A beginner’s guide to trekking during monsoon

From rainy season hiking essentials to recommendations for a post-trek bite, we’ve got you covered. 

Harper's Bazaar India

When the thick, grey clouds roll in and you get the first shower after a sticky, sweltering summer, you know monsoon is here. The start of monsoon also marks the beginning of a season of a totally different kind—trekking. 
Trekking and hiking in the Western Ghats is fun throughout the year, but the experience is elevated during monsoon, when the rains convert the beige-brown valleys into lush green landscapes interspersed with trickling waterfalls. 
Our beginner-friendly guide to trekking during rainy season will ensure that you have the best time especially if it’s your first monsoon trek. 

Things to keep in mind before you go trekking in monsoon 

Monsoon trekking is undoubtedly exciting, but it can also be tricky—you have to navigate slippery slopes, low visibility, and surprise encounters with critters. 

While there are quite a few things to be mindful of, the most important is inarguably your footwear—it can make or break your trek. Use good quality hiking shoes or boots that are waterproof, and make sure to carry an extra pair of waterproof sandals in case of an emergency. 

Though it’s a given that you’ll be wearing a raincoat during the trek, also protect your bag with a rain cover, to avoid your belongings getting wet. For added protection, it’s recommended to put all expensive electronic items in separate waterproof pouches. 

It’s best to be extra cautious and prepared when going on a trek, especially a monsoon one, so pack a spare pair of socks, undergarments and an outfit in case you experience extremely heavy rain and need to change. 
Don’t forget the essentials like power banks, torches, insect repellents, and water bottles. 

Even if it’s raining, remember to stay hydrated and fuel up with snacks—trekking can prove to be a challenging activity, especially in this weather. 

Seasonal waterfalls, Buddhist caves, and hill forts—there’s plenty to see

Maharashtra is dotted with ancient forts, and Kothaligad, also called Peth due to its proximity to Peth village, is one of them. The top of the fort is uniquely-shaped like a funnel and provides trekkers with sweeping views of the forests. You can also spot cannon balls, and water cisterns inside the fortified walls. 

Apart from forts, the region is also known for its Buddhist caves, and while Kondana caves in Karjat might not be as popular as the ones in Ajanta, they are just as breathtaking. These Buddhist-era caves were discovered in first century BC and have intricate stone-cut carvings on the walls. While some parts of the caves were damaged post an intense earthquake in 1900, there are many structures still standing that visitors can take a look at. The scenic waterfalls in the surrounding area add to the experience. You can book a trek through Oleander Farms at Karjat, which offers multiple trek routes to the place based on your preference.

Celebrate completing the trek by indulging in a wholesome spread at their Saltt Coffee House. The new menu, curated by Aaliya Ahuja, Oleander Farms’ founder along with food consultant Hitendra Golatkar, is a healthy mix of sandwiches, open toasts, pasta, salads, and desserts to round off your meal. If you’re looking for something cosy and comforting after a misty, rainy trek, then opt for the peri peri rubbed garlic potatoes, chicken parmesan meatballs or the creamy pasta alfredo. Those who’d like to try something on the healthier side should order from the extensive salad and open toasts section, which features dishes like a Mediterranean salad bowl, guacamole on toast, and more. Complete it with a bite of decadent Belgian hazelnut tart or the cinnamon carrot cake—perfect for the weather. 

For another trekking point linked to history, albeit in an anecdotal manner, head to Duke’s Nose in Khandala. The hill is named so because of its resemblance to the Duke of Wellington’s sharp nose—it has a steep cliff with a flat top. From there, you can enjoy stunning views of Khandala and Sahyadri peaks. If you are feeling adventurous and want to take it one step further, you can rappel or rock climb your way down.  If you’re up for something even more challenging, then the Prabalgad trek is for you. It involves climbing up the uneven Prabalgad hill through the steps cut into its sides. But once you’ve reached the peak, the panoramic view of Matheran that you’re greeted with makes the uphill climb truly worth it.