"The Moon Lake Trek" (Chandertal)
Over the Baralacha, La via Hampta Pass
Region: Manali, Hamta pass, Chandratal, Baralacha-La, and Lahaul valley.
Season: July to Mid September.
Max. altitude: 4830m.
No. of days: 11 days.
High passes: ‘Over 03 stages Hamta pass, Rohtang and Baralacha-la.
Transport: Baralacha- La/ Jispa and Jispa/ Manali.
Gradient: In the beginning its about three hours walk up to Hamta/ Setan and one gets acclimatized easily generally easy trek except river crossing. Difficulties are not there, of course ups and downs.
Grading: A reasonable degree of physical fitness is needed for this trek and a one-day acclimatization at Manali is recommended.
Special interest: Excellent view for photographers, ideal place for nature lovers, best spot for adventure lover and Buddhism culture in Lahaul.
The name Manali is derived from the world ‘Manualaya' meaning ‘Home of Manu' (The power giver), the saint who gave the world the written laws for the first time.
Manali is located in the upper Kullu valley, at an altitude of 6000ft. (2050m.), and is one of the most popular tourist resorts in Himachal Pradesh. The place is famous center for adventure sports like Skiing, Heli-Skiing, Para-gliding, River-rafting, Trekking and Mountaineering. Manali is also a launching pad for treks and expeditions in Dhauladhar range, Pir Panjal range, Lahaul, Zanskar and Ladakh regions.
Lahaul & Spiti:
The Lahaul&Spiti valleys from a unique socio-physical unit of Himachal Pradesh. These rugged valleys lie at a height of (3000to 4800m.) above sea level.
Spiti is a cold mountain desert, located on the Tibetan border and flanked on the southeast by district of Kinnaur, north -east by Tibet, north by Ladakh, west by Lahaul and to the south by district of Kullu.
One of the most delightful treks in the Manali region affording views of lush green valleys, towering snow clad mountains and barren hills with surrealistic forms and shapes. Excellent for the trekker who is reasonably fit. Leaving the Manali valley, the trek proceeds through evergreen cool forests of walnut, oak and the occasional alder. The views of the entire Kullu valley are excellent and are glimpsed all along the trail. Once atop the Hamta Pass (4270m.), another spectacular panorama of peaks appears. The Chandertal is a jewel of a lake so breathtaking in its beauty that one feels like spending an eternity here. Then it is into the Lahaul valley where barren towering mountains rise above lush green fields of potato and barley and the presence of Buddhist culture seems evident. An unforgettable trek, known to very few trekkers and foreigners.
Day to day description:
Day 01: Manali/Prini - Panduropa/Setan (2700 m) 4 hours. Trek to camp with 2hrs.on the steepest section at the start, through apple orchards and forest of blue pine, cedar, oak, fir and chestnut. A small hamlet Hamta has a very interesting history. They say that a person who dies has to go through Hamta.The people live there say they have heard some sort of noise of crying and a sounds of trumpet. The noise of crying shows that a person is going to the hell and trumpet means the person is going to the heaven. It is there because Mount Inderkilla is known as a heaven and a hell. On the way to Panduropa before Setan is a potato farm which is one of the largest farm in Himachal. The Setan village is occupied by a horse people's community those who came from Spiti & Kinnaur many years ago, known as a Khampas (gypsy community) and we finally reach the campsite Panduropa amidst Silver fir trees.
Day 02: Panduropa/Setan - Juara (3530m) 5 hours trek through landscape to just below the Hamta Pass situated on a grassy bank sloping down from the cliffs. The impressive grandeur of immediate surroundings, the nearness of the Tokru-Shakru peaks the wonderful coloring of rock and mountainside. A river Alain Nullah follows Chikka and its snout is Hamta Pass which one has to cross it thrice a time to come across along the cliff side till one finally reaches Chikka. Panduropa means paddy fields of Pandavas. The trek from Panduropa is full of cliff cascading splashes over which attracts a lot of foreign trekkers from all over the world.
Day 03: Juara - Shea Gahru (3200m.) 6hrs.over Hamta Pass (4270m.). The trail now begins to ascend towards the mighty Hamta Pass (4270m.) and one can have close views of Deo Tibba and fabled Indrasan peaks. After that it is all the way descend down in a zigzag right to the campsite Shea Gahru. Shea Gahro means a very cold place because it is very adjacent to the glacier snout. During summer it's a grazing pasture or halting place for the Shepard's to enter in the Kullu and Lahaul valley.
