Har Ki Doon Trek

Dehradun | India
  From  INR 8,499  | From 7 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Har Ki Doon Trek

Uttarakhand is the gateway to many beautiful treks at the heart of India. Trekkers over the years have discovered enchanting Himalayan trails in Uttarakhand which can be undertaken by novice trekkers with minimal experience and pro trekkers as well.

The Har Ki Doon trek is one such prominent Himalayan trek which is easy to moderately difficult and attracts beginners as well as seasoned campaigners.

The Har Ki Doon valley trek has the following highlights:

Numerous streams and rivulets:

The trek takes one across numerous streams and rivers like the Thamsa, Har Ki Doon, Ruinsara, Karmanasha, and Kyarakoti. The rippling water cutting across rolling meadows makes some of the prettiest sceneries at Har Ki Doon. Quaint wooden bridges pave the way across some of these rivers, looking as if they're straight out of a fantasy novel, especially in spring- the Har Ki Doon trek best time.

Picture-perfect campsites:

The sprawling meadows of Kalkathiyadhar make the best camping ground for the trekkers, offering glimpses of the Swargarohini peaks of the Himalayas. The forestry along the trail to Ruinsara can be seen from here. If one looks closely, they can also spot the Kedarkantha peak at a great distance beyond Kotgaon.

Devsu Thatch is another picturesque campsite on this trek. This area is rich in biodiversity so lots of unique Himalayan flora and fauna can be seen here. It is a perfect spot for capturing photos of the sunset in the mountains.

Ancient Garhwali villages:

Another highlight of this trek is the villages that dot this region. The villagers at Gangad and Osla are friendly and welcoming to the trekkers who want to stay with them. They offer lodging and authentic Garhwali cuisine at affordable rates. Enchanting stories of their lives and culture will keep the trekker entertained during their stay.

Har Ki Doon Valley and Ruinsara Tal:

The Har Ki Doon valley extends for miles and miles, its greenery soothing to the eyes. It is surrounded by the soaring, snow-capped mountains. Sunrises are best viewed from here. On the other hand, the tranquility experienced at the Ruinsara Tal makes the trekker connect with their soul and reflect on their life while being grateful for everything that nature has to offer.

Overview of the Har Ki Doon Trek:

Har Ki Doon is a cradle-shaped valley in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is a 70 km trail coming with a complete package of lush green meadows, views of lofty peaks, grasslands, rippling streams and rivers, an alpine lake, and ancient villages with a rich culture. Crossing the rivulets and streams by the wooden bridges or by the rope and pulley makes this nothing short of a thrilling adventure.

Interestingly, a reliable BSNL phone network is available at the base camp at Kotgaon as well as the sites like Har Ki Doon and Ruinsara Tal.

The Har Ki Doon trek cost is around USD 160 to 165 (INR 11000 to 12000). This estimate excludes guide fees as hiring a guide for this adventure is not necessary.

How Difficult is the Har Ki Doon Trek?

The Har Ki Doon trek difficulty level is classified as easy to moderate. The terrain is quite smooth and easy to trek. However, the long distances of 10 km to be hiked every day mark this trek just slightly more difficult than the ones suited for beginners. But it can be said that the trek is safe to be attempted by novice trekkers with basic fitness levels.

The quick altitude gain from the starting point at Taluka village to Kalkathiyadhar might cause fatigue and AMS which can subside with proper rest and hydration. But in the case of severe sickness, not too many exits are accessible from the Har Ki Doon trail, as it has only one way in and out of the valley. This makes emergency evacuations very challenging.

Har Ki Doon is essentially a river trek - it takes one along the Thamsa river and the Ruinsara Gad. Naturally, the trekker has to cross many streams and rivulets on the trail. When trekking towards Swarnadhara from Rainbasera, one must be careful about the overhangs that dot the trail above the Ruinsara river. This area is especially slippery.

There are wooden or cement bridges constructed across the streams and rivers to help the trekkers. But it may so happen that a wooden bridge might get washed away or become unusable. In such a situation, the trekkers have to use the rope and pulley system. However, if the trekker has conducted proper research before starting the trek, they have nothing to worry about.

