Moderate - Difficult
15 to 55 years
15 to 55 years
Moderate - Difficult
The Most Popular Trek of Them All
If you’re trekking in India, the Roopkund trek is a must-do! It’s got everything going for it. Deep virgin forests, gurgling brooks, breath-taking campsites, miles of undulating meadows, snow and ice and the taste of a great adventure as you climb from 8,000 ft to 16,000 ft in six days.
Roopkund, perhaps the most popular trek in India, is almost picture-perfect. The Roopkund trail climbs out of splendid dark forests suddenly bursting into Ali and Bedni Bugyal, arguably India’s most beautiful high altitude meadows. Out of the meadows, the trail quickly gets into terrific alpine stretches.
Climbing on snow to the Roopkund lake is a heart-pounding thrill. The beautiful Mt Trishul looms over the setting getting closer as you climb higher when at a ridge above Roopkund, only air separates the trekker from them and Trishul.
Ropkund Trek Videos
Watch these videos to plan and prepare for your trek.
Drive from Kathgodam to Lohajung
Drive Distance: 216 km | Duration: 9-10 hours | Pick up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Kathgodam Railway Station
Transport will be arranged at 6 AM. This cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs 6,000 per vehicle, shared among 5-6 trekkers.
Drive from Lohajung to Wan. Trek to Gehroli Patal
Drive Duration: 1 hour | Trek Duration: 4-5 hours | | Altitude Gain: 7,600 ft to 10,000 ft
Moderate. Initial 30-45 minutes ascent to Ran Ka Dhar followed by a 20-minute descent to the river Neel Ganga. A stiff climb of 3 hours from Neel Ganga to Gehroli Patal.
Trek from Gehroli Patal to Bedni Bugyal
Trek Duration: 3 hours | Altitude Gain: 10,000 ft to 11,500 ft
Easy-Moderate. Stiff climb for about 2 hours to Ali Bugyal followed by a gentle trail to Bedni Bugyal.
Excursion to Bedni Top
Trek Duration: 4 hours | Altitude Gain: 11,500 ft to 12,200 ft
Easy. Acclimatisation day with a steep climb to the Bedni top.
Trek from Bedni Bugyal to Patar Nachauni
Trek Duration: 4 hours | Altitude Gain: 11,500 ft to 12,700 ft
Easy-Moderate. Easy climb at the beginning to a saddle followed by gradual descent to Patar Nachauni
Trek from Patar Nachauni to Bhagwabhasa via Kalu Vinayak
Trek Duration: 5-6 hours | Altitude Gain: 12,700 ft to 14,100 ft
Moderate. A 3 hour steep ascent to Kalu Vinayak followed by a gradually descending trail to Bhagwabhasa
Trek from Bhagwabasa to Roopkund and further up to Junargali. Return to Patar Nachauni via Bhagwabasa
Trek Duration: 9-10 hours | Altitude Gain and Loss: 14,100 ft to 12,700 ft via 16,000 ft
Difficult. Gradual ascent to Roopkund with the last 20 minutes consisting of steep switchbacks. 20-25 minutes steep climb to Junargali. Tricky descent on the switchbacks from Roopkund. Descending trail to Patar Nachuani.
Trek from Patar Nachauni to Lohajung via Bedni and Wan
Trek Duration: 7-8 hours | Drive Duration: 1 hour | Altitude Gain and Loss: 12,700 ft to 7,700 ft
Moderate-Difficult. Descending trail right through gets steep from Gaehroli Patal to Neel Ganga; the short ascending stretch from Neel Ganga to Ranka Dhar.
Drive from Lohajung to Kathgodam
Drive Distance: 216 km | Duration: 9-10 hours | Return point for Indiahikes trekkers: Kathgodam Railway Station
Please note: The distance between campsites may vary by 100 meters depending the weather conditions and the route you take. The altitude may also vary by 100 feet for similar reasons.
- It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo ID for entry at forest check posts on the trek.
- At the base camp, your stay will be arranged in lodges
- On the trek, you will be staying 3 in a tent
- We do have a cloakroom facility at the base camp. Do not carry excess luggage other than what is required for the trek.
Please note: Twin sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.
We organize transport from Kathgodam Railway station at 6.00 AM sharp. It is a 9-10 hours drive from Kathgodam and roughly about 216 km. Transport to Lohajung costs Rs 6,000 per vehicle (shared between 5-6 trekkers) and Rs 9,500 per 10-12 seater vehicle one way.
You are expected back in Kathgodam by 8 pm. Transport back to Kathgodam costs Rs 6,000 per vehicle (shared between 5-6 trekkers) and Rs 9,500 per 10-12 seater vehicle one way.
Why I Believe Everyone Must Trek: A Note from the Founder
Trekking transforms lives. It has completely changed my life. When I see my colleagues at Indiahikes, all of them have been impacted greatly. The transformations have been profound and irreversible.
I see it in our trekkers too. I have seen them change professions, careers or start a new life. I have seen them get in and out of relationships, and start new projects. These are life-changing experiences.
I have seen children building resilience. I have seen families come together. When I see those above 55, I see them rediscover passion and a sense of purpose. These are not small gains.
In the mountains new professions, new economies and new businesses have opened up. Our staff no longer go to cities to earn their living. Their income has increased. Above all, they are happiest working in this world. Trekking has been truly transformative.
Everyone must trek. It transforms lives far more than you imagine.
What I Like About the Roopkund Trek
What I Like About the Roopkund Trek
Know Your Trek
We have always wanted trekkers to be well-informed before they go on a Himalayan trek. Knowledge is the difference between a safe trek and a dangerous one. It’s also the difference between a wholesome experience and a superficial experience.
Use this section to learn about the Roopkund trek. It has in-depth information about each day of the trek, what to expect, and how you need to prepare for it. Many years of expertise have gone into this content. Trekkers find that extremely useful.
Day 1 (Pick-up Day): Reach the base camp, Lohajung
Duration: 9-10 hours
Altitude: 7,700 ft
Driving Distance: 216 km
Highlights: Drive through the hilly villages of Bhimtal, Gwaldam. After a glimpse at Tharali, the sight of Mt Nanda Ghunti welcomes you to Lohajung. A village with wonderful views of Didina valley, Lohajung is a nerve centre of 12-15 villages.
It is a 10-11 hour journey from Kathgodam to Lohajung. Read in detail about getting to Lohajung here. After a glimpse at Tharali, the sight of Mt Nanda Ghunti welcomes you to Lohajung. A village with wonderful views of Didina valley, Lohajung is a nerve centre of 12-15 villages.
The name, as the locals say, comes from the myth that Goddess Parvati had a war (Jung) with a demon Lohasur here. There is one local store where you can buy jackets, hand gloves, caps, shoes etc. if need be. However, it is advised that you carry all required things for the trek beforehand and not rely on this shop.
