Uttarakhand is a beautiful state in northern India which was once a part of Uttar Pradesh. Although 86% of this state is covered by mountains, Uttarakhand has a varied landscape which consists of high mountainous peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, meadows, grasslands and forests. While the higher elevations comprised of rocks and ice, the lower elevations are more bearable and have pine forests. It is home to various sanctuaries and national parks and natural wonders like the Valley of Flowers and the skeleton lake of Roopkund.
Uttarakhand is an ideal location for camping as it has something for everyone's liking. You can set up camp beside a lake or high up in the mountains, or in one of the beautiful meadows located at high altitudes. Camping is a beautiful activity, as one gets to be among beautiful surroundings and picturesque sights and also get a sense of life in the wild. Uttarakhand is the perfect destination for all the adventure seekers. If you are looking for a destination to spend your vacation in, take a break from the cliched tourist spots, and enjoy your holidays in nature's lap. Here is a list of enthralling places where you can set up camp.
Although a national park and a tiger reserve which is known for housing a large population of Royal Bengal Tigers in India, Corbett also provides accommodation within the Reserve. There are plenty of options to choose from according to the ecotourism zones making it one of the most popular places for Camping in Uttarakhand.
You can stay in luxurious safari-style tents amidst the Sal forests in the Sitabani forest area or next to the Ramganga river, or stay in cottage-camps in Ringoda, Dhikuli, or Mohan village. Here, you can take safaris through the tiger reserve, go on elephant safaris which allow one to explore wildlife up close and indulge in bird watching.
Located at the height of 8,200 feet, Auli is a popular tourist destination in the Chamoli district. It is situated in the Himalayas and is mostly visited by people to ski during winters when it is covered in a thick blanket of snow.
Auli is a Bugyal or a meadow which is surrounded by oak and coniferous trees and offers breathtaking of the Himalayas. You can set up camp in the vast bugyal and sleep under the starry night and wake up to a fantastic view. In the mornings, you can take hikes through the forest, trek to the nearby lush green Gurso Bugyal and the Chattrakund lake which is located in the midst of the forest. Some campers also indulge in night jungle walks, although it is advisable not to do this alone. If you are an adventure enthusiast, visit this place during winters to take part in winter activities like skiing. Auli offers one ample places to explore on your own.
Best time to visit: All year round; For winter sports, November to March
Located at the height of 8,790 feet in the Rudraprayag district, Chopta is a small unexploited area in the Himalayas which has been nicknamed as 'Mini Switzerland'. It consists of meadows and pine, deodar, and rhododendron trees and is also the starting point of many popular treks.
It is a perfect place to camp in. You can set your camp up in the green meadows and wake up to a fantastic view of Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba range. It will be a fresh breath air from city life to watch the sunrise, and the birds chirp while sitting up high in the mountains. You can sit next to a bonfire at night, take photographs, do yoga or take part in rock climbing.
Located in the Dehradun district, Rishikesh is a popular pilgrimage site. It is steeped in myths and is believed to be the site of penance for Lord Rama. It is visited by many for its holy places but is also a beautiful place to go camping in.
Being the 'Yoga Capital of the World', Rishikesh had many ashrams and is visited by many tourists. You have an option to either camp in luxurious tents or camp next to the river Ganga. While in Rishikesh, you can take part in the adventure sport of river rafting, cliff jumping, practice yoga or visit the holy sites and be a part of Ganga Aarti. One thing to remember is to not pollute the river or litter the area, as waste management has been an issue in Rishikesh camps in the past.
Best time to visit: October to November, March to April
Situated at a height of 7,999 feet, Deoria Tal is a lake which is surrounded by green forest. This is a wonderful location to camp in, as one can set up camp beside the lake with a panoramic view of the Chaukhamba, Nilkantha, Kalanag and Kedar mountain ranges.
The lake has a legend attached to it, according to which gods used to bathe in the waters of the lake. The lake is close to the Saari village and it is a perfect place from where you can gaze at nature's wonders, take photographs, go on forest trails and indulge in star watching.
Best time to visit: March to Mid June
Approximate cost: INR 500 per person for one night
Located at a height of 6,837 feet, Nainital is a town in the Nainital district. It is visited by many people from across India and is one of the most popular hill stations. The town was founded in 1841 but it is believed that this was the site where parts of Sati's body fell while she was being carried by Lord Shiva.
Nainital is also a great place to camp in. There are ample places to camp in and a multitude of activities to indulge in. Although the main town is situated around the mango shaped lake in the valley, the adventure camps are set up on the outskirts. Here, you can take parts in night treks, rock climbing, bird watching, rappelling, paragliding, sit beside the bonfire, and take photographs of the beautiful surroundings.
Dhanaulti is surrounded by deodar, oak, and rhododendron trees. You can stay in luxurious tents which are very comfortable, and adventure camps also provide you with various activities to indulge in like paragliding, rappelling, zip swing, rock climbing, and explore the nearby forest trails. It is an ideal spot to camp in, as it is serene and allows one a break from the everyday city life.
Binsar is a located on Jhandi Dhar hills and is known for its spectacular view of Kedarnath Peak, Nanda Devi, Trisul peaks, and Shivling mountaintop. It is a wonderful site to camp in, being surrounded by rhododendron and oak trees.
Binsar is also home to the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary which has a huge variety of flora and fauna. There is a multitude of adventure camps to choose from which provide you basic as well as luxurious camping options. You can pitch your tents in the jungle and go for hikes, paragliding, bird watching, valley crossing, rock climbing, and rappelling
Located in the Pithoragarh district, Chaukori is a hill station that falls in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Chaukori is situated at the height of 6,594 feet and offers enthralling views of the Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Panchachuli.
