5 Days 4 Nights
At an altitude of 14,010 feet, Hampta Pass is one of the most stunning trekking options that Himachal Pradesh has to offer. Although it has a comparatively moderate level of difficulty, Hampta Pass trek is a fantastic opportunity for amateurs and veterans alike. It is bound to captivate the trekkers with its alluring landscapes and spectacular vistas. Dense pinewood forests, endless green meadows, rustling mountain streams, vibrant wildflowers, daunting mountains, beautiful valleys, serene lakes, and pools – the entire trail of Hampta Pass trek is dotted with everything you can dream of to witness on a trek.
Landscapes change vividly every few hours of walking on the Hampta Pass trekking trail. The lack of any treacherousness in the trail is compensated by the abundance of natural beauty, which will take you by surprise at every twist and turn of the trek that spans over 5 days. It begins with a drive from Manali to the basecamp of the trek, Jobra. From there, the incredible journey on foot begins.
True to its promise, the trek will first take you on a voyage through some of the most beautiful sweeps of nature’s endless bounty that Himachal has to offer. The zestful forests of pines, maples, and birches on the way from Jobra to Chika, the vast green meadows catering to mountain cattle and bright, colourful rhododendrons and other wildflowers en route to Balu ka Ghera, the rocky cliffs and shallow lakes that pave the road to Hampta Pass, and finally the haunting panorama of Pirpanjal from the gateway to the pass – the whole trail is nothing short of a soulful odyssey.
At the topmost point, it seems like the Himalayas have opened up their deepest secrets for the trekkers to peek into. The breathtaking views of the mountains, gliding down into the abyss of melancholic valleys and rising into the sky with snowy white peaks, reflecting the sun unabashedly, is quite a well-deserved and hard-earned reward for making the easy but exhausting trek. But the journey is yet not over. The dynamic experience continues during the descent to Shea Goru. Here you will find the most difficult part of the trek – a steep downhill walk along narrow, rocky pathways.
The last treat for the eyes and the spirit on this trek is Lake Chandratal, nestled between lofty peaks of the Pirpanjal at a height of 4,250 metres. But before that, a chilling encounter with a mountain stream awaits you – quite literally. Before you make your way to Chhatru, your last campsite for the trek, a small stream by the campsite of Shea Goru needs to be crossed early in the morning, when the water is low and currents are weak. A simpler walk through pastures and rocky paths take you to Chhatru, where vehicular access is restored.
The drive to Lake Chandratal is as stunning as the lake itself. How the crescent-shaped mass of sparkling water will look to you depends on the time of the day you visit it. During day time, it reflects the turquoise blue of the sky, while dusk paints it with a shade of deep emerald. Upon nightfall, it turns glistening black. Here too, you can get the opportunity to see local shepherds graze their herds, in the lush greens dotted with wildflowers that surround Lake Chandratal.
We will begin from Manali in the morning after briefing about the trek. Timing for arriving in Manali will be coordinated to you by mail as you make booking for the trek. From here transportation will be arranged by us, and the vehicle will take you tfrom here The drive from Manali will take around 2 hrs/ 16 kms and curls around the 42 hairpin bends each bend marked with the number. it's an easy trek to the Chika campsite on the banks of Rani Nallah, a 2 km trek that walks you into a mixed forest of pine, green maple and birch trees .
The trek today begins from Chika and takes you through grasslands and rocky paths, after crossing few streams to the next site. Carry enough drinking water along with you and keep yourself hydrated. The picturesque views starts from the beginning of the day. The trail leads from the grasslands which as simple grazing grounds in the pre-monsoon season but in the post monsoon, these grasslands are covered all over with beautiful colorful wildflowers. This mesmerizing beauty made me wonder, when this unrecognized place has this immense beauty, one day I will surely visit the valley of flowers, so to actually identify, what level of beauty does it take to get an international recognition.
At Chika, This point is itself a great view point, as you look behind you find the Rani Nallah dividing into small streams along a green endless pasture, you just walked through. To the opposite side of the river from your viewpoint, the vegetation includes dwarf Rhododendrons and Birch trees exactly contrary to what you find on your side, and what is that? It's nothing, just simple grasslands and that too not enough to serve as grazing fields for cattle herds. The trail further leads you through boulders and you encounter a small stream of about 10 ft, with ice cold water and current enough to disturb your balance. Take precautions while crossing the stream, remove your shoes, cause getting yourself wet may ruin your further days .
The trail will last about an hour walk with gradual ascent, initially walking through a path the meadows and than leading you to path carved between the boulder, and lifts you up to the beginning of the flat trail to Balu ka Ghera. Balu means sand, and gives you a clear identification to your destination. It's a flat plane composed of sand brought down by this stream Rani nalla. The gushing sound of the river also follows along the trail as we ascend but as the slope decreases the gushing also dampens. The trail further walks in to the flat area, covered with sand depositions, and you realize that you are not far away from your destination. The flat area is surrounded by sky high rocky cliff and at a number of random waterfalls arising from them as many of these cliffs are covered with snow and remain the same throughout the year. An Half hour walk further lead you to your campsite. The campsite is beautiful and has a number of small streams which further sum up to form the Rani nallah stream. The site is surrounded from three sides by high cliffs, among which one will be your path for tomorrow's trek. The fourth side is your route you crossed till now and far away on this side you can see the Bandarpunch peak of the Dhauladhar Range.
