India is much more than culture, religion, food, history, handicrafts, architecture and Bollywood. It’s also a land rich in opportunities for adventures in the outdoors.
India is a land of extreme contrasts… poverty alongside wealth; vibrant one moment, tranquil the next; the ancient and the modern. For travellers, India is more than a country filled with travel marvels; it is a marvel.
You will be joined in India by Back Track Director, Ray Baker. Ray has 39 years of trekking experience and has led over 60 Himalayan treks.
This will be Ray’s third visit to the Indian Himalaya and he has designed an itinerary sure to appeal to lovers of high places. His energy, enthusiasm and zest for adventure are contagious. Expert drivers will handle the road transportation before and after the trek. They will safely deliver you to your destination. A support team of guides, kitchen staff and pony handlers will join you on the trek. Your interaction with the local crew will greatly enhance your enjoyment.
You will also be accompanied throughout by Vikas Kumar, our local Trek Guide who comes from Naddi – a small, picturesque village above Dharamsala in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. Vikas is an experienced, professional English speaking guide who will be happy and honoured to share his knowledge. He is passionate about the area and the Himalaya. Since leaving school he worked as a porter then as a trekking guide from Dharamsala to Ladakh, in the remote Himalaya. He completed his tertiary education part time whilst working as a guide. Since then he has taken groups throughout India and Nepal. Vikas’ gentle nature, passion for history and the culture of India, combined with his local networks makes him the perfect guide to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his trekking groups.
Back Track, in proud association with our Indian partners Ekno Travels has designed a journey of diversity; from the noisy, teeming streets of Delhi to the peace and serenity of an alpine forest. You’ll spend two nights in Bara Bhangal, home of the semi nomadic Gaddi and one of remotest villages in the India Himalaya; accessible for only six months of the year. High mountain passes become snow bound in the winter months, blocking trails leading to the village.
The trekking route to Bara Bhangal starts from the town of Manali, the centre of adventure in India. The trail winds up through forests and serene alpine meadows, over snow clad passes and past high-altitude lakes and glaciers. Gaddi shepherds with their herds of sheep and goats are encountered along the way. We may even share campsites with these hardy mountain shepherds.
This is a challenging grade trek requiring endurance fitness and a positive attitude. It suits both experienced trekkers and those willing to test themselves in a high-altitude Himalayan environment.
For first time visitors to India who wish to also visit more popular, iconic attractions, Back Track can also assist your travels. So if it’s a few days relaxing beach-side in Goa, exploring the mysteries of Varanasi or enjoying the Mughal charms of Rajasthan, Back Track can take you there.
Our style of travel…
This trip, while physically challenging, will provide you with good quality accommodation. The hotels and guesthouses have clean and comfortable rooms with attached bath and toilet and running hot and cold water. Cuisine comprises of local delicacies. Boiled water is provided for drinking. On the nights when you camp, 3 season dome tents with sleeping bags and foam mattresses are provided.
Depending on group size, all road transport is in reliable and comfortable air conditioned Innova jeeps (6 seater) or larger Tempo Traveller (10 seater). To enhance your travel experience, a local, English speaking guide will accompany the group throughout your journey.
Cost & dates
|COST^ & DATES||Bara Bhangal trek: 15 days from Delhi
Amritsar optional add-on: 2 days from Dharamsala
|TRIP HIGHLIGHTS||Experience the colour and excitement of this exciting destination – where ancient history meets the modern day almost as though it were yesterday.
^Though we are not expecting any price increases from our suppliers, airline prices and/or taxes could increase. These increases will be added to our quoted holiday costs.
Day 01: Arrival Delhi
20 August 2019
Welcome to incredible India! Upon your arrival at the airport in Delhi, our representative will greet you and escort you to the hotel. After checking into your hotel, spend the rest of your day at your leisure exploring the local area and relaxing in the hotel. Our friendly guide and hotel staff will be on hand should you need recommendations or general provisions. Tonight, we have the option of enjoying a special ‘Namaste’ welcome dinner in one of New Delhi’s many fine Indian restaurants. This is dependent on flight arrival times. There is also the option of enjoying the welcome dinner in Manali the following night.
Overnight: Hotel, New Delhi (D)
Day 02: Manali
21 August 2019
Fly to Chandigarh in the early morning and drive to Manali from the airport. This scenic drive follows the Beas River and passes through one of the most beautiful gorges that Himachal Pradesh has to offer. Sit back and admire the stunning views as we travel in comfort through what is known as the ‘Valley of the Gods’. There is the option of enjoying the welcome dinner tonight if time did not permit in Delhi.