Chaukori is a small village that has recently garnered a lot of attention, and thus the tourist population going to this place has increased. Here, you can set your camp, surrounded by tea gardens and orchards, take photographs, go on hikes and witness beautiful views of sunsets and sunrises.
Dayara Bugyal is a high altitude meadow situated at the height of 11,000 feet. It a lush green meadow which is covered where you can spot shepherds grazing their cattle. It is known for having one of the best ski slopes in India which stretch up to 28 square kilometres. Dayara Bugyal is also the campsite for many treks in Uttarakhand, and there are many closeby meadows which you can explore like Siyaari, Devi Kund, and Dodital. The bugyal is surrounded by the beautiful Himalayas thus giving you an opportunity to snap a photo as a souvenir. You can also camp here in winters when the bugyal is covered in a thick blanket of snow.
Best time to visit: February to June, September to January
11. Bedni Bugyal
Bedni Bugyal is another high altitude meadow in the Chamoli district of Kumaon region. It is situated at the height of 11,004 feet and offers an unobstructed panoramic view of Trisul group of peaks and Nanda Ghunti peak. The bugyal is green with a variety of tiny colourful flowers blooming across it. You can pitch your tent beside the lake Bedini Kund and enjoy the fresh mountain air. You can go on nature walks, indulge in star gazing at night, and take photographs to your heart's content.
Bedni Bugyal is also a campsite for many treks. Therefore you will find other campers there.
Best time to visit: Mid June to November
12. Nag Tibba
Situated in the Dehradun district, Nag Tibba is a peak which is very close to Mussoorie. It is at an elevation of 9,915 feet and offers a breathtaking view of the entire Dehradun valley. You can spend one night in a tent here at the top of the peak and watch the illuminated night sky. Waking up to a spectacular view of the Bandarpoonch, Kedarnath, and Gangotri group of peaks is unlike any other experience.
You can trek up to the peak either with a group of trekkers or on your own. It is a very easy climb.
Best time to visit: April to June, October to December
Approximate cost: INR 3500 per head for two days
Located at the height of 9,921 feet, Dodital is a lake which lies in the Uttarkashi district. It is a freshwater lake and is also a visited by a lot of trekkers en route to Dwara Top.
The lake offers a magnificent view of the Bandarpoonch and Swargarohini ranges. It is named after the freshwater Himalayan trout, Dodi which is found in this lake. It is believed that Dodital was the birthplace of Lord Ganesha. You can trek up to this lake starting from Bhagirath valley, set up your camp amidst the pine and oak trees and breathe in the clean, fresh mountain air. You can also trek up to other nearby sites or sit and enjoy the beautiful campsite.
Located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Sattal, as the name suggests, is a group of seven lakes which are connected to one another. These are freshwater lakes and are situated at the height of 4,494 feet.
The Sattal area was once a tea plantation under the British colonial rule. Today, the lake is surrounded by beautiful oak and pine trees and is a perfect camping location. You can visit this lake, spend a night beside the lake, indulge in bird watching, boating, go on nature walks, hike up to the waterfall and enjoy the natural beauty.
Best time to visit: March to June, September to December
Named after a lake that isn't there anymore, Kanatal is a small village which is located close to Mussoorie. It is situated at the height of 2,590 feet and had pleasant weather throughout the year, except when it snows in winters.
Kanatal doesn't receive a crowd, and the area is less known. You can camp in this small village, take a hike through the Kodia jungle and visit the famous Surkhanda temple. Kannatal offers a beautiful view of the nearby mountain ranges which makes it an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts. Adventure camps also offer some activities to indulge in like zip lining, valley crossing, Burma bridge, and other group activities and games.
Best time to visit: April to June, October to February
Located in Nainital district, Bhimtal is a town which is most famous for the Bhimtal lake. Mostly, tourists visiting Nainital come to this town only to gaze at the lake and indulge in boating.
The Bhimtal lake is named after the legend of Bhima, one of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. There are many camping opportunities in Bhimtal and many adventure camps to choose from. Each of them offers a chance to camp in the jungle, indulge in bird watching and fishing, hiking and interact with other campers over a bonfire.
Best time to visit: March to June, September to December
Pangot is located in the Nainital district and is very close to the town of Nainital. It is situated at the height of 6,300 feet and is surrounded by oak, pine and rhododendron trees. It is a beautiful campsite and is ideal for sitting and listening to the chirping of birds.
Pangot is home to around 250 species of birds, many are indigenous to this area, making it a haven for bird watchers and photography enthusiasts. You can spot exotic species of birds like the Himalayan Griffon, Spotted and Slaty-backed Forktail, Khalij pheasant, among others. You can also indulge in many adventure activities, bike through the mountains, go on nature walks till the nearby waterfalls or photograph at the rhododendrons in full bloom. Camping amidst the natural beauty of Pangot allows one to relax and unwind, away from the hubbub of city life.
Best time to visit: March to July
Approximate cost: INR 2500 per head
18. Tons Valley
Located at the height of approximately 9,000 feet, Tons Valley is a wonderful camping spot in the Jaunsar-Bawar region of Garhwal. This is a perfect getaway with family or friends from your everyday work life. The beliefs of the people of Toms Valley are steeped in the Mahabharata, and they believe themselves to be the descendants of Kauravas and Pandavas.
While here, you can take part in activities like rafting, trekking to nearby places, hiking in the jungle, and camping amidst the pine, oak, rhododendron trees.
Best time to visit: April to October
Approximate cost: INR 6000 per head
Camping is a wonderful way to connect with nature, take a break from the fast moving city life, and spend quality time with friends, family or by yourself. The places mentioned above are some of the most enthralling campsites in Uttarakhand and must be added to your bucket list.