EXPLORING KINNAUR & SPITI THROUGH THE OLD HINDUSTAN TIBET ROAD
CATEGORY || ROAD TRIP, MOTORCYCLING
MONTH || JULY TO OCTOBER
LOCATION || Shimla, Kinnaur, Spiti
DURATION || 10 Days
GRADE || Easy
ACCOMMODATION || A grade hotels and camps on twin sharing basis
MAX GROUP SIZE || 16, Minimum 4
The Itinerary at a Glance.
Day Zero Overnight Travel to Shimla
Day One Explore Shimla
Day Two Shimla – Baghi – Khadrala – Taklech – Daranghati – Mashnu – Sarahan
Day Three Sarahan – Wangtu – Karcham – Sangla – Rakcham – Chitkul – Rakcham
Day Four Rakcham – Sangla – Kalpa
Day Five Kalpa – Pooh – Khab – Nako – Tabo
Day Six Tabo – Dhankar Lake – Dhankar – Kaza
Day Seven Kaza – Kye Monastery – Kibber – Kaza – Langza – Komic – Kaza
Day Eight Kaza – Losar – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal Lake
Day Nine Chandratal Lake – Batal – Chattru – Gramphoo – Rohtang Pass – Manali
Day Ten Explore Manali by day. Evening Travel to Delhi.
The ancient kingdom of Guge, also known as Spiti—once part of western Tibet—is a fascinating Buddhist enclave that historically has had little contact with the outside world. Indeed, even the famous Himalayan caravan routes didn’t pass this way, since snows keep Spiti’s high passes inaccessible during the harsh winter months. It still lives in another century, an ancient world that begins where the paved road ends.
Our adventure takes us past green fertile valleys to moonscapes of stark yet evocative beauty, where you’ll ride over high passes marked with fluttering prayer flags, see Buddhism practiced in its purest form, and admire an arid landscape brightened by shimmering willow groves and glacier-irrigated fields of yellow buckwheat and green pea patches. Along the way you’ll meet the handsome Kinnauri & Spitian people, among the most colourfully dressed of Himalayan inhabitants, and follow trails lined with some of the most exquisitely carved mane stones in the Himalaya.
The trip is essentially designed as an overland safari, with elements of adventure sewn in, to keep the adrenalin oozing; So one will get to hike to some of the most exquisite locations, bike through thickly wooded pine trails, visit ancient monasteries and camp among the wilderness. Also learn about age old Himalayan Buddhist traditions, cross over some of the highest passes and visit beautiful glacial lakes of the Himalayas. Did we mention, Don’t forget your cameras?
In this thousand kilometre journey, we will travel in comfortable SUV’s (4 people to one SUV) and visit places of exquisite beauty. We will get a chance to Hike, indulge in photography and stay at some of the best places the valley has to offer.
Read on further for the itinerary and more details.
Board the evening Volvo Bus to Shimla from Himachal Bhavan (2030hrs). It’s an eight hour journey towards Shimla. Upon Arrival in Shimla, transfer in cabs to your hotel.
Arrive in Shimla in the morning and check into the Being Out There Luxury camp @ Kawalag. After breakfast drive into the Shimla catchment sanctuary. Hike for about two hours through its thick forest cover known for bird sightings and reach Charabara. From Charabara, after lunch we visit Mashobra, Naldehra golf course and Drive back to the camp. Evening spent by the bonfire and a brief orientation session. O/N Camp redwoods.
Shimla – Narkanda -Kotgarh – Daranghati – Sarahan
Catching up with National Highway 22 early morning we head on to Narkanda 2708mts. nestled amidst Sub alpine forests of fir and birch, and also serves as a winter Ski Resort. About 60% of Himachal Apples are grown here. We drive to Hatu peak the highest of Simla district at 3000mts.Magnificent views await us as we go on uphill towards Khadrala via Thanedar and drive the distance on the ridgeline road till Sungri. From sungri its apple orchards and great Himalayan views as we drive towards Darang Ghati and descend to Sarahan, through the best of the Old Hindustan Tibet road. O/N Hotel Srikhand Mahadev
Altitude ~ Khadrala 2800mts, Taklech 1600mts, Daranghati 2985mts, Kinnu 1850mts, Sarahan 1920mts.
Highlights: The 3200mts High Hatu peak, the highest in the Shimla region. Tani Jubbar lake, Apple orchards, scenic Vistas, Daranghati Sanctuary, Drive through the century old Hindustan Tibet Road.
