7 Thoughts That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump

7 Thoughts That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump

“Your turn”, said Olly, the jump instructor at Jumping Heights, Rishikesh.
“OMG Whaaaaaat”, I thought. However, I smiled and said “Awesome!”

I could hear my heart in my ears! I was standing at the edge of the bridge, 83 meters above the ground, ready to take a leap of faith. This was the first time I was going to bungee jump!

What felt like an eternity but in reality was just a couple of seconds. In that moment, a lot of thoughts flashed through my mind but only a few of them I remember today. The common phrase is “butterflies in the stomach” but what I felt was more like a tornado through my nervous system. The tingling started from my toes, went up to my knees, made a circle in my stomach and rose up from my spine and I felt a little dizzy.

By the way, this post is my bungee experience near Rishikesh. In case you’re looking for travel information, then check out this travel guide to Rishikesh.

Things That Crossed My Mind Before My First Bungee Jump:

What if I accidentally pee while bungee jumping?

Don’t laugh but this can happen to anyone. Blame it on that MasterCard commercial where a guy actually poops in his pants while bungee jumping so the thought stuck in my head. What if I’m too scared while jumping and I end up peeing out of fear?

What if I puke while bungee jumping?

Even though I had eaten a very light breakfast, I could still feel my it in my stomach. I was hoping it wouldn’t come out while jumping. What if I puke while bungee jumping? Will my puke fall back on my face? If you’re laughing, then you’re going to love reading about this hilarious first bungee jump experience.

What if my chord breaks while bungee jumping?

There is a reason why bungee jumping is a leap of faith. It’s because you have to trust the system. I still remembered a news article that I had read about an Aussie woman whose chord snapped in Victoria Falls and she fell into the water.

What if my back breaks during the bungee jump?

It just suddenly struck me that they had asked me if I had a back problem before I registered for the bungee jump. Is it because a jump can break someone’s back? What have I done?

What if I get a heart attack while bungee jumping?

What if this rush of excitement is too much for my heart? What if my heart cannot handle it and gives up. Do I have a strong heart? I was going to find out now.

What if I am too afraid to bungee jump?

What if I’m not as much of an adrenaline junkie that I thought I was? What if I chicken out? At this point, I was really hoping that it wouldn’t happen.

Am I crazy to be doing this?

Not completely crazy, but only a little. No sane person would ever jump off a bridge just for kicks. Why can’t I just eat chocolate and enjoy the rush? Or some form of intoxication for a decent high.

My first bungee jump in Rishikesh, India

My first bungee jump in Rishikesh, India

Yes, I did end up jumping and NONE of the above mentioned things happened. In fact, as soon as I jumped, the fear vanished and I was let out a sound that was a mix of laughter and scream. My friend Archana also bungee jumped in Rishikesh with me and she felt it was scarier the second time.

Oh and by the way, actually bungee jumped with the famous Dangal girls – Fatima Sana Shaikh (“Geeta Phogat” in Dangal movie) and Sanya Malhotra (“Babita Phogat” in Dangal movie). In fact, Sanya did Jumping Heights’ 50,000th jump. It’s crazy but the first three jumpers at Jumping Heights were also women. Talk about celebrating girl power, eh?

Here, you can watch this video

Have you ever bungee jumped? If so, let me know about it in the comments. Note: Cover picture credit

Or, watch San’s first bungee jump in Last Resort, Nepal. This is Asia’s second highest bungee spot.

Like it? Please subscribe to our YouTube channel for more travel videos!

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PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

Chandra Taal – The Moon Lake in Spiti Valley, India

Chandra Taal – The Moon Lake in Spiti Valley, India

Have you ever stretched your limits to see the place of your dreams? I did a few months back when I trekked for five days to reach Spiti Valley from Manali.

In these five days of trekking, I crossed the Hampta pass with GIO Adventures, camped at a new spot every night and eventually got to see one of the bluest lakes that I have ever seen. This lake is called Chandra Taal (or Chandratal) and it is in the middle of Spiti’s wilderness.

Chandra Taal - the lake of my dreams

Chandra Taal – the lake of my dreams

Chandrataal Lake – Spiti Valley

The name Chandra Taal in Hindi directly translates into “the moon lake” or “the lake of the moon”, because of its crescent shape. Because it is a Hindi word, there are many ways of writing it in English. The most common is Chandratal but I normally write Chandra Taal or Chandrataal because there is a longer stress on “aa” sound when you say the name in Hindi. 

Some locals in Spiti Valley believe that fairies frequently visit this lake at night. I felt a need to visit this lake because I had a dream that I was flying over it.

Maybe I am a fairy and I don’t know it? Hehe

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, I’m sure you know by know that I have a little thing for lakes, waterfalls and lagoons. Italy’s Lago di Tovel kind of reminded me of Chandratal. Another lake that’s on my wish list is Italy’s Lake Camo, which is stunning.

Chandra Taal Lake – Legends and Fables

There are many legends that are associated with Chandra Taal but I will only tell you about two. The first is from Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic of ancient India. It is believed that this lake is the location where the rain God Indra’s chariot took the eldest Pandava, Yudhishthira to heaven.

