Best Treks in India – North East India

categories: asia travel

North East India is the less explored side of Himalayas that is recently booming up to tourism. It’s diverse, culturally rich, and has a unique charm that you need to see to believe it. Nature and culture flourish here in full glory.

While tourists get a glimpse of the place, it’s the adventurers who walk away with the real treasure. Some of the best destinations are not reachable by car. Trekking up these places yourself feels so much more rewarding, don’t they!

Well, the best view comes after the hardest climb, they say.

In this article, let’s take a look at some of the best budget hikes that you should try on your next trip to India. The budget for each of the treks in the article would be somewhere around $150 to $200, excluding the flight tickets. Not only are these budget-friendly, but they also give you the experience of a lifetime.

Dzongri Pass

Dzongri Pass

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Nongriat Trek, Meghalaya

The Nongriat trek begins at the nearest village Tyrna, from where a 3500-step steep climb down takes you to the village of Nongriat. While it may seem a bit daunting in the beginning, rest assured that the experience of this trek is going to leave you breathless… well, also literally.

As you start your trek through cemented steps enveloped by a dense forest cover, you instantly feel you are right in the lap of nature. The picturesque views at every step you take, the warbling of the birds, the river streams you cross in wooden bridges, all keep you company throughout. And not to forget the locals. What more inspiration could you need than a girl of 7-8 years making her way up to school chirpily, or men carrying sacks of produce to sell at the local markets. imagine doing that every day. Coming across these things mentally ease your trek and push you a little forward every time.

On the way to Nongriat

On the way to Nongriat

After a 1.5 to 2 hours climb, you reach the Nongriat village. Though this trek could be done in a day, I would suggest spending the rest of the day in the village and then continue with exploring the nearby attractions the next day. It’s also a more economical & peaceful stay option as compared to commercial ones in Shillong.

The next day, you could start off with trekking to the Rainbow Falls, which a 1 to 2 hours trek from the Nongriat village. On the way, you also get to see the Double Decker Root Bridge, which is one of the most popular destinations in Meghalaya. The Living Root bridges were made by intertwining the roots of two trees to make a bridge.

Double Root Bridges, Nongriat

Double Root Bridges, Nongriat

After a refreshing swim in the falls, the hardest part of the trek begins. Climbing up 3500 steps again to reach the Tryna village! After the trek, I frowned at the sight of steps for a month but if given a chance, I would be here again.

The Nongriat trek is not the easiest one and does test your endurance, but it doesn’t disappoint.

Reaching there

From Shillong, you’d first have to reach Cherapunjee by shared cabs or buses (they are available in plenty). From Cherapunjee, hire a cab/shared cab to Tryna village, from where you can begin your trek.

Distance & Time Taken

Tryna to Nongriat to Rainbow Falls & back – 18kms, spans around 5.5 to 6 hours.

Difficulty Level

Hard

Best time to visit

March or November. Make sure to definitely NOT visit in the monsoons, as the steps get slippery.

Things to know before the trek

  • Be prepared for the steps. Take some practice beforehand if needed.
  • Be prepared for the rains. Regardless of if you are visiting in the monsoons are not. Because Cherrapunji is one of the wettest places, and the rains can make the steps slippery. Go with proper trekking gear and water protection for your electronics and valuables.
  • Carry a change of clothes/swimming gear if jumping into waterfalls on the first sight, sounds like you.

Goechala Trek, Sikkim

Mt Kanchenjunga is the third tallest mountain in the world, and that’s what you get to feast in the Goechala Trek.

Yuksom is the base camp of Goecha La pass trek. You begin the multi-day trek from here to your first stop – Prek, Sachen. On the way from Yuksom to Sachen, amidst the staggering beauty of the mountains that surround you, you pass through two bridges – Pha Khola and Tshushay Khola.

The next destination is Bakhim, which is an hour away from the Prek, which also has lodging options. From Bakhim, you enjoy beautiful views of the Yuksom valley and then continue with your climb to Tshoka. This is where you get the first views of the mighty Mt Kanchenjunga.

View along the Goechala trek

View along the Goechala trek

Surrounded by rhododendron trees everywhere as you make your way towards Tshoka, a few long switchbacks and a flat camping area later, you reach the camping spot of the day. The first views of the snow-clad peaks of Kanchenjunga from your campsite at Tshoka are mesmerizing and take your breath away!

After settling in your camp, you could take some time exploring the Buddhist monastery at Tshoka, try out the malt beer – Tumba in the cafes or interact with the Tibetian families residing there.

As you trek your way from Tshoka to Dzongri through Phedang, you are accompanied by inexplicable views and pretty wooden benches all through the way. When you reach the top of Dzongri, you feel peace… a top of the world feeling as you set your eyes upon the Kanchenjunga. It’s where you get a 180-degree panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga range.

But the best is yet to come – the sunrise. You camp there at the Dzongri campsite and wait until the sun dawns the next day. The first rays of sunlight on the peaks of Kanchenjunga are nothing less than a magical sight to witness, and this was it, for the Goechala trek for me.

View of the Kanchenjunga Peaks from Dzongri campsite

View of the Kanchenjunga Peaks from Dzongri campsite

Watching the mountains glow with different colors of the sunrise, I couldn’t help but bow down to the mighty mountains.

Reaching there

The New Jalpaiguri Railway station is the closest to the Yuksom base camp. From the railway station, shared cabs take you to Yuksom.

