Every year, travellers and tourists plan out holidays to places that will provide them with memoirs and an invigorating experience. The escape to the natural wonders of the Great Himalayas, the Hampta Pass trek is one such trip and is a beginner’s delight in every way. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that every turn of the journey has a beautiful surprise waiting for you.
Due to all the convenient and attractive attributes, this trek through the dense pine forests, beautiful meadows adrenaline pumping river crossings, is kind of like the frosting on your favourite cupcake.
Want to know the difficulty level of the trek? Wek, it’s an easy to a moderate trek with a scope to combine a lot of adventure activities as per the duration and the interest of trekkers. So if you are a novice trekker then we definitely recommend this trek. You will enjoy every bit of it!
The Hampta Pass is unusual in the manner of its formation, being a perpendicular overhang among the peaks, it gives you the feel of standing on a balcony whilst you take in the gorgeous view of the Lahaul Valley.
Table of Content
- An Overview of Hampta Pass Trek
- The Hampta Pass Trek Details
- How to Reach There
- The Well Planned Itinerary
- Highlights of the Trek
- Nearby Places You could Visit during the Hampta Pass Trek
- Trek Essentials
- Risks on the Hampta Pass Trek
- Factors to Consider for Hampta Pass Trek
- Descending the Summit
An Overview of Hampta Pass Trek
The Hampta Pass is among the more favoured treks of Himachal Pradesh, the elements of its scenic views of the different hues of nature, and ease and tranquillity that keeps your mind and body refreshed, combine to give you a memorable trek indeed. Since this pass connects the two valleys of Kullu and Lahaul, one is exposed to two different sorts of landscapes.
While Kullu is filled with vegetation and greenery, in contrast, Lahaul valley is completely rocky and sandy with brown mountains among the snow-clad peaks. Here the scenario of nature can be seen changing almost every day.
The Hampta Pass garnered its name from the Hampta Village, as shepherds and villagers used this pass to enter in Lahaul Spiti valley of Himachal where a special grass known as “Neeru” grows, which is considered a very good source of nutrients for sheep and goats.
Rajiv Verma the blogger of Webguy Travel Tales shares his magical experience with the Himalayas- "Leaving behind the mountains have never been easy for me and this time as well, it was no different. By the time we came down from the mountains, I for sure was a slightly different person (more on this in the upcoming posts), this happens to me every time I go to the mountains. Every time, the mighty Himalayas pull me a step closer to them."
This was the traditional alternative route between Lahaul and Kullu Valley before the road was made over the Rohtang Pass. The trek starts from a degree of 2, 050 metres to 4, 268, begins from the Prini village, (which will be a couple of hours’ drive from Manali) takes you through the majestic foothills of the Pir Panjal Range, which is the largest range of the lower Himalayas.
The glorious views of Mt. Deo Tibba, Mt. Indraasan and the glaciers that belong to them are the additional sights of this journey.
The trek would also be none less than the Promised Land to the Bird Lovers out there, as almost 350 species of birds are known to be found in this vicinity, with the chances of sighting the Indian Eagle Owl, Kalij Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Cheer Pheasant and the rarest pheasant and the State Bird of Himachal Pradesh - Western Tragopan.
The Hampta Pass Trek Details
- Region- Himachal Pradesh
- Maximum Elevation– Hampta Pass - 4268 metres
- Total Trekking Distance – 26 kms
- Grade- Easy – Moderate
- Best time to visit- Mid June-Mid October
- Prominent Peaks- Indraasan at 6221 metres and Deo Tibba at 6001 metres
- Trek Starts and Ends in- Manali
How to Reach There
The trek starts at Jobri which can be reached from Manali by taxi. There are three ways to reach Manali from Delhi.
The nearest airport from Manali is Bhuntar which is approximately 50 km from Manali. There are a good connectivity and availability of flights between Delhi and Bhuntar. Taxi services are available from Bhuntar to Manali, at a varied cost range of Rs. 700- Rs. 1000. Remember to ask for different options and bargain before you settle on a decent price.
An option if you would like to travel by train is, you can take a train to Pathankot, and then a narrow gauge train to Jogindernagar, from where Manali can be covered by road.
