You might have heard about “Valley of Flowers” but do you know about “Valley of Beautiful Stones”? Once upon a time, a mountain man was washing his blanket in a nearby river where he came across a beautiful, precious stone. Ever since then, the valley was named Sunderdhunga, literally translating to ‘valley aof beautiful stones’. And it’s not just about that particular stone. If you hike the trail you’ll witness beautiful boulders spread across the Sunderdhunga River.
Offering great views of Maiktoli, Mrigthuini, Tharkot and Panwali Dwar, the Sunderdhunga Valley trek is one of the most beautiful treks of Uttarakhand. Sunderdhunga Glacier is located in the Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand. Adorned with an intriguing panorama, this glacier sits close to Sukhram and Maiktoli Glacier. The trek to Sunderdhunga Glacier is a gripping one as it opens up to spectacular views of imposing peaks like Maiktoli, Mrigthuni, Tharkot and Panwalidwar.
Sunderdhunga Trek remains untouched by the human species, unlike its popular neighbours – Pindari and Kafni Glacier Treks and that’s part of the reason behind its unparalleled beauty. The eight-day long journey would take you away from civilization and through dense forests of rhododendron and oak, gushing waterfalls, terraced fields and lush green expanses. You can expect to encounter lot of steep climbing and descents, winding trails, less habited villages and a few unknown tracks. However, this trekking expedition guarantees unprecedented adventure, views and experience. A paradise for nature lovers and keen photographers, Sunderdhunga Glacier is a must see natural wonder.
Day 1: Loharkhet – Dhakuri – 10 km
The trek starts from Loharkhet which is located near Almora. The trail to Dhakuri is steep and would take you through dense forests. It takes you down into the depths of the valley followed by a fair climb to Dhakuri. Upon reaching Dhakuri, a picturesque plain land, you would be greeted by the views of snow-capped Nanda-Kot, Chhanguch, and Maiktoli peaks. You could either pitch your own tent or check-in to one of the guesthouses.
Day 2: Dhakuri -Khati – Jatoli – 12 km
Khati is the biggest village that you will come across on the trek to Pindari Glacier. The trail passes through thick forest of Rhododendrons. It is the last village en route Pindari and Kafni glacier and is situated on the banks of Pindar River. From Khati, the trail is a bumpy one. You will walk through forests of oaks and rhododendrons. You will cross a series of many hissing streams on the way which would lead you to the beautiful village of Jatoli.
Day 3: Jatoli – Dhungia Dhaun – Kathaliya – 13 km
After passing through thick alpine forests, you would reach Dhungia Dhaun, a small plain, beyond which the journey becomes hard. Now, the track climbs once more, taking you through thick forests yet again. Thereafter, reach a waterfall and beyond it, the trail ascends again, and this time, quite rapidly. Keep walking uphill, and as you near the tree line, tall trees will start giving way to short shrubs. As the valley is crossed, a high ridge with a river flowing on its either side is seen. Keep treading on the path for some more time to finally reach Kathaliya for an overnight stay.
Day 4: Kathaliya – Baluni Top – Kathaliya- 7 km
In this leg of the Sunderdhunga trekking tour, begin a treacherous climb from near the hut of a shepherd. The path is not marked properly and it leads through growths of shrubs. As the tree line is crossed, the gradient of the slope lessens and you enter velvety grassland. Further ahead, reach a patch of land, completely devoid of trees, and look at enchanting mountains in the distance. After a while, you’ll reach Baluni Top.
Day 5: Kathaliya – Maiktoli Base Camp – Kathaliya- 7 km
What ensues is the most significant stage of the Sunderdhunga trek as it will take you to the highest point of the excursion. Follow the descending path to a river and then cross the water body via a gigantic boulder in its path. Thereafter, begin a gradual ascent along a narrow path, lined with high ridges on both sides. The vegetation along the way consists solely of shrubs as you are above the tree line at the moment. Negotiate a demanding stretch of the track for about half a kilometre by walking uphill along a river.
The incline then lessens in the angle, and thereafter the path nears a glacier. Spot a glacial stream, and move perpendicular to it to make the ascent over moraines. After this section is crossed, a more difficult stretch of the terrain is encountered. The land here is extremely rocky and the soil is loose, so take your time negotiating it. Beyond this patch of land, the terrain is mostly covered with snow and solid ice, and the gradient of the slope here is quite high. Look carefully, and you may see a river gushing beneath the large ice field.
Post treading on ice and through snow take the path that goes uphill. Following a treacherous ascent through loose mud, the gradient decreases. For the most part of the journey from here, you negotiate a series of alternating climbs and descents. After about 1.5 km, the valley opens up, and you finally reach the Maiktoli base camp. The trek till here is steep but the rewards are great with stupendous views of the Himalayas.
Day 6: Kathaliya – Jatoli
Upon beginning this stretch of the Sunderdhunga trekking venture, enjoy the experience of completing an easy descent towards Jatoli for an overnight stay.
Day 7: Jatoli – Khati – Dhakuri
Depart from Jatoli and trace your steps back to Dhakuri via Khati. Trek to Khati is quite easy but the trek is a little tiring from Khati to Dhakuri.
Day 7: Dhakuri – Loharkhet
This is the ultimate downhill stage of the trek to Sunderdhunga, and it will take you back to Loharkhet. And with umpteen memories from the trek drive down to your city.
Best Time To Visit
April to June and September to November is an ideal time to trek, as the weather is pleasant. Avoid the months of July and August as the region gets heavy rainfall during those months.
How To Reach
By Air: Nearest Airport is Pant Nagar, 206 km away.
By Road: Bageshwar is well connected with all the major towns of the state.
Taxis are available for local transport.
By Rail: Nearest railway station is Kathgodam, 180 km away.
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