Overnight: Hotel, Manali (B)
Day 03: Manali
22 August 2019
We will spend the morning sightseeing in Manali, including a visit to the hot water springs in Vashist (walking tour) to soothe your muscles before we start the trek. We will then explore the exotic charm of old Manali and visit the Manu Hadimba Temple. In the afternoon you will meet your trekking guide to orientate and prepare for your trek.
The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore this picturesque town or to take a well deserved rest. Manali also has a range of restaurants offering a variety of local and international cuisines for you to enjoy dinner in.
Overnight: Hotel, Manali (B)
Day 04: Manali to Lama Dug (12kms, 4–5hrs)
23 August 2019
Today the trek starts in Manali (altitude 2050m). We will follow the trail past the Hadimba Temple to the entrance of the Manali Sanctuary. We will then start to climb through a deodar forest for 3kms until we reach a rocky outcrop with a view of Manali. A steep ascent of 400m follows through small pastures and conifer and oak forest. Your campsite is at Lama Dug (2920m), a large meadow surrounded by maple, spruce and oak trees.
Overnight: Camping, Lama Dug (BLD)
Day 05: Lama Dug to Riyali Thach (17kms, 6-7hrs)
24 August 2019
This morning we will head towards the southern perimeter of the Manali Sanctuary. There are wonderful views of the Soling and Routing Valleys with their snow capped peaks. After admiring the view we will continue on our trail across the high pastures. This long and gradual ascent has spectacular views of Hampton Valley and Doe Tibia at 6000m. After walking for 4-5 hours you will reach the highest alpine ridge at 3800m. From this grassy plateau we will make the final ascent to a small valley and from then it is a gradual climb of 2-3kms through a small oak forest to Riyali at 3320m.
Overnight: Camping, Riyali Thach (BLD)
Day 06: Ryali Thach to Kalihani Base Camp (10kms, 5-6hrs)
25 August 2019
Today the trail winds above the upper river course before descending to the valley floor. You can see views of the Kalihani pass from this point. After 2 hours, the trail crosses a bridge at 3270m and from here you will climb a series of grassy ridges and pass a number of Gaddi shepherd camps to reach your campsite at 3700m.
Overnight: Camping, Kalihani Base Camp (BLD)
Day 07: Kalihani Base Campt to Danku Thach via Kalihani Pass (14kms, 5-6hrs)
26 August 2019
Today we will follow the trail along a grassy ridge to a small plateau at 4000m before ascending to a series of moraines, which have been formed over time by glacial deposits. This area is steep in sections and leads to the base of the spectacular Kalihani Pass. A short ascent will lead us to a snowfield, where we will push on through the ice to reach the prayer flags of the Kalihani Pass at 4610m (3-4 hours). You can have a short rest here and enjoy the impressive views of a series of snowfields with hanging glaciers that form the crest of the Bara Bhangal range. We will then head across the snowfield to reach a series of glacial lakes (4350m). Tonight’s camp is 2-3 hours from this point.
Overnight: Camping, Danku Thach (BLD)
Day 08: Dankutach to Damari Thach (16kms, 6hrs)
27 August 2019
Today we will cross the river and continue down into the valley and across some scree slopes. There is a short, steep ascent before climbing to a side valley. Along the way we can stop to admire the panoramic views of the Dhauladhar mountain range. We will then continue on to Damari Thach (3550m) which is 3- 4 kms away. We will set up tonight’s camp in this large alpine meadow.
Overnight: Camping, Damari Thach (BLD)
Day 09: Damari Thach to Bara Bhangal (15kms, 5-6hrs) 28 August 2019
This morning we will continue to another stunning alpine ridge (3670m) before crossing a series of high altitude pastures. A long and gradual descent leads us to the village of Bara Bhangal. Along the way you will see birch, rhododendron and blue pine trees. You may also get to see evidence of brown bears and snakes. We will then reach Bara Bhangal (a village spread out over a number of kilometres) where we will camp for 2 days. We will set up camp by the river and across from the village.
Overnight: Camping, Bara Bhangal (BLD)
Day 10: Bara Bhangal (Rest day)
29 August 2019
Today you have the entire day for resting and relaxing around the village. You can sit back and enjoying the view or take a walk around Bara Bhangal to observe traditional village life.
