Roopkund Trek Experience – Part 1 | Himalayan Trek

Roopkund Trek Experience Part-1

I would like to share with you all my experience trekking in the mighty Himalayas, in the Roopkund, Uttarakhand. The trek was organized by Indiahikes, an Indian organization which helps trek-enthusiasts explore various trails in India. I was accompanied by my husband and we trekked in the month of October in 2015 (I know, long-due post, right?). The duration of the Roopkund trek was 8 days, out of which the first and last days were spent traveling to and from the base camp i.e., Lohajung.

This is Part 1 of 3 part series on our Roopkund trek experience.
Read further: Roopkund – Part 2 | Roopkund – Part 3

Quick facts about Roopkund:

  • Roopkund is at a staggering height of 15,500ft (i.e. 4730m)
  • Roopkund is widely known as ‘Skeleton Lake’, due to the mysterious presence of around 200 human skeletons in the vicinity of it!
  • There have been many mythological, spiritual and scientific theories exist regarding the same. Do google around for more. This is what wiki says.

Day 1: Kathgodam to Lohajung (Distance: 300kms, Altitude: 2,350mts/7,700ft)

After spending a day in Delhi and 2 days in Nainital, me and my husband headed off to the base camp of Roopkund i.e., Lohajung on the morning of October 5th, 2015. Indiahikes arranges the pickup vehicles for trekkers from Kathgodam Railway Station (the cost of which has to be borne by the trekkers) to Lohajung (and back to Kathgodam after the trek). Since we were already in Nainital, we both were picked up at around 8am from a place called Bhowali which is approximately 10kms from Nainital, on the way to Lohajung. The distance to base camp is around 300kms and we reached by 6pm in the evening. The journey was nice and easy with a stopover for lunch at Kausani, another hillstation in Uttarakhand.

We had nice company throughout the journey and the sceneries were so picturesque that we were guessing the number of Bollywood movies that must have been shot there. And some were true as well! (The driver of our vehicle confirmed it :D). We curved through tall pine forests, grasslands, villages and farms. It got colder as we approached Lohajung. When the base camp was few hundred meters away, I got to see the first beautiful horizon during the sunset. It was so splendid, almost welcoming us into a nature retreat for the next 7 days.

Once we reached the basecamp, we got our rooms and laid off our things. Hot tea and biscuits were provided as a light snack. We submitted our disclaimer sheets and medical certificates. Our blood pressure was checked and were briefed by our trek leader Ankit. We received the much-required information about the AMS, HACE & HAPE as well, blowing off many myths that we had! We re-packed our backpacks, had a light dinner and headed towards our rooms hoping for a good night’s sleep. I really felt happy that I chose to trek with Indiahikes as one of their mottos struck my mind just before I drifted off to sleep, Leaving the mountain trails better than we found them.

Day 2: Lohajung – Ghaeroli Patal (Distance: ~8kms, Altitude: 3,220mts/10,560ft)

I woke up to a beautiful sunrise in front of our room. I felt so relaxed (the mountains does that to you, even after hardest of the harder days). I had woken up by 6 and after chai and breakfast we left for the trek by 8.

Sunrise at Lohajung base camp

Sunrise at Lohajung base camp

We hopped on to a jeep which took us to a small village called Wan, which is around 13kms from Lohajung and this village marks as the beginning point for the Roopkund trek. It took us around 45 mins to reach Wan.

The Team! At Wan, beginning point of Roopkund trek

The Team all set! At Wan, beginning point of Roopkund trek

Enroute Neel Ganga

Enroute Neel Ganga

The trail was a combination of ascents and descents. The first half of the trek was easy, it was through the base of the mountains of Wan until we descended down to Neel Ganga. We reached the bridge over Neel Ganga, a pit stop before the ascents, and took a short break. We, as a group, had mingled by now and were enjoying each other’s company. I got a lot of motivation from my other fellow trekkers, who were also first-timers.

The bridge over by Neel Ganga river

The bridge over by Neel Ganga river

The second half trek’s trail was through the oak and rhododendron forests which included steep ascents near the end of it, just before we reached Ghaeroli Patal’s campsite. It was so exhilarating that by the end of it, I was actually counting down (or up?) the steps to the campsite to keep me going. The 1st day was the 2nd most difficult for me in the trek. I dreaded the descents through the same path even more! 

Ghaeroli Patal campsite

Home Sweet Home! Reaching Ghaeroli Patal campsite

But I somehow convinced myself that I would be able to take it all, one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time. If taking “baby steps” was THE mantra to climb high altitudes, I had turned it into taking “baby snail steps”. All thanks to Roopkund trek. Nothing has helped me more than this to acclimatize to the altitude, step-by-step, literally. And rhythmic breathing. If you haphazardly breathe, and don’t go at a constant pace, you will be very exhausted soon. We reached Ghaeroli Patal’s campsite by noon. Lush green tall and thick forest covered the campsite. The sun was peeking through the clouds every now and then. We explored the areas in and around the campsite, had dinner and hit the sleeping bags by 9 pm.

Bonfire at 10,500ft! (Ghaeroli Patal)

Bonfire at 10,500ft! (Ghaeroli Patal)

(To be continued..)

More photos here: Harsha Photography

PS: This article was published in HuffingtonPost! Check it out HERE!

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Anuradha

A techie by profession and an ardent traveler & reader by passion. Wife to an equally travel-bug-bitten husband. Together finding solace in traveling.

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10 thoughts on “Roopkund Trek Experience – Part 1 | Himalayan Trek

  1. Ashwini Kulkarni

    Well written Anu! I remember visiting Bhowali when I had been to Uttarakhand. A small town amidst hills and it is famous for its fresh fruits and veggie produce, especially Kiwi, Oranges and other pahaadi fruits. Amazing taste of crunchy walnuts which we had there still lingers in my mouth 🙂

    1. Anuradha Post author

      Thanks so much, Ashwini! 🙂 Oh wow, that’s nice!
      We did not get much time to spend in Bhowali as we had to take the cab to base camp. I think next time we would make it a point to visit local villages and towns of Uttarakhand as well 🙂

      1. Ashwini Kulkarni

        Yes! Local villages and towns are the best way to explore Uttarakhand! (or any place) People there are really sweet and welcoming. Beautiful homestays have sprung up, offering a peek into the local culture, cuisine and way of life.
        All in all, Uttarakhand is rightly called “Dev Bhoomi” with different manifestations of God in the form of Mountains, Rivers, Ancient temples, deities etc etc.

        1. Anuradha Post author

          True, as much as we would like to let ourselves go in the serenity and beauty of the mountains, we learn much more if we equally spend some time with the locals. They have extensive mythological stories to share and beliefs to convey. It’s always a pleasure to talk to each of the native people. Like you have mentioned, Uttarakhand people treat their guests very well. “Atithi Devo Bhava” is imbibed deep in their culture.

  2. Ashwini Kulkarni

    Loved IndiaHikes motto ““Leaving the mountain trails better than we found them”. It is definitely the need of the hour and as responsible tourists it is our duty to keep the mountain trails and water sources clean and reduce carbon footprint as much as possible.

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