kudremukh peak
Offbeat Travel

Kudremukh trek guide: The best rolling hills you’ll ever see

Would you like to experience an adventurous trek which has the best rolling green hills you’ll ever see, get engulfed in clouds and mist and walk through an evergreen forest full of water streams?

Then you must try the Kudremukh trek.

Known as the mini ‘Scotland of India‘, the Kudremukh trek is one of the best treks in Karnataka that exposes you to diverse natural sceneries and landscapes within the Kudremukh National Park. 

It is also home to the third-highest peak in Karnataka and the best part is that you can do it on your own even if you’re a beginner.

I did the Kudremukh trek from Mangalore and in this guide, I would like to tell you the itinerary I followed so that you can plan an effective solo trek to Kudremukh. 



Where is Kudremukh?


Kudremukh is also a small hill station cum mining town located 100 km from Chikmagalur.

It derives its name from its Kannada name Kuduremukha meaning horse-faced which is how the Kudremukh peak appears.

The Kudremukh trek happens inside the Kudremukh National Park which is home to several endangered and endemic species like lion-tailed macaque, leopard and gaur. 

Why should you do the Kudremukh trek?

The Kudremukh trek is ideal for nature lovers who want to experience a different side of Karnataka. The following are the 3 reasons why you should do the Kudremukh trek:

1. The best rolling hills you’ll ever see on a trek

kudremukh trek
The Kudremukh trek is full of rolling hills like these.

Kudremukh has the best rolling hills you’ll ever see on a trek in the Western Ghats. They appear as if they’re taken from a Windows wallpaper. The best view is from the Kudremukh peak where you can see a range of never-ending rolling hills.

2Ridge walk surrounded by clouds and mist

weather in kudremukh
The last leg of the Kudremukh trek gives you spectacular views all around.

The last section of the trek wherein you walk through a ridge has some of the best views as you get to see sweeping valleys and mountain ranges all around you. To add to that, you’ll also be engulfed in clouds and mist if you trek after the monsoon season.

3. Hike through evergreen forests filled with water streams

homestays near kudremukh
There are many water streams inside the forest.

The initial walk through the shola forest is filled with adventure as you’ll be crossing several water streams and surrounding yourself with a variety of trees and birds. If lucky, you can also spot several endangered and endemic species like the Malabar giant squirrel, lion-tailed macaque and deer.

How to reach Kudremukh?

kalasa kudremukh
You can get plenty of trains to the Mangalore railway station.

The starting point for the Kudremukh trek is Mullodi which is a small village with few houses. It houses the Kudremukh Trek Forest Office from where you need to get a ticket for the Kudremukh trek.

Mullodi lies between Kudremukh and Kalasa, a nearby town which is accessible by public transport.

The two nearest cities to Kudremukh are Mangalore (100 km) and Bangalore (330 km). As such, it’s always ideal that you start your journey from these two cities as you’ll find various options for transport.

Flight

The Mangalore airport is the nearest airport to Kudremukh at 90 km followed by the Bangalore airport which is at a distance of 351 km. Both the airports are well-connected to all the major airports in the country.

Train

The Mangalore railway station is 100 km from Kudremukh, followed by the Bangalore railway station which is at a distance of 330 km. 

Bus

If you’re travelling from Mangalore, there are limited buses from Mangalore to Kudremukh. There is one bus in the afternoon around 12-1 pm which leaves for Kalasa from the Mangalore private bus stand, also known as the State Bank Bus Stand.

As an alternative, you can take a bus to Karkala. From Karkala, you can find frequent buses to Kalasa.

Once you reach Kalasa, you can get another local bus/auto to the Balagal bus stop (10 km away). From here, you can hire a jeep to go to Mullodi, which is 5 km away.

If you’re travelling from Bangalore to Kudremukh, you can book an overnight bus from Bangalore to Horanadu via Kalasa from the KSRTC website. You’ll reach Kalasa around 6 am. From Kalasa, you can take another bus/auto to the Balagal bus stop and then hire a jeep to go to Mullodi.

How to do the Kudremukh trek on your own?

stay in kudremukh
A few local shops you’ll see on the way to Kalasa.

There are two ways to do the Kudremukh trek as a solo traveller. 

The first way is to book an overnight bus to Horannadu via Kalasa (if you’re travelling from Bangalore), start your trek the next morning and leave by evening. This is ideal if you only have a day to spare.

But for the best experience, I recommend sparing two days for the Kudremukh trek. It ensures that you have a relaxed and hassle-free experience. If you choose this option, you can also book your stay with the Bella homestay, the best homestay in Kudremukh according to the internet and my personal experience. 

The advantage is that Bella homestay provides food and accommodation, and arranges your jeep to the base camp, your entry ticket for the Kudremukh trek and a trekking guide. 

kudremukh to chikmagalur
The Bella Homestay offers the best stay experience in Kudremukh.

