If there was one thing that could summon all the excitement of trekking in Garhwal Himalaya in Uttarakhand, it would be, without any second thought, Kagbhusandi Tal. Perched among the high rising giants of Western Himalayas, Kagbhusandi Tal is nothing short of fairyland. Located at the base of magnificent Hathi Parvat, at an astounding elevation of 4,730 meter, The lake is one of the highest alpine lakes of Garhwal Himalayas. Encircled by a wild profusion of colorful flowers, the lake is surrounded by barren mounds in the lap of myriad snowclad peaks. The spellbinding journey to Kagbhusandi Tal put forth the magical views of Neelkanth, Chaukhamba and Nar-Narayan peak.

Read More

It is not just grandeur of Himalayan peaks that is the only highlight of this trek but the villages scattered on the trail also play a significant part in making this trek one of the most adventurous. Getting an insight about the nomadic lifestyle of these villages tucked high in the valley, has its own charm.

Kagbhusandi Tal is considered sacred among these villagers and the striking emerald green water of lake, whose surroundings are overrun by the blooming flowers of all the possible shades, can be a treat to eyes. These part of Garhwal Himalayas fall under Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, which is recognised as a world heritage site for its natural diversity.

To witness the bit of this beauty, there are two routes to approach Kagbhusandi Tal, one starts from Painka village near Vishnu Prayag and the other one goes from Govind Ghat via Bhyundar village, which is also the starting point for the famous Valley of Flower trek. While both routes are frequented by trekkers, for a good start the route via Bhyundar village is best. While the whole trail is infested by the Himalyan bears, with proper precaution it can be a delight to spot the elusive mammal.

There are also some folk tales associated with the lake, looking above from the lake one can see two irregular shaped rocks situated at the spur of the Hathi Parvat, some of the local tales go as, two rocks are Kag (crow in Hindi) and Garuda (Eagle) having an animated discussion about thing of universal importance and celestial impact. One more version of the tale involves a Brahmin from plains and a wrath of sage living on the banks of Kagbhusandi. Villagers also believe that when the time of crows come they fly here to die, in hope of getting nirvana.

All the grandeur of Himalayan peaks along with some fascinating stories, make Kagbhusandi Tal trek a must.

Trip Highlights
  • Crossing 2 Passes Kankun Khal and Farswan Pass.
  • Visiting High Altitude Kagbhusandi Tal lake
  • Trekking distance is about 65 km.
  • View of prominent peaks of Garhwal such a Brigupanth, Thalay Sagar and Chaukhamba massif
Trip Facts
  • Best time to visit : May - June , Sep and Oct
  • Overall Trek distance : 65 kilometres
  • Difficulty level : Moderate to Hard(It is Subjective)
  • Duration : 09 days
  • Vishnu Prayag Altitude : 2450 m
  • Kagbushandi Tal Altitude : 5230 m
  • Samartoli Altitude : 3170 m
  • Raj Karak Altitude : 3900 m
  • Brahmi Khal Altitude : 4900 m
  • Kan Kul Khal Altitude : 5200 m
Why to choose?

Even though multiple trekking trails are available to choose from, it is essential to understand the very reason to opt for Kagbhusandi Tal is..

