Crossing hikes are open. Some are more dramatic than others. And there are few. Under those unusual, dramatic treks falls the Hampta Pass.
What is dramatic about a pass crossing? That is when the terrain on one side of the pass is completely different and unexpected.
That’s why it’s great to see the Hampta Pass. The lush green valley of Kullu is on the one hand, and on the side of your path, trees, grassland and flowers flourish. The nearly arid and solid Lahaul landscape, with barren mountains and almost no plant species, is on the other side.
On the top of the pass, two separate worlds lie ahead and behind. In just a few minutes, it shifts.
How exciting is the climb to Hampta Pass, what makes the drastic changes more amplified? For hikers, crossing the pass (even without changes in the landscape) is a wonderful adventure tale. You will love to climb over the pass across various ledges, almost to the stage, but never sure until you arrive. you’ll love the excitement.
What I like about Hampta Pass
1. The drive from Manali to Jobra
I hardly believe that the drive from Manali to Jobra, the base camp of the trek, is never addressed by most people. It’s one of my most scenic mountain trips. When we took the drive, I remember I was glued to the window (tip: sit on the left). In a series of dizzying hairpins, the dirt track just splashes up the mountain face.
I loved how the woods changed in an hour, from apple groves to deodar forests and oaks. It got cooler and then very cold from Manali’s sun! Such a path existed behind Manali, I could never imagine. A hundred times, I’ve passed Manali and never saw it!
2. The small Forest section
It’s a small forest, but on the Hampta Pass, it’s a rare forest. The first day of the walk — it amazed me completely! I saw the oaks, birch trees, and maple trees together for the first time – on my other treks I did not see such a continuous interplay among the trees. It was unique and even now it remains in my mind.
3. The dramatic Pass Crossing
It’s typically really exciting I like passing crossings. But it was another adventure to cross the Hampta Pass. Everything was really spectacular. It almost felt like walking in the gorge on the day after. It is a very narrow valley, solid brown walls, deep white snow beneath us on either side. On one side of some of the caves, Ice columns trickled down. It almost echoed our voices.
Three ledges one after another are reached through the pass. The adventure that you get when you walk up these ledges that lead up to the pass is what stays with me.
I figured I’d see the other side right away when I arrived at the pass. Such nothing.
In fact, the pass was a long and wide crossing to the left. It continued for a while and then unexpectedly it fell in a mountain top opening—almost out of the air. I’m not a mountain horse, but I felt as if on an adventure that day! I suppose every trekker feels like that on the Hampta trek.
4. The contrast between Kullu and Lahaul valleys
Lahaul’s first sight fascinated me. This must be one of the key attractions of this trip. The Shea Goru Valley spread from the past, thousands of feet down, to my left and to my right, my first glimpse of Lahaul. This was a contrast I didn’t picture standing on the top of a heavy snow pass.
The Kullu Valley with its thick forests, grasslands, high cliffs, and flowers was behind us. The desert-like Lahaul was in front of it with its grassy, bouldered valley floor. Not like Ladakh, it was chocolate barren, but another verdant desert. It’s only worth this trek to this comparison.
5. Wonderful campgrounds Balu Ka Ghera and Shea Goru
Give me the Shea Goru, Balu Ka Gera campgrounds on this walk and I’ll compare them to some of the top other trekking campgrounds. Shea Goru on the Lahaul side is favored by trekkers. With his green settings, I can understand why mountains rise around you. I can understand why.
Campsite overlooking Balu Ka Ghera. Akshar Gupta’s photo
But Balu Ka Ghera is still my favorite. The Camping on the edge of the Delta, the Hampta Pass just ahead, an adventure and an open valley behind me. I don’t believe I would ask a setting for more.