On a trail of the unknown to the lake where skeletons from long ago lay buried deep, Roopkund is a journey full of enigma. It’s one of the more challenging ones in the Uttarakhand Himalayas, though daringly and often successfully attempted by first-timers. The campsites are right out of a picture book, there is the unparalleled joy of treading the typical velveteen bugyal meadows of Uttarakhand, the trail is right on a well-trod pilgrim trail, and the mixed-terrain ascent from 8000ft to 16000ft all within a week is thoroughly stimulating.
Roopkund is often dubbed as the “Mystery Lake” and on other times -- “the human Skeleton Lake”. Situated at an altitude of 16, 499ft in the higher reaches of the Uttarakhand Chamoli district, the glacial lake hides away a number of human skeletons within its deep abyss. The origin of these are inexplicable and thus been a source of many interesting speculations, adding a fearsome aura to the trek. Day 1 of the trek begins at Ghairoli-- an enchanting forest of Oaks, walking through which let you hear winds rustling in the leaves. Mt. Trishul stares down from heaven, peeking from in between the old oak leaves. Where the forests end, the trek jumps into the vast undulating meadows of Bedni and Ali Bugyals. Peak views upgrade to Mt. Nanda Ghunti, the Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Kedarnath, Kedar Dome and others, rising now beside Mt. Trishul. The alpine chill on the meadow walk is something to cherish as are the gradually unveiling mountain behemoths all around. The trek in the meadows brings to mind the iconic Windows XP wallpaper, and surreal is the word for the way trekkers feel here! Feel humbled and full of gratitude as you walk into the snowfields beyond these meadows, the trail turning more slippery, the turns sharper, and the climb exacting. To enjoy the delicious challenge of the final stretch, do come fit and prepared! Immense fulfillment for shutterbugs taking the trek, of course, comes with the vision of the lake, nestling semi-frozen and embedded in a turquoise hue in the snow.
The exact height of the alpine lake is -- 16, 499 feet, whereas the entire trek covers a climb from 8,000ft to 16,000ft within a week, and then moving beyond. Altitude sickness and acclimatization can be more of a challenge on the Roopkund trek than in other treks of Uttarakhand.
There are two windows when this swashbuckler of a trek can be attempted-- in May-June when the monsoons are yet to come and after the rains in August-September.
The first is a great time to experience the bugyals when it is verdant and flourishing with life. During this time, the lake will also be in thaw and therefore you can get clear glimpses of the skeletal remains under the water.
September in the Bugyals will be slightly harsher and the in the hues of brown. Snow will be in every place from mid-September, so you must come equipped to the brim. Also, expect a lake completely frozen over. Junargali Ridge becomes an astounding challenge to tackle during the second window.
By Air: You can fly into Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun and travel from there to Kathgodam, which is 230 km from the base camp Lohajung. The International Airport closest to the town is in New Delhi.
By Rail: Kathgodam has a train station well-connected with many major cities and towns in the country. Cab transport from Kathgodam is generally arranged by the trek organizers.
By Bus: One can find buses by Uttarakhand Road Transport to base camp Lohajung via Almora.
Are There Any Shops Available On the Roopkund Trek?
There are shepherd huts along the route where locals usually sell tea and foods during the peak seasons. However, during off-seasons, it is recommended to carry your own food and cooking material.
How Long Does It Take To Complete the Roopkund Trek?
The Roopkund trek takes around 8 days from Kathgodam to Kathgodam.
There is a considerable threat of coming under the weather due to altitude sickness. Therefore, on Roopkund trek, trekkers are given a day to hike to Bedni Top for acclimatization. In addition to the buffer day for rest and acclimatization, trekkers are required to thoroughly follow acclimatization ground rules.
You can also go on a course of Diamox, from the day f starting your journey uphill. Medical consultation is necessary in this case.