Although Hampta Pass Trek is undeniably one of the best Himalayan trekking trails to go on, it is not the only way you can experience the stunning beauty of the Lahaul-Spiti valley vistas and splendid views of Mount Deo Tibba and Mount Indrasan. A circling path along the towering presence of Pirpanjal offers up another exciting, heart-rending and soul-soothing trail for the mountain-minded spirits ? the Hampta Circuit Trek.A Short Itinerary of Hampta Circuit Trek
Often referred to as the alternate route of Hampta Pass Trek, the Circuit trail is indeed among the most arresting journeys you can take in the lap of Himalayas. But the adventurous extravaganza has a host of its own glorious elements to offer, all of which are covered in the detailed itinerary of the trek.
- Day 1: Arrival at Manali - Manali to Jagatsukh Drive (7 km, 20 minutes) - Jagatsukh to Baggi Thatch Trek (3 km, 2-3 hours, 2,400 metres/7,874 feet)
- Day 2: Baggi to Saraha Baggi Trek (6.5 km, 3 hours, 3,100 metres/10,170 feet)
- Day 3: Saraha Baggi to Sarotu Trek (4.5 km, 4 hours, 3,160 metres/10,370 feet)
- Day 4: Sarotu to Jobra Trek (3.7 km, 2.5 hours, 2,825 metres/9,270 feet) - Jobra to Manali Drive (20 km, 1 hour)
Like many other renowned treks of Himachal Pradesh, Hampta Circuit Trek begins at the beautiful hill station on Manali. From the bustling town, however, a ride - preferably an SUV - would take you to the more solitary parts of the region. The drive to the starting line of the trek - Jagatsukh - takes around 20 minutes to half an hour only. This is where you can stop to refuel yourself with tea, coffee, and breakfast and set off for the 4-day trek that waits.
The initial uphill walk forward is marked with apple orchards mostly, except for another village a little distance away, named Bhanara. Pay close attention as you pass by the village because these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities of witnessing the everyday livelihoods of the local people who spend their whole lives in these regions. The pretty folds of the mountains which pose so much mystery to our curious minds are nothing but mundane affairs for them.
A trail lined by pine, chestnut, oak, and deodar will soon take you to a flight of antique stairs covered in moss, and upon climbing, you will reach the ancient Takshak Nag Temple, hidden within the jungle and revered by the locals. At the end of the day's walk, you should ideally reach your first campsite of the trek at a meadow in Baggi or Boggi Thatch.
The next day welcomes you with even more coniferous woods at first as you hike your way further uphill along the alluring trek. Soon the woods disappear and give way to rougher patches of land with occasional big boulders here and there. Although the ascent of the second day's trek is not that much, it gifts you with two such breathtaking spectacles that will leave you speechless. One among them is the majestic pyramid peak of Hanuman Tibba rising 5,860 metres - a crowning glory of the Pirpanjal perched right above the Solang Valley.
If you are in luck, you might also come across temporary huts erected by the native Gujjar communities. During the summer months, the locals often gather in the meadows of Baggi and Saraha Baggi to collect herbal plants and roots for business. Expect your day to end with yet another epic view at the campsite of Saraha Baggi, as a panoramic vista of the entire village area along the slopes of the mountain lights up like a Christmas tree upon sunset.
Sarotu is undoubtedly going to be your favourite campsite of the trek and so will be the trail leading you to it. En route to your destination for the third and penultimate day, you will come across carpets of lush green meadows covered in wildflowers with their bright, quivering heads and honey bees buzzing all over them. It is understandable if you expect a change of scenery along the walk, and you will be duly rewarded around an hour into the day's trek.
A gorgeous waterfall will grace your path cascading down the rocky steps of the mountains in white, gushing rage. Stop and take photographs here if you like, but the road ahead would call for some caution. It is narrow, muddy and slippery from all the water, and therefore quite dangerous. The rest of the walk will take you in and out of thick chestnut forests, with views of the loft Dhauladhar Range playing hide-and-seek with you all day.
But the toil of today's work would be rewarded fittingly with the most rejuvenating campsite you might have ever come across. Nestled amidst the soaring peaks of Pirpanjal, the pretty-as-a-picture green meadow looks like something right out of a postcard. In the places not occupied by tents, you can expect local shepherds grazing their herds of sheep and buffaloes. Rest easy here at Sarotu, as most of the hard work of the trek gets over, and prepare yourself for a short downhill walk on the last day of your journey.
The downhill trek to Jobra, although easier on your heart and lungs, would not be so on your knees. Walk with caution and make adequate stops occasionally to keep your feet from giving away. However, there will be the lower hills of Sarotu, covered in the green of the wild and white of the snow, to keep your mind distracted.
Soon the vast dam of Jobra will appear in your view, which marks the end of the Hampta Circuit Trek, but also the beginning for those going on the Hampta Pass Trek. As you get nearer to the dam, you will come across more 'Gaddi' shepherds going about their mundane lives.
Jobra, being a significant point for trekkers on routes around Hampta, is dotted with numerous shops and options for refreshments. Get yourself prepped for an hour's drive down to Manali and do stock up on medicines, mints, chewing gums or whatever that will help you withstand the very meandering hilly road down to Manali, peppered with multiple hairpin bends.Best Time to Go for Hampta Circuit Trek
The ideal time to take this trek is certainly during the stretch of warmer months because the areas are closed during the other six months of the year due to heavy rainfall and below-zero temperatures. May to June and September to October are the most ideal times, thereby avoiding the monsoon of July-August wisely. Since it involves a lot of walking on fields and narrow hilly paths, you do not want to meddle through puddles of water and muddy stretches. Moreover, the temperature during May-June and September-October is perfect for a trekking expedition, being somewhat around 12°-20°C. At night, it can go further down, nearer to 0°C but it does not become intolerable at any time.