Chandra Taal Lake - no picture could capture the real blueness of the water

Chandra Taal Lake – no picture can capture the real blueness of the water

The second legend associated with this Chandra Taal is something that locals believe. As per this fable, once upon a time, a shepherd often visited this lake with sheep. On one of his visits, he met a beautiful fairy that emerged out of the lake. He fell in love with that fairy and often spent time with her and away from his wife.

The fairy made him promise not to tell anyone about her; else she would leave him forever. Years went by peacefully but he eventually broke his promise to her in a fit of rage. He went back to the lake but obviously, she had disappeared. He cried in front of the lake, pleading the fairy to return. The locals believe that the decedents of the shepherd still visit the lake in a hope to meet the fairy.

Where is Chandra Taal Lake?

Chandra Taal is located in Spiti side of Lahul and Spiti valleys in Himachal Pradesh. These two valleys are a part of tribal Himalayas and are remote. These valleys are arid and that’s why this area is called “cold desert”. While most parts of Himachal Pradesh are green, the barren beauty of Spiti valley is something that I had never seen before. Most parts if these valleys are inaccessible from the months of October to May.

Perhaps it is the air of mystery.. or the magic of fables but as per me, this part of the Himachal is insanely beautiful. The strange beauty of Spiti is something that I will remember for life.

How to reach Chandra Taal?

Hampta Pass Day 4 - Spiti Valley's Barren Beauty

Spiti Valley’s Barren Beauty

If you remember I mentioned that I trekked for 5 days to reach Chandra Taal. My last camping location before visiting this lake was Chatru, which is in Lahaul valley. Fatigue won over adventure on the last day and we decided to take a taxi from Chatru to Chandra Taal.

If you’re visiting from Manali, you can hire a car from there to reach this lake. It is a long and painful car ride – perhaps the most dangerous one that I have ever done. Please don’t drive here yourself because the condition of the road is treacherous after Batal. Alternatively, you can trek to Chandra Taal from Manali or Batal.

From Chatru to Chandra Taal

The roads in Spiti Valley are definitely some of the worst ones that I have ever seen in the world. They call them treacherous for a reason. The drive from Chatru to Chandra Taal was bumpy and torturous.

The fact that I got the most uncomfortable seat in the car did not help because I had very little space in the back of my car to move. I ended up hurting myself every time there was a bump on the road, which was often. I got this seat because everyone in our group was sick except me. The next day, I had massive blue marks on my thighs because of repeated bumps.

Spiti Valley's narrow roads and traffic jam

Spiti Valley’s narrow roads and traffic jam

On our drive from Chatru to Chandra Taal, I often saw boulders on the road and at times even streams that had overflown on the road. One of these streams is named “pagal nala”, which means “insane stream” and true to its name, it had flooded the entire road and had caused a massive traffic jam. It took a little more than an hour for the traffic to move. It was pretty impressive how the local drivers encouraged and help each other to get out of the mess.

There was no cellphone connectivity here but on our way to Chandra Taal, I saw a sign that said “PCO”. Having not spoken to my family since the last few days because of no phone coverage, I was very happy to see this phone booth that was operated by the Indian Army using satellite phones. A little phone call to my family made me forget the torture of the car journey.

Anyway, the drive from Chatru to Chandra Taal parking lot took around a little more than two hours including the one-hour traffic jam. There were just around 3 cars parked and from here we had to walk for a kilometer to reach the lake.

Chandra Taal – so much blue

At the parking lot outside Chandra Taal, I couldn’t believe we were near the lake because everything around us was barren. How in the world can a water body really exist in this arid landscape?

As compared to our last 5 days of trekking, the walk to the lake was very easy. However, it was the high altitude and thin oxygen that gave some of us headaches. After all, it is 4300 meters above the sea level, literally half the height of Mount Everest.

My headache was soon forgotten because in the middle of all the dull colored landscape; I finally saw a splash of blue. The sight of this blue dot was like a sip of coffee on a lazy morning because I felt suddenly energetic. This shiny turquoise pendant on Spiti’s barren collarbone grew bigger and bluer as I got closer. Finally, I was at the edge of this lake.

Drinking in Chandra Taal's beauty

Drinking in Chandra Taal’s beauty

At this moment, I felt I was a part of my computer’s wallpaper that I had stared at for a long time, except it was way more beautiful in reality. Maybe it was in the air or the Buddhist prayer flags but I felt a magical energy that the lake was radiating. I felt a need to stay quiet as I stood next to it. It was time to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings and be thankful for life and Mother Nature for her wonders.

Buddhist Prayer Flags next to Chandra Taal

Buddhist Prayer Flags next to Chandra Taal

Maybe it’s a good thing that Chandra Taal is a little hard to reach.. or Amir Khan chose Pangong Lake instead of this lake for his movie Three Idiots, else the area around this lake would not have been as tranquil as this.

Chandratal Lake Camping

A few years back, it was possible for people to camp right next to the lake but I’m glad it’s not allowed anymore. As of now, the nearest campground is a little more than 3 KMs away from Chandra Taal. The campgrounds near Chandrataal Lake are:

Have you ever worked very hard to see the place of your dreams? Let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer: I was invited by GIO Adventures for a trekking trip where I crossed the Hampta Pass and visited Chandra Taal. The trip was complimentary but the opinions expressed in this article are mine. If you’re planning a trek or any other adventure in the Himalayas, then do get in touch with them – they’re AWESOME.

