The Kareri Lake trek is a fine substitute to the trek over the Indrahar Pass. The itinerary we are discussing here does not cross any mountain passes & there are no demanding days. The trek additionally en routes remote trails through great forests and secluded villages which are not yet connected to the roads. Kareri Lake is also a perfect base from where you can explore the upper regions of the Dhauladhar to have a taste & flavour, the views across the Kangra Valley and witness the high mountain peaks that stretch beyond the Pir Panjal to the Himalaya Range.
Planning for Kareri Lake trek
Best time for Kareri Lake trek
September through October is ideal for trekking. However, to witness the migration of Gaddi shepherds to Kareri Lake, you would need to trek in May. By June most of the snow in the location of the lake has melted. The region is subject to heavy monsoon rain from July to early September.
What to Bring for Kareri Lake Trek
A tent, sleeping bag, a stove and cooking gear are required. Food supplies for the entire trek should also be carried.
Getting to/from the trek
From the bazaar at McLeod Ganj, it is 7km to the trailhead at Satobari. Local taxis are the best option and will set you back around Rs 200 to Rs 250.
Kareri Lake Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Satobari to Kareri Village (5 hours, 15km)
An introduction to the secluded Hindu villages and trails beneath the Dhauladhar. This is an opportunity to ascend the chir, oak and rhododendron forest to vibrant Kareri village.
Starting from Satobari (1750m), follow the bridle track that descends through the chir forest for 5km to the Bhote Khola and the small bazaar at Ghera (1325m). The descent should take no more than 1½ hours. Be sure to visit Ravi’s tea stall in the centre of the market. Ravi lives in Kareri village and claims to complete the morning commute from Kareri to Ghera in around 30 minutes. On a good day, the uphill return takes around an hour. For lesser mortals, cross the bridge over the Bhote Khosi, turn left and head along the trail to a small settlement and a stream that marks the outflow of the Kareri River – the main water supply being piped down to a dam project just below Ghera.
Continue past a wellattended government school to the village of Seri (1470m). The trail then ascends gradually through rhododendron forest until it meets the bridge over the fastflowing Kareri River. Here the trail splits. If continuing to Kareri village (1800m), head up the trail for 15 to 20 minutes – or 30 minutes up to the Forest Rest House(1850m). If camping, continue alongside the river for 1km to a meadow (1730m) big enough to accommodate several trekking groups at the same time. The farming settlement on the far side of the campsite is particularly attractive. If you are short on porters, this is the place to go; offers to stay in this part of the village reflect the traditional hospitality of the foothills.
Day 2: Kareri Village to Harote (3–3½ hours, 10km)
This intermediary stage is recommended for acclimatisation before heading up to Kareri Lake. Follow the less-frequented trails through magnificent rhododendron and ancient oak forest. There are viewpoints to see tiny settlements and forested ridges that extend to the Kangra Valley.
Now from Kareri campsite you will need your guide to direct you up and around the myriad village tracks to the main trail leading to Harote. If staying at the Forest Rest House the trail is easier to follow, as it ascends directly above the village.
Once beyond the outlying fields, the trail enters a holly oak and spruce forest, and welcome shade. It continues around to the Kareri stream after 5km or around 1½ hours before clambering over two huge boulders that serve as a bridge over the watercourse. A steep 200m gets the heart pumping before the trail gradually ascends through mixed forest and open meadows before it rounds the contours to rejoin the Kareri stream. Cross the bridge over the stream to the true left or east bank and continue for a further 10 to 15 minutes to a secluded meadow known as Harote (2450m). There is a spring just above the campsite.
Day 3: Harote to Kareri Lake (2 hours, 4km)
This is a short stage that ensures you reach Kareri Lake by mid-morning. This allows ample time to ascend the alpine meadows beneath the Dhauladhar. How far you climb depends on your endurance and capacity to absorb the spectacular views across the Indian Plains. If heading in the direction of the Bleni Pass, the views to the north extend across the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal to the 6000m peaks of the Kishtwar Himalaya.
The trail heads up a narrow valley alongside the tumbling waters of the Kareri stream. The trail is shaded by oak and conifer forest, while there are a number of Gaddi shepherd huts en route to the lake. The trail remains on the true left of the valley until it practically reaches the outflow from the lake. Cross the boulder-strewn stream to the Shiva temple and Dharamsala located just above Kareri Lake (2950m). The best campsite is on the meadows to the west of the lake. It is worth noting that the size of the lake has greatly diminished in the last 20 years Whether this is attributed to global warming or to more local causes is a matter for debate.
Day 4: Return to Kareri Village (3–4 hours 15km)
Retrace the route for Days 2 and 3 to the original campsite below Kareri village or to stay at the Forest Rest House. There is ample opportunity to wander the fields of corn, barley and mustard as well as gaining viewpoints to have a look of the Dhauladhar and the route across the forested ridges and the village of Bal.
Day 5: Kareri Village to Bal (4½–5 hours, 14km)
This stage ascends the secluded trails of the Dhauladhar to the village of Bal. Following this itinerary is well worth the effort, although if time is at a premium head down to Ghera and up to Stowari and you should be back in McLeod Ganj by early afternoon.
If camping below Kareri village then allow an extra 30 minutes to ascend to the Forest Rest House (1850m). From there the trail continues around the contours – with fine views back down to the Kangra Valley – to the village of Khari Bhai (1800m) before a long steep descent to the Bhote Kosi a few kilometres up from Ghera. Cross the boulder bridge to Roa village (1510m). There is a delightful resting spot – and potential campsite just above the village before heading up a side valley. After 2km the trail heads steeply up forest of bamboo, oak and conifers. The 200m climb can fairly be described as taxing.
After the best part of an hour, the trail reaches a ridge that affords commanding views across to Kareri village and the Dhauladhar. It’s a further 20 to 30 minutes around to the village of Bal (1860m) and 1km on to a camp (1890m) alongside the upper course of a tributary flowing from Laka Got. Watch out for troupes of inquisitive langur monkeys and pairs of remarkably tame blue magpie. There is also a small lodge just beyond Bal village.
Day 6: Bal Village to McLeod Ganj via Dharamkot (2–2½ hours, 7km)
This is a short stage to complete the 'half circuit' back to McLeod Ganj. The stage includes an initial ascent through mixed forest to the Dharamkot Ridge and the trail to Triund before heading back down to McLeod Ganj. Also consider extending the trek to Triund and the base of the Indrahar pass.
From the campsite just beyond Bal cross the bridge over the main tributary and ascend the trail through mixed forest to the Dharamkot Ridge (2100m). The climb is steep in places but should take no more than an hour. From the ridge it is possible to get a lift by jeep to McLeod Ganj. It is also possible to head back down via Dharamkot village. However, the most direct route down is through deodar forest to the Mountaineering Institute and McLeod Ganj (1750m), allow about an hour to complete.
Happy Trekking 🙂
|Kareri Lake Trek, Dharamshala|
|Summary||Kareri Lake Trek is a short, accessible trek through Hindu villages to Kareri Lake and the spectacular ridges of the Dhauladhar Range.|
Please read here my previous post about Delhi to Dharamshala: A Traveler’s Experience
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