Chandratal lake is one of Spiti Valley’s many but the finest jewel. Sitting in the middle of almost nowhere, this crescent-shaped lake is sure to charm you. Its deep blue water, with a periphery of green grass and blooming flowers, set against the backdrop of brown mountains with white snow caps is truly a sight to behold. But there is also a catch. You really should know the best time to visit Chandratal if you want to truly enjoy the trip and make it hassle-free.
The lake is only open for 4 months a year and even during this limited window, getting here is no child’s play. You will be traveling on some of the most nerve-wracking and bone-breaking roads you have ever been on. Not only the time, but you also got to choose your vehicle very carefully. Why? Read on to find out more.
Please note that in this article, I am only covering the topic of when to visit Chandratal Lake. If you want to get details like how to reach, where to stay and public transport, I will request you to read How to Plan a Trip to Chandratal Lake.
Below is a picture of the lake I took in August.
When to Visit Chandratal Lake
Chandratal Lake is located right next to the mighty Kunzum Pass. It wouldn’t entirely be wrong to say that it actually sits in the lap of the pass itself. About 2 kilometers from Batal, on the climb towards Kunzum Pass top, a narrow road bifurcates towards Chandratal. This is the road that you will turn on, drive for about 14 kilometers and arrive at Chandratal. I will post a picture of the road below.
Yes, this is the road, barely wide enough for a car. Quite thrilling and nerve-wracking, isn’t it?
Kunzum Pass receives quite a bit of snow each year, sometimes as high as 50 ft. This is one of the first Himalayan passes to close each year and open in the end. It starts to snow at Kunzum Pass by Mid October and even more frequently by early November. Now imagine how that narrow road would even look in all that several feet high snow. You are right; it vanishes entirely and does not appear again until BRO is able to clear the snow by late May of the next year.
So the only time when you can visit Chandratal lake is between May end (or early June) to Mid October. When should you visit will depend on a few other things as well.
Let us take a look at these details month by month.
Chandratal Lake in May
Whether or not you can access Chandratal in May entirely depends on the weather, amount of snow on the road and how fast BRO is able to clear it. It is really hard to even predict it because sometimes, the lake does open and sometimes it doesn’t. Like in 2018, I was myself camping at the lake on May 20th but in 2019, the campsites weren’t operational until June 10th.
If you were planning to visit Chandratal in May, I will recommend that you plan only towards the end of the month, not before that.
I will post a picture of the lake clicked in May of 2019. You can see how completely frozen it is frozen The temperature of Chandratal Lake in May remains close to 0 during the day and drops down several degrees below 0 at night.
Is May a good time to visit Chandratal? I will say that it is only if the lake was opened before the 15th of the month. You can track the status at this post Chandratal Lake Road Status where I updated the most recent status of the lake and the road.
If you, however, want to attempt Chandratal trek in May, then yes it is a good time to go with proper guide and equipment. The person who clicked the picture below went to the lake on foot.
Another point to note here is that if Kunzum Pass and Chandratal road was not open then the Manali Kaza road will be closed as well. So the only way you will be able to reach will be via Shimla.
Chandratal Lake in June
June is a great and the best time to visit Chandratal. The Manali Kaza road gets cleared by end of May or early June after which the campsites get operational by 7th – 10th of the month. Sometimes, if the road was opened a little early, the campsites will be operational on the 1st of the month itself but it will be better to verify before you plan.
Chandratal weather in June will still be very cold but this also means that the snow would not have started to melt. This further means that the dreaded Gramphu Batal road will not be as filled with water streams as much as it would be a few weeks later. The condition of the road from Manali to Chandratal is the best in its early days of opening. There are several water crossing on the narrow road to Chandratal and those too will be devoid of much water in June.
The temperature at Chandratal in June will be around 5 – 10°C during the day and close to 0°C at night. If you were lucky, it will still be cold enough to keep the lake frozen. I clicked this shot during my trip to the lake in the first week of June and found it in a partially frozen state.
Chandratal Lake in July
By end of June, the area around Manali and Rohtang starts to receive pre-monsoon showers and by July, the monsoon season is in full swing. Chandratal is in a rain shadow area so it does not rain here but it rains heavily on the route between Manali to Batal.
The lake, however, remains open for tourists in July and all the campsites will be operational as well. This is actually the peak tourist season here. The entire Valley at this time remains open so you will be able to complete the full Spiti Circuit as well.
My only recommendation is that if possible, plan in the first 10 days of July. After that, due to the monsoon and melting snow, the water in the streams will be maddening and the condition of the roads will deteriorate even further.
Chandratal weather in July is more on a pleasant side. The temperature during the day will be around 10°C but it will still drop to 0°C at night. Please also note that it always windy here and the wind always carries a chill. So even in July, you will have to wear heavy woolens, jackets, gloves, caps and keep yourself well covered.
Chandratal Lake in August
Chandratal Lake remains open in August and the campsites will be available as well. The condition of the lake at this time is mostly the same as July but there will be much more water in the streams on the way. The temperature will be around 10°C during the day and 0°C at night.
If you do not mind the rain and are well prepared for it, then yes, you can visit Chandratal in August. On an upside, the route will be even greener after all the rain and the landscape will be heavenly.
A word of caution though. Incessant rains can wreak havoc sometimes in August. Landslides become a common sight at this time and roads can get blocked indefinitely. So please check the weather before you leave home.
Chandratal in September
This is one of my favorite times to visit Chandratal. Monsoon would be long gone but the landscape will still be lush. As the weather starts to get colder, the water in the streams too will get lesser towards the end of the month.
