Travel Spiti Valley To Chandratal Lake
A blissful morning with sun shining when we woke up in Manali. Last few days have been really busy with a lot of traveling and hiking. We were to embark on our journey to Chandratal Lake, the starting of Spiti Valley. I did a trip to Manali on number of occasions. However never went to Spiti Valley. This time I did not wanted to miss the opportunity, moreover the sole purpose of my trip was to visit chandratal lake. Out of curiosity I started searching “how to get to Chandratal lake” like most of the people. Was there a resort nearby or a place to crash, etc? In this post I try to answer some questions related to How to reach Chandratal Lake? This is when I assume you are not driving your own vehicle.
Way to Chandratal Lake
With Hemant by our side, it was an easy task of scouting places near Manali. Luckily his cousin owned an SUV, and kind of helped us in getting to Spiti. An exceptional driver and fully acquainted with the mountains, he was a perfect driver that we could find.
I was reluctant in this post when I said “This is when I assume you are not driving your own vehicle”. The nearest largest town near Chandratal is Manali. The easiest but the most costly way to reach is to hire a SUV from Manali and reach Chandratal. The distance between the two is 140 km. You will pay more than 10K INR for a private hire. It helps if a few friends are sharing the cost of hiring a jeep. Luckily we were 4 and had the fare split.
Crossing Rohtang Pass
After you cross the Rohtang Pass there are just two spots where you can get things to eat Chhatru and Batal. There are small dhabas at both the places. Now mind you the food is going to be a little expensive as there is a scarcity of food joints. I would advise to pack something light for the way and try to eat only at places where you are crashing for the night.
The prime reason why I would not advise people to take their own vehicles to Spiti is because the road to Spiti has more mud and rocks than anything else. There is hardly any tar to be seen anywhere! You can find waterfalls all on the road, which further makes difficult to construct roads.
Watch the video which I made on the way to Chandratal Lake.
If you do not wish to hire a jeep, there is a bus to Kaza. Get down at Batal and stay there at Chandra Dhaba run by Chachi.(Tenzin’s mom) By staying you will acclimatize better to the high altitude. Chandratal Lake is a 14km trek from Batal. So option one is to trek! Chandratal Lake is at a height of 4300 meters.
Connectivity To The World
The best part about going to mountains or rather places like Himachal & J&K, is that there is no cellphone connectivity. There are no phone services or electricity both at Batal and Chandratal. In the Spiti Valley only BSNL phones work. On a good note, this would give you ample of opportunity to enjoy your vacation without getting interrupted with annoying phone calls. However do not get hassled if you are stuck in an emergency situations. Locals are more then happy to help you from any treacherous condition that you may get stuck in. Also being close to one of the most inhabited India military road, (Laddakh & Rohtang), you would find army camps and settlements at regular intervals. They have the facility of calling anyone around the world including Obama.
Batal To Chandratal Lake
From batal to chandratal lake the distance’s roughly about 14 KM’s. The road is apt for a SUV or a bigger vehicle. Don’t even think about taking your sedans and hatchbacks on this road. The view however is amazing, surrounded by mountains the experience was spectacular and breath taking.
We reached till the parking lot for Chandratal Lake. From parking lot to chandratal lake you can walk for about a kilometer. The moment we reached chandratal lake I had few health issues. Considering the fact that lake is situated above 14000 feet from sea level, you are bound to run into some breathing trouble, if you are not accustomed to high altitudes. I had headache and mild nausea due to the altitude. Furthermore I could not eat much at the night. Morning was however better with sun shining and we getting accustomed to the high altitude weather conditions.
After a brief 10 minutes walk from the parking lot we finally reached the lake. Never ever I have heard my own voice so clear. This is because of the absolute quite surrounding around the lake.
Would recommend to stay quite and not make any noise when you are near the lake. It is advisable to stay for a while near the lake. it’s so peaceful…! Unlike city chores!
After a brief stop at the lake we decided to head back to our camping grounds. It was getting dark and the temperature drop was phenomenal. Our friend Hement said that the temperature drops to -5 degrees or below during night. Also given the fact that we were not very accustomed with high altitude, we wanted to get in those cozy tents pitched at the camp ground.
We had our own tent which was very warm and cozy, and there was kitchen tent too. Camp is maintained by a guy named Tenzin, another of his relative runs a camp at Chandratal. The tents usually cost 1200 rupees upwards a person, however we got it in 800 rupees a person, thanks to Hemant who knew the people at the camp site. But as there are no phone services, pre-booking a tent is a pain! I had a brief conversation with Tenzin, he said no matter if the tents are not pre-booked. They had plenty of tents and it was just the question of pitching these extra tents. And it really freezes at night. The windscreen of the car had to be thawed there was so much frost on it the next morning.
High Altitude Troubles
If you remember, I wrote and article about the health issues that someone might have on the mountains. Particularly problem in breathing at high altitudes. Although I practiced few breathing techniques, still I had to face a little trouble, especially at night. I would advise people who are not into any physical activity to consult their doctor’s or at least start preparing for an expedition like this a month in advance. It is also advisable to go for a little short distance trekking, like the way Hemant made us did at Vashisht. one of our friend had to face the nature’s fury, when at night he encountered breathing troubles and sign of nausea. Luckily there was a doctor who was at one of the camp site to attend his troubles. We got lucky but, I would advise to keep first aid and a Inhaler, so that you don’t run around the camp site looking for doctors. It’s frustrating and also annoys the entire camp site.
Back to Civilization
Our friend even after due medical attention was not felling well, and we could sense it. The only option was to return back to Manali. We left the camp site early in the morning and headed back via same route. Your first task will be to get back to Batal. Once at Batal you can continue further to Kaza or try getting back to Manali.
I highly recommend that you go to Kaza and beyond. There is a bus in season from Kaza to Manali. There are shared jeeps too. Losar is another village is Spiti which offers lodges, you can stay there and then head to Kaza. The distance between Batal and Losar is about 50 km.
I wanted to go till Kaza, however our friend did not give us a lot of choice. His health and safety was our priority, so we decided to head back to Manali.
I would say that this time I was able to explore a little bit of Spiti Valley, let’s just say 10% of it may be. However next time. I have decided that I am going to do the whole 600+ km’s ordeal from Simla to Manali via Spiti Valley.
When I talked with the fellow campers and locals, I cam to know that it is always advisable to do the Spiti Valley trip starting from Simla and then reach Manali. Unlike Manli which puts you at 14000 feet of sea level in just couple of hours. The road from Simla is a gradual incline and helps you getting accustomed to high altitude slowly and steadily.
We had a company of absolutely wonderful guide and our good friend Hemant. In case you want to avail his trekking & guide service, please drop me an email for the details at email@example.com.