which remains largely untouched by western influences.
Straddling the districts of Garhwal and Kumaon, close to the Nepalese border, Nanda Devi (7817m) is the geographical and spiritual high point of India. After sightseeing in Delhi, our trekking holiday in the area of this sacred mountain begins on the night train to Kathgodam and continues by road to the village of Song. Trekking from the valley of the Ram Ganga to finally reach the Gauri Ganga in the east, our route is rich in interest, passing through a delightfully scenic and unspoiled corner of the Indian Himalaya. Traversing alpine meadows and crossing high passes, we have panoramic views of the clustered peaks of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary and of the adjacent Panch Chuli group. This is a delightful trek through a beautiful and unspoilt corner of the Indian Himalya with excellent green campsites. Visits to several villages and shepherds' camps provide a wealth of cultural interest and help to make this a wholly memorable trekking holiday in an area visited by few adventure travellers.
Close to Ladakh's eastern border with Tibet, the rarely visited high plains of the Chang Tang are coloured in just a few places by beautiful turquoise lakes, such as Tso Kar and Tso Morari and this exciting new trekking and climbing holiday is the perfect way to view this remote and stunning landscape. After acclimatising and sightseeing in Leh, we set off into the heart of this remote area, inhabited during the summer by nomadic herders and by rare animals such as wolf and kiang (wild ass) year-round. After a week of inspirational trekking, we reach the Yalung Naula Pass (5400m) where we get our first views of the 20-kilometre long Tso Morari. Not far from the village of Karzok, we establish a basecamp above the lake at an elevation of 5300 metres and from here set out to climb the 2 highest points in the Mentok Massif, Mentok I (6250m) and Mentok II, making limited use of fixed ropes on the snowslopes we encounter. Technically undemanding, these peak presents an excellent challenge to fit and adventurous trekkers. A super trek and climb combination in a special part of the world. This is one of our Explore International holidays. Participants on these trips can book through KE or through one of our international partners. This helps us to gather together sufficient numbers of like-minded adventurers to get your holiday up and running quickly. Led by English-speaking local guides, the cosmopolitan nature of these groups can be an important part of the experience!
This outstanding adventure in the Indian Himalaya is no ordinary trekking holiday. Beginning in the small town of Udaipur with its Hindu temples we follow the little trekked Miyar Valley with its pristine alpine pastures surrounded by snow capped mountains. This high altitude valley is carpeted with flowers during the short summer months of mid June to September. The wide open meadows soon give way to a stark alpine world of rock and ice. We ascend a snow covered glacier to reach the dramatic setting of the Kang La, our access to the Zanskar valley which then offers a total contrast of scenery. North of the main Himalayan chain this region lies in a ‘rain shadow' and presents a moon-like landscape dotted with ancient Buddhist monasteries situated dramatically on cliff tops. Our journey ends in the Ladakhi capital of Leh after a superb trek which will live long in the memory.
This exciting new two-week holiday through a rugged and visually arresting part of the Great Indian Himalaya punches well above its weight in terms of the variety of quintessential India experiences it packs into a short timeframe. Including sightseeing in Delhi, a classic Indian Railway journey, the floating lamp (Aarti) ceremony in Rishikesh, trekking with Hindu pilgrims and Sadhus to the holy River Ganges, and climbing up to the meadows of Tapovan below an array of impressive peaks dominated by the beautiful spire of Shivling, this holiday is loaded with moments and insights of culture, spirituality and great beauty. Beginning with a tour of Delhi's famous sights such as the Red Fort and the Qutab Minor, we then take the train north to Haridwar where the mountains of the Himalaya rise from the great Indian plain. We stop at Rishikesh to watch the daily Aarti ceremony where thousands of oil lamps are floated on the wide river Ganges, before following this sacred river first by road and then on foot, to its legendary source at Gamukh amid the tumbling ice of a huge glacier. We continue trekking beyond the glaciers to an unexpected and tranquil meadow surrounded by jagged peaks and spires of rock and ice. Just moments before reaching this meadow we have our first view of the Shivling, a breathtaking peak often referred to as the Matterhorn of India. Combining a short trek and a range of memorable cultural experiences, this is India trekking at its best!
As seen from the characterful hill-station of Darjeeling, the five-summited massif of Kangchenjunga (8586m) dominates the northern horizon. Crossing the border into Sikkim, this trekking holiday makes a sensational circuit to the world's third highest peak which begins with an ascent to the crest of the Singalila Ridge - the prominent spur of high ground that forms the border between India and Nepal. Here, we find views that extend to the distant peaks of Everest and Makalu. Our route continues northwards through a mountain widerness, taking us via high passes and a succession of lovely camping places to the valley of the Prek Chu. Here, above sacred Samity Lake, we make our ascent to the Goecha La (4940m), a high and dramatically situated pass, directly opposite Kangchenjunga's huge south-east face. Providing a brilliant travel experience, as well as first-class trekking amongst fabulous mountain scenery, this is a simply superb trekking holiday in the Indian Himalaya.
