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Adventure in India- Trekking the Hampta Pass

 

My first trip to India was in October 2014. After one month of traveling solo, I left as fast as I could with memories of pure chaoticness. Upon my return home, I still couldn’t get India out of my mind. It was still such a mystery to me. I certainly had more bad moments than good on that one particular  trip, but when I did  experience good moments they were REALLY incredible, so incredible I kept replaying them over and over in my mind. The culture, the spirituality, the people who had helped me along the way,  the colors and the scents. I knew wasn’t finished with mother India. I had to go back. The sooner the better!

Fast forward one year later and my plane was touching down in New Delhi, India once again. This time I was on a mission to find a different side of mother India . A less chaotic side. After less than 24 hours in the city, we were on the next overnight bus heading north to Manali, located in Himachal Pradesh. It was time to go trekking!  When I heard about the Hampta Pass I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been trekking in Nepal several times but we’ve heard that trekking in India incomparable to Nepal where facilities are developed along the trails for tourists. We would be completely on our own out there. Just four friends and mother nature. We packed up our gear, a map of the area dated back from 1970, and headed off on what would be an adventure of a lifetime.

 

The Hamta Pass trek is located in the Manali region in Himachal Pradesh, India . It takes you over the Pir Panjal mountain range and then crosses over the Hamta pass at 4260M . For more information please see below!

 

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DAY ONE: Hampta Valley- Chhika

 

 

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Photo: Ryan Mazure

 

We were unable to find any recent maps of the Hamta Pass area. In fact, the best map we could find was from the 1970s.  Unlike Nepal the trails here aren’t well developed . We knew we were completely on our own for this one.  After a 2 hour drive from Manali we were dropped off  at on curve no.40 at  approximately 2500M.   We stepped out of the jeep and couldn’t believe we were still in India. It was quiet, clean and not a person in sight.

 

 

adventure, India, trekking, Hamta Pass

We headed off into the unknown. It could be days before we see another person or  reach the next village.

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About 10 minutes into our  trek we passed a friendly looking Sheppard carrying a couple of baby sheep.  I smiled as I imagined the simplicity of his life living in these remote mountains.

 

 

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Well, this sure isn’t the crazy India I remembered. Very impressive Mama India!

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

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After only two hours of walking we reached a camp ground named Chhika (3010M)  . We decided to pitch our tent early and enjoy the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the area. No need to rush when your in a place THIS extraordinary.

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

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 .Sitting around that campfire in remote India was a moment I knew I’d remember my whole life . It would one day be a story I’d tell my grandchildren and perhaps . These kinda moments you just take it all in and

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DAY 2  Chhika – Balu Paddar

 

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Photo: Ryan Mazure

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The following day we continued on getting further and further away from civilization  . The feeling of being this remote was incredible . I remember having to remind myself over and over again that I was in India.  After spending time in the loud crowded cities last year, this was certainly not how I remembered India to be.

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It was starting to get late so after 4 hours of walking we decided to pitch our tents at Balu Paddar (3800m). This is the last camp ground on the Manali side.

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

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It got a little harder to light a fire in this altitude due to a lack of fire wood and less oxygen. We were still determined though and didn’t want to go to bed without at least cup of Chai Tea so we collected dry horse poo, and any twigs/ grass we could find to make the fire light!  It was a success:)

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

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It’s amazing how small you feel sleeping under a billion stars surrounded by the silhouettes of the monstrous mountains.

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DAY 3  Balu Paddar- Chhatru

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

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We packed up early this morning because we had no idea how long it would take us to reach our next destination.  It was freezing outside exspecially with the wind coming off the mountains chilling us to the bone. It wouldn’t be long until the sun would come beaming down on us.

 

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

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There were trails everywhere. Hundreds of them. According to Ryan’s GPS we were in the right direction but the question was: What path to take? We thought by climbing up this super steep hill we would find a short cut . We were wrong. Shortly after reaching the top we realized we needed to climb back down and go another route. At almost 4000M unnecessary climbing was not so fun .

 

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Just taking it all in.

 

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After re routing and taking a few wrong trails  we finally made it to the Hamta Pass at 4260M! Here we found a new member to add to the team, a mountain dog we named Rex. But the adventure wasn’t over here, n a way it was only just the beginning.

 

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photo: Ryan Mazure
photo: Ryan Mazure

 

The views at this altitude were so incredible .  It wasn’t the kinda place I was in a hurry to leave.

 

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
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After crossing over the pass it was now time to find a small village named Chhatru. We planned on staying there the night before finding our way back to Manali. But again there were 100s of paths and not a sole around to help us with directions. In this photo we had no idea that this path would lead us to the edge of a cliff on the complete opposite side of the correct path.  We later ended up having to risk crossing a rapid river in order to avoid a two hour back track to where we should have crossed in the beginning.

 

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Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

Rex and I decided to take a little break :)

 

Photo: Ryan Mazure
Photo: Ryan Mazure

 

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After climbing and descending hills and rocks, crossing rapid rivers, and making a few paths of our own- we finally arrived in the village of Chhatru we thought we would never find- what a relief! :)

 

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We didn’t have too many options for accommodation for this may have been the smallest village I have ever been to.  We were happy to stay at a guest house that offered us their storage room for the night and a delicious hot meal of Dal curry.

 

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Kalan was looking super comfy in the storage room.

