Trekking in Spiti Valley? Here are a few places you shouldn’t miss!

Wind-carved mountains, whitewashed settlements, patches of green on an arid terrain and confounding moonscapes to offer, it is difficult to disagree with Kipling. To have our treks either start (Pin Parvati, Kanamo Peak) or end (Hampta Pass, Pin Bhaba Pass) in these surreal landscapes of Spiti Valley is just a cherry on top of the trek experience.

The moment you hit Kunzum La pass (known as the Gateway to Spiti), with fluttering of prayer flags in the high winds to greet you, you know you have entered a completely different world. You can see Bara Shigri– the second longest glacier in Himalayas and Chandra Bhaga mountain from the Pass.  As you descend from the Pass, the Himalayas show you a completely different face. The untouched culture is a product of this region’s seclusion, cut off by snow at least 7 months of the year.

We have listed out our favourite experiences in the Spiti Valley region of Himachal Pradesh here:  

Chandratal

Kanamo trekkers at Chandratal lake - Indiahikes
After the unforgettable experience of summiting Kanamo in bad weather, the 13th August batch flaunt their success at Chandratal. PC: Sachin Jha

Distance from Manali: 48.3 km
Transport: We recommend getting a taxi from Manali instead of  a public transport. Buses and share taxis only drop you off at Batal.

The Pangong Tso of Spiti! This stunning crescent lake is included in our Hampta Pass and Kanamo Peak itinerary and is a must-do! Not only that, if you are trekking anywhere near Manali, perhaps the Bhrigu Lake or Pin Bhaba trek, you can easily add another day to your itinerary and visit this gorgeous lake. 

 

Kaza

Kanamo trek - On the way to kaza - Indiahikes
Spiti Valley is a world apart from anything you have seen. The drive to Kaza feels like you are going through the Grand Canyon. PC: Sachin Jha.

Distance from Manali: 200 kms
Transport: There is State transport bus leaving Manali for Kaza at 6 am.

This is where our Pin Parvati and Kanamo trekkers go to on their Day 1. Kaza is the capital and the largest settlement of Spiti region, sitting on the floodplain of Spiti river.  This is also your last place with an ATM and petrol bunk. Being the largest settlement in Spiti Valley, it is well-equipped to meet needs of travellers.  If you are trekking in months of July/August, you may able to catch the Ladarcha Fair. Originally it was a conference of traders from Kullu, Ladakh, Lahaul, Kinnaur to barter goods in Kibber Maidan, until the trade routes with Tibet closed. Now, the Fair is held in Kaza and is a shopping paradise.

 

Key monastery

Kanamo trek - Key Monastery - Indiahikes
Key Monastery in all it’s grandeur. PC: Sachin Jha

Distance from Kaza: 15 kms

Key is the largest monastery in the Spiti Valley region and possibly one of the oldest in the region. Perched on a hilltop, boxes of buildings stacked on top of each other, with Spiti river breaking the desert valley, this monastery is quite a sight! If you are lucky, you will get a tour from a friendly monk (and a helping of herbal tea!) and even get to go through old manuscripts. Our Kanamo trekkers are lucky this monastery is part of the itinerary, and they get to stay here overnight!

Look up monastery festivals before you go, you might be able to witness the Cham Dance!

 

Kibber

Kanamo peak trek - Kibber - Indiahikes
Look at the way these villages are! Built on slopes of the mountain so they don’t lose an inch of farming land in this arid region. Seeing the harsh conditions people live in here, it is amazing how people here are perennially cheerful and unaffected. PC: Sachin Jha

Distance from Kaza: 19 kms

Here’s where our Kanamo Peak trek starts. Kibber, dubiously claimed as the “highest village in the world” before Komic stole its glory, is a beautiful village with whitewashed houses made of mud and stone. The farmlands of peas and barley add striking colour to the desert landscape. The area is under Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary where you can spot elusive snow leopards (these animals only come down from the mountains in winter), Himalayan wolf, ibex, blue sheep and red fox.

 

The trolley ride from Kibber to Chicham



This is not for those with acrophobia– the video above should give you a good idea of the scale! The means of commute between Kibber and Chicham village is trolley ride between the gorges. The trolley will have you looking at almost a 150 metre drop, with sparkling blue river snaking its way below! Don’t assume that this is operated by a machine. You have to pull yourself onto the other side holding onto the yellow rope! 

 

Hikkim

Kanamo Peak trek-Hikkim post office-Indiahikes
The postcards from here are a thing to treasure! PC: Sanjhi Khanna

Distance from Kaza: 15 kms

Hikkim village, sitting in a bowl in a mountain, has the distinction of having the world’s highest post office and also be named as world’s highest polling station. It is not everyday you get to send postcards from the highest post office in the world!