The ascent from Balu ka ghera is the most serious incline you face in the entire trek. Today's trek is the final ascent to Hampta Pass; but that's not all, the descent further to Shea ghoru is itself a challenging task.Before leaving the campsite carry sufficient drinking water, cause in this final ascent to 4270 meters you don't want to get yourself dehydrated and spoil the trek to summit. So, keep drinking enough water throughout the ascent. Also, for the inexperienced trekkers, walk at a constant pace and don't exhaust yourself. Take rest at equal intervals and replenish your body with water and other snacks like dry fruits etc., take rest on something like walking poles, don't sit as it makes difficult to start again. On descending down from the Pass, be careful. Take firm steps, make grip, because falling here spoils the fun of crossing the Pass. Also the path is carved on scree and that makes your fall, a rough one.
The initial walk starts with a gradually increasing slope, and takes you into a flat area that looks like a widespread beautiful lake, exactly not a lake and not even half a foot deep but you need circle around the field to cross it. The slope, now onwards is a tough one, pre-monsoon it a snow stretch up to the Pass, itself. The steep snow makes the route a little adventurous. Post monsoon, the route trails through a rocky path. Between the the Pass and these rocky steep incline, you encounter two ridges which are steep and you gain altitude rapidly as compared to your earlier ascents. Crossing these ridges takes you to U-turn to the left from the second ridge and this is your gateway to The Hampta Pass. Reaching the Pass is a rewarding feeling. The panoramic view of several sky high snow clad peaks mesmerizes you. The snow clad Mt Indrasan peak standing tall justifies the true meaning of it's name, 'the throne of the rain god'. Just behind it, stands mighty " Dev Tibba ", the gods abode. From here, trace the route you came along and you will realize your potential, this accomplishment surely doesn't fills your pocket but it surely boosts your determination power and confidence. And now once you realize your potential, this experience will surely benefit you in facing the big mountain sized challenges that you face in your carriers and life.
At the Pass, stay and relax for a while, but do not take long, leave the place and descent. It is advised to avoid the stay for too long at the summit points, as sudden weather changes are usual at this height, and in case of fog and rain, the route becomes difficult. The descent from the Pass is a difficult one, carved on scree and needs to be negotiated carefully. It is seen that most of the accidents happen at the time of descending as this is the time when a person is least careful. So, take care and walk by firm steps. Also take care, to not make any rock fall by your carelessness as it might hit and cause someone a serious injury, also keep yourself from the same if you at the lower end. With the required precautions, we walk safely to our next campsite, Shea Ghoru. It's the coldest place in your trek so keep yourself packed, the name Shea Ghoru itself means? the coldest place? in local dialect. It's a levelled pasture surrounded by huge rocky cliffs, with a stream flowing next your campsite. You need to cross this ice chilled water stream tomorrow in the morning, as at that time the water current will be weak.
The trek starts a little early for the day, cause after reaching our campsite which is not more than 2-3 hours from here. We utilize the way by taking a sightseeing road trip to The Chandrataal lake. Today's trail is a simple descent up to Chatru, last campsite nearby the road connecting Manali to Kaza. But the start of the day, includes all the fun. The stream flowing by your campsite, which added beauty to the boring campsite otherwise. This stream need to be crossed, in this chilling hour. It is advisable to cross the river in the early hours of the day, as at this time the water level is low, as the low temp in the night prevents the ice from melting. Hence, low water level and also weak water current makes the morning hours the best time to cross a stream. Ice chill water cannot be avoided, though it does no harm and add one more thrilling experience to your trek memories.
The trek, further, after crossing the river is simple path carved in grasslands and further along some boulders. At the end, there is a little steep descent, but this time it's a piece of cake for you as you crossed the tougher one earlier while descending from the Pass. Further, crossing a small stream, across a small bridge, be careful here, it's a weak one so cross one person at a time. And then plane tour along the Chandrabhaga river lands you to your last campsite, Chatru. Take rest and refresh yourself, as after that we leave for the sight-seeing to the Chandratal lake and return in the evening. After returning from the lake, we will halt at the Chatru campsite for the night.
Next day, after morning breakfast at Chatru campsite, transportation will be arranged for trekkers accordingly and we will bid our goodbye to marvellous Spiti Valley and head back to Manali which is a 4-5 hours drive from Chatru. We will have a halt at any midpoint for lunch (exclusive of trek cost). Once we reach Manali, trekkers can make their further travel accordingly.