Chandratal Lake, also called “Moon Lake” in Spiti Valley is one of the most enchanting lakes in Himalayas and yeah, one of my top 5 favourites lakes in Himalayas too. A lot of adventure lovers tread a long, treacherous and yet adventurous path over Rohtang Pass every year to see this wonderful offering from nature. As soon as the season begins by opening up of Rohtang Pass and road to Spiti Valley from Manali in June, the pathway to Chandratal Lake gets great attention by Himalayan lovers from all parts of the world. In fact, majority of the people visit Spiti Valley first to see Chandratal Lake and then they ever get lost in the beauty offered by Spiti Valley itself 🙂 … Chandratal Lake is also quite famous for its majestic reflections of surrounding Himalayan peaks in its deep blue waters, which once you witness, will never forget in you entire life. Well, it is only this adventure of Chandratal Lake that changed my life and made me fall in deep love with Himalayas in 2009.
Having said all that, the biggest question is how do you reach Chandratal Lake? You can find most of the answers on making a successful trip to Chandratal Lake in my Travel Guide to Chandratal Lake but still you have any, feel free to leave a comment or mail me.
However, I recently came up with a comment from one of the reader (linked here) who was quoted a pounding “INR 23000” for the drop to Spiti and I was like 😯 😯 … Even when I went almost 4 years back, I think we paid about 9-10K for 2 days trip just upto Battal. This is a big setback for the travellers on budget travel to Chandratal Lake. Hence, I will try to enlist some tips which you can follow to make a trip to Chandratal Lake in cheapest manner as possible.
Two Cheapest Way To Travel to Chandratal Lake
There are two HRTC buses which runs between Manali and Kaza every morning, as soon as road to Spiti Valley via Manali get open in the season, mostly in June. These buses run from Kullu to Kaza via Manali and it reaches Manali around 4.45 AM and leaves at 5.00 AM. Ticket to Kaza will cost you only about INR 250 approximately per person. Now, you have two options. First option, a bit tricky and inconvenient one, is to:
- Get down at Battal on the way to Kaza which is just before the ascend to Kunzum Pass. Before getting down, do make sure that you tie up with Conductor of the bus to pick you next morning from the same place. May be pay a little tip for the same 🙂
- Tie up with some PWD/GREF workers who might be going towards Chandratal Lake and get a hike from them in their jeep or dozer. You can find them at Battal Dhabha, most likely.
- You can pay or offer them a mere INR 100-150 as a tip for the lift.
- Of course, you can trek as well to Chandratal Lake from Battal and be back by evening. However, it depends upon if you are properly acclimatized to undertake this high altitude trek.
- Visit Chandratal Lake and come back to Battal Dhabha for overnight stay that will cost you about 100 – 150 per person. Meals would also be very cheap there.
- There is also a PWD Rest House now at Battal which will prove just too good if you can negotiate with the PWD caretaker or manage booking for it. Read the article: How to Book HP PWD Rest Houses or FRHs. Meals you can have at the Battal Chandra Dhabha.
- Next Morning, same bus which reached last night to Kaza will be going back to Manali. Since, you have prior arrangements with the conductor, so he might keep the seat or space vacant for you. It takes about 3.5 Hrs to reach Battal from Kaza. So, if bus starts from Kaza at 5 AM then it will reach Battal at about 8 AM. Get back to Manali on the same bus.
- Total Approximate Cost: 500 (Bus) + 300 (Food + Accommodation) + Rs 200 (Tip for Lift) = INR 1000 per person
- Do note down, using this option you are at a mercy of a lift or hitchhike to Chandratal Lake from PWD/GREF workers or at worst a trek to Chandratal Lake from Battal and back on your own. So, play with this option if you are really game for it
Your second option, is to:
- Get down at Losar after crossing Kunzum Pass on the way to Kaza which is about 57 KMs before Kaza. Before getting down, do make sure that you tie up with Conductor of the bus to pick you next morning from the same place. May be pay a little tip for the same 🙂
- Tie up with some local there in Losar village who MAY rent (don’t rely though) their own bikes for a trip to Chandratal Lake at a mere cost of about INR 600 – 700 (fuel extra). It can be possible but unrliable pretty much as sometime people are afraid to give their own bikes.
- Make a day trip to Chandratal Lake on bike over Kunzum Pass and come back to Losar. Return bike and stay overnight at Losar.
- You can stay with Nomads Cottage (Costs about Rs 2000-2500 with meals) or Samson Guest House (Costs about Rs 1000 – 1200 with meals), they might help you get a bike on rent as well OR PWD Rest House (check How to Book HP PWD Rest Houses or FRHs) (costs about Rs 500-600 with meals) OR some homestay at Losar village (costs about Rs 400-500 with meals).
- Next Morning, same bus which reached last night to Kaza will be going back to Manali. Since, you have prior arrangements with the conductor, so he may keep the seat or space vacant for you. It takes about 2 Hrs to reach Losar from Kaza. So, if bus starts from Kaza at 5 AM then it will reach Losar at about 7 AM. Get back to Manali on the same bus.
- Total Approximate Cost: 500 (Bus) + 800 (Food + Accommodation) + Rs 900 (Bike Rent + Fuel) = INR 2200-2500 per person
Other Tips on Excursion to Chandratal Lake
- If you want to really make it convenient then you can also get a taxi from Losar village for full day excursion to Chandratal Lake for Rs 2000 – 2500 as well or can cal taxi from Kaza as at Losar there are only couple of taxis available which might not be available on the day you arrive.
- There is a (rarely taken) virgin trek to Chandratal Lake that starts from the yak grazing grounds of Takcha near Kunzum Pass. So, in case you are in for some trek, you can take some local from the Losar village and experience this virgin trek to this beautiful lake.
Hence, you can see that even if you go with the convenient option you will be saving a lot of money with respect to a dedicated taxi from Manali to Chandratal Lake for two days trip. You can save this money to have a comfortable stay either at Manali or save it for yourself or execute some DoW Causes 🙂 … I hope I am able to suggest or present some of the ideas/ways which can help you make a trip to this heavenly, Chandratal Lake, in most cheapest possible way. If you have ever visited this lake or have any suggestions which might help others fellow travelers too then please feel free to leave a comment below and share them with us too.