 

Langza

Distance from Kaza: 14 kms

Behind Hikkim is Langza- a geologist’s paradise! Millions of years ago, Spiti was under Tethys sea. There are innumerable fossils of sea creatures and plants to be found under rocks, or in the higher reaches of the mountains. With grand views of Chau Chau Kang Nilda peak, the village is one of the most beautiful villages in Spiti. Langza also has a large, golden Buddha statue  which is said to be over a 1,000 years old.

 

Dhankar

Spiti valley - Dhankar lake - Indiahikes
Right above the monastery is this hidden gem of a lake.  PC: Sabyasachi Chatterjee

Distance from Kaza: 34 kms

Dhankar (“Fort on Cliff”) used to be capital of Spiti during the 17th century- now it is just a tiny village. The buildings in the village is built in a way that it almost seems share their back wall with mountain. The Dhankar Monastery is listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. It is not hard to see why. The monastery, wedged between eroded rock pinnacles,  overlooking the confluence of Spiti and Pin river, is at a site vulnerable to soil and wind erosion. The setting of the monastery, however, is incredibly dramatic! You can even hike up to Dhankar Lake above the monastery.

South of Dhankar Gompa, starts Pin Valley National Park, the only cold desert National Park in Himachal- where Pin Parvati begins and Pin Bhaba ends.

Once you have completed Rupin Pass, if you wish to visit Spiti- you can take the Hindustan Tibet road.This road, bored through a cliff and full of hairpin turns- though scenic- is also one of the most treacherous highways in the world. You start following the Spiti river a little before Sumdo and Tabo falls right after.

Spiti Valley-Indiahikes
Click to view the Spiti Valley on Google maps

Gue

Distance from Sangla: 160 kms

Gue is a diversion between Sumdo and Tabo.  Gue, a village straddling a trade route between India and Tibet , houses a 500 year old, remarkably well-preserved mummy in a glass chamber. The monk- said to be Sangha Tenzin underwent natural mummification and was found by villagers in 1975 when earthquake struck the region. The village is controlled by ITBP because of its proximity to Indo-China border.

Tabo

Distance from Kaza: 48 kms

This is a world heritage site and Dalai Lama’s favourite place! Tabo monastery is known as the “Ajanta of Himalayas”  because of its fresco and stucco paintings. It is one of the few monasteries which is integrated in the valley with the village as opposed to being perched on a hill overlooking the village. The mountains also have meditation caves for lamas.
Tabo and Gue come right after you enter Spiti from Hindustan-Tibet Road that goes through Kinnaur.

 

Have we missed any mention worthy regions in the Spiti Valley? Write to us in comments and we’ll add them in this article and you’ll be given due credit!

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Aswati Anand

Aswati Anand is a journalist in love with the Himalayas. She is interested in stories of resilience from difficult terrains and sustainable living. When not mooning over the mountains, she can be seen doodling in her sketchbook.

11 thoughts on “Trekking in Spiti Valley? Here are a few places you shouldn’t miss!

  1. One need to add komik village above lagnza village with beautiful monestry and one compartment contains some black magic or alike where women are not permissible, having accomodation for stay and beautiful scenic picturescue area around where shadows plays with mountains

    1. Hi Prreya, Well- we have a bunch of them. There is Kanamo peak for experienced trekekrs, Pin Bhaba, Pin Parvati and Hampta Pass which ends in Lahual. 🙂 Which season do you want to trek in?

    1. Hello Arihanth
      You could do the Pin Bhabha trek if you want a taste of Spiti. It is a crossover trek which will show you the Kinnaur side of Himachal and the desert landscape of Spiti. You could also try the Kanamo trek. Keep in mind that both these treks rate high on the level of difficulty. Make sure you have a high level of fitness before you venture out to do any of these treks. Happy trekking 🙂

  2. Hey Aswati!
    Which travel group did trek with? Do you recommend it?
    I am interested in a group trekking trip. Searching for good company to go with.

  3. Hi, I want to do Spiti with you. I am 54 but in good physical shape. I did Chadartrek last year but I am not sure if I will be able to do a difficult trek. Please let me know if I can do Spiti with you by road mostly and with less walking. Or please suggest a reliable group.

    1. Hello Arti
      We have two treks that cross the Spiti. One is the Pin Bhaba trek where we cross over from the Kinnaur side of Himachal to the Spiti. The other is the Kanamo Peak trek. Both of these treks rate high on the level of difficulty. You need to be extremely fit to undertake these treks. Your age is not a concern as long as you can match the level of fitness required for difficult high altitude treks. Read this article to know more about fitness for difficult treks.

  4. As you have mentioned about the trolley between kibber and chicham. I would like to inform you that now the trolley has been removed. The bridge has ready. so need to upgrade it.

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