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About Backpacking Trips in Spiti

Spiti Valley is a more modest and more immaculate form of Ladakh. It is one of the secret marvels of the Himalayas where the color palette of nature is diverse, containing cobalt blue skies, jade green forests, crystal clear lakes, earthen terrains and ivory mountains covered in snow during winters. 

This is one of the reasons that a backpacking trip to Spiti valley is on the bucket list of many travelers. Be it a 4x4 Spiti winter expedition or a simple road trip to Spiti Valley.

The jagged bypasses make Spiti valley a perfect spot for off-roading and the quaint villages offer peace one doesn’t find in metropolitan cities. The majestic mountains, scantily populated hamlets at significant distances, fresh air in the meadows and similarly delightful Himalayan lakes and Spiti river are the main attractions of this segregated land. 

The slow paced life makes it easier for people to co-exist with the flora and fauna and one can traverse the valleys for a rare sighting of Snow Leopards and other animals like Ibex, Himalayan blue sheep, yaks and much more.

Spiti is also known for its sparkling streams, from the Spiti river which is a tributary of the Sutlej river to the crescent moon shaped lake that is Chandratal.

The sound of the relentless flow of water in these rivers itself is enough to set your mind at ease but it’s when you spend a moment or two by the riverside, do you truly get to experience the tranquility that exists in the heart of Spiti. 

Kinnaur has forest covered mountains while Spiti entirely consists of cold desert mountains. 

The ruined mountains of this high-height cold desert and profound ravines uncover the regular magnificence of the landscape and varying topography. It passes through a portion of the world's most noteworthy Himalayan towns, old religious communities, and excursions over high passes.  

In a nutshell, Spiti Valley is the perfect blend of adventure and peace. A paradise for snow fanatics, thrill seekers and nature lovers alike. The best time to visit Spiti valley, especially when it comes to witnessing The Land of Lamas in all its splendor, is from the months of January to March. 

All throughout Spiti Valley backpacking trips, you will get to traverse through unpaved roads and get to have the experience of driving on the wicked trails that you won’t find anywhere else. Additionally, any trip to Spiti Valley remains incomplete without mixing with local people and exploring the slow pace with which people spend their lives here. 

Furthermore, being away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Spiti Valley makes you sigh in relief by making you forget all about the baggage you carry on our shoulders, simply by taking you in it’s embrace.

There is a lot more to Spiti than what meets the eye and these backpacking trips to Spiti valley only give you a small glimpse at the rich culture and age old traditions that have been preserved by the locals. 

Life in Spiti is relatively simple but there’s no end to the hardships that come with the heavenly snow showers. 

During winters, the temperature drops below -30 degrees and makes life even harder as getting access to water is nearly impossible especially since, even the rivers that gush out of the gorges in the southeast region to form a commune with the Sutlej river gets frozen as well. 

Even when the harsh cold winds and inches of snow aren’t there, the livelihood of the locals doesn’t magically improve significantly, since the annual rainfall in the mountain desert area of Spiti remains at an average of a mere 6.7 inches. 

The herds of sheeps, yaks and other livestock are taken to grasslands when the cropping season begins. Potatoes, peas, barley are sown into the lands and since there is little to no rainwater that locals can use for irrigation practices, they use the water melted from the glaciers and direct it through channels to the fields. 

It is during the summer season that you get to see the green tapestry spread on the land of Spiti Valley and the earthy hues that are a reminder of the barren lands disappear for a while. 

Apart from the hard work that people show through their determination during cultivation, the other predominant factor that shapes the principles of locals in Spiti is their faith. 

Buddhism was first introduced to the Lahaul-Spiti district in the 8th century AD and over the years, it became the core foundation of the rich culture and heritage that spread throughout the valley and is now the pride of Spiti and its people. 

It is tradition in Spiti for the first born son to take up farming and for the second son to become a Lama. The children are sent to become monks as soon as they become 8 years old and their parents take great honor in following this old age custom and keeping it alive.

On one hand, we have the 1000 year old Tabo Monastery which was established in 996 CE and still remains to be the oldest continuously operating monastery in the world and is considered to be the holiest Buddhist site in the world. 

