Pindari and Kafni Glacier Trek

Dairy Entry


Day 1 - Flight to Delhi and night train to Kathgodam

Day 2 - Drive from Kathgodam to Bageshwar (~190KM)

Bageshwar, a picturesque town, nestled in the hills of Kumaon, bustles with activity especially in the Summer months  of April to October. From Kathgodam (the last train halt), it is reached via a pleasurable seven hour drive through hill resorts like Bhimtal, Nainital, Almora, Kausani, etc. via serpentine ghat roads with thick coniferous vegetation on the either side. Jeeps ply as share taxis all over the route. The Shiva temple in the town, overlooking the confluence of rivers Gomti, Sarayu and Sarasvati (an undercurrent) attracts quiet a pilgrim crowd. We met our expert guide Devendra prasad, fondly Debu, as soon as we arrived and prepared to leave early the next day morning, after some haggling on the rates and deals.


 
Day 3 - Drive from Bageshwar to Loharkhet (40 KM) and trek to Dhakuri (8 KM)

A tortuous two and half drive early in the morning next day brought us to Loharkhet. Landslides and the road construction work made the place look shabby, although the pleasant view of high hills in all directions around balanced it perfectly. After some rest and lunch, started our climb to Dhakuri. Quite an ascent it was till the Dhakuri pass - 7 KM which can take over three hours.
 
As we crossed the grave of a German mountaineer who died during his expedition to the Sunderdhunga glacier, sudden hailstorms struck. We obviously did not share the excitement of the locales who were jubilant at the sight of the first showers of the season, already delayed. My wet body shivered as I took shelter in a sort of a cave underneath a huge rock. As the downpour subsided in a few minutes, we reached the Dhakuri campsite without any delay. What awaited us in Dhakuri was however a huge surprise. Incessant heavy hailstorms for over an hour and half cloaked the meadows and forests in pristine white. When the sky cleared by evening, I ran in all directions, printing my feet on the fresh snow everywhere. An unforgettable evening it was!  

 Day 4 - Dhakuri to Dwali (19KM)
 
Who would not want to wake up every day at six in the morning and walk on a meadow to feel the fresh dew drops with bare feet and open your eyes to see snow clad peaks as your first sight? We were bestowed with this fortune as the Bhanoti and Maiktoli peaks made an imposing appearance on the horizon the next day. 

The 8 KM route to Khati was majorly descent. Everywhere on the way we were greeted with a warm Namaste from smiling kids asking for toffees. Houses on the way with blossoming gardens and huge expanse of fields presented a dreamy picture of an idyllic life devoid of worries. As we reached Khati, Nandan Singh from Sangam Cottage (the only private cottage in Khati with the only telephone in the entire vicinity of many village - No. 05963-213070) welcomed us. Without spending a lot of time in Khati, we started moving towards Dwali, undeterred by the constant rainfall and hailstorms. We were now walking along the Pindari river with thick forests on either side. After a tiring 11 KM walk, we caught the first glimpse of the Dwali campsite, perched on a hill at the confluence of rivers Kafni and Pindari ('Dwali' - derives from two rivers), surrounded by thick Maple forests in all directions. In late evening, as the clouds cleared we were elated to catch a glimpse of Nanda Devi east summit.

 Day 5 - Dwali to Phurkia (5 KM)

An unclear sky and delayed sunrise ruined our plans to visit Kafni glacier and we started walking towards Phurkia. I couldn't contain my excitement on seeing the brightly colored Rhododendron flowers everywhere and went around shooting them from all sides and angles. We reached the Phurkia campsite well on time before the hailstorms started making menace and tied us into our rooms. Post lunch, as the clouds dispersed, we were spellbound to see the Nanda Khat peak at close quarters covered with huge sheets of ice.

 Day 6 - Phurkia to Pindari and Back to Dwali (19 KM)

What I saw at 3'O clock in the night can hardly be described with words. The clear sky was dotted with an infinite number of shining stars, ten times more than what I’ve ever witnessed. It all looked so dreamy and unreal and my efforts to shoot them went in vain. I was however left with no surprise when I met Pindari baba a few hours later at his Ashram near the glacier, who told me that he watches the stars at night with his telescope!


Return home


Tips

Route map (Click to expand)

All camps have basic accommodation provided by Kumaon mandal vikas nigam limited (A Govt. undertaking). See for details

http://www.kmvn.org/trekkingroutepindari.aspx 

Although i can't say I'm a fan of their overpriced package trips, they have done a brilliant job in setting up basic amenities in these otherwise uninhabited places. Lodging for a night costs is Rs.100 per head and food for a day comes to 150 nearly. If you are on your own (not with package tours), its better to avoid peak season (second to last week of May and September), as availability of accommodation may be uncertain. Or you can hire a guide like ours who had contacts all over the place and secured accommodation for us. 

The trek as such does not need a guide as the trail is very clear and safe. Suitable for women and children with good fitness. Porters/Guides charge 300/350 Bucks a day apart from food and accommodation. Mules too can be hired at nearly the same cost to carry luggage. You could even fix up a package deal with the Guide for the entire trip

Guide Debu

Our guide Debu is an experienced mountaineer in this region and has contacts with everyone in and around Pindari, Milam glaciers, Roopkund, Kuari pass, etc. He is from Khati village, which is yet to be connected by phone. The best way to reach him is to leave a message at Hotel Siddarth, Bageshwar (05963- 220114) asking him to call you back.

Album

 

Meadows near Dhakuri pass

 On the way to Dhakuri

 

Man with the umbrella

 

On the way to Dwali

 

Waterfall near Dwali

 

Phurkia campsite

 

Phurkia after a hailstorm

 

Nandakhat, seen from Phurkia