Chandratal or the moon lake is situated in Spiti Valley at an altitude of about 14000 feet above mean sea level. It is hard to reach (by road, then a long walk) but worth the effort. How to get here? Read on…
There are two main route options from New Delhi.
1) Via Shimla route : 875km.
From Delhi, it takes about a total of 20-25 hours of driving that needs to be broken down into days. For example, you can do Narkanda (10-11 hours) on Day 1, then Kaza (10-11 hours) in Day 2 and finally the lake on Day 3 (5-7 hours). Do note that till Kaza, roads are 80-90% good but the last 30-40 km to the lake are bad. You need a car with high clearance. The last 6-7km to the lake are narrow and needs caution. Also, the road ends well before the lake
2) Via Manali route : 690km.
From Delhi, it takes a total of about 18-20 hours via this route. You can do Manali on day 1 (11-13 hours) and next day reach the lake. The trouble is in two parts : Rohang Pass is a mess to climb due to the tourist rush and time is wasted. Next, the road to lake from this side is in a mess. Bad mess. Traffic jams and landslides are common and it takes about 4-5 hours to cover the last 50-60km to the lake. Hence we always advise the first route option.
There are multiple ways in reaching the lake.
1) Your own car: Make sure you have 2 drivers. And a car with good ground clearance
2) Self drive: Yes, possible. No issues unlike Ladakh
3) Motorcycle: Yes, possible. Carry rain gear
4) Public Transport: For this, again you have two options. First is to take an overnight bus to Manali (luxury options available) and then take a shared Sumo cab to the cut off on the Manali-Spiti road (near Batal). The last 5-6km you can walk or take a lift. Second option is to take a bus to Shimla (luxury options available) and then take a normal govt bus to Kaza. From Kaza, you will get shared options to lake (less frequent) or to drop off point (more frequent).
When is it open?
From Manali side, once Rohtang opens. From Shimla side, once Kunzum pass is open. Roughly, from June to October.
Overnight options and seeing the lake?
You have camps, both with shared and private bathrooms. Prices range from Rs 1000 without meals to 3000 with meals and private bathrooms. Camps are not allowed to operate near lake. So you have to drive / ride / take a lift to the parking near lake. From parking, it is a good walk of 10-15 mins easily.