On our way to the Igloo Camp near Hamta Pass, Manali, which is a well known destination for skiing in Himachal Pradesh, India, we stopped for a bit somewhere near Curve 24 to look at the Backwoods Mountain Camp in Hamta Village that we plan on staying in once it opens again in April. The Manali to Hamta Pass distance is about 2 km by car, but given the nature of the road you need a tough 4-wheel drive to make your way up to these hills.
Vikas, an avid mountaineer, started his Backwoods trekking camp in 2013, and there’s been no stopping him. His trekking and mountaineering camps have gained acclaim amongst travelers across the globe.
We stop at the camp and the hillside is beautiful. It reminds me a bit of Austria and France, but not as green. More of an arid brown with pine and juniper trees. And the sun starts to set. 😀 And I try to take pics with my phone, just like this one above. But the pics on a phone can never do justice to the natural beauty of a sunset in the snow capped mountains. There’s a plume of smoke coming out of an old cottage in the distance. It looks almost like another cloud…
In the pic above, Vikas and my friend Tej from Enchanted Outings are walking down to his campsite.
We walk down to the camp and reach a quaint old building with logs stacked against it in preparation for many nights of warm fires. And there’s a water pump where my friend poses for pics, and so many apple trees that show signs of winter. Come summer they will bloom and the camp visitors will be able to just pick them off the trees and eat. A kind of paradise!
The Backwoods Camp Cafe that is now closed, will open from April to October and serve steaming hot bowls of maggi and adraki chai or tea to it’s visitors. Perfect when you’re eating maggi looking at amazing view of the mountains. The pictures on the right tell us that Sunny Deol, the famous Indian actor has been here as well.
There’s a stone birdbath in the middle standing on a wooden fence and it makes it feel so much more like the perfect place to be. While Vikas takes care of some chores, Tej gets lost in dreamland. It’s easy to do that in a place like this!
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After looking at the stone and wood dining area on the left, we find the wash basin at the edge of the camp on the right. It looks like a grotto. And the washroom is a slight walk down the side of the mountain. Somehow it reminds me of the time in France, at my ex-boyfriend’s place in the mountains. It seems I clogged up the drain. So to answer nature’s call we had to walk about 10 metres down the mountain, dig a hole, make sure there were no rats around, and do your business. The ex said we could grow bananas there in three months. 😉 Memories…
After visiting the rest of the camp, Tej takes a break near the entrance to the sleeping area. She’s wearing a local cap that Vikas had left in that room.
Before going back up the mountain to join the others, we pose for pics. My friend Tej seems to be focusing very well. See Vikas and me in the background? Or not! Oh well! 😛
On the way back up to the main road, we come across these local girls passing by with the picks and shovels. Yes, child labor is not allowed, but it still happens in many parts of India. This isn’t child labour though, I’m told it’s ‘child work’. These young girls support their families in earning an income by helping out on the farms, but this doesn’t impede them from school, play or other childhood activities. I pause to take pics and the one on the right makes a victory sign and says thank you. Bare apple trees and sheep grazing ensure that I’ll always remember this.
Once we reach the road again, we find that the guys are bored. So they’re taking all kinds of pics. this one of Vishal pointing to the wooden Backwoods Mountain Camp sign is pretty cool, though.
Or this one of our guide waiting while a couple does a photo shoot in the background. 🙂
We pile back into the vehicle and climb higher into the mountains on our way to the Manali igloo stay; and leave this vista of the snow capped peaks in the background. Manali is lovely. I want to visit again once I have time to take a more leisurely trip. What about you?
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Note: Although I went on this trip arranged by my friend Tejashree, this did not influence my opinion of the experience.