You will have a mobile network in most parts of this village. If you have a day to spare, you can go on a trek to Ajan Top. A sweeping bugyal with a temple perched on its top, Ajan Top makes for a perfect excursion. You get wonderful views of Maiktoli from here.
Day 2: Drive from Lohajung to Wan. Trek to Gehroli Patal
Duration: 4-5 hours
Altitude Gain: ⇗ 2,300 ft (7,700 ft to 10,000 ft)
Difficulty: Moderate. Initial 30-45 minutes ascent to Ran Ka Dhar followed by a 20-minute descent to the river Neel Ganga. A stiff climb of 3 hours from Neel Ganga to Gehroli Patal.
Start from Wan, a village situated at an hour’s drive from Lohajung. The initial trail is cemented through a cluster of houses. 15 minutes into your trek, you will find a cluster of centuries-old Cypress trees. It would take four people to circumvent the tree! Try hugging it.
From here, there are two trails you can spot. One goes straight ahead to the ridge. The second one acts as a deviation from the Latu Devta temple. Latu Devta is a local deity, who is believed to protect the area. The mountain folk pay obeisance to him before ascending higher on the Nanda Devi Jat Yatra. Ring the temple bell here for a safe trek before going back to the ascending trail to the ridge – Ranaka Dhar. It takes 30-45 minutes to ascend from Wan to Ranaka Dhar. At Ranaka Dhar, take in the view of Lohajung, Wan and the valley below! The name Ranaka Dhar comes from the battle Parvati had with the demon Lohasur. Their battle, which started in Lohajung, culminated here. The name Ranaka Dhar means “flowing blood”.
From here, it is a short descent to the gurgling Neel Ganga. The bridge on Neel Ganga is an idyllic location to take a breather. Trees overhang the river and the water trips and fall over boulders in the shade. The water here is cool and refreshing. From here begins the beautiful ascent to the first campsite, Gehroli Patal. The trail now winds through Oak and Rhododendron forests and the path is strewn with dry leaves that crunch and crackle beneath your trekking shoes. There are walnut, pear, Himalayan roses and other flora you can find on this climb. You may even spot birds like a flycatcher, and magpies. Keep a lookout.
This is a trek of about 3 hours that brings you to a clearing with a green trekker’s hut and the welcome sight of Trishul. This is Gehroli Patal.
Day 3: Trek from Gehroli Patal to Bedni Bugyal
Duration: 3 hours
Altitude Gain: ⇗ 1,500 ft (10,000 ft to 11,500 ft)
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate. Stiff climb for about 2 hours to Ali Bugyal followed by a gentle trail to Bedni Bugyal.
The trail begins to climb steeply into an oak and rhododendron forest. And after half an hour of ascending stoned steps, the trail opens up to a huge meadow. Take the trail to the right that will take you to Ali Bugyal.
The forest starts to thin after about 1½ hrs of climb (make it 2 if you are slow). Suddenly, abruptly, the oak and Rhododendrons fall behind you, and stretched in front of you is the largest, greenest rolling carpet ever laid out for you. You’ve arrived at Ali Bugyal.
All tiredness forgotten, soak in the mesmerising sight of the undulating meadows of Ali Bugyal. You are on the top of a ridge that spreads in every direction – acres and acres of green meadow scooped out of the mountainside.
Clouds drift in from below, glide over the ridge and slide down either side, all in a slow swift motion. You watch countless horses grazing on the bounty of nature. Foals tear themselves across the turf in an uninhibited abandon.
Leisurely make your way to Bedni Bugyal, 5 km away and a mildly descending trail initially. If you are tempted to take off your shoes and allow the feel of the carpet on your toes, just go ahead and do it! Towards the end of Ali Bugyal, there’s a short switchback climb of 20 minutes before the trail levels out to a gentle trail to Bedni Bugyal. It takes about an hour to get to Bedni Bugyal from this point.
Excursion to Bedni Top
Duration: 4 hours
Altitude Gain: ⇗ 700 ft (11,500 ft to 12,200 ft)
Difficulty: Easy. Acclimatisation day with a steep climb to the Bedni top.
Acclimatization day at Bedni Bugyal includes a stroll to Bedni top.
From here you get a bird’s eye view of the Bedni Bugyal campsite as well as Maiktoli, Neelkanth, Chaukhambha, and Mrigathuni.
Day 5: Trek from Bedni Bugyal to Patar Nachauni
Duration: 4 hours
Altitude Gain: 11,500 ft to 12,700 ft
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate. Easy climb at the beginning to a saddle followed by a gradual descent to Patar Nachauni
The trail to Patar Nachauni climbs out of the Bedni campsite in a gradual, easy meander. From your Bedni campsite, you can follow it with your eye for 3 km before it disappears into a saddle in the mountain. When you cross the saddle, the trek exposes you to the other side of the ridge. The scenery is differently mesmerizing. For the first time, you also see remnants of the winter snow on the mountain flanks (on the other side).
It is still meadow country and below you are the meadows of Ghora Lotani, the last stop for the horses. Beyond Ghora Lotani the meadows merge into the mountainside.
There are two ways to catch the trail to Patar Nachauni and Bhagwabhasa beyond. The easier option is to retrace your steps of yesterday to the point where you left the main trail to get into the Bedni campsite enclave (5-7 mins walk backwards). Get on the Roopkund trail and carry on your hike up and above the Bedni campsite. Another option is to start from your campsite, skirt the Bedni Kund from the right, climb up the slope behind the Kund, and climb further up to the trail from any direction you deem fit. This will save you half an hour to 45 mins of trekking time but can leave you breathless.
Ghora Lotani makes an excellent campsite. An additional day spent at Ghora Lotani will help to acclimatise to the altitude, plus offer you great views. It offers as good views as Bedni and has the bonus of a strange sense of isolation. You can just about camp anywhere at Ghora Lotani, but ideally, look to camp near the end of the meadows. A clear stream spews out of the side of the slope and makes for a very good water source. Another place to camp is Patar Nachauni, where you head up a bit to the saddle and stay in the eco shelters. The view here is beautiful though a bit exposed to the winds. Here, on your left, you can see a trail that heads down to Bhuna and further on to Sitel and Suthol. There is a trail from here to Kuari Pass. Upwards is your climb to Kalu Vinayak. The saddle signals the end of the meadows.
Day 6: Trek from Patar Nachauni to Bhagwabhasa
Duration: 5-6 hours
Altitude Gain: ⇗ 1,400 ft (12,700 ft to 14,100 ft)
Difficulty: Moderate. A 3-hour steep ascent to Kalu Vinayak followed by a gradually descending trail to Bhagwabhasa
Highlights: The thrilling pass crossing at more than 16,000 ft.
