This 7-day adventure trek is like a short and very sweet treat. In about a week you are able to hike through some of the finest trekking destinations in the Indian Himalayas. This is a moderately challenging trek which involves camping and trekking at reasonably high altitude and crossing a few glacial rivers. Fit first timers in the company of experienced guides will also enjoy the trek.
In the first stage we drive from Manali over the Rohtang pass into the Lahaul valley to reach Batal from where we start our trek the next day. This halt is planned to help one get acclimatised to lower levels of oxygen at these altitudes. Next day we trek from Batal to Chandratal (Moon Lake), a high altitude lake at 4300m. This glacial lake gets its name from its half-moon shape and is a fantastic sight to see with high mountains all around, no wonder that several gaddis (shepherds) camp around it. Camping near the lake is nothing short of bliss!
From Chandratal we start climbing up and for the next couple of days we trek in the upper reaches of the Chandra valley. There are great views of the Mulkila range and its glaciers. In this stage we walk on scree slopes and stark yet stunning semi-arid landscape typical of the Lahaul & Spiti region. Adding to the adventure quotient will be the river crossings at Tokpo Yongma and Tokpo Gongma which will need to be handled carefully depending upon the conditions. Our guides might use rope and some equipment to assist crossing if required.
In the last stage of the trek we ascend the high slopes of Chandra valley and come out at the beautiful meadows below the Baralacha La which play host to a lot of wild flower varieties. The expansive views of the Himalayan ranges beyond Baralacha La provides a good contrast to the views of the earlier stages. We will finish our trek at the pass at the famous high altitude highway connecting Manali to Leh. From here you may continue to Leh or drive back to Manali.
DAY 01: Manali (2000m) – Batal (3907m) Drive/5-6 hrs
After breakfast we set out on the drive to Batal. This is an interesting drive which crosses over from the lush green valleys of Kullu & Manali into stark dune-like landscape of Lahaul & Spiti valley via the famous Rohtang pass. We will spend some time at the pass and then start descending into the Lahaul valley. We will stay at Batal today to get acclimatized to the lower levels of oxygen. Upon reaching Batal we will set up our campsite and towards early evening head out on an acclimatizing hike.
Day 02: Batal (3907m) – Chandratal (4300m) Trek/6 hrs
After breakfast we set out on the trek. We cross over the Chandra River and start moving up from Batal. It is a reasonably long walk all the way up to Chandratal and will take around 6 hours. We get very fine views of the Bara Shigri glacier and some high Himalayan peaks enroute. Chandratal is a jewel in the mountains and the minute you set your eyes on it the exhaustion of the day’s hike will vanish. The scenery at the lake is quite remarkable with the lake surrounded by high mountains. The lake also called Moon Lake and gets its name from its half-moon shape. There are several gaddi shepherds scattered around the lake giving it a beautiful character.
Day 03: Chandratal (4300m) – Tokpo Gongma (4320m) Trek/5-6 hrs
We set off early in the morning from Chandratal to Tokpo Gongma. The trail is gradually ascending and we Chandratal will be crossing many small streams on our way, all of which meet the Chandra River below. The landscape is stark and arid with lots of scree slopes and boulder fields. Our final river crossing of the day will be the large stream “Tokpo Yongma”. We will cross it from a suitable point and camp for the night after crossing the river.
Day 04: Tokpo Gongma (4380m) – Tokpo Yongma (4640m) Trek/5 hrs
Again today, we start our day early as we need to cross a couple of rivers while the water levels are low. The trail is picturesque and the snow-capped peaks of the Chandrabhaga range stay with us through the morning. The first river we cross is relatively easier than the second one of the day which will be Tokpo Yongma. We cross the river over a snow bridge of wade across depending upon the conditions. The campsite at Tokpo Yongma is beautiful and has a few shepherds close by.
Day 05: Tokpo Yongma (4640m) – Baralacha La (4900m) – Manali (2000m) Trek/5 hrs & Drive/7 hrs
Today we ascend the high slopes of the Chandra valley to get great views of the snow clad Himalayan ranges beyond the Baralacha pass. It’s great for photography with plenty of photo opportunities. We will first climb up to the Baralacha La South summit and from here move down to cross a river and trek through a beautiful and long meadow section to reach Baralacha La North summit where we have the Manali to Leh road meeting the pass. Baralacha La means “pass with cross roads on summit” as roads from Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul meet on top of the pass. It also gives rise to the three rivers of Chandra, Bhaga and Yuman.