Trekking in Himachal

Trekking is different from mountaineering, as it does not require special skiils and equipments to do the same. Infact, trekking always refers to walking on trails. Even though, some treks venture near glaciers and crossing of small glacial rivulets, they do not match the fulfillment of any Himalayan mountaineering adventures. Himachal Pradesh is one of the best places in the world when it comes to trekking. Rivers in deep gorges and placid mountain lakes, thick forests and acres of scree, mountainsides draped with snow, and green Alpine meadows, all form a part of this immense spectrum. And the possibilities for a whole range of adventure activities is also enormous. There are day-hikes by the thousand, and the trek routes follow trails that last a couple of days - or can extend over a few weeks. These vary from gentle walks over easy terrain, to gruelling expeditions.
The main trekking areas in Himachal are the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges, routes over the passes between the Shimla region and the Kullu valley, the numerous treks out of Kullu and select tracks in the Trans-Himalayan regions of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti. Most trekking areas are between 1,500 metres and 6.000 meters.

With well over two hundred and seventy defined trails, the variation in terrain is also enormous. Low scrub-land and paths through paddy fields, give way to trails strewn with pine needles. Then come woods of oak and flowering rhododendron, which merge into forests of Himalayan cedar -'deodar'- and spruce. On most trails, small pastoral hamlets dot the way. Cunningly hidden between the high mountains, are passes which were once known only to migrant shepherds and dare all traders. These lead to the fabulous wastes and swift rivers of the arid Trans-Himalaya. A host of combinations and variations take the trails through changing countryside. The degree of physical output can also be changed to suit your requirements. For example, the same trek can be developed from a week to last longer. Or, the two ends of a trek can be the same, but the trails can be designed to be taxing or gentle.

There are several agencies that conduct treks. Guides, equipment, porters, pack animals and maps are available at major starting points. The old Forest 'dak bungalows' that are strategically placed along many trek routes, add a considerable measure of nostalgic charm and convenience for trekkers. Practically all have an aura of the past, and lie nestled in deep woods. In addition, the State Electricity Board and the PWD also have resthouses. Most of these are marked out on trekking maps and advance booking is possible. The Forest Rest Houses are booked by the area's Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), and the PWD and Electricity Board ones are booked by the concerned Executive Engineer.

Basic and intermediate courses are available at Manali's Mountaineering Institute, and at its Regional Centres at Dharamshala and Bharmour. Excellent camping facilities exist at these points.

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