Haridwar - Rishikesh- Joshimath- Lata Village- Lata Kharak- Semi Kharak- Lata Kharak – Dharansi Pass- Tolma Village – Surai Thotta - Karnprayag- Rishikesh
The Nanda Devi Sanctuary in the Garhwal Himalayas of India is a unique geographical feature. A concentration of peaks connected by massive rock walls which dip no lower than 5200 metres forming an enormous circumscribe. The only way into this Shangri La is the point where the river Rishi Ganga emerges to the west in one of the most spectacular gorges in the world. In this ring of mountains at least twelve peaks including several famous names such as Changabang and Dunagiri to the North and Trishuli and Nanda Kot to the West and South stand- sentinel like thwarting all intrusion into this area. It was not until 1934 that this Sanctuary was explored by anyone except the British team along with 6 Sherpas. In the centre the revered Nanda Devi stands tall at 7816 metres - the highest peak in India. Owing to the many mountaineering expeditions from the1950s onwards, and the ensuing pollution and environmental damage caused by the same, in 1983 the Indian government closed the Sanctuary that is now part of the UNESCO's world heritage sites as World's Network of Biosphere Reserves.
On arrival meet our representatives at Haridwar then drive to Joshimath comprises of hilly landscape along the entire route. Enroute one can visit the much revered confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi at Devprayag. This is the place from where the river is named - "Ganges". As Uttarakhand is abode of gods there are another three holy prayag (confluences) Rudraprayag, Karnprayag and Nandprayag which are a real site to see. Arrive to the hill station of Joshimath followed by checking into the hotel. Evening explore the town of Joshimath. Overnight in hotel.
After Joshimath one leaves the national highway and drives on real mountain roads. The drive from Joshimath to Lata is 28 km and takes approximately an hour. En route one gets to see a big thermal hydro project at the village of Tapovan. Lata is the starting point and one is introduced to porters and the trekking team. The trek to Lata village is a steep climb through fields and clusters of abandoned houses. After a series of switch backs one arrives at the village. A warm welcome at the village is a unique experience as Inhabitants of Lata are considered friendly and renowned for their hospitality. Evening visit the Nanda Devi Temple and explore the village. Overnight in the village.
The trail from Lata village is distinctive and climbs gradually through Oak, Rhododendron and Pine forests, to a ridge followed by a traverse to cross a side stream. After this the trail again climbs over another ridge and continues to another side stream. After crossing the second side stream the trail becomes more steep- with a series of switch backs, finally terminating at the campsite at Lata Kharak. The walk of the day is challenging at times, but the peaks i.e. Hanuman, Hathi Godhi elates the spirits. The campsite is an open space on top of the ridge, with Himalayan peaks i.e. Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Dronagiri, Hathi Ghodi and Dev Sthan visible all around. Overnight in tents.
This day is a reserved for exploration and acclimatization. This day one is required to trek to Semi Kharak, on a boulder path. Semi Kharak is famous for viewing Nanda Devi and the Rishi Ganga River gorge. The area of inner line adjoining Nanda Devi can be seen vividly. The walk takes approximately 6 Kilometers both ways and takes approximately 4 hours. Return to camp and enjoy lunch. Evening at leisure for relaxation and photography. Overnight in tents.
The trail from Lata Kharak climbs steeply to reach Jhandi Dhar. There is a bifurcation to the village of Tolma at this point. From Jhandidhar the trail traverses for about 1.5 kilometer before it becomes steep for 500 metres to reach Bagfyana Pass. From here trail continues to ascend and descend through the narrow gorge of Satkul to reach Dharansi Pass. The stunning view of Nanda Devi is venerable amongst many. Other Himalayan gems visible from here are, Nanda Ghunti, Chang Bang, Dronagiri, Hathi Ghodi and Dev Sthan Over night in tents.
The day's trek is a long descent to the village of Tolma. One starts the reverse trek on same trail till Jhandidhar. From this point, one follows a new trail which descends down a ridge and continues to descend further through a forest of Oak and Rhododendron finally terminating at the village of Tolma. Another warm welcome to a village house and a welcome tea, gives one a glimpse of the hospitality and culture of the hill folk!. The houses in the village are typical houses made of stone and mud and inhabitants are well known for hospitality. Overnight in the village.
The trail from Tolma descends through fields to reach Surai Thotta. It is time to bid farewell to the porters, and to board the vehicles and start driving towards Karnprayag via Joshimath and Nandprayag. Overnight in the hotel.
The drive for the day covers 170 kilometers and takes approximately 7 hours. En route visit the confluences at Rudraprayag and Devprayag. Arrive at Rishikesh by evening.