The Kareri Lake Trek

It was time to sniff that fresh air and shed some weight – mental & physical both!

Delhi-Dharamshala-Kareri Village

Kareri lake is in village Kareri, and it takes a 90-minute drive (on extremely dented roads) from Dharamshala bus stand to reach the village. So, I took a night Volvo from ISBT, Delhi and reached Dharamshala bus stand early morning by 6:30 am. Trek Trails, our hiking company, had ensured the timely pickup and the group was off to the exciting mountain expedition.

Day 1 – Break from Technology and Stress

We reached kareri village jumping and tossing around in our vehicle, what a jiggly drive it was! Met our coach/guide Anil Bihan at the village where the yummy breakfast was already waiting for us, hot paranthas with egg bhuji; hunger pangs silenced! And before we began our hike a short briefing about the trek: 7kms of trek from Kareri village to our base camp and further up another 6-7 kms for the Kareri Lake.

To avoid littering the hills, we were provided with trash waist pouches, absolutely loved the idea.

As we started to trek, I met my co-trekkers who became my friends and folks for next 3 days. While my city polluted lungs gave me a hard time walking uphill (forest trail had not even started), my cell phone signals went for a toss and thus began a journey with out any distractions. For the next 3 days, the much needed break from technology and intimacy with nature!

Base Camp at Rioti
Base Camp at Rioti

The mountains, flowing waterfalls, interesting conversations with co-trekkers and the rhythm of a new-found strength kept me going along with a few topples and tumbles. We reached our base camp at Rioti, and porters with tents started to set up the kaafila (caravan). It was just the perfect place for a base camp, meadows with river flowing by and a small shop for snacks too.

Base Camp Rioti
Base Camp Rioti

As I absorbed the sound of gushing water, the echoes of the hills and my own self, I realised what nature can do to us in various possible ways. I sat on a tiny wooden bridge over the water stream with a glass of hot tea dipping my feet in the flowing water, and it settled my cramped up muscles in no time

I must admit it was initially a bit difficult to trek on those rocky trails lugging a backpack on my shoulders, couple of gasps and blackouts, but I finally got a hold of my unfit self.

Night at base camp Rioti
City of Stars, are you shining just for me?

I had made it to the base camp and spirit was only rising. While the sun began to set, the tents were already fixed, and the kitchen setup. My first night at the base camp ended with good food and company, and I went to rest to gear up for the trek to kareri lake the next morning. While my body was tired and I really wanted to rest, but the sky full of stars didn’t let me.

Day 2- Weight Shedding – Mental & Physical

I woke up to the sound of gushing waterfall right beside my tent and crows’ cawing.

Sunrise at the base camp in Rioti
Sunrise at the base camp in Rioti

Thanks to the list of instructions given by Trek Trails, I had a pair of warm socks that ensured my night’s sleep was easier and cosier, while I slept in my warm sleeping bag. Fresh and ready to go, I gorged on stuffed paranthas with chai for breakfast as we all huddled to begin the journey upward.

Rriver Nyund, Majestic Mountains and Pine Trees
River Nyund, Majestic Mountains and Pine Trees

The trek was getting steeper and rocky and so was the definition of health; mental and physical both. It is said that our body is made of all elements of earth and if we keep in touch with these, we can be happier and calmer.  And the trek had it all, Nyund river flowing along the majestic mountains covered with pine trees. This was a great break from the monotonous and hectic city life that we have so become so used to living.

A trek like this once in every two months would be such therapy for the soul!

KARERI LAKE TREK, HIMACHAL
Kareri Lake View

I was astounded on reaching Kareri Lake. An untouched glacial lake with the magnificent Dhauladhar range in backdrop (at an altitude of 2950 mtrs), what a sight! 13 kms of trek all the way up to this calmness was worth every drop of sweat. And a small Kareri Devi temple here only makes it even better. The patches of snow around the lake and on top of mountains, with a cool breeze brushing the face, added to the stunning view in amazing ways.

Here I happened to meet an interesting tourist from Belgium who was resting along with his adopted dog “idli”, whom he had found loitering on the roads of Hampi and was his companion ever since. He was on a sabbatical for 4 months, just travelling the world. Now that is some travel goal for me! I decided to have my packed lunch provided by trek trails, near the lake with feet soaked up in water, relaxing. Later, we posed for some pics, skipped stones in the lake, skated down the snow patches and finally huddled to trek back to our base camp.

On return what more can you ask for than a bonfire in the middle of hills and a starry night. Good food, pahadi songs and the happy self.

Day 3 – Feeling Light

Not to exaggerate but I really felt light and better, having all the time for myself without any distractions. Happy me with the pack of co-trekkers, some of them leading, some gasping for breath and while some simply enjoying the conversations. Trekking down the hill can be more risky than heading up hill, Kareri lake trek is quite a rocky one and a slight twist can cause much damage. I had a fall when my hiking shoe laces got tangled with each other.

Knees bruised slightly but with a soul full of nature, I kept moving forward.

And the next morning we descended back to Kareri village, bid good byes with the pacts and promises to keep in touch and more such treks together.

Gear for Trek

  • Luggage – keep it light and easy, I took a rucksack.
  • Clothing -I had majorly kept full sleeved cotton t-shirts (second shield after sunscreen) with cotton leggings. And a fleece suit for night.
  • Footwear – It has to be a hiking shoe, please don’t hit the trek with your usual running, sports shoe. Remember safety first, those are difficult terrains.
  • Trekking Stick – It helps, it really does, especially when your body starts to lose strength.
  • Water bottle and ORS – Since waterfalls are the only source of water, bottles to refill are a must and ORS will get you going.
  • First Aid – Apart from your usual meds, DON’T forget to keep the muscle pain relief spray and a crepe bandage.
  • Head Gear – Sun cap/woolen cap/balaclava/neck-gaiters, choose depending on the season you visit.

How to reach Kareri

  • Nearest airport is Gaggal
  • Overnight trains and buses from Delhi-Dharamshala
  • Dharamshala to Kareri village by road is about 1.5 hours

Quick Deets

Best season to visit: March–May  &  September–December
When not to visit: Avoid going in Indian winters, it’s completely covered in snow.
Where to stay: Camping only, carry own tents or go with a trekking company.
No Washrooms: Yes, you got that right, so be prepared for nature’s call in its lap 😉

HAPPY TREKKING!

 

 

 


Priya Goswami

Travel Photographer & Writer

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