We were standing in front of the taxi drivers union office in Kaza to enquire about any shared taxi which takes us Batal next day. The office was crowded, negotiations on taxi fares were heating up inside between drivers and tourists. Two guys came out from the crowd and asked us where we are heading.They were also going to Chandratal. But their plan was to trek from Kunzum pass top, instead of going up to Batal (the road to Chandratal starts from Batal). They asked us whether we are joining. Most of the taxis were already booked. And the taxi fare was much less up to Kunzum pass top which is 12 km before Batal. Without having any idea about the Kunzum pass to Chandratal trek, we said okay since that was our only option to reach Chandratal.
The guys told that the trek is an easy one, a trail going downwards and take 3 hours to reach Chandratal. Later a couple from New Zealand also joined our group. We parted from taxi office to meet again next day morning 7 am.
Next day by 10 AM, reached Kunzum pass top. The place was beautiful. Most of the people traveling between Manali and Kaza stop at the Kunzum top for a break. You can see the beautiful Bada Shigri glacier from here. It is one of the biggest glaciers in Himachal Pradesh. We didn’t buy any food since it is just a three hours trekking (that’s what we had in our mind that time). We filled our bottles and asked an old man the way to Chandratal. He showed us the trail and reminded us to take a small diversion towards the left which goes down after 30 minutes.
It was a sunny day, started walking, there was nobody else in the trail. The path was beautiful, there were a lot of flowers on both side. For the first 30 minutes, we were looking for the deviation to take. The old man from the Kunzum top was very particular to take that route. But couldn’t find any such trial, walked forward expecting to find it soon. Soon understood that the route goes upwards instead of going down as we expected. The couples from New Zealand looked very confident and moved forward. The two guys we met from Kaza was already tired to see the huge landscapes in front of them and told they will come slowly.What we have in front; big barren mountains and a narrow trail, nobody to ask for directions, so our only hope was to walk and see what happens.
Walked for hours and still, we were in the middle of nowhere. The trail was taking us through the mountains, alternate climb ups and downs. At some parts the trail goes very narrow through the edge, even a small misstep would take us to the bottom of the valley. But apart from these, the views on the way were exhilarating. The views of snow-capped mountains, the Chandra river and the valley kept us moving.
Found the camping area after some time but we were still very far, the trail gave no sign of going down. The terrain changed, it got tougher. There were sharp stones everywhere and unfortunately the sun was at its peak and no shade at all. The lack of oxygen forced us to take a break very often.
Later, the barren terrain became a little bit greener. Started to see many small streams coming from the top. There were few shepherds on the way, we were glad to see some people at last. Their sheep and horses were grazing on the meadows. Finally, had a glimpse of Chandratal far away. The view of the turquoise water hidden between the mountains was magical.
The trail began to go down, that final stretch was the most joyful part of the trek. After walking for almost 6 hours, reached Chandratal. The lake was beautiful, but looking back to see those mountains standing tall, where we walked for hours, it was a moment of contentment.
Keep in mind few things before you trek from Kunzum pass to Chandratal
- Kunzum pass to Chandratal is a 9 km trek which will take almost 6 hours to complete. The trail which goes over rocky mountains is tricky sometimes but the views are amazing and you should definitely try this
- Kunzum pass top can be reached from Kaza by taxi or daily HRTC bus, it is about 75 km (3-4 hours in the taxi). For Tata Sumo, the fare is INR 3500 up to the Kunzum top
- Enquire at the taxi driver’s union office nearby the bus stand in Kaza, you can find many people looking to share the taxi
- There are no shops in Kunzum pass top. You can stock some food stuff from either Losar (the last village with shops on the way) or Kaza
- Carry enough water, you can also fill your bottles from the Kunzum top
- There is actually another trail from Kunzum pass to Chandratal which is less difficult, it will take you down to the valley without much walk but we were not able to find that trail that day
- It will be very sunny during the day and there are no trees or shades on the way
- The trail will take you directly to the lake, from there it is about 2 km to reach back to the camping site
- You can pre-book your tent from Kaza. But I think there is no need for that, there will be always extra tents in the camp
- Two sharing tent will cost around INR 700 which includes dinner and breakfast
- If you are planning to catch the bus to Manali next day, you have to reach Batal by 8.30 AM
- From camping site, Batal is about 14 km. Getting a vehicle in the morning to drop you is very difficult and it depends on your mere luck. So go to sleep keeping in mind about a long walk next day. Early mornings are amazing, the first rays falling on the snow capped mountains is pure bliss to watch
Read about Tashigang, the highest village in Spiti. Visit this beautiful tiny village when you come to Spiti valley, it will be an amazing experience.
One more thing, now you know that “there is a trek from Kunzum pass to Chandratal” and you should try this amazing trek next time in Spiti. I have a very humble request to everyone, nobody really doesn’t wish to see any broken beer bottles, cigarette packets or snacks covers on such amazing trails. All these will distract us from connecting with nature in a better way. Keep our nature as it is. Please think about those who come to these places after you. Travel more responsibly and make a lot of memories, cheers…
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