Sarahan – Sangla – Rakcham – Chitkul – Rakcham
An early morning drive, the road which in earlier times used to be a shepherds trail. Crossing some spectacular cliffs enroute we reach Sarahan at 2040mts. the gateway to Kinnaur and famous for its Bhimakali Temple and the Majestic views of the Srikhand Peak 5230mts. and Gushu Pishu 5670mts. of the Srikhand range. Thereafter, Follow the course of the Sutlej River to Karcham 1899mts where it is joined by the Baspa (Sangla) flowing from the east. Enroute we cross Taranda 1800mts cliffs a breathtaking sight, where the road is cut straight through a rock. From Karcham Sangla 2680mts valley is 18kms and the road winds its way uphill through some more amazing cliffs. We reach the top of the road and the valley opens up. Ride to Rakcham 2900mts, 14kms from the main village of Sangla, where we stay at Hotel Rupin River view overlooking the Baspa river. . From Sangla village to Chitkul it’s a beautiful ride, sometimes along the river and sometimes through mountain trails. Chitkul is a great setting, this side of the border with Tibet. Drive back to the Hotel. O/N Hotel Rupin River View
Distance ~ 180 Kms
Altitude ~ Karcham 1899mts, Wangtu 1830mts, Taranda 1800mts, Sangla 2680mts, Rakcham 2900mts
Highlights: Taranda Cliffs, Karcham the confluence of the Baspa and the Sutlej rivers, The mountain road drive from Karcham to Sangla, The scenic vistas of the Sangla Valley.
Day Hike through Rakcham to Batseri. Transfer to Kalpa
Today is the day when we explore The Baspa valley hiking through its forests of Birchwood and Himalayan cedar. We start the hike from Rakcham and winding our way through streams and flower beds hike towards the apple orchards dominated village of Batseri, also known for its produce of Pine nuts. Batseri has a beautiful temple known for its local architecture. We cross to the other side of the river and drive from there to Kalpa the headquarters of the Kinnaur district and was known as Chini in earlier times. Probably one of the few places in the world where one would sit with coolers in the warmth of their room, appreciating the magnificent view of the Kinner Kailash massif. O/N Rolling Rang
Kalpa – Rarang – Jangi – Morang – Labrang – Kanam – Ropa – Puh – Khab – Nako – Giu – Tabo
Our journey today, is to a region which was opened to tourists only a few years ago, from Lower Kinnaur to Upper Kinnaur, it’s a transition in the landscape, beliefs and life styles, a 150 km journey into the history and culture of Kinnaur. We reach and have lunch at Nako and thereafter explore the village with its monastery and the zigzag, puzzle like walks. We continue our journey further crossing the treacherous Malling stream and enter the Spiti valley at Sumdo from where we go and visit the monastery of the mummified lama at Giu village. Tabo, the Ajanta of the Himalayas is 40kms from here Distance ~ 190 Kms
Altitude ~ Reckong Peo 2290mts, Kalpa 2960mts, Ribba 2745mts, Puh 2837mts, Khab 2831mts, Nako 3662mts, Ka 3598mts, Yangthang 3800mts
Highlights: Reckong peo the district headquarters of Kinnaur, Close views of the Kinner Kailash Massif, The bodhi temple of Kalpa, The drive along the National Highway 22, The cultural and geographical transition from Lower to Upper Kinnaur, Magnificent views of the Reo Purgyal Massif, Nako lake, Nako Monastery, Ka loops, The apple orchards of Chango, Giu Village enroute, with the mummy of a revered Lama, Tabo Monastery 110 years old and a cultural highlight.
Tabo – Dhankar – Dhankar Lake – Dhankar – Kaza
Almost 20Kms away from Tabo is Sichling 3400mts. from where a 7Km link road climbs sleepily to Dhankar 3700, high up on the left bank. Dhankar was Spiti’s old capital and wedged between the rocky, pinnacles on the eastern face are its old buildings. Manerang Peak 6593mts. is seen to advantage from Dhankar. A stiff climb of less than an hour brings us to Dhankar Lake which seems tiny despite a 2 Km circumference amidst the vast undulating pastures surrounding it. Mirror carp was recently introduced in the Dhankar Lake and are apparently prospering despite the extreme climate and altitude. A few kilometers from Sichling the Pin River flows into the Spiti from the South and almost immediately Lingti comes in from the north. At the Juncture of the Spiti and Pin is a long green peninsula called Pindomor. Willow and Sea buckthorn groves are common here. The district headquarters of Spiti, Kaza is a short while from here.
