Nanda Devi East Base Camp and Milam Glacier Trek

Nanda Devi East Base Camp and Milam Glacier Trek

Written by Shanu on 07-Aug-2019
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nanda devi peak


India's second-highest peak, Nanda Devi is the dream destination for most trekkers. At a staggering altitude of 25,643 feet, it is the 23 rd highest peak in the world. One of the most alluring peaks in the world, Nanda Devi's unexplored terrains add a mystic charm to its beauty.

Nanda Devi East Base Camp Trek is the trek-route that stuns you with the beauty of sister peaks of Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East. This route became popular after the closure of Nanda Devi Inner Sanctuary.

Despite the popularity, the peak and the circle of colossal mountains surrounding it-the Nanda Devi Sanctuary-are the most difficult to scale. Nanda Devi is a two-peaked massif, with a 2 km long ridge along with the east and west directions. On the west lies the higher summit, and the lofty Nanda Devi East encloses the Sanctuary from the east. Chilling to the core, Nanda Devi East massif is one of the most challenging summits to climb, meant for hardcore climbers.

The opulent Nanda Devi Sanctuary encompasses an area of 113 km. in perimeter and stretches to an altitude of 19,685 feet. Majestic mountain peaks encompass it on all sides except west where it is surrounded by an inaccessible gorge. The region is blessed with beautiful landscape, an amazing array of mountain ranges and dense forests; it provides a perfect set up for adventure junkies seeking thrill and high mountaineering routes in their trek.

Some interesting facts about Nanda Devi

  • The name Nanda Devi is derived from Goddess Nanda Devi translating to "Bliss Giving Goddess".
  • Nanda Devi consists of twin peaks, connected by a 2 km long ridge.
  • Nanda Devi East is also known as Sunanda Devi, the lower of the two adjacent peaks, is located at an altitude is 24,390 feet.
  • The western summit of Nanda Devi, at an elevation of 25,643 feet is the highest of the two peaks. It is the main summit.
  • Nanda Devi and Sunanda Devi, the twin Goddesses are worshipped throughout Uttarakhand.
  • After many unsuccessful attempts, the peak was successfully conquered in 1936; it took 50 years of arduous exploration to finally scale the summit.
  • Bill Tilman along with Eric Shipton and Noel Odell were the first to discover a way into the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.
  • It is still considered one of the most difficult peaks to ascend. Traversing through Rishi Gorge, the very steep and narrow canyon is the most difficult part of the Nanda Devi trek.


Legend has that at Bageshwar, in the foothills of Kumaon, Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati is enshrined in Nanda Devi, outlined by Mount Trishuli (which is the trident of Lord Shiva).

  • Region-Kumaon Himalayas, Uttarakhand
  • Altitude-13,612 feet
  • Trek Level-Difficult
  • Trekking Distance-75 km (one way)
  • Duration-14 days
  • Best Season-May to June and September to October
  • Start Point of trek-Lilam
  • End Point of trek-Milam Glacier

The Trek

One of the most difficult treks to undertake, Nanda Devi Base Camp trek takes you closest to the Nanda Devi East peak. Meant for seasoned trekkers, the trail traverses through a circular and slippery route and demands swift manoeuvers throughout. It entails long walking days with a trek of almost 75 km. one way. Adequate preparation and several acclimatization bases are mandatory for this trek as it gradually transforms from an easy trek to a fairly tough one in later stages.

  • Visit the villages of Burphu and Munsiyari- Munsiyari will captivate you with its untouched landscape and a scenic array of waterfalls, meet the Johari tribe famous for Ayurvedic herbs and woolen shawls, soak in the stunning view of Panchchuli peaks. Enjoy the artistic wooden carvings on houses at the desolate village of Burphu.
  • Revel in their culture and get a sneak peek into the primitive lifestyles of locals.
  • Witness the exotic flora, fauna and high altitude bird species. Nanda Devi National Park treats you to the most stunning wilderness in Indian Himalayas. Also known as Nanda Devi Sanctuary, it houses the most exquisite flora and some of the most endangered species of animals like The Himalayan Black Bear, snow leopard, Lingus, brown bears and many more. Fir, pines, rhododendrons, and Juniper are the main vegetation among 312 varieties of flora that enriches the park. The national park opens from 1st May till 31st October every year.
  • Spectacular view of Nanda Devi East is the ultra selling point of this trek; the view is so close, you feel as if you are touching the summit.
  • Milam Glacier is one of the main highlights of the trek. It is the major source of the river Gori Ganga. Get stunning views of Mount Trishuli, Hardeol and Rishi Parvat at Milam Glacier.

