Kuari Pass Trekking Guide: How to Safely Hike the Kuari Pass

It’s no secret that I had a spectacular time completing my Kuari Pass trek. (Read Part I and Part II of my experience here.) I loved the Indian Himalayas — I truly have never seen more beautiful mountains.

But often when travelers decide to hike the Himalayas, they head to Nepal. I get it- Nepal is home to the tallest mountains in the world: Everest, K2, Annapurna. But most of us aren’t looking for a one-in-three chance of death (Annapurna) or a ten-week trek (Everest); we just want to enjoy nature and see big mountains.

Which is why I whole-heartedly recommend hiking the Indian Himalayas; they’re uncrowded, cheap and absolutely beautiful. And why hike in Nepal, which is becoming increasingly touristy, crowded and expensive, when you can have the Indian Himalayas all to yourself?

And I mean all to yourself. We came across eight other hikers in our entire eight-day Kuari Pass trek.

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Our trek started and ended in Rishikesh, and lasted 10 days total: two days in transit, and eight days of hiking.

Things to consider when planning your Kuari Pass trek:

What do you want to see?

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Hankering for ancient monasteries? Head to Ladakh, a Tibetan Buddhist region. Verdant forests? Think Sikkim. Stunning mountain vistas? The Garhwal Mountains, especially around Nanda Devi. (This was my trek!)

Do you want to hike the Kuari Pass independently, or with trekking company?

Personally, I didn’t even consider independent trekking as I’m not an experienced enough hiker. But on my trek, we met four hikers who were hiking independently so it can be done.

How to pick a trekking company:

When in doubt, check TripAdvisor. Our trekking company, Red Chilli Adventure, came highly recommended on TripAdvisor, ranked #1 in Rishikesh and with a Certificate of Excellence.

I absolutely adored Red Chilli- there wasn’t a kink in the whole operation. We had charming guides, delicious food and smooth logistics. Really I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. Plus, the value for your money is incredible.

One thing to note is some trekking operators prefer to take on a certain number of clients; for example, Red Chilli has a minimum of four hikers and a maximum of ten. If you have a smaller or larger group, you will pay an additional fee.

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How much will your Kuari Pass trek will cost?

We had a group of four, and each of us paid $440 USD. Costs became incrementally cheaper with more trekkers:

Group of 2 pax INR 34000 per person
Group of 3 pax INR 28500 per person
Group of 4-5 pax INR 25000 per person
Group of 6-7 pax INR 22500 per person
Group of 8-10pax INR 20000 per person

Note: we paid 50% of the total in advance as a deposit, and there was a 3.09% government service tax.

And don’t forget to factor in tips for your guides and porters! We tipped our guides $75 each, and our porters $40 each.

What does your trek include?

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Our trek included transportation to and from Rishikesh, one night in a hotel, tents, three meals a day and all permits and entrance fees. This also included a staff of two guides, five porters, one cook and a team of mules.

Our trek didn’t include sleeping bags, but they could be rented for 100 rupees ($1.50 USD) a day. (Pro tip- bring a silk liner if you’re planning on renting!)

The difficulty of the Kuari Pass Trek:

If you’re an avid and experienced hiker, then a difficult hike may be right up your alley. Our trek was moderate which was the perfect difficulty level for me; challenging but bearable.

Best time of year to hike the Kuari Pass:

As a rule, the best times to hike the Himalayas are spring (March-May) and fall (September to November). The summer months are monsoon season and the winter months are quite cold, so spring and fall are optimal.

We did our trek in May and the weather was sunny most days.

How long your trek will last:

If you’re short on time, a five-day trek might be perfect. Our trek lasted ten days total: two days of transit, eight days of trekking. For me this was the perfect length; any longer and I think I would’ve lost it.

What to pack for your Kuari Pass trek:

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Gear:

Day-pack– I absolutely adore this backpack, and it was essential for carting around my snacks, Camelbak and extra layers on the trail. (Note – the backpack I used at the time of the trek, the North Face Refugio, has been discontinued. This one is very similar though!)

Sleeping bagI love, love, love my Marmot Angel Fire and am so glad I brought it. (I also slept in it for the entire month of Yoga Teacher Training!) But if you’re renting a sleeping bag from the trekking company, pack a silk sleeping bag liner– they’re also great for grimy hostels.

Power bars – While Red Chilli supplied us with snacks on the trail, sometimes I was glad to have a Luna Bar or two.

Camelbak – for quick hydration. This went straight in the daypack and was an absolute lifesaver.

iPhone and headphones – great for taking photos and listening to music. To save battery life, I turned off a bunch of my phone’s functions with this list.

Solar charger – Not essential, but great if you’re on a longer trek and need to charge your phone. Note- pre-charge it in an outlet before the trek- the solar function didn’t seem to work very well.

Face wipes – to clear away sweat and grime after a long day.

Headlamp – Essential for midnight or pre-dawn bathroom runs.

Pain killers – I packed Advil for headaches and back pain.

Sunscreen with SPF 50 – Essential when you’re hiking at high-altitude. And don’t forget your your ears and the tops of your hands- that’s where we got burnt the worst! Consider bringing aloe vera too if you burn easily.

Small scissors, Neosporin, band-aids – a godsend to those of us who blister!

Kindle great for lazy post-trekking afternoons. Bonus points if the light is built-in.

Cards

Hair ties

Plastic bags – for dirty or wet clothes.

Clothes:

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Note- pack warm, with lots of layers. Ski socks are especially great for cold nights!

