Spiti: Drive-Cum-Trek

The children of Spiti in north-west Himachal get their first toys to play with from nature. These are fossil mollusks and ammonites, precursors to the marine life in our oceans. Embedded in the bed of the Spiti river is evidence of the Tethys sea that existed at the place where the Himalayan stands today. Spiti is far away from everywhere. Because of its proximity to Tibet, it existed behind the forbidden 'inner-line'. Now entry permits are available from Delhi, Shimla, and Kullu. The approach to Spiti, however, is restricted because of its isolation. Spiti lies between Ladakh, Tibet, Lahaul, Kullu, and Kinnaur. After Independence it became a part of Punjab and later, a district of Himachal Pradesh. The Ki monastery, the largest in Spiti, is an hour's drive from Kaza, the administrative headquarters. It was invaded umpteen times by the Mongols in the seventeenth century and then the Ladkahis, Dogras, and Sikhs in the nineteenth. Ki has a collection of sacred Buddhist paintings or sacred Buddhist paintings or thangkas said to be two hundred years old. There are frescoes on Guru Padmasambhava, a collection of old weapons, and a couple of three-metre-long trumpets.

Duration: 04 Days (walking) & 06 - 07 days of driving.
Best time to Trek: From Shimla, approach as early as mid-April and exit the Spiti Valley as late as mid-November as there is no high pass to negotiate. From Manali, the Rohtang Pass and the Kunjum La restrict the visit from about mid-June to early October, depending on the snow conditions on these passes.


Day 01: Spiti - Langja

  • We are organizing this tour from Kaza (Spiti) leave for the village of Langja, the road head. An hour's drive on a steep road leads to the village. Big vehicles find it difficult to negotiate this narrow road. Camp at Langja and go on a few walks to acclimatize. The village is situated on an undulating meadow at 14,500 ft/4,419m. In July, you can see the land being tilled by yaks for the barley crop. The hilside on the left rises towards the summits of Kanamo Peak (19,600ft/5,974m) and the conical Chau Chau Kang Nilde (20,680ft/6,303m). A perfect place to meditate over there.

  • Day 02: Komik(Thangyud)

  • On the second day the trail goes on through meadow country. All through the trek you would be parallel to the Spiti River, walking between (14,000ft/4,250m). This trek would turn out to be just a stroll through a majestic highland setting. After leaving the camp, a one-and-a-half hour climb would take you to a small saddle (15,000ft/4,572m) from where you could take a forty five minute detour to the meadow's edge. Across the valley, towards Kullu, is the Bara Singri Glacier, dominated by the Ratang Peak and Ratnag Tower (both 20,700ft/6,310m). A steady ninety minute walk takes you to Hikkim village nestled in a bow-shaped valley. In another hour, you reach Komik village just below the Thangyud Monastery, next to which camp can be set. Thangyud Monastery: belongs to the Skaya Pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and was founded in 1071 AD as a result of a reformist movement. Taking its name from the yellow color of the soil. Sakya Pa Monastery at Kaza is of fairly recent origin. Exquisite statues of Maitreya and Guru Padmasambhava are the highlights at Thangyud.
  • Day 03: Manali

  • For the third day climb up from the Gompa for an hour to Chame La. Beyond this point are the meadows of Kuangme. In another two and a half hours you reach Yang La (16,000ft), the highest trek point. From there, descend to Demul at 14,700ft. In the evening, take a walk above the village to sight the handsome Himalayan Wolf. An absolutely clear, star-studded sky could keep you busy till pretty late if you have any interest in star-gazing.

  • Day 04: Manali (Return Back)

  • Walk through the village to the dolma La (15,200ft) and reach the end of the plateau. Descend to the road head of Lidang (11,600ft). This is a slippery trail, so be careful. A vehicle should be waiting for you as there is no public or private transport available. Drive back to Kaza and then over Kunjum and Rohtang passes to Manali. Your brief encounter with Buddhism is over, may its salutary effect last forever.

  • Travel Tips and Important Views

    Getting There : You can easily reach there and options are: Start Drive from Delhi to Manali or from Shimla. From Shimla, a two-day drive will lead you into the Spiti valley up to Tabo monastery. From Manali, a two-day drive will get you to Kaza. Spend a few days exploring the monasteries of Tabo, Dhankar, and Ki before starting the trek.
    Getting There : Yang La at (16,000ft/4,876m) and the highest campsite is at Demul at 14,700ft/4,480m. If driving in from Manali, the highest point reached is the Kunjum La at 14,932ft/4,551m.
    Highlights of this trek : The monasteries at Tabo, Dhankar, and Ki will come on the drive, and the gompas at Komik on the trek. It is high altitude trek, yet an easy one since it is mostly over fossil-strewn trails. The trek has spectacular mountain vistas.
    Medical Assistance & Emergency : Manali and Shimla are the last stops. The spiti valley is connected by phone but once on the trek, no medical or rescue facilities is available.
    Support Services on the Trek : Very few pack mules and horses available at Langja, the road head, so they must be arranged for in advance. Must be totally self equipped, no facilities on the trail. Food can be bought in Kaza but camping equipment is available only in Manali or Shimla.