The Panch Chulli peaks lie in Eastern Kumaon Himalaya and form the watershed between the Gori Ganga and Darma Valleys. The eastern approaches are through Sona and Meola Glaciers. The Uttari and Dakshini Balati glaciers guard the western approaches. Nestling snugly in the lap of the snow capped peaks of Panch Chulli, the Darma Valley in remote Pithoragarh district, bordering Nepal and Tibet, is endowed with extraordinary scenic beauty.
Between mid-May and end June and from mid-September to end-October the Wayfarer group regularly organizes trekking trips to Punch Chulli Glacier and Darma Valley. The starting point of this adventure is the Wayfarer Mountain Resort at Munsiyari from where we drive by jeep for around 95 kms. to the Indo-Nepal boarder town of Dharchulla.
From this town a further drive of 35 kms. along the banks of the Dhauli Ganga river takes us to the village of Sobla. Here onwards it’s a 40 km. trail that passes through Dar, Bungling, Sela, Nagling, Baaling and Duktu / Dantu village in the Darma Valley before reaching Punch Chulli Glacier.
Arrive in Delhi : Check into your choice of hotel, preferably in Central Delhi.
Travel from Delhi to Kathgodam railway station . The best option is to take the New Delhi Kathgodam Shatabdi Express from New Delhi railway station . Train departs at 06.00 hours & reaches Kathgodam station by 11.30 hrs ). At Kathgodam station you would be met by Wayfarer & driven by car to Ranikhet for overnight stay in our Snow View hotel (95 kms / 3.5 hrs )
Morning after breakfast drive to Munsiyari (220 kms, 8 hrs) …a journey that would take the full day to complete. This drive is across a range of mountains past small hill towns like Kausani ,Bageshwar, Chaukhori , Thal , Birthi Falls and finally Munsiyari . The final stretch of the road ascends to a height of 2748 meters before descending into the glorious Munsiyari valley.
Check in at our mountain lodge called Wayfarer Himalaya Lodge at Munsiyari for a much deserved rest. This lodge is situated amidst a forested area and offers a completely local experience. It overlooks the magnificent Panch Chulli range
Drive from Munsiyari to Sobla (130 kms./5 hrs.) : The Jeep track from Munsiyari, initially, descends to Madkot Village which is on the banks of the rapidly flowing Gori Ganga river. From this point, the two hour drive to Jauljibi is particularly scenic. On the way are small villages called Chori Bagar, and Banga Pani. At Jauljibi there is the confluence of river Gori with Kali that crosses into India from Nepal at Dharchula.
The route now travels northwards past Dharchula and Tawa Ghat and divests westward into a gorge following the Dhauli Ganga river up to Sobla. Sobla (1670m) is the entry point to the Darma Valley and is the starting point of our trek. Our destination is Dar Village (2134m) which is 5 kms. from Sobla. We pitch up here for the night.
Dar to Sela (2438 mts./12 kms.. 5 to 6 hrs.) : Today’s walk is long but easy. The mule track from Dar to Sela goes through hill sides of green pastoral land. The campsite is on the outskirts of Sela.
Sela to Baaling (2743 mts./11 kms.. 5 to 6 hrs.) : It is another relatively trouble free day. The trail to Baaling goes up and down hill sides but the altitude gained is moderate. The views of the distant glaciers is exciting and the temptation to push ahead is high. Nevertheless we camp here for the night, because we have a long march ahead of us the next day.
Baaling to Duktu (3048 mts./6 kms.. 3 hrs.) : Duktu and Dantu are two adjacent villages which are the last centres of human habitation in this part of Darma valley. The view of the Panch Chulli peaks from here is just magnificent. On the outskirts of Duktu is a huge meadow that provides a perfect setting for viewing the Panch Chulli glacier with the backdrop of the Panch Chulli peaks. This particular spot is almost picture perfect. We pitch up here for the night.
Duktu to Panch Chulli (4 kms. each way; 5 hrs.) : Today is a momentous day when we set out to explore the Panch Chulli glacier from our base camp at Duktu. The glacier projects outwards from the East face of Panch Chulli and a 4 kms. trek from the campsite along the Yuli river leads to the massive glacier itself.
The place itself provides an incredible scenery of a sprawling meadow bordered by tall oak and birch trees with the Panch Chulli (6904 mts./22652 ft.) looming in the background.
Duktu to Nagling (2743 mts./11 kms.) : We start on return trek today. The trail from Duktu to Nagling is a gradual descent and the days’ walk takes around 5 hours.
Nagling to Bungling (12 kms.) : This is the last day of our walking. We arrive at Bungling by noon. From here after a brief rest we get on to a waiting jeep that drives us back to Munsiyari.
Munsiyari to Ranikhet (240 kms.) : It is time to bid farewell to Munsiyari and its mountains. Today we board a vehicle that drives us to Ranikhet through Vijaypur, Bageshwar and Kausani. We check in for the night at Snow View Hotel.
Ranikhet to Kathgodam (90 kms.) : Today is a day when we can chill out and relax. Late morning we board a vehicle that drives us to Kathgodam. There is also the option of leaving Ranikhet after breakfast and driving to the legendary Jim Corbett Park. The train to Delhi departs from Kathgodam at 15.35 hours and arrives at New Delhi station at 20:10 hrs.
The optimal timing for our trekking trips is between May 1st and June 30th and between September 1st and October 15th. Both seasons have their attractions. During the month of May the spring flowers bloom at the margins of the snowline while the weather is generally settled barring the occasional pre monsoon storm that can blow up at any time. Day time temperatures can rise to the mid 20s even at altitudes while at night they can fall to 0 degrees C. The post monsoon season is a time of settled weather with clear views of the mountains.
Day time temperatures will still be quite warm, upto 20 degrees C during the middle of the day, however at night the temperatures will occasionally drop below 0 degrees C.