Offbeat and new winter treks in India

offbeat-new-winter-treks-in-india-by-ht

This article aims to boost alternate and new options for winter treks in India, especially if you:

  • Have already hiked to one or many of the most popular winter treks in India.
  • Think that popular snow trails are often crowded, especially during peak holidays and festive seasons.
  • Wish to explore offbeat and pristine trails with your friends or family during winters.

In continuation to our best winter treks in India, here we will list some alternate yet beautiful and serene treks on the Himalayas. These are perfectly suitable in winters, i.e. between the month of December to February. Be it for the clear weather and crystal views, or for the chance of walking on snow. Both the experienced and beginners can enjoy most of these alternate winter treks.

Among many parameters our new winter trails are at par with the usual and popular winter trekking trails, e.g.:

  • Similar maximum altitudes
  • relative grading of the treks or physical endurance that you need
  • snow and cold conditions
  • or simply the beauty of the trail and nature.

Why trekkers and travellers really look at the new winter trek routes?

In recent years hikers are literally dumped on “slopes” within “slots” of the very popular winter trekking destinations. Trekkers stand in a queue towards the summit or huddle in a camping ground! However if you skip the busiest season or avoid rushing on weekends, things can be quite different. Here  is a very likely picture during high season, i.e. between mid December to end of January.

popular-winter-trekking-trails-are-crowded-during-season
A normal day on a popular winter trek

Amid COVID pandemic, these trails are evermore sought after options. Apart from the tranquillity you will find, these trails are probably more safer for you who are tentative about trekking during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Our new winter trek routes will surely stand out and we hope that you will like these trails to explore.

A note to the beginners: During winters you need to be careful about your clothing and other protective gears as  minimum temperature can plummet to -10°C. Snow conditions can make things even more challenging. At the same time it is fun with adequate preparation. Consult with us for suggestions or any advice or clarifications. Also you need to be in a physical condition that you can be comfortable to hike 5/6 hours along with your backpack, on a strenuous day.

A note on snow conditions: Uttarakhand treks or in general western Himalayan treks get significantly more snow during winters than treks in Sikkim or Eastern Himalayas.  This is due to the southerly latitude of Eastern Himalayas. Thick cover of snow is rare in Sikkim or Darjeeling treks while snow patches are more common.

In general later winter months will accumulate more snow, i.e. January or February. be it in eastern or western Himalayas.

Now let us go through these fascinating new winter treks in brief with photos.

Bedni Bugyal as a winter trek:

Duration: 6 days
Region: Uttarakhand
Where to reach: Kathgodam, return via Haridwar/Dehradun/Kathgodam.
Grade: Easy
Maximum altitude: 3800 m/12500 ft
Suitable for: Beginners and experienced hikers, the climb to Ali Bugyal may be a bit strenuous.
Stay type: Camping and homestay/lodge.
Snow conditions: January and February
Tour attractions: Pahadi village, homestay, climb inside Oak and Rhododendron forest, beautiful stretch of walk on sprawling alpine meadows of Ali Bugyal and Bedni Bugyal, Bedni Kund and temple, fantastic views of mighty snow clad peaks stretching from Mrigthuni to Chaukhamba while a few are very close.

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From Bedni Bugyal during winters (Photo: Emmanuelle)
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Initial snow patches during winters
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Didna village looks different after a snowfall

Phoktey Dara Trek:

Duration: 7 days
Region: Sikkim
Where to reach: NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri
Grade: Easy
Maximum altitude: 3700 m/12150 ft
Suitable for: Beginners and experienced hikers, couple of days have relatively long walk.
Stay type: Camping and homestay/lodge at base camp
Snow conditions: Rare, usually one or two low to moderate snowfall during January/February.
Tour attractions: Most pristine trek of Sikkim inside Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, greenery throughout the year, serene campsites with incredible views of Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse and other snow peaks, views of Sleeping Buddha, Uttarey monastery, Singshore Bridge, Dentam Cheese Factory. (you man add Pelling as a side trip as well)

