Sandakhpu/Tumling Trek, West Bengal
USP Vistas of some of the world’s highest peaks, the opportunity to straddle the porous India—Nepal border, as well as stay in a homely tea house
ROUTE Dhotrey to Tumling to Tonglu to Dhotrey / Dhotrey to Tumling to Kalipokhri to Sandakphu to Srikhola
DURATION Two days (to reach Tumling) and four days (to reach Sandakphu)
From Dhotrey, you take a scenic walk that goes through Singalila National Park (known for its red panda) to arrive at Tumling, which lies just inside the Ilam district of Nepal. It’s accessible because the Indo—Nepal border around tourist destinations is legally porous. From here, it is a two-day trek to Sandakphu, West Bengal’s highest peak. It boasts of views of Lhotse (27,940 ft), Kanchenjunga (28,169 ft), Makalu (27,838 ft) and Mount Everest (29,029 ft). Alternatively, to keep the trek easy, you could walk for an hour from Tumling to Tonglu, where you can dine by a vantage point of Kanchenjunga. Later, come back to Tumling and stay at one of the comfortable tea houses (a quaint Nepali lodging or bhatti). Next morning, head back to Dhotrey.
Nag Tibba Trek, Uttarakhand
USP Easy access from Delhi and majestic views of the striking Bandarpunch range
ROUTE Pantwari to Khatian to Nag Tibba to Pantwari
DURATION Three days
From Delhi, you can drive to Pantwari, trek eight kilometres to Nag Tibba, descend and go back–all without missing a single day of work. You can even bring your kids as this is an easy trek. The initial ascent is through rocky terrain, but soon you are surrounded by oak and rhododendron forests. As you gain altitude, powder snow greets you in the winter; in the summer, it is yellowing hillsides with deep green groves. Eventually, you arrive at the Nag Tibba base, where the nag devta (serpent god) temple is popular among locals. In fact, the peak itself is considered its home. Brace yourself for the last kilometre–it is steep but rewarding. From the summit, called Jhandi, peaks of the Bandarpunch range, such as Srikanta and Kalanag, are visible.
Hilley-Varsey Trek, Sikkim
USP The superabundant blossoms at the Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in March and April
ROUTE Hilley to Varsey to Hilley
DURATION Two days
A three-hour trek with a low gradient is easily doable in a day. However, do spend a night in the lodging the Sikkim Government provides at Varsey, since the tiny 104 sq km sanctuary is really worth the time. In springtime, the trail and the sanctuary are interspersed with rhododendrons blooming not just in shades of red and pink, but also yellow and white. Trees such as magnolia, silver fir and hemlock also add to the lush environs. Since Hilley is sandwiched between Singalila National Park and Kanchenjunga National Park, the views are unbelievable.
Kareri Lake Trek, Himachal Pradesh
USP A winter trek par excellence
ROUTE Lohajung to Bekaltal to Brahmatal to Lohajung
DURATION Three days
Those fond of winters will inevitably enjoy this trek. It is only a comfort trek till the frozen glacial lake, Brahmatal, though, and advanced trekkers can go further on to Tilbudi. This trek is unique: it is a peak winter trek, which means you can go for it even in January. The heavy snow could pose a challenge, so remember to be well-equipped. Most of the trail is in snow-covered surroundings, including forests. A highlight includes views of peaks such as Nanda Ghunti and Trisul. Lakeside camping at Bekaltal is an exciting experience.
Deoriatal to Chopta / Chandrashila Trek In Rudraptayag, Uttarakhand
USP Perfect for birding, views of many high-altitude peaks and springtime trekking
ROUTE Sari to Deoriatal to Chopta to Chandrashila to Chopta
DURATION Three days
They say Garhwal’s most magnificent peaks are visible on this trail. Everything about it is appealing–the flora, Deoriatal (a startlingly attractive lake), the Tungnath temple (the highest Shiva shrine in the world at approximately 12,000 feet) and the Chandrashila peak (with a gorgeous trail to the summit), which offers views of many 22,000-ft-plus peaks and dozens of rare and interesting varieties of birds. The trek is more or less comfortable till Chopta, but Chandrashila (via Tungnath) is a bit steep and certainly requires some skill. Nevertheless, we recommended you give it a try.