The climb to Kalu Vinayak is a steep zig-zag up the mountainside and will take you to 14,500 ft. The distance isn’t much, and the zig-zag trails make you gain height very rapidly. Climb this section very slowly. There is no hurry and even if you are the slowest on the team you can reach Bhagwabasa in a comfortable time. Take 10-minute breaks every 15 minutes. This is a crucial height where most trekkers feel the thinness in the air. You get breathless very soon and sometimes even feel dizzy. This would be okay if you did not have to do the Roopkund climb the next day. Most folks climb this section like any other climb and find it difficult to acclimatise to the Roopkund altitude later on.
Treat this section as the most crucial bit of your trek. In the climbing time, it takes around 1½ hrs to climb to Kalu Vinayak. Stretch it to 2½ hrs, even if you can climb quicker. By doing this, you’ll find your body adjusting to the increased height and the lack of oxygen. Climbing to Kalu Vinayak is a thrill and every time you look up and take a bend on the trail, the ridgeline gets closer, drawing you, inspiring you. Around you are the green, sheer mountainside. Below, you can follow the trail that you took from the first saddle over Ghora Lotani and finally to Kalu Vinayak.
Kalu Vinayak gets its name from the black Ganesh idol enclosed in a stone shrine just as you finish the climb from Ghora Lotani. Lots of temple bells and a large plate for you to donate. Everyone offers a prayer here for a safe pilgrimage to Roopkund. A donation of Rs 10/- is standard. Some offer biscuits instead. Choose! Beside the Kalu Vinayak shrine and right next to it, you hit your first patch of snow.
The trail from Kalu Vinayak to Bhagwabasa is easy and gently sloping downwards. Bhagwabasa is 2 km away and you can see the Bhagwabasa huts if you follow the trail with your eye. The trail meanders through snow patches. Be careful on these snow patches. In June, by mid-day, they get soft and you can find yourself sinking to your knees in them. Step gingerly, quickly and skip your way across them. Better still, skirt around them.
Bhagwabasa is a cluster of stone huts put up by enterprising locals. The charge is on a bed basis. It could be Rs 150 to Rs 200 per bed depending on the season. On lean seasons the rates could go down to Rs 50. If you are staying at Bhagwabasa the locals will also cook for you at an additional cost. Carry your sleeping bag – the nights are extremely cold.
If you are carrying tents, then don’t pitch camp at Bhagwabasa. Move ahead for another 5 minutes and you get a campsite on your left. This is Hunia Thal, a small clearing. There’s space enough for 4 tents and no more. The place is rocky, but you don’t have much of an option. If the sky is clear and the team is fit, it is a good idea to attempt Roopkund in the afternoon. The next day serves as an additional buffer.
At Bhagwabasa, nights turn extremely cold. Inside the tent, temperatures dip to 1°C. Outside measured at -2°C at 2.30 in the night. These are mid-summer temperatures. In September-October temperature will dip further to -5°C or -6°C. Bhagwabasa is windy too. In the wind chill the -2°C feels like -6°C. You need to put on all your warm clothing and then get inside your sleeping bag to brave the night.
Day 7: Trek from Bhagwabasa to Roopkund. Return to Patar Nachauni via Bhagwabasa
Duration: 9-10 hours
Altitude Gain and Loss: ⇗ 1,900 ft ⇘ 3,300 ft (14,100 ft to 12,700 ft via 16,000 ft)
Difficulty: Difficult. Gradual ascent to Roopkund with the last 20 minutes consisting of steep switch backs. 20-25 minutes steep climb to Junargali. Tricky descent on the switchbacks from Roopkund. Descending trail to Patar Nachuani.
You need to start your push to Roopkund at 4:00 am. The sooner the better. You need to climb up to Roopkund while the snow is still hard. In the mid-morning the snow becomes soft and your feet start sinking in. You want to avoid this. There’s plenty of snow even in the middle of summer.
From Bhagwabasa it is a 5 km gradually ascending walk to Roopkund. Towards the end, the trail climbs sharply through a series of switchbacks and a steep climb over a snowy flank to reach Roopkund. The stretch isn’t long, but the entire stretch is on snow patches. At some parts the slope is steep but most parts are easily trekkable. Those trekking alone needs to carry ice axes to cut steps on the snow. It takes about 2½ hrs to climb up to Roopkund. Ideally, if you have started at 5.00 am then you are going to get to Roopkund by 7.30 or 8.00 am. The climb is deliriously exhilarating. The last stretch of climbing over the snowy flank on the left requires the support of all four limbs but is over in 10 mins. Roopkund is right over the edge, two minutes away and yet you can’t see it unless you get there.
Roopkund is a crater on the mountain face, a dip at the cusp of the mountain. It is much bigger than what most internet pictures suggest. All around are snowy flanks of the mountain. You have to climb down 50 ft to reach the edge of the lake. GPS readings suggest that Roopkund is not more than 15,750 feet. Whatever the altitude, you will feel the thinness of the air. Climbing a few steps takes your breath away.
The Roopkund Mystery: The “Skeleton Lake” has intrigued anthropologists, scientists, historians and the local people ever since. Who were these people? What were they doing in the inhospitable regions of the Garhwal Himalayas? Local folklore has it that in medieval times, King Jasdhawal of Kanauj wanted to celebrate the birth of an heir by undertaking a pilgrimage to the Nanda Devi mountains in the Garhwal Himalaya. However, he disregarded the rules of pilgrimage by boisterous singing and dancing. The entourage earned the wrath of the local deity, Latu. They were caught in a terrible hailstorm and were thrown into the Roopkund lake!
Trekkers must attempt Junargali unless the weather does not permit it. From Roopkund, the sharp ridge line that towers above you is Junargali. It doesn’t take much time to get to Junargali. The route is over snow that gently inclines upwards until it reaches the face of the mountain. After which it is a steep clamber on the mountain face to reach Junargali. The climb isn’t for long; perhaps 250 ft. It gets over in perhaps 15-20 minutes. Care must be taken while you are climbing to Junargali. A rope with you is very handy.
The Return from Roopkund: Start your return by 9.30 am from Junargali, timing yourself such that you are back at Roopkund by 10.00 am and after a brief rest, you are on your way down. Trekkers often find getting down from Roopkund difficult. The snowy slope looks tricky and dangerously sloping. You may need to squat on all fours to negotiate the immediate flank of snow as you get off Roopkund. This is the difficult part but the lower you get, it gets easier progressively. Once out of the switchback descent, it is an easy walk back to Bhagwabasa. However, step carefully on the snow patches. By mid-morning, they are soft and slippery. Always trek down in small groups. You should reach Bhagwabasa within 2½ hours. There is a 5km descent from Bhagwabhasa to Patha Nachauni which you will cover in 3 hours. You can camp at Pathar Nachauni for the night.
