Parents, this blog is for you.
If you love trekking and prefer taking your family to the mountains instead of the malls, then hifive, you’ve just joined the coolest parents club and here is an awesome trek for your next family vacation.
Finding family friendly treks can be a challenge sometimes, especially if you have young kids (aged 10+). On one hand you want to encourage them to be outdoors and on the other, you are concerned about their safety and health. However, there are a few Himalayan treks that are quite safe for kids and adults alike, making them a perfect family adventure holiday options.
In the beautiful hills of Manali, lies a barely known trek, called The Hamta Circle and the best thing about this trek is that it’s not crowded, it’s insanely beautiful and it’s absolutely safe for young budding adventurers.
And here’s why we think Hamta Circle can be a fun getaway with young ones:
1) It is an easy to moderate trek (depending on the weather):
There are no glaciers, no over-exposed areas, no high passes and no ridges on this trek. Just beautiful hills, forests, meadows and loads of buffaloes. Maybe some domestic horses and sheep too. The gradient is not too steep either, and a lot of schools organize adventure summer camps in here for kids. However, it is not a ‘walk in the park’ kind of an easy trek, it will challenge you, you will have to walk uphill for the first 3 days. But a trek without any challenges would be absolutely boring, so according to us, this is a good thing. Your kids will enjoy the hard work and the reward of yummy food at the campsites.
What’s also important to know is that the chances of getting AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) are quite low on this trek as the highest altitude you get to just about 11,000 feet and that too is within the tree line. AMS usually hits you above 9000 feet, especially in areas where the tree line ends. So, that’s one less thing to worry about.
Also, if you prefer to do less of uphill walk, you can just reverse the itinerary and start from Jobra and end at Jagatsukh. This way, you’ll have to just go uphill the first and second day, the rest is an easy straight-forward or downhill walk.
2. You can easily turn around at any point in case of any emergency:
The benefit of going on short treks is that in case of emergencies, or illness, you can easily turn around and reach the nearest village within a day. You are not too far away from civilization, you just disappear in the thick forests and the beautiful clouds, but if needed, you can get back to civilization within a day. Also, there are a lot of options for campsites, so in case of bad weather (snowfall or heavy rains), you can always change the itinerary and camp at the next nearest spot, or take a day’s break, and walk a little further the next day.
Here is a picture of Bhanara village close to the first two campsites.
3. The mountains are the best classroom for your children:
Kids learn a lot from nature, and the best thing is they don’t even realize they are learning new skills. This would be their best live classroom for them to learn about forests (which are filled with pine, deodar, chestnut, and oak trees), fauna (every flower has a story to tell) and the beauty you will witness along the way (waterfalls, meadows, hills and so on).
Here is a picture of the ‘Forget-me-not’ flower you’ll definitely see on this trek, which has beautiful myths and symbolic meaning attached to it. It has been a symbol for undying love and remembrance for generations. It was adopted by King Henry IV (during his exile), worn by lovers separated by wars during WWI and WWII, used as a symbol by freemasons to remember the poor and desperate, and for centuries has been left on graves to remember the dead. Click here to find out what other beauties you’d see along the way and the stories behind them.
You will also come across Himalayan Gypsies, aka Gujjars along the way, who make these hills their temporary homes in the summers. A conversation with them would teach you about how they survive in the mountains without technology, gadgets, home appliances and electricity.
And the hills you’ll be walking on are rich with herbal plants, the roots of which are used to make Ayurvedic medicines. You’ll find loads of locals collecting these roots and taking them to their villages.
4. A big disconnect from technology and hello to old school games:
Remember when we were young and invented games just because we didn’t have anything to do. You’ll have plenty of time on the trek to relax and explore your surroundings, and the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to have fun without gadgets.
For all of these reasons and many more, Hamta Circle is a great family trek. Of course, that does not mean adults can’t do this solo, I did, and I absolutely loved it. But when you trek with the craziest people in the world, aka your family, it’s an adventure of a different kind. So go play antakshari in the wilderness, build camp fires, watch horses running in the wild, catch a shooting star, share ghost stories and come back with a heart full of beautiful memories.
Ditch the malls, and take the trails.
Happy family adventures.