"Mountain views for miles combined with the infectious rich culture of Northern India - this trip is definitely an eye-opener for a number of reasons!"
From hill stations and shepherd settlements to high Himalayan mountain camps, this tour combines scenic trekking with superb sightseeing to create an altogether unforgettable experience. North of the Punjab plains, the southernmost ridges of the Indian Himalayas are known as the Dhauladhar, or White Range. Rising to around 5,000 metres, the British established several hill stations amongst these peaks; your tour begins with visits to the charming Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj, two such hill stations. McLeod is the current seat of Tibet’s popular leader, the Dalai Lama, and is also home to a large community of Tibetans.
After exploring this vibrant and colourful pilgrimage destination, trek through delightful villages and high pastures, following in the footsteps of the shepherds who have used these trails for hundreds of years. Making a gradual ascent, you’ll walk for around four hours per day, giving you plenty of time to interact with friendly villagers and learn more about their culture and customs. Admire fantastic views of the high peaks and rugged ridges of the Dhauladhar range from scenic campsites. Continue your tour with a visit to Palampur, northwest India’s ‘tea capital’, and a night’s stay in a 300-year-old manor house. Finally, conclude your adventure with a stunning drive through the Himalayan foothills followed by an overnight train journey to Delhi.
Active India Holidays are local operators and, as such, have seen first-hand the benefits that tourism can bring to some of India’s most remote regions. They understand that tourism often helps to alleviate poverty and develop communities and, as part of the global tourism industry, acknowledge that they too have a crucial role to play in providing commercial benefits and financial impetus in local communities. The company is conscious of both the negative and positive impacts its operations potentially have within sensitive environments and communities, particularly in the Himalayas where most of Active India’s trekking and adventure operations are conducted.
To ensure that they operate in as responsible a way as possible, Active India trains all of its tour leaders and support staff on sustainability practices. One example is their ‘Leave no Trace’ policy, which ensures that campsites and trails are left free from any waste. The company even extends this policy to include the waste left by travellers who have come before them, collecting and disposing of any extra rubbish in a safe manner. Active India hopes to contribute towards building a tourism industry that brings pleasure to travellers whilst also constructing a future for the local people and places that the industry depends on.
Arrival in Delhi - Pathankot: Arrive at Delhi’s international airport, and receive a traditional ‘swagat’ (welcome) from Active India’s representative. In the evening transfer to the railway station to board the overnight train to Pathankot. This is an experience in itself – move from the crowds and chaos of Delhi Railway Station to the rustic scenes of countryside life in Pathankot.
Pathankot – Dharamsala: Arrive in Pathankot where you’ll meet your drivers and vehicles to begin the next stage of your journey. Drive into the Himalayan foothills towards Dharamsala and the Tibetan Buddhist settlement of McLeod Ganj. Check in to your hotel in McLeod before enjoying an afternoon walking tour of the town. Visit the Dalai Lama’s complex, St John’s Church and the Tibetan Library. In the evening, wander through the bustling bazaar and soak up the atmosphere.
McLeod Ganj – Kareri village: Today your trekking adventure begins! Walk from McLeod Ganj to Kareri village, a gentle ascent that takes you through traditional Gaddi shepherd settlements and terraced rice and barley fields. Set up camp next to the river and a watermill, and then enjoy the rest of the day to explore the village at your leisure.
Kareri village – Barlai village: After breakfast, take a gentle walk from Kareri to Barlai village (2,475m), ascending gradually through rhododendron forests and fields. The forests are home to bears, pheasants and even leopards (although these elusive creatures can only be found in the most remote areas of the forest so it’s unlikely you’ll see any). Stop for a relaxed lunch before completing your walk to the campsite at Barlai village.
Barlai village – Dharamkot: Today is a little longer than your previous walking days, but is even more spectacular. Walk through a woodland reserve overlooking the stunning Kangra Valley to reach the village of Dharamkot (approximately 2,000m). The village is inhabited by Gaddis, and was also the retirement home of the English artist Alfred Hallett, whose paintings are still exhibited in the village!
Dharamkot – Triund: Continue to the highest point of your trek at Triund (2,850m). The trail from Dharamkot leads you steadily uphill through rhododendron and deodar forests, until you reach a ridge. Here, enjoy beautiful views of the snow-capped mountains of Dhauladhar. The panoramic vista extends from the Kangra Valley all the way down to McLeod Ganj. You’ll camp overnight on the ridge.
Triund – McLeod Ganj – Andretta Village: For the final part of your trek, return to McLeod Ganj. The walk takes around three/four hours and is mostly downhill. After lunch, continue with a drive to Andretta, a small Kangra village known for its pottery. Located in a beautiful Himalayan setting, its meditative environment provides plenty of artistic inspiration, from the surrounding snow-capped mountains to vast plains in the distance. Visit a studio to see the potters working and selling their wares. You’ll stay overnight in a restored private house.
Andretta Village – Palampur – Pragpur: Today you’ll drive down into the town of Palampur, the ‘tea capital’ of northwest India. Visit the surrounding tea gardens and learn about production processes before enjoying lunch. This hill station is not only known for its tea gardens and paddy fields, but also its colonial architecture and temples. In the afternoon continue to Pragpur, a ‘World Heritage Village’, by road. Check in to your accommodation at the ‘Judge’s Court’, a 300-year-old manor house set in its own gardens, and travel back in time to the days of the Raj.
Pragpur – Pathankot – Delhi: After breakfast, spend a free morning relaxing or exploring the local area. Pragpur, with its cobbled streets and stone and mud houses, has remained relatively unchanged for a century. In the afternoon, take a scenic drive through the Himalayan foothills to Pathankot where you’ll board the overnight train to Delhi.
Delhi: Arriving in Delhi in the morning, you’ll transfer to the hotel to use day-rooms to freshen up. Spend the rest of the day doing some last-minute sightseeing, before later transferring to the airport to board your onward flight.
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- Refunds: 80% refund available until 30 days prior to check-in; 50% refund available 15 days prior to check-in; 25% refund available 6 days prior to check-in; within 5 days of check-in there will be no refund.
- 1 x overnight train journey
- Breakfasts only (apart from during the camp stay, which will include full board meals)
- English speaking monument sightseeing guides at cities
- All land transport
- Government service tax as applicable
- Travel insurance
- Indian visa fees
- Any monument entrance fees
- Flights (domestic/international)
- Any optional activities or services not mentioned in inclusions
- Services of any professional English speaking tour leader/escort during the tour
- Miscellaneous expenses for tips, laundry, drinks, any medical emergencies and souvenirs etc.