Kalindi Pass Trek
Bordering Tibet, the region of Garhwal in Uttarakhand, is most famous for the holy sites including the source of India’s most sacred Ganges River which each year receive thousands of pilgrims.
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeTrekking
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Medium Group
Bordering Tibet, the region of Garhwal in Uttarakhand, is most famous for the holy sites including the source of India’s most sacred Ganges River which each year receive thousands of pilgrims. Located at the very centre of the great Himalayan chain Garhwal has a host of 7,000 metre peaks such as Nanda Devi, Kamet and Trishul, and sub 7,000 metre expedition peaks such as the stunning Shivling, and this makes the region a Mecca for mountaineers also. Connecting the two holy shrines of Gangotri and Badrinath, this trail traverses from one glacier to the other to cross the high pass of Kalindi just under 6000m.
We begin by following the ages-old ‘Pilgrim’s Trail’ to the source of the mighty Ganges at Gaumukh, and from here we journey into the mountainous heart of Garhwal. We establish a succession of alpine meadow and lakeside camps, with magical views of some of India’s biggest peaks including Shivling, undeniably one of the most beautiful peaks in the Himalayas. Beyond Nandanvan, we climb onto the Chaturangi Glacier and for the next 4 days our route is either on or beside this river of ice as we approach the Kalindi Khal (5947m.).
The walk now is mostly over the moraines and the snow fields with deep crevasses and gives great opportunities to view the high altitude wildlife. From our highest camp, the short and yet exciting climb to this glaciated pass involves the use of ice axe and crampons. We enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains before descending to the beautiful Arwa lake. We follow the Arwa Valley to its junction with the Saraswati River and make our return to civilisation through the villages of Ghastoli and Mana. Walking at an average altitude of 4500m for about 10 days and sleeping at freezing temperatures this trip is a lot more than a trek.
Only for experienced trekkers !
Overnight train from Delhi
Overnight train from Delhi
Haridwar to Uttarkashi
Arrive at Haridwar railway station at 3:55 am. Board the waiting vehicles to be driven 7 hrs to Uttarkashi, overnight at Kuflon Basics.
Drive Uttarkashi to Gangotri (3000m), 4-5 hrs
After a relaxed breakfast drive 4-5 hrs to the pilgrim town of Gangotri. With the new dam coming up on the Bhagirathi valley expect lots of construction activity. The drive gets picturesque as one approaches the village of Sukhi. Closer to reaching Gangotri one starts getting the views of the snow-capped peaks.
Trek Gangotri to Chirbasa (3600m) 4 hrs
Visit the temple and the start the 4 hr walk up towards Gaumukh, the source of the river Ganges. The trail keeps following the river and and just short of Chirbasa one gets the first views of the Bhagirathi Peaks. Chirbasa (3600m), literally meaning the home of pine is now a cluster of shops and some pine trees. Walk down from the main trail and setup camp close to the river.
Trek Chirbasa to Gaumukh(4000m) 4-5hrs
The trail goes along the valley and crosses the campsite of Bhojbasa(3800m), home of birch (now only a few left in the much denuded area). We carry on further to camp close to the snout of the Gangotri Glacier.
An extra day for acclimatisation
Trek Gaumukh-Nandanvan (4505m) 5-6hrs
We walk up to the meadow of Nandanvan at the base of Bhagirathi group of peaks. The camp offers majestic views of Shivling – the Matterhorn of the Himalayas. Meru, Kharchakund & Kedar Dome would be the other peaks in proximity.
Trek Nandanvan-Vasukital (4900m) 6-7hrs
Walk along a stream with views of Meru and Bhrigupanth. After 5kms, we bypass the outlet of the valley leading towards Bhagirathi and come to a deep gorge eroded by the glacier. Descend diagonally towards the snout of the lateral glacier to reach Vasukital. Camp near the lake at the foot of the North-west ridge of Vasuki Parbat.
Rest day at Vasukital
A day to rest and recuperate. It helps us acclimatise and get ready for crossing the high pass.