The distance from Delhi to Manali is approximately 550 km and the journey requires 12 hours. Seats in private Volvo buses can also be booked online. Tickets on buses operated by the Himachal State Road Transport can be booked from ISBT.
Before you get into the itinerary, we would like to ask you- are you a trekking for the first time? If yes, then check- What to expect when trekking for the first time?
The Well Planned Itinerary
- Drive from Manali to Chika (via Jobra)
- The route from Chika to Balu ka Ghera.
- Balu ka Gera to Siagoru, Cross Hampta Pass
- Siagoru to Chatru. Drive to Chandratal.
- Chandratal to Manali.
Hampta Pass Trek Map
Drive from Manali towards Jobra (9700ft) to Chika
Difficulty- 2-3 hours easy ascent
Your journey to Jobri is via a road that dwindles and bends and you can see the altitude gain. There is not a minute spared where the drivers aren’t controlling the brakes of the vehicle.
Jobri isn’t really a village.
What it is, is a temporary housing for the local workers around there. There is a huge hydro power plant nearby which employs these workers. This is the point from where the trek actually begins, soon after you cross the hydel power project buildings which take you into the pine forest with an occasional bunch of other trees like Maple, Walnut, Oak and Alder.
You need to cross you could also make a visit to the man-made concrete bridge and walk to the left. The path you will then embark upon will take you through a coniferous range where you can find tree lines of coniferous trees. The geography of this place allows only for the growth of conifers because it's easy for the snow to fall off the tree leaves.
After walking for some time with a mild gradient you have to cross the Rani Nalla via a wooden bridge. Coming to the beauty of this trail, it leads to an open meadow with the yellow and green colour spread like paint all around. With the river Hampta flowing on one side, here you will get the first view of Deo Tibba and Indraasan.
On the other side of the river, you will see beautiful rock faces and above those, lies the Manali Lake. This meadow is called Chikka and is the Campsite for the day. Chikka has lush green grass so it’s common to find sheep grazing here. Chikka is about 10250 feet above sea level.
An intermediate variation:
Whilst on the way, you could also make a visit to the Vashist Temple, which also happens to be an origin of a small hot spring. Many people believe the water from the spring to be holy water.
The Route from Chika (10100 ft.) to Balu ka Ghera (11900 ft.)
Difficulty- Easy trek for 4 hours.
The travel for the day is about 8km of gradual ascent which can take anywhere up to 4-5 hours depending on the pace you choose to walk.
Your camping destination is –Balu ka ghera which roughly means bear's home. The name has come about to be so as it has been observed that brown bears have made it their favourite location to hibernate during winters. When proceeding with your trek from Chikka, you get to cross a bridge made out of logs, which neatly leads you across a small but fierce stream. This entire walk will be through the rocks and boulders.
Now comes the exciting part:
The trek today will be of much interest to those fascinated with zoology as they are likely to encounter numerous wildflowers which are rarely seen except on maybe the paperbacks of textbooks or screensavers.
Your next encounter is a ferocious stream which has its ultimate destination at AleoNallah itself. Take off your shoes, and wade into the knee deep waters, which are but icy cold, so it’s better not to spend too much time in it. Carry on to walk along the river and you will reach Balu ka Ghera. This area is flat ground with the river flowing, and a nice water stream just near the campsite.
It’s also advisable to cross this stream in the morning since as the day progresses, the water level seems to rise.
Balu ka Gera (11900 ft.) to Siagoru (12900 ft.), Cross Hampta Pass (14100 ft.)
Difficulty- 8-10 hrs moderate ascent and steep descend.
The next destination is the Siagoru post crossing the highest point of the Hampta Pass trek. Be prepared for a slightly grilling trek ahead, as the trails will be a moderately steep ascent and then a steep descent from the Hampta pass. Depending on the season of the year you select to travel you can see various snow bridges popping up, the many wonders of the mountains like Cornice formation, Glaciers and their snouts and of course snow along the way. The climb you do is moderate except for the last bridge which is steep and promises to hurt your legs at the end of the climb. You will mostly reach the Hampta Pass by midday and could indulge in a quick picnic at an altitude of 14500ft. How amazing would that be?
Sharing his experience Abhay, the blogger of Off The Road says- "On the way, there was a point called Sia Goru, where most of the other trekkers were camping for the 3rd night. We had to cross the river on foot and go on the other side. It was icy cold water and the rocks were slippery so we crossed that river in group of three. It like taking the ice bucket challenge and was one of the most memorable experiences of this trek."
