Trekking and hiking in the mountains has not been a traditional sports activity in India. But in last few years, the space of adventure tourism is constantly growing because now people and specially the youth are very interested in not only travel and tourism but also in making their travels full of adventure.
In this scenario, winter trekking in the Himalayas is something that can add a little more spice and fun in your whole experience. Kedarkantha winter trek in Sankri region of Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand is one such great experience. Kedarkantha trek offers something to everyone. It can be a very satisfying and mesmerizing trek for a novice trekker and it can give the feeling of getting high rewards in less time to an experienced trekker. It is suitable for a solo individual trekker, a group of friends, family with kids or just anyone else looking for a highly rewarding and a bit challenging trekking experience in the Himalayas. Who knows, one such trek could also lead you to a path of self discovery!!
Basic Details About Kedarkantha Trek
Kedarkantha trek starts from a small village called Sankri. Sankri is well connected by road and it is 200 KMs away from Dehradun, the state capital of Uttarakhand. Kedarkantha is a mountain peak which is 3800 mtrs or roughly 12500 ft above sea level. The altitude of Sankri village is 1900 mtrs. So reaching the peak of Kedarkantha from Sankri village means a solid altitude gain of 1900 mtrs. This trek can be easily completed from Sankri to Sankri in 4 days which will require setting up 3 different camps on the mountain. But people who find more fun and thrill in posing a greater challenge before themselves, can try to complete the whole trek in 2 or 3 days too.
Please read more detailed itineraries of this trek here: https://himalayanhigh.in/kedarkantha-winter-trek
Essential Parts of Planning and Organizing Your Own Trek
Now that it is established that Kedarkantha is a very thrilling and exciting Himalayan trek to do, we will look towards the next part. Planning to do this trek yourself or with your friends/family together. There are several good trek organizers who organize this trek for groups of people. They have all the arrangements for the trek sorted out and you can just join their group and enjoy your experience. Himalayan High is one such trek organizer. But somewhere out there, there is a different breed of people too who don't enjoy trekking with fully organized groups as much as others. But everyone needs some basic arrangements to complete any trek successfully. So, there has to be a solution to this problem. That's why, a complete step by step guide to plan and organize the Kedarkantha trek on your own is presented here.
If you look at organizing any multi day Himalayan trek, it may seem to you as a complex problem. But to make it simpler, we need to break it down to different essential components of organizing a trek. Here are a few things that need to be sorted for your trek planning.
- Travel and Transfers
- Accommodation at trek base
- Local trek guide and Permits
- Essential personal equipment for trekking
- Camping arrangements and food
- Some other miscellaneous requirements
- Weigt Management and Load Ferry
Now we will talk about all these components in more detail.
Travel and Transfers
This includes the travel from your home location to Dehradun by rail or plane and transfer to and from Sankri. There are many public buses which ply daily on the Dehradun-Sankri route. They typically take 8-9 hours for this journey. All the buses leave early in the morning from Dehradun railway station between 5AM and 8AM. Apart from this, there are many taxi service providers who will arrange a taxi for your travel from Dehradun to Sankri and return.
Accommodation in Sankri
After you have reached Sankri, the next requirement is obviously to stay there. Sankri, despite being a very small place, has many hotels and small homestays for trekkers and tourists. Because this is a remote Himalayan village, staying in a local homestay or small lodge should be preferred because that will give you a better authentic experience of staying in a village.
Himalayan High also has two homestays specially meant for trekkers coming there. These homestays are named 'Himalayan High Trekker's Lodge - Sankri' and are only 500 mtrs away from Sankri market. They offer very comfortable and budget friendly accommodation with local authentic food served to everyone. Please know more about them here: https://himalayanhigh.in/trekkers-lodge-sankri
Local Trek Guide
Hiring an experienced local trek guide is very important. When you hire a local person as your guide, it completely removes the risk of you losing your way at any point during the trek. A good local guide would also tell you many things about local culture, food and the surrounding mountains. A good guide can make a huge difference in your entire trek experience. He will tell you interesting local tales of the region and in no time, you'll make a long lasting bond with your guide. Apart from this, Sankri is a part of the restricted 'Govind Pashu Vihar' wildlife sanctuary. So, every trekker needs to get a written permission letter from the forest department before starting the trek. Forest department prohibits all trekkers from doing any trek in the region without a local guide. So hiring a guide becomes mandatory.
Himalayan High is the only organization allowing hiring of local guides, porters, cooks and mules online. You can book your resources online and travel worry-free.
Necessary Personal Equipment
When you go for a winter Himalayan trek like Kedarkantha, you can expect a little difficult weather conditions and the trek route maybe full of fresh snow. So to make the trek safe and successful for all trekkers, you need some good quality personal trek gear during the trek like a good pair of trek shoes, a down jacket, waterproof and windproof layers, rucksack, gaiters, micro spikes for shoes, headlamp etc. Any average trekker would possibly not have all this gear on him and it may prove to be quite expensive to buy all the necessary equipment for one trek. That's why it makes perfect sense to rent all the required equipment before your trek and to make your trek successful. You should always rent the necessary gear in advance because that just ensures the availability of trek equipment for you when you arrive in Sankri to start your trek.