Note: Snow fall is rare and in usually in low amount. You should consider this trek during winters not because of the snow but the clear weather and magnificent views it produces.

snow-covered-phoktey-dara-trail
Kanchenjunga in Sleeping Buddha form (PC: Pema Sherpa)
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Probably the finest of the campsites
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Everest group of peaks from Phoktey Dara

Dodital and Darwa pass trek:

Duration: 6 days
Region: Uttarakhand
Where to reach: Dehradun
Grade: Easy, somewhat challenging climb to Darwa top and back.
Maximum altitude: 4100 m/13450 ft
Suitable for: Beginners and experienced hikers, the climb to Darwa top is a moderate grade day.
Stay type: Camping and homestay/lodge.
Snow conditions: January and February
Tour attractions: Pahadi village and monsoon shelters, sweet forest walk inside conifers, a pristine fairly large alpine lake nestled inside forest, Ganesha temple (the per legend the lake is birthplace of Ganesha), snowy peaks, challenging day hike to Darwa top and back, option to stay in the Forest rest house at Dodital.

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Dodital remains pristine and snow covered during winters
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On Dodital trail
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Snow time

Bajre Dara trek

Duration: 5 days
Region: Sikkim
Where to reach: NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri
Grade: Easy
Maximum altitude: 3350 m/11000 ft
Suitable for: Beginners and experienced hikers, some portion of the trail is not well marked.
Stay type: Camping and homestay/lodge at base camp
Snow conditions: Occasional, usually one or two low to moderate snowfall during January/February.
Tour attractions: Sikkimese village and homestay, greenery throughout the year, Rhododendron and bamboo forests, aerial view of Khecheopalri Lake, serene campsites with incredible views of Kanchenjunga and other snow peaks, homestay around Darap village or Pelling as a side trip.

bajre-dara-fresh-winter-trail-in-sikkim
Bajre Dara trek
bajre-dara-a-new-but-fascinating-trail-in-winters
Clear skies with crystal views are common during winters
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Bamboo forest, a speciality of Eastern Himalayas

Deoriatal Chandrashila trek

Duration: 6 days
Region: Uttarakhand
Where to reach: Dehradun
Grade: Easy
Maximum altitude: 3800 m/12500 ft
Suitable for: Beginners and experienced hikers, the climb to Ali Bugyal may be a bit strenuous.
Stay type: Basic lodge, homestay, dhaba etc.
Snow conditions: Mid December to mid March
Tour attractions: short hike to Deoriatal with magnificent view of Chaukhamba and other mountains, Chopta is often regarded Switzerland of India, pristine forest inside Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary, Tunganath the highest Shiva temple, summit to Chandrashila peak, panoramic extravaganza of snow clad mountains.

deoriatal-and-chaukhamba-mountain-with-winter-snow
Deoriatal
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Splendid mountain views with ample snow
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Tunganath: The highest Lord Shiva shrine

Dzongri as winter trek:

Duration: 9 days
Region: Sikkim
Where to reach: NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri
Grade: Moderate
Maximum altitude: 4150 m/13612 ft
Suitable for: Experienced hikers, we don’t recommend beginners on this trail during winters.
Stay type: Camping and homestay/lodge at base camp
Snow conditions: Low to moderate, usually one or two low to moderate snowfall during January/February.
Tour attractions: Incredible mountain views, Kanchenjunga massif , Kabru group, Pandim and other peaks, lovely forest walk inside Kanchendzongha National Park, high altitude lake, monasteries, high altitude trek in winters.

Note: During winters a moderate level snow fall between 6 inch to a feet can make this trail challenging both for the trekkers and packed animals/support team. Consult with us thoroughly on different situations which may arise in winters.

dzongri-top-and-pandim-peak
@ Dzongri top (PC – Soumya Deep)
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Inside dense Rhododendron forest
lakshmi-pokhari-around-dzongri
Side trip to Lakshmi Pokhari

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Saptarshi Roy
Saptarshi Roy
Saptarshi is the Chief Organiser and founder of HT.

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