A geographical marvel and a photographer's delight, the cold desert of Spiti is a sight to behold. While this tiny patch of land houses all kinds of beauty that's rare, it remains so fresh to the eye because of how inaccessible it is all year round, especially so during winters. Our Spiti Winter Homestay Trail is the first of its kind homestay trail in the heart of this winter land nestled deep in the remotest folds of the Himalayan ranges of Himachal Pradesh. This cold desert where temperatures can drop to as low as -30 degrees makes for some of the harshest living conditions which people call home. The trail makes you experience the warmth and hospitality of the people who are the beauty of this desolate patch of land between India and Tibet as we experience, first hand, what kind of lifestyle one has to adopt to thrive in these conditions.
Shimla to Sangla
Distance: 220 kms
Time Taken: 10 -12 hours drive
Given how remote the district of Spiti is, to get there is a time-consuming endeavour. The first leg of trying to make our way into this virgin land involves a 220km road trip through the Kinnaur valley to Sangla. We assemble in Shimla early morning by 07:30 hours at a pre-decided location, and leave for this far away village latest by 8 AM. The first three hours of the drive is through cities and thickly habitated areas which leads into a calmer road lined with forests that start to thin out as the journey along the Sutlej river progresses. The last two hours of the drive are a bit bumpy for the uneven road that leads us into Sangla. Expect to reach by late evening.
Sangla to Tabo via Nako and Gue
The second leg of making our way into the cold desert is continuing our long journey from yesterday. The drive to Tabo has a lot to offer. We cross the confluence of Sutlej and Spiti rivers on our way there, passing through the towns of Pooh and Nako. A small detour will also take us to Gue, which has India's only known naturally preserved mummy. At Sumdo we cross the confluence of Spiti and Parechu rivers which leads us into our drive straight to Tabo, known for its 1000 year old monastery.
Tabo to Chicham
Distance: 70kms drive
The route to Chicham introduces you to the true view of Spiti as you make your way to high mountains with the snow disrupting the monochrome of the landscape, the Spiti river crisscrossing on the floor down below and the bright blue of the river is slowly replaced by thicker and wider borders of white when the river starts to freeze up with every kilometre.
Night stays is in the warmest houses with some delicious local delicacies.
Chicham to Kaza
We will spend the day trekking up the mysterious caves 4 hours up from Chicham. This medium difficult trek which will take us to a cave rife with ancient paintings is a time machine to old times. A lot of folk tales are associated with the cave and locals go up there to pray for the spirits of their dead even today! The route to this cave gets steeper with every step and has you navigate snow and the scree-ridden slopes of this peculiar landscape.
We descend down to Kaza for the night the same evening.
Kaza to Langza - 15kms drive. Langza to Komik via Hikkim
Today the team leaves for hamlets nested higher up on the naked mountains of Spiti! Kaza is the central point to all the villages in the vicinity and the place with all the facilities for it is the administrative headquarters. We drive to Langza which is famous for its massive Buddha statue in the middle of the brown mountains striped with the white of the snow. We go through Ki monastery which stands high on a pinnacle. With the colours, prayer flags and the warmth of the place, the monastery is a symbol of all that's good about our race.
We then trek from here to a series of 'highest' places. Komic - the highest Village of the world and Hikkim which has the highest post office in the world. And guess what! It's functional! You can drop your postcards in the bright red post box of this winter post office. You can't miss it, because the red post card is the brightest thing in the village. The trek is fairly easy - you are likely to experience a little bit of breathlessness because of the cold and the Altitude.
Komik to Demul - 25kms drive. Demul to Lalung - 10kms trek
The expanse of Spiti is wide and desolate - long stretches of brown folds till your eye can see. But every once in a while, you will see a small group of white dots on top of mounds or resting at the foothills. These are the white-washed, flat-roofed houses of the smallest and remotest villages you would have ever seen! It is a wonder how the people here remain so warm and agreeable in a land with zero vegetation and temperatures that drop to -18 to -20 during daytime. We go to two such villages today.
