CATEGORY || ROAD TRIP, MOTORCYCLING
MONTH || JULY TO OCTOBER
LOCATION || Shimla, Kinnaur, Spiti
DURATION || 8 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 Volvo bus 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 – Kalpa – Pooh – Khab – Nako – Sumdo – Giu – Tabo
Day Five Tabo – Dhankar Lake – Kaza – Kye Monastery – Kibber – Kaza
Day Six Kaza – Langza – Komic – Kaza – Losar – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal Lake
Day Seven Chandratal Lake – Batal – Chattru – Gramphoo – Rohtang Pass – Manali
Day Eight Explore Manali by day. Evening Volvo bus 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.
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.
Sangla – Kalpa – Rarang – Jangi – Morang – Labrang – Kanam – Ropa – Puh – Khab – Nako – Malling – Chango – Sumdo – Hurling – Tabo
Start early in the morning and proceed to Kalpa. This used to be 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. 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 cross the treacherous Malling stream and the road descends gradually to the riverside and continues up to Chango 3100mts. a sizeable village. Five kilometers from here the National Highway crosses to the right bank of the Spiti rives above which lies Shialkhar. Eight kilometers past Shialkhar the road crosses the river again and Kinnaur is past us. This is Sumdo where the Parechu coming from Tibet meets the Spiti. Here the road (NH) wanders away from the river to end near Kaurik and the Sumdo-Kaza road assumes the role of guiding the traveler up the valley of Spiti. This area of Spiti is known as Sham. Hurling 3125 mts. is the first village of Spiti. From here the pride of Spiti “The Tabo Monastery” 3280mts. is only four kilometers.
Distance ~ 210 Kms
Altitude ~ Reckong Peo 2290mts, Kalpa 2960mts, Ribba 2745mts, Puh 2837mts, Khab 2831mts, Nako 3662mts, Ka 3598mts, Yangthang 3800mts, Chango 3658mts, Tabo Monastery 3050mts
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 – Lallung – Kaza – Kye Monastery – Kibber – 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. . 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.
Distance ~ 140kms
Altitude ~ Dhankar 3890mts, Kaza 3600mts, Lallung 4100mts, Kibber 4300mts
Highlights: The Moonscape drive, Dhankar Monastery, The greens of Sichling, Hike to Dhankar lake, The Pin river and the Spiti River Confluence, Gete Plateau and Fossil park, The Kye Monastery, Kibber one of the highest villages in the world, Magnificent views of 6000 mts Himalayan peaks.
Kaza – Langza – Komic – Kaza – Losar – Kunzum pass – Chandtratal Lake
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. 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.
Chandtratal Lake – Chattru – 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 – Delhi (or your destination)
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 towards the bus station and depart at 1700 hrs in the Volvo bus towards, Delhi and Chandigarh.
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.