Playground Outdoors

Ghepan Ghat

We saw this neon blue lake on Google Earth, so we decided to try finding it in person. Deep in the remote Central Himalayan region of Lahaul, the trail starts where the village road of Sissu ends - at the hilltop Labrang Gompa (Monastery), and ascends out of rurality. From there, civilization melts away into a perfect alpine valley with abandoned stone huts and wildflowered meadows surrounded by massive peaks towering above 20,000ft. Shepherds sometimes offer a homemade cup of goat milk chai to the few who pass by on their way up. Deep inside the valley lies Ghepan Ghat, an electric-blue glacial lake stretching over a mile long, complete with icebergs floating on its surface.

Difficulty

SAC T3 Demanding Mountain Hiking

Paths are not always visible. Exposed sections can be safeguarded with ropes or chains. The hands might be needed for balance. Can have exposed sections with danger of falling, scree slopes, pathless craggy ground.

Duration

8 days

Delhi to Delhi
4 days travel & rest
4 days hiking & camping

Distance

30 km / 19 mi

Maximum Altitude

4140 m / 13580 ft

Price

₹42,000 $600

Itinerary


Fly and/or drive from Delhi to Manali. Mode of transport is subject to weather conditions and availability of flights.

You’ve had a long night’s journey to Manali, so use today to rest up and prepare for your adventure ahead. Your home for the night will be our Playground headquarters, Playground Manali, where we will meet for the first time as a team, and receive a briefing on what the upcoming journey has in store for us! For the day, take a trip into town or enjoy the hostel culture we have right here among fellow travelers. We often host cozy movie marathons, cake & coffee tastings from our cafe on the terrace, bonfires out back, game nights (we challenge you to a game of Exploding Kittens), tetherball tournaments, local Himachali cooking/handicraft classes - you name it. Tomorrow, your adventure begins.

Today we drive up and over the famous Rohtang Pass at 13,000ft and down into the Lahaul region and follow the famous Manali - Leh Highway until we reach the small Buddhist village of Sissu, with prayer flags lining the road and a large prayer wheel inscribed with mantras in Tibetan. Go ahead and spin it clockwise - it is believed that it is auspicious to do so. We will spend the night in a cozy homestay here acclimatizing and preparing ourselves to head out the next morning.

We head off for the trailhead, following the road up from Sissu 9km until it dead-ends, and then we’re off! The initial steep section is a bit rocky, but levels out into a gradual incline leading through fertile alpine meadows dotted with pink and white Himalayan Fleece wildflowers. From behind us, the valley floor drops out of sight as we climb, leaving instead views of Shikar Beh and Mukar Beh, two peaks rising more than 20,000ft above sea level. The as we hike forward is just as impressive, with the massive arid mountains that the Lahaul region is famous for flanking us on both sides. We carry on up past shepherds tending their flocks until we reach a cluster of abandoned stone huts and a stunning open meadow jutting out for a panoramic view of the valley. This will be our camping place for the night.

We say goodbye to our scenic meadow and head down into a subsidiary valley in order to cross a raging stream. Once we’ve made it across, the trail swoops in and out of a series of mountain re-entrants and spurs, following at times the paths carved into the mountainsides by sheep and goat herds. Little yellow, pink and white flowers dot the pastures along the way, and a few kilometers in, we will climb steeply to circumnavigate a deep rocky channel that has been etched into the mountain by the flow of meltwater. Finally, we arrive in a vibrant green clearing at the base of a hill covered in wildgrasses and flowers. This is where we will rest for the night. You will notice that the wide valley we’ve become accustomed to has narrowed considerably now, with the deep river gorge that has followed us to our left now rising to our level. The mountains feel much closer and much bigger now.

The day we came for! We begin by climbing over the grassy hill in front of us to find a trail flanked by oddly-shaped rock towers. After making our way through these orange moss-covered formations, we descend onto a wide, unexpected marshy plain of bright green grass, as if the valley widened and narrowed like an hourglass. Grass wet from water that is seeping from the main river that we now hike directly to the right of, this basin-like view opens up our line of sight to the massive mountains surrounding us now. We pass by a series of stone structures built by shepherds who sometimes pass through, and begin hiking up several rocky ridges to the right that build upon one another. After cresting the top of each, it seems as though there is always another one waiting to be climbed, until we catch a glimpse of that electric-blue water. Ghepan Ghat lies, smooth as glass, in a 2 kilometer-long basin below, with brilliantly white icebergs floating around on the surface. At the far end is the icy wall of the glacier that feeds this lake with its meltwater and microscopic minerals that produce that neon color. We will break for lunch before exploring the length of the lake and then returning back from our day hike to Camp 2’s meadow for another night.

We will get up early today in order to cross the stream from a few days back before the mid-day sun sends meltwater gushing down. We retrace our steps across the flowered trail, goat paths, friendly shepherds, stream crossing and scenic meadow where we spent our first night on the trail until we reach the trailhead in time for our vehicle pickup to take us back to “real life.” Time permitting, we can stop to visit the ornately-decorated Labrang Gompa (monastery), visit with the resident monks and take a look at the old texts and deities inside the main hall before heading back over Rohtang Pass into Manali. As we will be arriving late, we’ve booked one final night’s stay at Playground. Rest up, celebrate, explore Manali - you’ve earned it!

Fly and/or drive back to Delhi. Mode of transport is subject to weather conditions and availability of flights.

Playground Perks


Handcrafted & Curated

We don’t copy our itineraries off the internet. We scout and design all trip offerings personally. This ensures enough time to acclimatise at high altitude, explore around the campsite, and indulge in authentic local experiences so you don’t miss out on anything.

Everything Included

Honestly, everything. Internal flights, best-in-class travel insurance, personal camping equipment, and all meals - we’ll take care of everything that most travel operators will mark with an asterisk. You pay for nothing except personal purchases from the day your trip starts.

Equipment & Safety

4 season Mountain Hardwear tents and sleeping bags, emergency oxygen reserves & PACs to provide a safety net against AMS, UIAA Safety Label glacier rescue kits for technical trails, WAFA/WFR & CPR certified guides, best-in-class adventure insurance - we’ve always got a plan B.

Personalised & Bespoke

We curate bespoke adventures and trips every day because we recognise that everyone’s travel bug is unique. When it comes to adventure travel, there are different ways to experience the world’s most beautiful places, because every traveler is different - which is why we’ve stepped in to provide a space for environmental advocacy, cross-cultural connections, wellness and adventure to combine - all through travel.

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel starts with acknowledging that travel and tourism often contribute to the global climate crisis. We believe in the positive power of travel to transform mindsets & generate a sense of preservation towards wild spaces. We follow LNT Principles, minimise our carbon footprint, adopt regenerative practices & give back to local communities - from making sure our field staff are well equipped to higher-than-industry-standard compensation.

Self Guided & Operated

We’ll never hand you off to someone else - we run all trips ourselves. We minimise external contracting and only partner with people we know and trust personally. While we employ and collaborate with local guides and support staff for their unparalleled expertise and knowledge of the Himalayan ranges, our trips are led by one of our core team members so you always have a single point of contact.