There are not many online equipment rental services available in this area. But fortunately, Himalayan High has an online equipment rental booking service which provides quality trekking gears with assuarance to help you plan without any worry of equipment and local resources. You can access this portal here: https://himalayanhigh.in/himalayan-high-altitude-equipment-rentals.aspx
Using this service, you can book your equipment rentals for you and your group in advance through safe online payments. This will guarantee the availability of equipment to you in Sankri. All the equipment is top quality and in good condition. In addition, this service also offers the option of hiring any type of local resources in advance like guide, cook, porter, helper, mules etc.
Required Personal Trek Equipment For Kedfarkantha Snow Trek:
- Waterproof High Ankle Trekking Shoes
- Microspikes or mini ice crampons
- Waterproof trek trousers
- Waterproof Jackets
- Down Jackets ( -10 to -15 )
- Trek Poles
- Waterproof outer gloves
- Fleece inner gloves
- Skull Cap
- Sunglasses ( Cat 3 or Cat 4 lense, anti UV, Polarized )
- 2 Sets of thermals
- 4 sets of socks ( 2 cotton - 2 woolen )
- Tee Shirts ( 2 - 3 )
- Lightweight Trek Trousers ( 2)
Camping Arrangements And Cooking
This is the most important and tricky part of planning and organizing your own trek but not a difficult one to take care of. All the equipment required for a good, comfortable and safe camping experience like sleeping tents, sleeping bags, mattresses, kitchen tent, dining tent, toilet tent etc can be rented online. Be a little careful with the dates when you are making an online booking for these things. So first part of the problem is solved.
Now the next thing is taking care of food. It is obviously very important to keep yourself well-fed and hydrated during your trek. There are several options available to arrange food during the trek for yourself and your group. If the team size is 3 or less and if you are planning to do the Kedarkantha trek in 2 or maximum 3 days, you can manage to do the whole trek with some light ready to eat kind of food. You can carry these food items yourself. To cook these things in your camp, it is possible to hire a butane gas stove and camping utensils online. You can supplement your food by carrying some chocolates, energy bars, boiled eggs etc. If you are lucky, you'll also get some basic food on the mountain at some local dhabas, tea/maggi points etc. If you don't prefer to carry these food items and camping equipment yourself, you are suggested to hire porters to carry this stuff for you. Service of a porter can also be booked online in advance. One porter will carry a maximum load of 20 KGs for you. The equipment and stuff to be carried by a porter should be properly packed in an easy to carry bag. It will be your responsibility to arrange the camping accommodation and food for any local resources you are hiring like guide and porters. Please note that these local people are not used to surviving on ready to eat food like maggi, soup etc and they've to do heavy work every day. So, they need basic but full meal in their diet like dal and rice. So you can either carry these food items separately for them and they will cook food for themselves or you can provide them some extra food allowance so they can manage it on their own.
If your group size is more than 4, it is better to keep a little more elaborate arrangements for food. In this case, you should also hire a cook for your team. For cooking, you can rent a kerosene stove online and buy kerosene there in Sankri. Keep the food menu basic and filling for all members of your team. You can buy all ration and vegetables either from Dehradun or in Sankri. Up to 4 members, one cook will do all the work of cooking and cleaning but for a bigger group, the cook will need kitchen helpers with him for fetching water, washing vegetables, cutting, cleaning utensils, serving food, etc. From 5 to 8 members, one helper will be sufficient and for 9 to 15 members, two helpers is a must to do the job. With this increasing group size, porters will not be able to carry all the food items and equipment for you. So it will make more sense to hire the service of mules to carry all the stuff for you. Mules can also be hired online in advance. You can calculate the number of required mules by considering that one mule will carry a maximum load of 40 KGs.
Required Camping Gears:
- 3 or 2 Person Tents ( 1 tent for upto 3 persons)
- Waterproof foam mattress ( 1 for each member )
- Sleeping Bags ( 1 for each member )
- Sleeping Bag Inners ( 1 for each member )
Kitchen and Dining ( Basics ):
- Kitchen Tent
- Stove and Utensil Kit for cooking and eating
- Ration ( Rice, Dal, Wheat, Cooking Oil, Eggs, Vegetables, etc )
Kitchen and Dining ( Luxury):
- Camping Table
- Camping Stools
- Dining Tents ( For 6 or more people )
If you are nature lover, use Toilet Tents and Cat Style Toilets on Camps. Do it in hiding, Dig a pit. Do it in it. Cover it with mud thereafter.
Cooking Plan for Small Team ( upto 4 members ):
- Alpine Stove ( can be rented from Himalayan High Rentals )
- Butane Cylinders ( Can be bought in Sankri from Himalayan High )
- Ready to eat food which requires just boiling water.
- Camping utensils can be managed with just a big Steel Mug and a small bowl
Weight Management and Load Ferry
Finally it comes down to total weight once everything is finalized. Depending upon the estimated weight of the camping gears, ration and fuel, you need to determine whether you would be hiring mules or a couple of porters to get the job done. Remember, porter can carry upto 20 Kilos of weight, whereas mules can upto 40/45 kilos. Porters will eat food whereas mules will eat grass. However, porters mean extra help on the route and camp or for emergencies during the trek.
As already discussed above, you need a permission from forest department which you can easily get from the forest checkpost in Sankri but you need to go there with your local guide. All other required equipment and resources can be hired online.
If you organize Kedarkantha trek successfully on your own, it will give you an unforgettable Himalayan trekking experience without a doubt. Not just that, you'll also learn how to manage all the required logistics for such a trek at a very remote location.