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Spiti: Hidden Valley of the Himalayas



  • 20 Jul
  • -
  • 03 Aug 2024
  • |
  • 15 days


per person

Availability: 12 places

    Steeped in Buddhist traditions and infused with a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries, this remarkable journey takes us deep into the heart of the Spiti Valley of northern India.

    Filled with experiences, this astonishing odyssey begins amongst the quintessentially Indian streets of Delhi, before heading towards the spectacular Himalayan landscapes of Himachal Pradesh. The days that follow are filled with a wealth of cultural encounters, as we take to the rails of Shimla’s famous ‘Toy Train’, visit hill stations and ancient monasteries and experience Spitian rural life as it has endured and adapted for generations. Staying within the local communities we will visit some of the oldest temples in the world, learn how to make yak cheese and mountain arak and trek through some of the most breath-taking landscapes on earth.

    Unique experience follows unique experience as we meet nuns, learn about their lifestyle and witness Bhuchen tantric dancing in the mountains of the Pin Valley. Our journey then ends amongst the Tibetan exiles of Dharamshala, where we visit the monastery of the Dalai Lama before returning to the Indian capital.

    Day 1

    DAY 1: Tour Starts in Delhi

    The journey begins in India’s bustling capital, where we have time to explore this most fascinating and historic of Indian cities. A vibrant fusion of colour and noise, Delhi is home to some of the country’s most iconic monuments, with its Mughal heritage and the grand architecture of the British Raj evoking memories of its role at the heart of two of the world’s most powerful empires.

    Day 2

    DAY 2: Delhi – Kalka – Shimla

    Starting early we board the morning train to Kalka, lying amongst the verdant foothills of the Himalayas. Crossing India’s rural hinterland we arrive later this morning and swap onto the narrow gauge tracks of Shimla’s famed ‘Toy Train’ for the journey on to what was once described as the Queen of Hill Stations. Following a timeless route through some of the most beautiful scenery in the region, our journey gets us in to Shimla late this afternoon, in time to enjoy a stroll through town before dinner.

    Day 3

    DAY 3: Full day's sightseeing in Shimla

    Sprawled across seven hills, Shimla still retains some of the faded charm that attracted the British here during the summer days of the Raj. Today we have an opportunity to enjoy a little something of its old colonial character with visits to the Viceregal Lodge and the Mall, before taking in the famed splendour of Jakhu Temple, the ancient Hindu temple that sits astride Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest peak.

    Day 4

    DAY 4: Shimla - Kalpa (2960M)

    Departing early again this morning, we have a full day’s drive travelling by jeep through the apple-growing landscapes of the Satluj Valley towards Kalpa. Home to the Kinnauri people, Kalpa lies some 2,960 metres above sea level, at the base of the snow-capped peaks of the Kinnaur Kailash ranges. Negotiating the fertile vistas of the Satluj River Valley as far as Puwari we then begin the ascent towards Kalpa, following the road up through the forests as we enjoy the stunning mountain landscapes ahead of us.

    Day 5

    DAY 5: Kalpa - Tabo via Lake Nako (3280M)

    Accompanied by the splendours of the Kinnaur Kailash, today’s drive takes us from the lush Satluj Valley and into the stark desert landscapes of the Spiti Valley. The drive is as spectacular as it is dramatic, as we make our way along what has often been described as one of the world’s most adventurous roads. The journey takes us close to the Tibetan border and the small village of Nako, where we may have an opportunity to stop and visit its picturesque lake. Approx. 5 hours drive.

    Day 6

    DAY 6: Tabo - Dhankhar - Pin Valley (3800M)

    This morning we visit Tabo Monastery, the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both India and the Himalayas. Continuing on to Dhankhar we then head towards what is considered one of the most endangered monuments in the world, Dhankhar Gompa. Much has been done in recent years by our local team to raise funds to support the restoration of the building and its treasures. From here we then head into the Pin Valley, to end our day at a unique village dedicated to Bhuchen tantric dance.

