Chandratal is a scenic alpine lake deep in the Himalayan Range. One of the most popular ways to reach here is by undertaking a Chandratal Lake trek from the town of Manali. Hike to the valley of Chika from Manali, crossing the villages of Pirni, Hampta and Sethan on the way. The ensuing morning, walk towards the valley of Jwara, and from here keep heading forward to reach Bhalu ka Gera. Recommence the Chandratal trek from this spellbinding hibernation ground of brown bears to make a tough ascent to Hampta Pass. From the mountain pass, negotiate a demanding and swift descent to arrive at the valley of Shea Goru to camp at night.
Upon restarting the trek to Chandratal Lake at dawn, hike towards Chota Dara and cross Chatru en route. In the morning, walk along the sparkling Chandra River to reach a point from where the Bara Shigri Glacier is visible. Reach Batal after capturing the glacier in your camera, and the following morning walk towards Kunzum La. The next section of this Chandratal Lake trekking excursion involves walking to the alpine lake and camping near it. Recommence the trip from the lake in the morning, and travel to Tokpo Yongma for an overnight stay. From here, move on to Tokpo Gongma – a meadow – to camp. At dawn, reach Rohtang Pass on foot, and cross Baralacha La and Darcha on the way. From Rohtang Pass, board your vehicles and drive to Manali to end the expedition.
Day 01: Manali to Pirni | Pirni to Chika (10170 feet/6 hours)
Start your Chandratal Lake trek from Manali in the morning, and follow the Beas River upstream towards the village of Pirni. After walking for about 3 hours from the hill station, reach the Hampta village, followed by the village of Sethan. Keep walking through forests of Pindrow firs and deodars for approximately 45 minutes to reach a place, called Pandu Ropa.
The trail from here leads uphill through a meadow covered with wild flowers. Keep on the path for around an hour to finally reach the campsite of Chika. It is a scenic high altitude valley, totally bereft of trees and covered entirely by velvety grass. On reaching Chika, transfer to the camps and rest.
Day 02: Chika to Jwara (10820 feet) | Jwara to Bhalu Ka Gera (12140 feet) 5-6 hours
Restart the Chandratal trek at dawn and head towards Jwara. Commence hiking uphill along the left bank of the Hampta rivulet, and negotiate a rather rocky and rough landscape. The path now meanders through a pristine forest of silver birches and rhododendron flowers. Come out of the rhododendron and birch forest by following this trail, and then move further towards a waterfall.
Later, cross a hissing mountain river by walking on it, and then reach the mesmerising valley of Jwara. Look at gently sloping mountains contrast the almost-vertical cliffs; and at lush grasses, grazing sheep, boulders and snow. Continue the expedition by walking along another stream on a flower-covered track. Cross the tree line, and hike up a mountain slope to reach Bhalu ka Gera, your camping ground for the night.
It is an almost-flat expanse of lush grasslands, surrounded by unassailable mountains on all sides. Its name comes from the belief that in winters, brown bears come here from higher elevations to hibernate. A stream flows through this valley, the sound of which will surely keep you refreshed. Transfer to the camps after arriving here for an overnight stay.
Day 03: Bhalu Ka Gera to Hampta Pass (14100 feet) | Hampta Pass to Shea Goru (13120 feet | 7 hours)
This is a rather long stretch of the trek to Chandratal Lake as it will make you walk for about 7 hours. The initial section of this phase of the tour is easy as the path will be flat for a while. Walk upstream along a river for about an hour to reach the base of a mountain, and then prepare for the actual ascent. Post climbing for around one hour, reach a high plateau, and then atop another. Keep ascending to arrive atop a long and flat ridge, after which a climb has to be accomplished to reach yet another such landform.
Now begins the toughest ascent yet that will finally take you to the summit of the enchanting Hampta Pass. It is a vast and flat valley, surrounded by high mountains on all sides and covered with grass in summers. Rocks and numerous river streams are scattered across the valley floor.
The following leg of this excursion may be easy or tough, depending upon your hiking expertise. Negotiate a descent through almost-straight slopes on the way to Shea Goru. Post the downhill walk, reach a picturesque valley, and tread on its flat floor to reach Shea Goru, where a river flows. On reaching here, head straight to the camps to stay overnight.