Altitude ~ Tabo Monastery 3050mts, Dhankar 3890mts, Kaza 3600mts
HighlightsTabo Monastery 110 years old and a cultural highlight, Dhankar Lake, The Moonscape drive, Dhankar Monastery, The greens of Sichling, Hike to Dhankar lake, The Pin river and the Spiti River Confluence,
Distance ~ 70kms
Kaza – Langza – Komic – Kibber – Kye Monastery – Kaza
Early morning make a dash to the fossil mountains at Langza, against the beautiful backdrop of Chau Chau Kal Nilda and thereafter descend to Kaza by 11AM. Along the main road 6Kms. from Kaza is Rangrik 3680mts backed by the jagged, rocky cliffs on the right side of the valley followed by the green oasis of Khurik 3750mts Sumling 3750 and Moorang 3775mts after which Gyundi flows into Spiti. Along the main road on the left bank the Shilla joins the Spiti just after the confluence with Ratang and there is the Key village 3750mts. on the Kaza Kibber Road. The Key Monastery dominates from its perch, atop a hilltop which points to its post thirteenth century construction. The pasture country gives the appearance of plateaus and of undulating Meadows high above the main Valley. Edged by steep cliffs falling sharply to the main valley, the wide open spaces are cleaved by the narrow gorge-like courses of two left bank tributaries. The Parilungbi and the Shilla. Chicham 4150mts and Kibber 4120 are two main villages of Parilungbi Valley. Further east is Gete 4320mts. and Tashigong 4380mts. This is the Bhar region of the Spiti Valley. There are breathtaking views of the Kanamo Peak 5974mts. from Kibber. Looking down on the main valley from any spot of this upland country is a great sight. Back to Kaza after these meanderings for dinner.
Highlights – Gete Plateau and Fossil park, The Kye Monastery, Kibber one of the highest villages in the world, Magnificent views of 6000 mts Himalayan peaks.
Distance – 140kms
Kaza – Losar – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal Lake
We enter the least populated part of the Spiti Valley called Tud shortly after Losar 4079mts the highest village in this part is only 22Km from Kunzum Pass 4807mts. This is the most outstanding sight in Tud, the view from Kunzum top. The peaceful flower bedecked slopes in the foreground are backed by an awesome vista of rocky massifs and hanging glaciers in the Lahaul Valley. Down near Losar the confluence of the three tributaries which form the Spiti is impressive. The way to Chandtratal. The lake of the moon begins from Batal further down Kunzum in the Chandra Valley. This is the Chandra valley and our ride mostly level, except for the road which is gravel.
Distance ~ 140 Kms
Altitude ~ Kiato 3964mts, Hanse 3950mts, Losar 4079mts, Kunzum Pass 4551mts, Batal 3960mts, Chandratal Lake 4270mts.
Highlights: Losar Village, The Drive through the cold desert of Spiti, Kunzum pass 4551 mts, Chandratal lake.
Chandratal Lake – Batal – Chotta Dharra – Chattru – Gramphoo – Rohtang Pass – Manali
Follow the Chandra River through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery. The road is mostly dirt track. Taking it easy we are headed to Chattru, crossing Chotta Dhara. This place is an interesting geological zone for studies as three mountain ranges meet here and the formations are some of the most amazing in the whole world. Further down the Chandra valley, facing some steep cliff walls is Chattru a temporary campsite erected for the intrepid travelers to this land. Along the side the of the Chandra river we drive past Gramphoo just below the Rohtang pass. Ascend to the Rohtang Pass, and then descend towards Manali. O/N Hotel
Distance ~ 123kms
Altitude ~ Chotta Dhara 3960mts, Chattru 3560mts, Gramphoo 3200mts, Rohtang Pass 3980mts, Manali 2050mts.
Highlights: Chattru, The drive till Chattru, Rohtang Pass, Manali Bazaar
Manali (explore by day) depart for Delhi at 2 PM
The day starts early as we drive to Vashisht and visit the hot sulphur springs and vashisht temple. Drive further to Solang valley where you can indulge in paragliding. Later on drive back to Delhi
The best time to go tripping in this area is in the summer, when daytime temperatures reach 20-25ºC and there is plenty of sunshine. Obviously, temperatures do get cooler the higher you climb, though it should not freeze. You can expect occasional rain at the start of the trip in the Shimla region as it is affected by the monsoon, but once over Lower Kinnaur and entering Upper Kinnaur and Spiti Valley, you are in a high altitude desert where rain is unusual. Although the trip is to coincide with good weather, you should remember that in any mountain area the weather is never wholly predictable and you should be prepared and equipped to deal with any differences in weather beyond the conditions described above.
JEEP SAFARI ( 4 ppl in one jeep) – 36000/- INR per pax
SELF DRIVE (bring your own SUV) 26,000/- INR per pax
Motorcyclists (your own bike) 26,000/- INR per pax