It is what I did for my solo trek to the Kudremukh peak.

Chandan, the owner of Bella homestay, was beneficial in making sure that I had an amazing trek to the Kudremukh peak.

Before you start your trek, make sure you call Chandan to enquire about the availability of the Bella homestay for your dates. 

Search for ‘Bella Homestay Kudremukh’ on Google to get his number. You can also ask him for other details about the trek, transport options, accommodation options, etc. and he’ll be happy to help you out.

You need to pay a token amount to Chandan online to confirm your booking. 

Your DIY Kudremukh Trekking Itinerary

I’ll be talking about my solo Kudremukh trekking experience in great detail in the upcoming sections so that you too can follow the same itinerary. As mentioned, I booked my stay at Bella Homestay before I went for the trek.

Day 1

kudremukh distance
Don’t forget to have the famous Mangalore buns if you plan to start your journey from there.

I started my journey from Mangalore to Kudremukh for this trek. I chose this option as starting a journey from Bangalore would have taken more time.

Note: If you’re travelling from Bangalore to Kudremukh, you can book an overnight bus to Horanadu via Kalasa from the KSRTC website and start the trek after freshening up.

I reached Mangalore by 10 am via train, ate breakfast at one of the restaurants and went to the Mangalore private bus stand, also known as the State Bank Bus Stand. 

There is a bus which leaves at around 12-1 pm for Kalasa. You can enquire about this bus from anyone there (as I did). I boarded this bus and had a comfortable journey as the crowd was less and the roads were tidy. 

kudremukh forest
The landscape is full of greenery as you near Kalasa.

As we start nearing Kalasa, the air becomes cooler and the landscape becomes greener.

I finally reached Kalasa by 5 pm and got down at one particular location where Chandan (the owner of Bella Homestay) had told me to get down.

Chandan was there waiting for me and he took me to his homestay via his bike. 

The Bella Homestay is ideally located in a remote area surrounded by mountain ranges.

The homestay itself is well-maintained with options for rooms and camping. You get home-cooked food, free wifi and amazing hospitality from the hosts.

kudremukh stay
The Bella Homestay is always booked throughout the peak trekking season. (Source)

I occupied one of their tents, freshened up and had black tea with their homemade snacks. More people checked in as the sun sets in, and Chandan set up the campfire at night. 

Major tour operators like Plan the Unplanned and Bangalore Mountain Club also book their accommodation with the Bella Homestay for their Kudremukh trek packages.

At 8-9 pm, we had home-cooked dinner after which all of the guests retired for the night.

Note: If you love stargazing, you’ll in for a treat as you’ll observe clear skies with stars all over the place.

Day 2

kudremukh horse face
I started the trek with a group of friends.

The next day, I woke up by 6:00 am, freshened up and had breakfast. We were also given packed lunches for the Kudremukh trek.

Chandan clubbed me with a group of five people for the Kudremukh trek. They were also staying in the same homestay.

We boarded a jeep and by 7 am, we departed for Mullondi, the starting point of the Kudremukh trek. It took almost half an hour for us to reach the starting point as the terrain was rugged and untarred. 

You’ll enjoy this ride as you get the first glimpse of what you can expect from the trek. You’ll cross coffee plantations and muddy roads with streams on the way. 

kudremukh homestay
Your trek starts from the Kudremukh trek forest office (as seen here) in Mullodi.

At the starting point, you’ll find the Kudremukh Trek forest office. This office is open from 6 am to 6 pm.

Here, you have to pay for the entry fees, guide and DSLR/camera (if you’re carrying any). Your bags will also be checked as you aren’t allowed to carry any plastic inside the Kudremukh National Park (including plastic-packed biscuits and snacks).

Note: Only 50 people will get permission in a day. If you haven’t taken the help of a homestay, make sure you reach the forest office as early as possible.

From the forest office, you need to trek for 9 km to reach the Kudremukh peak. You can divide this trek into 3 parts:

1. Forest office to Ontimara (lone tree)

2. Ontimara to the zig-zag section

3. Ridge walk (zig-zag section) to Kudremukh peak

Section I: From Forest office to Ontimara (lone tree)

kudremukh karnataka
You’ll observe mountain valleys covered in mist when you start trekking in the early morning.

We started the Kudremukh trek by 8 am.

You’ll be walking through open grassland for less than a kilometre before you reach the First Tree View Point. During this walk, you’ll be able to observe mountain ranges and a valley in front of you covered in mist.

kudremukh trek distance
One of the first water streams you’ll encounter in the forest.

You’ll soon enter the Shola thick forest. In this forest, you’ll find multiple streams of water, the first of which you’ll cross after 15-20 minutes.

Note: You can fill your bottle with water from these streams as they’re very clean.

bella homestay kudremukh
The lone tree (Ontimara) is a great place to take a break and relax.