Day 04: Shea Gahru - Chhatru (3360m.) 3hrs.Today's walk is quite easy along the river up to the rock point, which is hard to cross in the rainy season. Some time you can find a bridge at rock point mainly during the winter bridge usually blown off by the avalanche. And at one point one has to cross the river physically at the forded place. Once you close to the crossing point and one can see the distant valleys of Lahaul and Spiti come into view. The massive mountains of the Pir Panjal and Spiti ranges dominate the entire landscape till the campsite at Chhatru. Chhatru is a confluence point via Rohtang Pass, Hamta Pass and Spiti. Camp overnight at Chhatru.
Day 05: Chhatru - Chhotadara (3740m.) 5hrs. The trail today winds through a narrow valley along the roadside. The terrain becomes more rugged and the colours more spectacular. All along the rail (which is actually an unmetalled road) the river Chandra keeps one company as it roars along to join the Bhaga at Tandi near Keylong.
Day 06: Chhotadara - Batal (3960m.) 6hrs. Today, the same trail along the unmetalled road leads t other tiny hamlet of Batal. From here, there is a bifurcation: one road leads over the Kunzum La into the Spiti valley, while the other one goes on towards the enchanting lake of the Moon; Chandratal). On the way, glimpses of the Bara Shigri glacier provide one with the enormous scales that the western Himalayan glaciers are made of. This particular glacier extends over 12kms. Camp overnight at Batal.
Day 07: Batal - Chandratal (The Lake of moon 4270m) 4hrs. A pleasant walk along the Chandra River where green pasture and a Shepard's hut can be seen. The trail proceeds over the rubble-strewn plateau, crosses a small stream and continues traversing the upward slope. The track is almost level, with a few ups and downs and the Chandra-Tal appears. A majestic serene lake surrounded by the mighty Himalayan peaks. A vast meadows, is the camping site on the banks of the enchanting lake. During springtime, it is carpeted with hundreds of kinds of wild flowers. Overnight in camp.
Day 08: Chandratal - Tokpoyongma (4320m.) 7hrs.gradual walk and the trail ahead rises and falls several times, but mostly stays beside the river. Approaching Tokpoyongma, the trail ascends from the mountainside, crosses a stream. At near the Tokpoyongma before the campsite one river has to be forded/negotiate either ford the Tokpoyongma or cross it by a snow bridge some 15 minutes up stream. Finally reaches campsite and overnight at camp.
Day 09: Tokpoyongma - Tokpogongma(4640m) 5hrs.Start early in the morning because most mountain streams are low in the morning .The later part of the day generally makes the stream swell, making crossing almost impossible. There are two trails to ford the river but one has to go up stream to negotiate the snow bridge is almost one-hour walk quite tiresome. Once you cross then one has to ascent steeply across the rock face. Mules do not cross the snow bridge because the trail traverses a slippery rock face which animals cant negotiate it .In the beginning trail is almost gradual in the rises and falls plateau. After crossing a river it is ten minutes ascends to the top the hillock and reaches campsite Tokpogongma.Overnight in camp.
Day 10: Tokpogongma - Baralacha-La (4833m.) Jispa (3142m.) 6hrs. In the beginning its half an hour steep ascends in a zigzag way to the top of the ridge. After the ridge trail proceeds through the big boulders leads over the plateau with a good view of the KR (Koa Range) peaks to the sw. Approaching gradually through the green meadow and a breathtaking view on the plateau a very long walk seems to be tiring but enchanting mountains keeps the physically fresh and mentally too. Before reaching the Baralacha-La one has to cross a stream then after again easy walk right up to the Baralacha-La. Baralachala means summit with cross roads from Spiti, Ladakh, Zanskar and Lahaul meet here and in ancient times it was part of a trade route. On the North West lies the Bhaga River while the Chandra flows South East. Near below the Baralacha-la is having a beautiful emerald lake the Suraj tal (Sun lake), the source of the river Bhaga. And same day catch a jeep to Jispa, Zingzing bar, Patseo, Deepak tal a small mountain tarn along the road, Darcha and finally Jispa. Overnight at Jispa in camp.
Darcha (3400m.) is also a launching pad for treks and expeditions in Lahaul, Zanskar and Ladakh regions.
Jispa: It has new monastery on the left bank of river Bhaga, built to commemorate the auspicious 18th Kalachakra initiation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in July 1994.
Day 11: Jispa - Manali 7hrs. Drive via Keylong, Tandi, and Khokhsar and over Rohtang Pass to Manali. Keylong is the district headquarters of Lahaul & spiti region and is surrounded by the Kardang monastery just above the other side of the Bhaga River. The villages are skirted with fields of Potato, Barley, and Kuth (Buck Wheat). The trees along the road are mainly poplar and willow. The landscape changes dramatically, as the barren hillsides are replaced by the lush green hillsides of the Kullu valley. At the top of the Rohtang pass one can have a luminous vale of the Manali valley all the way down to Manali. Overnight in hotel at Manali.Trek concluded.
Day 12: Departure - Delhi by Air or Bus/Jeep.