Day 8: Trek from Patar Nachauni to Lohajung via Bedni and Wan
Duration: 7-8 hours
Altitude Loss: ⇘ 5,000 ft (12,700 ft to 7,700 ft)
Difficulty: 232 km
There is a sense of elation as you return through Bedni. And the oak forest over Wan is just the icing on the cake that you want. Retrace your path to Bedni Bugyal. Pass the Bedni campsite and take the trail heading to the right and below. 20 minutes later, you get to the tree line and sharp descent that signals the end of the meadows. Watch for the descending trail on your right. The main trail moves ahead to Ali Bugyal.
Rundown into the oak and Rhododendron forest. Half an hour into your decent, you get to a clearing. The green trekker’s huts signals Gehroli Patal. On a clear day, you get astounding views of Mt Trishul commandeering over the area. Rest here and if your team is not in a hurry, step into the flat oak forest on your right. The setting is straight out of a movie set with beams of light streaming in from above and a crunchy cover of brown leaves below. Spend some time here at the wonder of nature and rejoin the trail.
It is a steep ridge descent to the Neel Ganga. Quicker trekkers reach the river in one and a half hours. The slower ones take two. Take your time because you will rarely see a more wondrous stretch of forest cover. The bridge on the Neel Ganga is an idyllic location to wash the dirt and grime of the week-long trek. Trees overhang the river and the water trips and fall over boulders in the shade. The water is cool and refreshing. From the river, it is a short half-hour climb to the ridge above Wan village.
After spending days in the wilderness, you finally come to a busy civilization. Some welcome it and some hate it. There are many routes to the bottom of the Wan village, and all roads eventually lead down to the road junction (Kasar Bagad) near the hydel project. It takes about an hour and a half to get down to Kasar Bagad. It is a steep descent. There is an alternative longer route to get down to Wan. From the ridge top of Wan, take the main trail that runs to the right. Follow the trail until it reaches the Cyprus trees at the lower Wan village. Spend time looking at the Cyprus trees because they are centuries old.
A short descent later you touch the road. You can ask your vehicle to meet you at this junction. From Kasar Bagad regular vehicles ply to Lohajung and you get a welcome cup of tea at Hari Singh Bugyali’s shop. By Jeep, it is an hour's drive to Lohajung over a road that bumps and rattles all the way. The thrill of the ride stays for many days to come.
Day 9: Drive to Kathgodam from Lohajung
Depart for Kathgodam. Expected to reach Kathgodam by 7.00 pm.
If you have an additional day in Lohajung before or after your trek, visit Ajan Top, an easy trek that you can do on your own.
Moderate - Difficult Trek
Suitable for Experienced Trekkers
At Indiahikes, while rating a trek difficulty we consider a number of factors. These include altitude gained every day, length of trek everyday, highest altitude, nature of the terrain, weather etc. Based on this we rate a trek as easy or difficult or somewhere in between.
Roopkund is a moderate-difficult trek in terms of difficulty level. You cannot think of stepping on the Roopkund trek without preparation. Too many trekkers get on the Roopkund trek with fifteen days of walking practice. That’s dangerous.
Roopkund is not a difficult trek but it is not a cakewalk either. Those who come underprepared are almost always counting the pebbles on the trek rather than appreciating the scenery around them. Our trek leaders are compelled to return some of them to the base camp after a few days of trek.
Three sections will push you hard. The first is on day one of the treks. You set out from Wan village with a climb to the top of the ridge that hangs over the village. That’s an hour climb easily. Then there’s a lovely descent to the Neel Ganga river. From the river, it is an outright climb of 3½ hrs to Gehroli Patal campsite. Especially for a first day’s trek, it leaves your heart pumping. The good news is, it is excellent preparation for the rest of the days. Plus the Gehroli Patal campsite makes it worth the climb.
On the fourth day, there is a stiff climb from Patar Nachauni to Kaluvinayak. It is a switchback climb (zigzag) gaining elevation quickly. It is over in two hours. But at that altitude, your legs and lungs will scream.
On the fifth day, when you climb Roopkund from Bhagwabasa, it is another big climb. It takes about 3 hours to get to Roopkund, usually on snow. The excitement of the day, though, makes everyone forget the climb. There are moderate climbs in between, especially on days two and three, but not something that will stretch you.
The altitude gain is a risk component in the Roopkund trek. As you go higher the availability of oxygen gets lower. With lower levels of oxygen, managing the climbs is not easy. You need to climb slowly allowing your body to acclimatize to the lower oxygen levels.
Often ignored, rest is very essential to avoid getting hit by altitude sickness. Bedni Bugyal at 11,700 ft is the perfect place to let your body adjust to the thin air. As you explore the vast meadows of Ali and Bedni your body gets ready for the higher altitudes of Bagwabasa and Roopkund.
Acute Mountain Sickness:
AMS is one of the biggest dangers on a high altitude trek like Roopkund. AMS occurs when your body isn’t acclimatising to its surroundings. It can accelerate very rapidly, so it is important to identify the symptoms as soon as you see them.
At any campsite, inform your trek leader about your condition immediately if you identify any symptoms of AMS. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to a lower campsite.
Over years of conducting the Roopkund trek, we have noticed that there are some campsites where trekkers are most prone to be hit by AMS. Let’s take you through the trek so that you know where it is likely to occur and what precautions you can take. On the Roopkund trek, all campsites are prone to AMS. As you move up the dangers become more. It is because of this reason that we have a slow pace of ascent with a rest day at Bedni Bugyal followed by a camp at Pathar Nachauni before hitting Bhagwabasa. Though the risks are minimized with the slow ascent, AMS can strike at Bhagwabasa, or Patarnachauni even on the way back. Most trekkers believe that the fear of AMS does not exist on the way down. The truth is that you may have missed noticing symptoms at high camp and it starts increasing on the way down
This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and medicines, for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before they can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours. And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have symptoms of AMS?
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision-makers in any such cases.
As a first step, your trek leader will run you through the Triple One Test – One Disprin, One litre of water and One hour of rest. If you’re suffering from dehydration, this will solve the problem and you will be fine in one hour. If the symptoms don’t go away, then he’ll begin to treat you for AMS, perhaps with a course of Diamox. If you’re already on a course of Diamox, your trek leader is likely to increase the dosage.
The increased dosage of Diamox usually takes care of the Acute Mountain Sickness. In addition to that, the acclimatisation day at Bedni helps trekkers get enough rest before gaining more altitude. We have noticed that around 90% of the trekkers get acclimatised by the end of the acclimatisation day. If you’re not at your 100% at the end of Day 5, then again, report to your Trek Leader. He will make you descend to Wan, where you will be fine. If you face any of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness, don’t take them lightly. Report them to your trek leader immediately.
