Complete Guide For The Wonderful Hampta Pass Trek
Himachal Pradesh attracts tourists primarily because of an abundance of trekking, skiing and camping sites. There is no end to what one can do up there. Despite that, Hampta Pass is special.
Imagine this – you, surrounded by lush greens and valleys enveloped in blooming flowers on one day, and by rocky, biting-cold desert just the next. Each day a new weather, a new setting, a new terrain, all amidst lofty, misty mountains and cool currents. On one hand, it will have you tongue-tied, but on the other hand, will leave you bursting with stories to tell. Who doesn’t like an irony?
About Hampta Pass Trek
Hampta Pass is high up in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas. It connects Chandra Valley (Lahaul) and Kullu Valley (Himachal). This narrow Pass is frequented by local shepherds, mainly from Hampta village, to get their sheep to the greener side of the mountains. The narrowness of the Pass is actually its main feature. The naturally slender architecture of the Pass entraps all the precipitation and sustains the luxuriant flora.
About the Trek
Trekkers usually take about 4-5 days to complete the trek, starting from Manali and ending at Chatru. In this duration, you will cover about 26 kilometres and you may reach a maximum altitude of approximately 14,000 feet. The trek is considered of moderate difficulty, and even beginners need not worry! This trek is favourable for both, amateurs and professionals as it is more about witnessing the striking changes in weather and scenery, rather than overcoming the challenges posed by the terrain. On each day of the trek, the altitude covered is not much higher than that on the previous day. Thus, after Manali, acclimatization isn’t really a struggle.
Touchpoints in the Trek
So, what is all this fuss about, right? What is this trek exactly?
Well, here is a glimpse of what this beautiful Hampta Pass trek is going to be like.
- Manali – Jobra – Chika
The journey will start in Manali (6,000 ft). It should ideally be where the whole gang gets together, as it is relatively popular and easily accessible. From Manali, the first touchpoint is Jobra. You’ll get there by road. During this 2-hour drive, you will come across more hairpin bends than you can count. As soon as you reach Jobra, the actual trekking will begin. The stretch from Jobra (9,700 ft) to the next touchpoint, Chika (10,400 ft), is a great first start to get you used to the forthcoming treks. It is only about 2 kilometres and will take you roughly 45 minutes. This easier, leisure trek will take you through vast sweeps of pine trees, along with patches of oak, maple and deodar. Walking alongside the beautiful river, Rani, you will also spot the Himalayas in the distance.
- Chika – Balu Ka Ghera
Onward from Chika, you will cross the plush Jwara Valley. It is covered, absolutely masked, in flowers. Rivers and streams constantly flow by your side. And the snow-clad Dhauladhar range, towering over the horizon, is a mesmerising view. The snow is where you will actually be headed, to get to the next stop, Balu Ka Ghera (11,900 ft). Subsequent to this lovely campsite, things will get slightly challenging.
- Balu Ka Ghera – Hampta Pass – Shea Goru
From Balu Ka Ghera, you will trek to Hampta Pass (14,100 ft). As you get closer, you will see that the terrain gets rockier and more desert-like. On this side of the Pass, you will meet shepherds taking their sheep to the greener side. The ascent will start with a gradual slope, and will slowly become steeper and steeper till you reach the Pass. At the Pass, you will also get a clear, lovely view of the Indrasan peak.
Once you cross the Pass, the descent will begin. The slope is steep at first, but will become gentler as you proceed. You will be able to spot the Shea Goru campsite (12,900 ft) as you descend. Shea Goru is extremely cold but is also the most unique part of the trek. This campsite is unusually beautiful as it a single speck of greenery in the otherwise-barren desert of the Lahaul Valley.
- Shea Goru – Chatru – Chandratal Lake
To get to the last pitstop, Chatru (11,000 ft), the descent will continue. This part of the trek will be more gradual and relaxed. While finishing up, you can decide if you want to take a detour to Chandratal Lake (highly recommended) or not. The trek will end when you reach Chatru.
Although Chandratal Lake is a little bit of a distance from Chatru, it is definitely a must-have experience. You can hire a taxi to take you there. The very very blue lake is surrounded by mountains on all sides and is rather secluded. So, you will have the perfect end to a remarkable trip. We’re sure you will be blindsided by the beauty, but you will have to return to Chatru.
- Chandratal Lake – Manali
Things to carry for the Hampta Pass Trek
Here is a list of all the things you’ll need to pack for the trek. Be thorough and check twice to see if you’ve got everything.
∙ Sleeping bag, tenting gear, water filter, energy bars, electral, toilet paper/wipes
∙ Backpack (40 to 60 litres) and Rain Cover, trekking boots, warm socks, walking stick (at least 1), 1 litre water bottle, sunglasses, gloves, woollen cap, down/Padded jacket, warm jacket, raincoat
∙ Flashlight and batteries, pocket knife, personal medicines, mini first aid kit, money pouch
∙ Valid ID proof (driving license/passport) and photocopies, passport size photographs
Apart from these, carry comfortable clothes that will keep you warm. You must also carry a pair of shorts and cotton t-shirts in case the weather is hot. Other items to pack are trekking pants, towels, thermal inners, underwear, toiletries, a notebook, pens and a sun cap.
Permissions/Permits required for the Hampta Pass Trek
Like any other Himalayan trek, the Hampta Pass Trek also involves getting a permit. You need to get this permit from the forest check post. It should be fairly easy. Just remember to carry an ID proof (such as driving license, passport), photocopies of the same, as well as your passport size photographs. You will also need a vehicle permit in case you want to drive till Jobra, the starting point of the trek.
ATMs and Connectivity
The nearest ATM is in Manali. Beyond that, there is no ATM available throughout the trek. So, make sure you carry enough cash. Also, make a provision for some emergency cash.
Coming to mobile network connectivity, the last place where network is available, in spurts, is Jobra.
Best Time to go for the Hampta Pass Trek
Although the weather here is slightly unpredictable, the best time to visit is mid-May to mid-October. Early on, there will be tons of snow, which will then melt away by the end of August. Around this time, flowers are blooming and valleys are green. It may start snowing again by the time October comes. It usually rains in the monsoons, but is still sunny. Nevertheless, be prepared for any kind of weather that may befall you.
So, there you have it! Whether you are a beginner or an experienced mountaineer, Hampta Pass will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Go on, gear up!
See you soon,