Trek Vasukital to Kharapathar (5115m) 4-5 hrs
This days walk is over stony rubble and crossing moraines. We cross the glacier coming down from Satopanth, gaining height steadily. The path descends steeply to Suralaya Bamak from where we walk on undulating glacial moraine to camp at the place known as Kharapattar, where there is a huge standing rock. Camp.
Trek Kharapathar to Sweta Glacier (5500m) 4-5 hrs
Today’s walk is fairly tough glacier walk going over mounds of moraine debris. We pass small transient lakes in the glacier and again there are great views of the peaks of Sweta, and Chandra Parvat. Our camp is located just before the junction of the Sweta Bamak which joins the Chaturangi Bamak ( glacier bank) from the SE. The campsite is fairly rocky and may need clearing to be done to pitch the tents. Overnight Camp.
Trek Sweta Glacier to Kalindi Pass Base
We continue through similar terrain as yesterday with more moraine rubble and glacial ice but with the most spectacular scenery as we are right in between the big mountains. We can see Kalindi Pass from our campsite
Trek Kalindi Pass Base camp to Rajparav(4910m) 4-5 hrs
We make an early start for the climb to the Kalindi pass at 5967m. The trail is on the glacier which is crevassed in places and depending on snow conditions it may be necessary for everyone to rope up. We may also have to negotiate a bergschrund before a final steep slope of approximately 30 metres. After spending some time taking in the breathtaking scenery of snow capped peaks, we begin a steep descent towards the plateau to the east of the pass. We might use fixed ropes for overall group safety. Eventually we cross the permanent snow line and continue the descend to a very pleasant camp by a stream at Rajparav.
Trek Rajparav – Arwatal (3900m) 5-6 hrs
We follow an undulating trail along the glacier negotiating the now familiar rubble and boulders for the first hour of the day until we reach the glacier’s snout. We now follow the Saraswati river, which may necessitate the occasional fording of its icy waters, to arrive at our overnight camp at Arwa Tal (lake). This is a wonderful place with great views of the towering Arwa Spires and other Himalayan peaks. Overnight Camp.
Trek Arwatal-Ghastoli (3790m) 5-6hrs
Walk down Arwa nalla with its profusion of wild flowers. A leisurely day to camp at the village Ghastoli where our Permits / Passports would be checked.
Trek Ghastoli-Mana (3135m)-Badrinath (3100m) 5-6 hrs
A short final trekking day of 3 hours, descending on a well defined pony track beside the Saraswati river brings us to the roadhead at the village of Mana. Here the Saraswati River confluences with the Alaknanda River. Mana village is famous for the fact that Maharishi Vyash wrote the Mahabharata here. The village is also well known for its woollen products such as shawls, blankets and carpets. We have lunch here and then drive direct to Badrinath / Joshimath. After many days of camping this first night in a hotel would be very welcome. 3 hours walk, 53km drive.
Badrinath-Haridwar (1330m) 4-5 hrs
Visit the temple of Badrinath(3100m) and drive 10-12 hrs to Haridwar. Board the overnight Mussoorie Express leaving Haridwar at 11:15pm to arrive in Delhi by 7:20 am.
Arrive Delhi at 7:20am. Trip ends!
Important: This day-to-day schedule should be taken only as a general guide. Although we update our itineraries every year, to take into account such things as: changes to trekking routes and changes in the routing or availability of local transport, it is not possible to guarantee that any of our holidays will run exactly according to the proposed itinerary. A variety of factors, including adverse weather conditions and difficulties with transportation, permission hassles for this trek, can lead to enforced changes. The trip leader would make the necessary changes after consultation with the guests.
We believe that along with the privilege of adventure in the Himalaya comes a serious responsibility, the responsibility to protect and contribute to its ecology, cultures and its tremendous beauty. The “Leave No Trace” philosophy is followed to the letter and we work to minimize the environmental impact of our trips. We are scrupulous in our camping, cooking and sanitation practices; we limit the number of trekkers we allow to join us on our trips and the number of trips we lead in a given area.
In wilderness, commercial agreements between service provider and client require a depth of understanding that is more than what is routinely attached to similar agreements elsewhere. In the outdoors, we have to balance pursuit of stated objective and risk. We try to overcome risk and deliver the objective promised in the agreement between client and service provider. But that does not mean that we ignore risk altogether to chase an objective. We wish you to be informed on what makes a trip safe for you and everyone else.
