Chandratal is approached from Spiti side or the Manali Side. When approaching via Spiti, one has to cross Kunzum La ( a high altitude pass which remains snow bound for most of the winters and opens only in the summers ). Kunzum La is generally clear for traffic by July. Exact dates are never know but July is the earliest ( based on data from 2015, 2014, 2013 )
Similarly, if you like to approach Chandratal from Manali, then one has to wait for Rohtang to clear. Rohtang is generally clear for traffic by June. June first week is a safe estimate based on empirical data. But again, one has to wait for roads to be clear till Batal before you can reach Chandratal.
When the roads are open, the vehicle can go all the way till the lake. The camping ground as well as parking is roughly 2-3 kms short of the lake. You need to walk the remaining distance to reach the lake.
One can only plan to go to Chandratal from July to Nov. Beyond mid Sept it is extremely cold for the night stay. One can still visit the lake during the day but you return back to low altitude for the night stay.
Chandratal is only open from July and till the onset of winters
Since Chandratal lake is at the altitude of 4300 m. It is considered high altitude. The principles of Altitude Sickness or Mountain Sickness are applicable.
Never plan a night halt directly at Chandratal after staying in Manali
This is what is required to plan it properly by road
- Plan a night in Solang instead of Manali. Solang is at 9000 ft while Manali is 7000 ft. This triggers the body to begin adjusting to the high altitude.
- Next, go to Sissu or Losar and plan a night here, if you want proper accommodation. Or if you are carrying your own camping equipment, plan a night in Batal. Chandra Dhaba run by Chacha and Chachi can prepare meals for you. Find a good spot close to this area and camp
- Finally, head to Chandratal and stay for a night
You can also reach Chandral via Hampta Pass trek
Scorpio 4×4 and Toyaota Fortuner 4×4 ( 2 Wheel drive options are also good ) are perhaps the best vehicle for Chandratal. The road conditions to Chandratal via Rohtang / Gramphu / Chatru / Batal are quite bumpy with river streams as well. It Is best to take higher ground clearance vehicle.
Tata Sumo is also good for budget travelers.
Toyota Innova is not the right vehicle for this terrain. There are high chances of getting an under body damage.
Scorpio 4×4 and Fortuner 4×4 are the best vehicle for Chandratal
If you are a solo traveler then you can take the bus from Manali to Kaza or shared Jeep and get dropped at Batal. From Batal, you will have to trek for about 12 kms to reach the camping ground before the lake.
Camping At Chandratal
For environmental reasons, no camping is allowed by the lake shore. All the camps are set up about 2-3 kms before the lake. Lake is absolutely pristine and can only be visited during the day.