Chandra Taal - The Moon Lake in Spiti Valley. I trekked for 5 days in the Himalayas (India) to reach this spot.

Chandra Taal – The Moon Lake in Spiti Valley. I trekked for 5 days in the Himalayas (India) to reach this spot.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

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Sleeping in a Tree House in Sri Lanka near Sigiriya [in the Forest]

Sleeping in a Tree House in Sri Lanka near Sigiriya [in the Forest]

Did you notice the pictures of a cute tree house in Sri Lanka on our Instagram page? Well, it’s time to share more details. We couldn’t stop raving about it because this tree house is seriously the most adventurous place where we ever stayed the night – we were in the middle of the forest!

If you have visited Sri Lanka or have seen pictures, we’re sure by now you know how amazing the forest area is! Well, we wanted to experience it firsthand and wanted to stay in the middle of the jungle. After days of searching for the perfect place, we eventually found it on a website called Glamping Hub. Wait, what is Glamping Hub?

About Glamping Hub

Glamping Hub is a website that has a collection of thousands of tree houses, tipis, caravans, luxury tents and unique outdoor accommodations all over the world! In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this website also has luxurious forest stays near my own Delhi!

Find a tree house on Glamping Hub

Find a tree house on Glamping Hub

If you’re looking for a tree house too, you can visit this website and click on “Collections” and put your country of preference in location section to see a collection. I found 65 in India; let me know how many you find in your country of preference.

Suggested: Kandy to Ella train ride in Sri Lanka – the most scenic train journey in the world 

About Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

The name of the place where we stayed is Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela and it’s near Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is perhaps one of the most famous destinations of Sri Lanka. An image of Sigiriya Rock is used as a cover page of most of the travel books and articles about Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is famous for its ruins that are on top of a massive “Lion Rock” with lion like paws at the base.

View of the famous Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala rock

View of the famous Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala rock

If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, chances are you’re going to want to visit Sigiriya. If you do, I strongly suggest you stay at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela because there is a lot to do here and you will not want to get out. It’s a nature retreat that’s secluded with unspoilt wilderness around. Yes, it’s completely off the grid!

Read: 13 Essential Travel Tips for Sri Lanka

The Forest around Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Honestly, I have seen many places that claim to be in forest but are just jungle themed resorts. I was so happy to see that the area around Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela is a real forest. Its 30 minutes drive away from main Sigiriya and on our way here, we spotted a few wild elephants because it’s in the middle of dense rainforest. The drive from Sigiriya town to this place felt like a jungle safari.

Inside Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Streams, calcium deosits and waterfall - all inside Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela

Streams, calcium deosits and waterfall – all inside Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela

I have never seen a property that’s as big as this. They have 7 acres of land in the middle of the forest and they have barely utilized 1 acre. Its very beautiful because inside there are a few ponds with lotus flowers, two streams, little waterfalls and a few huge boulders that are so big that you can climb them like hills. If you hike around the streams, you can also see calcium deposits.

Needless to say, we did spot a few exotic birds, colorful butterflies, and iguanas inside. Oh and don’t forget that we saw elephants just right outside while we were on our way here! We did however see fresh elephant footprints here but never saw them inside during the day.

Our Tree house in Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela, Sri Lanka

Our tree house in Sri Lanka that was booked through Glamping Hub

Our tree house in Sri Lanka that was booked through Glamping Hub

Nothing can compare to the experience of sleeping in a tree house in the middle of a jungle. We could hear the sounds of the forest at night and wished we could record those. In fact, what’s even better is waking up to the sounds of birds chirping and singing their sweet songs.

We stayed in the oldest tree house at this property – the Kon tree house. It was build by the locals many years back when they wanted to sleep safely and away from the path of wild elephants. This tree house is very cute, cozy and romantic. We had to climb three flights of wooden stairs to reach it. Inside this tree house, was a large bed with mosquito net, bedside drawer and electricity plug socket.

Inside our tree house in Sri Lanka at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Inside our tree house in Sri Lanka at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Yes, its open from all the sides which made the experience of sleeping here truly memorable. The only thing that was protecting us from the wilderness was the height of this tree house and the mosquito net around our bed.

Listening to the sounds of forest at night in our tree house in Sri Lanka

Listening to the sounds of forest at night in our tree house in Sri Lanka

Right under this tree house was our massive room with a sitting area and an open-air bathroom. While the tree house had a very simple and “real forest” feel; the room under it was elaborate and luxurious. We were only two, but an entire family of 5 – 6 people can stay here considering the size of our tree house and attached room.

The tree houses at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela are sturdy and were built way before “tree house themed resorts” became a fad. All the tree houses here appeared to be different and we even saw one that had their own living room.

Natural Fish Spa in the River – free!

Natural Fish Spa in Back of Beyind, Dehigaha Ela

Natural Fish Spa in Back of Beyind, Dehigaha Ela

Ever tried a fish spa? If you have tried one in Thailand where you have to put your feet in the middle of a tub full of hungry fishes, then I bet you would have hated it. I did too! Trust me when I say this but the experience is very different and pleasant when the process is natural. In Back of Beyond, they have several streams and there are spots where you can sit and put your feet in water while these “spa fishes” gently nib your skin!