Best Time to Visit the Har Ki Doon Trek:

This trek can be done for almost eight months in a year. From March to June, one can experience beautiful spring and summertime in the mountains. This is the most popular window and is regarded as the Har Ki Doon trek best time. The monsoons make the trail close down briefly and the trekking season resumes from September to December. Spring, summer, autumn, and early winter - each of these seasons displays unique and breathtaking sceneries for the trekkers.

Early in spring, the sight of the valleys turning green from rocky brown will amaze the trekkers. Varieties of wildflowers make this a multicolored glade blooming right before their eyes. In summer, this region becomes lush green because of the light showers of the early monsoon. The atmosphere is refreshing as the clear skies allow the best natural light for photography.

In September, the green grasslands start browning, giving way to the sharp autumnal chill in the air. The skies remain clear after the bout of the monsoon rains but there are fewer trekkers on this trail. So, for trekkers wishing to undertake the trip during a less crowded time, autumn poses as the Har Ki Doon trek best time.

The trail becomes an amazing snowy glade during winter. The first snowfall occurs by mid-December so the trekkers experience sub-zero temperatures at this time. However, the snowfall keeps getting heavier with time and it becomes impossible to finish the rest of the trek beyond Kalathiyadhar if you are traveling post mid-December.

Gear Guide and Checklist for the trek to Har Ki Doon:

The key to preparing well for mountain treks is to pack light yet be ready to tackle any consequences and eventualities.

Apparel, footwear, and accessories:

To maintain an optimal body temperature one should pack light clothing to layer up as and when they require. 3 to 4 quick-dry polyester full-sleeve t-shirts are especially ideal for treks. A thermal innerwear set will help the trekker stay warm in later autumn and winter. Light fleece sweaters, padded jackets with hoods will also help in sub-zero conditions.

Layering to protect the head is also important, especially in winter. Woolen caps, ear-covering beanies, or a balaclava are perfect for wearing beneath the hood of the padded jacket. This makes sure the trekker doesn’t lose any heat from the head. Wearing woolen mufflers under the high-collared clothes would protect the neck against the biting cold. Woolen gloves are best to keep the hands warm. Aside from carrying several pairs of synthetic sports socks that will dry quickly, a pair of woolen socks will help to layer up at night.

While keeping the Har Ki Doon trek cost in mind, the trekker should invest in proper footwear that will help them trek across the multiple streams on foot easily. It is advisable to procure sturdy and good-quality trekking shoes with a robust body, good grip, waterproof body, and ankle support. When trekking in winter, boots with microspikes and gaiters will help with the grip and waterproofing.

Accessories like UV protection sunglasses, a suncap, a battery-operated torch or a headlamp, and a pair of strong trekking poles will be essential for this trek.

Backpacks, waterproof covers, and sleeping bags:

A 60 to 65 liters capacity backpack can be adequate for the trek. Waterproof covers for backpacks and water-resistant bags for putting in your electronics, wallet, and essential documents should be carried.

Frigid weather is common at night on the trek where temperatures can often fall to sub-zero levels. So a thick sleeping bag of good quality will help you stay warm and sleep peacefully at night.

Toiletries and hygiene products:

A toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, hand sanitizer, lip balm, moisturizer, and deodorant should comprise your toiletry set. Toilet paper, tissue rolls, and wet wipes are also essential. Carrying enough tampons, sanitary napkins or a menstrual cup will prevent any discomfort for women.

First-aid kit and medicines:

Paracetamols, antihistamines, anti-nausea medicines, antacids, and painkillers are common medicines that should be carried. An emergency first-aid kit containing bandaids, antiseptic liquid, ointment, gauze swabs, crepe bandages, insect repellent, and a pain-relieving spray should be kept at hand for any sprains or injuries on the way. Water-purifying tablets are also to be carried since the streams and rivers are the only sources of water on this trek.

Important documents to be carried:

Any government-issued photo ID with address proof, photocopies of the same, and two passport size photographs are to be carried. For non-Indians, the passport and the visa are absolutely necessary. Only a local entry permit for Govind Ballabh Pant National Park is required which can be purchased at the beginning of the trek.