Do NOT attribute your symptoms to anything other than AMS. If you have a bad stomach, suspect AMS. At high altitudes, AMS is the first thing that should be suspected and treated.
If Diamox alone doesn’t work, he might administer Dex or Nifedipine, or perhaps oxygen, depending on the circumstances. Especially on the Roopkund trek, AMS is very common. While AMS can be treated with medicines, for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours. And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
The safest point on a trek where a trekker can descend to and rest is considered an Exit Point. On the Roopkund trek, there is only one exit point – Wan. The ideal campsite to descend to would be Wan/Lohajung(8000 ft), and if possible down to Debal(5,700 ft). There are no exit points as all campsites fall under the dangerous altitude of 10,000 ft.
For any advanced treatment, Karanprayag is the closest well-equipped hospital in the area. It is a 4-hour drive from Lohajung. Vehicles will be available at Lohajung.
How to get to the basecamp – Lohajung
Delhi → Kathgodam → Lohajung
The Roopkund trek begins from Lohajung (7,700 ft), 230 km from Kathdodam. It is a tiny pass, that slips in through the Gwaldam face of the mountain and into the Wan valley. The route to Lohajung is via Almora — Gwaldam — Tharali — Debal — Mundoli — Lohajung
Indiahikes arranges transport from Kathgodam Railway station at 6.00 am on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs.5,500 per vehicle. This will have to be shared by trekkers. You can pay the driver directly.
Take the Ranikhet Express from Delhi. It leaves at 10.40 pm from Old Delhi Railway Station and reaches Kathgodam at 5.05 am.
What happens if you don’t get tickets on the Ranikhet Express?
Ranikhet express is a crowded train and often gets booked many days in advance. Firstly, don’t look for an AC ticket. It is an overnight journey and even sleeper berths are comfortable. Book a Tatkal ticket. Your chance of getting a sleeper ticket in Tatkal is very high. If, for some reason, you still don’t get a ticket on the Ranikhet express, there are two options for you.
Option 1: Take the earlier day’s Sampark Kranti from Old Delhi, which leaves at 4.00 pm. Tickets on the Sampark Kranti are usually easy to get as it is a day seating train. Stay overnight in a hotel at Kathgodam and join the team vehicle the next morning. KMVN Tourist Guest Home at Kathgodam is a good place to halt for the night. KMVN is Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam, a government tourist guest home, 500 metres from the railway station. The place is decent and clean. You can contact them on 05942-231436, +91 7055715251 or book online at http://www.kmvn.gov.in/
Option 2: Take an overnight bus from Delhi’s Anand Vihar ISBT to Kathgodam. Volvo buses leave Anand Vihar around 9.00 pm. It is usually an 8 hour journey. There is no online booking, so arrive a couple of hours early at Anand Vihar to book your tickets. No advanced reservation is required. Try to get to Kathgodam early (by 6 am) to catch the Indiahikes pickup at the station.
Lohajung → Kathgodam → Delhi
The Roopkund trek ends at Lohajung. We arrange transport from Lohajung to Kathgodam Railway Station. This cost is not included in the trek fee and it costs Rs.5,500 per cab (Tata Sumo), which is shared by trekkers. You will reach Kathgodam at around 6 pm. If you are travelling further from Kathgodam, you can book your transport post 8 pm, keeping two hours as buffer time in case of road blocks in the mountain roads.
What you see on the Kathgodam to Lohajung drive
The drive is a nice prelude to the trek and has number of things to watch our for. 20 minutes after you leave the plains of Kathgodam, you hit the largest lake in the Kumaon region! The drive takes you around the Bhimtal lake. There is a lovely water spot halfway around the lake. Good place to fill your bottles with cool mountain waters and take a good view of the lake. The shade is very inviting too.
At Bhowali, you see the diversion to Nainital, a hill town saturated with tourists. Pick up fresh apricots, and mangoes (if they are in season!) from here.
The modest Kainchi Dham ashram falls on the way to Almora. It is difficult to fathom that this nondescript ashram by the riverside attracted the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg! Steve Jobs visited the ashram in 1970s to understand his own vision for the future. If you use an Apple product at least you know where the inspiration is coming from! Right before the bend to Kainchi Dham is a dhaba with the most delicious aloo paranthas. Try these!
Four hours from Kathgodam, perched on a ridge, is the massive hill town of Almora. It is so massive– it is almost a city! This is a transit point for trekkers and pilgrims alike. If you have time on your way back, make your way to Tagore Bhavan. It is said that Rabindranath Tagore wrote his collection for children (Shishu) here.
About an hour from here is the idyllic village of Kausani. This is where you get your first glimpse of the mountains you are going to see up close: Trishul and Nanda Ghunti. You can see Chaukhambha, Neelkanth, Mrigathuni, Nanda Devi and Panchachuli. It is an excellent place to take a break if you want to break your road journey over two days. If you have a day to spare, explore the tea gardens of Kausani and don’t forget to pick some of this exquisite tea. In any case your car drives through these tea gardens.
A little ahead of Kausani, are the temple ruins of Baijanth. These shrines were built during the time Katyuri kings ruled the area: 7th to 11th century. One of the shrines lean like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
An hour later, you are in Gwaldam where you get your first view of Lohajung. Gwaldam exists on the border of Kumaon and Garhwal region. This makes it culturally unique among the villages of Uttarakhand. Gwaldam is at a height and can get cold!
At Tharali, you get a glimpse of Nanda Ghunti and meet the Pindar river. The narrow road climbs rapidly, passing through Debal to get to Lohajung in about an hour and a half. Keep your woollens handy. Lohajung is already around 8,000 ft and in the evenings are cold.
If you want to reach the basecamp by yourself
Bus: There is one government bus that starts from Haldwani at 4.00 am. This goes either to Gwaldam or Deval depending on the number of passengers. We do not recommend this as this service is unreliable.
Shared taxi: Private, shared cabs drop passengers from Haldwani to Deval. These start from Haldwani between 7.00 and 9.00 am, depending on how quickly they’re able to fill seats. They charge Rs.500 per passenger. The Indiahikes transporter can arrange for transport from Deval to Lohajung on request and prior intimation.
Bus: There is a direct, private bus from Rishikesh to Lohajung at 4.00 am everyday. The charge is Rs.400 per passenger.
Shared taxi: Private, shared cabs drop passengers from Rishikesh to Debal. These start from Rishikesh between 7.00 and 8.00 am, depending on how quickly they’re able to fill seats. They charge Rs.500 per passenger. The Indiahikes transporter can arrange for transport from Debal to Lohajung on request and prior intimation.
