Sweet Valley Crossing

We are thrilled to present our mountain walking holiday traversing the valleys of Saryu and Pindar, Sweet Valley Crossing!

About

Traverse over the valleys of Saryu and Pindar, a 4-hour drive from Almora, Uttarakhand, almost within touching distance of the great Himalayan summits.

The villages are spread out along the gentler middle slopes of the upper valley, high above the Saryu river. Supi village has a guesthouse, and our tented camps lie on the ridge separating the two valleys.

Upon crossing, in the Pindar Valley, the charming hillside village of Dhurr lies above the Pindar river, surrounded by terraced fields, waterfalls, rhododendron forest, and open pastures. The Himalaya massif rises up beyond the Pindar river, allowing unrivalled views of the snow- capped peaks of Trisul, Nanda Devi, and Nanda Kot. These are the last villages before Tibet.We invite you to read through to understand what this fascinating holiday will entail.

On this 8-day journey, experience superlative mountain scenery, traditional Himalayan lifestyles, pristine forests, colourful villages, authentic food, and splendid wildlife across varying habitats between altitudes of 2000m to 3400m above sea level.

You will share your trails with our knowledgeable and trained local guides who are the experts in the region. The walks vary from gentle one- hour’s wandering around villages to longer walks along the main trails that can take 4 hours and more arduous walks up to the camps that can require 6 hours. As a guideline, you will have a minimum of 5 hours walking each day with refreshment breaks and picnic lunches in between.

Accommodation & Food

Accommodation

Every type of accommodation here is managed by an elected village committee. This encourages ownership – and with it comes the kind of care and attention that you just won’t find in a hotel!

The guesthouses at Supi, and Dhurr are meticulously maintained. They are built in the local vernacular
by craftsmen using materials like stone and wood, with wooden doorways, windows, and mud-plastered walls that keep the rooms warm. The tented camp sits on secret alpine meadows on the very ridge that separates the Saryu and the Pindar valleys.

The whole journey is bookended by two nights at Khali Estate, a heritage manor built in 1857.

Experience an active holiday like no other by staying in a mix of traditional guesthouses, safari style tented camps, ol’ school camping tents, and a heritage lodge. There are three bedrooms in every guesthouse and camp, each with twin beds. After a long day’s walk, you will have the luxury of sleeping on soft mattresses, clean sheets, and thick blankets to comfort you at night. All the guesthouses and camps are equipped with twin beds with a combination of shared and common washrooms and restrooms with hot water and clean western commodes.

Food

Upon arrival at the guesthouses and camps, you are welcomed with a seasonal fresh juice, or chai (which is available throughout the day). All your meals are cooked using traditional wood-fire chulhas and the produce comes from the farms of the villlage communities. We strive to provide authentic meals that showcase the distinctive dishes of Kumaoni cuisine.

Meals are typically vegetarian with the exception of eggs for breakfast. Breakfasts comprise of oats and fruit, omelettes, or steaming hot parathas or puris. Picnic at various stops during longer walks with protein-packed lunches from the kitchen. Dinners are served early, and after a hot and tasty meal, you can wind down in comfortable rooms/tents with a hot water bottle waiting for you. We offer a hot-soup before dinner.

Community

The rhythm of mountain life has been the same for centuries. The warm people from these valleys have received training in hygiene, home management, and cooking, but they aren’t professional hoteliers. Their welcome is genuine and their sense of hospitality comes ingrained. Your hosts, guides, cooks, and porters all belong to different families across each village and share the pleasure of hosting you along with the financial benefit. The villages in Saryu and Pindar valleys are relatively large and self-contained.

Village life is dynamic: people are highly educated and aware of the outside world – many having worked elsewhere. Farming is the mainstay of the communities, supplemented by traditional skills such as ringal bamboo basket-work, weaving, honey production, woollen textiles). Fruit trees of pear, peaches, sweet lemons and apples abound, as well as walnuts. Buffaloes and cows are kept for milk, oxen for ploughing; goats and sheep graze in the high hills. You will meet women carrying huge head loads of grass and oak leaves as fodder for the animals, and firewood for cooking and heating the homes.