At first I couldn’t stop giggling because it was ticklish but soon I relaxed and let myself get lost in the beauty of nature. San and I ended up sitting here for hours watching the waterfall, trees and everything around. Never in my life I thought something like a foot spa could be a romantic experience, but it was. Needless to say, our feet were looking very pretty by the end of our stay, haha.

Nature Trail Hike

This cute little yellow bird sand beautiful songs every morning

This cute little yellow bird is called Black-Hooded Oriole. It sang beautiful songs for us every morning

I can’t stress enough how big this property is and there is a lot do here that will keep you busy and you will not want to get out. We did multiple hikes on our own along the stream but decided to do a nature trail hike on one of the mornings. The hike started at 7:30 am and was led by Kasun.

He told us a lot of history about the area and Back of beyond. We were amazed to know that Back of Beyond has taken an initiative for reforestation in Sri Lanka. Their conservation efforts are outstanding and in all of their properties, they take great care to learn the ways of the land before they start building cottages and tree houses to minimize disruption to any of the existing natural patterns of the land and its life. They also practice rainwater collection and have created mini lakes for storing excess rainwater that provides water to the wildlife during dry seasons. They also have solar powered electricity for each cottage at the property. Moreover, they really know the area well and have also published a book called “Sigiriya and Beyond” with pictures and information of places in and around Sigiriya that no guidebook will tell you about.

We were also amazed to know that in this same property, a few things of archeological importance were found that are currently in Sigiriya museum. In fact, at the end of the hike we climbed on a boulder and saw markings of treasure that was hidden here but was dug out many years back. From this boulder, we also saw an amazing bird’s eye view of the forest around us. San and I jokingly called it “Mini World’s End”.

San and I at the end of our nature trail hike

San and I at the end of our nature trail hike

Apart from learning about the history and the environment, we also got to see many interesting species of insects, birds and trees which made our hike both fun and educational at the same time.

Other Activities in Dehigaha Ela, Sri Lanka

Hiking along the stream at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Hiking along the stream at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela, Sri Lanka

There is so much to do in and around this property, that you can easily spend a week here without getting bored. We hiked along the stream, swam in the water, saw calcium deposits, spotted a massive water monitor lizard and ended up reaching an open field with peacocks!

San swimming in a natural pool in the middle of the forest

San swimming in a natural pool in the middle of the forest

Sadly we were not at this place for as long as we wanted and couldn’t be a part of every single activities that they offer. You can also hike through a nearby village where you eat with the locals. Moreover, they can also arrange bird watching trips and cycling trips to the main Sigiriya city where you can visit the famous Sigiriya Rock and Pidurangala rock.

Delicious Food

Back of Beyond may be in the middle of the forest, but is a luxurious retreat. They have a massive dining area that overlooks the ponds. We have memories of spending hours here and eating delicious meals. The quantity is surely more than we could handle but San took it as a challenge to finish everything on his plate, haha!

Our breakfast at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

Our breakfast at Back of Beyond, Dehigaha Ela

For our first breakfast, we had an elaborate fruit salad, eggs, toast and sausages. On our second day, we got to eat South Indian breakfast of Dosa and sambar. Of course the meals were served with coffee and tea. I really like the Sri Lankan coffee here, which reminded me of Turkish coffee. Our dinner was excellent too and the portions were massive. We ate curry, rice, dal, chicken, fried rice and a unique dessert that was a mix of yogurt and a maple syrup kind of a liquid.

The staff is very attentive and sweet. They really pampered us and made us feel like royalty.

If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, then please do yourself a place and spend a few days at Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela. To know more or to book your own tree house, you can click on the link. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a few elephants and won’t have to spend on expensive national park entry fee plus the jeep safari costs. You can get a lot of Sri Lankan bucket list activities checked off by just staying here!

So, have you stayed in a tree house too? Let me know in comments!

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PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!
Hampta Pass Trek and Chandratal Lake – Adventures in Spiti Valley [India]

Hampta Pass Trek and Chandratal Lake – Adventures in Spiti Valley [India]

Swollen ankles, bruised thigh.. and yet I couldn’t help but smile at my sunburnt reflection in the mirror. I was proud of myself! I had just returned home after finishing Hampta pass trek and survived 5 days of camping in Himachal’s wilderness. I have done my fair share of trekking in Himachal but this was my biggest trek so far.

I flipped through the pages of my diary to read what I had scribbled on my notepad during the trek. So here is my account of the Hampta Pass trek – one of my rare “travel diary” posts about the 5 unforgettable days of my life. In short – an adventure of a lifetime.

Where is Hampta Pass

Before you read my trek diary, you need to know that Hampta Pass is a corridor between two of the most scenic valleys of the Himalayas (North of India) – Lahaul Valley and Kullu Valley. This pass is at the height of 4270 meters above the sea level. Many shepherds use this pass to travel to Spiti valley from Kullu area.

