Everything You Need To Know About The Hampta Pass Trek
If you’ve ever been trekking in Manali, you understand why it is the most sought after destination for adventure. And it may come as no surprise that the Hampta Pass & Chandratal trek in Manali is a favorite amongst trekkers, both beginners as well as experienced. Spiralling out of the verdant Kullu valley, the trail to Hampta Pass is so diverse that each day trekkers have a different terrain to traverse.
Laden with spectacular floral colors, the trek meanders through lush forest valleys, alpine meadows, and sweeping pastures where you can also spot shepherds and their herds. Over the course of six days, you leave behind the misty greenery of Manali and make for the cold, arid deserts of Lahaul and Spiti. The shift in the scenery is unmissable, almost dramatic.
The trek starts from the popular hill station of Manali and crosses over into the desert landscape of Lahaul & Spiti. During monsoon is when the Hampta Pass trek weather is most favorable. The snow cover has almost melted, revealing a lush green carpet that harbours a wide range of beautiful floral species. When it rains, you can see the rain clouds chasing each other over the mountains, occasionally draping a veil of mist over the peaks.
This incredible shift of scenery is also felt at different campsites every day. Take the near-barren hills guarding the Shea Goru campsite, for instance, and then compare it to the lush greenery of the meadows at Jwara. There are few other beginner-friendly Himalayan treks that can compare to the dynamic landscapes of the Hampta Pass trek.
Now, as far as campsites are concerned, each one on this trek is simply breathtaking, quite literally. They’re spread over different kinds of terrains, and you can’t help but marvel at the unwavering beauty of the Himalayas. One of them skirts a beautiful forest, the other spans an alpine meadow, another rests over a river delta, and one more by a desert oasis!
Even if you aren’t a pro photographer, you can rest assured that the trek from Hampta Pass to Chandratal Lake will leave you with postcard-worthy photos.
In addition to such dramatic campsites and terrains, the trek to Hampta Pass essentially entails traversing a high-altitude mountain pass reigning at an altitude of 14,035 ft. above sea level. The climb up to the Hampta Pass does require an awful lot of stamina, but once you’ve set foot atop the pass, everything else pales in comparison to the sheer grandeur of the mountains. Seemingly continuous mountain ranges surrounding you, while the cold Himalayan wind washes over you. The view from the pass is jaw-dropping, and brings you down on your knees.
Once you’ve recovered, though, you (reluctantly) begin heading towards the cold desert of Spiti valley. You think that’s it, right? You’ve crossed the pass, and now there’s nothing much to look forward to now? Eh, wrong! The trek officially ends with an excursion to the landmark lake of Chandratal in Spiti, right below Kunzum Pass. If you’ve ever been to Chandratal before, you know how enchanting the clear blue waters of the lake, how magnetic they are. If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat!
The Trek at a Glance:
The Hampta Pass trek distance is approximately 30 – 35 km
On the first day of the trek, you drive all the way up to Jobra from Manali. Jobra is the beautiful base camp for the Hampta Pass trek, and carries some of the most stunning views of the surrounding valleys. From Jobra, a half hour’s trek will bring you to the first campsite of your trek.
On the second day, you make for the campsite at Jwara via Chika. A fairly moderate trail, lasting for about 6 hours. Right before you enter Jwara, the trail is broken by a river that needs to be crossed. The river is gushing, and looks intimidating to cross. When you enter the river, you’re knee-deep in icy cold water, and there are little rocks and pebbles under your feet. It is best that you seek a little bit of assistance while crossing. Once you reach Jwara, you’re treated to a patchwork layer of vibrant floral colours.
On the third day, you leave the beautiful campsite of Jwara, and head for Balu Ka Ghera at 12,500 ft. The trail weaves through lush meadows, and proceeds over boulders and loose rocks. From the Balu Ka Ghera campsite, you can feast your eyes on incredible views of the massive Hanuman Tibba peak against a picturesque sky.
On day four, the most important day of the trek, you make for Shea Goru via Hampta Pass. The day is quite long, and the trail is fairly steep right up to the pass. Drink in the panoramic views of the neighbouring peaks and valleys ad you get a healthy glimpse of the cold, barren landscapes of Spiti.
On the fifth day, if the weather permits, of course, it’s time to visit the beautiful Chandratal Lake before heading to Chhatru. The lake rests at a dizzying 14,100 ft., which means it is imperative that you stay well hydrated in order to keep the risks of AMS at bay. The road to the lake is very dusty, and can cause issues for asthmatic trekkers. Consult your trek leader for the same.
The best time to do the Hampta Pass trek is somewhere between the months of mid-June to October. This is ideal, for there’s very little snow to hinder your trail. This is the time when Chandratal is also accessible. We do not advise the Hampta Pass trek in May, as the snow cover is quite high.
The Hampta Pass temperature falls somewhere between 12 to 16 degrees Celsius during the day, and dips down to 0 to 3 degrees Celsius during the night. At higher altitude, the temperature may fall below zero, so carry sufficient pairs of warm clothes.
Although the Hampta Pass trek in Manali is a great pick for beginners, bear in mind that you need to be extremely fit to succeed. Not to mention, the trek goes a little above 14,000 ft., which means your aerobic endurance and stamina will be put to test.
Read here why Hampta Pass trekking is perfect for beginners.
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