You’ll enjoy trekking through this forest because the ascent is gradual and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some animals.

Soon enough, you’ll be exiting the forest area. The landscape opens up and you’ll be able to see the Kudremukh peak for the first time from here. You’ll be surrounded by several shrubs and ferns until you see a lonely tree, known locally as Ontimara.

You can rest here for some time.

Section II: Ontimara to the zig-zag section

kudremukh hotels
The valleys and mountains of Kudremukh start opening up as you progress further.

From Ontimara, the initial ascent is flat with the Kudremukh valley on the right. This trail soon enters a forest trail for some time with water streams before you exit it. 

After this, you’ll be trekking in a completely open landscape through a narrow path for at least an hour. There will be steep ascents and bamboo shrubs surrounding you.

You’ll be walking along the edges of hills as you observe people who are ascending from below.

kudremukh hills
You’ll be walking along the slopes of mountains as you reach the last leg.

While you trek from Ontimara to the zig-zag section, keep an eye out on the surrounding landscapes as you’ll observe rolling hills and sweeping valleys at different stages. You may want to take out your camera and capture the sceneries that keep changing.

As you near the zig-zag section, there will be a steep ascent. This is another section where you should keep an eye out for the scenery. The whole of Kudremukh valley opens up after some point.

Section III: Ridge walk (zig-zag section) to Kudremukh peak

kudremukh weather
The trail becomes straightforward from the zig-zag section as you see the peak in front.

From the start of the zig-zag section, you’ll be taking a complete u-turn as you got towards the peak. As the name suggests, you will be trekking through a zig-zag trail for 1 km.

After the zig-zag section ends, make sure you visit the ruins of the British era church which is a diversion on the right side. It has an interesting history as it used to be a resting house for the Britishers.

The entire structure is now completely dilapidated and covered with plants. After visiting the church, come back to the trail.

chikmagalur to kudremukh
Visit the church when you do the ridge walk.

From here on, you’ll be walking on a ridge as you can see the trail and also the peak right in front of you. The walk from here to the peak is one of the most beautiful parts of the trek as you can see panoramic views of the valleys and hills around you.

If you’re lucky, you might also be surrounded by clouds and mist. It takes another 40 minutes from here to reach the Kudremukh peak.

We reached the Kudremukh peak by noon i.e. it took us four hours in total to complete the trek in one direction.

bangalore to kudremukh
You get spectacular views from the Kudremukh peak.

Without a doubt, the best view of the entire trek comes from the Kudremukh peak. You can get a 270-degree view of all the mountains surrounding you. Depending on the weather, you may also be engulfed in clouds and mist.

You will also be able to see the Kudremukh horse face in all its glory. It is a peak that resembles the face of the horse. You can try capturing the same and all the other beautiful sceneries you observe from here. 

Spend some time soaking in the atmosphere and have your packed lunch.

mangalore to kudremukh
You can see the horse-faced peak in all its glory from the top.

After spending a couple of hours at the top, we started trekking back (at 2 pm) to Mullodi via the same route. 

Note: Make sure you leave by 2 pm so that you’re able to reach the Kudremukh Forest Check Post before 6 pm.

Be careful while descending because some sections can be tricky. We reached back at the Kudremukh forest check post by 5 pm i.e. it took us 3 hours to descend back.

kudremukh national park
You’ll observe different views as you trek back to the starting point.

In total, we covered 9+9=18 km for the entire trek. At the check post, Chandan was there waiting for me. He picked me up as I went back to the homestay.

From thereon, I clubbed with another person I met on the trek as we went back to Mangalore together.

You can also go to Kalasa from where you can get frequent buses to Bangalore and connecting buses to Mangalore. Be sure to ask your host about the bus timings in advance so that you plan properly.

How difficult is the Kudremukh trek? 

The Kudremukh trek is a beginner’s trek that can be done by anyone with reasonable fitness. During the 18 km hike to the top and back, there will be some sections where the ascent might be steep but in general, it will be a gradual increase.

Best time for the Kudremukh trek

homestays in kudremukh
The months from September to February bring out the best colours on the trek.

The Kudremukh trek is one of those treks where the trekking season plays a vital role. And hence, I suggest you trek after the monsoon season or during winters i.e September to February.  

The weather in Kudremukh during these months enhances the beauty of the Kudremukh trek. The landscape is greener and you’ll have pleasant weather throughout the trek with mist and clouds surrounding you.

You can also give the monsoon season a shot but the problem is that the terrains become slippery and there will be the added problem of leaches.

The summer season has to be avoided at any cost as the scorching heat of the sun drains your energy

Essential things to carry for the Kudremukh trek

The following are some essential things you must carry to ensure you have a pleasant experience on the Kudremukh trek.

