It is one of the wonders of the world that the human species has managed to thrive in the harsh environment of the Spiti Valley. This land of extreme altitude, extreme temperatures and very spares essential natural resources, has managed to spawn a rich cultural heritage amidst its natural splendour. We take you on journey to give you an unique insight into the Spitian way of life – their homes, cuisine, agriculture, irrigation practices and nomadic pastoral lifestyle. Alsong the way you will get a chance to see some of the rarest species of fauna on the planet – the snow leopard, Tibetan wolf and blue sheep. We take you on a fossil trail along Alpine pastures, which offers glimpses into Spiti’s geological past. Ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples dating back to more than 1000 years adorn villages and are a mirror of Spiti’s historical and religious links to Tibet. The traveller could also add a twist of excitement and adventure by traversing a part of this trail on yak back.
Route: Delhi – Manali - Kaza – Langza – Demul – Lhalung – Dhankhar – Kaza – Manali – Delhi
Activities: camping, trekking, homestay, jeep safari, yak safari
Duration: 12 days
Delhi to Manali: We drive along the historic and now a bustling expressway, the Grand Trunk Road, first built by the emperor Sher Shah Suri. The drive takes you through the Shivalik ranges and we gradually make our way to the middle Himalayan ranges to Manali
Manali: Manali is a small hill station bustling with tourists. We start early with a drive on the left bank of the River Beas to the village of Naggar, which is famous for the Russian artist Roerich's gallery. Naggar also has a famous castle and the views around the area are spectacular. We return to to Manali and drive to Solang, which is a paragliding and skiing zone.
Manali to Kaza: The day-long journey takes you through the 13,000 foot high Rohtang pass and we then descend into the valley of the River Chandra and over Kunzum. The entire drive is through landscape that will take your breath away.
Kaza: We first travel to the highlands of the left bank plateau for altitude acclimatization and return to Kaza for overnight stay. Visits include Kye village (30 minutes), and the Kye Gompa, the largest monastery in Spiti. The drive upto Kibber village (30 minutes), which at 14,000 feet above sea level, is the road head for the trade route into Ladakh over the Parang La Pass. We continue to the village of Gette and Tashigang (1 hour), high up in the mountains. If time permits, on the return journey you could even walk down a spectacular steep downhill trail to Kye Gompa, where jeeps pick you up for the drive back. The evening can be spent roaming the Kaza market where you may find interesting local handicrafts.
Kaza – Langza: After breakfast, we drive to Langza village (90 minutes), located in a large high mountain meadow with the spectacular massif of Chau Chau Khang Nilda towering in the backdrop. We visit the Lang (temple) before lunch. The Lang is regarded to be the headquarters of all the deities in the valley and houses some old frescos and thangkas (paintings on silken canvas). After savouring a steaming local lunch at the homestay, we visit the village fossil centre accompanied by a field expert.
Langza – Camp 1: The trek trail traverses along a natural fossil center with the opportunity to spot some rare relics of Spiti's geological history. For most of the way you follow carefully laid out irrigation channels, getting an insight into the laborious and intricate system of water management. The trail runs parallel to the stunning Pasham Range with the peaks of Chau Chau Khang Nilda and Chau Chau Khang Namo forming a striking backdrop. The trail is rich in flora and spotting blue sheep is likely.We stay overnight in a tented camp.
Camp 1 – Camp 2: The trail slowly winds itself over pasturelands and the day is spent marvelling at the magnificent and imposing stature of the grazing yaks and horses. The night is spent camping at a summer settlement of the villagers.
Camp 2 – Demul: After breakfast we travel on yaks to a vantage point from where you will get spectacular views of the valley. On the way back to Demul village, you can sample its local brew (arak). Located in one of the most remote areas of Spiti, this village has a very interesting legend associated with its foundation. After a warm lunch in a homestay, we visit some unique spots close to this village.
Demul – Lhalung - Dhankhar: The route is primarily downhill and brings us to the valley floor of the Padang River. We follow the Lingti River thereafter which leads us to the village of Lhalung. The oldest Sarkhang temple and possibly one of the oldest trees (dating back to over a 1000 years) in Spiti are found here. We have lunch and sample the warm hospitality of the mountain people. We transfer to Dhankhar by jeep for overnight stay. Dhankhar, the ancient capital of Spiti, is one of the most stunning locations in the Spiti valley. Dhankhar houses an ancient Monastery perched precariously between unique wind eroded structures. Remnants of the Dhankhar Fort, which housed the royal family of Spiti, still remain.
Dhankhar - Tabo - Kaza : An early morning hike (1 hour) up to the Dhankhar lake to get some stunning views of the confluence of the rivers Spiti and Pin 1000 mts below. Set amidst stark bronze folds Dhankhar Lake has its own story to tell. After breakfast the, we goto Tabo, famous for its 1000-year-old monastery. We explore the monastery, meditation caves and the numerous temples at the monastery. In the evening we drive back to Kaza.
Kaza – Manali: We drive back to Manali.
Manali – Delhi: Long drive to Delhi (12 hours)
How your travel makes a difference to the local community & environment:
- All our activity partners are sourced from the local area, which ensures that they have a supplementary source of income. We have taken initiatives in conserving and preserving the local heritage and culture by bringing in homestays as an alternate accommodation for travellers.
- The homestays function in a rotation basis so that all the houses benefit out of tourism. The people in the village who are not providing accommodation provide assistance to us as chefs, field experts, guides, and provide pack animals.
- Considering that traditional art forms and the number of people who are practicing them are dwindling, we take extra care to incorporate these performances into our holidays. This ensures additional income and instills a sense of pride amongst community members, which comes handy in conservation work.
- More than 80% of the money from travelers is spent locally in Spiti between the homestays, our activity partners and select NGOs who are working to supporting our conservation initiatives.
- Briefings are given in thorough manner to our travelers about the background of the place, our culture and environmental sensitivity of the region.
- Local boys have been trained to take care of the fossils that were earlier being sold away to tourists without knowing the value of ammonites and trilobites. Instead of letting travelers walk around all the regions, we take care to take the travelers only to demarcated fossil lying areas in the mountain.
- 'Muse' and The Blue Yonder has been working together for last years and our partnership has grown into sharing the learning from working here to developing projects together even in the state of Kerala. Read about the recent installation of 2 KW On-Grid Solar Panel as part of our attempt to 'Create Compassionate Destinations through Conscious Communities'
The drive takes you through the little known valleys of the Chandra, Spiti, Pin, and the mighty Satluj River and ends at Shimla.