For anyone visiting Spiti valley or Chandra Taal to be specific, the biggest question is of accommodation at Chandratal. A lot of people get confused about where they can or should stay or what their choices are. In this article, I will try to answer some of the queries I have received from people related to their accommodation at Chandratal Lake.
For complete details on how you can plan a trip to Chandratal Lake, please read, How to Plan a Trip to Chandratal
What are the different options for accommodation at Chandratal?
The only available option is of camp sites. There is no cemented hotel or guest house. Chandratal is in a very secluded area and the nearest town is Losar which is miles away. From Kunzum Pass top, a small road that is barely wide enough for one car takes you to Chandratal, about 15 kms from Kunzum Pass. There is no village or any locals around the lake so you have no other choice but to stay at one of the camp sites.
The only other and nearest accommodation available is at Batal. There are is a dhaba like Chadar tent at Batal where you may get a bed to sleep on for the night in exchange of a couple hundred rupees.
Batal also has a PWD guest house. In case you want to stay in a cemented building; then this will be the best choice if you are able to find the caretaker and talk him into letting you stay. Batal has the facility of a satellite phone, number of which is 08991722020. If you want to call in advance and inquire about booking the PWD guest house;ou can do so at this number. It belongs to the Dhaba owner at Batal but he is a very helpful person and will help you if he can.
How far are the camp sites from Chandratal?
Earlier the camp sites were as close just 1 kilometer away from the lake but as of now, the nearest camp site is at a distance of about 3 kilometers. Camping on the banks of Chandratal is forbidden by law as to not disturb its ecological system. From your camp site, you will have to walk to the lake and return to the camp site. Below is a pic of previous camp sites at Chandratal which were closest to the lake and were the cheapest but unfortunately this is no longer available.
What are the camp site charges at Chandratal?
It pretty much depends on how well you are able to negotiate but expect it to be anywhere close to Rs. 1500 per person, meals included. Some of the camp sites charge more than that as well but I am mentioning the lowest amount that you will have to shed.
How to reach Chandratal?
The best way of course is by your own conveyance. You reach Kunzum Pass top and from there you take the small road that I posted a picture of above. The road is hard to miss, and there is a large board as well which will help you guide. If you are not using your own vehicle, then the next best option is to hire a private taxi from either Manali or Kaza, depending on which side you are coming from.
Shared taxis on this route are not that frequent and it maybe a while of waiting before you find one. There is a bus from Manali to Kaza and back which starts early in the morning from both Kaza and Manali. You can board this bus as well.
Keep in mind though that the bus and shared taxis will only drop you at Kunzum Pass top from where you will have to trek to Chandratal. There is no bus service or shared taxis from Kunzum Pass to Chandratal.
Is there any wildlife at Chandratal?
Chandratal is a sweet water lake in the middle of nowhere so yes, there is a lot of vegetation around it and wild animals do visit the lake for drinking water. I happened to be one of the lucky ones to see a wild animal near our camp site, I am not sure what it was but it looked like either a fox or a wolf. It was definitely not a dog and we all could tell that by the way it was growling and the howling noise it made. But this was a rare incident. Chances of you running into a wild animal are probably next to none.
How hygienic are the camps at Chandratal?
Considering the kind of money you will be paying at these camp sites, you would expect these camps to be pretty neat and clean and yes they are. The inside of the ten, bedding and blankets are all very neat and clean.
How are the washroom facilities at Chandratal camps?
Depending on the charges, some camps offer attached washroom and some offer a common washroom. You may want to check the washrooms yourself once before you decide to stay.
Can you pitch your own camp at Chandratal?
Yes you can. A lot of people as a matter of fact do it; but it is always good to check with a camp site for a spot where you can camp. Stay a bit close to the camp site; and if the owner agrees (you will need to pay for this of course) you can use their washrooms as well. Another plus point of this will be that your food can also be bought from the camp site. Do not camp right next to the lake primarily for three reasons. One is that it is against the law.
Second is that wild animals do come to the lake at night so there is the point of safety. Third reason is that the locals here, local shepherds to be precise treat Chandratal as their own property; and you will be surprised to know that all the owners pay them money for running their camp sites at the lake. You really do not want a local at your camp arguing and demanding that either you pay or pack up your tent.
Charges for pitching your own tent near to a camp site are Rs. 300 per tent. Pay that and you can use the camp site washroom facilities.
How safe are the camp sites at Chandratal?
These are quite safe I must say but then there is also the point that a person’s safety lies in their own hands. Do not wander around at night; stay on the trek while going towards the lake and you will be all right. You will find both men and women at the camp sites so there is no issue at all of women safety.
How is the food at Chandratal camps?
I cannot really make a generic comment on this; because the quality of the food will differ from camp site to camp site; but no matter where you stay, it will not be horrible.
Are there any shops near Chandratal?
No there aren’t so bring whatever you think you may need; like cigarettes if you smoke. It is better to buy from either Kaza or Manali, depending on which side you are coming from, and carry it along with you.
Also read: Clothes for Spiti Trip – What to Pack?
Is hot water available at these camp sites?
Yes, all the camp sites at Chandratal have the facility of hot water; but expect it to be in buckets, not running hot water. Some camp sites may be providing running hot water as well but I am not too sure about it.
For a list of recommended hotels & guest houses on Spiti circuit, read Accommodation in Spiti Valley: Recommended Hotels & Guest Houses.
I hope this information regarding accommodation at Chandratal was helpful. If you have any further queries, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and and I will be glad to answer.