Kudremukh hiking guide - The Summit

Hiking Guide To Kudremukh Peak From Bangalore (INR 1858)

Kuduremukha or Kudremukh is a mountain peak nestled in the western ghats in the Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka. It is the 3rd highest peak in Karnataka after Mullayanagiri and Baba Budangiri. The trail is immensely popular among the trekking and hiking community. Impressively, Kudremukh is also one of the UNESCO world heritage sites.

The Kudremukh Peak despite it being a hard one is a must if you are an ardent fan of trekking. This guide will help you by providing you with all the pertinent information that you will need to complete this trek by yourself, or in a group, either in a single day or as a weekend trip.

Kudremukh Hiking Guide

Why The Name Kudremukh?

“Kudre” means horse and “Mukha” means face in the Kannada language. The peak of the Kudremukh resembles the face of a horse. Hence, named Kudremukh or Kuduremukha.

How To Reach Kudremukh?

By Air

The nearest airport to Kalasa is the Mangalore International Airport (Airport code: IXE, 111 Km). From there, there are no direct buses available. However, you can book a cab from the airport and reach Kalasa by road.

By Train

Kalasa is not well-networked with railway stations. The nearest railway station to Kalasa is the Chikmagalur railway station (Station Code: CMGR, 88 Km). Be advised that the train frequency is low and also there are no direct buses from Chikkamagaluru to Kalasa. It is better not to use the rails as an option.

By Road

The best option to reach Kalasa is by boarding a direct bus from Bangalore to Horanadu via Kalasa or by using a private vehicle. As the number of buses is limited to only 4, it is better to book seats at least 2 weeks in advance during peak seasons. You will have to step down from the bus at Kalasa.

Please note that direct KSRTC buses are not available from any of these places – Mangalore, Udupi, Mysore, and Chikkamagaluru. Usually, the buses from Chikmagalur stop at Kalasa. You can ask the driver and get off the bus at Balgal village, 10 Km away from Kalasa. The roads are not good until the forest check post office. You can hop on one of the jeeps that are parked there and hop down at the forest office at extra charges (Rs. 1500 which includes the return journey). Make sure to note the driver’s contact for the return journey.

If you are coming from Horanadu, board a bus to Kalasa. From Kalasa, opposite the petrol bunk, board a bus to Balgal village.

We went by Airavat – AC semi-sleeper KSRTC bus from Bangalore. But we would recommend you choose a sleeper bus to ensure you are well-rested.

Note: From Bangalore – if you are choosing the Airavat bus, the journey ends at 5 AM. But it’s best if you prepare yourself for a possible delay of at least 2 hours. Reaching, stretching your legs, having breakfast in the homestay, and getting to the forest check post office, will take approximately 1 – 1:30 hours. Timing is crucial, the earlier you start the trek, the better and the last entry is at 10 AM.

We hired a jeep that accommodated 8 people and we roamed for a day after the trek covering all the places near Kalasa. It cost us Rs. 4500 per day. Here is the contact number of the jeep that we hired: 

Shivaraj – +91 9482544840, +91 9448688623 (speaks Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, Tulu, Malayalam)

Note: No two-wheeler rentals are available in Kalasa. OLA, Uber, and other taxi services are not available.

Best Time To Visit

The best of Kudremukh

You can do the Kudremukh hike all year round. During the summer months between January and June, the forest is dry, hot, and humid. The continuous rains during the monsoon months of July and August make the hike more challenging with leeches.

We feel that the ideal time to visit Kudremukh is during the post-monsoon season, from September to December.

Network Availability

Good cellular reception was found at the summit by Airtel, Jio, and BSNL. Although an intermittent Jio network is found along the trail, it is not reliable. 

After Kalasa, only Jio has intermittent reception. There will be no signal in other operators.

ATM Availability

There is no ATM available nearby. So, ensure you carry sufficient cash. ATMs are available only in Kalasa and Horanadu.

Languages Spoken

The regional language, Kannada, is the only language spoken by the people in the region. As Kudremukh Peak is frequented by hikers and trekkers, some guides and homestay owners speak Hindi and English.

Parking Availability

Parking space is available at the base of the trek, just 50 m before the forest check post office, near the Mullodi homestay.

Restroom Facilities

There is only one restroom at the forest check post office. You are dependent on nature for the rest of the day while trekking the national park.

Where To Eat?

Restaurants are very limited in the region. Have breakfast and dinner at the homestay itself. They will give you a packed lunch provided you informed them earlier that you are planning to go for the Kudremukh trek. 

