Playground Outdoors

Satopanth Lake

If something different is what you’re looking for - the trek to Satopanth Lake is it. A seldom-traveled route in the high Garhwal mountains, the trail to this vivid blue-green lake at the base of the 21,300 foot Nilkantha Peak and whopping 23,400 foot Chaukhamba winds through the flowered meadows of the lower valley to the harsher terrain of moraine and snow-covered glaciers. Shrouded in legend, the triangular lake is nestled into the rocky bowl created by the surrounding mountains, its three points said to have been the meditation spots for the Hindu gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.

Difficulty

SAC T5 Demanding Alpine Hiking

Often without paths. Some easy climbing sections. Exposed, demanding grounds, steep craggy ground. Danger of slipping on glaciers and firn fields.

Duration

9 days

Delhi to Delhi
4 days travel & rest
5 days hiking & camping

Distance

45 km / 28 mi

Maximum Altitude

4350 m / 14260 ft

Price

₹71,000 $1000

Itinerary


By plane, private car or bus, we will arrange your travel to Dehradun, the mountain-bordered capital of Uttarakhand. From here, we make the transfer to private cab to continue on toward Joshimath.

We cover the second leg of our journey toward the trailhead, enjoying the dramatic mountain scenery change out of our window as we wind our way up in altitude. We will be stopping at Joshimath - one of the headquarters in Uttarakhand for trekking, religious pilgrimages and skiing. We will take the evening to repack, refresh, debrief on our upcoming trek and explore the temples and bazaars of town - time permitting.

A holy city often visited by Hindu pilgrims, Badrinath is tucked into the mountains and said to have been the point the five Pandavas in the Mahabharata epic passed through just before ascending to heaven. We stop after the 45km drive here at the trailhead to acclimatize before heading out with our packs tomorrow.

Our first day’s trails skirts alongside the legendary Alaknanda River, taking us on a pleasantly gradual incline until we reach a rocky landslide section. From here, we cross into the green Somtoli Meadows. Keep an eye out across the river en-route for the Vasudhara Falls - plummeting from 400ft above and spraying a cool mist into the air. Before leaving the meadows, we pass shepherds tending to their flocks as well as the caves they sometimes take shelter in for the night. After a short while longer trekking over a trail section of mostly boulders, we reach our campsite under the shade of some birch trees.

The trail becoming more difficult now, our day starts with a rocky ascent over scree and boulders as we rise with the valley. The higher we go, the more Uttarakhand’s massive peaks are revealed, with the snow capped Nilakntha, Chaukhamba and Balakun coming into view. Upon reaching Sahashtra Dhar, we cross the stream that fan out across this expanse before entering into the left hand side of lateral moraine left behind by the icy Chaukhamba glacier. From here, we follow another steep ascent, flanked by enormous mountains, and rise into a snowy section until we reach our campsite here.

Navigating the wobbly rocks and boulders as we continue ascending the lateral moraine of the glacier, we come to the base of two spurs - rocky ridges jutting out from the 21,300 foot Nilkantha Peak, whose intimidating facade, along with Chaukhamba, now tower above us in plain sight. After crossing over the second spur and passing several miniature glacial lakes, we find Satopanth lake, nestled below into the rocky bowl created by the surrounding mountains. On a sunny day, the triangular lake shimmers in a vibrant blue-green color, its three points said to have been the meditation spots for the Hindu gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. We will return to Chakrateerth for one more night.

Time to begin retracing our steps and making our journey back toward civilization, but don’t worry, we’ve still got another night in the beautiful meadows of Somtoli.

We complete the trek by hiking to Mana, the northernmost village of this region before the border of India and Tibet, and make the return drive to Joshimath to stay the night.

We will return to Dehradun by car, after which point we can arrange your travel either via overnight bus, cab or flight.

Playground Perks


Handcrafted & Curated

We don’t copy our itineraries off the internet. We scout and design all trip offerings personally. This ensures enough time to acclimatise at high altitude, explore around the campsite, and indulge in authentic local experiences so you don’t miss out on anything.

Everything Included

Honestly, everything. Internal flights, best-in-class travel insurance, personal camping equipment, and all meals - we’ll take care of everything that most travel operators will mark with an asterisk. You pay for nothing except personal purchases from the day your trip starts.

Equipment & Safety

4 season Mountain Hardwear tents and sleeping bags, emergency oxygen reserves & PACs to provide a safety net against AMS, UIAA Safety Label glacier rescue kits for technical trails, WAFA/WFR & CPR certified guides, best-in-class adventure insurance - we’ve always got a plan B.

Personalised & Bespoke

We curate bespoke adventures and trips every day because we recognise that everyone’s travel bug is unique. When it comes to adventure travel, there are different ways to experience the world’s most beautiful places, because every traveler is different - which is why we’ve stepped in to provide a space for environmental advocacy, cross-cultural connections, wellness and adventure to combine - all through travel.

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel starts with acknowledging that travel and tourism often contribute to the global climate crisis. We believe in the positive power of travel to transform mindsets & generate a sense of preservation towards wild spaces. We follow LNT Principles, minimise our carbon footprint, adopt regenerative practices & give back to local communities - from making sure our field staff are well equipped to higher-than-industry-standard compensation.

Self Guided & Operated

We’ll never hand you off to someone else - we run all trips ourselves. We minimise external contracting and only partner with people we know and trust personally. While we employ and collaborate with local guides and support staff for their unparalleled expertise and knowledge of the Himalayan ranges, our trips are led by one of our core team members so you always have a single point of contact.