"It isn't trekking, it's walking ... a way of getting into the Himalayas without having to be supremely fit or rough it out". The circular walks are designed so that you can choose your itinerary based on your level of fitness - from a gentle ramble connecting as many as five mountain villages to longer hikes in the wooded sanctuaries where there are leopards, barking deer and eagles.
Village treks are for people searching for something simpler, which would take them off the well-trodden paths and closer to India’s landscape, her people and their living cultures. These are fully catered, where you would only be expected to carry a daypack.
Each day you walk through pretty villages, stretches of pine forest, descending into scenic valleys, exploring several architectural marvels from the 8th – 12th centuries dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses. On arrival at your village house, you will be greeted by a lovely family. The village houses have been renovated to make them cosy and comfortable, yet retain their simple charm and the authenticity of living in a village house. The friendly families promise a comfortable room and a delicious meal during your stay.
Most of these walks begin after you spend the first two nights acclimatising to the mountain air before walking over the hills to the villages. You are looked after by members of the village community who will carry your bags. The renovated stone guesthouses have traditional mud floors, wood stoves, and linen bed sheets and duvets.
The bathrooms are outside (not en suite) with western toilets and the adjoining shower rooms have slate tiles. Showers are taken (in local tradition) using brass buckets and mugs filled with hot water that the staff have boiled for you. A few have installed proper showers. Your itinerary is completely private and flexible, and if you wanted to, you could spend your afternoon sitting outside reading a good book and admiring the scenery or watching the farmer plough his fields.
As night falls, the village men prepare a delicious, home-cooked meal over the wood fire and, later, you sit in the moonlight, the stillness broken only by the sound of a dog barking in a distant valley.
There is truly no more inspiring and rewarding way to experience the feel and smell of this stunningly beautiful region than on foot. These village walks take you through the unspoilt remote villages, enabling you to experience it from close quarters. The programme allows you to walk around freely and interact with the local communities, exchange stories with the elderly people over a cup of ‘chai’ or help villagers working in the fields.
Village walks are a great concept and an increasing number of sophisticated travellers are seeking something beyond five-star luxury – although even here it is possible!