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Roopkund Trek - 8 Days

Roopkund Trek
11500

Roopkund is a glacial lake nestled in the high mountains of Uttarakhand Himalayas. At an altitude of 5030 meters or 16,500 feet, the lake is completely uninhabited and is surrounded by snow clad mountains. It remains covered in snow, rather thick ice, and frozen for the whole winter – summer season from November to June. Roopkund, the magical lake, often makes me fall short of words. The beauty of the place and the journey taken to reach there is incomparable. Roopkund Trek, the name every serious trekker in the country surely knows. Roopkund Lake, a place very close to the heart of those who’ve been there before. The place that is amongst our favourites and one we recommend to every trekker around to experience once.

Bedni Kund

Roopkund (locally known as Mystery Lake) is a high altitude glacial lake in Uttarakhand state of India, lies in the lap of Trishul massif and famous due to hundreds of human skeletons found at the edge of the lake. The lake is located at an altitude of about 15,700 feet. It is surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow clad mountains, making it a good trekking destination. The route leading to the lake passes through the twin Bugyals of Ali & Bedni. All along the trail you get amazing views of peaks like Kedarnath ,Chaukhamba , Neelkantha , Trishul & Nanda Ghunti.

Nanda Ghunti & Trishul Massif

Roopkund Lake came to limelight for the mystery of scattered humans skeletons found all over in and around the lake. For the reason, it is often called as The Skeletal Lake or The Mystery Lake. Where the mystery can never be answered with certainty, various theories and stories continue to be told time and again and make this secretive place legendary. Roopkund Trek continues the inherent legacy and fame of the place and is probably the most treaded of the medium duration treks in India. Roopkund Trek gives one an opportunity to witness the mighty 7000ers – Mt. Trishul & Mt. Nanda Devi and also beautiful 6000er peaks of Mt. Nanda Ghunti, Nilkantha, Maiktoli Peak etc. It takes one to some of the loveliest open grassland meadows, known locally as Bugyals – Ali Bugyal and Bedini Bugyal. The climb to the lake from Bhagwabasa and beyond to Junargali Top challenges ones physical limits.

Humans Skeletons found all over the lake

There are many routes for a trek to Roopkund. One of the most common routes taken by travellers and adventurers is through Lohajung up to where you can travel by road. Trekking begins after this point. There are also some plains or flat areas where you can camp during the night. If the weather is not foggy, you can easily see Bedni Bugyal and Trishul. On your way to Roopkund, you would also find many grazing lands for horses, sheep and mules. You would come across a few temples and lakes on your journey. Many waterfalls are also visible on the slopes of the surrounding mountains. However, it should be kept in mind that the weather is generally hostile throughout the year and travellers need to be fully equipped and prepared for these conditions

Location of Roopkund Trek

Roopkund Lake is located in the Nanda Devi National Park in Himalayas in Uttarakhand. The approx. height of the lake is about 15500 feet and in case you’re going till Roopkund Trek, it is just expected that you even climb up to Junragali Ridge which is 750 feet above Roopkund for getting an astounding view of the Nanda Ghunti and the Trishul massif. The climb up to Junargali might be a bit tricky on the basis of the weather and the snow conditions.

Difficulty of the Roopkund Trek

It is definitely not the trek if you are looking to try it for the first time and if you do not have any prior experience in Roopkund trekking. The Roopkund and Junragali trek is a considerably difficult trek and you need to be physically fit before embarking on the trek. Also, there’s an additional fear of the AMS. These 2 factors can make it quite difficult to trek sometimes. But, if you’ve been engaged in some kind of physical activity earlier, it would be easy for you.

What would be the Best Time for Roopkund Trek?

This trek may be done in 2 windows- in May-June that’s right before the monsoon or Aug-Sept that is after the monsoon. In case you go for the May-June window, then the bugyals would be greener and the Roopkund Lake would also be thawed. Thus, you would be able to see skeletons.

Roopkund in in May-June

In case you choose the September season, then the dayara bugyals would be a bit browner but still quite beautiful. Towards the end of September, you will find a lot of snow on the trek. It is also possible that the lake might be completely frozen this time.

