Deoriatal, Chopta &
Difficulty level: Can be done by anyone with a decent fitness level. The typical itinerary is categorized as easy by us. We will be happy to consult you on how to train and get in shape. You will get tired but there is nothing on route that is difficult to manage.
Suitable for children? Yes, kids of all ages. The youngest child who has done this trek with us was 4 years old. This is among our more recommended treks for beginners. Do get in touch with us for more advice.
No of Days: We recommend 4 days ex Dehradun/Rishikesh/Haridwar. There are route modifications that can be made to increase or decrease the number of days as well as modify the difficulty level
Is it a good option for first time trekkers and families?: Yes, the trek distances are on the shorter side. The option to quickly turn back and go to a lower altitude for those who are having issues with the trek or with the altitude makes it a very good option to test yourself and the response of your body under trekking and camping conditions(more details below).
Region: Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand
Maximum height during the trek: Approx 12,000 ft
Distance you need to travel by road in hilly areas winding roads: Around 220 km one way
Price range for a fixed departure/custom group with 4+ people: Trek cost is in the range of ₹ 1500 per person per day with budget facilities, around 2,200-2,500 per person per day with premium facilities which are typically more recommended for beginners.
Our thoughts on this trek and area:
This is one of those Himalayan treks where you may not go that deep into Himalayan terrain- to glaciers or sources of rivers, but you go further enough to be in pristine wilderness and are able to see some of the most prominent mountains in the Himalayas from very close. These mountains include Mt Chaukhamba(23,500 ft), Mt Kedarnath(22,800 ft), Mt Nanda Devi(25,650 feet), Mt Trishul, Mt Neelkanth(21,600 ft) and Mt Bandarpunch(20, 700 ft).
The sight of these mountains itself from this close is quite inspiring and in addition you touch significant altitude when you reach Chandrashila- at a height of over 13,000 ft. You camp on beautiful meadows lined with dense oak and pine forests, you catch the reflection of these mountains in a beautiful alpine lake- Deoriatal which is also lined with dense forests, breathe in the early morning sun rays with their golden hues kissing these mountains.
During the drive you cross some of the most important confluences in the Himalayas- Rudraprayag, where the river Alaknanda meets the river Mandakini and Devprayag where Bhagirathi meets Alaknanda to form the Ganga, our most sacred river.
All things put together, when it comes to beginners, who do not have the time or the inclination to trek deep into the Himalayas can use the trails on this trek to test themselves on how much they like the outdoors and the Himalayan wilderness. You are never too far away from civilization on this trek and all the creature comforts pretty much go with you thanks to the facilities that we are able to provide during this trek. The trek distances are also not very long and while they will tire you, you are unlikely to find yourself overly exerted or exhausted. For these reasons this is also a very good option for beginners, kids and families.
Advice on things to consider when looking for a trek to do and how the Deoriatal and Chandrashila trek compares:
1) Driving in the mountains- This is a factor to consider for beginners. The nature of roads in the mountains- windy and bumpy makes long drives tiring and uncomfortable. Especially if you are not used to mountain roads. From talking to clients we have observed that very long drives in the mountains influences the overall experience, especially first time trekkers. Therefore, something to take into consideration when choosing a trek.
Unfortunately for this trek, the drive is quite long. If this is something you are not very comfortable with, then there are other treks that we can recommend. Alternatively, you could look at booking a good quality vehicle such as a Toyota Innova. Typically, for those who get motion sickness easily, we advise them to sit in the front seat as the body roll of the car is less in front. There are also those home-made solutions that have worked for us from experience such and keeping candies in your mouth all along, or squeezing lemon juice on your tongue, medicines typically don’t work too well in our personal experience.
If you have time, then you could also look at breaking the road journey to 2 days or so. Feel free to discuss this with us for advice.
2) You don't get very close to glacial mountains or permanent snowline, but you get a 360 degree view of a lot of these prominent mountains making it an excellent vantage point: As we have mentioned previously, you get to see some of the most prominent mountains in the Himalayas. But if you prefer glaciers and going closer to these more than viewing them from a distance, then there are other treks that we can recommend for you. This is entirely a personal preference.
3) Terrain- forests and meadows: Again a personal choice and depends on what type of terrain and landscape you want to be in. If you like dense forests and vast green meadows, then this trek is definitely one for you.
4) Popularity and commercialization: This unfortunately is one of the drawbacks of this trek and this area in general. Ease of access combined with the other qualities of this area that we have mentioned previously have made this a very popular route. During a recent visit during a long weekend in October (2017), there were about 80 people camping at Deoriatal. Which is far from wilderness. Chopta and Chandrashila are also very popular. If you are ok with encountering so many people then that’s fine. If you prefer more peaceful treks where you encounter very few other people then there are other treks that we can recommend.
4) Route can be modified for those who like to customize: The trekking distances and difficulty level can be easily modified as there are a number of routes. While for beginners we recommend camping near Chopta, trekking up to Deoriatal and returning, then trekking up to Chandrashila and returning. You could camp at Deoriatal as well. You could also do an all trekking route that goes from Deoriatal to Chopta. Happy to personalize this for you as you prefer.
5) Good time to do this trek: If you want snow then a good time to do this trek is Jan/Feb/March. April, May and October offer the most moderate climate, but the trek can be done pretty much on most times of the year barring the monsoon months of July, August and first two weeks of September.
Typical itinerary that we recommend(happy to modify and personalize this based on your preferences)
Day 1: Drive from Dehradun/Haridwar/Rishikesh to Chopta(220 km from Dehradun, typically a 8-9 hour drive), camp at Chopta
Day 2: Short drive to Sari village(20 km), trek to Deoriatal(3 km, 2 hour trek approx). Preferably leave as early as possible to catch the sunrise at Deoriatal. Return to Chopta
Day 3: Trek to Chandrashila(5 km, 3-4 hour trek), return to camp by evening
Day 4: Drive back