Overnight: Camping, Bara Bhangal (BLD)
Day 11: Bara Bhangal to Thamsar (15kms, 6-7hrs)
30 August 2019
In the morning we will cross the river and begin a steep 400m ascent to the south of the valley. We will continue for 3kms until we reach a broad glacial valley. We will then cross open meadows and scree slopes in a gradual ascent. When we reach the base of a the waterfall we will stop for a rest before our final ascent towards the series of meadows at Thamsar (3750m).
Overnight: Camping, Thamsar (BLD)
Day 12: Phukchong (14kms, 7-8hrs)
31 August 2019
After we leave Thamsar we will hike for 3-4kms before negotiating scree and boulder fields in order to reach a glacial lake at 4100m. Continue on the trail to another glacial lake at the base of the pass (4380m). Crossing the snowfield leads to a prominent ridge line and the crest of the Dhauladhar range and Thamsar Pass. The pass is marked by Tibetan prayer flags and Hindu tridents. There are impressive views in both directions – the PirPanjal Range to the north and the vast plains to the south. The steep 3 hour descent passes by a large glacial lake at 4370m before we reach Panhartu at 3390m.
Overnight: Camping, Panharu (BLD)
Day 13: Panhartu to Billing (12kms, 5-6hrs)
1 September 2019
From Panhartu the trail descends across a series of permanent snow bridges for 2-3kms. This trail leads us through a mixed forest of rhododendron, spruce and oak; before we reach a forest rest house at Palachak (2500m). After a short break we will continue to descend through the corn and potato fields near Rajgundha (2400m), where we will cross the river to take the trail to Narotta. At this point there are scenic views of the plains of India. We will continue for another 4-5kms around the contours and alpine ridges until we reach Billing (2200m). From here we will travel to McLeod Ganj by private car (2.5 hours). Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, you deserve it!
Overnight: Hotel, McLeod Ganj (B)
Day 14: Mcleod Ganj
2 September 2019
We will spend today relaxing and sightseeing in this fascinating North Indian hill station. We’ll visit the temple of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Monastery; as well as the Tibet Museum. We will then visit the Norbulingka Institute, which was created with the intention of preserving Tibetan culture. For a unique showcase of Tibetan art we will take a guided tour of the workshops to see the artisans at work. There is also a cafe here where you can enjoy sampling some local delicacies. Spend the rest of the afternoon at your leisure, either resting in the hotel or strolling through the town. You might like to indulge in a massage or do some last minute shopping. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner at one of the many fantastic local restaurants before preparing to leave Himachal Pradesh the following morning.
Overnight: Hotel, McLeod Ganj (BD)
Day 15: Tour ends / Delhi
3 September 2019
In the morning we will take a flight back to Delhi. The tour arrangement ends at Delhi airport where you can transfer for your return flight home. Thank you for travelling with us and we hope to see you again soon. (B)
Amritsar is home to the magnificent Golden Temple and prides itself on its fabulous Punjabi cuisine. A comparatively small Indian city, it has a complex history and a profoundly important role in Sikh traditions. The Golden Temple—one of the most revered spiritual sites of Sikhism—alone, is worth a trip to Amritsar, though the delicious food found throughout the city is a tasty plus!
Day 1: Amritsar (drive approx. 5hrs)
Drive in the morning to Amritsar. Check into hotel. After a short rest you will be collected by your guide and taxi at 4pm for a trip to the Wagah border to witness the ‘Closing of the Border’. This ceremony takes place every evening and involves a display of pomp and ceremony by the Indian and Pakistani border guards. After the closing ceremony, head back to Amritsar. After sunset, head back to the Golden temple for an evening stroll and to enjoy its night time serenity. You will be amazed by not only the stunning beauty of this temple but also by the openness of the Sikh people who will be happy to explain any questions that you may have.
Overnight: Hotel, Amritsar
Day 2: Amritsar
Take an early morning walk to the Golden Temple to stroll around the serene environment of the inner corridors as the priests chant from the Sikh Holy Book. Go to the langar hall, a massive free community dining room run entirely by volunteers. The Golden Temple langar can serve hot meals to up to 100,000 people a day. Depart Amritsar to Delhi by afternoon flight.
So what is responsible tourism? In a nutshell it is a company’s commitment to ensure that their impact on the environment and the local culture is as low as possible, whilst helping to generate income and employment for the local people.
