Budget Backpacking: Kedarnath & Vasuki Tal Trek
Welcome to our Guest Post Series. Our guest travel writer will share his solo trekking experience on ‘Kedarnath & Vasuki Tal Trek’ at Uttarakhand which is one of the most difficult treks in India.
Moreover, this post will tell us about some awesome budget backpacking hacks as well as a wonderful experience of the trip.
It would be very interesting to know about the whole trip experience that our guest travel writer has offered.
Guest Travel Writer: Sandeep Kumar Bhagat is a Financial Research professional in a US MNC by profession and also a stock trader (Financial markets). He is passionate about traveling and loves to travel as many times as he can. He is a budget traveler and a spontaneous learner who felt that traveling taught him very important lessons of life which were otherwise could never be learned from normal day to day life.
A trip to Kedarnath & Vasuki Tal
Total Trip Cost: Rs. 2400/- approx
Day 1 (5th July): Delhi I.S.B.T. to Guptkashi
The trip started at 9 PM from Kashmiri gate I.S.B.T. (Ticket cost Rs 630/-). Due to monsoon season, the bus was half empty. I could sleep in the last seat, where no one is ready to sit for long bus rides. That’s the main advantage of traveling in the non-peak season. Considering the comfort, I say – we get extra by paying less.
Day 2 (6th July): Guptkashi to Gaurikund and trek from Gaurikund to Kedarnath
Reached Guptkashi at around 12:30 PM (I was supposed to be there around 10 AM but because of a landslide near Rishikesh bus was delayed by 2:30 hrs). At 1 PM, I took a shared jeep (cost Rs 100/-) and reached Gaurikund by 2:15 PM. At 2:30 PM, I started to trek to Kedarnath from Gaurikund. The total trek path is 16 km and it is very steep. Google could give me limited information on Vasuki Tal, so I asked a few locals about it for more details. I met a middle-aged guy, who warned me about ‘Vasuki Tal’ trek as it is not an easy trek because, on the majority of days, trek remains covered with fog/mist and one can barely see anything. Very few travelers attempt for that trek. He thought either I was a fool or too fearless to be willing to go on such trek alone. He tried to persuade me to take a guide and drop the idea of going alone. I would have considered that but I am a budget traveler so hiring a guide was not an option for me. The guide was charging Rs. 2000/- for the trek (this was my approx. budget for the trip)! I thanked the guy for his concern and moved ahead.
Moving ahead, I was amazed to see the number of waterfalls on the trek. I could find one for every mile I crossed. On the way up, I found a group of old men, all aged above 55. These guys were on a “Char Dham Yatra”. They noticed my heavy bag pack and started questioning me on why I was traveling alone, what is in the bag, blah blah. After chit-chatting for a while, I started liking them. I finished the whole trek with the group of oldies and reached Kedarnath base camp at 8:15 PM. By this time, I become so fond of the oldies group that I decided to share a tent with them. We bargained with the local food stall owner for stay and food. Finally, I managed to get a night stay in the shared tent (Rs. 100/-) and dinner (Rs.100/-)
Day 3 (7th July): Trek from Kedarnath to Vasuki Tal and back to Kedarnath
Next day, I woke up at 5 AM and said goodbye to the oldies as they were leaving for some other destination. I had my breakfast and packed my lunch (Cost Rs.150/-). I started to trek to Vasuki Tal at 9 AM. It is a 7 km trek out of which 6.5 km is totally steep. Initial 0.7 to 1 km trek path was completely wiped out due to heavy rainfall. This cost me some time to find the trek path but I did not give up and keep moving ahead. I did not find a single person on the trek. It was completely foggy, I guess the visibility was not even 50 Mts. I saw some sheep and dogs on the way up, which gave me hope of finding a shepherd nearby.
I got scared by the fierce winds (not too strong but more than normal), shooting stones which I couldn’t see due to fog but could hear the falling sound. To calm myself, I took out my phone and started listening to ‘Shiva Tandava stotra’ (holy chanting) song which I usually listen when I got scared or sad. This really made me feel better and finally, I could notice the beauty around me.
The biggest disadvantage of traveling alone is there is no one to click your pictures ☹
Just before 1 km from Vasuki Tal, I sat for a couple of minutes wanted to capture the beautiful background (yeah, I get bored with taking selfies). I picked some stone and place my phone on them and set a timer. I ran just in time to come in the frame. I am good at clicking pictures that way. 😀
When I reached Vasuki Tal, the weather cleared a bit (reached at 1:30 PM). I Stayed there for 1 hour. An hour to peaceful cloud gazing and admiration of nature’s beauty, amazing experience!
Traveling solo helped me pick up a few survival tricks. When I was doing a solo trek to Dodital (Called as the birthplace of Lord Ganesha) in March, I offered biscuits to a dog that I saw on my way. This gesture made the dog follow me throughout the trek. So, when I decided to return from Vasuki Tal (at around 2.50 PM), again I saw a dog and offered him some of my biscuits. Mountain dogs are usually very smart. If they follow you on such a dangerous trek, they can get you some help if something goes wrong.
The weather was getting worse, with visibility going down to 20-25 meter. I tried to walk as fast as possible and reached Kedarnath at around 4:30 – 4:45 PM. I was exhausted. This was really not an easy trek after all. Still, I would say it is an amazing trek (Kedarnath and Vasuki Tal both).
After coming back to the camp, I sat with the food stall owner discussing things in general like a business, politics (all efforts to kill time and boredom). 🙂
I stayed in the camp for that night as well. (Dinner and evening snacks Rs.100+80 and night stay Rs.100/-).
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Day 4 (8th July): Downward trek from Kedarnath to GauriKund and to Delhi
Woke up at 4:30 AM, got freshened up and started downward trek to Gaurikund. On the way down, I again met the same guy who warned me about the trek to Vasuki Tal. He asked me “Have you completed the trek?” I don’t know why he gets so happy after knowing that I completed the trek. He said goodbye and wished me luck. I reached Gaurikund by 8:45 AM, took a shared jeep to Guptkashi (Cost: Rs 90/-). Got the bus to Rishikesh at around 10:30 AM (Cost Rs.330/-) and reached there by 5 PM. As it was not a direct bus I had to change for Delhi (Cost Rs.282/-). Finally, I reached Delhi by 11:45 PM.
There ends my one more solo trip!
Keep Smiling and keep Travelling
Jai Bhole Ki
Tips for Travelers
- This place is suitable for two kinds of people either for devotees or for trekkers. As in the monsoon season, there will be very few people; otherwise, this place is full of devotees.
- The trek path is narrow. So, if anyone planning then plan accordingly keeping rush in mind.
- For budget-friendly stay, try to get accommodation at some local food stall owner’s place. There you can get stay @ Rs.100-150/- per night on a sharing basis. There are also some government shelters as well, charging @ Rs.250-1000/- per person. For food, one can negotiate as well.
⇒Read more posts from our Guest Post Series.
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