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Inside our guest house waiting or our chai tea and hot meal

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After a long day of trekking we patiently wait for our Chai Tea and Dal Curry.

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Day 4  Chhatru- Manali

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The next morning we were left wondering “how are we getting back to Manali? There was no possible way we could walk. While having breakfast, a truck pulled up by the guest house so I immediately ran over to the driver (who spoke no English)  and said “Manali?” “Manali” ? he seemed hesitant to let us come at first but after awhile he nodded. The four of us jumped in the front cab and were on our way to Manali- or at least that’s what we thought.

 

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Then we found ourselves holding onto our seats on one of the world’s most dangerous roads. There were twists and turns with a huge drop to the right of us. Maybe one of the most terrifying parts of the road was when other vehicles tried to pass us, leaving no space for any sudden mistake.   Our driver didn’t seem to mind so much though.  He casually puffed away on a cigarette, he probably has taken this route a few times before.

 

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So it turned out the driver wasn’t taking us to Manali.  After an hour of driving he pulled the truck over at a road intersection and just kinda gave us the look to get out.  We had no choice but to hitch hike from this point on

 

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So we waited.. and waited. For hours. No one would pick us up not even the local buses.  The sun was beaming on us and the wind was blowing sand in our faces . We were wondering if we should just pitch the tent or try to find phone singal and call to get help from Manali.  Finally a tourist jeep with a couple of Isrealis stopped. Ryan ran up to the window and basically begged them to take us . We hopped in thanked them over and over again. We were finally on our way back to Manali

 

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See you soon Manali :)

 

If you’re up for the adventure trekking over the Hampa Pass Please keep reading below . For any questions please feel free to email me at dansyrixon@gmail.com

 

When to go:

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The best time to trek the Hamta Pass is between August and October.  After the middle of October it begins to get very cold and the village of Chhattru also shuts down it’s accommodation for trekkers during this time. If you are going in October make sure that Chattru is still open as it will be a very unexpected burden on your trip if you cannot find accommodation and food here.

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Getting there and Away: 

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Getting There:  From New Delhi take an overnight bus to Manali – Cost $10.00 CAD .Tickets can be purchased at one of the many agents in the city.  Once in Manali you can hire a guide from one of the many agents who will prepare everything for you. If you go without a guide you can still visit an agent and they will arrange a driver  to bring you to “curve no 40”  ($30.00 CAD) where the path begins . From Manali this willl take you appox 2 hours.

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Away:  After crossing the path you will reach a small village called Chhattru . This will take you around 2 -3 days of walking.  Although we decided to hitch hike out of there , the best option is to catch a jeep or local bus. They leave from Chhattru sometime throughout the day. This will prevent you from being stuck on side of the road for hours like in our situation.  Please note: The drive back is very adventurous and can take up to 6 hours!

What you need:

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Be prepared! We saw only two Sheppards on the trail who could not speak English. You’re completely on your own out there. You can rent the camping gear you do not have in Manali through one of the trekking agents. We hired  a tent, sleeping bag, mattress for a very low daily rate . But please be aware the gear can be extremely old and wore. It’s best to bring your own. Through an agent we also arranged a jeep to bring us to “curve no.40”. For any clothing you need you can easily buy in Manali.

Some things to consider bringing are:

  • Tent
  • Food for 3-4 days – You can light a fire but the second night it gets a little harder due to scarce amount of wood. I would recommend bringing a lot of dry snacks to eat along the way.
  • Cooking gear (pot,cups,forks ect)
  • GPS (very important)
  • Water purification tablets
  • Loose comfortable clothing
  • Warm Sleeping Bag
  • Winter Jacket – it can get down below 0 in some places
  • Other winter clothing (mittens, hat, socks, ect)
  • Sun screen
  • Sun Hat
  • Lighter/matches
  • 2-3 flashlights
  • First Aid kit (VIP)
  • Medicine (antibodics, cold/flu pills) – There are no doctors anywhere near where you are going so be prepared
  •  Guide – you can hire a guide in the town of Manali for around $30.00 USD per day per person . This price also includes food, and tenting gear. There are many agents around where you can hire them so finding one is no trouble.  Although a guide is not mandatory  I would highly recommend one if you are traveling alone or are not experienced in multi day hikes. Although finding the right direction isn’t difficult, the trails can get tricky and they may lead you slightly off path . If you go without a guide be sure travel in a larger group (3+) and don’t forget to bring a GPS and extra food incase you end up trekking longer than anticipated.

Please note:

We did the Hamta pass in October. This is towards the end of trekking season so tempertures were lower than months before.  Depending on month you travel judge accordingly for what you will need.

 

Health / Emergency Concerns:

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The hamta pass will go up to an altitude of almost 4300M if you have never been in altitude before please educate yourself on the signs and symptoms before you go.  You can visit : www.webmd.com  for more information and/or speak with your doctor.

I highly suggest purchasing medical insurance before you go. I always go with World Nomads. They tend to cover more adventure activities than most insurance companies.

!VIP to note! If you are going on your own or in a small group without a guide make sure you tell people where you are going and your estimated return date. You are completely on your own out there without any phone service and far from any hospital. This is why I recommend no NOT go alone or in groups of less than 3 people. Also ensure you bring a first aid kit and any medicines you may need.

 

 

 

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