Eastern part of Chamoli District, Uttaranchal
21 days/20 nights
1829 - 4450 m
July to Mid October
Moderate to Tough
Roop Kund, one of the most beautiful high altitude lakes in India; Bedni Bugyal, the largest meadow in Asia and high altitude birds and mammals.
There are few trails in India that are steeped in so much history and folklore as the Roop Kund Kuari Pass trek. The legendary trail takes you to the icy realm of Nanda Devi, the second tallest mountain in India, which stands guarded by a 50 mile barrier ring of the highest mountains in the Indian Himalayas, 12 of which exceed 21,000 ft. Legend has it that Nanda Devi ('She who gives bliss') was the daughter of a local king, whose hand was demanded in marriage by a marauding prince. War ensued, her father was killed and she fled, eventually finding refuge on top of the mountain now bearing her name. The biggest problem for early explorers and mountaineers thus, was not how to climb Nanda Devi, but how to get to it. It took over half a century of arduous exploration to search for a passage into the interior of this almost insurmountable ring.
In 1905, the famous British mountaineer Dr. Longstaff happened to reach Roop Kund (5029 m) in the course of his search for Nanda Devi base. He stood dumbfounded by what he saw - hundreds of human skeletons lay strewn around the small oval lake. Some believe they are the 600-year-old remains of General Zorawar's soldiers who died in an attempt to enter and conquer Tibet. Still others believe them to be the remains of ancient pilgrims as this trek is the ancient Nanda Devi Raj Jat pilgrim route to Hom Kund.
In 1934, the British explorers Eric Shipton and H.W. Tilman finally solved the riddle when they forced a way up the Rishi Ganga Gorge and discovered a passageway. Tilman, a purist, wrote, "We live in an age of mechanization and in recent years it has become apparent that even mountaineering is in danger of becoming mechanized. It is therefore pleasing to record that in climbing Nanda Devi, no climbing aids were used, apart, that is, from the apricot brandy we took."
The Kuari Pass trek, traversed in 1905 by Lord Curzon (hence also known as Curzon Trail), along with the Roop Kund trek, is perhaps your perfect opportunity to emulate great deeds and charter some of the most scenic Himalayan terrain. The entire area is rich in exotic flora and fauna as you walk through virgin landscapes of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Near Kuari Pass, you can see bharal (Blue Sheep), Himalayan Black Bear and the multi-coloured Himalayan Monal, the state bird of both Uttaranchal and Himachal and Nepal's national bird. The trek also takes you to the charming 'bugyals' or high altitude meadows.
Day 1 : Delhi - Corbett
Morning depart by surface for Corbett (270 km/6 hrs drive) and check into the camp. In the evening you can walk in the surrounding forest to observe the local flora and fauna, followed by dinner and overnight stay at a Jungle lodge.
Day 2 : Corbett - Kausani
Today, you can visit a local home and see the farms and cultivation around the village, which offers an opportunity to observe the local lifestyles of the area. Later after breakfast you drive 180 km to the hill station of Kausani (6035 ft). Arrive at Kausani and check in at hotel for overnight stay.
Day 3 : Kausani - Loharjung
Wake up at leisure and later drive (80 km) to Loharjung Pass (8640 ft), the starting point of the Roop Kund trek. The tiny village is a small outpost with a few shops and a good place to stock up on some last minute supplies. Overnight stay at Loharjung
Day 4 : Loharjung (11,000 ft)
The day is free for acclimatization, with short hikes around the area. Stay overnight at Loharjung
Day 5 : Loharjung - Didana
Time: 5-6 hrs
Today from Loharjung you trek down into the temperate forests of Gyan Ganga valley and cross the river uphill to the small village of Didana, a distance of about 8 km. We set camp here just below the forest above Didana and stay overnight in tents.
Day 6 : Didana - Bedni Bugyal (12,000 ft)
Time: 6-7 hrs
Today you hike uphill through the forest and emerge above the tree line with close views of the Chaukhamba (23,555 ft) and Nilkanth (21,766 ft) peaks. You walk 10 km along high grassy ridges and finally reach Bedni Bugiyal - the largest high altitude meadow in Asia. If you have any daylight left you can visit the small Nanda Devi temple at Bedni, the spot where Lord Shiva and Parvati got married aeons ago. We camp overnight in tents.
Day 7 : Bedni Bugyal - Bhogubasa (13,451 ft)
Time: 5-6 hrs
Today's hike has a marked increase in altitude of about 750 m. In case you do not feel fit enough there is the option to trek down to Wan. We cross over a ridge to Gairoli Patal (3380 m), Patar Nachauni (3650 m) and climb up to Bhogubasa cave (4100 m), an improvised stone shelter used by local pilgrims. This is where we camp overnight in tents.