After the climb, you are in for a big huge descent that is going to lead you to a flat surface with boulders scattered all around. Wear your backpack, so that should you fall, your backpack will save your back. From atop it is easy to spot your campsite, which seems very near but will take a good two hours to reach there. The tall snow clad mountains surround you from three sides and the open side is what will lead you to Siagoru.
You would reach a milestone in your trek!
Your destination Siagoru is situated at 13000 feet above sea level. Choose a nice camp site, pitch your tents and retire to a long nap after having traversed a distance of about 14km.
Siagoru (12900 ft.) to Chatru (11000 ft.)
Difficulty- 4 hrs. Boulder descend.
The trek descends through the Hampta valley with an easy descent. While half the way is just a cakewalk, the other half is steep and rough to traverse, with boulders all along the way.
As you move closer to the road, the descent does tend to get a little tricky, which could prove to be slightly hard to cross during the monsoons. After the descent, you reach a wide valley of the river Chandra, which is situated about 11000 feet above sea level. This place is situated on the highway en route from Manali to Kaza.
It's the time for rewards!
This place enchants the travellers by exhibiting the snow clad mountains on one side while the contrast barren mountains on the other. The massive mountains of the Pir Panjal and Spiti ranges dominate the entire landscape till the campsite at Chhatru. Chhatru at an altitude of 11,500 ft. is a confluence point of paths from Rohtang Pass, Hampta Pass and Spiti. The distance you cover for the day is about 8 km and can take up to 5 hours based on your pace.
Chandratal to Manali- via Rohtang Pass
Pat yourself- You are now on the last leg of your journey.
Head out in the morning via car. The road that leads to Chandra Tal opens in the mid of July and stays open till the end of October. During the other parts of the year, it is fully snow clad and cannot be traversed at all.
Should you happen to make the trip at a time when this road is closed, you may have to take the alternative route via Kunzum La, which is yet another highway pass marking the border between Lahaul and Spiti.
You now take the route from Kaza road to Batal crossing Chhota Dhara. From Batal, you can either go to Chandra Tal situated about 14000 feet above sea level or to Kunzum La the alternative route.
Chandra Tal is named so because of the moon shaped crystal clear lake's presence. The Mountain View from Chandra Tal is an awesome experience to the travellers. Kunzum La, on the other hand, offers a near sight view of Chandra Bhaga range of mountains.
There is a monastery close by and you can often find lines of prayer flags along your way. These prayer flags are usually put up during occasions. Some facts about prayer flags- The white ones indicate the death while the colourful ones indicate some prayer fulfilled.
Those have great significance to the people there. Also, there are good-luck wheels, which are believed to bring good luck if one rotates it.
After watching all this, you return via Chhatru and Rohtang Pass and reach Manali by the evening.
Highlights of the Trek
While everything cannot be summed up to indicate what all one might experience and come across during the trek, it’s useful to have a few pointers to know what you are bound to experience and what to keep an eye out for.
- Crossing streams and glaciers
- Hiking in the forests of pine, fir, cedar etc.
- Settlements of the Gaddi Shepherds
- Walking on the Hampta Pass at a height of 4,268
- Finding you trail in thick snow
- Majestic views of the peaks of Deo Tibba and Indraasan
- Views of the Dhauladhar range
Nearby Places You Could Visit During the Hampta Pass Trek
After the amazing and beautiful trek, should you have a couple of days to spare, you should check out the sites of Manali. A couple of must visits are:
- Beas River: Here you can enjoy the sport of river rafting or just relax and relish the beauty of the surrounding lush green meadows while sipping on some hot tea and munching on crispy pakodas.
- Hidimba Devi Temple: This temple is the heart of Manali. It’s popular among the locals as well as the tourists. It has a small Sanctorum and a deity. During the winter months, the temple gets covered by snow which makes for a splendid sight. Also, it’s quiet and friendly environment makes for a peaceful visit.
2. The Rohtang Pass
The most adventurous parts for trekking in the Himachal is the Rohtang Pass.
It is located at a distance of 9.2 km from the Hampta Pass. Avid trekkers should not miss out on this while trekking to the Hampta Pass Trek.
