TheYak Herders’ Trail: trekking in the Eastern Himalaya

Day 1  Arrive in Guwahati. In the afternoon, time permitting, there will be an opportunity to visit Kamakhya temple, the cultural centre of Kalakshetra and its museum, plus the state emporium. Overnight in Guwahati.

Day 2  In the morning, continue our sightseeing in Guwahati not completed on Day 1. In the afternoon, drive to Nameri National Park crossing the mighty Brahmaputra River by road bridge. Overnight in Nameri National Park

Day 3  Today we have the choice of either taking a restful day in the beautiful grounds of our eco-lodge accommodation, perhaps enjoying a short walk along the banks of the Bor-Dikorai river or opting for our guided activities.
If you choose our guided activities, you will rise early for breakfast and then cross by canoe to the far banks of the Bor-Dikorai river for a short jungle nature trek. In the afternoon, you will have the option of taking a raft 13km downriver, looking out for wild animals and birds coming down to the water’s edge. Overnight in Nameri National Park.

Day 4  We continue northwards, driving over the border from Assam into Arunachal Pradesh. We then wind our way upwards, cutting through the mountains and a landscape which is rich in vegetation. We break our journey in Bomdila, before continuing onwards to our journey’s end at Dirang. Overnight in Dirang.

Day 5  Trek Day 1: We drive from Dirang to the traditional Brokpa tribe village of Chander, the starting point for our trek. The Brokpa are a sub-tribe of the main Monpa tribe. This is the last village we will come cross until we reach Luguthang on Day 6. The first day’s walking is suitably quite gentle, often following an ancient track, only gradually rising through lush vegetation. Sheer cliffs flank the path to the left while wonderful views open up across the valley to the right, until we arrive at our camp spot, the delightful yak pastures of Thungri (10,400ft/3170m).

Day 6  Trek Day 2: We leave camp and initially trek through a series of ancient sunken lanes, cutting through thick jungle which towers overhead. During the morning the trail continues to rise only gently, although by the afternoon it steepens considerably, zigzagging below a series of Buddhist prayer flags intermittently stretching across the way. We skirt around an occasional mani wall or abandoned military bunker, remnants of the Sino-Indian war of 1962, before finally emerging at the beautiful ridge pastures of Changla (12,272ft/3741m), flanked by a picturesque small lake. Here we pitch our tents.

Day 7  Trek Day 3: Today’s walk is dominated by the ascent to Poshing La (13,523ft/4122m). Although the climb is not so steep as on Day 2, the pass is higher than yesterday’s. We will pass a sign at the start of the toughest section of the approach which appropriately reads “Housel Bulam” or “Keep Courage”. Once across the pass, the trek continues to present its challenges with a few lesser climbs through a landscape bedecked with wonderful rhododendron bushes, until a pleasant stroll along the banks of the River Tsomgo finally brings us to our camp spot at Potok (13,195ft/4022m).

Day 8  Trek Day 4: Today the walk is dominated by the crossing of Chela La (15443ft/4707m). Although this pass is still higher even than Poshing La, the ascent is less steep and therefore less demanding. What is more, the wonderful views to be gained as we ascend, especially of the two lakes on the final approach to Chela La, are truly something to behold. We descend steeply to our camping ground, the yak pastures at Lap (14,291ft/4356m).

Day 9  Trek Day 5: We begin the day by following the banks of the delightful, meandering River Jongte, trekking across the stone beaches which appear intermittently along its shore. We then wade across the river itself and begin climbing steeply from the wide valley floor to reach Carla La (15,007ft/4574m). We descend on the far side through a succession of pastures, scattered with traditional stone huts, to reach the yak pastures at Lenan (14,245ft/4342m). Here, at the head of a steep valley, we pitch our tents and enjoy amazing views into the valley below.

Day 10  Trek Day 6:
Today we rise once more to cross two magnificent passes, both above 15,000ft, the highest being Getong La (15,410ft/4696m), bedecked with Buddhist prayer flags. Our descent leads us finally to a village settlement, Luguthang, the first we have encountered since we set off from Chander on Day 1. We pass through its traditional stone houses and camp on the banks of the stream in the valley just below (12,883ft/3927m).

Day 11  Trek Day 7:
Today we must cross yet another wonderful mountain pass, Jelong La (15,446ft/4708m), incredibly still higher even than yesterday’s. We descend steeply through a verdant mountainside scattered with livestock until we reach the banks of the River Chhaina and the pastures at Yangser (14,656ft/4467m), our camping spot for the night.

Day 12  Trek Day 8:
The very highest pass of the whole trek is reserved for our final day. Indeed, Nyakto La (15,707ft/4787m) is a fitting pass to end our mountain adventure. From its stone cairn, bedecked with Buddhist prayer flags, we descend for a final time. Passing through a landscape of lakes and gushing streams, we meet the road once more, rejoining our vehicle, just below Sela Pass. At this point, we kick off our boots, jump aboard our vehicle, and drive up and over Sela La as far south as our hotel in Dirang. Overnight in Dirang.

Day 13  Today we continue our drive south. We leave Dirang and head out of the mountains, back over the border onto the plains of Assam. We will reach our beautiful accommodation, the historic Wild Mahseer, set in the midst of the verdant Addabarie Tea Estate, close to Balipara. Fronted by a massive lawn interspersed with mature trees, decorative beds blooming with seasonal flowers and dotted with wooden benches, this is a perfect refuge for visitors who are keen to re-create the experience of the old-world British planters’ lifestyle. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing on the verandah of your tea plantation bungalow and enjoying leisurely walks through the surrounding tea plantation gardens themselves while reflecting upon your experiences of the last two weeks. Overnight on Addabarie Tea Estate.

Day 14  We take a leisurely breakfast to allow time to enjoy the exceptional surroundings of our tea plantation bungalow and then transfer to Guwahati. Overnight in Guwahati.

Day 15  Transfer to Guwahati airport.