Kareri Lake and more

Here you will find an overview of all basic information if you want to hike the in the Dharamsala area like to Kareri Lake, Triund and more.

Short description:

Kareri Lake is a popular destination for guided tours and overnight trip. It is located at around 4000m and you can easily get to the start of the trail, find gear to rent, guides or even hike independently. It takes around 3-5 hours from the Village to the Lake, depending on your fitness and need to hurry ;).
It is also possible to extend the trip, depending on the time available, experience and weather conditions. There are many tracks to mountain passes over 5000m and trails to get to another popular treck, Triund. I found “maps.me” mostly helpful as an offline map, to check my location (see more details later).
Weather is, of course, depending on the season, I was hiking end of November and had perfect hiking conditions, sunny days and moderate temperature. I only wished to have more hours of daylight 🙂 (Be aware of the Monsoon (June – September)). Winter starts mid-December, so be aware and always check to weather forecast.

General Information for Kareri Lake

  • Distance: around 30km
  • Days: 2
  • Climate: November, still no rain, sunny days, temperature closer to freezing at night
  • Start: Kareri Village (half day walk from McLeod Ganj or bus from Dharamshala)
  • End: Naddi
  • Highest Point: 4512m / 14,803ft
  • Wildlife: wild dogs, which will bark at you but relax as soon you show you are no threat, I haven’t heard from any attack
    BEARS: So, this is tricky. I heard, in the beginning, many stories about black bears attacking people, especially getting closer to winter time since they are descending from the higher altitude. I talked with guides at the camp and they told me, the stories are made up to make people take guides. Trust your instinct. I went without a guide and felt safe since I have already experienced in the bear country and know how to prevent any dangerous situations. Be really sure how you feel and I recommend to go with a guide in case of any uncertainty.
  • Permit: None

Before the Trek:
– Acclimatization is to consider if you flying in from low elevation. Recommended are usually at least 48h.
– Tell your family/friends where and when you leave
– Download offline maps
– Have some sort of water purification system
– Enough cash
– Enough food plus a backup meal
– If you want, buy some little toys or a baseball for kids in the towns (it is better then giving them candy)
– Prebooking the campsites is not necessary
– Write down some Hindi phrase like greetings, questions (Water, food, camping)

Map:
There were maps available in bookstores in McLeod Ganj, but none were topographic. I used online the offline map of “maps.me” and downloaded a topographic section from “Alpine Tours”.

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How to get there:
Either walk to Kareri Village or take a bus from Dharamshala to Ghera and then a collective bus to Kareri Village. Dont fall directly for the taxi, you pay 10 times more then for the busses.

Directions:
– I recommend walking from McLeod Ganj to Kareri Lake (5-6 hours). It will save you some money and it is a nice warm-up for the following days. In case you are short on time, shared minibusses leave from Dharamshala bus station to “Ghera” and then Kareri Village. No need for taxis which are the most expensive option. By walk, leave Mcleod Ganh towards Naddi and at the Lake, turn to Satorvari. From the end of the road, descend towards Ghera (trails is shown on the offline outdoor map)
– From Ghera, either walk to Kareri Village or ask for the minibus, which costs only around 30 INR.
– Kareri Village has many guesthouses. Either you stay there with your guide for the hike or you can just book a night. They will try to persuade you to take a guide, it’s up to you 🙂
– Next day, follow the road up the hill till you reach a big bridge (they will be also a few tea stands). The trail begins at the east side of the river.
– About 1 km you reach an opening with a campsite on the other riverside. Cross here, walk shortly up and south and you reach another trail after 10-15min. Continue now back north and higher above the river
– Beautiful sections with views ahead and back. You will pass again one tea stand of a boy and his dog “Tiger”.
– Continue and cross the river to the east side at a little bridge. The trail continues till the Lake on this side and is clearly visible.
– At the lake, you will find a temple on the southwest side of the shore, little stone huts on the north side and campsites all around. To get to the pass, a trail goes up on the North-east side of the lake.
– Next day, you either return the way you came from or, get over the hill on the east side and descend long way along the valley and river to the village “Rava”. Guides will probably take you on this way for 2 more days, but if you fit you can do this in a day with the ascend back to McLeod Ganj.
– A trail will be shown on the offline map, but it is better to first make your own way down over the boulders and along the river. I found myself once in the bushes and then went back to the river and found the trail later again.
– Turning south towards “Dhradka”, you will soon see first signs of civilization lake powerlines. There is also a huge hydro power station in the making, so you find soon dirt roads and people. CAUTION: Reaching the power station, stay on the road and DO NOT take the trail on the maps. There has been a rock slide and the trail is destroyed. People showed me a new trail. Follow the road on the east side, it will go up on the last 500m to a silo, from where you turn right and descend again.
– Arriving at Dhradka, stay on the east shore and do not cross the bridge on the west. “Maps.me” is very useful here to find the right crossings and ways up to “Naddi” or you can walk to Ghera and take a bus back to Dharamshala.
– In case of hiking to Naddi, it takes around 1 hour up the hill. A bus leaves every full hour to McLeod Ganj bus station and costs 20 INR (Taxi will be around 300-400).

Costs:
– Food: This is the biggest “supermarket” in McLeod Gang. It is not on google but you will find it at this location. You will find oats, grains, peanut butter, Maggi etc.
– Transport: Depending if you walk, all with taxi up to 1000INR, with busses only around 100INR.
– Camping: free camping, Dont know about the rent
– Water: Free from the river :), around 50 INR for 1 Liter
– Snacks: Chai Masala 20INR, Maggis&Omletts etc around 60-80INR

Trail:
The trail is mostly visible. You can get confused by multiple tracks but as long you follow the main direction, you will reach your destinations. Most trails follow along the river up or down.
The conditions are good, but it is mostly made out of rocks and you have to make many steps instead of a flat ground. This is much harder on the knees, so I recommend to use hiking poles, at least for the downhill.

What to bring:
– be prepared for all kind of weather, especially before or after the dry season. So bring warm, water repellent clothes and a warm jacket since the nights are cold. Don’t forget the sunscreen as well due to the high elevation.
– Bug repellent: There were only a few moments necessary but it was good to have it. Also depending on the season of the year.
– Cole tablets and Imodium: If you arrived and had some Indian food, just take some pills to prevent any stomach problems. Some pouches of electrolytes will be good in case you have already issues.
– Trash Bag!!! Due to the increasing amount of guided tours, the trash on the trail is a serious problem in my opinion. Locals do not really care as well, so it’s on us to pick up some litter additionally to carrying our own trash. Please help as well. In towns, you’ll be able to throw it away.
– Water Filter and iodine tabs: Due to the wildlife and horses on the trails, it’s safer to filter all your water you get from streams.
– Toys: It is a great gesture to bring small toys like baseballs for kids. I heard that pencils and paper books are also gladly appreciated but as a hiker, I know as well that pack weight is important

Highlights:
– Temples all the way. A few are really nice and there is a big one at the lake.
– The hospitality of the people. It happened many times that I got invited for a tea and I was also staying with our Yoga Schools cook for two nights.
– Starry nights, especially later in the summer when the sky is clear.
– The silence and fresh air. McLeod Ganj is already clean compared to what you might be used or know from India. You will feel the difference when you are finally in the mountains.
– There are many pools along the river which are just welcoming you for a refreshing jump in the water.

Pictures:

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