Chandra Tal (the Lake of Moon) is situated at an altitude of 4270m in the Himalayan region of Lahaul and Spiti. Chandratal is a popular destination for trekkers and campers. The trail from Kunzum La to Chandratal is more scenic and panoramic overlooking Samudra Tapu glacier, CB peaks, KR group of a peak, and among all the highest Mulkila peak ( 6517m) standing west of Chandratal. The vast meadows of Lake and its surroundings are favorite summer homes for Gaddi Shepherds who graze their flocks in the vicinity of the Lake. The Gaddi shepherds have long held traditional grazing rights in the area. The Lake is also one of the two high-altitude wetlands of India which have been designated as Ramsar sites.
Baralacha La is a high mountain pass connecting Lahaul valley of Himachal to Ladakh union territory. Baralacha La is one of four high mountain pass that is on Manali – Leh national highway. Baralacha La is the source of three rivers i.e. Chandra, Bhaga, and Tsarap. Chandra Bhaga later becomes Chenab at Tandi. In other way saying Baralacha la is the source of the Chenab river.
It is high altitude trek surrounded by glaciers and the high mountains of Lahaul, so proper acclimatization is needed before leaving for this trek from Chandratal or Kunzum la.
This trekking program, sets out from the Manali, crossing Rohtang la first camp at Chota Dara. The first two days we have set for proper acclimatization before the actual trek begins at Kunzum la. First-day magnificent drive along the Chandra River valley to Chhatru – Chota Dara. Then driving up to Kunzom La (4551m) having a view of Spiti valley, 8 km trek down in large meadows, the lake of moon approached. Further, the trail crosses the two rivers crossing Tokpo Yongma and Tokpo Gongma. Crossing over the boulders and grassy stretches, reach the top of the Baralacha la which is seven km long. The pass joins the Manali-Leh national highway.
Day 1: Manali to Atal Tunnel Rohtang – Chhatru (3,100 m) drive 5 hrs. Acclimatize
An early departure from Manali, we drive 1 hour to Atal Tunnel Rohtang. Which is now a get way to Lahoul & Spiti, Pangi, and Zanskar.16 km down to the foot of the Rohtang la a small place called Gramphu. A dusty and rugged path leads towards Chhatru. We drive along the left banks of Chandra River and about 14km to Chatru. And the afternoon acclimatization hike to the Chatru – Hamta trail.
Day 2: Chatru to Kunzum (4,551 m) drive 2hr, Trek Chandra Tal (4,270 m), 5-6 hrs
We drive along the right bank of the Chandra River. Along the trail, one could see huge granite walls, which are increasingly popular among rock climbers. The color of these rocks differs to each other. Far across Chandra River, the view of the Chota Shigri glacier and some wonderful peaks are mind-blowing. Some small teashops mark the arrival at Chota Dara. Leaving Chota Dara behind we continue along the right bank of Chandra River. Good view of Bara Shigri glacier on the left side. All above the glacier which is 12 km in length longest in Himachal, impressive view of Papsura (6451m), Dharamsura (6446), and numbers of peaks towers above Bara Shigri glacier. Crossing bridge soon after Batal, we climb towards Kunzum la following small stream, which originated above pass. Arriving at pass has a glimpse of Spiti valley, which runs 170 km towards the south. Take a path, which goes to Lake 8 km; approach large meadows – a favorite area with a multitude of shepherd’s huts. Passing and crossing a long stretch of stony ground and small stream arrive at the lake. Across Chandra River most fascinating sight of Samudra Tapu glacier, North Dakka glacier, South Dakka glacier, and Silver glacier. Above the glaciers towering mighty peaks of Moulkila (6517m) and C.B. peaks. Leaving Kunzum we trek to Chandratal which is 8 km long and has a wide panoramic view of Chandra Bhaga peaks all around. Camp after Chandratal.
Day 3: Rest, explore and acclimatize at Chandratal
Today a day for leisure and walk around the lake, or explore surroundings, the further 3 days will be at high altitude, so proper acclimatization must before leaving Chandratal to Baralacha la.
Day 4: Chandratal to Tokpo Yongma (4,400 m), 7 hrs
A long exhausting trek but well worth, because occasionally trekkers encounter patches of green pastureland. This stretch is about 14 to 16 km. The trail starts with a series of ups and downs through steep ravine and boulders – stream fields. As you progress, a flat grassy land, which slopes up to snow, clad ridge. Snowcock can be heard has heard and even sighted, if you are lucky. After 3 hrs the trail winds down a knoll, which has a steep precipice to the river far down to the left. Cross the stream if the water is low or find Snow Bridge up near the source. Or camp and cross next morning as earliest.
Day 5: Tokpo Yongma to Tokpo Gongma (4,700 m), 6-7 hrs
Trek through a narrow valley flanked on both sides by snow-capped mountains. Star walk early as possible since this stream to be cross, while the flow of the water is less early in the day. A short walk after crossing the river, here the valley opens out on a broad plateau where the camp is set on a delightful grassy patch.
Day 6: Tokpo Gongma to Baralacha la (4’890 m) trek 5 hrs. Drive to Patseo (3,750 m) – Keylong – Atal Tunnel – Manali, 6 Hrs.
Today early departure from camp towards Baralacha la pass, which is 7 km long, gives the source of three rivers – Chandra through South, Bhaga through upper Lahoul, and Yunam towards Zanskar. A splendid view of M-4, which is the highest in the Moulkila range, can be seen from the trail as well as of Keorang range of the Great Himalayas. On the pass, join the Manali – Leh highway and drive to Patseo and along the Bhaga river to Darcha – Jispa – Keylong. After Tandi along the Chandra River to Sissu and through Atal Tunnel Rohtang to Manali.
” I must say it was beginner’s luck for us doing trekking with amazing team at Potala. We planned for our first ever trek(Chandratal) , and luckily found this trek company. It was straight away a feel-good sensation for us on arrival at their place at Manali. We received the warmth of hospitality.
On our tour which included trekking and camping, there was never a moment that we felt we lacked a thing in the cold desert of Spiti Valley. Every part of the trekking and camping was well organized. Be it the camp site setup, food , tents, sleeping bags etc were all taken care of. All that we were left to, was to enjoy.
A group of 4 great people from Potala, made it so easily-possible for us.
Cheers Potala !!!!
Mr. N. Ranjan
- High Meadows of Lahaul
- View of CB, Mulkila and KR group of peaks at Greater Himalaya Range
- Magnificent Chandratal Lake
- 7 KM long pass of Baralacha La
- Scenic Mountain Trail