Kareri Lake, also known as Kumarwah Lake, is situated in the Dhauladhar range, lying 9 KMs from Dharamshala. This shallow lake is a freshwater glacial lake at an elevation of 2,934 meters and makes the most picturesque location.
The water is crystal clear, and at most places, you’ll be able to spot the lake bed – which is a wonderful experience on its own. The reflection of the sky above is another beautiful gift this lake presents. Surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, Kareri lake is quite a scenic outdoor thing to do.
The trek takes you through many waterfalls and gushing streams while also providing you with contrasting meadows. For more visual pleasure, there’s also shepherd villages that add to another depth of charm. As if that weren’t enough – the birds of the region will sing beautiful melodies along your trail.
Making for a lovely weekend adventure, Kareri lake is a beautiful, off-the-beaten-path trail.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
About Kareri Lake Trek
Taking you through lush green mountains where you can appreciate the sub-tropical pine forests to the fullest, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful bird species.
The water of Kareri lake is from glacial melting and water bodies from the Minkiani Peak in the Dhauladhar range. The stream – the outflow – is known as the Nyund river and will be your companion during the trail.
While this lake does not enjoy a huge tourism influx, I believe that is what makes this destination even more charming. Thanks to the abundant and extensive pastures near the lake, this place is a usual haunt for the Gujjars and Gaddis of nearby villages. On your trek, you’ll be able to enjoy and soak in the stunning dense conifers and some unique perpetual flowers.
Best time to visit Kareri
While the lake remains frozen for a major chunk of the year, the beauty and serenity in the winter months are also worth enjoying. However, if you’re looking for some tranquility in the winter – Kareri offers that to the max as well. March to July (i.e., pre-monsoon season) and then again from September to December (before frigid temperatures) makes for a wonderful weekend trek experience.
It is best to avoid the monsoon season as maneuvering the mountains during that period can be tricky.
How to reach Kareri Village
The Kareri village is situated around 27 km from Dharamshala. You can easily hail taxis from Dharamshala and even Bir, Palampur, and other main centers around the region. It will take you 1.5 hours to reach Kareri from Dharamshala. For reaching Dharamshala, there are multiple options available.
However, I must tell you, with any hill station you’re planning to visit, chances are, reaching by road is the most convenient option. However, train and air connectivity are available, even though a portion of your travel will need to be by road.
Gaggal, about 13 KMs from Dharamshala, is the closest airport. There are Spicejet and Air India flights from Delhi. However, it might be easier to fly into Chandigarh Airport – which enjoys better connectivity than this small Himalayan airport.
Chandigarh is at a distance of approximately 275 KMs from Dharamshala. You may hail a cab/ hire a self-driving car/ catch a bus from Chandigarh to Dharamshala. I will discuss all these options below!
The nearest railhead is Pathankot, 85 KMs away from Dharamshala. An overnight journey will get you here. Numerous trains are heading to Jammu & Kashmir has halts here. From Pathankot, you can hail a cab/ catch a bus from here.
Dharamshala is well connected to Delhi, and the journey will cover a distance of 525 KMs from ISBT. If you’re catching a bus – do take an overnight journey so that you have another entire day to enjoy your time in the Himalayas.
The journey from Delhi to Dharamshala will take approximately 13 hours. However, I must tell you that certain buses will take you to McLeod Ganj. This place is closer to the start of your trek.
Common Itinerary – Day by Day Plan
This two-day trek will take you through beautiful lush green mountains to a wonderfully secluded lake that provides the best views. Overall, the trek is fairly manageable – except for the last stretch to reach the lake, where the trail is not well defined. In terms of difficulty, I would rate this trek as easy-moderate.
Day 0 – Reaching the base – Kareri Village
Leave from Delhi late at night and cover the distance to Dharamshala overnight. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to explore around and get ready for the trek.
Day 1 – Kareri Village to Rioti Village
Today, it will take you 5 hours of trekking time to reach your camp for the night. The route is convenient as the local villagers have laid down steps and stones to define the path. However, do note, the trail does get quite steep in certain portions.
There will be a waterfall en route that is not only picturesque but also a great source of water. The trail is stunning and starts with pine and broadleaf forests. Also, a constant source of companionship, the region is famous for the many birds.
You will also be crossing the Nolli bridge, which is quite a highlight of the trek. At this bridge, there is a small shack, which makes for a good stop for some chai and Maggi! After the bridge, the trail enters the forests again.
Around halfway into the trek, you’ll be crossing another bridge over the Nyund river/nallah, eventually leading up to your camp for the night. There is a shack available here, as well, and food is a source of comfort. You can rent camping equipment including tents from the shacks here.
Do remember to carry your water bottles and keep the environment clean.
Day 2 – Rioti to Kareri Lake
You must begin early in the AM. It is going to be a long day and requires all the daylight that you can save up. In the second half of the trail, the deep forests will upon on to present rocky grasslands along the Nyund river (nallah?) – which will become your guide for the remainder of the route.
Given that the lake lies very close to the snow line, you’re in for some challenges during your final push period. Overall, you’ll be covering a distance of 4.5 KMs and should ideally take you 5ish hours, depending upon your fitness level. However, you’ll reach the lake in 1.5 hours of trekking. On the way to the lake, you’ll even spot a small Shiv temple, about 15 minutes after leaving Reoti.
Having reached the lake – you may plan on pitching tents here – however, it does get freezing here, and it might make sense to move back to Rioti as your base. Absorb the views, and spend quality time here before heading back to your base to wrap up your camps for the night (can be safely left behind).
Gajj is situated around half an hour from the lake and you may take another excursion to check the place out.
Day 3 – Back to the base, onwards and upwards
From Reoti, you can head on back to your start of the journey.
You should always carry your own water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
Can a first-time trekker do Kareri Lake trek?
Absolutely. First-time trekkers can accomplish this trek without an issue.
Is a guide required for Kareri Lake trek?
It is always advisable to have a guide when heading out on an expedition in the hills. Especially for first-time trekkers, the routes might get confusing, and if you’re not used to finding your way in the hills – it can be a scary experience. Always be prepared, and some help is never underappreciated.
Can Kareri Lake trek be done in the winters?
Yes, you may trek in the winters – however, you need to prepare for the challenges of snow and frigid cold. Water sources, food options might not be available. The lake will be frozen, and you’ll need to pack everything with you.
Kareri Lake trek is a beautiful weekend adventure for folks who want to try something new and not do the more famous treks of Kheerganga, Triund, etc. This off-the-beaten-path trek takes you through some moderate difficulty – clearly making you earn your sites.
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All of this can be wrapped up into a nice weekend getaway when the city vibes get too hard to handle, and all you want to do is unwind and connect with nature. Thanks to the convenient food options and helpful folks along the way, this trek will give you the trail-bug and get you excited about exploring more of the hills the real way.