This year January, me and my husband decided to have a different experience for a vacation; and that was how we had planned our first trek, Trek to Kuari Pass at an elevation of ~12500 feet. It turned out to be amazing and thus the next one had to be an another trek to Himalayas.I am going to keep this very crisp with some beautiful images from the trek in between. So let's begin:
Why "Hampta Pass":
Situated at an elevation of about 14280 feet, Hampta is one such trek that will give you all kinds of terrains in Himalayan valley. You get to see lush green & vast meadows, snow covered mountains, forests surrounded by huge trees, rocky paths, the beautiful Chandratal lake and the Beas and the Chenab rivers flowing all along the way. This is one of the most challenging but beautiful treks of Himachal Pradesh. If you are willing to cover the best parts of Himachal Pradesh and are ready to explore your limits, this is a must trek for you.
Highlights of each day:
Day 1: Campsite at a really pleasant location, next to a flowing river and surrounded by beautiful mountains. Very manageable temperature in regular clothes.
Day 2: Crossing of a river. You will have to remove your shoes. Temperature of the water is somewhere around 4-5 degrees. Again a beautiful campsite, i.e. Balu ka Ghera, next to a flowing river and you would be closer to snow for the first time. Our entire trek group went for a walk around and also kind of had a little picnic kinda fun on one of the mountains covered with hard snow.
Day 3: Trek to Hampta Pass. The most rigorous & demanding day with stunning views. Snow covered mountains to be hiked. You climb around 2000 feet at once in a day and in the second half you will descend on rocky mountains (the toughest part of the trek) and you get to slide one of the mountains at the end for quicker descend. Also you will be given crampons to walk over the snow.
Day 4: Crossing of a river with freezing cold (2 degrees) water. Crossing of a Glacier at steep angles - you can see the heavily flowing river downwards. Again you will have crampons for your support. If you are lucky, you will be taken to Chandratal lake via a 4 wheeler from your campsite, but we got stuck due to 2 sudden major landslides.The campsite was a pretty famous destination of HP i.e. Spiti Valley.
Day 5: For us, crossing of water flooded roads (due to the landslides and melting of glaciers). Rohtang Pass! And the trip back to Manali through the cloudy roads.
Hampta Pass trek opens in the month of June and continues until September. During the initial days of June Chandratal lake is closed, however post mid June it's open to visitors. We did this trek in the last week of June and we could witness all sorts of landscapes. We were lucky with the weather, such that although it used to rain heavily during the night hours, during the day time of trekking it never rained enough to hinder our steps. Otherwise, I wonder how could we have descended on those rocky mountains avoiding falls. :O
Our last trek was via Trek The Himalayas and it was a pleasant experience throughout. This time due to rigidness of the dates, we had to go with Renok Adventures. Although the trek was mesmerizing, their services turned out to be huge cause of disappointment throughout for many of us. So, I would personally not recommend going with Renok and instead you can go with TTH or India Hikes. For any details about Renok, please comment below or message me personally.
What to Carry:
Now this is a very important thing to keep in mind, while packing and loading stuff for this trek. We made a mistake of over-carrying stuff that we dint need at all and which added to the burden on our shoulders at the same time caused us the constant space management issues - which is anyways one of the things you learn to plan, as you trek more and more. Hampta valley in last week of June is not that cold rather it is simply windy. So instead of carrying too many layers of warm clothing, make sure to carry wind cheaters + rain coats. The other very important thing which one should consider in this trek are the shoes that you are wearing. On most experienced people's recommendations who have been to Hampta and based on a lot of research done by my husband (Btw he is really good at it ;)), we'd bought Quechua Forclaz 500 high (cost - 6k) for this trek and they were totally-totally worth it. In fact the shoes proved out to be our biggest saviors on days involving more excursion. You have to step on rocky terrains and walk on river stones a lot of times during this trek. Your shoes will be your best friend in this trek and if you fail to carry good ones, be ready to walk in wet shoes and the weather won't be in a mood to let them get dried. So here's my quick must have list:
- Windcheater & Raincoat/Poncho
- Forclaz 500 High shoes
- Suncap (It's sunny during daytime and you mostly would be walking around 12:00PM)
- Hiking Pole (This will take care of your knees while descending..Also make sure to follow their exercise regimen to avoid random fatigues or injuries)
- Woolen cap (To cover your head & ears while hiking to higher altitudes)
- Quick dry track Pants - to save yourself from staying cold longer
- Socks (Even cotton socks would do.You might need Woolen socks for the day, you are going to hike the peak/pass)
- A very good sunscreen (SPF 30 or more and make sure to reapply it every few hours). Please don't ignore this..Me, my husband and my brother - all 3 of us got tanned badly on the areas where we were a bit lazy and ignorant on regularly using the sunscreen. And as soon as we moved back to the city the skin started to flake. It was a slow procedure and meanwhile our skin looked quite grubby. People might wonder if you have gotten any disease or something. A good, high SPF sunscreen can save you from this embarrassment and keep your skin safe from sunburns or frostbites.
If you are traveling via Mumbai like us, you can either take a flight until Chandigarh or Delhi and then take a state transport or private bus from that place until Manali. Personally, I would advise to take State Transport buses to reach Manali. First of all they have good AC Volvo buses plying on this route and secondly but most importantly, these buses are much more punctual and less prone to any end time license issues, unlike Private tour operators have, causing delay in reaching Manali.
Hope this information helps you plan your trek better. My closing words would be - "One cannot discover new oceans unless one has the courage to lose sight of the shore." Treks have turned out to be the life altering experiences for me, have evolved me into a better person and I suggest that one must try one trek in his/her lifetime for sure! India is much more beautiful than what we may know of and Himalayas are truly the paradise where you experience the nature at its best.
Happy Planning & Happy Trekking,