Many trekkers get confused between Ali-Bedni Bugyal trek and Brahmatal trek. What’s the difference? At first glance, the question feels valid. Given that both treks start from Lohajung, in north-west Uttarakhand.
If we talk about altitude, Ali Bedni Bugyal trek climbs to 11,686 feet and Brahmatal climbs to 12,250 feet. That’s barely a difference of 500 feet.
Even the forests on both treks – filled with rhododendrons and oaks – have a similar feel. That’s expected because both treks are in the same region.
To get a perspective on their proximity, look at the map below. Notice how the trail on the left is the Brahmatal trek and the one on the right is the Ali-Bedni Bugyal trek.
They almost look like ‘one’ trek. But there is a world of difference between the two.
Difference you may not notice unless you visualise the two treks clearly in your mind’s eye.
We’ll start with the Ali-Bedni trek.
Highlights of Ali-Bedni trek
This trek is a part of the iconic Roopkund trail. Whenever you think of the Ali-Bedni trek, think of the following three things:
The dark forest
As you start the trek from Lohajung, you first enter the forests of this region. These are filled with brown oaks (called khoru) and rhododendrons. These trees could easily be a thousand years old. That gives you a quiet feeling of trekking through an ancient landscape.
This dense setting of rhododendrons and oaks also set the stage for the impending meadows. From Didina, you trek for 3 km under the shade. Then, suddenly, the landscape opens up and you find yourself at the entrance of sprawling meadows. The forest set the stage for this drama.
On your way back, while descending from Bedni to Wan, the forest comes back in sight. Now, for a different reason.
They are dark, with leaves crunching beneath your feet as you descend. If you start early in the morning from Gehroli Patal on your last day, you see sunlight streaming through the leaves at lovely angles. It’s a photographer’s delight!
Rare, alpine meadows
The forest section from Didina to Ali Bugyal sets the stage for the meadows, but nothing prepares you for it.
Imagine walking in a shady landscape covered with trees and then suddenly popping into a wide, open expanse. The drama with which the landscape shifts lingers in your mind. For a moment, you are left spellbound at the scale of the meadows that stretch in front of you.
Gradually, you start taking in the sight. On the periphery, Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti stand tall.
At that moment, all you can do is stand there, mesmerised.
Grand mountain views
Views of mountains looming over the meadows is special. From here, you get the grandest views of Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti. With or without meadows, you won’t find these tall mountains rising straight up in front of you from any other trek.
Whenever Indiahikes team visits the Lohajung region, it is customary to trek up to Ali Bugyal and simply contemplate the grandeur of nature. That’s become a ritual, simply because of the perfect setting Ali-Bedni Bugyal offers.
And this is how we see the Ali-Bedni Bugyal trek in our mind’s eye.
With that, now let’s move to how Brahmatal – also starting from Lohajung – looks.
Highlights of Brahmatal trek
The trail to Brahmatal oversee the trail to Ali-Bedni trek. In fact, you can see the entire Roopkund trail laid out in front of you from Jhandi Top of the Brahmatal trek. (Read Co-Founder Sandhya UC’s blog – Brahmatal, For The Love of Roopkund)
Apart from that, the following things define the Brahmatal trek.
A charming ridgeline, and Tilandi
This is missing in the Ali-Bedni trek.
On the Brahmatal trek, you walk on a high-point with the mountain dropping on either side. This is called a ridgeline. A ridgeline often gives the feeling of an extended summit.
What’s delightful is that you also get to camp on the ridge – at Tilandi. From here, you get to see the Himalayan landscape rolling out on both sides.
As you are on a high point at Tilandi, you get to witness the sunset and sunrise from the same campsite. And being at the high-point also makes it the windiest campsite of the trek. (Watch This Instagram Video To Get An Idea)
Two starkly different alpine lakes
Another facet of Brahmatal trek, that’s missing from the Ali-Bedni trek, is the high-altitude lakes. There are two. Bekaltal and Brahmatal.
Coming across an alpine lake – where water gets collected from the melting glaciers – is a fascinating experience on a trek. At Brahmatal, you come across two alpine lakes, both distinct from each other.
Bekaltal is surrounded by brown oak trees. This limits the sunlight falling on the lake, giving rise to special brown algae that thrive in low sunlight.
In contrast, Brahmatal sits in open grassland. It receives plenty of sunlight. Early in the morning, the deep blue waters of Brahmatal reflect a lone tree standing by its side.
Moments spent at both these lakes remain with you for long.
Accessible in winter
This is the beauty of the Brahmatal trek. It allows you to trek on a ridge, even in the thick of winters.
Ridge treks usually become inaccessible during winters. Mostly because it gets risky. Treks like Phulara Ridge trek or Khopra Ridge trek become inaccessible. But the ridge of Brahmatal is safe, gentler. It is accessible throughout peak winters.
That’s rare, and it’s an experience only Brahmatal can offer – to walk on a ridge, witnessing two sides of a landscape – the mountains on one side and the deep valley on the other, draped in snow
Differences between the two treks from Lohajung
With both treks firmly placed in your mind’s eye, let’s bring our focus on the differences now.
Trekking on meadow vs ridge
Although both treks are in the Lohajung region, in one you are trekking on the most exquisite meadows of Asia, and in the other you are trekking on a ridge, no meadows.
This opens very different experiences of the same landscape.
In the Ali-Bedni Bugyal trek, the experience of walking barefoot on the meadow, rolling off the mounds, and contemplating the big mountains as you sit right in front of them is unparalleled.
In Brahmatal, sunsets, sunrises and alpenglow, especially from ridge campsite of Tilandi is unique. It is heaven for photographers for the beautiful lighting.
Mountain views with different perspectives
While you may be looking at the mountains in the same region, from where you are looking at them makes a difference.
While trekking on the sprawling meadows, the grand mountains rise right in front of you. You can sit in the meadows for hours and contemplate the grandeur of the Himalayas from the Ali-Bedni meadows.
On the other hand, you get a very different perspective from the Brahmatal trek. As you walk on the ridge, you have the majestic mountains rising on one side. On the other side, you have a deep valley. It suddenly puts the scale in perspective.
Differences in difficulty
The difficulty levels of both treks are also different. Ali-Bedni trek is a tad easier than the Brahmatal trek. The only challenging section on this trek being the switchbacks as you climb from Neelganga to Didina village.
The Brahmatal trek, the trek to Brahmatal top tests your endurance. And unlike other easy-moderate treks – like Dayara Bugyal and Kedarkantha – Brahmatal has longer days with steeper ascends and descends.
You see the two treks clearly. You also know the difference between the two. Yet, the question remains – which one will you choose?
Truth is, both treks offer different perspectives to the same region. To get a full picture of the Lohajung region, do both the treks. It’s difficult to choose one.
But if you must, then do it based on the season. Brahmatal is the best bet if you are looking to trek in peak winters. Ali-Bedni Bugyal, on the other hand, is a beautiful choice when snow is melting.
If you have a way or differentiation to make this choice easier, please drop it in the comment section below 🙂 Happy trekking!