Please take a few minutes to read the following:
The nature of wilderness
By definition wilderness implies remoteness. It means that response to any accident or mishap takes time. Timely intervention is a life saver. Working back from this, it becomes imperative that any commercial adventure in wilderness be conservative in terms of the risk it courts. Yet adventure means there will be risk. The way out is to manage the risk involved in such a fashion that a safe experience is provided. There are a few things that the client can do.
Prepare in advance
Commercial expeditions entail strain even if others are carrying your load and doing the team’s work. Prior physical conditioning – particularly of the cardiovascular sort contributing to improved endurance – helps. Please invest time and effort for that before embarking on the trip. It will help you in the field.
Be honest, speak up
We encourage clients to be honest about how they are feeling on expedition days; voice any personal difficulties they may be experiencing. This helps the team make relevant decisions for clients’ well being, something crucial when venturing into altitude. Not all of us are meant for altitude. If your physiology rebels, there is nothing to be ashamed of it. Speak up. Make sure that your disclosures about self are not biased by an objective you are feverishly trying to achieve like getting to the summit of a peak or crossing a high pass at any cost. Don’t let summit fever and similar instances of extreme personal ambition, consume you. It puts you and your support team at risk. Stay with the team’s assessment of risk. Go with the resultant decisions. If you think you have a point to make by all means do so. We will hear you out. But risk assessment and decisions, will be by the team leaders as the onus of a safe expedition primarily rests with them.
Let the leaders work
You may be familiar with rivers, mountains and altitude. We don’t wish to question that. But there are reasons why many of us choose to go as clients. One of them is that our primary vocation is something else, while those working in the mountains as guides have chosen to make that their primary vocation or at the very least, dedicate time to it. More than us, they are in the mountains. They are alive to it. That’s why we entrust our passage to them. So, please let them work free of interference. Please don’t influence their judgement. Your expedition needs their best work and best judgement. In any expedition, leadership style will vary with the risk being tackled in a given situation. There will be times when we can travel easy in a very consultative fashion. There will be times when that is not advisable and a more directive style may be adopted by your guides. Please comply.
Be open to alternatives
We can set up the best safety systems possible, checking and double checking to make sure that nothing is left to chance. But we don’t control or totally overcome variables like weather and terrain / river conditions. They impact expedition’s progress. If team leaders review / alter plan citing concerns on any front, we request that it be respected and not viewed as money’s worth denied even if it dims prospects for achieving an expedition’s original goal. Such challenges are frequent in the outdoors. Seasoned trekkers and climbers, when they realize that a particular objective does not seem achievable on a given trip, learn to be happy with other pursuits to compensate – like staying camped and enjoying the mountain environment or attempting more doable hikes from wherever they are. We request you to stay aware of these possibilities. Be open to them. Decades ago when exploration and first ascents were happening in the Himalaya, the explorers / mountaineers / hikers devoted months to their work. Committed outdoorsmen still do. They wait out unfavourable circumstances by having a lot of time and patience. Time is what the modern world does not have even as the mountains remain the same, posing the same challenges; the same risk, the same unpredictable circumstances. An exceptionally lucky circumstance may deliver success. But luck isn’t commonplace. We should be mentally prepared for the above mentioned alternatives.
If you don’t achieve your objective it isn’t the end of the world. Be patient, another chance will emerge. There is a simple reminder, climbers often tell their colleagues leaving for a summit: “ the mountain will always be there; make sure you are there.’’
In other words – be safe.
Our expedition trips are designed for energetic and flexible people who have the spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Previous experience in the outdoors and camping helps, though is not a must. These trips are participatory in nature, and everyone is expected to pitch in, set up and break down their own tent, clean their own dishes. Look up our trip grading before you sign up.
Grading of Trips
We have graded our trips in four different categories and you should choose one that suits you the most. Grading of each trip has been done keeping in mind a lot of factors like the trip duration, the altitude, the terrain, the no. of hours of activity everyday, temperatures and conditions encountered, and the level of fitness needed. Any kind of exercise which gets you fitter before this trip is advisable, as it will enable you to enjoy the region more.