Information about Spiti Valley and Lahul Valley

Spiti and Lahul valleys are a part of “Tribal Himachal” and you can access them from just two roads – one is via Rohtang pass from Manali and the other is National Highway 22 from Kinnaur. If you have more time, you should surely visit Kinnaur’s lovely Kalpa and Nako Village.

In order to reach the Kullu Valley, you need to get to Manali. You can read more about Manali in Kullu Valley and places to visit around it in Parvati Valley on this page.

Hampta Pass Trek

July 2, 2016 – Prini – Jobra – Chikha : The Beginning

Initial Thoughts

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. With this thought, I was ready to start my first ever press trip with the Great Indian Outdoors – GIO Adventures. Was I completely out of my mind to have said yes to this? Being lazy and perhaps a little unfit in my eyes, was I going to be able to pull it off? Maybe I should have run for 2 KMs a day as per what the instructors told me to do. Oops! Shoo – enough of these thoughts! It was time to do a little Yoga to inhale the positivity and exhale the negativity. 15 minutes of Yoga was enough for me to go back to my calm self. As I chanted OM, I heard a knock on my door. It was time to meet the others. Who the hell are the others? Well, as much of an adventurer I am, I’m surely not going to be doing this trek alone. There are 5 other people who are part of this trek and it was finally time to meet them. Please don’t be annoying. Yes, I was hoping for the best. With my tongue in cheek, I finally stepped out to meet the others. The girls – Vindhya, Kamla had come alone from different parts of the country. The boys – Vishwa, Dhanya and Sudheer had come together from Bangalore. Sweet! We were a group of 6. Three trekking guides, one head chef, one assistant chef and 1 porter in-charge joined our group of six – which made us total 12 people. Fancy! Ankush, one of the trekking guides insisted I carry a trekking pole. If San (my husband) was here, he would have laughed and called me a “high end” trekker. Read: 11 Hippie Destinations in the Himalayas

Let’s begin the trek!

From Prini village near Manali, we got on to a car to reach Jobra, our starting point of the hike. On our way, we crossed a place called Panduvrupa, where apparently Pandavas used to bathe. A few minutes later we were in Jobra, which appeared to be a little too crowded for my liking. Were all these people going to do the same trek? Oh no! As we started hiking, I noticed that everyone had given their bags to the porter, except Kamla and I. When I say porter – it’s not a person, but a small herd of horses. The hike was easier than any other hike I have ever done in my life. The weather was perfect, the views were breathtaking and the path had no ascend. In less than an hour, we reached a stream and spotted our campsite next to it on a meadow. This was Chikha – our first campsite. That’s it? That was easy! Yes, we knew that our first day of the hike was going to be easy but this literally a walk in the park.

Hampta Pass Day 1 campsite

Hampta Pass Day 1

I walked around the campsite, trying to sink in all the beauty. It was so green! It felt I was in an enchanted forest because the mountains were covered in mist, resulting in a dramatic effect. With no other people in sight apart from our group, the gentle music of the stream was the only thing that could be heard – except a bird’s sporadic songs which was perhaps wooing its love. At a distance, I saw a herd of horses grazing lazily. It looked surreal. My cell phone had no signal and it disturbed me. No, not because I wanted to stay connected but because my mom and dad would be worried abut me. I did not know that I would have no network and told them that I’d call at least once a day. I just hope my sister calls the emergency phone number in the email. Ankush told us that the first day of the hike is easy but the next few days are not. With that thought, we all collected wood to build a bonfire to spend a few hours talking to each other. After soup, dinner and dessert, it was time to sleep. I was happy that I had the tent to myself but couldn’t sleep. Was it because I was missing San too much? Or I was thinking about mom and dad being worried about me? No matter what I did, I was not comfortable enough. There were too many things messing up with my emotionally and physically. It was cold and I had to pee. It was raining outside and I could hear the loud raindrops on my tent. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t have to pee but it didn’t work. I finally braved up, took out the torch, wore my flip-flops, rain jacket and went out to relieve myself. Phew! I was finally able to sleep.

July 3, 2016 – Chikha – Balu Ka Ghera

Morning Thoughts

Hampta Pass Day 2 morning

Hampta Pass Day 2 morning

It was barely 5:30 am that I woke up on my own due to sunlight hitting my tent. I unzipped my tent to peep outside and WOW! It was beautiful. For a few minutes, I sat there sinking in the beauty and thinking how lucky I was to be experiencing this serenity. Everything around was green, dewy and covered with mist. I gathered my toothbrush and went to the nearby stream to freshen up. The water was icy cold but felt wonderful against my face. If you have read all my blog posts, you must be aware of my fear of toilets. If the toilet doesn’t look usable to me, my body refuses to eject anything out. This phenomenon is enough to cause me a little stress in situations where I have to use camping toilets. Our toilet here was cleaner than those portable toilets you see at music festivals. It was more like a hole dug on the ground with mud next to it. The mud was the flush, which was supposed to be put back after each use. We were not allowed to use any water but only toilet paper – the western style of “dry” sanitation. Shit, will I be able to poop here? I hope I can!