September overall is a good time to visit Chandratal. The campsites will still be operational and as the number of tourists at this time will be a little less, you may even get a good deal on accommodation.
Chandratal weather in September will be pleasant in the initial part of the month but will get colder towards the end. The temperature at this time will be around 5°C during the day and below 0 at night.
Chandratal in October
Chandratal remains closed in October and can only be visited in the first 10 days of the month. By October 10th, all the campsites would have wrapped up and closed shop. After that, even if you managed to reach the lake, you will have no place to stay anywhere.
However, please note that in October, it can snow anytime at the lake and Kunzum Pass. The picture below is from October 2018 when it snowed in the very first week of the month. Tourists got stranded and remained so for about 5 days before they could be rescued. If you want to go to Chandratal in October, then this is a risk you will be running.
On the weather side, it will be extremely cold. Even during the day, the temperature will remain close to 0 and will drop several degrees below at night.
Best Time to Visit Chandratal Lake
Now based on the information above, I believe it is safe to say that the month of June is the best time to visit Chandratal. It is a time that will suit the majority of the tourists. The weather will be warm and nice enough. The roads will not be as terrible as they get later in the season. You will also definitely find snow at the top of Kunzum Pass and Rohtang Pass which is a primary reason for a lot of people to go this way.
After June, September will be the next best time. The reason why I put it after June is that the weather would have gotten a little colder in September and since Monsoon would have just passed, the roads will not be as good. Nonetheless, you will get to enjoy the amazing scenery and natural beauty at this time.
July and August will come next in the line. The monsoon season really makes it a bad time to visit but you can go if this is the only time you can afford to. Just be prepared for bad roads and the rain.
October is the worst time to visit Chandratal due to the unpredictability of the weather and the risks involved.
Chandratal by Bike
If you were traveling to Chandratal Lake by bike, then you should really plan in either June or the end of September. This way, you will completely eliminate the risk of getting wet in the rain and the trip will be more enjoyable. You will also not have to worry about carrying all the rain gear which will just become an extra weight on a motorcycle. Riding wearing raingear with the rain beating down on your helmets too does not sound so much fun. For more details, please read Which is the Best Car for Spiti Valley.
Chandratal by Car
For traveling to Chandratal Lake by Car, you can go in any of the months if it is an SUV with high ground clearance. But if it is a low ground clearance car, then you must plan as soon as the lake opens; from late May to late June. After that, there will be too much water in the crossings for a low GC car to handle. For more details, please read Which is the Best Car for Spiti Valley.
Best time to visit Chandratal Lake with Family
If you were thinking about going with your family, planning a trip in June will be your best bet. For more details, please read How to Plan a Trip to Spiti Valley with Family.
Budget Trip to Chandratal
If you were traveling on a limited budget, try visiting towards the end of September or early October. You will get the best deals on accommodation at this time. For more details, please read 8 Tips for a Budget trip to Spiti Valley.
Best time to visit Chandratal for Photography
If photography was your reason to visit, then I will recommend August and September. Just be prepared for the rains.
Chandratal Lake in Winter
Now let us take a look at how Chandratal remains for the rest of the time in the year.
Chandratal in November
The only way to visit Chandratal Lake in November is on foot. You will have to hire guides, porters and proper trekking equipment from Kaza and trek to the lake. This too can only be done in the initial part of the month when the snow has not accumulated too much. November overall is a bad month to visit the mountains and even Spiti Valley.
Chandratal Lake in December
Chandratal Lake remains closed in December and you cannot reach here by road. The road from Kaza remains open until Losar though. If you want to do a winter trek to the lake, December is probably the best time to do so. Please note though that trekking can be attempted by is still a risky business this late.
If you do want to trek, then talk to a local guide in Kaza first. They will bring you by car as far as they can and from there, you will walk to Chandratal. Staying at the lake for night is absolutely impossible so you will have to get back to Kaza by evening.
Chandratal Lake in January
Chandratal Lake remains closed in January and cannot be reached either by road or trekking. The lake remains completed inaccessible at this time. I know someone who attempted to reach the Lake in January but they could not even make it till Kunzum top. The area gets buried under several feet of snow and becomes extremely unstable. Even the road from Kaza to Losar sometimes gets closed if there was too much of snow.
Chandratal Lake in February
Chandratal Lake remains closed in February and cannot be reached either by road or trekking. The lake remains completed inaccessible at this time. February is when the snow on the ground is at its most. All the snowfall in the month of January results in several feet of snow accumulated on the ground. In February, Kunzum Pass can be under as much as 50 ft of snow. The village of Losar too can be out of bound in February.
Chandratal Lake in March
Chandratal Lake remains closed in March and cannot be reached either by road or trekking. The lake remains completed inaccessible at this time. Snowfall continues to happen in the valley throughout March. You may not be able to get to the lake but it is a good month for a winter trip to Spiti Valley. There will plenty of snow on the ground for you to enjoy. You will have to arrive at Kaza via Shimla and go back the same way. Manali Kaza route will remain inaccessible at this time.
Chandratal Lake in April
Chandratal Lake remains closed in April and cannot be reached by road. Trekking to the lake can be attempted but only towards the end of the month; and that too will entirely depend on the amount of snow received in previous months. Snow starts to melt by early April and the intensity of snowfall also decreases as the month progresses. This is another good time for planning a winter trip to Spiti Valley.
Best time to Visit Chandratal – Conclusion
I hope the information above on the best time to visit Chandratal was of help. If you have any questions; or need any other details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below, or at our Community Forum, and I will be glad to answer.