Roopkund has each reason to be hailed as one of the best treks in Uttarakhand as well as India. Globally recognized as mysterious lake trek or skeleton lake trek, Roopkund is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. This trek also part of the holy Nanda Devi Raj jat - A famous pilgrim festival of Garhwal region. The trekking trail to Roopkund goes through the well-known alpine meadows of Ali Bugyal & Bedni Bugyal. Arranged at a surprising rise of 4,950mts above sea level, Roopkund is encompassed by the rock-strewn glacier. The secret behind Roopkund – The Skeleton Lake has captivated numerous personalities. Human skeletons and stays of steeds from the Paleolithic age can at present be found here. This trek showcases the best of Himalayas, the perspectives are dazzling and campsites resemble a fantasy.
Places to Visit During Drive: Kathgodam – Ranikhet – Kausani – Gwaldam – Dewal – Lohajung.
The drive from Kathgodam to Lohajung is long but pleasing as it passes through popular hill stations of Kumaon region. If traveling in group you can book a cab to Lohajung or else you can break the journey in two parts. First take a bus/shared cab to travel from Kathgodam to Gwaldam then travel from Gwaldam to Lohajung.
Ideally, Lohajung is the last road head but jeeps do travel from Lohajung to Wan on Kachha Raasta. There are couple of shops and handful of guesthouses at Lohajung. Overnight stay in guesthouse.
Start your trek by downhill from Lohajung towards Raun Bagad where a bridge is resting over Neel Ganga River. It takes around 2-3hrs to reach Raun Bagad. The trail is gorgeous and covered with Rhododendron and Oak trees. The gushing sound of Neel Ganga is constantly audible.
It takes another 3 hours to reach Didina Village that is hanging over the mountain across the bridge. The climb is steep and goes through a verdant forest. Take breaks in between to catch your breath and continue trekking upwards. Didina is a quaint little village where you can either enjoy a home stay or stay in tents at Didina campsite.
Start early in the morning to witness the best of widespread Ali Bugyal. The trail is pleasant for few hundred meters but as soon as you enter the dense oak forest, the climb starts. It is one long climb inside the forest but the pure mountain breeze makes it pleasant.
After climbing for couple of hours, you will reach Tolkaan when the forest trail opens up to mini meadows. Continue climbing up on the ridge, all you will see is a vast stretch of lush green meadow kissing sky, this is Ali Bugyal. However, even after reaching to this point you will just be at the beginning of Ali Bugyal. It will still take another hour for you to arrive at on top of the Ali Bugyal.
Ali Bugyal is a lush green meadow resting at the top of the mountain like a luxury penthouse of a skyscraper. Conifer forest clinging on the slopes of Ali Bugyal makes it all the more beautiful and a unique alpine meadow. Soon it becomes a laid back walk on Ali Bugyal until you reach three fibre huts of forest department. After a minor descent, the climb again continues over a ridge that leads to Bedni Bugyal. While walking on the ridge take a final look at the magical Ali Bugyal.
After crossing the ridge, prepare yourself to witness a completely different form of nature’s beauty. The days trek ends up at Bedni Bugyal, an enormous lush green meadow spread over the mountain. A steep ridge arching up into the dusk offers the enchanting view of the enormous western flank of Trishul (7,120mts). The reflection of Trishul peak on the divine Bedni kund is a treat to eyes.
An easy ascending climb on meadow starts from Bedni Bugyal and by the time your body gets exhausted you will reach the other side of the ridge. Misty mountains will greet you on the other side where the winds are cold. Couple of kilometers later you will reach Ghora Lautani, a beautiful campsite with views of flanking mountaintops and deep gorges.
The trail descends continuously between meadows, which looks like the Garden of Eden. Soon you’ll reach Patar Nauchani. Forest department’s fibre huts are also available at Patar Nauchani.
The long and tiring climb to Kalu Vinayak starts from here. The gradually inclining zig zag route to Kalu Vinayak is visible from Patar Nauchani. During this climb, you will feel the effects of altitude because of thin air. Take enough breaks in between and drink water.
This will be the toughest stretch you have done so far on this trek. It also prepares us for the next day’s big bold attempt to reach Roopkund. There is a black idol dedicated to Lord Ganesha at Kalu Vinayak. Pray for a successful journey and descend towards a rocky terrain to reach Baguabasa. Uninterrupted views of Trishul and Nanda Ghunti can be seen from Baguabasa.
Weather alone can make or break your dream to visit Roopkund. Baguabasa is situated at 4,300mts and Roopkund at 4,850mts. It is a 500mts climb which we are supposed to cover in 5kms. Wake up at around 3am and leave at sharp 4 am. Walk slow and steadily. Catch your breath whenever you feel tired. The route is narrow with few complicated stretches. It will take roughly 3hrs for you to reach Roopkund.
After getting intrigued by the Mystery Roopkund Lake do try to visit Junargali if you are in good shape, else don’t. Junargali is just 20 minutes climb away from Roopkund. The climb is steep but doable. The massive Trishul peak will just be a valley away from you when you summit Junargali at almost 5000mts.
Start climbing down before the weather makes it tough for you. Watch your step because descending down on ice can be more tricky than climbing. Make it your target to reach Patar Nauchani around lunchtime.
Trek back to the picturesque paradise on Earth, Bedni Bugyal. Start after having a good breakfast because it is one long walk today. The trek descends gradually and can be covered in 6-7hrs of time. Once again arouse your poetic thought and unwind your soul at Bedni Bugyal. Enter the dense forest and descend continuously until you reach a bridge over Neel Ganga. Rest for a while and climb for an hour on the mountain opposite to the bridge. Soon you’ll reach a flat wide path crossing through farms of the local villagers. It will take you another hour to reach Wan. Drive from Wan to Lohajung. Overnight in home stay.