The Tabo monastery has also been an integral part of the transmission of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist culture.

There are nine temples in Tabo Monastery along with assembly halls. In every assembly hall, there is a Stupa containing everything from the belongings of the great Lama to ancient relics, gold and silver paintings and even bodies of great Buddhist masters. 

What is remarkable and distinctive about the stupas in Tabo is that they resemble the landscape of Spiti valley and seem to be carved out of the very ground they stay perched upon. 

On the other hand, the women of Spiti valley pray in a secluded monastery in an abandoned village near Lari where a single monk resides to meditate in peace and have been living in solidarity for more than two decades. The monastery is said to be at least as old as Tabo and the women go there to pray for snow so they have enough water for irrigation when farming season begins.

Another interesting fact is that the Langza village which translates to “The village of Gods” has an abundance of fossils that indicate the centuries old history associated with the valley. The ancient fossils that the children use as play toys tell the story of a continental drift. They hint at the existence of a sea bed that once was and which now has become the land we know as Spiti Valley. 

It is only fair that through these villages, monasteries, lakes and landscapes are explored consciously to bridge the gap between the tourists and the locals and that is one of the reasons why we organize these backpacking trips to Spiti. 

From the popular attractions of Spiti valley like the Kee Monastery which is the oldest and largest monastery in Spiti, Chicham bridge which is the highest bridge in Asia with an altitude of 13,596 ft, the world's highest post office in Hikkim at a staggering height of 14,400ft to tiny hamlets that remain unexplored, these trips to Spiti valley ensure that you get to make the most out of this experience and visit all the best places in Spiti regardless of their popularity in mainstream tourism. 

In a nutshell, all our Spiti valley trips are carefully curated while keeping in mind that there is a sense of responsibility that befalls on us as a travel community whose aim is to organize trips that are not only for our travelers but also for everyone who is involved in this journey. 

faqs faqs

Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain nestled in the north-eastern region of Himachal Pradesh. The name Spiti itself transalates to "the middle land". Spiti is renowed as the winter wonderland because during winters the entire valley gets covered in a thick blanket of snow. It's known for it's ancient monasteries, rich tibetan culture, pristine rivers and warm hospitality.

Spiti Valley is located in the Lahaul district of the state of Himachal. There are two routes to reach Spiti Valley by road. One is via Manali while the other is via Shimla.

The Shimla route passes via Kinnaur valley and you get to traverse the Hindustan Tibet Highway. The gradual ascend towards high altitude makes it easier for your body to get acclimatized as well. The distance from Shimla to Kaza is approx 225 Kilometers and it takes almost 9 hours for you to reach including the pit stops you might make while driving.

On the other hand, Most people prefer going on a road trip to Spiti valley from Manali as the route is shorter and also gives ample opportunity for adventure. The distance between Manali and Kaza is approximately 200 Kilometers. The roads are tough to drive upon especially when you’re headed towards Kunzum Pass, and the water crossings make conditions even tougher, but the journey becomes ten times better when you are traveling to Spiti valley from the Manali route, not to mention that even though the roads are extremely hostile, they are less susceptible to landslides, and the entire journey is less time-consuming. 

Spiti Valley has a lot to offer and if you want to make the most out of your backpacking trip to Spiti, then you need an 8-9 day itinerary at least. If we include the time it takes for you to reach your destination i.e Spiti valley in this case. If you are going to Spiti via the Kinnaur side, it will take you at least three days to reach Spiti. And if you travel to Spiti Valley through the Manali route, it will take you two days to reach Spiti. Any road trip to Spiti that isn't at least 8 days long doesn't do it justice. There aren't enough days that you can spend here but a 9-day trip to Spiti Valley should give you the taste of the adventure and peace it has to offer. 

First of all, you need to come up with a number when it comes to how many days you can afford to spend in Spiti valley. Then which starting point is convenient for you and then you just have to give us a call and let us take over the responsibility for you. We have curated different itineraries that are suitable for a wide range of people and cover most of the major attractions of Spiti Valley. 

