Spiti: A Cliff Hanger Adventure!
Spiti, also known as “Little Tibet,” is a mountainous region in northern India known for its stark
high-mountain beauty and its culture of Tibetan Buddhism. Like Ladakh, Spiti is a land of light
and rock – as a high-altitude desert, what Spiti lacks in foliage it more than makes up for in
colored rock, sky and changing light. A journey through Spiti affords the opportunity to see
Tibetan Buddhist culture unmarred, up close and personal in way that is possible in few other
places on earth.
While one can find a variety of esoteric Hindu and Hindu-Buddhist hybrid practices in
the lower altitudes on Spiti’s southern and western borders, along with some followers of the
Sikh and Islam traditions as well, Spiti is now predominately
Buddhist. Mahayana Buddhism was brought to Spiti and the
surrounding area in the 9th century by Padmasambhava, who
is said to have incarnated in the nearby Swat Valley. The
region has remained very devoutly Buddhist ever since.
Prior to this, Spiti was a center for the Bon tradition, an
animistic practice mostly commonly associated with preBuddhist Tibet. Bon roots can still be seen in many of the Buddhist ceremonies and paintings throughout the region.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Welcome to India! Our agents will greet you upon arrival in Delhi and transfer you by AC coach
to our wonderfully located hotel near the heart New Delhi. There you can rest and relax in your
room or, if you’re not totally knackered from the long international flight, you can make the
short walk on your own to Connaught Circus for a little shopping and sight seeing. We will have
a welcome dinner and make introductions.
Day 2: Shimla
After an uncommonly good breakfast in the hotel, we will rise early and catch our AC coach out
through the chaotic streets of Delhi northward toward Shimla, the iconic hill-station home of the
summertime British Raj government . After the sweeping flatland plains, the foothills of the
Himalayans rise majestically. We’ll arrive with time check out the bikes and to explore the town.
Day 3: Sarahan
Our first day’s ride brings down good tarmac-roads, slowly winding down along the hilltops
through idyllic villages. We’ll drop to the Sutlej river before
ascending to the hilltop station of Sarahan – a small village
nestling in tranquil surroundings with the 800 year old Bhima
Kali temple taking prime position. Sarahan is set amongst lush
forest and when the weather is clear, high peaks are visible in
Day 4: Sangla
A somewhat short distance, the route from Sarahan to
Sangla is time consuming, challenging, but most of all
fun! The road from Sangla drops once again into the
Sutlej valley and twist after twist, with some of the most
amazing drop-offs ever, relentlessly carves its way to
the Baspa river confluence. From here we follow the
Baspa river up to Sangla and our night in a unique
tented accommodation set among fields of flowers and
rimmed with majestic mountains.
Day 5: Kalpa
Today’s journey is shorter, the more rugged road conditions
make up for the distance as we make our way first to Chitkul –
an outpost very near the border of the Chinese occupied Tibet.
Hopefully we’ll have time for a cup of chai and a chat with the
border guards before continuing on to views of Kinnaur Kailash
(over 6050m) from Kalpa.
Day 6: Naka
Today we’ll rise early to continue our ascent along the River Sutlej. The landscape quickly
changes from the verdant green of the Himalayan foothills to the high desert for which Spiti is so
well known. Mountains of barren majesty become the
mainstay, their colors vibrant with rich minerals and
changing rapidly as the light and cloud constantly
move. The road, the altitude and the sheer beauty make
today’s ride one of the most challenging and rewarding.
Our hotel tonight is surprisingly comfortable – a perfect
place to contemplate the day’s accomplishment.
Day 7: Kaza
Today’s ride affords us a later start – giving us time to
explore the town of Tabo and its namesake monastery. A
gentle ride will takes through achingly beautiful scenery to our evening’s destination of Kaza and
spectacular views of the Ki Monastery.
Day 8: Kaza/Kibber/Kaza
Today we’ll take a short day ride to the Komic and Ki monasteries. The Komic monastery is set
above the valley at some 4000m in Kibber, one of the world’s highest human settlements. With
luck we’ll reach the monastery in time to witness morning prayers and to have tea with the
monks. Next we’ll visit the Ki Gompa, built like a fairy-tale castle up a central hill in the valley
and surrounded by snow-capped peaks. After a good visit we’ll descend again Kaza.
Day 9: Keylong
Dirt roads lead us on our assent of Kunzum La – the highest pass we’ll cross on the journey (el.
4,590 m or 15,060 ft). Once over the
pass, we have good, long stretch of
dirt road that brings us to the Lahaul
Valley, a region known for its heavy
winter snows, its idyllic mountain
beauty, and its world-famous seedstock potatoes. We’ll hit the main
road to Leh on the back side of
Rhotang La and follow the Chenab
River to our night’s destination at
Day 10: Killar
We continue along Chenab River today as it cuts its way
through the high Himalayan landscape and slowly descends
into pine covered hillsides. We’ll overnight in Killar, with a
stunning view of the river and a reminder of the tomorrow’s
cliff hanger road!
Day 11: Kishtwar
This is it, the cliff hanger awaits! We’ll rise at a
reasonable time and make our way to Kishtwar, and the
infamous cliff hanger road—a 5 kilometer or so stretch of
engineered insanity carved into the side of sheer
Himalayan cliffside. Marvel at its madness as we twist
and turn high above the river and arrive at our afternoon’s
the largest town we’ve seen since entering Spiti.
Day 12: Srinagar
Today’s journey brings us through spectacular
scenery as we descend from the mountains to the
relatively lowlands of Anantnag. From here it’s a
short but somewhat hectic drive on increasingly
trafficked roads into Kashmir and the calm beauty
of our houseboat accommodations on Srinagar’s
Day 13: Srinagar
We’ll rise when we like today, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but enjoy the beauty of the
lake and the surrounding town. Perhaps we’ll visit the floating veggie and flower markets;
perhaps we’ll Mogul splendor of Nishat Gardens—the day is ours!
Day 14: Srinagar
Free Day in Srinagar. Use the day to explore or just relax on the lake—Dal Lake’s soothing
waters will wash away saddle-weary soreness and Srinagar’s easy clime will refresh you! Our
last day in this lovely city to do what you like before heading back down to the heat and chaos of
Day 15: Fly to Delhi
We’ll catch a short morning flight back down to Delhi and then retire in our centrally located
hotel. There will be plenty of time to hit Connaught Circus or just relax before a final farewell
dinner in one of Delhi’s many great restaurants.
Day 16: Fly Home
After a final breakfast you will be transferred by AC coach to the airport for your international
flights, or feel free to see more of India, possibly with a Taj Mahal extension or a journey of your
Dates and Cost
Dates: from the 4th to the 20th of August 2019
(Dates are the day of arrival to and departure from Milan, book your flights consequently)
Quote per pilote with a minimum of 8 participants: Euro 3.950
Quote passenger/pilot own bike: Euro 3.500