Kuari Pass Trek, often referred to as Lord Curzon’s trail meanders to some of the remotest ranges in the Garhwal Himalayas. It is situated at an altitude of 12,763 ft above sea level. This Kuari Pass trek was once undertaken by Lord Curzon in 1905 and from then on this scenic viewpoint continues to be known as “Lord Curzon’s trail”.
The 33 km long trek to the Kuari Pass will take you to some of the most relishing realms of the Himalayas. It is situated in the Garhwal region in the state of Uttarakhand and lies to the south of the pristine Tibetan plateau. It is a fantastic trek for high-level adventure.
Highlights of Kuari Pass Trek
This Pass is often termed as an “amphitheatre” where the trekker’s soul can get glued to some of the serrated ridges of the majestic Himalayas. Namely, Mt. Trishul, Chaukamba Peak, Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti, Hathi Ghoda Parbat, Changbang and Rishi Pahad.
Amidst these dense coniferous forests, it is very likely for the trekkers to find the pug marks of leopards and Himalayan black bears.
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Views across the mountains
The most satisfying part of Kuari Pass trek is while trudging along the vast stretches of the green Himalayan meadows, often called “Bugyals”, and enjoying the glimpses of the mountains through the mists and clouds. One of the best Bugyals of the Kuari Pass trek is the Gorson Bugyal. Here you can soak in the beauty of the lofty Dronagiri range and the undulating green pastures.
On this idyllic trek, you also get to visit Auli where you can experience the beguiling beauty of the skiing slopes.
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The distance of the Kuari Pass trek
The distance of the Kuari Pass trek is 33kms round trip. Starting at an altitude of 6,900 feet and reaching up to 12,763 ft above sea level at the crossing of the Kuari Pass. Which should take around 6 days to complete including driving time.
- Distance: 33 km round trip
- Suggested hiking time: Min 6 days including travelling from Joshimath
Best time to Visit Kuari Pass
Kuari Pass in March and April
The months of March and April mark the end of the winter season and the arrival of spring. The residual snow has started to melt on Kuari Pass. Colourful meadows start to bloom and the forests take on a deep verdant green colour. It also offers the trekkers the fresh rejuvenating smell of the flowers, especially the Rhododendrons.
The weather during these months is mild and refreshing with temperatures reaching between 150C to 180C during the day. At night though temperatures can often drop to as low as 00C. This is also the best time if you’re wanting to see fresh foliage interspersed with snow on them.
Kuari Pass in May and June
During the summer months of May and June, the temperature on Kari Pass is much warmer. Meaning the snow becomes devoid and the days become brighter and longer. Giving you greater access to the unhindered views of the mountains laden with snow in the distance. As well as the meadows get draped in the golden hue surrounded by the age-old leafy trees. The Gorson Bugyal during these months also turns lush green.
In the day time, the temperature can range between 180C to 240C, while at night it tends to be around 30C to 80C. The end of these months starts at the beginning of the monsoon season, meaning mild rain is expected.
If you don’t like the snow and want fewer people, this is the best time to do Kari Pass. As it is a bit less crowded and you can enjoy this trek in more isolation and serenity.
Kuari Pass in September, October, and November
These post-monsoon months of September, October, and November provide the best trekking experience in Kuari Pass. The meadows and forests come alive and turn radiant after the monsoons. The immaculate weather in these months ushers in a lot of trekkers.
The salubrious weather conditions along with the strikingly clear and crisp views of the towering Dronagiri and Nanda Devi Peaks during these months are an unparalleled experience. By the end of November, the days get shorter and the nights become colder. The temperature during the day remains between 100C to 150C and at night it drops down to 00C.
The difficulty of Kuari Pass
The Kuari Pass trek is termed as an easy to moderately difficult one. The ascent and descent can be quite gradual and steady in some parts, as well as tricky and steep. You have to be quite well-prepared and alert while venturing on these portions of the trek.
You have to negotiate with high altitude ranges and long stretches each day of the trek. This can make the trekkers prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). To prevent this sickness, you need to acclimatize at every point to come to grips with the changing weather phenomenon.
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Section to look out for on Kuari Pass
The stretch from Tali campsite to Gorson Bugyal is also a bit perilous as you need to trek on a very narrow trail and during the winter days; it often gets slippery and tricky. This trek requires you to traverse the dangerous stretches slowly, careful with each step as you make your way up or down.
Before undertaking Kuari Pass
Before, undertaking the Kuari Pass trek, it is advised that you practice walking long stretches. As well as exercise to acquire physical fitness and mental stability. The trekkers can easily surmount the difficulties this trek poses with proper physical fitness, necessary precautions, mental training and patience.
A 6 Day Itinerary highlight
The journey will commence with a nine hour drive from Haridwar to Joshimath. Though the drive will be long and arduous, you will be constantly entertained by the kaleidoscopic range of views all around.
First, you will come across the Panchprayag, the divine confluences of Ganga—Devaprayag, Nandaprayag, Vishnuprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag.
Reaching Joshimath, you will be spellbound looking at the series of icy peaks and the rolling landscapes.
After an early breakfast, start off with a rocky drive to Dhak village. During this drive, you will be awed by the views of the Sleeping Lady Mountain of Joshimath. The trek starts from this Dhak village, the base camp for the Kuari Pass trek.