Short Itinerary

Duration-14 days

Kathgodam-Munsiari-Lilam-Bugdiar-Railkot-GhangharBase camp of Nanda Devi East-Milam village-Milam Glacier-Milam-Railkot-Bugdiar-Lilam-Munsiyari- Kathgodam

Day1-Kathgodam to Munsiyari
  • Distance- 210 km by road
  • Time taken-9 to 10 hours
  • Altitude-7,514 feet
  • Drive through the picturesque hill stations of Kumaon covering Almora, Bageshwar, Chaukori, Tejam and finally Munsiyari
  • Overnight stay in a tent or a guest house
Day 2-A day well spent at Munsiyari
  • Get the paperwork done for procuring mandatory permits from the local administration
  • Revel in the beauty of Munsiyari, mingle with the local Johari tribe, enjoy the view of Panchchuli peaks
Day 3-Munsiyari to Lilam Village
  • Distance-10 km drive from Munsiyari to Selapani and 7 km trek from Selapani to Lilam
  • Time taken-2 hours drive and 2½ hours easy walk
  • Altitude-6,562 feet
  • Overnight stay at a guesthouse
Day 4-Lilam to Bugdiar
  • Distance-12 km trek
  • Time taken-7 to 8 hours
  • Altitude-8,860 feet
  • The trail along a 25 km long gorge lined by thick bamboo trees and mixed rain forest, ascend to Radgiri at the junction of Ralam and Gori Ganga rivers leading to Bugdiar
  • Overnight stay in tents or a guest house
Day 5-Bugdiar to Railkot
  • Distance-16 km trek
  • Time taken-6 to 7 hours
  • Altitude-10,499 feet
  • A steep climb to a massive cliff which shelters a local deity leads to an open valley, enjoy the beauty of 2 waterfalls, rest for a while before taking an uphill trek leading you to Railkot
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 6-Railkot to Ghanghar
  • Distance-13 km trek
  • Time taken-6 to 7 hours
  • Altitude-10,827 feet
  • Trek through an arid land, the villages are soaked in solitude till you reach Burphu village, enjoy the view of Burphu peak (20,670 feet) and the eastern side of Nanda Devi East, marvel at the artistically carved wooden doors and windows of the quaint and solitary village of Burphu
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 7-Ghanghar to the Base Camp of Nanda Devi East
  • Distance-7 km trek
  • Time taken-3 to 4 hours
  • Altitude-12,800 feet (base camp) and 24,380 feet (Nanda Devi East)
  • Undertake a steep trek to reach Pachhu Valley, get a scenic view of the north face of Nanda Devi East, enjoy the dwarf rhododendron blossoms and the beauty of birch with anemones on the way leading to alpine meadows, trek 3 km from the base of Nanda Devi to reach the campsite, explore the ridges of Nanda Devi, capture some picture-perfect shots of Nanda Devi East massif in changing hues all through the day
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 8-Base Camp to Milam Village
  • Distance-17 km
  • Time taken-6 to 7 hours
  • Altitude-10,835 feet
  • Cross Gori Ganga and climb further to reach Milam Village, learn about the culture of the villagers who believe that they are the descendants of Rajputs from Rajasthan, this village is the last major settlement before Tibet
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 9-Milam Village to Milam Glacier View Point
  • Distance-3 km trek
  • Time taken-1 hour
  • Altitude-13,456 feet
  • Swift maneuvers are required as the path can be slippery due to ice, enjoy the scenic glacier which is the largest in the Kumaon region, enjoy magnificent views of Mount Trishuli, Hardeol, and Rishi Parvat, return to Milam Village
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 10-Milam to Railkot
  • Distance-14 km trek
  • Time taken-6 to 7 hours
  • Reminisce the uphill trek as you carefully travel downhill to reach Railkot
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 11-Railkot to Bugdiar
  • Distance-12 km trek
  • Time taken-5 to 6 hours
  • Enjoy the downhill vista as you repeat your day 5, reach Bugdiar while passing through the deserted village of Burphu which is home to only 3-4 farmer families
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 12-Bugdiar to Lilam Village
  • Distance-12 km
  • Time taken-6 to 7 hours
  • Relive the memories of Day 4, click downhill shots of bamboo thickets and dense rain forests
  • Overnight stay in tents
Day 13-Lilam to Selapani trek and drive from Selapani to Munsiyari
  • Distance-7 km trek and 10 km drive
  • Time taken-Total 4-5 hours
  • Overnight stay in a guest house
Day 14-Munsiyari to Kathgodam
  • Distance-210 km
  • Time taken-9 to 10 hours by road
  • Rejoice in the scenic landscape of Kumaon hill stations and make some beautiful memories as you head back home from this enchanting trip

How to reach

  • By road-Reach Kathgodam by road from Delhi (310 km, 7-hour drive) and drive 210 km to Munsiyari from Kathgodam
  • By rail-Reach Kathgodam by an overnight train from Delhi and drive 210 km to Munsiyari from Kathgodam, or drive to Munsiyari from Delhi (575 km, 16½ hour drive)
Written by Shanu on 07-Aug-2019
Read About Author