The best time to Spiti Valley entirely depends on what your definition of fun and good times is. If you are someone who loves snow and all things winter, if you love putting your freezing hands around a piping hot cup of tea, if you prefer ivory snow to earthly hues, then you would love Spiti Valley in winters. It is called the winter wonderland because of the thick blanket of snow that covers the entire valley, from the mountains to the meadows. The best time to visit Spiti valley would be from February to May if you want to experience the true glory of Spiti. 

If you are someone who loves nature, lakes, and green fields, then the best time to visit Spiti Valley is from June to September. You'd be able to visit the Chandrataal lake, see the Himalayan sheep grazing in the meadows and soak in the sun as well. 

Although Spiti valley is paradise personified during winters, it's crucial to know that most of the motorable passes get closed due to heavy snowfall. The Manali route gets completely shuts down. The route via Shimla is open throughout but it's important to know that the roads are slippery hence caution is needed. The temperature drops below zero degrees. Since the network is scarce and the last ATM is in Kaza (which runs out of cash often), you must be fully prepared for a winter Spiti trip. However, December is not the ideal month for a backpacking trip to Spiti valley because it's extremely dangerous and you won't have resources at your disposal either.

Spiti is a treasure chest with many hidden gems in its embrace. The best places in Spiti valley that you can't miss are:

1) Chitkul: The last Indian Village with the cleanest air in the entire country. This tiny hamlet is quite literally a breath of fresh air.

2) Kalpa: With a breathtaking view of the Kinner Kailash peaks, apple orchards, serenity, and the suicide point that gets your heart beating faster, Kalpa is one of the places you simply can't miss while on a trip to Spiti valley.

3) Khab: The confluence of the Spiti and Outlet form a commune in the heart of Khab with the Reo Purgyil in the backdrop forming a landscape that looks like a dream.

4) Nako: A quaint village, Nako with the serene Nako Lake and Nako monastery is the embodiment of peace. 

5) Pin Valley: Famous for its wildlife reserve, diverse flora, and fauna, and lush green forests, Pin valley is a nature lover's paradise.

6) Kaza: The commercial center of Spiti, Kaza is the bridge that links Spiti to its neighboring valleys and gives you a glimpse at the Spiti which is a blend of both modern and traditional customs.

7) Langza: The village of Gods, Langza is known for the abundance of fossils that are found here. The main attraction is the 1000-year-old Buddha statue that overlooks the village as its watchful protector. 

8) Komic: The world's highest village nestles in Spiti valley. It is a remote hamlet with less population and an abundance of Spiti. 

9) Kibber: Although inhabited by humans, you can still sight the rare snow leopard in this village and the view is truly breathtaking. 

10) The monasteries, Spiti has no shortage of quaint villages but what's known, especially for is because of the centuries-old monasteries with their thangka paintings, murals, and relics of Buddha. Some of the most popular monasteries that you must see in Spiti valley are Tabo Monastery, Key Monastery, Kungri Monastery, Gue Monastery, Nako MonasterySakya Tangyud Monastery, and Dhankar Monastery.

We make sure to cover all of these in our itineraries. 

Because of its location in the Himalayan regions, there is a scarcity of ATMs in Spiti. That is not to say that there aren't any working ATMs in the valley but during winters, it can be hard to refill the cash and there is no resort if there is a power outrage. With that being said, the town of Reckong Peo has 7-8 ATMs. There is an ATM in Sangla and one in Kalpa. Beyond Kalpa is the most non-functional ATM at Tabo. There is also an ATM at Kaza that works efficiently but does face issues of running out of cash sometimes. Beyond Kaza, the next one is at Manali. 

The connectivity for mobile networks depends on a lot of factors, like the weather conditions, high altitude, hotspot regions, etc but still, there are a lot of places in Spiti that get decent mobile connections for Jio and BSNL. Chitkul gets volatile network coverage while Kalpa and Kaza have a decent network for Jio users. There is almost zero networks at Chadrataal. 

The temperature in Spiti can drop below -3 degrees during winters so you need to pack lots of warm clothes and layers. Thermal inners, fleece jackets, woolen jackets, fleece or woolen socks and gloves, Insulated shoes, and Balaclavas to cover your head, especially your ears and neck against chilly winds. We share an extensive list of things that you need to pack according to your trip to Spiti Valley so you can follow that packing list to help you pack better.  

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