Winter destinations are plenty in India. For a foreign traveler winter is the ideal season to visit the otherwise warmer and humid destinations like Rajasthan, Goa and Southern India. Very few make the attempt to go head on against the winters in the heart of the Himalayas. Heard the popular adage “Winter is coming”? Yes! This was perhaps first spoken by the people in the heartland of the grand mountains with the descent of the first snow flake.
There are a few brave hearts who will attempt to visit this winter wonderland and trust us, the rewards are directly proportionate to every hardship. We’ve been told the rewards are beyond proportions and especially humbling when you take the road less travelled on a Spiti Winter Trek
To you our adventurers we have a brief “Know it all” list to help you get on this adventure.
If you are landing into India to travel to Spiti, it will be best to get a flight into Delhi International Airport or alternatively the Chandigarh International Airport well, same if you are travelling anywhere else from India too.
You will then have to take the road to Shimla and onward via the NH 22 highway through Kinnaur. Your overnight stops would be Chandigarh to Shimla, Shimla to Narkanda, Narkanda to Reckong Peo (District Head quarters of Kinnaur) and onward to Kaza at an altitude of 3700m. Its best to take your journey slow than to rush and cover long distance in 1 day. We would suggest you keep your distances to sub 100 KMs per day at best. The public transport can be tricky with none to few making the distance in the winters. Taxi’s are available at the Airport to Shimla from Chandigarh. Shimla is also a main city and taxi’s for your onward journey will be available.
Well, Hell did NOT freeze over! Alright, let’s be honest, clichéd idiom’s aside, it can be cold, very cold. The temperatures are known to go down to -20 degrees in January and gets relatively better in March with a bearable low at -5 degrees. We would suggest you pick March to travel through Spiti if you’ve picked the winters and still want to explore the region without facing very extreme climates.
We did not say it will be luxury! We called it an adventure, we called it humbling, we called it mind opening, a choice to go beyond your comfort zone. In the winter months the local people of the region go into a hibernation of sorts, with no viability for public transport, snowed in on some days, the winter months are times to bond with the family, weave carpets and dig into the resources they have collected over the summer
With limited access to fresh vegetables, the meals served will be legumes, lentils and varieties of dried cheese, meat and rice. Indian curried dishes like Rajma (legume) Chawal (Rice) is a common occurrence on the menu along with Roti (Flat bread) and Dal (Lentils). Also, the delightful broth noodles (Thukpa) and Tingmo (Spitian bread) was our favorite from the Spiti Winter Trek last summer.
Homes of the locals, some hotels and lodges. Again, this will not be luxury accommodation but your stay will be with most gracious hosts. The people in the mountains are aware and empathetic to the harshness of the region, their humility and delightful bright smile despite the conditions will warm the coldest of hearts. While on our trek last season we had our hostess make some warm Momo’s (dumplings) and soup while we sat by the hearth chatting with her about our day and in turn listening to hers. Walk in with an open heart and you’ll be surprised with the love and memories you will take back of your interactions.
You will access to drinking water from safe streams. If you choose to take the Unventured way of travel, then we have you covered with our team of locals who have complete inside know how to safe streams to access water and also you get a filtered bottle to use through the trip and beyond. Read more about our Greener alternatives to bottled water
Spitian winter toilets are mostly dry toilets (NO FLUSH). This will be a covered bathroom with a hole dug in the ground or an elevated floor with toilets that lead the waste to the pit below. You will have access to warm water from the hosts that will be heated on the hearth.
Most homestays and lodges have comfortable bedding. However, we would suggest you take your sleeping bag that is apt for extreme weather conditions. Don’t expect deep slumbers on all days, it will take you time to acclimatize to the cold weather and the high altitude.
Now that you have taken that big step and took this adventure to the Himalayan heart land there is no stopping you from exploring magical Spiti. Speaking of magic, have you heard of the Grey Ghost? One of the must do is to look out for the elusive snow leopard. Travelers from around the world travel to spot the snow leopard that climbs down to the plains to hunt the blue sheep and mountain goats who have come looking for grass lands. Photographing the winter landscape, the bio diversity, the wildlife, we could go on…Hiking to monasteries and understanding the local way of life is truly life changing. Our Spiti Winter hike is a beautiful mix local culture, many photo opportunities and warm & cozy stays.
Sunglasses – Be very aware of snow blindness, its very real!
Layers of warm clothing – Thing low, very low temperatures.
Warm Socks and Snow/water resistant shoes, Gators– You will be treading through ankle deep snow on some days. A good grip on the sole to save you from sleet is a good option
Tally Ho! You are ready for your adventure. If you have any more questions about travelling to Spiti in winter? Go ahead and ask us. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll tell all that we know to make your travel to Spiti in the winter special and memorable.