Roopkund in Sep and Oct

Day 1
Kathgodam - Lohajung (7,500 ft) (Drive- 250 kms / 8 - 9 hrs)

Day 2
Lohajung (7,500 ft) - Didana (8,000 ft) (6 Kms / 5 - 6 hrs)

Day 3
Didana (8,000 ft) - Ali Bugyal (11,200) (9-10 Kms / 5 - 6 hrs)

Day 4
Ali Bugyal (11,200) to Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) via Bedni Bugyal and Ghora Lotani (6-7 Kms / 4-5 hrs)

Day 5
Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) to Bhagwabasa (14,200 ft) via Kalu Vinayak (6-7 Kms / 4-5 hrs)

Day 6
Bhagwabasa (14,200 ft) to Roopkund (15755 ft) to Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) (12-14 Kms / 6-7 hrs) (Summit Day)

Day 7
Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) to Lohajung (7,500 ft) via Bedni and Wan (14-15 Kms / 6-7 hrs)

Day 8
Loharjung to Kathgodam (Drive- 250 kms / 8 - 9 hrs)

Day 1: Drive from Kathgodam to Lohajung

  • Drive:  250 km
  • Altitude: 7,500 ft
  • Time taken:  8 - 9  hours drive (Pick up from Kathgodam Railway station at 6:30 am)
  • Stay: Accommodation in guest house

Pickup from Kathgodam in the morning and reach Lohajung which is 250 Km away. The journey may take around 8-9 hours with a break or two. The road is through the Kumaon region and mostly goes along wide spread valleys of Shivalik Himalaya. We cross Almora and Kausani on our way. From Gwaldam onwards the road enters in the Garhwal administrative region and the road is gradually winding and goes through the evergreen montane and conifer forests. The last stretch of the journey from Deval has considerable height gain. Our Roopkund trek base Lohajung is essentially transit point with a local bazaar and few lodges.  All the major mobile networks have connectivity here. Night stay in Tourist Rest House/Lodge.

Lohajung Village

 

Day 2 Trek from Lohajung (7,500 ft) - Didana (8,000 ft) 

  • Altitude: 8000 ft
  • Trek: 6 Km / 5-6 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Easy to Moderate
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Lohajung. You can refill your water bottles from river.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in Tents or Homestays.

Trek start from Lohajung

Our trek starts today morning. After breakfast we walk on the freshly tarred motor able road towards the village of Wan. After walking for an hour and half on the flat surface we reach Kulling at a distance of 6 Km from Lohajung. From here we take a right turn and descend through the village. Initially it is a narrow concrete lane inside the village and cuts along houses and firming fields till we reach a small stream.  We descend further till we reach the river bed of Neel Ganga. We cross the cemented bridge and start climbing the ridge on the right side. The ascent is a moderately steep one and ends at the village of Didna (~ 2450m, 8000ft). The trail goes through the sub alpine evergreen forest. After climbing around two hours we reach the top of the ridge and see the firming fields wide stretch on the lap of the mountain with scattered houses here and there. Didna and Kuling village host the same set of people while the prior is used for the summer and monsoon while the later for winter. We reach by lunch time and enjoy the hot lunch after finishing the days trek. Overnight stay in Tents or Homestays.

On the way to Didna Village

Day 3 Trek from Didana (8,000 ft) - Ali Bugyal (11,200) 

  • Altitude: 11200 ft
  • Trek: 9-10 Km / 5-6 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Didana. As Tolpani is the last point for drinking water.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Chilling At Bugiyal Top

Today’s part of the trail has steep ascents. After the climb, the views of the Garhwal Himalayas are simply majestic and stunning. You again pass through a forest of Bamboo and Oak. We will climb the mountain which sets the backdrop of Didna village. After starting on the trail which goes out of the village we get a bifurcation. The trail on the right is longer but with gentle gradient and goes through a temporary settlement of the shepherds called Tolpani. The trail on the left is with continuous gradient but shorter. Eventually both the trail leads to Ali Bugiyal. The trails consist of thickly vegetation of Oak, Birch and Rhododendron trees. Once we approach to the top of this mountain face the tree line recedes and the grassy slopes start from here. The climb may take 3 to 4 hours. After ascending this face suddenly a wide vista opens up and we are on one of the most beautiful meadows of Himalaya called Ali Bugyal.

Ali Bugiyal

The far stretched green field clearly resembles the default wallpaper of Mcrosoft XP (if you remember he old days!) . As it is a table top, the clouds start to sell in after midday . Misty Bugyal has its own charm and feeling. We slowly walk on the gentle rolling slopes of the meadow. In summer and especially during monsoon this meadow is full with wildflowers in hues of blue, yellow and white. You can see grazing cattle and horses which will stay here till the end of monsoon. On a clear day one can see the peaks of Trisul and Mrigthuni towering straight. we will Camp overnight in Bugyal.