Day 8 : Bhogubasa - Roop Kund - Bhogubasa (15,092 ft)
Time: 3 hrs
In the morning, if the weather is clear, you get stupendous views of Trishul (23,496 ft) and other peaks from the campsite. It's an arduous trek of 3 hrs to the high mountain lake of Roop Kund. Tucked away in the lower folds of the Nanda Devi (25,643 ft) and situated in the lap of the Trishul Mastiff, the lake presents a magnificent sight and has amazing stories buried in its icy depths. After spending some time exploring the area, we hike back to Bhogubasa and camp overnight.
Day 9 : Bhogubasa - Bednibugyal - Wan (8052 ft)
Time: 7-8 hrs
Today you do a 3-hour return trek to Bedni Bugyal, and after a long descent climb up to reach the main valley, at the head of which is Wan. Our camp is above the village, by a Tourist Bungalow, on a wide, tree-fringed terrace. Just above the bungalow is the sacred grove of Latu, a famous local devta (deity), whose temple lies under one of the biggest deodar trees in India. Overnight in camping tents
Day 10 : Wan
Day free to explore the fascinating old village of Wan, where the men and women continue to wear traditional Garhwali blankets of brown, homespun wool. Overnight in camping tents
Day 11 : Wan - Sutol (7500 ft)
Time 6-7 hrs
Walking past Latu's temple, you climb through magnificent cypress trees to the beautiful Kukin Khal Pass (10,070 ft), with the graves of two holy men. After crossing broad meadows, you reach the confluence of two rivers and camp below Sutol. You get views of Trishul through the trees from the campsite, where you spend the night.
Day 12 : Sutol - Ghunni (8200 ft)
Time: 9 hrs
This day you do a long hike of about 9 hours. A short climb brings you to Sutol, a lovely village with paved alleys, heavy slate roofs and a letter box, should you wish to post letters. You walk through forests of fir, cross the river, reach the fields of Dekhandhar (7,000 ft) and passing through the village of Ala, reach our camp by the small village of Ghunni. Overnight in camping tents
Day 13 : Ghunni - Kaliaghat (7500 ft)
Time: 9-10 hrs
Today is a long hiking day, perhaps our longest. From camp, you climb over 1000 ft on a zigzag trail that emerges onto open, grassy grazing meadows to the highest point Ramani Pass (10,053 ft) also called Binayak Top. You trek down across pastures and open glades into stunning forests of horse chestnut and walnut to the colorful village of Jhi-Jhi. You cross the Birehi Gorge and walk through a rhododendron forest to a point where two rivers cascade, from where, you climb to Kaliaghat, a good campsite near the village of Pana
Day 14 : Kaliaghat
After two long hiking days, you spend the day at rest and gear up for another long walk the following morning. If you feel fit enough you can also explore the nearby villages. Overnight in camping tents
Day 15 : Kaliaghat - Dhakauni (11,000 ft)
Time: 7 hrs
The route traverses above the village of Pana and then climbs through a rhododendron forest to 9,482 ft. The path now descends gently, traversing along the valley to open meadows with views of Kuari Pass. From the river, you climb nearly 3,000 ft, with a small break halfway up to cross a large stream. A final climb brings you above tree line to our campsite at Dhakauni, amid broad pastures, with Kuari Pass towering above.
Day 16 : Dhakauni - Kuari Pass - Kulara (12,000 ft)
Time: 3 hrs
Our ascent of Kuari Pass is on a switchback trail that rewards you with one of the greatest panoramas of the Himalayas. A walk along the ridge offers splendid views of peaks like Kamet, Nilkanth (23,425 ft), Dunagiri (23,182 ft), Changabang (22,516 ft) and even Nanda Devi. On decent, you traverse a high ridge past a shrine of Shiva before dropping down to our camp at Kulara, the name given to a clearing amongst the rhododendrons below Shiva's shrine. Overnight in camping tents
Day 17 : Kuari Pass
Today, you rise early and hike back up Kuari Pass for incredible dawn views of the Himalayas. You then return to Kulara and camp overnight in tents.
Day 18 : Day at leisure
Day 19 : Kulara - Tapovan (5925 ft)
Time: 5 hrs
This is our last day of hiking. You make a very steep descent through woods and pastures to Tapovan, where our vehicles await us for a short drive to Joshimath. You stay overnight in the tourist rest house.
Day 20 : Joshimath - Rishikesh
You start early and drive (248 km) to Rishikesh. En-route you stop at the grave of the man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag, which is known to have killed 125 humans between 1918- 1926 and was eventually shot dead by Jim Corbett. Arrive at the important Hindu pilgrim town of Rishikesh and witness the evening aarti (prayer with ceremonial lamps) at the banks of the sacred Ganges. Overnight at hotel in Rishikesh
Day 21 : Rishikesh - Delhi
Morning depart by surface for Delhi (240 km / 5 hrs drive). Arrive Delhi and check in at the hotel and later transfer to the airport to board the flight for onward destination
Trekking Tours in India:
Trekking in Binsar
, Maneater of Mohan Trail
Corbett to Nainital Trek
, Nanda Devi Trek
Roopkund Kuari Pass Trek
, Sandakphu and Goechala Trek
Snow Leopard Trek India
, Tawang Trek Arunachal
Valley of Flowers Trek