Guides

Our guides, all from our partner village communities, are crucial to making the walks an enjoyable and inspiring experience. What stands out about our guides is their pure, unadulterated passion for the forest and its many creatures. With their help, we promise you’ll have a newfound appreciation for every little stream, leaf, and rock that you walk past. They will accompany you throughout and will introduce you to the area, flora, fauna, local traditions, and the people you meet during your visit.

They are trained in wilderness first aid and are equipped to deal with minor injuries. Their guiding style is natural, unscripted, and unobtrusive. On our fixed departures, in addition to your local guides, an experienced mountain guide from the Knowhere Travel team will walk with you. Please abide by the advice of your guides, who know the current suitability and safety of each walking section.

Villages and Camps

Supi

This picturesque village lies at about 2,100 m and is surrounded by meadows and terraced fields. Supi is split into a collection of hamlets: Talai and Talla Supi, and Malla Supi, where the guesthouse is located.

The buildings are almost entirely of traditional design: impressive joint family terraced houses (berklays), with colourful walls, stone roofs, and intricately carved doors. From Upper Supi there are wonderful panoramas – the buildings of the village extend around the tidy, broad, terraced fields. Beyond, there are valleys, waterfalls, and snow-covered peaks. The community of Supi has provided a 100+ year old home and renovated it into a comfortable village guesthouse. It has four bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms, and individual upstairs sitting rooms.

Camp 01

One of the largest meadows in Bageshwar district, offering a panoramic view of both Saryu and Pindar valleys as well as close up views of Mount Nanda Khat, Panwali Dwar, Changuch, Nanda Kot and Nanda Devi etc. It is located at an altitude of 3,000 m, and your day hike to the top of the ridge would be the highest point of your walking journey at 3,300 m. You will be staying in pitched tents with sleeping bags and other camping gear while you’re here. There are separate tents with non-flush dry toilets.

Camp 02

This secret campsite also lies along the 3,100 m high ridge that separates the Saryu and Pindar valleys. From December to February it is completely covered in a white blanket of snow. The meadow itself is the verandah from which you can see the Himalayas up close. The views of the snow glistening on the Himalayan massif is so expansive it will bring you to your knees, mouth open in wonder. Accommodation at the campsite is comfortable, in safari-style tents with twin beds. The tents are lit by solar lanterns and each has a separate wash area with a bucket. Just ask your guide if you would like hot water. There are separate tents with non-flush dry toilets.

Dhurr

The village of Dhurr sits at the foot of the steep, deodar-forested hillside, above the gushing Pindar river. It lies between 1,900 and 2,100 m. Neatly terraced fields extend from the forest down towards the river.

On clear days there are stunning views of high, snow-capped peaks.

There are 2 guesthouses on the upper fringes of the village with two rooms and one room respectively in each. The showers and toilets are in a separate block.

Khali Estate

Start and end your walking journey at Khali Estate. A sprawling estate that has passed through many hands – including the Nehrus – Khali Estate is a colonial manor that sits within Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary and was once owned by the Commissioner of Kumaon, Sir Henry Ramsay. You’ll be staying in circular stone cottages with beautiful interiors. Make yourself comfortable after a hot bath, and relish that continental breakfast complete with baked beans, toast, and cutlets in the outdoor dining area. Grab yourself a couch by the fireplace in the heritage room just like the elder statesmen of our nation once did.

Who this is for

Sweet Valley Crossing is for everyone (well, almost…)

This is a unique travel experience because it combines long walks, short walks, accommodation in heritage guesthouses, safari tents, and old-fashioned camping. All the walks involve sections of steep up or downhill, particularly up to the tented camp but there are plenty of places to rest and savour the magnificent views. Altitude is a consideration for this holiday; the base altitude of 2000m shouldn’t cause any problems, but the tented camp is on a ridge at 3100m.

A good level of fitness is required – the terrain should suit anyone who enjoys fairly energetic day walks at home or have done a long trek or two in the past.

The bird diversity is less than in lower altitudes, but here you have the chance to see the Himalayan Monal, the Himalayan chough, Steppe eagles, and Bearded vultures, to name a few. There are a number of mammal species to be observed, such as the porcupine, jackal, black-faced langur, macaques, mountain goat, and barking deer. Thanks to the region’s splendid isolation, centuries-old traditions and cultures have been preserved, making it an ideal place for people who are interested in anthropological perspectives.