Rohtang Pass is at an altitude of 13,000 ft and is covered with snow most of the time. Beas Kund, the source of the Beas River is also located at the Rohtang Pass and is one of the most amazing sights to see. If you wish you can even check out the complete itinerary on Chandrakhani Pass Trek
Malana is located at a distance of 15.3 km from the Hampta Pass Trek. It is a beautiful, uninhabited village amidst the Deotibba and Chandrakhani peaks. One should definitely visit the place to witness the serene beauty while trekking in Himachal.
This is the most important step for a trek. You need to create a checklist of the things you are supposed to carry before starting to pack. Some of the essentials are as follows:
- Backpack (50 – 60 litre) with a supporting frame, sturdy straps and rain cover.
- Day Pack (20 - 30 litre) and rain cover.
- Walking Stick or Trekking Pole for additional balance and support.
- LED Torch with an extra set of cells/ Head Lamps (preferred).
- Water bottle/Hydration Pack.
- Snacks such as Energy bars, dry fruits
- Personal Medical Kit. (basics comprising of Crocin, Combiflam, Disprin tablets, Cotton, ORS packets, Betadine cream, Aqua pure Tablets, Muscle relaxant spray)
Apart from these, you should know about the must-have trekking gear that you should carry with you.
Clothes to Carry
- Full sleeved cotton T-shirts
- Fleece T-shirts
- Fleece Jacket or Woollen Sweater
- Thermal Inners
- Trekking pants – avoid shorts and denim.
- Light, quick drying towel
- Water proof hand gloves
- Light weight raincoat/poncho
- Sun Cap and/or Head-Scarf, Balaclava
- Cotton Socks and Woollen Socks
- Trekking shoes of a good quality of a good grip. Make sure to break them in, before the trek.
- Sun Glasses, which will cover your eyes well
- Cold Cream and Sun Screen Lotion of SPF40+
- Toiletries kit with the bare essentials
- Small repair kit comprising of safety pins, needle, thread, string etc.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Anti-Bacterial Powder
- Few extra plastic bags for wet clothes
Risks on the Hampta Pass Trek
When trekking at such high altitudes, you are easily prone to some risks! Worry not, read further and know all about it:
Anything above 8000 feet is termed as High Altitude and the Hampta Pass stands at 4268 metres, which means that while not in entirety but a major chunk of the trek is at high altitude. Hence, it’s always advisable to know and understand the illnesses associated with an increase in altitude.
There are no factors such as age, gender, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness. Many people can go up to 8,000 feet with the minimal of effects of the altitude. If you haven't visited at a high altitude before, it's important to be wary. If you have been, and haven’t faced any problems, it’s safe to say that you could return to the same altitude again without problems as long as you are properly acclimatized.
Why do people suffer from altitude sickness?
The major reason for altitude illness is going too high too fast. If given time, your body will be able to adapt to the decrease in oxygen molecules at a specific altitude.
The prevention of this could be proper acclimatization and preventive medications. Stay hydrated at all times. Since acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, you need to maintain a balance and rehydrate as much as you can.
Avoid the consumption of alcohol, depressant drugs, or tobacco. Eat meals high in carbohydrates.
Want to know which medicine would prevent altitude sickness?
Then, take Diamox! Diamox is a common drug which allows you to breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen, thereby minimizing the symptoms caused by poor oxygenation. This can prove to be especially helpful during nights when the respiratory drive is decreased.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon factors such as individual susceptibility to the elevation, and the rate of ascent. Most people experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process.
A bout of mild AMS will not interfere with normal activity and the symptoms tend to subside within 2-4 days as the body acclimatizes. The only cure is either acclimatization or descent. Symptoms of Mild AMS can be treated with pain medications for a headache and Diamox.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
HAPE results from a build-up of fluid in the lungs. This fluid in the lungs then, in turn, prevents effective oxygen exchange.
As the condition worsens, the oxygen level in the bloodstream decreases, which can lead to cyanosis, impaired cerebral function, and death.
What could be the symptoms of HAPE?
Symptoms of HAPE include a shortness of breath even while at rest, a “tightness in the chest,” marked fatigue, weakness, a feeling of impending suffocation at night, and a persistent productive cough that brings up white, watery, or frothy fluid. Apart from this, irrational behaviour and confusion are clear indications that insufficient oxygen is reaching the brain.