The nearest airport is Bagdogra, which is 170 km from Yuksom. From Bagdogra, travelers can go to Siliguri and then take a shared taxi to Yuksom.

Distance & Time Taken

  • Yuksom to Bakhim/Sachen: 8kms, 5 hours
  • Bakhim to Tshoka: 6.5 km, 4 hours
  • Tshoka to Dzongri via Phedang: 9 km, 6 hours
  • Dzongri to Dzongri top: 1 to 2 hours, less than an hour

Difficulty Level

Moderate to Difficult

Best time to visit

September to November and March to June

Things to know before the trek

  • Be prepared for unpredictable weather. Make sure to equip yourself with proper gear for hail and rain.

Sandakphu Phalut Trek, West Bengal

The Sandakphu Phalut is a high altitude multi-day trek, which is the only trek where you get to see stunning views of four of the tallest mountains in the world – all from one place.

Starting from the base camp at Jaubhari, the first day of the trek to Tumling takes you through some steep ascents, muddy trails and beautiful meadows. Taking breaks at Upper Chittrey, Lamyadhura and Meghma, following the trail brings you to Tumling.

Meghma

Meghma

The route from Tumling to Kalipokhri can be done through the motor roads or by hiking through the mountains. While the former is easier, the latter greets you with majestic views of valleys and ever-stretching lush meadows. You could take short breaks at Gairibas and Kaiyakatta, and a beautiful trail from Kaiyakatta takes you to Kalipokhri.

The Kalipokhri to Sandakphu trek is the prettiest and full of rhododendron flowers in full bloom ( in April and May ). If you take up this trek in the winter, the entire trek route is covered with snow. The Sandakphu trek is not only about the final view that you set your eyes upon, but the beauty you find all the way till you reach the summit.

Rhododendron in full bloom

Rhododendrons in full bloom

The final leg of the trek is from Sandakphu to Phalut through Sabargram, from where you get the best panoramic views of the mountains and peaks. From the Phalut, you get to view Mt. Kanchenjunga (3rd highest peak), Mt. Everest (highest peak), Lhotse (4th highest peak) and Makalu (5th highest peak). Sunrises and sunsets are leagues apart in Sandakphu, and what better than conquering the best views of the tallest mountain in the world!

View from Phalut

View from Phalut

A trek of meadow walks and steep climbs, the Sandakphu Phalut trek is one of its kind and a must for every mountain-lover.

Reaching there

Bagdogra Airport is the nearest to Jaubhari. From the airport, shared cabs take you to the base camp of the trek, Jaubhari.

Distance & Time Taken

  • Jaubhari to Tumling: 9 km, 6-7 hours
  • Tumling to Kalipokhri: 12 km, 6-7 hours
  • Kalipokhri to Sandakphu: 6 km, 3 hours
  • Sandakphu to Sabargram: 12 km, 7-8 hours
  • Sabargram to Gorkhey via Phalut: 16 km, 6 hours

Difficulty Level

Easy to Moderate

Best time to visit

September to April

Things to know before the trek

  • Taking a guide for the Sandakphu trek is highly recommended although the trails are well marked – both for your safety and for boosting the local economy.
  • It’s a high altitude trek and if you haven’t done one before, make sure to consult your doctor before your trek, or train yourself by doing a few high altitude treks nearby your city.
  • If you take up the trek in the winter, equipping yourself with proper winter sleeping bags are a must.

Shillong Peak Trek, Meghalaya

Being the highest point of Shillong, the Shillong Peak trek is perfect to get a bird’s eye view of Shillong.

Trekking to the Shillong Peak is easier than ever, thanks to the Trek route that was constructed by the Meghalaya Government in 2018. The entire trek route is well paved, is safe and can be done independently.

The trail starts at Umkynrut-Kynjat Phutbol in Lumparing, and most of the trek is through a paved path in the dense forests. While focussing on the next step is often the most important thing in a trek, take some definitive breaks in between to enjoy the exemplary views, which are unseen on a misty day. On a clear day, the lovely views of pretty waterfalls and lush green mountains overlooking you, are just fabulous.

A rather short trek of around 45 minutes to 1 hour takes you to the Shillong Peak, and you see Shillong at its best from there. It was raw, untouched, unspoiled beauty of nature that we hope remains the same forever.

View along the Shillong Peak Trek

View along the Shillong Peak Trek

After treating yourself to some freshly roasted corn, and spending some time visiting the sacred site of the local deity of Shillong ( U Shulong), you can make your way down the same route to Lumparing.

Reaching there

From Shillong, you can take a cab to Lumparing and then begin the trek from there.

Distance & Time Taken

  • Lumparing to Shillong Peak: 5.5kms one way, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Best time to visit

September to May

Things to know before the trek

  • Cameras are not allowed in the Shillong Peak trek for security reasons, and you would have to surrender them before the trek.
  • Carrying packed lunch or snacks is a must because there aren’t many eateries on the route.

I hope you have a great time trekking these peaks in North Eastern India.

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by Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett is an American writer and traveler, whose major inspiration has been camping with his father ever since his childhood. He aims to visit 75 countries before he’s 30. You can also follow his adventures on his site Outdoorily.

One Response to “Best Treks in India – North East India”

John Rodgers

Says:

We visited India in 2017. The main cities we traveled to were Varanasi and Jaipur. This was a cultural visit. We will be going back and try some of your recommendations for hiking and the outdoors. Thanks for the post and photos.

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