If you have limited experience with hiking, do try The Binsar Forest Trail which would act as an ideal stepping stone before you attempt Sweet Valley Crossing.

Responsible practices

Our holidays aim to remain responsive to the changing nature of the fragile Himalayan ecosystem and its people. We conceptualize holidays that focus on the preservation of the forest and traditional livelihoods. We augment this with low-key tourism experiences that do not intrude on the lives of the communities. This is why we encourage small groups of no more than six guests at a time. The village communities employ low-usage water systems here in order to conserve water. They grow a diverse variety of crops in order to keep the soil healthy and fertile.

This produce is later cooked in the kitchens and enjoyed by guests and the village folk alike. Hot water comes from a solar power source. The guesthouses are a reflection of the community’s commitment to maintaining the vernacular of the region. These homes are largely restored, with minimal modifications in order to host guests comfortably. Our partner hosts encourage gender equality and the representation of minority castes and people on the committees that manage the guesthouses and camps.

The tented camps and guesthouses are owned and managed by individual village committees and not by a single-family. It really takes a village! The camps were established by the community of Supi to accommodate guests during the autumn and spring seasons. These bugyals are stewarded by the Van Panchayat (the forest committee) and managed by the people of Supi, Talai, and Khal Jhuni.

LEAVE NO TRACE

Knowhere Travel Co is certified in LNT practices. This holiday adheres to the principles of Leave No Trace. Do read about the organisation and their efforts to reduce the impact of travel on the environment.

Overview, pricing, & dates

Itinerary & getting there

Day 1 – Pick up from Kathgodam, drive to Khali Estate (4 hrs). Go on a short acclimatisation walk.
Day 2-6 – Drive to the village of Supi (4 hrs). You will spend the next 5 nights in the Saryu & Pindar valleys.
Day 7 – After breakfast, drive back to Khali Estate (4 hrs).
Day 8 – Drop at Kathgodam (4 hrs) for your onward journey home.

Catch the overnight Ranikhet Express (15013) train, or a comfortable Volvo bus from New Delhi and arrive at Kathgodam or Haldwani (7-8 hours) by 5 am. Our team will receive you here and you will be under our care until we drop you back to Kathgodam the end of the trip.

If you prefer air travel, fly into Pantnagar, our team will receive you at the airport and drive you to Binsar.

The itinerary and pricing would be subject to change since the flight arrival timings may require spending an
extra night in Kathgodam or at Khali Estate in Binsar.

Pricing & overview

INR 53,999 per person (on a twin-sharing basis). Flexible payment options are available.

Children between the ages of 6-12 yrs are charged 50% and will share the room with their families. If a single child is accompanying a single parent, adult charges will be applicable for the child.

Includes: all accommodation, all meals (veg), tea/coffee/snacks, transfers to and from Kathgodam, all internal transfers, local guides, porters, entry fees, GST and service charges.

Excludes: flight/rail/bus fares, 5% additional charges for foreign nationals, tips, trip extensions, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, anything not mentioned under ‘includes’.

Group sizes are limited to a maximum of 6 adults (kids extra) and we work on a first come first serve basis.

On request, we will email our payment, cancellation policies, and booking terms and conditions.

Dates for 2024

April 6 to April 13

April 13 to April 20

April 27 to May 4

May 11 to May 18

June 9 to June 16

To leave an enquiry, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Reviews

Thank you for curating and making these parts of Uttarakhand accessible to Indian travellers, what a comfortable yet non over-indulging experience. – Shipra

I appreciated learning about the Leave No Trace policy and it has initiated my own journey into appreciating what eco-tourism and sustainable tourism mean. It was wonderful to be part of an experience where I felt we had a harmonious relationship with the local culture, people and ecology rather than feeling uncomfortable like tourists who were doing harm or having a negative impact. I only wish it was longer and I could continue more of the amazing conversations I had! I’m addicted now and want to come on this trek every year! This was one of the best experiences of my life. – Shakti

Everything was amazing. Dev, the guides, the village communities and the folks at Khali estate made sure that we were extremely comfortable. It felt like being with a family. We all would do such walking holidays with Knowhere in a heartbeat. – Gurushankar

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