    Day 7

    DAY 7: Pin Valley - Demul (4320M)

    Today’s destination is the remarkable village of Demul, lying high up amongst the Spitian highlands 4,320 metres above sea level. The village is fast earning a reputation for its ground-breaking efforts at sustainability, with solar cookers, greenhouses and solar heated and electrified homes very much a part of Demul’s modern culture. Breaking the journey en route, there is an option to enjoy a hike up to nearly 5000 metres, to take in the panoramas across up to 18 different villages. If you prefer you can follow the same route experiencing a yak back safari which is optional and payable locally. Alternatively, you can continue the journey by jeep.

    Day 8

    DAY 8: Cultural activities around Demul

    Today provides an opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in village life, with a range of activities on offer. These include a chance to get up early and join the sheep herds up on the high pastures. You can learn how to make Spiti’s unique yak cheese, try your hand at making pure mountain arak, or alternatively join some of the locals in producing rope from yak wool. Demul offers a fascinating and unique insight into the traditional lives of these remote people.

    Day 9

    DAY 9: Trek to Komik (4500M)

    Trekking across a landscape of alpine grazing pastures we head up into the hunting grounds of the snow leopard today. Journey’s end is the settlement of Komik, at 4,500 metres above sea level the highest village in Asia. After visiting Komik’s monastery we’ll have a chance to get settled in to our overnight homestays before we head out to learn more about the intricate irrigation systems and farming practices of Asia’s highest community. There is the option to undertake the trek by yak if you prefer. Trekking 14-16km approx 5-6 hours

    Day 10

    DAY 10: Trek to Langza then drive on to Kaza (3650M)

    Early risers can take a walk down into the fields before breakfast this morning, after which we’ll start our trek on to Langza (4300M). The four hour journey takes us by way of Hikkim, where we’ll find the highest post office in Asia! In Langza we’ll then have an opportunity to spend some time with the local potters, before continuing by road on to Kaza. Here we head to the market with our hosts to purchase ingredients before trying our hand at creating some typical Spitian cuisine for dinner. Trekking 8-10km approx 4 hours

    Day 11

    DAY 11: Kaza - Pangmo - Kaza

    After breakfast this morning visit the iconic Kee Monastery, the largest of its kind in the Spiti Valley. Home to ancient murals, books and Buddhist imagery, the monastery is still a functioning school for lamas of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Continuing on to Pangmo from here, we spend the day at a Nunnery and enjoy the hospitality of the local nuns, a remarkable opportunity to witness first-hand their daily rituals and spend time in meditation, or simply enjoying tea with them.

    Day 12

    DAY 12: Kaza - Manali

    Leaving the Spiti Valley today, our journey takes us across the spectacular mountain passes of Kunzum and Rohtang, as we make our way to Manali near the northern end of the Kullu Valley. A long drive, the day takes us across some of the most dramatic scenery imaginable as we follow the old trade routes towards the “Valley of the Gods”. If time allows we may have a chance to stop en route at Chandratal, the beautiful moon lake that occupies the Samudra Tapu plateau. Approx. 5 hours driving

    Day 13

    DAY 13: Manali - Dharamshala

    Another long drive filled with spectacular landscapes and timeless vistas, today we head for Dharamshala, the capital of the Tibetan government in exile since the 1959 uprising. Nestling amongst the fertile tea plantations of Himachal Pradesh, the town lies encircled by cedar forest, snow-clad mountain and captivating monasteries. One of the finest and culturally most important hill stations in India, the town’s rich Tibetan culture and old colonial history instils it with a character all its own. Approx. 7 hours driving

    Day 14

    DAY 14: In Dharamshala

    A full day exploring this fascinating town begins with a visit to the Dalai Lama’s Monastery, within whose confines we can find the Tibet Museum. Other points of interest around the town include the Tibetan Men-tse-khang Medical Centre, the charming little village of Dharamkot and the Norbulingka Institute, which is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan art and culture. Later we will have some free time to explore the market at our leisure before enjoying a final dinner together.

    Day 15

    DAY 15: Dharamshala - Delhi

    This morning you will have some free time for personal exploration in the city before we head to the airport where we will say goodbye to our guide and take a late afternoon flight to Delhi. Those on onwards flights can transfer to the International terminal (where the group flight will depart in the early hours of Day 16).