Lalung to Dhankar via Dhankar Lake
Dhankar is an entire town resting on fragile mud pinnacles like massive termite mounds. It's an entire civilization of mud which looks like it could crumble at any point but is sturdy enough to hold a population of 300. It looks like a place from a distant planet with the peculiar geographical formations which secretly tell the history of the place. A small trek from the village takes you to a frozen lake as massive as a football field with wild horses chilling close by. The village itself has a lot of history to offer with its monastery and forts.
Dhankar to Kalpa
Today is when we leave the cold folds of Spiti and make our way to the warmth and sanctuary of Kalpa in the Kinnaur Valley. It's a 180km scenic drive which bids adieu to this one of a kind experience to greener and warmer lands.
Kalpa to Shimla
Warmer still we go further down to Shimla today. It is a long drive. Expect to reach late evening.
The Spiti Winter Homestay Trail is an easy trek perfect for both beginners and experienced trekkers looking to experience the harsh winters of the beautiful Spiti Valley. For a novice, it is recommended to be physically fit and have good mental endurance to successfully complete this trek in harsh winters.
No prior experience is required. However, for beginners, it is recommended to be physically fit.
If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.
January and February are the best months to do the Spiti Winter Homestay Trail.
Click here for packing list.
The Spiti Homestay Trail starts from Shimla as we drive to Kaza which will take about 2 days.
By Air: Shimla is well connected to Delhi and other cities of India by air. Air India runs a daily 7:45 am flight from Delhi to Shimla. You can also fly to Chandigarh or Delhi and take a taxi or bus to Shimla from there.
By Rail: If you are travelling by railways, then Kalka is your station. From Kalka, drive to Shimla which is an hour and a half journey. Buses and private taxis are easily available on this route.
By Road: There are daily overnight buses for Shimla from Delhi from Kashmere Gate ISBT and take about 11 - 12 hours.
Intermittent BSNL and Airtel networks.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied with their parents or guardians. If you are above the age of 60, kindly carry a medical certificate from your doctor that deem you fit for adventure activities like trekking.
There are washroom/toilet facilities at homestays. However, the toilet systems in Spitian villages are that of a dry pit system.
There will be no tents or sleeping bags as this is a village to village trek and you will be staying in homestays.
You will be provided with good quality of gaiters and microspikes from us depending upon the situation of the snow. Our trek leaders will also be carrying ropes and ice axe.
You can rent following items from us- Trekking Pole, Trekking Shoes, Fleece Jacket
The temperatures in Spiti during winters will be below 0 and can drop down to as low as -30 deg celsius.
Yes, there will be a lot of snow on the trek.
If you want to offload your rucksack, you will have to make a request for offloading a few days prior to the trek through an email so that arrangements can be made in advance. You will be charged per day for offloading your rucksack. In case you decide to offload on the spot, you may have to pay a higher price than usual. However, offloading your rucksack is not recommended since it is not a safe practice.
A team of participant will be led by a course certified trek leader and a local guide. All participants are requested to abide by what their leader says. There will also be a team of kitchen staff and porters on the trek. We maintain 1:8 ratio of trek leader and participants. All our trek leaders and staff have a certified training in first-aid and rescue operation.
Yes, trekking pole is necessary. If you don’t want to buy one, you can rent it from us on minimal daily basis charges. You can request the renting link from us.
Yes, there are stores and shops in Kaza from where you can buy necessary stuff. Though it is recommended that you come prepared with all the stuff. Please do not leave anything for last minute buying.
Yes, it is absolutely safe for a solo woman to travel in fix departures. Women on the trek will be sharing a room with each other. In case you are the only woman on the trek, you will be given a separate room.
Yes, e-certificates will be given at the end of each trek provided that you completed it. It will bear your name, the trek, and the maximum altitude you achieved on the trek.
You will be picked up from Shimla ISBT at 7am. Drop of point will be the same.
Expect to reach Shimla by late evening.
You will be accommodated in homestays and guest houses during the trek.
It is mandatory to carry ID Proof for the trek. (Soft Copy to be sent to us in Advance & original to be carried along)
Our community is an integral part of us and we take pride in our trekkers and climbers. When you complete at least three days on any trek or expedition with us, you become eligible for our membership and referral programs.
For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.
Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund
Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure