Roopkund Trek - 2017 Summer - The frozen myth
Roopkund trek dates for summer/pre monsoon 2017:
17th Jun (Day 1) to 24th Jun’17 (Day 8)
24th Jun (Day 1) to 1st Jul’17 (Day 8)
Roopkund trek dates for post monsoon/fall 2017:
16th Sep (Day 1) to 23rd Sep ’17 (Day 8)
23rd Sep (Day 1) to 30th Sep ’17 (Day 8)
24th Sep (Day 1) to 1st Oct ’17 (Day 8)
30th Sep (Day 1) to 7th Oct ’17 (Day 8)
1st Oct (Day 1) to 8th Oct ’17 (Day 8)
8th Oct (Day 1) to 15th Oct ’17 (Day 8)
15th Oct (Day 1) to 22nd Oct ’17 (Day 8)
Brief Itinerary for Roopkund trek:
Day 1: Kathgodam to Lohajung – 220 Km by car – 10 hours
Day 2: Lohajung to Didna – 10 Km – 4/5 hours
Day 3: Didna to Bedni Bugiyal – 12 Km – 6/7 hours
Day 4: Bedni Bugiyal to Patar Nachuni – 5 Km – 2/3 hour
Day 5: Patar Nachuni to Baguabasa – 5 Km – 3/4 hours
Day 6: Baguabasa to Roopkund and back to Patar Nachuni – 15 Km – 8/10 hours
Day 7: Patar Nachuni to Wan – 18Km – 8/9 hr – 1 hour drive back to Lohajung
Day 8: Lohajung to Kathgodam – 220 Km by car – 10 hours
*** Trekkers need to reach on their own to Kathgodam on Day 1 morning (by 7 am) or the previous night. Return to Kathgodam on Day 8 evening (by 7 pm). Arrange your tickets for inward journey and back to home from Kathgodam accordingly ***
Cost : Rs 9900 (Lohajung to Lohajung)+ 9% Service Tax
(Book for 3 persons and get a discount of 5%; Book for 5 or more to get a 10% Group Discount)
Download PDF Brochure FOR ROOPKUND TREK BRIEF ITINERARY, COST INCLUSIONS AND EXCLUSIONS.
TO BOOK CLICK HERE
Customised Roopkund trek:
If the dates above don’t match or you if you wish for a separate private tour for your group, fill in the Customise Your Trip form with correct details.
Roopkund trek Highlights:
About Roopkund Trek:
Roopkund is a high altitude alpine medium size lake, situated at an altitude of 16000ft in Chamoli district, Garhwal region (State of Uttarakhand), bordering western flank of Kumaon. The Roopkund trek route has almost everything a high Himalayan trail can offer. Two seasons, first one in Summer/Pre Monsoon ( a month and half starting from mid of May) and the other being Post Monsoon/Fall ( for 2 months, starting from early September) spanning around a window of 3 and half months in a calendar year.
The Roopkund trek trail in lower elevation goes through interior villages, inside the Banj Oak and Kharsu Oak jungles to finally Rhododendrons. Around ~ 3300m/11000 ft the Tree Line recedes and the trail enters in alpine meadows, locally called “Bugyal”. Sprawling meadows are common to this altitude in Himalayas, but this picturesque widespan needs a special mention. Mighty Himalayan peaks peep out breaking the mist and cloud. Wild flowers carpet the lush grassy slopes from June to September. On higher altitude barren rocky scape coupled with snow and ice is good enough to ignite your adventurous mind. Trishul and Nandaghunti peaks cordon the area while Mrigthuni Chaukhamba, Neelkanth and more peaks set the backdrop.
This is not all. The lake is often called Mystery Lake or Skeleton Lake. Skeletons of over 200 people remain in and around this shallow lake of maximum 2 metre depth. The cold climate helped to preserve the hairs and soft tissues. Stories and legends meet to a logical conclusion that a group of pilgrims reached the lake with locals and were crossing the Junargali Pass above Roopkund. Bad weather sealed their fate. Scientific research unveil that the skeletons are as old as dating back to 850 A.D. ( Source : The Nanda Devi Affair, Bill Aitken, ISBN: 9780140240450; National Geographic series : Riddles of the dead: Skeleton Lake). It is truly a fascinating journey to know the legends from the local and experiencing the present.
Watch this fantastic short film “Roopkund – Rocking The Himalayas” depicting the journey to Roopkund. This is filmed and edited by Mario Yáñez Aller. He trekked with HT during May/June 2015 season. This is shared for viewing purpose only.
Filming and editing: Mario Yáñez Aller
Music: Dirty Paws .-. Of Monsters and Men
Cameras: GoPro 4 Silver Edition, Canon EOS 70D, Canon EOS 350 D
Can I try Roopkund trek as my first hiking on the Himalayas?
Yes you can try Roopkund trek as your first trek. It is always better if you have prior hiking/trek experience(s) like in Sahyadris or in Deccan or perhaps on any trail. Experiences walking on snow/icy conditions definitely helps in pre monsoon/summer season. This is NOT a Difficult but a Moderate grade trek and we do encourage first timers on this trail. But not to forget that this takes you to an alpine lake which is really high altitude in any standard (Just less than 16000 ft). To minimise the risk (as that any high altitude Himalayan trekking) you must have the following:
- A healthy physical condition [as well as mental; You need to adjust and share on mountains :-)] with any known issues related to heart or lung.
