Offbeat hiking destinations to soak in the rains
With dynamic restrictions and lockdowns in the past year, coupled with a large amount of time spent at home, hopeful travellers are dreaming of destinations to visit, when it is safe to travel, that combine some of their favorite things: being active and taking in amazing scenery. The monsoon season is the perfect time to bring out your hiking shoes and wander into the wilderness. With this in mind, Booking.com, the world’s leading digital travel brand, has curated a list of six hiking getaways to add to your travel bucket list, so you can head to the trekking trails and make the most of the season.
Located in the Pimpri region of Maharashtra, approximately 16 km from Pune, Andharban trek is the perfect place for every trekker who wishes to experience the pleasure of wandering into deep jungles surrounded by sounds of the rustling leaves, chirping birds and gushing waterfalls. During monsoons, this trek is one of the most exhilarating treks of the Sahyadri as you walk through the fog-covered jungles and immerse yourself in the scenic views of the Kundalika Valley, Bhira Dam, and the various mountain ranges of Tamhini Ghat. Apart from stunning views of the valley, you will also find yourself surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna, several species of birds and natural landscapes. Andharban, also known as the ‘Dark Forest of Maharashtra’, is an ideal trek during the monsoon season when the beautiful western ghats turn into lush green lands.
A trek to Madikeri is worth adding to your bucket-list if you are in the mood for some adventure. Madikeri offers a variety of trekking routes surrounded by gorgeous landscapes featuring mountain peaks and lush greens. Trekkers can either choose an easy leisurely trek or push themselves to try some of the more challenging trails in the region. Thadiyandamol and Pushpagiri, rising to a height of 5729 feet and 5626 feet respectively, are the highest peaks of all in Madikeri. Though not very high, it is their steepness that makes them tough to conquer. And while you are exploring the region on your trek don’t forget to visit the coffee estates, exotic spice plantations, orange groves, and rice paddies. Many of the trails in Madikeri Trek are less frequented, leaving them untouched and pristine, perfect for you to explore.
Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri is located at an altitude of 4595 meters in the midst of Ladakh to the North, Tibet to the East, and Zanskar to the West. The Tso Moriri Trek passes through several mountain passes including the Tanglangla, which is the second-highest motorable road in the world. Travellers will also pass by Horlamkongkala, one of the remote villages on this route hosting a gompa and a saltwater lake which winds up further at a height of 5440 meters at Yalungnyaula. At Yalungnyaula, you can witness a panoramic view of Lake Moriri, an absolutely breathtaking sight on the arduous trail. Tso Moriri trek is one of the most beautiful treks in Ladakh. Colourful mountains, two huge alpine lakes and plenty of wildlife all add to the surreal beauty of this trek.
Kotagiri is one of the lesser-known hill stations in the Nilgiri Hills. During the monsoon, the destination is blooming with greenery and flora. Trekking in the Nilgiris couldn’t be more fun when you have a close-up view of the clouds above and feel the rain at a higher elevation than usual. The trail to the top is a forest trail, with waterfalls and lakes as you go along. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the endangered Lion-Tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Tahr while going through the forest. While planning for a trek to Kotagiri, it should be noted that it’s best to start early in the day since you have a long hike ahead of you.
Gandikota is a village in Andhra Pradesh where you will find India’s very own Grand Canyon - or so remains its unofficial title by locals. And monsoons are in fact the best time to go trekking here, as the summer heat becomes too scorching to enjoy the trek. This trek is especially great if you enjoy exploring caves, as it offers you the chance to check out the Belum Cave interiors which also hold a resemblance to the Antelope Canyons in Arizona. The Gandikota trek is best taken in a group and with an experienced guide leading the way. And if a hike hasn’t satisfied your thrill for adventure, you can also go rappelling along the slopes or kayaking in Rayalacheruvu Lake.
Chityal Hills, approx 90kms away from Hyderabad city, make for a good weekend trek. The range here is vast and expansive and can take up to 2 to 3 days to complete. The destination provides good spots for camping no matter where you stop along the way. The hills also do not receive heavy rainfalls, so the hikes are safe. The panoramic views are captivating to witness during the rains and even better to capture in a frame. But you will need to wait to post the pictures to your socials since connectivity is very poor at such altitudes.