Har Ki Doon Trek Itinerary:

  • Day 1: The first day is reserved for the trekkers from Dehradun to reach Kotgaon (1967 meters), which is the base camp for the trek to Har Ki Doon. It takes around 8 to 10 hours to reach Kotgaon. During the peak trekking seasons, many other treks like Kedarkantha, Bali Pass, and Borasu Pass start from Kotgaon so the crowds will be thick. The trekkers will need to promptly arrange their accommodations for the night and the vehicle for the next day. Lodging can also be found at Sankri, a village near Kotgaon.
  • Day 2: The drive to Taluka takes around an hour. Trekkers can also trek to Taluka since it is a decent 12 km away and has a flat gradient first 3 km but following that there are gradual ascents and descents. The Thamsa river accompanies the trekkers on their 14 km trek to Seema or Osla. The Osla campsite is famous for its Someshwar Temple. Some of the cleared lands here are used for farming purposes so the trekkers need to go a little further to camp for the night. The confluence of Thamsa and Ruinsara rivers provides a great camping spot with enchanting views of the Dhauladhar, Bandoorpooch, and Kala Nag ranges.
  • Day 3: Keeping the Devsu Thatch grasslands on the right, the third day of the Har Ki Doon trek itinerary takes the trekkers to Kalkathiyadhar. The valley now divides into two parts, with Har Ki Doon on the left and Ruinsara Taal and Bali Pass on the right. This part of the trail has the gentlest slope with views of the Har Ki Doon peak and the Hata peak. The trekkers have to cross multiple streams and rivulets on the trail with pine forests and rhododendron trees following them. The Kalkathiyadhar campsite is nestled between two valleys divided by a stream named Karmanasha. Trekkers looking for an extra day of adventure can take the left route to Maninda Tal and Borasu Pass or the route on the right to Jaundhar glacier.
  • Day 4: This is the day when the trekkers reach the Har Ki Doon valley. The breathtaking aesthetic of the campsite is mesmerizing. This is another 10 km trek and the rest of the day is kept for resting and experiencing the wonderful sights of alpine flowing and vegetation gracing the meadows. The sunrise against the snow-capped beauty of the Swargarohini-1 peak is another enchanting sight. The way to the famous Sangla Valley of Himachal Pradesh is visible from the Boslo campsite here.
  • Day 5: The next day starts with a sharp descent till the confluence of the two glacial rivers - Har Ki Doon and Kyarakoti, to form the mighty Thamsa river. There are a few river crossings before reaching Chhatri, where the trekkers can rest under the concrete shade erected by the forest department. The Black peak can be viewed from the trail here before reaching Untigad, the camping grounds for the night.
  • Day 6: The day's trek from Swarnadhara to Ruinsara Tal is around 12 to 13 km and takes around 6-7 hours to complete. The trail to Ruinsara lake is fenced by silver birch, also known as Bhojpatra trees. In winter, this lake is covered with white sheets of ice like a high glacial lake. It is surrounded by greenery in spring and the water appears murky and brownish due to the dense vegetation growing underwater. The sight of the Ruinsara Tal is totally worth the Har Ki Doon trek cost. The Kyarakoti Glacier, the base camp for the Black Peak or Kalanag is right ahead of the Har Ki Doon trail. The hanging glaciers of Swargarohini are mesmerizing to look at. The steep ascending trail towards Devsu should be taken this time to halt at the green campsite. Mountainous birds like the Himalayan monal and pheasant and animals like the black panther and Asiatic black bear can be spotted at a distance.
  • Day 7: A continuous and gradual descent towards Gangad will take the trekkers through Chir pine and needle pine forests dotted by various ferns and flowering plants. The old village of Gangad provides a peek into the ancient culture of the Garhwalis. The trekkers should especially try the authentic mountainous cuisine from the local shacks. From the Seema bridge, the trekkers take the same route back to Taluka. Shared taxis commute back to Sankri where one can rest for the night before leaving for Dehradun the next day.

Getting Fit For Har Ki Doon Trek:

This trek demands the good cardiovascular endurance of the tracker. Every day jogging can build the necessary stamina and increase the walking speed of the trekkers. Other activities like cycling, swimming, skipping ropes, squats, and pushups can help strengthen the core muscles. Regular yoga and meditation can help the trekker develop the necessary mental fortitude and determination to overcome any situation.

The Har Ki Doon trek itinerary is a tiring one but the rewarding experience makes up for it easily. Hiring a guide is not mandatory for this trek but is recommended since they can take care of arranging the camping grounds and food on the trek. By following the guidelines and taking proper precautions, this trek will be one to remember for a lifetime.