This will be a long monotonous drive across NH1 and finally to Manali by late evening. Total travel time can be anywhere between 12-14 hours depending upon your speed and number of breaks you take. An early start, possibly by 4 AM, from Delhi is highly recommended. If you are traveling by your own vehicle, then the biggest concern would be the permits for Rohtang Pass which you should have handy as you will not have any time on Day 2 to get these from SDM office Manali. Either you can obtain this permit beforehand online or you can also contact a hotel in Manali and ask them to arrange for your permits. If the hotel agrees for an additional fee, check in with them for your night stay at Manali.
If however you are catching a bus from Delhi, then I recommend that you still make this a day trip. Board an early morning bus from Delhi that can drop you at Manali by late evening. Most of the Volvos or HRTC buses from Delhi start by late evening and reaching Manali next day morning which sounds reasonable but may not actually work for you. From Manali, you will have to catch an early morning bus towards Kaza and if the bus from Delhi did not arrive in time, you will miss the Kaza bus. So either board a day bus from Delhi or catch a night bus that will see you in Manali by 5 AM.
Manali to Chandratal:
Once again take an early start. This will help you avoid the possible traffic jam at Rohtang top. Secondly, the distance from Manali to Chandratal may not seem that great but the extremely bad roads will severely limit your speed due to which the total travel time will increase. Cross Rohtang La and while descending, take the diversion towards Spiti valley near Gramphoo. From here and until Batal; you will be driving on the worst stretch of road that you ever came across to. Numerous water streams, slush, lose stones; sharp rocks and narrow dirt road will make this journey one hell of a ride.
Once you reach Batal, continue towards Kunzum Pass and slightly before the top, you will notice the 14 kilometer long road that bifurcates towards Chandratal. This is the one you will be taking. It is barely wide enough for a single car so drive slow and keep an eye out for any car coming from the opposite direction. If there is one coming, find a spot wide enough to cross and wait for it there. About 4 – 5 kilometers before the lake, you will start coming across several camp sites that you can check in to as per your liking. Law does not allow camping at Chandratal so all the camp sites are at least at a distance of about 3 kilometers from the lake. You can check in to the camp sites and take a walk to Chandratal.
If however you are traveling by Bus, then you will have to catch the bus that goes to Kaza from Manali at 6 AM. Traveling by this bus, you will get down at Chandratal diversion from where you have three options. Either you wait for a shared taxi to arrive; chances of which are very less. Your second option is to hitchhike and in peak tourist season; a lot of people travel this way so you will have no trouble finding a ride. Third and the final option is to start walking.
Today you will start your return journey via the same route you took to reach Chandratal. Take a morning walk at the lake and start towards Manali by 8-9 AM. No permits are required to cross Rohtang if you are coming from the opposite side towards Manali so you do not have to worry about that. Reach Manali by evening and stay here for the night.
If you reached Chandratal by Bus, then on this day you will need to ensure that you reach back the Chandratal diversion at Kunzum Pass before 8 AM. There is a morning bus that goes from Kaza to Manali which you will need to catch. It starts from Kaza sometime around 6 AM and reaches Kunzum Pass / Batal by 8.30 so be here before the bus arrives. Board this bus all the way back to Manali.
Once again, nothing but a long monotonous drive back home.
If you can spare a day more, then you can plan your itinerary for Chandratal even better. When it is a 4 days trip, most of your time is spent in travel. The actual camping time on the lake is just a couple of hours in the evening and a morning walk to Chandratal.
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The Tariff’s above mentioned are as per the Tour Package, all other facilities and inclusions in the package will be charged separately like:-