“In all things of nature, there is something marvelous”. This quote by Aristotle cannot be more apt when one goes on a trek. Being an avid nature lover, I started trekking 15 years ago in an attempt to experience mother nature to its fullest. This hobby led me to become a part of the Youth Hostel Association of India, which was also the beginning of some of the most memorable experiences I have had. Among my favorites of course, is the Hampta Pass trek route, a small corridor between Lahaul's Chandra Valley and the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is fondly known as the “State of all seasons”. From the lush green valley of Kullumanali to the desert valley of Lahaul, this 8-day trip will leave you in complete awe of the beauty of the Himalayas.
First things first, let me give you the logistic info. There are several Hampta Pass trek packages available. Based on individual level of interest, the Hampta Pass trek itinerary can be chosen. I did the Hampta Pass trek in August, which is the best time to visit Hampta Pass. I was traveling from Rajkot, Gujarat so my journey involved a flight to Delhi and then a 15-hour overnight bus ride to reach Manali. Wondering how to reach Hampta Pass from here? Manali to Hampta Pass base camp distance by road is 15-16 kms. There are several options to reach here and Manali to Hampta Pass base camp by car is one of them. Prini is the base camp where trekkers have to assemble. Once I reached here, I met my trekking group which consisted of 40 trekkers. Of note is that these groups usually consist of 40-45 trekkers per batch. Summers being peak season, treks are organized across a 20-day window. During this time, there is one group at each campsite everyday. Pack smartly and travel light to maximize your experience. Ensure your fitness level is good and most importantly, carry your medications, if any. With that out of the way, let me get onto the exciting part, the trek itself.
These little ones definitely bring a smile on anyone's face! A lovely welcome to Prini
Day 1 was spent getting acclimatized owing to the increased altitude and reduced oxygen supply. We did a 4-hour trek to get a sense of what to expect in the coming days and get mentally and physically prepared. Although rare, there are cases where first-time trekkers withdraw from the trek owing to lack of physical and mental preparedness. Here, we get to know our fellow trekkers and soon friendships start blossoming. One of the best times to connect with fellow trekkers is during meal times. Speaking of meals, the food served on these treks are vegetarian. A local cook is stationed at every campsite and fresh simple food is served. While at lower altitudes some variety of veggies are on the menu, at higher altitudes it is limited to mostly potatoes. Day 1 ended with a briefing of the plan in the days ahead and we retired in anticipation of an exciting day ahead.
Great company makes for great adventures...these happy fellow trekkers made my Hampta Pass Trek itinerary fantastic!
On day 2, after an early breakfast, we were advised to pack our bags for the trek. Each trekker is allowed to carry upto 8 kgs, so remember to pack smartly. Owing to previous experience, I took only the bare essentials and left my extra baggage at the base camp locker facility as did most trekkers. From Prini, we boarded the bus which dropped us to the Hampta Pass trek route starting point which is Jobra. The drive itself is exhilarating with almost 40 hairpin bends covered in about an hour. This drive is possibly one of the most beautiful mountain drives I have done. Most people miss enjoying this scenic drive in anticipation of the trek itself. So make sure you grab a window seat on the bus and soak in the stunning views that make for a perfect prelude to the spectacular trek ahead.
Panoramic view of Manali is spectacular on the drive enroute to Jobra, the starting point of Hampta Pass trek route
Jobra is where the actual trek begins. Hampta Pass trek distance is 35 kms. At an altitude of 9,184 feet, a relaxed trek took us through the most beautiful forest area. The dense forest laden with pine trees, oak trees and maple trees, was mesmerizing! The freshness of the pine trees filled the cool air with a beautiful fragrance making for a soothing 5-hour trek along the Hampta Pass trek route. There are apple orchards along the way adding to the beauty of the place. We reached Sethan Village which was an 8-kilometer walk. This is the last village along this trek. From this point, accommodation at all campsites will be in tents as there are no civilizations settled beyond this point. All land beyond this point is a protected area and permissions are required from the forest department to venture into these areas. After a comfortably paced trek, we called it a day. Content with a satisfying day, we had a freshly cooked simple meal and retired for the day at Sethan.
The feeling of being one with nature while trekking through this section of Hampta Pass trek route to Sethan Village is exhilarating
On day 3, our route was from Sethan Village to Chika camp. Once we reached this section of the trek there were certain logistic facts that were laid out to us. There is no electricity beyond this point, so we have to optimize daylight, which means we rise at sunrise and retire at sunset. Our source of water were the numerous clear streams running along the path of the Hampta Pass trek route. The water was so clean and fresh, making for a "delicious drink". Everything was minimalistic but sufficient. The Hampta Pass trek distance from Sethan Village to Chika camp was 8 kilometers taking us to an altitude of 10,824 feet. Trekking through verdant meadows and climbing up a hill, we arrived at a huge campsite, Chika. Surrounded by lush greenery with the sparkling Rani River flowing in the middle, it was the perfect place to camp for the night. After a simple warm meal, we spent some time bonding over a torch-enabled "campfire" before retiring for the night.