  • The Altitude gain is 5230 m high, the distance of 62 km covered in 7 day.
  • It is one of the high altitude lakes of Uttarkhand, a tough trek, and an individual with fitness can do with gradual acclimatization and with no fear of Altitude sickness. The trail is scenic with forest cover, fresh air and Perennial water all along the trail.
  • It has much more to offer than hiking, like interaction with locals, Variety of flora and fauna, rich heritage, High altitude lake, close view of Hathi Parvat , Chaukamba , Neelkanth and other peaks.
Trip Cost Includes
  • Food : During Stay and Snacks during Evening Refreshments only
  • Travel : Tempo Traveler/SUV Similar Non/Ac/Bus
  • Accommodation : Basic Multiple sharing or dormitory/Tent.
  • Group Size : Group size 12 and Above.
Trip Cost Excludes
  • Any trip extensions, Stay due to road blocks or landslides, extra meals, Accommodation
Itinerary:
Day one - Haridwar – Joshimath – (300 Kms.) - 13-14 Hrs Drive.
The day starts at Haridwar, after some quick bites and brief intro, we move toward Joshimath. We will be starting as soon as possible for it will be almost 300 km long drive to Joshimath and it will take more than 8 to 9 hours to make it there.
Day two - Joshimath - Govind Ghat (1900m) – Bhyundar Village (2600m) – 5-6 Hrs trek
If weather permits you can get a really good start to your day with a glimpse of Hathi Parvat, dominating the skyline around Joshimath. Soon after breakfast we drive to Govind Ghat, the road head for many famous treks like Valley of Flower, Pangarchulla Peak. Here on we will start our trek towards Bhyundar village. It is the same trail that goes for Valley of Flower trek, all the way till Bhyundar. The first hour or so of the trail might feel a bit steep but soon the trail opens up. Overnight stay in Bhyundar village.
Day three - Bhyundar Village – Guerrilla (2980m) – Semartoli (3170m) – 5-6 Hrs Trek.
As with the entire Garhwal region, the sunrise is something to look forward to, get early and watch the first rays of sun as they color the myriad of snow clad mountains in all the hues of orange and yellow color. Bid bye to the trail going towards Valley of Flower, take the right diversion and cross the Laxman Ganga river on a makeshift wooden bridge. Keep on the trail that is going along Karnkul Ganga.
The trail is filled with not only shrubs, boulders and residual ice but it is bear infested too. There are chances that we might spot a Himalayan Brown Bear in the dense Rhododendron forest. Through the bear infested trail, our destination of the day is an alpine meadow called Semartoli. A good 6 hour trek from Bhyundar will take us to Semartoli passing through Gairgilla.
Day four - Samartoli – Dang Kharak (3400m)- Raj Kharak (3900m)– 5-6 Hrs Trek.
The entire trail of the day is laden with various wild alpine flowers. Starting from Samartoli we first pass through Dang Kharak before we get to the final destination of the day at Raj Kharak. The trail opens up a bit after Samartoli and is mainly flat with rocky patches. The widened valley allows us to see the denuded ridges of Dhank Kharak glacier in the distance.
During the grazing season we can encounter a lot of local sephereds with their livestock, going towards Dang Kharak and Rak Kharak for grazing. To reach Dang Kharak we have to cross a stream below and walk over the scree in order to reach snout of the glacier, this part can be a bit tricky to walk on due to scree. After a good steep climb to reach Dang Kharak, we will be calling it a day at Raj Kharak.
Day five - Raj Kharak – Kankul Khal (4960m) - Kagbhusandi Tal (4730m) – 7-8 Hrs. Trek.
All the snow clad peaks will be shining too with us, as this is the most important and exciting day of the whole trek. Today we start from Raj kharak and cross over Kankul Khal and get to the all beautiful and holy Kagbhusandi Tal. From the campsite we can see the bounding ridge line of Kankul Khal, towards the south of the campsite notice a little depression on the ridge line that is the Kankul Khal.
In the start the trail is on a wide flat green valley and beautiful meadows with wild alpine flowers but soon it goes up in narrow paths. The narrow and tough paths can surely be taxing both physically and mentally but the stunning views of Neelkanth, Hathi Parvat, Ghodi Parvat, Chaukhamba and Nar-Narayan Peaks will be there to keep us motivated along with excitement of seeing Kagbhusandi Tal. The trail leading to the pass can be a bit confusing especially after fresh snowfall or rare rain.
Passing through boulders the descent from the pass on the other side (towards Kagbhusandi Tal) is also confusing, we will be walking on mountain floor laden with all kind of alpine flowers, Brahma kamal, Myriad, Fen kamal and many more flowers. After some boulder-hopping we will reach a point from where we can see the hidden emerald jewel - Kagbhusandi Tal. We will be camping here for the night.
Day six - Reserve Day
Kept as reserved day.
Day seven - Kagbhusandi Tal – Brahmahi khal (4900m) – Jhari kharak. Stay in Tents
Crossing Brahmani Khal can be the most challenging task of the entire trek because of the very steep descent on the other side of the Khal. The trail passes through scree and moraine, walking over these glacial residuals is always tricky.
Once we are down from the glacial scree, we will soon reach our campsite of Jhari Kharak.
Day eight - Start early Jhari Kharak - Faraswan Pass - Painka Road head - Vishnuprayag - (2450m) -Drive 2 hrs to Joshimath – 7 Hrs. Trek.
Today we would be crossing one more pass, Faraswan Pass, so we need to start earlier than usual. It might be a long day but not as difficult as yesterday, once over the pass we can see Painka village down below in the valley.
Painka is the road head on this side of the trail, from here we drive to Vishnu Prayag, overnight stay in a hotel at Vishnu Prayag.
Day nine - return journey
Drive to Joshimath – Haridwar. – Delhi – (480 Kms.) – 11-12 Hrs
What to Expect?