Hampta Pass - camping toilet

Hampta Pass – camping toilet

After successfully using the toilet, I returned to my tent and realized a spider had made its way inside. Should I pick it up or let it be? I couldn’t bear the thought of it chilling inside my clothes so I decided the little fella had to go. Did I miss San here? Yes. Not because he would have picked the spider, but because he would have been more scared of it than me. Haha. Anyway, with a little help of a postcard that I got at a Tarsier sanctuary in Bohol, I managed to pick up the spider to throw it out of the tent. The sneaky guy tried to enter my hiking shoes that were kept outside and without a thought.. SPLAT! Oops, I killed it. Sorry, my animal lover friends!

The Rain Test

Anyway, after a delicious breakfast, we started our hike at 8:30 am. While yesterday was easy, today was the opposite. First, it started raining as soon as we began our hike. Second, we had to cross a river, which did not have a bridge. The only way to cross was by removing our shoes and hiking up our pants till our knees. We crossed it barefoot and the water was icy cold. Third, after 30 minutes, I fell down and broke the GoPro stick. Sorry, San!

Hampta Pass Day 2 - Rain

Hampta Pass Day 2 – Rain

After this, I realized I was getting very tired. It was because I was the only idiot in my group who was carrying her own backpack. Everyone else had availed the porter service. The second river crossing was more difficult than the next one. I don’t think I would have been able to manage it without the help of our guide – Ankush. The trail became slipperier because it wouldn’t stop raining. All our clothes and bags were wet. We saw a chai shop from a distance and decided to stop there for lunch. We were in a place called Joara.

Hampta Pass Day 2 - The Only Chai Shop on this trail

Hampta Pass Day 2 – The Only Chai Shop on this trail

The hike after lunch was easier, perhaps because of renewed energy. Out path was lined up with white, yellow and pink flowers. We found a few strawberries, which we plucked and ate on the way. They were tiny but were super delicious! Anyway, we continued hiking along the Hamta River and before we knew it, we had reached out campsite. YAY! If yesterday’s campsite was dreamy, today’s was heavenly! In a distance, I would see a glacier. Behind the glacier are a few snow peaks. Jaichand ji informed me that that was Indrasan peak. Next to the glacier is a stream. The grassy patch on which was our campsite was divided into several little islands because of the stream. All of these islands are covered with pink and yellow flowers as far as the eye can see.

Looks like Valley of Flowers - Hampta Pass Trek Day 2 Campsite - Balu Ka Ghera

Looks like Valley of Flowers – Hampta Pass Trek Day 2 Campsite – Balu Ka Ghera

This took my breath away.

Hampta Pass Trek Day 2 - Balu ka Ghera - Kinda looks like Valley of Flowers

Hampta Pass Trek Day 2 – Balu ka Ghera – Kinda looks like Valley of Flowers

All this beauty made me forget about my wet shoes and clothes. However, a little while after dinner, it struck me again – my so called waterproof hiking shoes were STILL wet. Moreover, the next day was supposed to be the most challenging part of the trek because we gotta cross Hampta Pass. Ankush mentioned that it might take us 12 hours! I can’t be wearing wet shoes for 12 hours. Sensing my despair, Ankush asked what was up. He smiled and said – don’t worry, we have a way of drying all your shoes. Really? Is there anything that these guys can’t do?

July 4, 2016 – Balu Ka Ghera – Hampta Pass – Shia Garu

Crossing Hampta Pass

Today is the big day because it’s supposed to be the most challenging day of our trek. The weather Gods must be happy because it’s a sunny day. If it rains, our trek is going to be harder and riskier. The mood at the breakfast table is a mix of excitement and nervousness. Vindhya is unwell because she slept in her cold wet clothes. I wish she had told me because I would have given her my clothes. My shoes are surprisingly dry. GIO definitely knows some magic tricks! Haha – I later found out that they dried all our shoes in front of the stove. At around 8 am, after overstuffing ourselves with delicious breakfast, we finally started our trek. The first part of the trek was surprisingly easy. The trail is beautiful and is through Balu ka Ghera’s flowery meadow. Is that a lake I see in the distance? It’s beautiful! On our way to the lake, we cross a herd of sheep and a shepherd. What if I was not born in a city but in the mountains to a shepherd family? Would I have loved living a simple life as Heidi? Would I have laughed at city folks who took out time from their busy schedule to climb mountains as an adventure sports activity? Maybe I will find out in my next lifetime.

Hampta Pass Day 3 - Crossing balu Ka Ghera Lake

Hampta Pass Day 3 – Crossing Balu Ka Ghera Lake

We have crossed the lake now and we can see a glacier nearby. Funny, because I thought this was farther than this. As we make our way to the glacier, we cross a few more trekking groups that are a little too big for my liking. Being small in number, our group is faster and soon we cross almost all the groups that we met on the way. Although it appears to be white, but the glacier was covered with goat poop. Eww! I don’t want to fall here. Jaichand ji and Ankush tell us to dig our heels into ice as we walk on the glacier.