WHAT: Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries where some of the top holiday destinations are amongst the poorest on the planet. These countries rely heavily on tourism but often the benefits bypass the needy and go straight back into the pockets of westerners. By using a company that is dedicated towards implementing responsible values you can succeed in having a positive impact on the destination you visit.
HOW: As a traveller, you have an important role to play in travelling responsibly. Often travellers want to be responsible but are not aware of the issues and the appropriate codes of conduct. These guidelines we have provided are not intended to be exhaustive but to highlight a number of issues and provide advice that will help you to:
1. Ensure your own personal safety.
2. Show respect to the local communities, customs and values.
If you are unsure or concerned about anything ask your travel consultant, tour leader, guide or local hosts and respect their advice at all times. They are experienced professionals and are there to ensure you enjoy your experience but not at the expense of others or the wildlife you have come to enjoy.
ABOUT US: Back Track Adventures has been leading trekking groups to Nepal since 1985. Our commitment to the tenets of responsible tourism is unwavering and we are deeply passionate about people and nature!
Keeping our passions close to our heart, we tailor make extraordinary trips to suit extraordinary people. Combine our well-designed trips with responsible travel practices and you have the most irresistible holiday package. We aim to exceed your expectations, with the utmost regard for your safety, minimising the impact on our environment and at the same time maximising contribution to the local economy.
WATER: Minimise your water usage by reporting dripping taps, never leave the tap running and turn off tightly after use. Think before requesting clean bath towels.
Never contaminate natural water sources with litter, chemicals or human waste. Remember this could be someone else’s drinking water.
ENERGY REDUCTION: Take hot showers only when the water is heated by renewable energy sources. An average shower heated by a wood-burning stove contributes to the destruction of local forest.
When lodge trekking, order the same meal at the same time as other trekkers.
WASTE MANAGEMENT: Where possible remove all unnecessary packaging before you leave.
In the Himalaya, trekkers leave behind approximately 100,000kg of water bottles per year. Plastic bottles CANNOT always be easily collected and recycled in India. Instead use a canteen, iodine purification tablets, a Steripen or alternatively fill up at one of the drinking water stations for a small fee.
Pick up your litter as you would at home. Not only is it unsightly, it can be deadly to wild animals.
WILDLIFE: Do not buy souvenirs made from endangered species, like ivory; doing so will only encourage the trade.
CULTURAL: Your trek leader, guide and/or local hosts will brief you on the cultural sensitivities specific to the area that you are visiting and how you can minimise potential negative impacts of your behaviour.
It is easy to appear an arrogant, rich foreigner in a small community, so be aware of the feelings of others. Learning even a little of the local language can help reduce these barriers.
Try to avoid extravagant displays of wealth. This can be an incitement to robbery, as well as accentuating the gap between rich and poor.
GENERAL ETIQUETTE: On the whole the Indians are a relaxed people. However, there are a few general etiquette points to be aware of:
• Pointing the soles of your feet at someone or touching someone’s head or cap is offensive;
• Take off your shoes before entering someone’s home;
• Public displays of affection, such as kissing and hugging, are considered offensive;
• Do not handle anybody else’s food, eat off another’s plate or drink from another’s glass.
RELIGIOUS ETIQUETTE: Always ask for permission before entering a Hindu temple, taking photos of the temple or its surroundings. Take off your shoes before entering and always pass a prayer wall on your right or walk around it in a clockwise direction.
DRESS CODE: Many of the people of India are becoming more westernised in the way that they dress; however many are still fairly conservative, especially in the villages. Dress as not to attract attention to yourself.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Always be polite and respectful to local people by asking before taking their picture. If people seem reluctant or look away then don’t take the photo. When photographing children, ask for their parents’ consent first.
We strongly discourage payments being made for the privilege of taking a photograph, as this constitutes a form of begging.
DONATIONS & GIFTS: The giving of money and sweets does not help in the long-term and only perpetuates an underlying problem. If you are able, make a donation to a local community development project in the area you have visited. Channel this through the trek leader or guide and it will go to the right hands and follow the correct process.
SOUVENIRS: Buy locally made crafts and support local skills.
BARGAINING: Bargaining for a lower price is often the accepted and expected custom, but don’t drive a hard bargain just for the sake of it.
FOOD: Try the local food and specialties. Many rural areas are under threat from a reduction in the agricultural base. Eating locally produced goods helps the local farmers and economy.