Witness the magic of the mountains by experiencing the Chandratal Lake Trek. This breathtakingly beautiful lake lies 14,000 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. Chandratal Lake Trek is arguably the most unmissable place in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. There is an interesting legend about this crescent shaped marvel. The Lake is where the daughter of the Moon god (Chandra) and the son of the Sun god (Bhaga) got married.
The raw untamed beauty of this lake tucked away between snowclad mountains is the stuff of dreams. But the trail that leads to the lake is what’s all-the-more exciting. You have to trek on naked rocky mountain paths to get here. It’s all worth it though. So let us share just a few things that you’ll have to know to go on the trek.
How many days does it take to trek?
This could differ if you’re going with a company that organises treks. Another factor would be where you start your trek from. Okay let us break this down for you. There are mixed combinations to these treks. People start trekking from different points and they drive till the point they want to start their trek. This is the common route from Manali though. So we’ll cover it from top to bottom and go for the ultimate Manali to Chandratal Lake Trek.
Manali – Jobra – Balu Ka Ghera – Shea Goru (Via Hampta Pass) – Chatru – Chandratal Lake
Now in this route where you start from Manali, it will take you 3-4 days to reach Chandratal Lake. The number of days would also depend on your personal pace, the weather conditions or the tour you book with. But this entire distance won’t be covered on foot. It will be a mix of driving and trekking. We will cover the details in the segment below.
Day 1: (Up to 2 hours drive, then 8 – 9 hours of trek)
Okay so first, you will have to make your way to Manali. From here, you will have to drive down to the village Jobra. We would advise booking everything in advance, including guides and tents. Preferably an entire package for your trek if it’s your first time. Better to be a part of a group in that scenario. But anywho, it will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach Jobra. Once you reach Jobra, your trek finally begins. You will be headed towards Balu Ka Ghera.
Balu Ka Ghera will be your first campsite during the entire trek. On your trail to this little village, you will be coming across really cold streams, a patch of oak trees and countless boulders. You will also come across a few colourful flowers along the way. After steadily ascending atop Jwara Nala, you will experience a river crossing. This will be a bit challenging as the flow of the river is really strong. The water will be super chilly though.
While you’re still walking, the Dhauladhar Range of mountains will be accompanying you in the background. After you cross the valley and walk for a bit, you’ll get to walk on a better and smoother terrain. Eventually, you’ll reach your first campsite at Balu Ka Ghera. A hard day’s trek means you deserve to enjoy some refreshments and relax. Enjoy the scenic campsite and rest up for day 2 of trekking.
Day 2: (8-9 hours of trek)
All set to take on higher altitude again. This is the day when you get to experience a considerable amount of highs and lows. You’ll be trekking through Hampta Pass at 14,100 feet altitude. This will definitely be challenging for anyone who hasn’t trekked before and doesn’t have good fitness levels. But the views will be motivational enough for you to keep going. Luckily though, the descent is much easier.
You will undoubtedly be greeted by fascinating sights. Such as streams of the river, colourful flowers, boulders and plateaus. They would all be making appearances in intervals though. The rough muddy and sandy hilly path also has a charm of its own though. Regardless of the season you choose to visit, it’s always cool here. Which means that it will get misty up there. Which can be a little scary when you’re walking on a ridge. So just be careful here.
You will have to take a few pauses here and there to catch a breath and admire your surroundings. The massive glacier of Indrasan Peak will be visible from Hampta pass. This is one such spot you could take a few quick minutes to just enjoy the magnificent surrounding. After descending from Hampta Pass, you will have a relatively easier trail till your next campsite at Shea Goru. The campsite will be close to the running stream. Which is as great a place as any other to rest up for the next day.
Day 3: (4-5 hours of trek, then 4-5 hours of drive)
Next stop, Chatru. This is definitely an easier day of trek compared to the previous day especially. You would be trailing past the Indrasan Glacier first. Then there will be another river crossing for you to experience here. But you’re an expert on the technique by now so it should be all the more enjoyable. We were totally fascinated by how the mountains seem to look different as we keep descending. Almost like they are changing their colours.
At this point in your trek, you would have left forests and trees behind. Once you are done getting down, you will have finished the trek part of your journey. From Chatru onwards, you will have to get on a cab to reach Chandratal Lake. It’s very very rare that anybody treks from Chatru to Chandratal Lake. It’s not only a very long distance but it’s definitely not safe for individuals to be trekking down that path.
We would strongly recommend everyone to avoid trekking from Chatru to Chandratal Lake. The drive from chatru should take another 4-5 hours. The time can differ depending on the weather conditions which could affect the road. Once the drive is over, you reach the campsite of Chandratal Lake. Do note that the lake is still about a couple of kilometers away from the campsite. So you will have to walk the rest of the distance, which will be worth it.
You could rest for a bit then go check out the Lake. Maybe go see what it is like when the sun is setting or even in the dark of the night. Looks really fantastic under the shimmering stars really. Camp for the night. Sleep early if needed because the Lake is really gorgeous to experience when the sun is coming up. So definitely go visit the lake again in the morning!
What is the best time to trek to Chandratal Lake?
The best time to go on a trek here is between July to September. This is when the snow has melted a little and the weather is suitable for travellers. But the monsoon will still bring some challenges. Don’t be surprised at snowfall even at this time of the year. At night it will still be very cold. Even early in the morning. These are the months in which all campsites start operating. Afternoon time will be comfortably cool. Unless it starts raining though.
Visiting here during the winter months should not even be an option. There’s very heavy snowfall and the cold weather is as harsh as it can be. You will either freeze to death or die under an avalanche or something. Well, not necessarily but it’s really risky during the winter. It might be possible but we strongly urge you to avoid visiting Chandratal Lake from Mid October to April.
September is considered the best month because rainfall significantly decreases. So lesser challenges and better weather. The months of May and June are rare possibilities. It’s not always possible to visit during those months. If at all you want to visit during those months, you can call the Manali Government Bus stand. They will be able to provide you with the necessary information.
What makes the Chandratal Lake special?
Literally everything about this place is special. The water literally defines the expression ‘crystal clear’. That too at a height of 14,100 feet. One of the things which we really admired was how the campsites were pushed back. Nobody is allowed to camp at the lake site. This is great because that way, the stunning site is not destroyed by campers and is maintained. If you walk around a bit, you will come across a couple of other tiny really cool lakes too.
Quite frankly, there’s nothing anybody can say which will do any justice to how amazing Chandratal Lake is. Which is why we would recommend this experience to everyone very highly. There’s another way of getting to the Chandratal Lake too. This is for anyone who is coming from Shimla or Kinnaur side. The trek route is different and slightly longer but easier. Read about Experiencing the Chandratal Lake Trek from Shimla to know more.