This three-part series is my attempt to describe how the holy Moon Lake affected me. You can read Part I here.
When we started from Manali, as prescribed by my doctor, I took one of those altitude sickness medicines. By the time I reached my camp in Chandratal, I was positively uncomfortable. I was breathless and dizzy, so much so that I could not hike all the way to the Lake, even though it was an easy hike. I blamed the lack of oxygen for it, urged my companions to carry on without me and sat on a rock to catch my breath.
Now, I am not an active person, but I have never said no to any kind of walk or climb or hike while traveling, for I believe that the discomfort & pain will be compensated by the memories I will make. But not here; here, I was certain it would be the end of me if I took one more step! And I did not wish to die young. Back at the camp, I realized I had an upset stomach too.
When a chilly wind is howling at nearly 30 KMPH, it is not exactly a pleasant feeling to visit the loo repeatedly. That too, when there is no electricity & ‘pitch black’ does not do justice to the darkness. Try taking a dump in sub-zero temperatures with a wind that freezes your bones & with the help of one of those solar lamps in a loo made from canvas!!
I was shivering and thoroughly disheartened thinking that if I was going to be unwell, it will ruin my entire trip. Thank the Lord morning came! On discussing with my companions, I realized it may be a reaction to the medicine I had eaten. They had taken the medicine too but were unaffected. What was supposed to provide comfort to me had made me miserable!
My lesson no. 2 from Chandratal – What works for everyone may not work for you. Assess your need; choose wisely. Do not have a herd mentality. And always prepare for side effects!
Now the practical part – where to stay near Chandratal?
- If you are the luxurious hotel/ resort kind, drop the idea of visiting Chandratal. In the entire Spiti Valley, you will not get anything which comes close to a resort or luxury hotel.
- If you prefer simple abodes but strictly brick & mortar with flush-able toilets, there are stay options in Batal & Losar, from where you can do a day trip to Chandratal. A little further off is Kaza where you can get many accommodation options. Our favorite – Deyzor!
If you really want to experience what it is like to be out in the open in Spiti, you must try the camps near Chandratal. They are just a little more than a couple of kilometers from the Lake. They are clean, have attached/ common toilets & basic meals. We stayed at Moon Lake Camps. But what you need to be prepared for is:
- You will never feel completely warm. Even the strong canvas of the tents & the blankets cannot stop the wind from troubling you, at least a little bit.
- You will master the art of singing while using the loo, because, hey, if the loo door must be zipped instead of locked, you know how to make your presence felt.
- You will learn to control your bladder for you certainly do not want to step out and get frozen Tom & Jerry style.
Having stated these disclaimers, it will be a lifetime experience. Now that I know those howls were not from dogs but from wolves, it just makes my memory more exciting!
Back with Part III soon…