Camping in Bugyal

Day 4 Trek from Ali Bugyal (11,200) to Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) via Bedni Bugyal and Ghora Lotani 

  • Altitude: 12,500 ft
  • Trek: 6-7 Km / 4-5 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Easiest day of the trek
  • Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water from the camp site.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Bedni Kund

Today you will hike a short distance due to acclimatisation purpose. From today onward the oxygen starts reducing so we spend more nights before reaching the higher altitude. A short and easy walk takes us to Patar Nachuni (~ 3750m/12500ft). Total distance is 6 Km and may take 3 hours. We start by walking on the Bugyal and climb for half an hour to take the trail which is coming from Ali Bugyal. From here onward the road is almost flat till we reach Ghora Lautani. The road splits and we take the trail which goes to the right.

Walking an hour on level ground we are at Patar Nachoni. The green fibre huts of the Forest Department is on the left hand side of the trail while the beautiful camping ground is around 200 feet down on the meadow situated in the right. On a clear day the view of Mrigthuni range is magnificent form this place. There is a small shop run by a local in season time inside one of the green hut. It offers basics like tea/coffee, noodles and biscuits. We camp for the night.

Patar Nachoni Campsite

Day 5 Trek from Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) to Bhagwabasa (14,200 ft) via Kalu Vinayak 

  • Altitude: 14,200 ft
  • Trek: 6-7 Km / 4-5 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate
  • Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water from the camp site.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

View from Kalu Vinayak

Today we trek to Baguabasa  via Kailuvinayak. Patar Nachuni is surrounded by meadows and occasional mountain tops. The top of the ridge going almost straight ahead is Kailu Vinayak. First we gradually climb the ridge for first 2 Km. Then the ridge turns right and rises sharply in next one and half Km. This is a steep climb and we gain almost 1500 feet within a distance of 1.5Km. The ridge goes zigzagging on the gravel. Slow but steadily climb this face without any hurry. The lack of oxygen may result to a headache. Once we reach the top there is small stoned temple of Ganesha with bells clinging to it. The deity is of black stone and thus the place got its name Kailu (Black) – Vinayaka (Ganesha).

Kalu Vinayak Temple

From here the vista in front widens and first view of the Roopkund area ( the depression of the lake) is visible on the lap of the ridge straight. It is truly mesmerising with glittering Trishul on right and bell shaped Nandaghunti on left at a stone throwing distance! We gradually go down on the rocky trail for another 1 Km to reach Bagua Basa.  Total distance is 5 Km and can take up to 3/3 and half hours. There is a small cave on the right side of the well defined trail, and according to the legend it is the resting place or shelter of the Tiger ( Bagua -> Bagh/Tiger, Basa -> Home) that the goddess Nanda Devi rides.  Fen Kamal (Pink) and Neel Kamal (Blue) are two other flower species which grow in this altitude. The flowers remain till early September. Being at an altitude of 14000 feet the area is rocky and brown while snow clad mountains towering in front. The area is notorious for snowfall. Snowfalls may start even in the month of early June or October. Overnight stay in tents

Bagua Basa Campsite

Day 6 Trek from Bhagwabasa (14,200 ft) to Roopkund (15755 ft) to Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) (12-14 Kms / 6-7 hrs)(Summit Day)

  • Altitude: 15,755 ft
  • Trek: 12-14 Km / 6-7 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate to Difficult
  • Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water from the camp site.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Ready for Summit

We start early in the morning by 4 am for Roopkund. It is a moderate climb to Roopkund for about 4 km but surely the altitude gain tires the body. Depending upon snow conditions it may take 2 to 4 hours to reach. Until mid of June the trail is covered with snow. During monsoon to late September snow will be much lesser. The trail is well defined but on snow it is difficult to locate. From Baguabasa camping ground the trail is a traverse first till we reach a place called Chhiria Nag meaning staircase formation like a snake. From this point the climb is moderately steep and one final steep climb on rock leads us to a flattened trail. Due the Nanda Raj Jat (Yatra) in 2014 the trail has been maintained and in well condition. From here we can see the depression ahead which is our destination, Roopkund (~4800m/15750ft). We spend some time clicking the photos and offering puja to the small temple of Goddess Nanda Devi.

The shallow lake has remains of skeletons which are almost 1200 years old! There are still remains of semi decomposed torsos on the other side of the lake, which is a permafrost area. Depending upon the weather condition/time and team condition we may decide to attempt Junargali Pass (~ 4950 m, 16240 ft).  Without snow in September it will take 30 to 45 min to reach the top. From Junargali, Nanda Ghunti and Trisul massifs are magnanimous. The depression between Bethartoli Himal and Nanda Ghunti is the famous Ronty Saddle.