- Easy : Most of our camp based trips, with easy activities, that are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding whitewater trips with easy support and myriad options.
- Moderate : Active trips involving hiking over reasonable terrain, within vehicular access, upto elevations less than 4000 meters, or trips with long walking days, multiple rafting days, wilderness camping. Includes more demanding whitewater trips with Class III rapids.
- Demanding : Hiking and trekking to elevations exceeding 4000-5000 meters, away from vehicular access, over multiple days. Encompasses demanding whitewater with Class IV rapids.
- Challenging : Our most demanding trips include climbing at high elevations in excess of 5000 meters, in remote and extreme conditions with no access to roads; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips, and demanding whitewater trips with Class IV-V rapids.
The Next Step
Ready to go? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place and we will guide you through the booking process. Please sign and scan/email us your booking form and inform us about the status of your payments at the time of confirming the trip (Booking form and Payment details below).
Why travel with Aquaterra Adventures?
We are a pioneer in active adventure travel, and run the most number of rivers in India, having opened them up over the past several years. We set the standard and have a strong reputation for excellence. We have a lot to live up to and we ensure we provide the safest, quality trips for our guests.
Should you wish to contact any of our past guests for a trip reference, write to us.
In remote regions, we often use local suppliers who provide services that may include vehicles for transportation, equipment, logistical support, hotels, guest houses etc. We do not own or operate these independent services or suppliers. We work with them as they share our commitment to service and quality.
All travel from Delhi and back to Delhi by road/ rail as applicable (by non ac car / 2 or 3 tier ac coach), all arrangements for staying and camping while on the trip, accommodation on twin share basis in tents / rest houses / hotels, all group climbing gear like ropes, anchors, slings etc. and individual climbing kit which would be hired climbing boots, ice-axes, crampons and gaiters, all meals, professional guide fee, permit fee, sanctuary fee / royalty where applicable, all trekking arrangements with India’s most experienced guiding team, camp staff, cook etc.
Railway station / airport transfers in Delhi, any stay and meals in Delhi, meals enroute to reaching first days destination and back on the last day (due to road journey being 5 hrs or more), sleeping bag, items of personal clothing, expenses of a personal nature like laundry, phone calls, alcohol, cigarettes, insurance, camera fee and any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, landslides, road conditions and any other circumstances beyond our control.
Note: Please book your spot well in time as the overnight trains get filled up very quickly, sometimes couple of months ahead of the travel dates. TATKAL Quota of tickets opens for booking only two days ahead of the travel date and there is an extra cost of Rs 1400 for each of such booking. These tickets are paper tickets, confirmation is never guaranteed and arrangements to have them picked up from our office in Delhi would have to be made by you.
Booking conditions: All bookings are subject to availability of space at Camp. We book space on a 100% advance. All payments by wire transfer, cash or cheque/draft in favor of “Aquaterra Adventures (I) Pvt. Ltd.”
Tips & Gratuities: Our recommendation is a minimum 5-10% of your trip cost for tips to be distributed amongst the team that makes your adventure safe and successful. This includes drivers, guides, cook, kitchen team, porters and horsemen. Of course, this remains a personal choice.
If it becomes necessary to cancel your tour, you must notify Aquaterra Adventures India Pvt. Ltd. immediately in writing. Once we receive your notice, cancellation will take effect. Please note that the following charges will apply on cancellation:
- if cancellation takes place more than 45 days prior to departure, your full deposit
- will be returned except a processing charge of Rs. 5000 or US$ 77 ; (60 days for Brahmaputra trip)
- if cancellation takes place between 45 and 30 days prior to departure, 50% of the
- tour price will be forfeited (between 60 and 30 days for Brahmaputra trip); and
- if cancellation takes place less than 30 days prior to departure, 100% of the tour price will be forfeited.
Some trips attract a minimum processing charge – please check.
The tour price is quoted as a package. No partial refunds or credit will be given for services not used. We recommend that you obtain travel insurance upon booking.