  • An ID Card to verify your details
  • Sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself from the sun
  • A water bottle
  • Dry fruits and nuts for the trek
  • Quick-dry t-shirts to absorb the sweat
  • Poncho, in case it rains
  • Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
  • Trekking poles to support your ascent/descent
  • Strong backpack (Preferably waterproof)
  • Mosquito Repellent Cream
  • Camera (Optional)
  • Salt to take care of leeches
  • Shoes with good grip for trekking
  • A small backpack to carry your essentials during the trek
  • Power Bank
  • A warm jacket for the night’s stay
  • Lunch Box & Spoon to carry your packed lunch
  • Flip-flops for the homestay
  • Extra pair of clothes to change after the trek

Where to stay for the Kudremukh trek?

kudremukh trekking
Raaje Gowda’s Homestay is another great stay option at Kudremukh. (Source)

If you have two days to spare and want a stress-free and organized trek, it’s always best that you sign up with one of the homestays in Kudremukh. It is why I signed up with Bella Homestay. 

Like hundreds of other people who have given great reviews about the Bella Homestay, I can also vouch for it. Chandan, his brother and his staff go to great lengths to ensure that you have a comfortable stay, a great trek and an overall memorable experience.

However, if you need more options, I can suggest the following homestays in Kudremukh that have a good reputation as well:

1. Bella Homestay Kudremukh (the best homestay in Kudremukh according to the ratings/reviews)

2. Raaje Gowda’s Home Stay

3. Sathish Mullodi House

Google for them online and you’ll find their contact number.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to trek Kudremukh?

It can take 4-5 hours to do the trek from the Kudremukh Trek Forest Office (the starting point of the trek) to the Kudremukh Peak. While returning, it will take 3-4 hours.

So in total, you can take 7-9 hours to complete the entire trek depending on your speed.

Can we trek Kudremukh alone?

Yes, you can trek alone to Kudremukh. However, you’ll still need to arrange your entry tickets from the forest office (limited to 50 tickets per day) which might be difficult to get as a lot of homestays nearby have tie-ups with the forest office. 

Hence, I suggest that you sign up for one of these homestays. It ensures that you get your tickets in advance while you also get to trek alone. It is what I did as I trekked solo to Kudremukh but with the help of a homestay.

Do note that camping in Kudremukh is not allowed.

Which is the best time to visit Kudremukh?

The best time to visit Kudremukh is during the post-monsoon and winter months i.e. from September to February. During these months, the landscape is greener and the weather is cooler which makes the entire Kudremukh landscape appealing.
 
As a bonus, you’ll also be engulfed in mists and clouds in certain sections of the trek. Hence, ensure that you do the trek when the weather in Kudremukh is ideal.

Which Kudremukh trek packages can I sign up for?

You can sign up with tour operators like Plan The Unplanned (PTU) and Bangalore Mountaineering Club (BMC). They organise the Kudremukh trek and their packages include food, accommodation, transport to and from Bangalore, a jeep ride to base camp, the entry fees for the trek and a guide. 

Alternatively, you can sign up with homestays in Kudremukh like the Bella Homestay or Raaje Gowda’s Home Stay which also provide everything except the transport to and from Bangalore. Here too, you’ll be able to meet like-minded people who, just like you, have come for the Kudremukh trek.


Conclusion

homestay in kudremukh
The Kudremukh trek offers some of the best sceneries in Karnataka.

I had an amazing time trekking to the Kudremukh peak as a solo traveller. The sights and sounds of nature along with the people I met on the trek made it an engaging experience. 

The best thing about the Kudremukh trek is that it is a beginner’s trek that can be completed within a day or two. 

If you’re coming from Bangalore, take an overnight bus and complete the trek on the same day. Alternatively, you can reach Kudremukh via bus in the afternoon, check in to a homestay there, and do the trek the next day. 

If you’re coming from Mangalore, I suggest you leave for Kudremukh in the morning/afternoon, check in to your homestay and do the trek the next day.

I strongly recommend staying at the Bella Homestay as they’re very helpful in ensuring that you have an amazing trek to the Kudremukh peak.

Choose the right season, ensure you’re fit and carry the essential things you need for the trek so that you have the best possible experience.

Rest assured, the Kudremukh National Park gives you access to some of the best natural sceneries you’ll see in Karnataka.

If you’ve more time before/after the Kudremukh trek, I suggest that you spend a couple of days in Chikmagalur as well as it also has some breathtaking sceneries that’ll blow your mind.

The distance from Chikmagalur to Kudremukh is barely 100 km and you’ll also enjoy the road trip between these two popular hill stations in Karnataka.

With that said, I hope you found this guide useful. Let me know if you have any doubts!

I'm an experiential traveller and a landscape photographer. I've been travelling across India since 2017 alongside my corporate job. Three years down the line, I quit my job to become a digital nomad and travel the world. Connect with me on my social media channels to get my latest travel updates!

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