We slept like two babies in the bedroom of our host at Luntra after a lip smacking home made dinner. The lady of the house woke us up with two cups of tea and a bucket of hot water to freshen up. The morning sun rays were shining through the door. After a few selfies with the family of our host we were back on our way.
Luntra is located at 1800m altitude in the Nandakini river valley. Today s target was to cross over to the Birahi Ganga valley through two passes. A nice rock path initially climbed up steeply above Luntra towards the dwelling of Buransi from where the path gradually contours West up towards the first pass at 2450m. We take a short snack break eating Leo’s mix of jaggery with nuts, seeds and oats.
From the pass a rock path drops down 400m through forest on the Northern facing slope to the village of Char Panga. A friendly local person invites us for a cup of chai with biscuits while we indulge in the warm morning sun. We climb up 700m above the village to the Agichaura Khal pass at 2800m. The sun is beating down on us as we climb up, surprising hot during mid winter.
On top we stop for a late breakfast – yummy fried mommo’s packed up the previous day at Ghat. One plate holds 8 large sized pieces complemented with delicious home made chilly sauce. A chill breeze persists at the pass but we enjoy basking in the warm mid day sun. We resume our way along a beautiful forest trail which contours North below the ridgeline high above the Birahi Ganga valley.
From this higher altitude we get treated on mesmerizing views of the Northern Nanda Devi subsection to the East and Chaukhamba to the North. The trail gradually contours downwards along the ridgeline to the scenic village of Sainji a few hundred meters above the Birahi Ganga river. We admire the exquisite wood work on some of the heritage homes as a crowd of curious onlookers gathers.
One friendly villager invites us into his home for a cup of tea. We join his family on the rooftop while basking in the last sun rays before it sets below the ridgeline above. They offer us a delicious dhal sabji with rice and freshly plucked oranges. We enjoy the kind hospitality of our host as we indulge in the peacefulness of this beautiful farming settlement overlooking the steep rock faces above the Birahi river valley.
We thank our host and hit the road below into the valley walking upstream towards our next target: the Kuari pass at 3900m to cross over to Joshimath and the Dhauliganga river valley. It s a long 20km walk with no vehicles moving in our direction. The road hair pins up high above the valley circumventing recent landslides. Towards the evening we hitch a ride on a tractor who gets us to the village of Durmi.
Darkness is falling and it s getting cold in the valley. We get into a small road side tea shop and gather around a warm cooking fire. Two hot chai-s get us warmed up followed by a sumptuous dinner of fresh veggies, Maggie noodles and eggs. The owner takes offers us the empty room next to his shop to spent the night. We settle into the warm and cosy room to the gentle sound of the Birahi Ganga river below.