Hampta Pass Trek

Manali, Himachal Pradesh
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The Hampta Pass trek in Himachal Pradesh embodies different shades of nature to provide a contrasting landscape that consists of green canopied valleys on one side and barren earthly mountains on the other hand. A grassland with spring flowers blooming mirrored by a stark scenery consisting of jagged terrains is something that you only get to see on the Hampta Pass trek. 

The Hampta pass acts as a vantage point, from where you can witness two equally beautiful parts of Himachal’s topography. If you were to look in the northern direction, you’d witness the majestic Lahaul valley stretching up to a vast expanse of land, deprived of vegetation while if you were to look on the other side of the trail, you’d witness jade green forests that adorn the valley of Kullu.

Although the distance that we cover in the Hampta Pass trek is merely 26 km, the entire trail with its ever-changing landscape seems like one long walk into the four seasons itself where you get to experience the warmth of golden sun rays, see spring flowers blooming in the meadows, and feel the cold that seeps through the deserts of Lahaul - Spiti. 

The Hampta Pass trek trail takes you through alpine forests where Maple, Birch, Oak, and Deodar trees rustle their leaves in sync with the cool breeze. As you walk further, meadows with waving stalks of green beckon you closer, enticing you to keep walking until you reach the silver streams of water gurgling through the same paths that you are walking upon. 

The snowline commences after walking for a few miles where a steep ascend leads you to the Hampta pass where majestic mountains stand tall, overlooking the narrow valleys which are speckled with wildflowers. 

The contrast of the tenderness of the flower petals against the rugged mountains takes your breath away, as you realize that mother nature truly never fails to surprise and you get to experience this phenomenon firsthand in the dramatic shades that the Hampta Pass trek shows you. From cliffs, slanting slopes, glaciers that seem like icy carpets, rhododendron forests, and alpine lakes, every step that you take on the Hampta pass trail unravels a new side to the trekkers.

In this Hampta Pass trek itinerary, the starting point is the town of Manali. We drive from Manali to Jobra which is the base for the Hampta Pass trek. The entire drive seems like a road trip straight out of the movies where you are traversing through almost 42 hairpin bends in the road and witnessing the glory of mountains with each turn of your vehicle with the picturesque Kullu valley in the backdrop. The heat of Manali dissipates to give way to a cool breeze as you drive further away from the city roads and towards Jobra with the Rani Nallah River, flowing right alongside you. Upon reaching Jobra, a brief trekking session conducted by the trek leader where all the necessary details about what the Hampta Pass trek entails, we make our way to Chika, the first campsite of our trek. 

Nestled in the Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayas, the difficulty level for the Hampta pass trek is easy to moderate level with the maximum altitude attained in five days being 14100 Ft. The trek has a few high-altitude campsites and Chika nestled at an altitude of 10,000ft is the first one of them. However since it’s approx 2 kilometers from Jobra, it doesn’t test your endurance as much. The trail has enough resources for water and is speckled with pine trees, green maple, and sparkling silver birch trees making the topography diverse and extremely rich. All along the streams of the Rani Nallah river pass through the meadow where we set up camp for the night. 

After having an early morning breakfast in the mountains, we start our ascent towards our next campsite Balu ka Ghera as we traverse through green pastures for the first half of our trail which is then followed by boulders and loose rocks as you move forward. All the while the stream of the Jwara river runs through the water with its silver cascading streams giving the green landscape a pearly glow. As you gradually incline towards Balu ka Ghera, the mighty Dhauladhar ranges in the backdrop peak from behind, adding all the more glory to the scenery. 

The stretch is almost 9 km and the meadows make it easier for trekkers to pass through without exhausting themselves but as you move towards the rugged terrains made of boulders, it starts to put a strain on you which is why the ascend from Jobra to Balu ka Ghera is considered to be of moderate category. Balu itself means sand and the trail towards this campsite lives up to its name with its coarse sand topography. On the other side of the river, wildflowers grow along with birch and rhododendrons trees on the foothills, providing a stark contrast to the bare ground where we set camp for the night.

The trek from Balu ka Ghera to Sia Goru encompasses a steep uphill trail that is both challenging and rewarding at the same time. In a matter of approx six hours, you gain a considerable amount of altitude. The trek starts with slanting slopes and then as you cross a shallow lake you will stumble upon it afterward, the trail turns uphill with traces of snow stretching in front of you, and after crossing three steep ridges, you get the first glimpse of Hampta pass. 

The Hampa Pass acts as a wide passageway between the Lahaul valley and the Kullu Valley making it the only trek with such a striking crossover. The pass itself looks like a narrow valley, one that blooms with flowers and is overlooked by mountains with silver streams flowing through the meadows. You’d probably expect the pass to open up as soon as you take your first step towards it but you have to walk a bit before it drops you off into the lap of the Himalayas with the Deo Tibet peak beckoning you closer. The trek from Balu ka Ghera to Hampta stretches up to a distance of almost three kilometers and is of moderate category since the pass has a gradual steep ascent and the trail only, later on, turns into a flat walk as you descend towards Sia Goru which would be our next campsite. 

Nestled at an altitude of 12,900 feet, Sia Goru with its Eden-like landscape, and river streams are one of the best high-altitude campsites in this Hampta pass trek itinerary. The next day as you bid goodbye to this campsite and start your descent towards Chhatru, you’d be traversing on sedimentation of rocks that transform into ridges as they keep getting carried down from the glaciers and deposit on the trail over the years. 

The trail to Chhatru consists of inclines and loose rocks making this part of the trek moderate. After being so mesmerized by the green canopies that you previously witnessed, the lack of vegetation might astonish you but the beauty of the Hampta pass trek lies in its ability to keep surprising you with its ever-changing landscape. The barrenness of Chhatru would feel rewarding because once we’ve reached Chhatru, we would drive towards Chandratal which is one of the highlights of the Hampta pass trek. The crescent moon-shaped lake is one of the best places to visit in the Lahaul Spiti region and many people spend a lot of money to be able to see this pristine lake but on this Hampta pass trek, you get to experience the beauty of Chandrataal itself since the lake is located only 45 kilometers away from Chhatru and a visit to Chandratal is a must when on the Hampta Pass trek. After a visit to Chandratal lake, we will head back to Chhatru where we will spend the night before driving back to Manali the next day.

Although the Hampta pass retains its pristine beauty throughout the year, the best time to do the Hampta Pass trek is from June to September simply because the chances of witnessing patches of snow on the high passes are more in the early days of the season as it later melts down completely by the time August arrives. As the monsoon arrives, the Kullu valley gets prone to rain but on the other hand, Spiti gets summery bright days as usual.  

A beautiful view of blooming flowers accompanies you through a substantial part of the trail. Their fresh smell keeps you energized throughout. A narrow green valley protected by snow-covered mountains is a bonus.  

When it comes to the difficulty level, Hampta Pass Trek is moderate. The difficulty level ranges because along with the contrasting landscape, there is a stark difference in the terrain which ranges from steep uphills to almost flat grasslands. For the most part, it’s just a simple hike through the valley, but the terrain becomes difficult as you approach the pass.

The pass crossing day is a long walk and may take up to 9 hours. Hampta Pass Trek is an ideal trek for fit first-timers, owing to its varied difficulty level.

Hampta Pass does not pose much of a safety challenge. It is considered to be a pretty safe trek as compared to the other high-altitude treks but at the same time, although the Hampta pass trek is considered safe, one must be careful around the stream crossings and the descent from the pass down to Sia Goru campsite.

The total time taken to complete this trek is usually around five days, covering a 26 Kilometers stretch of land where you gain an altitude of 14,100ft.

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