(6 nights 7 days)
Explore lesser known parts of Kumaon Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. Kumaon lies almost south to the great Himalayan range. It is moderate in its constitution. The lie of its land is gentler in its undulations, its lore more lyrical. What permeates the open valleys is a simpler, singular faith in the presiding deity of Kumaon- Nanda Devi, the goddess of Bliss.
- Day 1: Kathgodam- Sonapani (2000M) 2-3 hrs Reach Kathgodam around mid- morning by train and drive to Sonapani. After a hot cup of tea/ coffee, settle in your rooms and freshen up. Rest of the evening around a bonfire. Night stay in retreat.
Sonapani is a tiny Hamlet close to Mukteshwar. It has an interesting history. There used to be an old natural spring perceived to have medicinal properties and hence the village was named, Sonapani. Some British officers happened to drink water from here and took to it immediately. Thereafter, water from the spring was supplied to the officers of nearest army garrison on ponies and horses. One of these officers was the decorated Captain Kushal Singh Burathoki. On his retirement, he was given a piece of land of his choice. He chose this land and named it Sonapani Estate. He built a stone structure here and spent his days farming and hunting. Today, the stone structure serves as office and staff quarters of the retreat you would be staying in. The retreat itself is flanked by Pine, Oak and Rhododendrons forest. And of course not to miss is the fantastic view of the Himalayan peaks. There are also orchards of apricot, apple, plum and peach.
- Day 2: Sonapani Breakfast at leisure after which we drive to Mukteshwar. Mukteshwar is a quaint little town. We start our hike back to Sonapani from here. This is a lovely hike through pine forest. Sonapani is also a good area for bird watching. Enjoy a packed lunch in the forest. Back to the retreat early evening. Enjoy the evening around a bonfire. Night stay in retreat.
- Day 3: Sonapani- Jhaltola- 4-5 hrs After breakfast, leave for Jhaltola. Reach Jhaltola in the afternoon and settle into your room. Rest of the day at leisure to discover, read, indulge in photography else, the retreat has an activity center with games, a small library and an amphitheater. Hike up to sunset point in the evening. Evening around a bonfire. Night stay at Jhaltola estate. After dinner, you can for a night trek in the thick forest around you.
Jhaltola estate’s Himalayan views stretch from Nanda Ghunti through Trishul, Mrigthugni, Maiktoli, Nanda Devi, Nanda East, Panwali Dwar, Nanda Kot, Nanda Khat, Nanda Bhanar, Lapsa Dhura, Raj Rambha, Panchachuli, and some Nepal Himalayan peaks. It is located amidst about 1000 acres of mixed forests. Last year, more than 150 species of birds were identified and photographed here. At 1700 to 2600 meters ASL, Jhaltola is a perfect habitat for birds.
- Day 4: Jhaltola A half day hike to Lamkeshwar. This is a 3-km uphill hike to the temple. It offers fabulous 360 degrees view. Return to retreat in time for lunch. Rest after lunch, else you could try your hand at Rock craft (rappelling, rock climbing, Tyrolean traverse and Burma bridge). Evening around a bonfire. You could try star gazing. Night stay in retreat.
- Day 5: Jhaltola Another day in Jhaltola. You could visit Patal Bhubaneshwar or go for bird watching or another hike in the surrounding hills else just relax at the estate and enjoy the vista. Night stay in retreat.
- Day 6: Jhaltola- Binsar- 3 hrs Leave for Binsar after breakfast. Reach Binsar in time for lunch. Settle into your rooms at a retreat inside the sanctuary. Go for a hike in the sanctuary after lunch and enjoy a sunset view in the evening. Rest of the evening at leisure. Night stay at retreat.
- Day 7: Drop off at Kathgodam- 3-4 hrs Drive to zero point to enjoy sunrise views. Back to retreat for breakfast. Later, drop at Kathgodam station to take afternoon train back to Delhi.