Word of caution-
Anyone suffering from HAPE must be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
HACE is the result of the brain tissue swelling up due to fluid leakage.
Check out the symptoms:
Symptoms of HACE include a headache, loss of coordination (ataxia), weakness, and decreasing levels of consciousness including, disorientation, loss of memory, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour, and coma.
HACE mostly post a week or more at a high altitude. Severe instances can lead to death if not treated quickly. Immediate descent is a necessary life-saving measure, anyone suffering from HACE must be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.
Other Medications for Altitude Illnesses
- Ibuprofen is effective at relieving altitude headache.
- Nifedipine rapidly decreases pulmonary artery pressure and relieves HAPE.
Factors to Take Care at Hampta Pass Trek
1. Unpredictable Weather Conditions
While you could be observant and keep track of the weather conditions, it still remains a factor that can’t be controlled, no one can guarantee a hot sunny day, rain or snowfall. Giving security the utmost importance, do not proceed any further from campsites if the weather isn’t favourable.
2. Trekking Injuries
Trekking over varied and difficult terrains could lead to minor and major injuries alike. In the case of a minor injury, first aid the obvious priority. In the case of a major injury, the injured should be carried on a stretcher to the nearest road ahead and led to the closest medical centre.
3. Lack of Communication
In a time and age when we are ‘connected’ via our multiple gizmos and gadgets, the lack of range or a signal could be quite daunting, and the feeling of being cut off could lead to feeling desolate. However, avert your eyes from your screens and take in the beauty of nature. Apart from this, to communicate within campsites and base camps, walkie-talkies come to the rescue.
1. When is the best time to go to Hampta Pass Trek?
While the Hampta Pass is a grand trek in almost any season, the months that do justice to it are June, July, September and first week of October. The special thing about attempting the trek in mid - June is that the Hampta Pass weather is magical! The amount of snow that you will see, making you believe that you are in the Arctic. A few days later, in July, the snow comes down and the valley turns green. So, it really depends on you, in what form you would like to experience the valley.
2. How difficult is the trek?
The Hampta Pass trek is classified as an easy to a moderate trek, but which requires a decent amount of endurance.
3. How cold does it get on the Hampta Pass Trek?
In the early and the later days of the trek, the temperatures are pretty normal and easily bearable. The days in between is when the temperatures drop. The day sees a high temperature, while the night would see a temperature anywhere between +3 to -4 degrees.
4. When should I do the booking?
If you want great deals on flights or train fare, then book 4-5 months prior your travel date.
5. How much distance is covered each day/ how long do I have to walk?
The everyday trek distance is not much, with the average walking distance being between 8 - 10 km, which can be completed within 5-7 hrs, of course, depending on the capacity.
6. How do I prepare for the expedition?
You should be able to jog 5 km in 25-30 minutes before the start of the trek.
Activities such as swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
For your flexibility, stretch your hamstrings, ankles, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly.
7. How much will the Hampta Pass trek cost?
The 4-5 days trek would cost around Rs. 8,500- 10,000 per adult.
Descending the Summit
Himachal Pradesh is a well-known hill station, having the best of hills and sights to enthral people. The idea of cosying up into sweaters, fresh mountain air is what makes you want to make that visit! The Hampta Pass while having its own standing also benefits from its being close to Manali, enticing travellers to kill two birds with one stone.
Now, isn’t that a deal worth making?
In the span of just five days, this trek will give every traveller every little bit of serenity for an enriching experience of the mind and soul.
What awaits you? Surrounded by the Himalayan peaks, with natural beauty and scenery that mesmerizes your soul, this trip could be memorable in so many different ways. Heaven would definitely be an understatement for this trek, as one can even enjoy the myriads of birds in all their naturality.
No matter what it takes, make this trip happen! You could either plan to fail or fail to plan, the choice is in your hands. For an immeasurable travel experience in Hampta Pass Trek, you every step of planning will be worth it and every penny spent will be an investment. Plan to invest in the world that gives you an immense sense of satisfaction, and a beauty within that will keep you positive for all the ages to come.
“Somewhere between the start of the trail and the end is the mystery why we choose to walk.”