Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains

Tripoto
2nd Sep 2017
Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang

#TripotoTakeMeToHimalayas

“When something good happens, travel to celebrate.

If something bad happens, travel to forget it.

If nothing happens, travel to make something happen.”

- Anonymous

As 2017 started, I set a goal of one trek per month for myself .Though it didn’t turn out as I thought , but I still managed to take up 5 treks in the Sahyadris in 7 months. That’s when I decided , the time has come for me to take a trek in the Himalayas.

As I had read a lot about YHAI (Youth Hostels Association Of India), I started looking for beginners treks on their website. It was a tough choice between Valley of Flowers and Hampta Pass in which Hampta Pass managed to win due to its more varied terrains to offer. I booked the batch for 3rd September- 10th September for me and my mother and couldn't wait for it to start.

Hampta Pass is a beautiful and a manageable trek for beginners set in the majestic mountains of Himachal Pradesh. This is a tailor-made trek for even middle aged people who have no experience of trekking whatsoever! It is a 6 days trek with paths winding through lush green forests in Kullu Valley to barren and rocky Mountains in Spiti Valley. You get to see two valleys at the cost of one. Not a bad deal, I suppose.

Though the site says it’s a beginners trek, I think you need to have a basic level of fitness to enjoy the trek. I mean, nobody ever said, my legs are paining unbearably but I am enjoying it!! It’s advisable that you start walking or do some easy home workouts to help you increase your stamina. I myself, did one month work out and I think all those running sessions and stair work outs helped me a lot. The transition from a person panting like a dog after climbing 2 floors to doing stair workout- 10 floors 10 times a day seems unbelievable but it’s not impossible.

Since, the reporting date for the trek was 3rd September, I decided to fly to Chandigarh on 2nd September. The base camp for this trek is International Youth Hostels, Prini Village, Manali. You can both take a flight to Chandigarh or Delhi and then board an overnight bus to Manali.

2nd September: Pune to Mumbai by Pragati Express. Do not take this train if you have a lot of luggage.

Mumbai to Chandigarh: It is a 2.5 hours flight. We reached Chandigarh at 6.30 p.m. There are buses to commute to the city from Chandigarh Airport or you can take a taxi to the city from the airport. We decided to stay the night in Chandigarh.

3rd September: Chandigarh to Manali 8.30 a.m:

We boarded the bus for Manali from Sector 43.It takes 12 hours to reach (The HRTC site shows 7 hours but it’s a sheer lie!). The frequency of buses is pretty good but I suggest you make the bookings beforehand if you are looking for AC Himsuta HRTC buses. You can also take a shared taxi to Manali.

Chandigarh HRTC Helpline number: +91 1722668943

Fares: Himsuta HRTC bus: Rs 900/- Shared taxi: Rs 6000

We started very early from Chandigarh .With Beas flowing on one side and mountains looking as if ready to slide, the road is treacherous in some parts of this route .The YHAI Hostel in Manali is very famous and you can easily take an auto from the bus stand.

4th September: Acclimatization walk (6 km)

YHAI makes sure that all the trekkers are properly acclimatized before the actual trek begins. Each trekker is expected to carry his\her trekking bag for the walk. The maximum advisable weight of bag for girls is 6 kg and for boys it is 8 kg. The staff of YHAI is very helpful and will walk you through all the do’s and don’ts of the trek. If you have missed any of the essentials from the ones mentioned on their website, ask the staff and they will help you out.

After the walk, my mother was not feeling well and she decided not to go for the trek .I was worried and reluctant to leave her alone at the base camp but the staff encouraged me to go ahead and assured me of my mother’s safety .They even shifted her to the lower floor on our request.

5th September: Day 1, Manali to Sethan (8 km) 9124 feet

Stairs to be climbed

Photo of Sethan, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

Home stay at Sethan

Photo of Sethan, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

Sethan is the first campsite in the Hampta Pass trek. To reach this quaint village, one has to trek 8 km in total .The first 4 km is climbing the rock stairs in between motor able roads and the remaining 4km is a trail through forest. Sethan is the only campsite where you will get to stay in a proper home, have access to proper washrooms (not pits!) and cherry on the Cake, you can charge your phones! As soon as you reach the campsite you are offered a welcome drink followed by a hot soup, tea and finally dinner in between 6.30 – 7.00 p.m. Eating properly at regular intervals is the key to keep yourself away from fatigue and dizziness.

