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Take the route of “Gaddis”(Shepherds) on the Bhaba Pass Trek
Exploring Spiti: Call it “Piti” or Spiti, the beauty of this “Middle Land” positioned between India and Tibet is reflective of its unique cultures. Bordered around Tibet, Nepal, and Pakistan the topography is filled with Himalayan ranges, valleys enveloping high altitude lakes, everywhere you turn there are beautiful snow-capped mountains waiting to play peek-a-boo. Culturally, Tibetan Buddhism is the prominent religion in the north of the region and Hinduism in lower Lahaul. You can expect to see some beautiful monasteries that date back beyond 100+ years and temples dedicated to eternal goddesses who have governed over the mountains.
If you’ve been curious about legends of traders charting their way discovering trade routes or shepherds mapping new routes for greener pastures, then this is the trek for you. You will hike through thick forests, surreal meadows of the Kinnaur and climb through the desolate valley of Spiti. The Pin Bhaba pass at 4,865 metres will have you hiking by buckwheat and potato farms, cross handmade footbridges, hike beside the Wangar river and finally a steep ascent to the pass. Nine days of serenity, quiet, and surreal views is what we have in store for you.
Who can do this tour?
The Bhaba Pass trek is ideal for anyone who wants to explore Spiti and its beautiful locales at a slower pace. The trek itself is of medium intensity with ample time for breaks to stop and explore. As for altitude, the trek is planned to accommodate acclimatization to avoid high altitude sickness. You will be hiking an average of 6-8 kilometres per day with a difficult day of hiking when you cross the Bhaba Pass which is about 19 kilometres of uphill and flat terrain hiking. The drive is not tough except for the last day’s drive from Chandratal to Manali which can be bumpy.
On this 13-day tour starting from Chandigarh, we will cover some surreal campsites like Mulling, Kara, Fustirang, and of course stays in little homestays in Mudh and Langza. You will witness the inner Himalayan region in close quarters taking you closer to its unique flora and fauna. The cultural shift of Buddhist traditions fluently intermingling with the Hindu way of life reflecting in their architecture, heritage, and family traditions. This is ideal for those who want to explore beyond the tourist routes and wants to get a “real feel” of the region interacting with the Gaddi shepherds and travelling through listening to the stories of the locals. The interactions with the locals will leave you spellbound and you’ll be overwhelmed at their gentle and kind ways.
You are expected to arrive in Chandigarh on or before 12:00 noon, upon arrival we will drive toward Shimla through meandering routes overseeing the surreal views of the coniferous forests. A 3+ hours drive to Shimla with lunch en route. Spend the evening on a guided walk through Shimla’s colonial past and learn of the railway’s in India that first had its beginnings in this colonial town. Stay over night in Shimla
• You’ll meet and greet your fellow travellers
• You’ll drive to Shimla from Chandigarh
• Take a guided walk through colonial Shimla
Post a hearty breakfast, we will drive out to Sarahaan, a quaint little temple town with a dedicated temple to the Mother Goddess. The temple dates back to about 2 centuries ago, filled with myths and legends. Your evening post the drive is a cultural introduction to the ways of the Spitian people. Stay overnight in Sarahaan.
• Take a scenic drive to Sarahan
• Enjoy a relaxed walk around the village
• take a guided walk of the Bhimakali Temple.
We begin the day early, an exciting day as we gear up to hike. A 65+ kilometres drive from Sarahaan to Kafnu will take us through the meandering Spitian landscape. Expect to bump into shepherds who are heading towards greener pastures or children heading to school getting on to makeshift trolleys to get across a river. Post lunch, we begin our trek (6 kilometres) through wooded hills and we will reach camp at Mulling by evening. Relish some warm tea and popcorn. Dinner and overnight stay in camp by the river.
• Enjoy the drive from Sarahaan to Kafnu
• You’ll trek through wooded hills from Kafnu to Mulling
• Stay overnight at a camp
We will hike from Mulling to Kara. An easy hike day, our morning will start bright and early with a 7:00 AM wake up call. Don’t be surprised if you are awakened by the mules even earlier. Post a hearty breakfast we begin an easy trek from Mulling to Kara with the views of the inner Himalayas. As we climb along the Bhabha Valley, you will be welcomed by a stream of glacial melt, take time to soak your tired feet in the stream and let your eyes take in the pristine snow-capped glaciers. Overnight at camp in Kara
Hike distance: 8 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Campsite
• Take a scenic hike through the Bhaba valley
• We’ll get to meet shepherds grazing their livestock
• This is a great opportunity to spot some endemic birds and some wild animals
We meet the snow-capped mountains that have been peeking at us for days. Fustirang is the base camp for the summit up to Bhaba Pass. As we climb along the Bhabha Valley you will be welcomed by a stream of glacial melt. Take time to soak your tired feet in the stream and your eyes on the snow-capped glaciers. Stay overnight in a camp at Fustirang
Hike distance: 7 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Campsite
• Take in surreal views of the snow-capped mountains
• As you cycle, you’ll see beautiful meadows and the woodlands
Step out of your camp and look up, the peak that you see…yes, the tall mountain there is what we will be facing as we climb to the summit of Bhaba Pass (4,865m). We will take the torrid terrain to the summit and cross over Bhaba Pass toward Bara Bulder. It’s a tough day of close 19 kilometres of walking. Partly a climb till the summit and post that our terrain to our camp at Bara Bulder will be a decent all along. Expect to be with the company of Gaddi sheep and yak herders taking their flock across. Overnight camp at Bara Bulder.