My usual outfit: a tank top or t-shirt and Hot Chillys thermal top, with a fleece and rain coat in my bag. For bottoms I wore either athletic shorts or Hot Chillys thermal leggings layered with Zella leggings on top. For my shoes I wore hiking boots and socks, with a dorky wool hat and sunglasses to finish off the look.

Warm jacket

Fleece

Rain coat

Hiking boots and socks

Ski socks for sleep

Flip flops – to change into post trekking. SO nice!

Wool hat

Sunglasses with UV protection

Hot Chillys thermal top and bottom – I’m a lifelong fan of Hot Chillys, so silky and warm or cool depending on what you need!

Leggings and/or hiking pants

Tons of tank tops or undershirts

Gloves

Pijamas – in my case, a big t-shirt and athletic shorts

Rain cover for both day-pack and backpack

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Would you ever try the Kuari Pass trek?

Red Chilli Adventure did not pay or perk me in any way for this mention- I really just loved them this much! And the Amazon links in this post grant me a small commission at no extra cost to you- thanks for helping keep Ashley Abroad afloat.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

40 thoughts on “Kuari Pass Trekking Guide: How to Safely Hike the Kuari Pass”

  1. You’ve definitely sold the Indian Himalayas to me! If I had a bucket list, they would totally be getting written on it.

    I love your comment about Nepal being the better choice if you have a penchant for maybe-dying or hiking for weeks (and spending thousands to do so). For the average hiker, it seems like India is the better option.

  2. Lately, I’ve grown more and more obsessed with the idea going to India. And after reading this post, India has moved up another notch on my place-to-go-next list. I would LOVE to go on a trek like this. I’ve never done any serious trekking, so it seems like it could be a great option for someone who’s inexperienced, like me. And I really like that you can choose what sort of terrain to hike through. Although based on your photos I’d probably choose to do your same route! I still think $440 per person is a steal. There are a lot of things that draw me to India, but I really love that it’s such an affordable place to travel!

  3. this sounds pretty amazing. I’m not sure I realized people even did trekking in India. Those views are amazing. I have to admit though- Everest had a pretty big draw for me.

    • I totally know what you mean. But I guess what’s great about India is that it’s cheaper, less crowded and the views are so great! I imagine Nepal is amazing in a totally different way though.

  4. I had never thought of hiking the himalaya through India, but I will definitely consider it now. You’re hats not dorky either, it’s cute!

  5. While I’m heading to Nepal in December to hike, you’ve inspired me to head to hike the Indian Himalayas as well. What can I say, you had me at seeing eight people in eight days.

  6. Very thorough post on a topic that I’m really interested in! I’d love to hike the Himalayas one day but am not dead set on hiking the big ones in Nepal. When I go to hike there, I’ll definitely be going in India. Thanks!

  7. This sounds absolutely incredible. Honestly, it’s refreshing to get to a travel blog that tells about not-so-known places and experiences. Great post with great information as well, makes me want to go to the Himalaya right now!

  8. I would like to go to the Himalayas one day and previously, I would have thought to do it in Nepal rather than in India as it seemed to be better organised. However, this trek sounds so much more manageable especially coming in the wake of the awful tragedy in Nepal. I can’t even imagine how their friends and family are feeling right now. Safety and an experienced guide is absolutely essential.
    Thanks for the tips Ashley.

  9. Gosh, I’m so behind in your posts. But, I would absolutely 100% do this! One of my top travel “bucket list” items is to do the Everest Base Camp trek. I love the mountains so this is right up my alley. Glad you had a great experience. :-)

    • Well if you’re a mountain lover than this is definitely right up your alley! And I would LOVE do do the Everest Base Camp Trek. I’ve read so many biographies about climbing Everest, K2 and Annapurna!

  10. I’ve been to Nepal twice. As long as you don’t climb summit it’s pretty safe. I’m afraid above message is a bit misleading.
    Views are stunning and you can’t say where it’s better in India or Nepal. And yes, Nepal is more organized in terms of trekking since they do it for years.

    • I think she’s just trying to say that altitude sickness is at a much higher risk when you are trekking in Nepal. Trails in Nepal require you to climb high mountain passes. I plan to trek Everest Base Camp and my fellow travel buddies advise me to train harder because we will be reaching an altitude of 5300 meters. I agree with the other poster here, for the average hiker who wants to get a striking views of The Himalayas, India is a better option.

      Btw, I enjoyed reading this entry and I’m also looking forward to explore The Indian Himalayas.

  11. I’m so happy I found this post Ashley! Only now, I know -sorry :-p I’ve been to India several times but always postponed a trip to the Himalayas with several excuses, even though it’s on my top bucket list. All your info are so useful that I think I will definitely do 10 days trekking trip next time ;-) Thank you x

  12. Hey, thanks for sharing this informative post.
    Recently, I was planning a Himalaya trek with my friends and consulted an Adventure travel agency named as adrenaline-travel.com/tours/everest-base-camp-trek who offered a very affordable plan and now we are going next week for a trek.
    Will definitely share my experience once I am back. :)

  13. Hi Ashley.. just read your blog..great reading and some lovely snaps.. looks like an ace trip and looks like i am sold on India over Nepal.. well maybe still might look at Anapurna Basecamp though… anyhow which Red Chilli Trek did you do.? the only Nanda Devi one I can find is for 15days. your assistance would be most appreciate… kind regards Matthew

  14. what about hiking on your own with only a guide and staying in hotels/rooms with shower and food on the trek. what can you advise about that

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