Garhwal Region of Uttarakhand is known for its celestial beauty and extravagant flora and fauna. I came to believe this when I went on a trek to Pangarchulla- Kuari Pass Trek recently.
5 days on this trek meant camping at 5 heavenly campsites. And let me tell you no campsite was similar to another in terms of landscape, scenery, or geography. It is almost like they are in competition with each other.
With campsites contrasting from each other, there is no question of getting bored of views. Every day, as I started my journey from one campsite to another, there was a feeling of curiosity about relocating to a new place.
Here is everything you need to know about all the campsites you will come across on Pangarchulla-Kuari Pass trek.
Gulling - The Paradise of Pine and Walnut Trees
The first campsite you will come across on Kuari Pass Trek is Gulling. It is around 4 km from Dhak Village, the point from where the trek starts. The trail goes through mountain villages where life still exists in primitive times. You will find a conventional grinding home in Tugashi Village where the villagers still mill their grains.
When you find yourself in the middle of walnut and pine forest, know that you are near Gulling. The campsite of Gulling feels like a multi-storey building. The ground is not flat. You will rather find levels or floors as of a building. It is small campsite but spacious enough to accommodate a small group of trekkers.
Water Source: You will find a perennial water stream in Gulling which will fulfill all your drinking, cooking, and sanitation needs.
Temperature: Since it is shielded by the mountains from one side, you are safe from chilly winds in the night.
Look out for: Peaks of Dronagiri, Nanda Devi and Garud facing right opposite to Gulling.
Network: BSNL and Vodafone users are lucky to find network at this campsite.
Khullara - The Grand Living Hall
As the name suggests, the campsite is a vast open ground where you can easily host a wedding provided that your guests are willing to trek all the way up to here. Lol!
The place won’t get short of space even if 20 big groups stay at this place at a time. Imagine Khulara as a living room with Hathi Godha and Dronagiri Mountains adorning the place. The pine and coniferous forests are a great addition to the exteriors.
Water source: There is perennial water stream at this place. So you are sorted for all your water needs.
Temperature: The mountains on the back guard you against the cold winds.
Look out for: Horses grazing in fields and views of Hathi Ghoda and Dronagiri from close quarters.
Network: BSNL users might get lucky.
Pic credits: Janmenjoy Roy
Gelaghad - Am I on one of those planets from Interstellar?
This is where you will take a halt to go to Kuari Pass and Pangarchulla Peak. If you ask me, the first impression of Gelaghad campsite is intimidating. The campsite is literally located in the middle of nowhere and bares out in the open.
The treeline ends a few meters before you reach the campsite. So there is no way you will find a single tree let alone a bush at this campsite. What you will find here are humongous rocks and hills covered in golden and maroon shrubs as far as your eyes stretch.
In the night, it seems like you are on one of those planets from the Interstellar movie. I swear! The starry night sky looks so ethereal. The stars will make you crawl out of your tent even in chilly weather. Don't worry! There is no fourth dimension.
Water source: In monsoons, this place has seasonal streams. Otherwise, you will face water scarcity issues here. The water stream is located quite far from the campsite. So, use it judiciously.
Temperature: Since it is open in all directions, you will experience chilly winds here. The temperature in the night is sub-zero.
Look out for: Chaukhamba, Balkund, Trishul are the first things where sunlight hits. Do not miss the incandescent views of the snow peaks in the morning.
Network: Sadly, no.
Pic crdits: Jenmenjoy Roy
Tali - the forest right out from LOTR series
For me, Tali was a jungle site right out of LOTR settings. Our camp was surrounded by thick Rhododendron forests. Sitting in my tent, it felt like I was in a Hobbit hole.
In winters, this place gets thick snowfall. The sunlight cuts right through the trees. The place is so cozy it will make you feel at home. You will also walk across the thick forests of Chitrakantha en route Tali.
Tali Lake is 2 km away from this campsite which you should not miss on your way. On clear and calm days, you can see the reflection of Nanda Devi in its waters.
Water source: Any water body you see in Tali is a resultant of underground water stored in mountain caves. But it a pretty crowded campsite, fight for clean water will be there.
Temperature: Milder than Gelghad. Since it is in the middle of the forest, you are shielded from cold winds.
Look out for: Bears and foxes. Lol, JK! Enjoy the pleasant sun-kissed mornings along with a cup of Rhododendron Tea.
Network: BSNL users are lucky to find the network here.
Gorson Bugyal - Mini Switzerland of India
When I asked about this place from my local guide, he said it's called the Mini-Switzerland of India. I thought he was bragging, but he was right. Bugyal in local Uttarakhand dialect means meadow.
Situated near to Auli, this place is chilly all around the year. The lush Green Meadows decorated with Golden Oak Trees are a visual treat to the eyes. Walking through the meadow feels like a stroll in the park. I am sure this Bugyal gives Meadows of Roopkund - Ali & Bedni Bugyal, a run for their money.
There are two huts constructed by ITBP for winter training with hardly any maintenance though.
Water source: You get a serious water scarcity issues all around the year here. The lakes around this place have almost dried. Monsoons may have a pretty good chance.
Temperature: As mentioned before that it's Mini Switzerland of India, expect chilly nights here.
Look out for: Maa Podyar Temple which is just a stone throw away from this campsite.
Network: BSNL will get a good network here. Airtel and Vodafone may be erratic. But near Podyar Temple, you might even get 3G. No kidding!
Each day, you will find a major takeaway from every campsite on Kuari Pass Trek. every day, there is a different experience, a different challenge, and scenic views.
Do I have one favorite campsite? Well, that's hard to answer.