Combination of bus and shared jeeps: Take the first early morning bus out of Rishikesh that is heading to Badrinath. By mid-afternoon you should be at Karanprayag. Get down here and take any bus to Tharali. Any bus/jeep to Gwaldam will go via Tharali. If bus is hard to come by, take a shared jeep available near the Karanprayag bus stand. Tharali is by the Pindar river and is about 44 kms from Karanprayag (2 hrs). From Tharali you won’t get much of bus options, but you can get plenty of shared jeeps that can take you to Debal. From Debal, take another jeep to Lohajung. At Debal (Debal to Lohajung: 24 kms) Contact our transporter, Raju Shah Ji on +91 8979 321 600. He will help you with an onward transport to Lohajung
What you see on the Rishikesh to Lohajung drive
This journey, while not as scenic as Kathgodam to Lohajung route, has a unique experience to offer. To watch the meeting of two rivers in prayags. All of these confluences are steeped in myths of the region. In the beginning of your journey, you will see the holiest of the prayags: Devprayag. Alakananda and Bhagirathi meet to give birth to Ganga.
The next prayag you will see is when the emerald green Mandakini meets the Alakananda. The difference in colours of the rivers is stark! A dip at Rudraprayag is supposed to clear pilgrim of their hurdles. The famous man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag was shot by Jim Corbett here. It is marked by a signboard!
By mid-afternoon you should be at Karnaprayag. Karnaprayag sees the feisty Pindar river meet its match with Alakananda. It is said that Karna got his invincibility (his armour) after meditation at this confluence. Another story says Krishna cremated Karna’s ashes at this confluence after the war. The route to Tharali goes through quaint villages alongside Pindar river and climbs to Debal. You will reach Lohajung in half an hour.
These are documents required for legal purposes by Indiahikes and the forest department. Without any of these, you will not be allowed to trek.
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar Card, or passport will do. This is required by the forest department for your identification.
- Disclaimer certificate. This is a legal requirement. Download the PDF, read carefully and sign it. This must be handed over to your Trek Leader during the registration at the base camp - Download the PDF
- Medical certificate. There are two sections in this. The first part must be filled by a practising doctor. The second part must be filled by you. Without the medical certificate, the forest department will not issue permissions for your trek. It is also a requirement by Indiahikes - Download PDF
Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack. This keeps them from getting wet.
1. Trekking Shoes
Roopkund requires sturdy trekking shoes, has good grip, has ankle support and can handle snow. Here is a quick video on how to choose your trekking shoes.
| Buying Tip: The Trek series and MH series are good options by Decathlon. They are tried and tested. There isn’t any necessity to buy the higher-priced models. Here is a list of other budget shoes that trekkers are using.
| Rental: We have the Trek series and the MH series by Decathlon available for rent from the Indiahikes store. They are already broken into and in good condition. Rental shoes are not dirty or unhygienic. This is how they are kept clean. Rent here.
For a trek like Roopkund, you need a 50-60 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.
| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.
| Rental: The 48-litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available for rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack. Rent here.
Wearing layers is the mantra in the mountains. Layers give you maximum protection from all elements. And when the weather changes in the mountains (as it happens every few hours), you take off or put on layers as required.
Base layer: 3 T-shirts
Wear one T-shirt and carry two. Carry full sleeve dry-fit T-shirts (preferably collared). These prevent your arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trek, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn you in no time.
Dry-fit T-shirts quickly dry your sweat, they are easy to wash and in case of a rainy day, they dry quicker. Round neck T-shirts are ok, but collared ones are better.
| Cotton or Synthetic? As Indians, we love cotton. Down in the plains when the heat is blistering 40°C it makes sense to wear cotton. But it takes a long time to dry when it gets wet. In the mountains, where it is cooler, synthetic is what you wear. They wick sweat rapidly and keep you dry. (But they do tend to smell quickly, so carry a roll-on deodorant with you.)
| Buying tip: You can get dry-fit T-shirts from Decathlon. Also, stores like Reliance Trends and Max have dry-fit T-shirts. They don’t usually cost much.
| Pro Tip: If you are extra susceptible to cold, you could get a set of thermal inners. In our experience, wearing two T-shirts over another works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space since you’re already carrying them.
3 insulation layers
The highest altitude you reach on this trek is 16,105 ft. At these altitudes, it can get cold even in the middle of summer. You will need at least 3 insulation layers for this trek.
You will need 2 light fleece layers and 1 full sleeve light sweater. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.
For your outer layer, a padded jacket serves the purpose here. You don’t need a water-resistant material. But you need an outer padded jacket that keeps the wind and cold out. Ensure your padded jacket has a hood as well.
| Do you need a down/feather jacket? Not really. A regular padded/shell jacket will do. This video here will help you to learn more about the difference.
| Note: Down/feather jackets are not available these days. Many jackets masquerade as down/feather jackets. They are essentially fine polyester-filled jackets. They mimic the function of a down jacket but are usually expensive.
| Rental: Padded jackets made by Fort Collins are available for rent at the Indiahikes store. They are custom made for Indiahikes and trekkers find them terrific, even in winter. Rent here.
A minimum of one pair and a maximum of two pairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry one just in case it rains/snows. Trek pants with zippered cut-offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon even in the cold climate.
| Buying tip: Go for pants with zippered pockets. They come in handy to keep your phone, handkerchief or pocket snacks.
| Track pants or trek pants? Stretchable track pants make a good backup and can double up as your thermal bottoms. But track pants are not trekking pants -- so don’t use them as your main outerwear. Keep them only as a backup.
Mandatory Accessories, without these too you won’t be able to do the trek.
These accessories are mandatory. Don’t go to Roopkund without them. Trekkers generally put off purchasing / borrowing the accessories for the last minute. We suggest the opposite. Start gathering these accessories first.
Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. On a trek like Roopkund, you might need to walk on long stretches of snow. A small overexposure to direct sunlight on snow can lead to snow blindness (about a half hour’s exposure). That’s because fallen snow is like thousands of mirrors that reflect direct UV rays. So you need sunglasses with UV protection.
| Wearing tip: Wear sunglasses if the trekking day is bright and sunny (on open sections, meadows). On a snowy section, you must never take off your sunglasses until the section has been fully crossed.
| Buying Tip: Try getting sunglasses that wrap around instead of those that have openings on the side. Even peripheral UV ray exposure is not a good idea.
| If you wear spectacles: If you wear spectacles, you can get oversized sunglasses that you wear over your regular glasses (available at Decathlon). If that is cumbersome, photochromic lenses work equally well. Here’s a quick guide on managing sunglasses with spectacles.
| Contact lens users: If you use contact lenses, you can use them on the trek too. The lens solution will not freeze. You will also not face any problems in changing your lens in your tent. Just carry enough cleaning solution with you to clean your fingers well. Wear your sunglasses over your contact lens. Read this article for more guidance on managing contact lenses on treks.
