It was drizzling outside and I had a hot cup of tea in my hand. To be precise it was liquor tea without sugar, something which I always prefer. I had just stepped into my friend’s house who is an avid trekker. In spite of his busy work schedule, he has somehow managed to do a couple of them in a year. On the contrary, I had never been on a full trek as such. I did just a couple of hours’ trek in Italy but nothing serious in my own country.
My friend has been poking me for a long now and he is now determined to send me to a short trek just to get the hang of it. He is sure that after my first trek I will surely be addicted as he knew my passion for travel and photography.
According to him the best way to start loving trekking would be to start with something doable something which will not be difficult for a first timer and something which would include ample scenery as well has varied terrains. He zeroed on Hampta Pass Trek.
As per his opinion it may not be most famous or talked about the trek in Himachal Pradesh, but it is a trek which provides you with unending variations in the route. You get to see scenic landscapes, open green meadows locally known as Bugiyals with contrasting glacial valleys. There is the experience of crossing a gurgling river with ice cold water and of course an uphill thrilling climb to the pass which is more fun when it snows. In the end, the trekker witnesses the value of Lahaul and Spiti and with some luck from the weather God can take a tour of Chandratal, the moon lake.
Things were getting interesting and to make matters much easier a round of onion pakoras had just arrived and it was time to get the full itinerary for the Hampta Pass Trek.
The base camp of the trek is at Manali in the state of Himachal Pradesh. With a timeline of around five days, the trek is rather an easy one which can be enjoyed by solo adventurers as well as groups of friends and family. The pass reached to a height of around 14,000 Feet thus very much manageable even by novice trekkers.
Most prefer to reach Manali by bus or by a private/hired vehicle from either Delhi or Chandigarh. If you want to reach by train, then the nearest major railhead is Kalka or Chandigarh. If you want to take the air route, then the nearest airport is Bhuntar Airport.
Ideally, plan to stay at least a day or two at Manali so as to soak into the natural beauty of the mountains slowly.
Manali – Jobra -Chika
The trek starts from a place called Jobra which is at around 9800 Feet. It is a two-hour drive from Manali after maneuvering over 40 hairpin bends. The campsite at Jobra is a 30 minutes’ hike from where you get down from your vehicle. However, many prefer to go a bit ahead and camp at Chika (10,000 Feet) which is somewhat more secluded than Jobra campsite. The trek is to Chika is relatively easy and takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour. The total distance to be covered on day 1 would be around 2 kilometers. Once you reach Chika you can rest for the evening in your allotted tents. Chika is very scenic with lofty snow-clad peak in the background and gushing river in the foreground.
Chika – Balu Ka Ghera
On the second day, you have to trek for a distance of around 8 and a half kilometers. However, the height gained during day two would be just around 2000 Feet (from 10,000 Feet at Chika to around 12,500 Feet). The total duration of the trek would be around 6 to 7 hours starting in the morning after breakfast with lunch on the way which would be packed and provided in the morning itself. This phase of the trek would include river crossing as well as stretch with boulders thus the scenery varies. Take it easy as the ascent is minimum remember to rest from time to time and drink enough water. It’s important to keep yourself hydrated. On the way, you will cross a small valley with multiple colored flowers near a place called Jwara.
Once you reach the campsite which is Balu ka Ghera you can just relax for the evening. You can go around the campsite and enjoy the natural beauty at its best. The place is a firm bed of sand from where you can view some snow clad peaks. With some luck, you can see the Bandarpunch peak. Remember to have a good night’s sleep and this will help you regain strength for the next day’s adventure.
Balu Ka Ghera – Hampta Pass – Shea Goru
This is the day when you actually cross Hampta Pass. After your breakfast at Balu ka Ghera, you would need to trek for around 10 to 11 hours covering a distance of around 7 kilometers. The time being taken more is due to the ascent that one needs to take in order to cross the Hampta Pass. You would be provided packed lunches at Balu ka Ghera campsite and do remember to carry enough water. Fill up at regular intervals where drinkable fresh water sources are available. Consult with your team guide for this and remember to keep hydrating yourself from time to time.
This trek phase will take you from Balu ka Ghera (11900 Feet) to Hampta Pass (14100 Feet) and finally to Shea Goru (12900 Feet). On a clear weather, the trekkers are rewarded with a Majestic view of Indrasan Peak (20,401 Feet) and Deo Tibba Peak (19687 feet). These are the two highest peak of Pir Panjal range.
Once you reach Shea Goru get into your tent and take rest this would be surely a grueling day and you need to recharge back for the trek ahead.
Shea Goru – Chatru – Chandratal
This day includes both a trek as well as a drive in a vehicle for a sightseeing. After an early breakfast, you would trek for around 5 hours to complete a 7 Kilometer trek and reach Chatru. During the course of the trek, you would descend to 11000 feet from 12900 feet. Lunch would be at Chatru camp thus you need to start as early as possible from Siagoru.
After lunch at Chatru, you would need to board a jeep which would take you to Chandratal Lake. From Chatru it’s around 30 kilometers drive to Chandratal Lake which is around 14100 Feet. On this day you will be spending the night at Chandratal Lake camp so after arriving walk around the lake and enjoy the landscape. Try your hand at night photography with the reflection of the night sky on the lake.
Chandratal – Rohtang Pass – Manali
There is no trek on this day and officially the trek ends here and you would be driven back to Manali on a Jeep after breakfast. The drive back to Manali will take you through Rohtang Pass which is well known for its beauty with all year around snow but also infamous for its long traffic jams thus start as early as possible.
Once you reach Manali you can either stay back or enjoy the surrounding sightseeing’s or head back to your home.
- Hampta Pass trek usually takes place between June to the first week of October
- Total hiking would involve around 26 kilometers
- It’s graded at Easy – Moderate thus compatible with almost all types of enthusiasts
- Travel light with a small backpack during the treks with minimum weight
- Hire porter or mules for carrying additional luggage
- Carry sufficient warm clothing’s
- Footwear should include proper comfortable trekking shoes
- Sunglasses and sunscreen is a must
- Carry rain gear also as in the event of rain there is no shelter during the long treks
- Carry your own medicines and toiletries
- Pay close attention to the group leader or instructor especially during river crossings
- Hiking pole is recommended as some portions would require some support while walking
By now the rain had stopped and I failed to realize that my mobile phone which was on silent mode ad two missed calls from my wife. It was late in the evening and ideally, I should have been back to home so she must have been enquiring about my whereabouts. I was totally charged up and had already made up my mind to complete Hampta Pass Trek this year somehow or the other. Even my friend did not mind the second round of trek to Hampta Pass so he was willing to join me in my adventure. So if everything falls according to plan then this year you are sure to get some blogs on my trek to Hampta Pass. Till then happy planning.