During my first few days here I’ve been planning for the journey further North to the source of the Ganges from where I’ll be beginning the trip. I knew that choosing to do this in February would make things difficult and I’ve since found out that it will just be that.
I’m currently in Rishikesh (the largest dot on the map) at an elevation of 340 meters and the Northernmost dot on the map shows the destination of Gaumukh which is regarded as the source of the Ganges where the water flow out from the Gangotri glacier. This is at an elevation of nearly 4,000 meters which is no joke and a serious hike.
To get to Gaumukh you have to hike from the nearest town Gangotri and this destination I thought might be feasible to reach at this time of year but I’ve since found out otherwise. Last June there were flash floods in the mountains that washed away large sections of the road, many of which are yet to be re constructed.
Talking with local travel agents there seems to be some conflicting information as to how far North I can get but it seems as though the roads should be passable up to the town of Harsil which is the third highest dot on the map. There is the major stop off of Uttarkashi on the way and this will be the point where I should find out if I am allowed to proceed any further (apparently the police may turn back Western travellers if they feel the route is too dangerous).
All this information I’ve found both exciting and if I’m honest slightly terrifying, I have the option of catching a bus up to Harsil which will take around 12 hours or hiring a driver which will take less time. From there I can come back down to Rishikesh by using hire jeeps which operate along the route.
For the following reasons I’m going to definitely opt to hire a driver to get me up to (hopefully) Harsil:
- ~ A taxi although more expensive, will make for a shorter journey
- ~ I’d rather set off when I’d like rather than rely on the bus timetable
- ~ If possible I’d like to set off very early to arrive at the destination before nightfall
- ~ A twelve hour bus journey will not be fun
- ~ A twelve hour journey on a heavily laden bus on roads that are possibly damaged and bordering sheer drops
- will really not be fun!