A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sunstrokes, quick dehydration and a sharp drop in trekking performance.
| Tip: In the mountains, the general rule is to keep your head covered at all times. During the day a sun cap protects you from the harsh rays of the sun (it is doubly stronger with naked UV rays). A sun cap keeps your body temperature in balance. In the evening/early morning, the reverse is true. Your head loses your body heat quickly. A woollen cap prevents heat from dissipating from your head.
| Pro Tip: Sun caps with flaps are a blessing for trekkers. They cut out almost all UV leaks. They prevent sunburns in every possible way. They are a lot more effective than sunscreen lotion. A wide-brimmed sports hat also helps to prevent sunburn in a big way.
3. Synthetic hand gloves
On a trek like Roopkund, you are going to be handling snow quite a bit. You’ll need gloves to grip something or to steady yourself in snow. You also want the gloves to keep you warm. Get synthetic hand gloves that have waterproofing on the outside and a padded lining on the inside. If you find the combination difficult to get (not likely), wear a tight-fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove. Hand gloves are mandatory on this trek.
4. Woollen cap or Balaclava
Ensure these cover your head. In the cold mountains, you lose maximum heat from your head, not from your hands, feet or the rest of your body. This is why you need to keep your head protected, especially when the sun is down. Early mornings, late evenings, and a cold trekking day are when you must use your woollen cap.
Your ears are sensitive too, so a woollen head cap that covers your ears is essential. A balaclava is a modern version of the woollen cap. It covers your ears, neck and parts of your face as well. If you get a woollen cap that only covers your head, you will need a neck warmer or a woollen scarf.
5. Socks (4 pairs)
Apart from three to four pairs of sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks. Sports socks give you cushioning plus warmth. Again the mantra is to wear synthetic socks or at least a synthetic blend. Cotton socks soak in water and sweat. They are very hard to dry.
As for woollen socks, they help you to keep warm and snug at the night. If you cannot get woollen socks, wearing two sports socks serves the purpose as well.
Trekkers are often confused about whether they need to get a headlamp or a handheld torch. You need to get a headlamp because it leaves your hands free to do other activities. On the Roopkund trek, you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.
| Buying tip: Ensure your headlamp covers a wider area and is not too focused as a single beam. On a trek, your headlamp must help you see around you as much as ahead of you.
| Rental: Headlamps are available for rent at the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
7. Trekking pole (a pair)
Trekking poles give you stability and balance. They reduce your energy consumption by almost 40%. On the Roopkund trek, there are steep ascents and descents. A pair of trekking poles will make the difference between a comfortable and a strenuous trek. In India, we tend to use a single trekking pole. However, two trekking poles give you greater stability and balance. They also increase your walking pace.
| Rental: Imported side-locking trekking poles are available for rent at the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
On a trek, the weather can change quickly. A bright sunny day can turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. Carry a poncho or a rain jacket to tackle this. A poncho is a big rain cover with openings for your arms and your head. It is extremely effective because it covers both you and (partially) your backpack. It is extremely light and weighs next to nothing.
| Pro tip: Rain jackets are more streamlined and less cumbersome but weigh more. Rain pants are not required. Dry fit trek pants dry quickly even if soaking wet.
| Rental: High-grade ponchos are available for rent at the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
9. Rain cover for your backpack
Backpacks are your life. You carry all your dry clothes and your warm gear in your backpack. Your backpack must stay dry at all times. Modern backpacks usually come with built-in rain-covers. If your backpack does not have a rain cover, ensure you get a rain cover by either (a) buying a rain cover or (b) or cutting a large plastic sheet to the size of your backpack. You can roll the plastic sheet around your backpack and keep it in place with a string or elastic.
| Pro tip: It's good practice to compartmentalise your clothes, accessories and other things in plastic covers inside your backpack. That way, even if it rains and your backpack gets wet, your things are water-proof inside the backpack.
10. Daypack (20-30 ltrs, optional)
Some trekkers opt to offload their bags to a mule on the Roopkund trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack, you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, a headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer. Your main backpack that carries most of your equipment is accessible only at the campsites.
A daypack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not daypacks. Do not get them.
Other mandatory requirements
1. A toilet kit
Keep your toilet kit light. Carry just the basics -- toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, toilet tissue roll, a small moisturiser, lip balm, and a roll-on deodorant. You will not be able to have a bath on the trek, so don’t overload on soaps and shampoos.
| Pro tip: Carry miniature-sized items. You will not need more than that. If you’re travelling in a group, share one toothpaste for all.
| Pro tip: Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Pin Bhaba.
| For women: If you are likely to have your periods on your trek date, don’t worry about it. You can use your pads, tampons or menstrual cups on the trek. There will be toilet tents where you can get changed. Make sure you carry ziplock bags to bring back your menstrual waste. Don’t leave behind any waste in the mountains. Watch this video to learn how to dispose of your sanitary waste.
Carry a lunch box, a mug and a spoon. Your lunch box must be leakproof. You are expected to wash your cutlery. Trekkers often expect Indiahikes to wash their cutlery. When you allow Indiahikes to wash your cutlery, your cutlery becomes part of a mass washing system. You immediately invite germs, and bacteria to settle on your cutlery. The incidence of stomach disorders rises exponentially.
| Pro tip: Carry stainless steel cutlery. Avoid fancy high-grade plastic cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery is infinitely easier to wash in cold water. Grease is easier to remove and hygiene is at its highest.
| Two 1 litre bottles or a 2-litre hydration pack: Roopkund has many hours of trekking every day (approximately 6 hours). You need to carry two one-litre water bottles to keep yourself hydrated over the distance. If you are used to a hydration pack, then that is ok too. If one among the two bottles is a lightweight thermos, then that helps you to store warm water on a really cold day or for late evenings and early mornings.
| Rental: You could rent lightweight thermos flasks from the Indiahikes store. Rent here.
3. Plastic covers
Carry 3-4 old plastic covers to keep your used clothes. You could use them even for wet clothes. Re-use old plastic bags for this and do not buy new ones.
Carry these medicines with you, easily accessible at all times. Do not take any medicine unless you have consulted your trek leader.
- Diamox (1 Strip): Be on a course of a half tablet of Diamox starting from Delhi every 12 hours (125 mg). Carry on the medication until you descend to Yamunotri. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Pin Bhaba trek.
- Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is a paracetamol. It helps to tackle fever, mild pain
- Avomine (4 tablets): Carry this especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop one-half hour before the start of your road journey.
