Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > News> Big Story > 3 great Himalayan summer getaways

3 great Himalayan summer getaways

From a trek in Nepal to a staycation in Kangra and a cultural tour of Spiti, here are three excellent ways to cool off in the Himalaya this summer

The Gokyo Lakes trek in Nepal's Khumbu Valley.
The Gokyo Lakes trek in Nepal's Khumbu Valley. (Sujoy Das)

As summer sets in with all its scorching fury across India, it’s time to plan a getaway. And what better way to escape than to take off to the Himalaya? Whether it is a trek or a staycation or an immersive road trip, there are many ways that you can experience the rugged beauty and cultural richness of the great range.

The Gokyo Lakes Trek, Khumbu Valley, Nepal: Compared to the hardships of trekking in most areas of the Himalaya, a trek in the Everest region can be an epicurean delight. As one of the most popular trekking destinations in the world (as well as one of the oldest in the Himalaya), the Khumbu Valley of the Sherpa people in Nepal attracts Himalaya fans from the world over.

Also Read Three great Himalayan treks that you must experience

As a result, trekking in the region means staying at lovely teahouses every night and eating the kind of food that would put most dal-chawal-Maggi trekking menus to shame (think pizza, or roast chicken, or Thai food, even beer!). And while this increases your costs, it’s a useful way to travel, where your focus can remain on the grand panorama of some of the highest peaks on earth, rather than worrying about where to pitch your tent.

A panorama of Gokyo Lake 3, the peak of Cholatse and the  Ngozumpa Glacier.
A panorama of Gokyo Lake 3, the peak of Cholatse and the Ngozumpa Glacier. (Sujoy Das)

And one of the best ways to enjoy the grand mountain vistas of the Khumbu is to steer clear of the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek, and opt instead for the Gokyo Lakes trek. The EBC and the Gokyo treks share the same trail from the tiny airstrip of Lukla to the main town of the Sherpas, the fabled Namche Bazaar. From here, the trail ascends the steep Dudh Kosi Valley for a couple of days to reach Gokyo Ri, overlooking the magnificent Ngozumpa Glacier, the longest in the Himalaya.

The famed lakes of Gokyo, all five of them, are the main draw, along with views of the 8,188m high Cho Oyu. The trail then climbs up to the 5,350m high Renjo La, before descending to the village of Lungden on the Bhote Kosi Valley and then back to Lukla, via Namche.

Also Read How to enjoy your Himalayan trek safely

It is a tough trek for sure, with 12 days of walking at high altitudes. But the relative comfort, and a chance to be near so many stunning Himalayan peaks are the rewards.

When to go: April-June; September-December. How to go: South Col Expedition has a fixed departure in end-May this year. Price: 99,000, plus 5% tax, per head; this includes the cost of guides, porters, stay, permits and Kathmandu-Lukla flight fare. Visit

The pretty Darang Tea Estate in Kangra Valley.
The pretty Darang Tea Estate in Kangra Valley. (Bibek Bhattacharya)

Darang Tea Estate, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh: Call me biased, but last summer I had the most wonderful experience staying at this beautiful tea estate homestay near Palampur in the Kangra Valley. Run by Neeru Bhandari, the Darang estate is 150 years old, and one of the first Indian-run tea estates in the valley.

Set against a wooded ridge with the magnificent wall of the Dhauladhar further to the north, the estate’s two cottages overlook a gently sloping sward of tea estates, falling towards a nearby nullah. If your intent is to disappear for a few days and slow down, this is a fantastic option.

Also Read Footloose in the Dhauladhar

All meals can be availed of at the estate, including fresh seasonal produce. There is, of course, a surfeit of excellent tea. And if you want to explore the region, Dharamsala, Palampur and Baijnath, to name just three places of interest, are all within an hour’s drive from the estate.

When to go: All year. How to go: Volvo buses from New Delhi to Palampur, pass close to the estate, so you could just get off the bus at Darang. Alternately, you could take overnight trains from New Delhi to Amb and take a taxi to Darang. Price: On request. Visit

The majestic Kye Gompa in Spiti.
The majestic Kye Gompa in Spiti. (Istockphoto)

Explore Spiti by bus, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh: If you think that Ladakh is too overrun by tourism and hopelessly commercialised, then a great option to experience a slice of Tibet would be to explore the relatively untouched Spiti Valley. And what’s more, you can do it in a responsible manner, by signing up for a curated bus trip with the excellent Spiti Ecosphere, a long-standing eco-tourism initiative set up by the Spiti-based sustainable development nonprofit MUSE.

Ecosphere has a variety of programmes which help you get a closer understanding of Spiti’s people and culture, including volunteering programmes of various length. You could also go for treks curated by the Ecosphere team, or for long cultural immersion vacations.

Also Read How climbing a mountain is like meditation

For the mindful tourist, though, a great way to gain an introduction to the place are through bus tours. One such summer trail is the Kinnaur & Spiti Safari, that begins and ends in Shimla. You travel in a tempo traveller, and stay mostly at family-run guesthouses and homestays. The trip includes a side-trip to the gorgeous Chitkul Valley in Kinnaur, apart from the historic monasteries of Tabo, Key and the village of Mudh just outside the Pin Valley National Park.

When to go: There are two fixed departures from Shimla, on 6 April and 27 April. How to go: You will have to arrange for travel to and from Shimla. Price: 24,990 plus GST per person. Price includes all accommodation (on a sharing basis), breakfast and dinner, monastery entrance fees, guide at Tabo and all transfers. Visit

Also Read How the Kanheri Caves tell us a secret history of Mumbai

Next Story