Roopkund (In may,June)

Roopkund Skeletons (in Sep & Oct)

We return on the same trail to Baguabasa. Descend on a steep trail is often tricky comparing to that of ascent. We climb down till Baguabasa and then almost on a level ground till Kailu Vinayak. We continue our descent till we reach Patar Nachuni. A long days trek ends at the lush green camping ground. Total trek distance is around 15 Km and may take 8 to 10 hours depending upon the snow condition. Depending on the team condition we may return to Bedni Bugyal. Camp for the night.

Junargali, and Peak- Nanda Ghunti

Day 7 Trek from Patar Nachauni (12,500 ft) to Lohajung (7,500 ft) via Bedni and Wan 

  • Altitude: 15,755 ft
  • Trek: 14-15 Km / 6-7 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate to Difficult
  • Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water from the camp site.
  • Stay:  Accommodation in guest house

Today is a long way descending till Wan. From the camping ground a small climb takes us on the main trail. Now we follow the same path back. This feels like a cakewalk after the strenuous day before. We continue our trail back to Ghora Lautani and then to Bedni Bugiyal. After reaching Bedni camping ground we take the trail on the right and is different from the route by which we reached Bedni. Now we go down on the Bugiyal while we see the green fibre huts on our right. After going down for a while the road splits. We take the right hand side trail which goes down and slowly we enter into the tree line again.

Bedni Campsite During Snow

In few places the gradient down is steep and goes through the forest all the way. Avoid taking the shortcuts as it may hurt your knees. After descending for an hour we reach an opening inside the forest and called Gahroli Patal. We continue going down till we reach the river bed of Neel Ganga. From here we climb to reach the top of the Wan Village which is called Ran ka Dhar. Now we enter into the village of Wan and continue to descend. The village is stretched on both sides of the mountain and indeed huge comparing to normal Himalayan villages. Finally we reach the road head to take the Jeep. Total distance is 16 Km and takes around 7/8 hours. It is around an hour from Wan to Lohajung by car and the road road is bumpy at places. Enjoy the evening at Lohajung while sharing the fresh memories of the trek. Night stay in Tourist rest house/Lodge.

Bonfire in Lohajung

Day 8: Drive from Loharjung to Kathgodam

  • Drive:  250 km
  • Time taken:  8 - 9  hours drive

In the morning start from Lohajung to Kathgodam by car and reach in 9 hours. Roopkund trek tour ends here. You will reach by 7 pm in the afternoon. You can book tickets accordingly.

The Trip Cost Includes

  • Food all along the Trek(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and a cup of coffee or tea)
  • Food as per menu on the trek
  • Forest Permits/Camping Charges , if any
  • Tents, Sleeping bags, mats,Technical equipment
  • Safety Equipments.
  • First Aid Medical Kit(Your Trek Leader will carry the Medical Kit but we also advise to bring yourself for your own use, as far as possible)
  • Trek guide, cook, helpers, porters & mules for carrying common luggage.
  • Services of a Mountaineering qualified & professional Trek Leader.
  • 2 Nights Hotel stay.
  • Services from Loharjung to Loharjung

The Trip Cost Excludes

  • Meals during road Journeys.
  • Porter/Mull to carry personal luggage.
  • Insurance.
  • Any expense of personal nature.
  • Any expense not specified in the inclusion list.

Trekking Gear

  • A rucksack with rain cover
  • A water bottle or a hydration pack
  • A Hand/Head Torch with spare batteries
  • UV Protection Sunglasses
  • A trekking pole

Clothing:

Since it is a high altitude trek, at least 3 layers of clothing is mandatory. A full sleeve shirt, a fleece jacket, and a padded jacket are imperative. An additional layer (Thermal bodywarmers) for the evenings in the high altitude campsites are strongly recommended

  • Quick Dry Warm lower or Track Pants - 2
  • Full sleeves T-shirts - 2
  • Thermal Bodywarmer Upper & Lower - 1
  • Fleece Jacket - 1
  • Padded Jacket -1 (Goose down or feather is preferable)
  • Full sleeves sweater - 1 (Needed if you feel cold at high altitudes despite 4 layers)
  • Rainwear (Jacket & Pants) - 1
  • Thick woolen socks -  1 pair
  • Cotton socks - at least 2-3 pairs
  • Undergarments - 1 for every day of trekking
  • Pair of Warm Gloves - 1
  • Woolen cap - 1

Footwear

  • Hiking shoes (Preferably ankle high) -1
  • Pair of lightweight Slipper/Sandals - 1 pair.