Day 04: Shea Goru to Chatru (10990 feet) | Chatru to Chota Dara (12470 feet) 6-7 hours
On recommencing the Chandratal Lake trekking tour from Shea Goru walk for about 5 hours towards Chatru. Descend the slopes to reach the valley of the Chandra River. Keep heading forward along the stream to reach a motorable road. Cross this highway to reach the mountains on the other side, and following an on-foot journey of around 17 km, reach Chota Dara to camp at night.
Day 05: Chota Dara to Batal (13000 feet)
Keep treading along the right bank of the Chandra River, and after sometime, feast your eyes with the sight of the Bara Shigri Glacier. Post looking at this river of ice, the largest in Himachal Pradesh, move on towards Batal. On arriving in Batal, transfer to the campsite to rest.
Day 06: Batal to Kunzum La (15060 feet/2 hours) Kunzum La to Chandratal Lake (14010 feet/4-5 hours)
Another long leg of the Chandratal Lake trek begins in the morning that will involve walking for about 7 hours. Cross a river via a bridge a little further from Batal, and then begin the treacherous climb to the summit of Kunzum La mountain pass. From atop the pass, look far and wide into the barren, yet bewitching Spiti Valley. Cross numerous meadows and glaciers on the way to Chandratal, which is approximately 8 km from the pass. On reaching the lake, take a look around, explore the area more, click photos and then set up camps to stay overnight.
Day 07: Chandratal to Tokpo Yongma (15220 feet/7 hours)
Begin yet another phase of this Chandratal trek that will involve making regular ascents and descents. Post this alternating series of hiking uphill and downhill, make a final descent to reach the floor of a rivulet. Cross the stream, and find the campsite on the other side for an overnight stay.
Day 08: Tokpo Yongma to Tokpo Gongma (15255 feet/6-7 hours)
This phase of the trek to Chandratal Lake is again long as it too requires hiking for approximately 7 hours. Walk on a narrow valley, surrounded by snow-bound mountains. Further ahead, cross a river to reach a grassy area to set up camps, and then stay overnight here.
Day 09: Tokpo Gongma – Baralacha La (16040 feet) – Darcha (11020 feet) – Rohtang Pass (13060 feet) – Manali (14 hours)
Begin the last section of this Chadratal Lake trekking expedition by walking for about 4-5 hours to reach Baralacha La mountain pass. Look at the views from atop here, and then continue towards Darcha. From Darcha, ascend the mountain slopes to reach the famous Rohtang Pass. Post appreciating the scenery here, board the vehicles and travel to the hill station of Manali by road.
Duration: 8 Nights/ 9 Days
Region: Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Maximum Altitude: 16040 feet
WHAT TO CARRY?
1. Windproof Jackets (heavy / feather if you are coming before June and after October)
2. Pullovers / Sweatshirts
3. Warmers / Thermals
4. Woolen caps, gloves and socks
5. Raincoat (not necessary – but good to have one)
6. Waterproof / snow-proof trekking shoes
7. An extra pair of shoes
8. Sleeping bag (if you are trekking on your own)
10. Personal Medicines
11. Water bottle
12. A flashlight
13. Solar chargers / Power banks
14. Lip balm
17. Inhalers (if you suffer from asthma)
1. Freshly cooked delicious multi-cuisine breakfast, lunch and dinner
2. All camping equipment including state-of-the-art high altitude sleeping bags, waterproof tents, comfortable trek mattresses, kitchen tents, dining tents and toilet tent
3. Camping accommodation as per the program with all meals during the treks
4. Mule drivers and mules during the Spiti Valley trek
5. Highly knowledgeable and experienced English-speaking local guides
6. Service of cook, attendants and porters if required
7. Transfers in a comfortable and safe car as per itinerary
8. Reliable English-speaking local driver adept at driving on Spiti's terrain
1. Anything that is not mentioned in the Inclusions section
2. 9.0% Government service tax
3. Travel/ medical insurance
4. Train/ airfare