“Gentle 4-day (or longer) hikes through stunning Himalayan foothills, immersing yourself in village life with authentic homestays”
Forget arduous treks: this is about taking your time to breathe in views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks and enjoy the simple pleasures of village living. Walk at your own pace for around 4-5 hours each day in the company of an expert guide, while porters carry your bags. Overnight stays are in spruced-up village houses where your hosts serve up delicious Kumaoni food. All tours are private and carefully planned to take in ancient temples, working flour mills, prehistoric rock paintings and spectacular cultivated valleys. Finish each day with a refreshing sundowner as you watch the sky turn orange and pink over the peaks and listen to the chatter of mountain life echo around the hills.
- This is a rare chance to experience Himalayan village life at first hand but with a dose of luxury (comfortable beds in spotless rooms, home-cooked food, steaming ginger tea in the mornings, even a hot water bottle)
- You set your own pace and don’t have to be super-fit: these walks are graded ‘easy’ & porters carry your bags
- You can also arrange tailormade hikes (a minimum of 3 nights), or ride purebred horses if you don't fancy walking
- With a maximum of 4 people on each walk and a knowledgeable English-speaking guide, this truly is low-impact, high-service eco-tourism
- Everything is included: transfers, guides, accommodation, porters, food, even some equipment
- This is real Himalayan village life: expect simple bathrooms in outdoor wash-houses, with no TVs or hairdryers - but there is electricity for charging your phone
- The long walking days are unsuitable for most children under the age of 10
- It's not for those seeking a romantic getaway - time alone is limited and nights are spent in single beds (but sister property 360 Leti is a gorgeous couples' hideaway!)
- The area is remote - it's an overnight train ride from Delhi then a 3-hour car journey to the hill station where you begin your walk
- It is expensive (but, as we said, everything is included!)
Best time to go
October to mid March is the classic 'mountain season', with the best visibility and wild cherry trees in blossom. Nights can be cold in midwinter (December to February) - sometimes as low as 5C - but daytime temperatures are a comfortable 25C and provide perfect walking conditions.
Mid March to May is warmer but is still a wonderful time to visit: the rhododendron bushes are in full flower along the tracks, their red blooms providing a stunning contrast to the lush green terraces and blue skies. In mid-May visibility begins to get hazy and daytime temperatures reach 30-35C, bringing pre-monsoon downpours.
June to early September is the monsoon season, with lots of rain and flies / mosquitos in the villages, so the walks don't operate at this time.”
Our top tips
- Mountain Trek (4 days or more)
- All meals included
- Over 5s welcome
- Closed: 1 May 2017 - 30 Sep 2017
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Accommodation is provided in homestays in traditional slate-roofed village houses. Rooms are on the first floor of two-storey brightly-coloured homes, often with a courtyard, balcony or terraced area, and consist of basic but comfortable accommodation. The cottages are made of stone and concrete, with carved wooden features, and have been simply refurbished.
Wooden shuttered windows and doors protect you from the elements as you relax on single beds with comfortable sprung mattresses, clean white cotton sheets and blankets. Candles provide gentle light, traditional swept-mud floors covered with dhurries are underfoot, and low wooden tables and shelving continue the rustic feel.
Bathroom facilities are basic - an outdoor wash-house contains flushing Western toilets and hot ‘bucket baths’ are provided morning and night. Water is heated on the household fire, transported to the shower room in brass buckets and mixed with cold tapwater. We found this to be surprisingly refreshing!
The villages are all tiny: Deora and Alai overlook terraced fields and the Himalayan foothills; Jwalabanj has a distant view of Nanda Devi, the second highest mountain in India. Do remember that the local people are hosting you as their guest and you should respect this in your behaviour and comments.
- Extra beds
- Hot water bottles
The local Kumaoni cuisine is cooked over the household fire and served by your village host according to tradition. All meals are prepared to a high standard of hygiene using purified water, and combine fresh ingredients grown by the villagers - including the spices and herbs.
Dinner is served under the stars. It varies from village to village, but typically consists of red rice, dhal, pumpkin or mutton curry, saag (hill spinach), spiced okra or ‘ladyfingers’, pahari aloos (potatoes), paneer and chapattis. Fresh yoghurt comes from the villagers’ buffalos and might be accompanied by 'cannabis chutney' - a delicious local condiment made from hemp seeds, pomegranate and mint. Beer, wine and spirits are available and for dessert there’s sweet pua (cakes made of banana and semolina) or lapashi (wheat pudding).
In the morning, fresh ginger tea is brought to you in bed and is followed by an outdoor breakfast of fruit, muesli, or omelettes cooked with a little onion, garlic and chilli.
Packed lunches are simple affairs comprising sandwiches, parathas (bread) with potato and cauliflower mix, and maybe some samosas, fruit and chocolate, all served in picturesque spots along the route. Sweet, red rhododendron juice is a regional speciality that will keep you on your feet throughout the day. The guides also carry plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
If you have any specific allergies or food preferences be sure to mention this when you book.
- All meals included
- Vegetarian menu
- Gawp at the astonishing scenery - soaring peaks and deep valleys, with glimpses of Nanda Devi, India's second highest mountain
- If you don't fancy walking, a village ride is available instead, using India’s finest breeds of horses (Katiawari, Mewari or Punjabi) and following the same route and itinerary as the walks
- Learn about local culture - from the medicinal uses of Himalayan plants to the art of Kumaoni cuisine - and watch ancient flour mill demonstrations
- Visit the Chittai Bell Temple, dedicated to Golu Devta (the God of Justice and particular to Kumaon), and add a bell wish to those of other devotees; you can also explore the medieval Jageshwar Temple Complex and see prehistoric rock paintings
- Spot flora and fauna - the foothills teem with life and are home to a multitude of birds, including woodpeckers, parakeets, Himalayan magpies, flycatchers, kingfishers, golden eagles and the giant bearded vulture (Lammergeier). Black-faced monkeys call to each other from the trees overhead and, if you’re extraordinarily lucky, you might spot the elusive snow leopard
- On your final night, local dancers and singers perform using an array of traditional instruments, including tablas, parkhawaj (double-ended drums) and a harmonium
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Plantlife / flora
- Traditional cultures
Children above the age of 5 are accepted on the hikes, though we think they're more suitable for over 8s with a strong sense of adventure. Children under 12 sharing their parents' room receive a 50% discount. There are no babysitting facilities along the route, but extra bedding and special dishes can be arranged with advance notice.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Extra Beds Available