You can stock up on snacks from a couple of shops that are available at the Balgal bus stop. Make sure you remove all the plastics and store them in some containers as plastic wrappers are prohibited inside the Kudremukh National Park.

Note: Food door delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy are not available.

Where To Stay?

Homestays are the best go-to options in the region. We stayed at Kallu Kore homestay. Their hospitality is great and the rooms were neat and clean with ample parking space. Both non-veg and veg food options are available, and the food is great. Morning and evening tea with snacks are served. 

For trekking, inform them earlier so that they can arrange breakfast early and pack lunches for you and your group to carry for the hike and the vehicles for your commute.

If you are looking for a cozy place to stay with good food, then this is your place. If you are on a budget, hiking the Kudremukh peak, you can also stay in dorm rooms near the forest check post office.

Another budget way is to stay at the temple guesthouse at Horanadu. The room costs as low as Rs. 250 for 2 persons per night. Book prior if you are planning to stay during the weekends as they are very crowded.

Nearest Home Stays

  • The Mullody homestay – +91 9481578065 – very close to the check post office
  • The Raaje Gowda’s homestay – +91 9481179008 – is very close to the check post office
  • The Kallu Kore homestay – +916362309385 – where we stayed

Before booking, make sure to confirm the accessibility of the services listed below: 

  • Pick up and drop off from the bus stand if you are using public transport – usually, they charge extra for this service.
  • Wifi & network availability
  • Hot water facility
  • Veg and non-veg food options
  • Jeep to roam if needed
 

Things To Do In Kudremukh

Hiking is a popular activity at the Kudremukh National Park. This is a great place for trekking enthusiasts to spend time with nature. There are also a few other places near Kalasa that you should visit during your hiking trip.

Hiking Details

Entry fee: Rs. 575 per person (for Indians) + Rs. 1000 for a guide (for 8 persons). Extra charges for DSLR + lenses that you carry. The price differs for students and foreigners.

Registration: Not required.

Permission:

Kudremukh forest check post office

Permission is mandatory for Kudremukh Peak. Reach the forest check post office as early as possible and get permission from them. A few years ago, they allowed only 100 people per day for the trek. But now, there are no restrictions on the number of persons entering the forests.

Camping: Not allowed

Timings: Entry – from 6 AM to 10 AM, Exit – 6 PM 

Duration: 4 – 5 hours for the ascend, 2 – 3 hours to descend.

Summit Height: 1892 m

Hike Distance: 22 Km, two-way. Although the board on the forest check post office displays 9 Km (one way), the distance measured is more than that.

Water Resources:

Crossing streams along the route

Water from the streams and waterfalls found at multiple lengths along the hiking route can be used for drinking. Make sure you bring your own non-plastic reusable water bottles.

Hiking Route:

The trek starts from the Kudremukh forest check post office. There are Km markings along the hike, measuring the distance to the summit. There are no signboards for directions along the trail. Follow the instructions of the guide and always walk in groups.

Easy part of the Kudremukha trek

Until the first tree viewpoint followed by the 7 Km trail marking, the hike is a relatively easy walk. After that, the ascend starts and it gradually becomes steep.

Hard steep climb of the route

The rocky uphill ascend is extremely slippery during monsoons. The paths are narrow with increasing heights. So, one has to be extremely careful, because one wrong move could cost you your life.

The view of Onti mara and Kudremukh peak

The popular “Onti Mara” or “lonely tree” marks that you still have 5 Km to go. Followed by a waterfall and viewpoints mark the 4 Km and 3 Km of the trail respectively. The ascend is steep during these sections of the hike.

Mountains of Kudremukh National park

The views can be best described as spectacular. The multiple beds of mountains shying behind thickets of clouds and the obscure yet persistent peak are truly a sight to behold. 

The ridge walk is an easy one while the last stretch to the summit is completely uphill but less challenging when compared to the other legs of the journey that you have already crossed. 

Relax and have lunch at the summit and start to descend before 2 PM at any cost. Remember that, it becomes dark in the forests even before the actual sunset.

Kudremukh trek route

The peak is visible during most sections of the trail. The descent is the same route as the ascend.

Difficulty Level: Moderate – difficult, highly subjected to your fitness level.

Terrain: Grasslands, Forests, streams, and rocks

Wildlife: Although we didn’t spot any wildlife, except the leeches, the Kudremukh national park is home to some of the rarest families of monkeys including the Lion-Tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus), Hanuman Langur (Semnopithecushypoleucos), and the Malabar Slender Loris (Loris-lydekkerianus malabaricus).