Hampta Pass Day 3 - Crossing Glaciers

Hampta Pass Day 3 – Crossing Glaciers

Under normal circumstances, I would have lost my balance here a few times but seeing goat poop all over made me extra cautious. In about half an hour, we had finished crossing the glacier. As I “phew”ed with relief, Ankush smiled mischievously and said – don’t be so happy, there are a few more glaciers. Wow, great… As we walked further, I couldn’t help but smile. There was not a soul in sight, no chai shop, no phone signal, no airplanes above us.. Nothing except wilderness. With meadows, mountains, streams, snowcaps and flowers around me, I thanked mother nature for her generosity. Just at that instant, we spotted a chai shop in a tent. Yes, the universe wanted to prove my thoughts wrong. The boys decided to stop here for a quick snack and chai but the rest of us decided to go on. As we hiked further, we approached another glacier. “How far is Hamta pass?” asked one of us. “This IS the Hamta pass” was Ankush’s answer. Wow, that was fast! I was happy that we were about to cross our main point of the trek. Just at that moment, the boys joined us from their little break at the chai shop.

Hampta Pass Trek - Crossing glaciers

Hampta Pass Trek – Crossing glaciers

While the previous glacier was a 20-20 cricket match, crossing the Hamta Pass was like a test match. It took 5 times more effort and time. Perhaps the effort was because we were at the height of 4270 meters above the sea level and the oxygen level was thin. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe with my mouth closed to avoid feeling dehydrated.

Hampta Pass - an adventure of a lifetime

Hampta Pass – an adventure of a lifetime

At the top of the pass, we had a little celebration where we posed for a few pictures with the Indian flag. We found a nice spot on the rocks to sit and enjoy the natural beauty. Jaichand Ji passed around a few plates of delicious vegetable biryani for all of us. To my surprise, the biryani was hot. How do they do it? Seriously, the GIO team was now exceeding my expectations. On top of one of the most isolated parts of the Himalayas, which is away from the civilization, I sat on a rock and ate a delicious lunch of hot biryani followed by laddoos for desert. I love my life!

 

Beyond Hampta Pass – Entering Spiti

Hamster Pass Trek - Entering Spiti Valley

Hampta Pass Trek – Entering Spiti Valley

I couldn’t help smiling as we finished our lunch and hiked further. Pink and Yellow flowers gave way to Purple flowers. The lushness of the valley gradually disappeared, as we got closer to Spiti’s dramatic barren beauty. “Cold desert” is what they call Spiti and I was awestruck at the first glimpse.

Hampta Pass - Day 3 - Entering Spiti Valley

Hampta Pass – Day 3 – Entering Spiti Valley

They said the landscape will drastically change over the course of time and I finally began to see it. First the lush greenery, then the stark glaciers and now Lahaul and Spiti Valley’s arid beauty. We were now in Himachal Pradesh’s tribal area. With that thought, we reached the final glacier of today’s trek. Unlike the glaciers before, this one surely appeared to be steeper. What if I fall? “You can’t fall because you have to slide down” – Ankush answers to my thought. Was I thinking aloud? “If you try walking, you will fall.” he explains, “…so it’s better if you slide down.” Was he serious? I searched his face for a hint of sarcasm but I found none. Yay, I get to slide down a hill in the Himalayas, as I always wanted! “Sit down, keep your hands up and your back slanted backward and let go…. When in need, use your hands and feet as brakes. Are you ready?” This was all that I needed to hear. I wanted to be the first one to slide down. Perhaps I listened to only a fraction of the instructions and I sat down and begged Ankush to push me down. With the campsite in view, I wait for Ankush to push me down for an ultimate adventure. Zoom – is what I hear in my head but in reality, this is not what happened. In a fraction of a second as I’m falling down, I realize the importance of listening to full instructions. Why were my hands sliding through snow? Am I supposed to do this? Oh shit, I’m about to crash into the rocks!

Hampta Pass - Snow slide

Hampta Pass – Snowslide

In that instant, I see Jaichand Ji diving in front of me to save me. All of a sudden everything happens in slow motion… I lose balance, I am about to crash, he saves my fall and I… well, I’m still on the ground with my hands deep inside snow! Are my hands burning? This is the exact sensation I experienced as I took my hands out of snow. Are my fingernails about to fall off? Why are they hurting so much? Thankfully, our campsite was near enough for me to visualize holding a cup of hot chai in my hands and to be motivated enough to finish today’s trek. The next part of our hike for today was a tad easier than before. It was mostly downhill but we had to be careful not to slip. I noticed how many of my hike mates had fallen sick – vomiting, bad stomach, headache, fever and more. Altitudes have a way making everyone feel weaker. I refuse to be the next victim! With determination in my head, I walk a little faster towards our new campsite. Yes, I could see it at a distance and I know I can run to it. In less than an hour from the slide, we finally manage to reach our campsite. Yes, they were right and today was the most tiring day of all but FUCK! Oh my Effing GOD!!!! It took a while for me to sink in what all I had accomplished today. I was finally in Spiti Valley! My dream destination. Thank you GIO team. With the emotion of triumph, I say good night to everyone and retire for the night. I tell myself – “The most difficult part is over and I get to see Chandra Taal lake tomorrow.” With a smile on my face, I decide to call it a night and fall into the most peaceful slumber of the three days. Read: Chandra Taal – the Moon Lake of Spiti Valley

July 5, 2016 – Shia Garu – Chatru – Chandra Taal

Reaching Chatru – Our Last Campsite

Today is the last day of our trek. It is going to be an easy day except for our first task – crossing the icy river without shoes! It was colder than the coldest place that I had ever visited and we were expected to remove our shoes to walk across the river on the slippery stones. SHIT. Just like everything else that appeared difficult, I wanted to finish this part of our hike before it started messing with my head. As we got closer to the river, the water appeared to be moving faster than I thought. I removed my warm shoes and socks and took a deep breath before stepping in. We had formed a human chain by holding each other’s hands to cross the river together. Ankush was leading this chain so that he could tell us where to step.