6th September: Day 2, Sethan to Chikka (8 km) 10,900 feet

On the way to Chikka

Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang

Much beautiful version of my childhood drawings

Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang

Chikka Campsite

Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang

The trek to Chikka is so scenic that it compels you to dive into your childhood scenery drawings .Four mountains, sun rising from between the second and third one, and a stream trickling down from one of them. You see the real life version of all those silly drawings and relive them again .Treading through the meadows you think, nothing can be more beautiful than this until you reach the campsite and get completely stoked! The campsite at Chikka is straight out of some fairy tale book. Roaring river on one side of the tents and a gushing waterfall uphill make you gasp in awe!

It rained heavily that night in Chikka. Chances are that the water may enter the tents, so it is better to keep your shoes covered in plastic bags. Also, do not keep any of your jackets\sleeping sheets\clothes outside as they may get wet. To keep your batteries from discharging, keep them in woolen socks.

7th September: Day 3, Chikka to Balu Ka Gera (10 km) 12,234 feet

Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang

The river to be crossed

Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang

Balu Ka Gera Campsite

Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang

The vegetation slowly began to change from luscious forests to small shrubs as we started heading towards Spiti Valley. After half an hour into the walk, we had to cross a huge river. The guide and one of my fellow trek mates crossed it safely. I started crossing the river with shoes in one hand, and somewhere in the middle my foot slipped. I fell down hard into the ice cold water and got drenched from waist to toe!

Do not hurry while crossing the river. Always listen to your guide. If you are not really confident about crossing the river by yourself, ask for help. The guides will come back to your side and help you cross the river. Lesson learnt!

8th September: Day 4, Balu Ka Gera to Siagoru via Hampta Pass (13 km) 14,000 feet

On the way to Hampta Pass

Photo of Hampta, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

Hampta Pass

Photo of Hampta, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

On the way to Siagoru

Photo of Hampta, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

This is the toughest route in the Hampta Pass trek. We started at 7.30 in the morning and reached Hampta Pass at 12.30 p.m. It is a tough ascend till Hampta Pass and post that you start descending the mountain. Wearing a thermal for this trek is recommended. And I’d suggest to keep your jacket handy, so that you can wear it beneath your poncho in case of a hailstorm at further altitude.

9th September: Day 5, Siagoru to Chhatru (10 km) 11,100 feet

Photo of Chhatru, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

The bridge to Chhatru village

Photo of Chhatru, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

Seeing roads on this route after 5 days brought a sly smile to our faces. Chhatru is a small village with population of 120. You have to cross a bridge to enter the village. One can also opt for food from the three Dhabas that the village boasts of.

10th September: Day 6, Chhatru to Manali via Chandrataal

Crystal Clear reflections

Photo of Chandrataal Lake, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

Chandrataal Lake

Photo of Chandrataal Lake, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Varsha Bang

A mesmerizing lake hidden in the Himalayas, Chandrataal (4290 feet) also known as Moon Lake is a must-do-place on every Indian traveler’s bucket list. The lake offers crystal clear waters with amazing reflections .Looking at the beauty around me, I just wished if I could freeze this moment and stay here forever!

My first Himalayan trek will always be dear to my heart .I took tough decisions, made mistakes and learnt lessons! Once you have been to the Himalayas, its aura stays with you forever .If you are anxious about your first visit, do it without any hesitation. Don't wait for anyone to come with you, it's your dream to visit the Himalayas not theirs! It's okay to fear the unknown, to be scared, I sure as hell was but once you are up there, everything else just becomes noise!

Photo of Hampta Pass: From lush green forests to boulders and rocky mountains by Varsha Bang
6 Comment(s)
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Hi, I'm planning to do this trek solo in the first week of October. Please can you confirm if there's a marked trail from Jobra to Chatru?
Tue 08 28 18, 02:49 · Reply · Report
Very inspiring and very well written.Hats Off Varsha Bhai !
Sun 11 12 17, 20:51 · Reply · Report
Crisp and to the point! Gives inspiration to new trekkers. ☺️
Sun 11 12 17, 10:18 · Reply · Report
I don't know much about such places and treks, but your writing made it so special and exciting..!! Great✌
Sun 11 12 17, 08:57 · Reply · Report
Feels like to book this trek right now! Very helpful :)
Sun 11 12 17, 01:38 · Reply · Report
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