- Must be in a fitness training schedule. Your focus should be achieving more cardio vascular output through a regular aerobic training. A minimum of 2 months training is a must that you can walk comfortably on the slope. People will find it easier who are already following a routine. It is it highly advised that you follow a minimum of 6 months routine (weekly 4/5 days of training for an hour or more) if you are not living an active life at present. To know more on how to prepare, click here.
- Specialised personal gears like waterproof trekking shoes, warm jacket, wind cum waterproof jacket are must. To read on how to choose the right gear click here.
- And most importantly you need reliable and experienced support team who know every corner of the trail. In high altitude an unexpected weather can increase the risk many fold. Trekkers who wish to go independently must have an experienced freelance guide and his team to provide support and guidance that you are safely back to trek base.
Is Roopkund trek better in summer (May-Jun) or post monsoon (Sep-Oct)?
Well, each season has its own beauty, and advantages. In India, summer treks are popular for much anticipated reasons. A summer vacation, respite from scorching days along with snowy alpine lake are solid to be a compelling proposition. No wonder that Roopkund trek is defacto the most popular summer trek in India. If you are not keen on these but like to hike on the same trail when it’s less crowded over lush greener meadows (Bugyals are indeed best in Aug/Sep), flowers in abundance then post monsoon is the right choice for you. So the journey of the frozen Roopkund in summer is a different one than the original skeletal lake as seen in post monsoon. Actually there is no disadvantage in any season (assuming you have a solid support team) and you may choose any.
Roopkund trek Altitude and Distance profile:
Below is a graphical representation of the altitude and distance of major points on Roopkund trek trail.
Access to Lohajung (Roopkund trek base):
Based upon your request we will arrange a pick up and drop from Kathgodam to Lohajung and back. This will be shared equally by the team members on actual basis. You pay directly to the driver/transporter. The fare is Rs 5500 for a Tata Sumo/Mahindra Maxx one way. This can accommodate 6 to 8 people. A Tempo Traveller charges Rs 9000 (12-14 seat) one way.
How to reach Roopkund trek base Lohajung independently (by public transportation):
- From Kathgodam there is no direct bus or shared car service to Lohajung. Reach latest by 6 am to Haldwani (The city, 4 Km before Kathgodam) and take a shared Jeep service to Deval. This is is 25 Km before Lohajung. From Deval you may get another shared service to Lohajung or you may have to hire one.
- If you travel from Haridwar side, then reach Rishikesh on the previous night (Day 0, 25 Km from Haridwar) and board the bus for Mandoli/Lohajung at 5 am next morning. This private bus takes 12 to 14 hours to reach Lohajung. As this is a privately operated bus so may not operate during the high demand of Chardham yatra season. The route is via Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Karanprayag, Tharali and Deval. 260 Km.
- From Lohajung the bus to Rishikesh starts early in the morning by 6 am and reach by 6 pm .
Detailed Roopkund trek itinerary:
Day 1: Drive from Kathgodam to Lohajung – 220 Km – 10 hours
Pickup from Kathgodam in the morning and reach Lohajung (~ 2300m, 7500ft) which is 220 Km away. The journey may take around 10 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. Lohajung has one GMVN tourist lodge (TRH), one panchayat Tourist Rest House and 3/4 private hotels. All the major mobile networks have connectivity here. Night stay in Tourist Rest House/Lodge.
Day 2: Trek to Didna – 10 Km – 5 hours
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. Total distance is 10 Km and may take around 4/5 hours. Accommodation at homestay.
Day 3: Didna to Bedni Bugyal – 12 Km – 6/7 hours
Today we start early and trek to Bedni Bugyal (~ 3500m, 11500ft) via Ali Bugyal (~ 3450m, 11300ft), one of the most scenically beautiful alpine meadows in Indian Himalayas . 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. A trek during the late spring is full of red and pink varieties of Rhododendrons. 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. 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. After crossing this Bugiyal we climb a small face and traversing for an hour reach another Bugiyal, our camping ground for the day Bedni. In the afternoon walk around the Bedni Kund and visit the small temple inside the boundary of the Kund. Clear weather will unfold mighty Trishul and Nandaghunti in front. On the other side we can see the panorama of Garhwal Himalaya like Neelkantha, Chowkhamba and others. Total distance is around 12 km and can take 6 to 7 hours. Camp overnight.
Day 4: Bedni Bugyal to Patar Nachuni – 5 Km – 3 hours
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/12300ft). Total distance is 5 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.
Day 5: Patar Nachuni to Baguabasa – 4 Km – 4 hours
Today we trek to Baguabasa (~ 4300m, 14000ft) via Kailuvinayak(~ 4400m, 14400ft). 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). 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. There are green fibre huts also here. The camping ground is also referred as Hunia Thar. This area is famous for Brahma Kamal, blooming in the monsoon. 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. We tent for the night.
Day 6: Baguabasa to Roopkund and back to Patar Nachuni – 12 Km – 8/10 hours
We start early in the morning by 5 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). The pass is between the ridges joining two low altitude peaks, Chandaniya Kot (on the left) and Kali Dang (on the right). 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. 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 Bugiyal. Camp for the night.
Day 7: Patar Nachuni to Wan – 15Km – 7/8 hours – 1 hour drive back to Lohajung
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. 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 17 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.
Day 8: Drive from Lohajung to Kathgodam – 220 Km by car 9/10 hours
In the morning start from Lohajung to Kathgodam by car and reach in 10 hours. Roopkund trek tour ends.
P.S.: The altitudes and distances in the details are approximate and may not be exact.