Walking along the Dhak village, getting acquainted with the mountain life, the route goes towards Tugasi village. As you trek upwards, the path becomes a bit tricky and steep.
Maintaining a steep climb, as you continue your trek, you will come across the breathtaking sight of the Dronagiri Peak rising at a distance. Reaching Gulling Top, you can camp for the night in the open meadows overlooking Dronagiri.
Start early in the morning to cover a 5 hour journey to the Tali forest camp. As you move forward, with each step, you will discover awe-inspiring natural sights of the green forests overlooking the snow-clad peaks. You will behold various coniferous trees in the dense forests with a leafy canopy through which filter streaks of sunlight.
Reaching Tali, you can set up your camp in the forest to rest for the night.
This day will be the summit day and it will take about 9 to 10 hours to reach. In the first place, you will reach the Khullara top after trekking 3.5 km approximately. You will need to trudge through a broken bridge and a frozen stream. The trek in this region is quite strenuous and a bit challenging.
Traversing this difficult region you will come up to the base of the Kuari Pass. Reaching the summit of the trek will be a wholesome experience.
You will be beholden to a whole host of Garhwal Peaks, namely- Kedardome, Chaukamba, Kedarnath Peak, Neel Kantha, Hathi Parvaat, Dronagir, Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti and many others. This exquisite climax is just incomparable.
After this memorable experience, you can advance towards Auli to experience the beauty of the skiing slopes. After visiting the snow-patched valley of Gorson Bugyal, you can come down to Auli, the skiing capital of India.
Once you reach Auli, you can embark on a cable car ride that will take you back to Joshimath.
Once you have reached Joshimath, then you can drive back to Haridwar for some much needed rest.
What to take and wear on your Kuari Pass Trek
- Take two pairs of gloves to remain warm and feel comfortable during the winter months
- As this trek is mostly done in the winter months, you should pack your woollens wisely to guard against hostile weather conditions.
- A 3L bladder bag (Also known as Hydration bladder) will do the trick, any larger will slow you on the inclines and climbs
- Make sure that you plenty of water and snacks for the day
- Wear appropriate gear for all types of conditions (wet and hot). Layers are best (waterproof jacket, spare socks, hiking boots and gaiters)
- Always carry a first aid kit for any unexpected emergencies. Carry some medicines for nausea and cough and cold to keep all your health problems at bay.
- Choose your trekking boots judiciously. They should be of the perfect size, waterproof with heat insulation.
Tips before doing the Kuari Pass; Lord Curzon’s Trail
- It will be very helpful if you exercise before layering yourself up. If you wear the jackets when you are already warm, the jacket will easily absorb your body heat and keep you comfortable.
- Always hydrate yourself to stay fit. Energize yourself with some Cadbury and energy drinks constantly to carry on with the trek smoothly.
- As the altitude increases, the weather takes a toll on the trekkers. Due to the extreme weather conditions, you will face trouble while sleeping. So, it is recommended that you change your sleeping pattern and get used to it one month prior to the trek. Try to sleep early so that you can do it on the trek too.
- As the height increases, the oxygen level in the air becomes thinner. This phenomenon often causes Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) which becomes quite fatal if not taken care of. For this reason, it is advised to acclimatize at every point to get habituated with the changing weather conditions.
- Do not be harsh on your physical and mental health. If you need rest, try to stop by at some points.
- Before venturing on this trek, exercise regularly to keep your body fit and healthy. Practice walking long stretches so that you do not get tired easily. Meditate on a regular basis to enhance your mental health and practice patience.
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How to get to the Kuari Pass?
The Kuari Pass trek starts from Joshimath and you can get there by road only. You have the option of catching a bus or taking a cab.
Cabs and government buses are available for Joshimath from Dehradun, Rishikesh, or Haridwar. The distance from Hardiwar to Joshimath is 150 km and Rishikesh to Joshimath is 135 km. So one can plan accordingly.
Dehradun is the nearest city also it has the nearest Airport. From Delhi, one can find frequent flights to Dehradun. The distance from Dehradun to Joshimath is 290 km which can be covered via bus or cabs.
Dehradun and Haridwar have a well-connected rail network from major cities in India. Also, Rishikesh has a railway station and one can choose to reach there also and then reach Joshimath via bus or cabs.
Where to stay before or after Kuari Pass
Looking for places where to stay before or after the Kuari pass trek, will depend on which city you are coming from. You have the option of staying at Dehradun, Haridwar, or Rishikesh. A number of hotels/homestays etc are easily available in all these cities.
Accommodation in Joshimath is provided during your itinerary trek. However, if you plan on staying longer in Joshimath, there is a variety of homestays available.
Check the availability of accommodation with booking at the following cities
Take a Guided Tour
If you are thinking about doing the Kuari Pass; Lord Curzon’s Trail and you are not keen on doing this solo. Then I suggest taking a guided tour with Moxtain, who also offer a variety of other treks in the area.
Have you trekked along Kuari pass before? I would love to hear about your experience in the below comments. Interested in other destinations that are off the beaten track, then I suggest the islands of Sierra Leone.
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Thank you for reading this Guest Post article ‘Kuari Pass; Lord Curzon’s Trail’ by Souromi Banerjee. I hope you have a great time hiking this trail in Garhwal Himalayas
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Disclaimer: This is a Guest Post and all views are based on Souromi Banerjee own experience.