A trip graded as a Moderate takes you to high altitude regions - above 3000m / 10,0000 ft and will involve considerable altitude gain 800 ft - 1200ft over the course of the trek. Altitude will have an effect, hence one would need to be careful about Acclimatization. The guide will educate about acclimitization procdure.Moderate treks will have multiple days which involve considerable amount of ascents and descents and would require walking for more than 5 - 6 hours.
There might be a day or two of camping in relatively high altitudes above 4000m / 13,000ft. A typical trek will last around a week to ten days depending on the region and is fro those who have exposure to Himalayan treks, for people who have completed a beginner trek.
Good fitness levels are needed to enjoy these trips.Preparation of your body by doing some fitness actitivies before the trip would help. Prior trekking experience would be an added advantage.

Important Information:
Things To Carry
  • 1 pair of Shoes : Carry well broken/used Shoes with good Sole & ankle protection and that will sustain usage during the trek. Avoid wearing new shoes to avoid bite and blisters.
  • 1 Backpack : Light Weighted & approx 30 litres in volume with multiple pouches,good zip & straps.
  • Clothing & Toiletries : For your daily usage
  • 1 Jacket : Early mornings and nights can get really cold.
  • 1 Cap/hat : help in protecting your head and face from direct sunlight during treks.
  • 1 Water bottle : carry some reusable water bottles along.
  • 1 Towel : quick dry light towel.
  • 1 Head lamp / Torch : Keep it handy and use it only required.
  • 1 Personal Medical Kit : Carry few tablets such as crocin, Paracetamol, Band aid, cotton. ORS satchets. Glucose, Volini spray and crape bandage.
  • 1 Medic Kit : always pack a first-aid kit in case things go the other way.
  • 2 Batteries: Carry recharged spare batteries.
  • Gloves : Gloves that will keep your palms warm during extreme cold.
  • 1 Whistle : Whistle for signalling and use in times of distress only.
  • 1 Sun glasses : Carry tested and right one to protect from harsh Sunlight only.
  • Sleeping Bag : At times, there might be extreme cold and the camp beds might not be good enough to give you a good night’s sleep. It is better if you have your own warm sleeping bag.
  • Mobile : Use if for communication only. Check with trek coordinator of network availibility carry BSNL SIM if required.
  • 1 Poly Bags : To carry trash and wet clothes.
  • 1 ID Proof : Carry Photo ID proof DL / Voter Id/ similar.
Routes to reach
    • By Train : We recommend to Overnight train to Dehradun from Capital city of Delhi. New Delhi to Dehradun A/c special train from New Delhi is the best option. The Scheduled reaching time to Dehradun Railway station is at 5:40 am.
      Nanda Devi Express – Train No 12205 (Departure 11:50 pm: Arrival 5:40 am)
      Dehradun Express - Train No 12687 (Departure 21:10 pm: Arrival 5:00 am)
    • By Flight : Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport to reach Dehradun, located about 25 km from the city. There are daily flights from Delhi to Dehradun.
    • By Bus : Buses ply frequently from New Delhi to Dehradun from ISBT Kashmere Gate. Private buses options too are available.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What do I need to trek?
A. One must be able to hike to a minimum of 8 to 10 km without any issues, that’s all! Also, if you have any particular health problems such as respiratory problems, heart problems, one must check with the doctor regarding the hike.

Q : Is Kagbhusandi Tal suitable for Beginners ?
A: Individuals desiring to do Kagbushandi tal should be experienced trekkers, we often suggest people wishing should consider it as a high-altitude Himalayan trek and the Individuals must have prior trekking experience of trekking at High Altitude.

Q: How chilly is it?
A: It is a question of where you belong to, but in terms of Indians – it is quite freezing. The temperature in the high altitudes can even be about -5 degrees during night time. Warm clothing is a must, though it adds to the weight of your luggage.

Q: What type of food will be provided during the trip?
A: Summiters give plain vegetarian food which is not too heavy and apt for hiking. Pizza hut or Anand Bhavan will not be in the picture nor will hunting be an option. There will be enough to sustain and apt will be served when hungry.

Q: Does mountain water cause harm?
A: No. The mountain water is clean. But if you are skeptical – a mineral water can be bought.

Q: Is there a charger point for my phone during the trek?
A: The end point that you can charge during the trek is at Mana Village but depends if electricity is there during the stay.

Q: How to prepare for this trek?
A: You must try and get accustomed to walks or jogs on a daily basis.

Q: How to Reach Joshimath?
A: Private SUV vehicles ply regularly between Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun. It takes 10 hours to reach Joshimath.

Q : What does Vehicle to Joshimath cost ?
A : It would cost around Rs 5500 to Rs 6000 for one trip either way.

Q : Is Camping next to Kagbhusandi tal is allowed ?
A : No. From 2018 as per Uttarakhand High Court order (Petition No: 123/2014), one cannot camp on alpine and subalpine meadows/grasslands, locally called “Bugyal”. Therefore, the forest department has revoked the permit to camp at the lake. Starting from Sep 2018, one has a camp at least at a higher place and not close to the lake.