- Combiflam (5 tablets): Take a combiflam if you get a sudden twist of the leg or a muscle strain. It is a pain reliever. It also contains paracetamol.
- Digene (4 tablets): Take it if you feel the food that you’ve taken is undigested. Alert your trek leader immediately. It could be a sign of AMS.
- ORS (6 packs): Consume a pack of ORS water at least once a day, usually mid-day when you are in the middle of your trek. It replenishes essential salts lost while trekking. Tip: It also makes cold water easier to drink.
- Knee Brace (optional): Carry this if you are prone to knee injury or have known issues of knee pain.
Our trek leaders carry a high altitude medical kit with them which also consist of Life Saving Drugs. If there is an emergency our trek leaders know how to tackle it. Meanwhile, contact your trek leader before consuming any of these medicines listed here.
| Pro tip: We find that these medicines by trekkers are rarely used. But you cannot do away with them. At the end of the trek please donate unused medicines to your trek leader. Some of these medicines get distributed to villages on the trek and some are added to the Indiahikes medical kit.
The Roopkund trek is not banned. Overnight camping in the meadows of Uttarakhand is banned, which makes it impossible to trek to Roopkund. Now there is a lot of clarity around the High Court ban on camping in the Uttarakhand meadows. But there was chaos and confusion when the order was passed.
Owing to ambiguity, the forest department immediately clamped down on treks across Uttarakhand. A notice from the Chief Conservator of Forests was sent to all DFOs of Uttarakhand. They were asked to follow the high court orders. The DFOs (District Forest Officers) in turn instructed their Regional Offices not to allow trekking.
But that confusion cleared now. Trekking in Uttarakhand is NOT banned. Indiahikes is running treks in Uttarakhand with the required permissions. But we are taking care not to camp in the meadows of Uttarakhand as overnight camping in the meadows is banned.
Attempting Roopkund without proper acclimatisation is dangerous. And given the present situation, where camping in Uttarakhand meadows is banned, acclimatisation is very difficult. So, yes, in the present circumstance trekking to Roopkund is dangerous.
While there is no straight ban on the Roopkund trek, doing it without camping in the meadows is not possible. And camping in the meadows of Uttarakhand is banned. This is why we are not running any treks to Roopkund as proper acclimatisation without camping in the meadows is not possible. And, attempting Roopkund without acclimatisation poses a grave danger to health and exposes you to Acute Mountain Sickness.
To get to Roopkund, you first need to reach Lohajung. The Roopkund trek begins from Lohajung (7,700 ft), 230 km from Kathgodam. It is a tiny pass, that slips in through the Gwaldam face of the mountain and into the Wan valley. The route to Lohajung is via Almora — Gwaldam — Tharali — Debal — Mundoli — Lohajung
Reaching Kathgodam – Take the Ranikhet Express from Delhi. It leaves at 10.40 pm from Old Delhi Railway Station and reaches Kathgodam at 5.05 am.
Ranikhet express is a crowded train and often gets booked many days in advance. Firstly, don’t look for an AC ticket. It is an overnight journey and even sleeper berths are comfortable. Book a Tatkal ticket. Your chance of getting a sleeper ticket in Tatkal is very high. If for some reason, you still don’t get a ticket on the Ranikhet express, there are two options for you.
Option 1 Take the earlier day’s Sampark Kranti from Old Delhi, which leaves at 4.00 pm. Tickets on the Sampark Kranti are usually easy to get as it is a day seating train. Stay overnight in a hotel at Kathgodam and join the team vehicle the next morning. KMVN Tourist Guest Home at Kathgodam is a good place to halt for the night. KMVN is Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam, a government tourist guest home, 500 metres from the railway station. The place is decent and clean. You can contact them on 05942-231436, +91 7055715251 or book online at http://www.kmvn.gov.in/
Option 2 Take an overnight bus from Delhi’s Anand Vihar ISBT to Kathgodam. Volvo buses leave Anand Vihar around 9.00 pm. It is usually an 8-hour journey. There is no online booking, so arrive a couple of hours early at Anand Vihar to book your tickets. No advanced reservation is required. Try to get to Kathgodam early (by 6 am) to catch the Indiahikes pick up at the station.
To get to Roopkund, start trekking from Wan (1-hour drive from Lohajung)
Here’s a route you follow:
Day 1: Drive to base camp – Lohajung (7,700 ft); 10-11 hours.
Day 2: Drive from Lohajung to Wan. Trek to Gehroli Patal (10,000 ft); 1 hour drive + 4 hour trek
Day 3: Gehroli Patal (10,000 ft) to Bedni Bugyal (11,500 ft); 2 hours
Day 4: Excursion to Bedni Top (12,200 ft)
Day 5: Bedni Bugyal (11,500 ft) to Patar Nachauni (12,700 ft); 4 hours
Day 6: Patar Nachauni (12,700 ft) to Bhagwabhasa (14,100 ft); 5 hours; 3 hours steep ascent to Kalu Vinayak
Day 7: Bhagwabasa (14,100 ft) to Roopkund (15,750), and further up to Junargali (16,000 ft). Return to Patar Nachauni (12,700 ft) via Bhagwabasa; 9 hours
Day 8: Patar Nachauni (12,700 ft) to Lohajung (7,700 ft) via Bedni and Wan; 6.5 hours to Wan plus 1 hr drive back to Lohajung
Day 9: Drive to Kathgodam from Lohajung
Roopkund is a moderate trek in terms of difficulty level. You cannot think of stepping on the Roopkund trek without preparation. Too many trekkers get on the Roopkund trek with fifteen days of walking practice. That’s dangerous.
Roopkund is not a difficult trek but it is not a cakewalk either. Those who come under prepared are almost always counting the pebbles on the trek rather than appreciating the scenery around them. Our trek leaders are compelled to return some of them to the base camp after a few days trek.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
- –>Target completing 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin.
- –>Gradually increase your pace by running 4 times a week and bring it down to 5 km in less than 35 mins.
- –>If you are 45 years old and above and are comfortable with long distance walking than jogging, then before you go on the trek, you should be able to walk at least 10 km at a stretch. Target completing this in 90 minutes.
If jogging is fine for you, your target should be completing 5 km in 40 minutes initially, and 5 km in less than 40 minutes before you go on the trek.
- –>If you are somebody who prefers cycling over running, your target must be to cover 22 km in 60 minutes.
The stunning Ali bugyal. Photo by Aditya Bhat
Breathtaking views of Mt Trishul from Bedni bugyal. Picture by Tarun Gupta
The forests of Gehroli Patal is delightful trail to trek in. Picture by Arvind Kumar.
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Kashmir Great Lakes ...
The Most Beautiful Trek In India
Moderate-Difficult | Level 2
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