Close to the former hill-station of Darjeeling, the Singalila Ridge Trek runs north towards the towering presence of Kangchenjunga (8586m), the world's third highest peak. Forming a natural border between Nepal and India, this ridge is the setting for one of the most scenically rewarding trekking holidays in the entire Himalayas, with views of Kangchenjunga and more distant views of both Makalu and Everest. After sightseeing in Darjeeling, we complete a delightful 7-day walk by way of the ridge-top settlements of Sandakphu and Phalut. We trek to the high point of the ridge at Singalila Peak (3695m), then descend to spend 2 nights in colourful Kalimpong, an important bazaar town for traders from Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet and the plains of Bengal. This is an extraordinary trekking holiday, which manages to effectively combine a short but very special trek with a memorable cultural experience.
This exciting trekking holiday starts out at Darcha in the Lahaul Valley and crosses the Shingo La (5090m) to reach the southern edge of the Himalayan region of Zanskar. Here, we follow a tributary of the Zanskar River and pass beneath the towering rock peak of Gumburanjan, en route to the village of Kargyak which is the highest settlement in the area. After a visit to the impressive cliff-side monastery of Phuktal, we trek across the Phirtse La (5250m), where the views extend across range upon range of high mountains. Trekking out to the Baralacha La on the Leh-Manali road, we then make a 3-day descent of the Chandra River, fording the river several times and stopping off at lovely Moon Lake. The lakeside meadow camp amongst countless alpine flowers is an undoubted highlight of the trip. Including the fascinating overland journey to and from Manali, this is a classic circuit trek in a remote and unspoiled area.
Flying in to the Ladakhi capital of Leh, the shapely peak of Stok Kangri (6120m) is prominent on the southern skyline. During several days set aside for acclimatisation on this holiday, we visit the colourful monasteries at Shey, Thikse and Hemis before setting off on a delightful trek through the Markha Valley. Our route leads by way of several remote and picturesque villages to the high Nimaling Plain below the imposing peak of Kang Yatze. Trekking up to the Kongmaru La, we then take a little-used high-level route to Stok Kangri Basecamp, a 3-day approach to the mountain that includes superbly located campsites and far-reaching views towards Tibet and the eastern Karakoram. Although objectively very safe and technically straightforward, involving easy-angled scree and snow slopes, the climb on Stok Kangri is both challenging and interesting. This is a wonderfully varied trekking holiday, perfectly suited to someone seeking their first Himalayan summit.
Flying in to the Ladakhi capital of Leh, the shapely peak of Stok Kangri (6153m) is prominent on the southern skyline. This new holiday offers the opportunity to make an ascent of this technically straightforward peak as a climax to a superb 2 weeks of exploration and trekking in Ladakh. During the holiday, we visit the colourful monasteries of this Buddhist region and drive to the Kardung La (5380m) for sensational views of the Karakoram range of mountains. To reach our climbing objective we trek on a little-used high-level trail, crossing several passes to reach Stok Kangri Basecamp. The ascent of Stok Kangri is objectively very safe and is technically straightforward, involving easy-angled scree and snow slopes with a short section of ridge climbing, to a perfect summit dome, bedecked with prayer flags and with wide ranging views. This is a superb climbing holiday, perfectly suited to someone seeking their first Himalayan summit or for those who want a 6000 metre climbing holiday in the summer!
In the remote north-western corner of India, the Himalayan region of Ladakh is a truly inspirational destination for a trekking holiday. Following a beautiful high valley, this superb trek leads through a spectacular mountain world, coloured by green irrigated fields and the red of the monks' robes at the villages and monasteries en route. After acclimatising and sightseeing at the monasteries around the ancient regional capital of Leh, we trek across the Ganda La into the Markha Valley, where the way of life has changed little for centuries. Gradually gaining height on a riverside trail, our highest camp is at 4700 metres on the Nimaling Plain, in the realm of the snow leopard and impressive lammergeier. Returning to the Indus Valley via the Kongmaru La (5100m), we have excellent views of nearby Kang Yatze (6400m) and northwards to the peaks of the Tibetan border. This popular holiday offers a real taste of the magical landscapes of Ladakh.
Think of the Himalayas and you'll inevitably think of Mount Everest. But there's so much more to see in this picturesque country than just the mother of all mountains. Across the mountain ranges in India, there's a whole different world waiting to be explored under your hiking boots. Hike among tiny villages, walk through remote valleys and marvel at isolated Buddhist monasteries high up in the cliffs. Even though you haven't left India, trekking through this unique tapestry of colours and cultures will make you feel that you've been transported to another world.
Following a route trekked by Lord Curzon in 1905 and by Shipton and Tilman 30 years later, this excellent adventure trekking holiday traverses the western edge of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. After just a couple of days, we reach the high meadow of Bedni Bugyal, a famously scenic location with a skyline dominated to the north-west by the peaks of Trisul (7120m) and Nanda Ghunti. A further week of superb foothills trekking takes us through forest and farmland and by way of a series of ridges, the last of which we cross at the Kuari Pass (3650m). Changabang, Kamet and Nanda Devi are just 3 of the India Himalayan giants visible from this sublime viewpoint. En route back to Delhi, we have time to experience the magic of Rishikesh and Haridwar and to attend the 'arti' (floating lamp) ceremony on the Ganges. This is a great trek and an unforgettable journey into the mystical Hindu territory of Garhwal.
Feb 2014 (3rd ed.), 456 pages
Trekking in Ladakh
(3rd ed.), 288 pages
Trekking in the Indian Himalaya
Sep 2009 (5th ed.), 260 pages