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ChandraTal: Travel Tips for Planning a Trip

The other day while talking to a friend about ChandraTaal, I thought of doing a quick tips piece for people planning to go there; so, here are a few things to keep in mind…

ChandraTaal
If you want to read up on it, check out these links…
Wikipedia
Couldn’t find a good map but did find Anand’s write-up on his trek and a basic map.
Spitian Folklore on ChandraTal

Things to keep in mind when planning…

1. Start early from Manali to ensure that you have a lot of time and that you don’t get stuck on top on Rothang Pass. (Rothang is the honeymoon spot for North India and trust me, here traffic jams can last hours).

Turn-off to ChandraTal

2. There are two trekking routes to go to the lake. One starts at Kumzum La and the other at Batal. The Kumzum La route is shorter but more challenging; I recommend doing this stretch when going to the lake and only in good weather. The Batal route is a gentle rolling climb and a nice walk on return. ChandraTaal is about 14 km from Batal. If the roads have been cleared, you can take a jeep for the first 12 km.

3. You can hire a jeep in Manali to take you to Batal and trek from there. On return the jeep can pick you up at Batal too. If you are doing the Kumzum La route, ask the jeep to drop you off at Kumzum La.

4. If you think you need a guide, you can hire one at Manali.

5. Medicine for altitude sickness – If you are doing a quick trip I recommend using Diamox. Start taking it as soon as you arrive in Manali or at least a day before you start the climb. Diamox will help with acclimatising but it makes you want to pee very often so you may want to take it in the morning after breakfast :)
Two pods of garlic everyday will also help with AMS. Be careful not to over eat on the garlic as it can also cause ulcers.

6. If you are going in peak season you may find tents there that locals pitch to provide accommodation and food to travellers. However, this is a chance to take and I recommend taking your own gear.

7. Carry good and warm camping gear. You could even hire this in Delhi or Manali. You will need –

a. thick sleeping mat (make sure your mat is of good quality else the cold seeps in)
b. high altitude sleeping bag
c. tent with wind and rain cover

You will need all the insulation you can get; make sure it’s all high altitude stuff and in good condition.

Water-crossing on the way

8. Carry warm clothes. Layering is the trick. Wear thermals, then tee and jeans and follow that up with a warm and wind-proof jacket. Gloves will be a requirement along with head gear. Carry extra pairs of socks, wet feet can kill your trip and you will most definitely get your feet wet.

9. Carry your food with you. If you are lucky you may find a food tent but if not… Carry maggi, and ready food packs if you have a stove. Else carry chocolates, biscuits, cheese, dry fruits, jam sachets, etc… They make for some nice picnic food.

These guys froze at night

10. Don’t set camp near the water; it’s tempting to do that but it gets freezing at night. It’s colder near the water and you are more exposed to wind.

11. While sleeping keep your bags inside tent at the four corners to add weight. There will be strong winds and the tent could do with extra stability.

12. Keep your shoes inside the tent so they’ll stay warm and to keep the smell away carry plastic bags to put shoes in.

Have you been to ChandraTaal, what was your experience? Do you have recommendations for other travellers? Please feel free to add your tips and experiences in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. :)

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