Best time to go walking in India

Ladakh in February? You might have thought us mad. But seeing a snow leopard descend from frozen heights was unforgettable.
Pick a season, pick a place. Walkers will always find somewhere extraordinary to explore in India. When the monsoon hits down south in the Western Ghats, Jun-Aug, head to Ladakh. If you want to combine wildlife watching with walking in Central India, head there April or May. And just after the monsoon, the Ghats are gorgeous, green and waterfalls are flowing. For hiking in the Himalayas the weather depends on the region, with snows making trails accessible as early as March in some places, but much later in others.

Central India Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
9
26
45
FEB
13
28
50
MAR
16
33
50
APR
22
37
30
MAY
27
39
40
JUN
26
36
190
JUL
25
29
420
AUG
25
28
450
SEP
22
29
225
OCT
18
30
65
NOV
14
28
40
DEC
11
25
60

A month by month guide

Most national parks in India are closed during the monsoon season, July, August, September until mid-October. If you want to combine walking with seeing tigers in, say Kanha National Park, November until March is great, but be prepared for cold mornings in December and January in the popular hiking region of nearby Chhattisgarh. If you are walking in Ladakh and want to combine it with snow leopard tracking, February and March are best. Elsewhere in Ladakh, trekking routes are particularly empty April, May and June. It is hotter during July, August and September but it does get busier, especially around the festivals that fall in these months. Festivals between October and May are much more local and quiet. The best time for hiking in Kerala depends on what floats your boat. Just after monsoon in September everything is exquisitely emerald, but the best time to combine walking with elephant watching in Periyar is March and April, when it is hotter and animals visit waterholes. Monsoon peak is June, July and August, so best stay clear of Kerala then. Unlike most national parks in India, however, Periyar stays open all year round. If the higher Himalayas are calling, the best time for walking depends on your elevation, so always talk with your vacation company. Generally the snow starts to melt on many of India’s Himalaya walking trails from March onwards, but it can be much later. Some roads in Ladakh don’t open until mid June, for example.

Our top India walking Vacation

Kerala hiking vacation in India

Kerala hiking vacation in India

Walk through beautiful hills and tea plantations

From US $2245 to US $2555 15 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2018: 15 Dec, 29 Dec
2019: 12 Jan, 2 Feb, 2 Mar, 6 Apr, 26 Oct, 2 Nov, 14 Dec, 28 Dec
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Responsible Travel recommends

Puran Bhardwaj, Director of our India based walking vacation supplier, Expedition Leaders. Puran is also author of the wonderful book The Himalayan Bond, between Man and the Environment:
“The best time for the foothills of the Himalayas is March to November. Every season is different. June and September are my favourite time in the Himalayas, because they are hot, have clear sky and are beautifully green. June to September is best for trekking in Bhaba Valley and Pin Valley, but be aware that the end of July and August can be wet due to monsoons in the green part of the Himalayas. Spiti and Ladakh are fine as it does not rain much in the desert. In October and November you can still explore some parts of the Himalayas by road including Kalpa, Sangla and Chitkul.”
Valerie Parkinson, tour leader from our Ladakh supplier, Exodus:
“If you want to see the masked dances at a monastery festival in Ladakh, don’t go to one in the summer as they are full of tourists. Find a festival off season (Oct-May); you will be one of the very few visitors at that time and can enjoy the experience. Spittuk, Tikse, Chemre, Stok and Matho all have festivals off season. At Matho the state oracles appear and thousands of Ladakhis come to see the spectacle so it is very busy.”
Vishal Koshy, General Manager of one of our Kerala walking vacation suppliers, Kalypso Adventures:
“Activity wise, June and July are not advisable, because of the monsoon, especially trekking. They are fine for sightseeing as it doesn’t rain all day, and I love driving during the monsoon as everything is so green and the waterfalls are very full. If you want to enjoy festivals, come in March and April, our summer period. There is a lot of tropical fruit during that time, so we have mango festivals and so on.”
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Gaurav K] [Best time intro - snow Leopard: Public domain] [Himalayas Summer: koshy koshy] [Ladakh festival: rajkumar1220] [Vishal Koshy - Kerala fruit: Rob Oo]
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