Hike distance: 19 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Campsite
• You’ll climb up to the summit of Bhaba Valley
• Take a downhill trek to Bara Bulder
• A fairly tough day with some technical and intense climbs
Craving for a hot shower already? Well then, let’s walk through a defined path today and take the road often taken by trekkers and backpackers for shorter treks from the Mudh village. Expect tea houses and a quaint monastery bustling with travellers. We check in to a guest house and clean up for the next few days of rediscovering Spiti through its culture, people, and way of life. Overnight stay at a guest house
Hike distance: 10 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Homestay
• Hike up to your first Spitian Village
• You’ll be introduced to Spitian cuisine
• You’ll stay tonight at a homestay
So, are you ready to look for some pre-historic fossils? Langza is a village situated at an altitude of 14,500 ft above sea level. This is also the highest village with a motorable road. Fossils of marine creatures and plants are found in plenty under the sedimentary rocks. These fossils date back to around millions of years. A visit to Langza is not complete without fossil hunting. The easiest way to find these fossils are to go high around the mountains in Langza and to look for them under the rocks. Do note, you will have to put them back to where you found them as taking fossils or buying from the locals is illegal. Overnight stay at a guest house.
• Walkabout in the fossil-rich Langza Village
• You’ll take the scenic drive from Mudh to Langza Via Kaza
• You’ll get an insight into village life
Post a hearty breakfast and packed lunch we will hike toward Komik, the highest village and onward to Hikkim to send out postcards from Asia’s highest post office. No trip to Spiti is complete without sending a postcard to keep the post office going and of course to preserve a memory of your visit. Given the time, we will learn to cook some local cuisine in the homestay we will be staying at. Overnight stay in Langza.
• Hike up to the highest village
• Send a postcard home from the highest post office
• Learn home cooked cuisine in a traditional kitchen
After a leisurely morning, we will drive towards Losar, a stop en route to Manali. In the evening, we will take a walkabout in the village. Overnight stay at a homestay
• Easy drive to Losar
• Evening at leisure to walk about in the village
Post a leisurely breakfast, we drive from Losar toward the old town of Manali via Rohtang Pass. Our accommodation is in the old quarters of Manali close to all the interesting places and popular hangouts. We head out to treat the team for their efforts, a late night stroll around is a great way to acquaint yourself with this “Hippy” town as it is popularly known.
• Drive to Manali via Rohtang Pass
• Fun/Leisurely evening
You have the morning to explore Manali town. You can walk up to the Hadimba Temple shrouded in the woods. It is known that the grand legend of Mahabharatha has its connections here. Your guide will plan a fun day as per your interests. Another option could be to visit a trout farm and feast on some fresh trout, straight from the farm to plate. We reassemble at the hotel reception at 2:00 PM to head towards the main bus station.
Accommodation: Overnight coach
• Morning at leisure to explore Manali as per your interest.
• Evening/Overnight journey to Chandigarh
We are expected to get into Chandigarh by about 8:00 AM in the morning. Please schedule your flight to your onward destination post noon, keeping in mind any delays due to unforeseen circumstances.
The Unventured Experience
On the Unventured trail, you will experience this diverse and unique side of Spiti trailing with the Gaddi shepherds. Along the trek, you will have plenty of time to interact with the local people and learn of their way of life, unique culture, and traditions.
Difficulty Level: Moderately challenging with one or two long days of trekking through difficult terrain.
Preparedness – Physical & Mental
The tour is graded medium intensity because of the 1 day of an intense climb to the summit and down. Once you have decided to take up this trek you will be guided to a weekly regime to get your legs going and strengthen the necessary muscle groups.
Your trek will be supported with trekking guides who are familiar with the region and would have already led this trail many times over. Your big baggage will be carried through the trek by mules. The traveller to support staff ratio is 3:1, so there is ample qualified support given any emergency. You will be required to go through a medical check and give a fitness certificate before you sign up on the trek. This is to make sure we are prepared for you and your well being.
Accommodation will be in homestays and campsites. All campsites will be close to a river bed so you have access to water. Homestays are basic and simple. These are homes of people with limited resources. Spiti as a region has recently opened its doors to travellers, their influence of modern technology is limited.