The gushing streams along the Hampta Pass trek route were fun and adventurous to cross over
Across the rugged mountains and in the lush valley is where we camped for the night - Chika campsite
Day 4 was anticipated to be slightly more challenging and we were all geared up and raring to go, our destination for the day being Balu Ka Ghera camp. This was a 13-kilometer trek that starts along the bank of the Rani River. Sprinkled with Rhododendron and lined with silver birch trees, this section of the trek was a treat to the eyes. We had some company as well...herds of goats grazing around. Surrounded by natural beauty with a splendid view of the snow capped mountains, this was truly a piece of heaven on earth. Half way through, is the picturesque Jwara Valley, a perfect spot for a break. From here, the trail gradually gets challenging. The terrain changes from lush greenery and streams to rocks and snow. At an elevation of 11,808 feet, Balu Ka Ghera is the perfect campsite to end the day.
The sparkling Rani River flowing through lush mountains decorated with Rhododendron is truly mesmerizing
That's me in my element in the splendid lap of mother nature
According to our guide, day 5 would be the most challenging part of the trek. With 9 hours of trekking involving a climb along Hampta Pass trek route and a steep climb down to Sai Goru, it was going to be the longest day of the trek. An hour's gradual ascent took us to the first plateau. From this snow-covered spot, the view of Deo Tibba Peak was spectacular. From here, we headed further past another plateau and across a couple of ridges. Finally, the mount to Hampta Pass was in sight.
At a height of 6,000 meters, Deo Tibba Peak is the 2nd highest peak of the Pir Panjal range and is believed to be "the abode of the Gods"
The view of Hampta Pass with the sun's rays on snow-capped mountains creating a shimmering molten gold appearance is surreal
This climb was extremely tiring but we marched on excited about what was waiting for us at the top. The view from the top was worth all the effort, gobsmackingly stunning! This is the highest point of the trek at 14,100 feet. It is believed that a sadhu (holy man) named Hampta meditated here giving it the name. After soaking in the incredible beauty of nature, we began the descent which was rather steep. The best way to reach the bottom is to slide down. Once we reached the base, the trek from here to Sai Goru was pretty much on flat land. It is the coldest place on this hiking expedition. The campsite was along the river bank making for a perfect spot to pitch for the night. What an amazing day it was, truly memorable!
The view from Hampta Pass leaves trekkers spellbound and I was not different
After an exhilarating trek the previous day, we were a happy bunch with a sense of achievement and contentment. Day 6 was to take us to our next campsite destination, Chatru. Starting at 12,900 feet in Sai Goru, we descended to Chatru at 11,000 feet. This downhill trail was easy and relaxed, taking us about 5 hours. The path was along the river valley and mountain ranges and the terrain was barren. The trail does have some challenging sections, so exercise caution at all times. Crossing ridges and a couple of glaciers, we finally reached our campsite at Chatru, again alongside a river, this time Chandra River. It is a scenic spot to camp and retire in the lap of nature.
Descending from Sai Goru to Chatru was enjoyable as we crossed several ridges and glaciers
The next morning, over breakfast, we were reminiscing about the past few days and our fantastic experiences. It was day 7 and we were heading towards the last leg of our trek. The day's highlight was trekking to Chandratal Lake also known as Moon Lake. The pristine lake surrounded by stark mountains is a sight to behold. After enjoying this enchanting place and breathing in the crisp fresh mountain air one last time, we descended towards the base camp. Gazing at the staggering Himalayas crowned with cottony white clouds was a truly humbling experience. The magnanimity of nature engulfed me leaving me in awe. From here we boarded the bus to Prini passing through Rohtang Pass. At a height of 13,000 feet, it is believed to be one of the most beautiful mountain passes in India.
A last glance in the Hampta Pass direction and the sight of the majestic mountains and lush green valleys stirs up emotions
A leap of ecstatic joy on successfully completing the Hampta Pass trek route
At Prini on the last morning of our once-in-a-lifetime trekking expedition, we spent time with our fellow trekkers discussing our adventures and exploring possibilities of another trek, sooner than later. The energy and vibe of like-minded people is something else and the air was filled with enthusiasm about the next trekking expedition. The Hampta Pass trek budget was so affordable that thinking about another expedition is not hard. Breakfast done and friendships secured, it was time for us to head back home. As I checked out and headed to Manali, I could not help but look back at the incredible surroundings and feel a pang of sadness. But then, as they say, once a trekker, always a trekker...I knew that the mountains would beckon me soon enough and I would be back to my sanctuary, the Himalayas.
How difficult is the Hampta pass Trek?
The Hampta Pass trek route is comfortable and moderately difficult with certain sections being a bit difficult.
How many days' trek is Hampta pass?
The Hampta Pass Trek route takes anywhere from 6-8 days to cover depending on the route being taken.
Is Hampta pass trek for beginners?
The Hampta Pass trek route can definitely be attempted by beginners.
Can Hampta pass be done alone?
It is always advised to attempt high altitude treks in groups with an experienced guide.