Crossing icy cold river without shoes

Crossing icy cold river without shoes

As I stepped into the water, I realized I had somehow become mentally stronger. The water was colder than before but it did now weaken me. Being in the middle of the chain, I felt many tugs that pulled me in opposite directions but luckily I did not fall. Yes, I reached the end of the river without falling even once. We jumped for a few minutes to allow our feet to get warm before wearing our shoes and resuming our hike. While the previous days demanded a serious workout, today was a walk in the park. We strolled around in Spiti Valley’s barren trails and enjoyed the beauty. There was no need to hurry because our campsite was not so far. The green patches reduced as we walked further inside Spiti Valley. This barren valley hardly gets any rainfall and is called “cold desert”. The geology is similar to that of Tibet’s or Ladakh’s.

Hampta Pass Day 4 - Spiti Valley's Barren Beauty

Hampta Pass Day 4 – Spiti Valley’s Barren Beauty

We crossed a little heard of mountain goats with a dog as their watchdog. “How cute” was my first reaction but I was instructed to admire them from a distance by the others to not be a victim of the watchdog’s wrath. Within a few minutes, we reached our final glacier of the trek. To my delight, my footing was much better than before and I crossed the glacier without any help. Soon we were in our last camp of the trek – Chatru. This is it. This was the end of out 4 day ordeal. We were finally at our last camp and there were no more treks beyond this. Next? It was time to head to Chandra Taal to see the legendary moon lake! Read: Kheerganga Trek in Parvati Valley

Chandratal Lake – the moon lake

What appeared to be an easy day, ended up being a difficult one. Even though we did not have to hike to Chandra Taal Lake, the car journey to it was the bumpiest ever. It is known that Spiti valley has one of the most treacherous roads in the world but nothing prepared me for this journey from hell. Most of the people in our group were sick so they got the comfortable seats while I sat in the most uncomfortable spot with Ankush and Vishwa.

Spiti Valley's narrow roads and traffic jam

Spiti Valley’s narrow roads and traffic jam

The road was narrow, winding and was flooded by waterfalls on many spots. To make things worse, most areas were full of boulders and many of them often rolled on to the road. At one point, the road was completely flooded and we had to wait for over an hour and patiently observe all the vehicles crossing the spot before it was our turn. An hour later, we finally arrived at the spot that I was waiting for since the beginning of the trek. No, not the lake but a satellite phone booth! In the middle of Spiti’s wilderness, I ran to “STD / PCO” sign outside an Indian Army tent to call my family. For some strange reason, I had tears in my eyes as I reached the tent. A lone army man was sitting inside and nodded when I said I needed to make a call. I swallowed a lump in my throat as my mom answered. It took massive control to not to cry a river as I heard my mom’s sweet voice. Thank you Indian Army for arranging a satellite phone service in this area! You’re the best. One more hour and we were at the parking spot, which was around a kilometer away from the lake. At the height of 4300 meters above the sea level, this was the highest point of our trip. Everywhere around looked even more barren than Chatru (our campsite). Everything around was beige, except one thing. We could see the lake from a distance, which was like a shiny turquoise pendant on Spiti’s barren collarbone. As we walked closer, we got a sense of the lake’s enormous size.

Chandra Taal Lake in Spiti - Moon Lake

Chandra Taal Lake in Spiti – Moon Lake

How come the water is so blue? What is the origin of the lake? How can anything so beautiful exist in the middle of a desert? Minutes or maybe an hour passed as I sat by the lake’s edge wondering about its mystery and drinking its beauty. After all, I had worked very hard to reach here. (Read my blog post about Chandra Taal Lake too!) At this moment, I felt thankful to everyone and everything in my life for giving me wanderlust.. Because it felt pretty darn good to be a part of the scenery that I had often stared at on my computer screen.

Chandra taal lake from a distance - Hampta Pass trek
Chandra taal lake from a distance - Hampta Pass trek
Chandra taal lake from a distance - Hampta Pass trek

So you want to cross the Hampta pass and see Chandra Taal Lake too?

Please do yourself a favor and get in touch with GIO Adventures! Although I have done beginner level treks alone, crossing Hampta pass is a level higher and I am happy I went with GIO. Unlike the other groups, we were a small group, had a strong support system and always got to eat the most delicious food. Moreover, with no cellular network and no connectivity to communicate with the outside world, I felt safe with GIO because their team is entirely made up of mountain experts.

Wondering what’s my next trekking expedition? I can’t stop looking at Will Hatton’s camping pictures while he was backpacking in Pakistan. Yes, I want to visit Pakistan. 🙂

Disclaimer: a big thanks to GIO Adventures for a complimentary trek. As usual, all views in this article are mine.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!
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