At The Kudremukh Summit:

There are numerous stones piled up with a board marking that you have reached the summit.

View from the summit of Kudremukh peak

The view was misty on one side, while the other was filled with pristine greenery. You can see the paths you crossed and the numerous beds of the mountains of the western ghats as far as the horizon. During the monsoons, the entire view might be covered in mist.

Camping: Camping is not allowed in the Kudremukh National Park. All the visitors should reach the base, forest department office by 6 PM.

Cost Breakdown For One Person

  • Room rent in Horanadu – Rs. 125 (Rs.250 for 2 persons)
  • Breakfast in Horanadu – Rs. 30 (Idly)
  • Bus between Horanadu and Kalasa – Rs. 34 (includes return to Horanadu)
  • Bus between Kalasa and Balgal – Rs. 40 (includes return to Kalasa)
  • Jeep ride from Balgal to hike starting point and back – Rs. 100 (costs between 1.5K for around 1-15 persons)
  • Guide charges – Rs. 100 (Rs. 1000 for 1-10 persons). Join with other groups to reduce costs.
  • Forest entry fee – Rs. 575
  • Energy bars, snacks – Rs. 100

Total for the hike = Rs. 1104

Bus from Bangalore – Horanadu – Bangalore costs Rs. 754 (Karnataka Sarige)

Grand Total = Rs. 1858

Free water and free dinner at Horanadu temple premises. You can also do the Kudremukh trek and cover all the places near Kalasa. The only downside is the packed lunch, but you can get them from a homestay nearby at extra cost (inform prior).

Many group trip organizers offer packages for the Kudremukh trek from Bangalore, Mysore, and Mangalore which costs between Rs. 4000 and Rs. 5000.

Tips For Saving Money

  • You can save on the auto charges to your homestay and jeep charges from Balgal to Kudremukh forest check post by choosing a homestay near the forest check post office or by bringing your vehicle. 
  • Compared to renting a jeep, bringing your vehicle and sharing the expenses would be the better option in terms of comfort and cost-effectiveness.
  • Staying in Horanadu devasthanam guesthouses will save you more bucks. You’ll also get free food at the premises.
  • Rather than booking on third-party platforms, we found that booking the rooms directly by calling the owner was much more nominal. You can search for desired homestays on Google and reach out to them directly.
  • If you complete the hike in a single day and return to your place, say Bangalore, you can save more. 

Important Points To Remember

  • The use of plastics, smoking, and drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited. All the bags are searched thoroughly and any plastic found is immediately disposed of at the forest check post office, including the chocolate wrappers.
  • As a hiker, it is incumbent on you to be responsible and not litter. Leave it better than it was before.
  • Taking a guide is mandatory for the Kudremukh hike, without which you will be denied entry. This means that you cannot do this hike solo. 
  • Directions are not marked along the trail. The chances of getting lost are very high in the Kudremukh National Park. So, make sure to stick with your guide or group.
  • Beware of leeches. There are plenty of leeches found along the trail. It is important to know how to get rid of them the right way.

Essential Things To Carry

  • Ensure you carry at least 1L of water per person. You can refill along the trail.
  • Take sufficient cash with you as you cannot make online payments because of poor networks in the area.
  • Take sufficient snacks and energy bars. Shops are also available at Balgal and Kalsa.
  • Cap, sunscreen & sunglasses are essential if you are hiking from January to June.
  • Carry a poncho or raincoat if you are traveling from June to December.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as the hike distance is fairly long.
  • During monsoon season, trekking poles will help you to wade across the streams along the trail.
  • Do not carry flammable materials.

Frequently Asked Questions

How difficult is the Kudremukh trek?

The trek distance of 22 Km has to be completed in a single day with steep ascends. If you are physically fit and mentally strong, you can do this trek. Prior trekking experience also helps. Trek difficulty level is moderate to difficult, this assessment, however, is highly subject to your fitness level.

What is the challenging section of the hike?

Before and after “Onti mara” or “lonely tree”, the ascend is steep for approximately 3 Km. During the monsoons, the leeches and the slippery terrain make the hike more challenging. But trust us, the view and the rewarding journey do justice to all the arduous paths.

Can we hike solo to Kudremukh Peak?

A guide is mandatory to hike to the Kudremukh peak, without which you will be denied entry from the forest check post office, which is the starting point of the trek. This is due to many mishappenings in the region. So, you cannot hike or enter alone. Trespassers will be severely punished and fined.

If you find this guide helpful, comment below. 

Happy hiking!

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