One of the best hikes in the world
- sometimes called the Lord Curzon Trail
The route followed by Shipton and Tilman and other early mountaineers en route to the highest peaks in the world. One of the grandest alpine vistas in the Himalayas.
“We breasted the slope and halted, silent on the path. No words would express our delight. The Himalayas were arrayed before us in a stupendous arc“. (1931)
Click over to kuaripass.co.uk to see the entire panorama, the best I’ve seen online. 7000m peaks are lined up like soldiers for your inspection.
AT A GLANCE
- see elusive & mysterious Nanda Devi, the highest mountain entirely inside India, 23rd highest in the world. It’s steep profile compares with K2.
- 82km over 6 days of hiking
- mid-Sept to mid-Oct is the BEST month
- Oct-Nov normally clear skies, great views
- Kuari Pass 3640m (12,000ft). The Trail climbs a little higher than that.
- Unless you know the Indian Himalaya well, we recommend you hire a guide for this one
- start at Ghat 1330m, finish at Auli Ski resort near Joshimath, host of the 1st South Asian Winter Games in 2011
Why We Like This Hike
- the day before and the two days after the Kuari Pass are FANTASTIC
- mountain people, mountain culture
- langur monkeys in the wild
- we saw a colourful Monal Pheasant
- Himalayan Bearded Vulture (lamergeier)
- good chance to see Gray Langur monkeys in the wild
- we saw something high on a ridge. It may have been bharal (Blue Sheep),
- very near Kuari Pass we saw a Momma Black Bear and 3 cubs (very rare on this trek)
- it’s the best trek in Uttarakhand State (formerly Uttaranchal)
- the State Government agency GMNV has finally opened limited trekking into the formerly closed Nanda Devi National Park (Sanctuary). That’s tempting.
Note: Lonely Planet Trekking in the Indian Himalaya recommends this hike in the opposite direction. LP got that WRONG. There’s not one single reason to start in Joshimath. Especially if you are not acclimatized to altitude.
- landslides and road washouts are frequent in the Himalaya. Be prepared for road delays.
- trail bridges are also sometimes washed out
- on a guided hike, you have plenty of time for reading and writing
- the Himalaya is not wilderness. You’ll see villages and animal herders in nearly every valley
- dogs may follow you, hoping for scraps at Camp
- we had a freak hail storm end of Oct
- mobile phone service is available except for just before and just after Kuari
- State Government run GMNV Trekking and Mountaineering Division in Rishikesh we found useless. They seem to be disinterested in working with foreign hikers. The private companies are far better.
- there are many Hindu pilgrims visiting ‘Char Dham’ temples (Gangotri–Yamunotri–Kedarnath–Badrinath). Joshimath lies en route to Badrinath.
In 2013 we paid about $600 each for 2 hikers, 8 days all inclusive. About $75/day. (Price drops for up to a maximum of 10 hikers.)
- we were very happy with Red Chili Adventure out of Rishikesh
- 3.1% surcharge if you pay with credit card rather than cash
- 1 guide, 1 cook, 2 mule drivers, 4 mules
- excellent vehicle and a safe driver
We recommend the popular 8 day itinerary. There are other options that visit Kuari, some as short as 2 days.
- 8hr drive from Rishikesh to the trailhead campsite at Ghat 1330m
There must be many good companies. We can vouch for Red Chilli. Compare other companies against what Red Chilli offers.
If we couldn’t get on with Red Chilli next we’d use India Hikes.
Moxtain guides Kauri Pass as well.
Mukesh Verma did a trek to Kuari solo in 2012. Watch his PHOTOS on YouTube.
If you sign on with a Guide, they handle all required Permits and arrangements. No worries. We were never checked for paperwork during the trip, so far as I could tell.
We got no information from anyone local, aside from Red Chilli Adventure. Government tourist information services in Uttarakhand seem to be Gawd awful, even by Indian standards. It’s frustrating trying to trek India independently.
Our guide, Anil, was great at high altitude.
Best Trekking Guidebooks
Best Travel Guidebooks
- Lonely Planet India – consider electronic version available by chapter
- Footpring India Handbook, 18th (2012)
Other Recommended Books
- Aitken, Bill. (reprinted 1994). The Nanda Devi Affair, Penguin Books India. ISBN 0-14-024045-4.
- Kohli, M.S. & Conboy, K. (2003). Spies in the Himalayas: Secret Missions and Perilous Climbs, University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1223-8.
- Jose, Vinod (2010). River Deep, Mountain High, The Caravan Magazine.
- Roskelley, John. (2000). Nanda Devi: The Tragic Expedition, The Mountaineers Books. ISBN 0-89886-738-8.
- Sanan, Deepak. (1995) Nandadevi – Restoring Glory – New Age International (Wiley Eastern Ltd), New Delhi. ISBN 81-224-0752-8.
- Shipton, E., Tilman, H.W. & Houston,C. (Reprinted 2000).Nanda Devi:Exploration and Ascent, The Mountaineers Books. ISBN 0-89886-721-5.
- Takeda, Peter. (2006) An Eye at the Top of the World: The Terrifying Legacy of the Cold War’s Most Daring C.I.A. Operation, Thunder’s Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-845-4.
- Thomson, Hugh (2004) Nanda Devi: A Journey to the Last Sanctuary, Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN 0-297-60753-7
- TILMAN, H. W., The Ascent of Nanda Devi, Cambridge University Press. 1937.
- Malhotra, Ashok (2011) Nude Besides the Lake, Createspace ISBN 978-1463529390
No maps are needed if you have a Guide.
Best Web Pages
Best Trip Reports
- our 2013 trip report
- Henry Wismayer – Telegraph – Garhwal Himalayas: trekking the Curzon Trail (2010)
Click PLAY or watch the India Hikes promo on YouTube.
Click PLAY or watch a flyover on YouTube.
Click PLAY or watch a short trek out of Auli on YouTube.