The Nanda Devi Raj Jat trail meanders through rich Himalayan landscape in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, but the trek is demanding. You may face the following problems:
Landslide on Roads to Nauti
You may get stranded due to landslides. For example, in mid-August 2014, reaching Nauti, the starting point of the Nanda Raj Jat, was a big challenge. The two of three possible routes were unusable because of heavy downpour and the consequent landslides.
Finding Suitable Place for Tent
If you reach the stopover last, you may find it difficult to pitch the tent in the heart of the designated camping site. You may pitch the tents at fringes of the sites, especially, located beyond tree line. In villages, you may request locals who may give you space in their courtyards, on terraces, and / or in verandas free of cost for a night.
Occasionally, latecomers may have to walk extra for a night halt. They may go to the next nearest camping site or walk back to the previous nearest site. For example, on August 26, 2014, in Nandkesari, the administration made an announcement within the temple complex. Since there was not enough space to accommodate all pilgrims in Nandkesari, man pilgrims were requested to go to Deval (next) or Chepdue (previous) camping sites and woman pilgrims were allowed to stay back.
Camping spots are available on first come, first served basis.
Go early to find a place for your own toilet tent.
Loudspeakers Interfere with Sleep
If you find a camping place next to the evening cultural program venue and / or the temple, loud beats of devotional songs, chants, and prayers will not let you sleep. I experienced the same problem. I could not sleep for a second in Koti because my logistics manager pitched the tent next to the night event venue, where the loudspeakers blared until 3:00 am.
No or a Little Food for Latecomers
If you rely on free food for subsistence and you reach late at the bhandra (free food stall), you may not get sufficient food. Sometimes you may not get anything to eat.
Tantrums of Porters, Horsemen, Logistics Managers
Horsemen, porters, and / or your logistics manager may ditch you in the middle of the trek for no reasons at all or their mood swings. They may make unexpected demands. You should therefore be fully fit and should travel as light as possible.
Easy to Get Lost in Crowd
Finding your group is difficult, especially, if you reach the stopover after dark. Even during day, finding your team mates on the busy trail is a tough job.
Try to walk in group. If you cannot do that, pre-decide some meeting points. For instance, the team can meet at a bhandra at the end of the day, entry point of the village, etc.
BSNL mobile did not work in most of the stopovers during Nanda Raj Jat 2014. Airtel, Idea, and / or Vodaphone had better signals and wider networks.
Take Care of Valuables
Although the route and camping sites were crowded, yet I never felt unsafe. However, one of the photographers lost his laptop and tripod. Take care of your belongings.
Missing Daily Use or Travel Items
Since the trail explores the small remote parts of Uttarakhand, you may not find your favorite daily use or travel items that are easily available in your comparatively bigger home towns. For instance, I tried in vain to buy Parachute coconut oil in the village shops. Biscuits of national brands like Parle G were not even available in Nauti. But you will definitely get a local or regional version of ready to eat snacks: biscuits, chips, namkeens, etc.
At Nauti, one of the old ladies took away my paper soap strips from my hand. She insisted: “give me, give me…” Finally I had to give her the strips. I enquired at different village shops but received weird responses as the shopkeepers were not familiar with paper soap.
If you cannot do without your favorite items, do bring them along.
Karanprayag is the last major town where you may get most of your favorite stuff. But not everything.