Toiletries

    • Sunscreen lotion, lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet roll, cold cream, small towel.
    • Anti-fungal cream: Carry an antifungal cream if you are sensitive to sweating and prone to skin irritations around genitals or groin area due to lack of bathing.
    • For women:
      • Tampons or sanitary napkins,
      • 2-3 zip pouches to dispose off non-biodegradable waste
      • Vaginal wash to avoid any irritation due to lack of bathing.

Miscellaneous

    • Water bottle
    • Camera (optional)
    • Personal medicine kit. Though our trek leaders carry a fully equipped first-aid kit, make sure you consult your doctor before the trek in case you have any special ailment.
    • Dry fruits, energy bars

Flexibility

Roopkund has been graded as a MODERATE trek. On most days, you are covering 15 kms in high altitude. Trekking for 8-10 kms each day with a backpack on can tire out even the most hardy trekkers. This trek demands you to be in your top physical condition.

Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.

Breathing exercises

If you’re trekking to Roopkund Trek in Snow(May,June), note that the temperature drops to around -4 to 5 degree Celcius at night. During the day, the temperature will be at around 10 to 15 degrees. While going for summit the extreme temperature could make breathing slightly difficult. Doing breathing exercises before the trek will help. Expand your lungs and learn to breathe deep. This will help you inhale more oxygen and help you breathe comfortably.

Fitness exercises

  • Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins or Walk continuously for 10 km (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better)
  • Hold your breath for 40 seconds
  • 3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch
  • Push Ups – 10
  • Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets

 

The Roopkund trek is a moderate difficult one. It goes upto 15,750 ft. And with every high altitude trek comes a flurry of risks – altitude sickness being the biggest risk. As our team, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it.

Monitoring health on a trek

Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.

On the trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects a day.

  • Oxygen Level
  • Pulse Rate 

High Altitude Medical Kit

Your trek leader will also be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, DexamethasoneYour Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high campsites for any emergency situations.

Acclimatisation in high  altitude

This is one of the most important aspects of travelling in the high Himalayas and cannot be ignored or set aside. Acclimatisation basically means our body adjusting to lower levels of oxygen (rarefied air) & reduced air pressure as me move up. In case one does not acclimatise properly there are chances of the person facing extreme discomfort and this can be fatal in extreme cases. While there is no set route to getting properly acclimatised there are a general precautions and steps that one can take to initiate good acclimatisation.

The trek begins from Lohajung which is about 200 km from Kathgodam/Haldwani. There are no direct buses from Kathgodam/Haldwani to Lohajung. But you can take a shared jeep which will cost you around INR 1000. It takes around 12 hours to get to Lohajung from Haldwani/Kathgodam.

Kathgodam is well connected to Delhi through rail and road transport. Here is how you can reach:

By Road

Uttarakhand Roadways provides all kinds of bus services between Delhi ISBT to Haldwani. The distance between Delhi to Kathgodam is 294 km which takes about 7 hours to cover.  You can also hire a private taxi or an outstation cab from Delhi. These taxis come at exorbitant prices.

By Rail

Kathgodam is the last railhead before Lohajung. Board Ranikhet Express from Delhi which reaches Kathgodam early in the morning. Or you can take Delhi Sampark Kranti which reaches Kathgodam in the night in case you want to stay the night.

By Air

Pantnagar Airport is the closest to Lohajung at a distance of 256 km. There is one Air India flight running every day between Delhi and Pantnagar. It is suggested to make your bookings well in advance due to a low frequency of flights. In case you are flying to Pantnagar, take a taxi from the airport to Kathgodam and then take one of those shared jeeps to reach Lohajung.

Nearby Attractions

Kathgodam is located in Nainital district of Uttrakhand. It is 53 km from Nainital and can be reached by local buses. Nainital is a famous tourist spot in the mountains in visited by a lot of people all around the year. Naini Lake is the heart of Nainital where you can enjoy boating, yachting, and paddling. Perch on the Tiffin Top to enjoy the views of Nainital. Stroll at The Mall Road where you can buy some souvenirs from the trip.

Cellular Connectivity

One can expect full network till Wan Village and some points beyond this village. Garoli Patal is one point where you can expect reception. BSNL and vodafone network connectivity is sparsely available through the trail till Patarnachauni.

Price From INR11,900 INR11,500/person
11,500
Total 11,500 INR

Trip Facts

  • Uttarakhand
  • 8 days
  • Moderate to Difficult
  • 15,700 Feet
  • Day time temperature: 13-18°C Night time temperature: 0-7°C
  • 50-55 km
  • May-June / Sep-Oct
  • 10-15 trekkers
  • Kathgodam
  • Rhododendron forest, alpine meadows, rocky
  • Kathgodam to Kathgodam
  • Meals while on trek (Veg + Egg)
  • Guest house, Camping

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