Ladakh, Spiti & Kinnaur - the Hottest Selling Destinations in India

by SumitVashisht / Jun 01, 2010 /
SumitVashisht's picture


Dear Travelers,

Greetings From Shimla :

Ladakh, Spiti and Kinnaur are the hottest selling destinations in India, during summer, these days. All these astoundingly beautiful valleys are located in the remotest location in the Himalayas and hold an attraction for traveler. Kinnaur is the green belt of Indian Himalayas where as Spiti and Ladakh are the Cold Desert. Both these valleys are offer a Moonlike landscape, remote villages, amazing Himalayan Architecture, Smiling faces, high altitude, Buddhist Monasteries, Himalayan Wild life, Flora and Fauna,  Education centers, deep gorges, roaring rivers, high altitude lakes, longest glaciers, highest passes, vastest plateaus and of course create in you a zeal to travel.

These travels are basically for him / her who enjoys in the unknown, is ready for the ups and downs of exploratory travel, does not expect silky comforts during the trips, is prepared to pitch when required and does not care what is there around and after the next curve.

The participant to these trips should have a good level of fitness. He / She may be expected to Walk, Cycle, Travel for 5-6 hours a day with his / her own day pack.  The terrain of the region is Mountainous and Challenging. The roads at a number of places are narrow, bumpy or dusty.  At some places your vehicle might be crossing the streams or water flowing over the roads. So due to these conditions vehicle are likely to run at slow speed and might become irritating for you. But only those shall enjoy these trips who know how to enjoy the Natural beauty and the landscape around. I am dead sure that the Geographical Carvings and the Landscape on these tips is so stunning that it does not give you any opportunity to get irritated and leave your camera.

With all these problems we believe that following are the five major requirements of a traveler to these areas.

* Good Transport.
* Good Diver
* Good Accommodation.
* Good Meals.
* A Good Guide.

So talking about these point one by one the description is as follows .

Good Transport : As I mentioned that The terrain of the region is Mountainous and Challenging and roads  at a number of places are narrow, bumpy or dusty so you need to have a good vehicle that can bear with the challenges of these trips. So it is highly suggested that you must avoid totake Innova Jeeps on these trips due to the only reason that they are low and the rock on the roads hit them and they suffer serious damages. There are not places to get them repaired.

  1. The recommended Jeeps are Scorpio, Qualis and Tata Sumo Jeeps.
  2. Make sure that they have a carrier on top to accommodate your luggage.
  3. A  sheet of Tarpaulin with a rope if highly recommended covering the luggage, in case it rains.
  4. Kindly insist on carrying two extra wheels.
  5. All tyres must be in good condition and if the sole is plan then please get them changed them before you start.
  6. Carry extra fuel even if the tank is full.
  7. Carry an Oxygen Cylinder with mask.

Landslides, road Blockage or vehicle malfunctions may cause disruption to the trip. So be ready for a sudden change in the program that might extend your stay in the area and India by two to five days.

A Good Driver : A good driver can make your trip better and a bad driver can spoil it completely. Never take a driver from the plains as they are not used to the hill curves. You driver should be aware of the routes, the places you are going to stay and places where you are going to eat. Apart from his experience of driving on the hills if his personal nature is not cooperative and polite he will upset your mood.

  1. He must stop when you want to and he must start when you ask him.
  2. He must be punctual and be caring by nature. He must clean up the car every morning, dress up sensibly, should not smoke, play loud music, shout on others and honk his horn while driving through the crowded roads.
  3. His patience is your enjoyment so insist your travel agent on a good driver.

At the other hand you also have to take good care of him. Ask him every evening if he has a comfortable accommodation to sleep.

  1. Some drivers develop the habit of sleeping in their cars so you must interfere and ask him not to do that, because if he does not enjoy a comfortable sleep then next morning he won’t be able to drive properly.
  2. While eating ask him if he has eaten of not.
  3. If possible pay for his lunch some time, just to keep him happy.
  4. Drivers are very fond of tea, so ask them after some hours of drive if he wants to stop to have a cup of tea.

Good Accommodation : This is another very essential part of your trip. In these valleys you will not find star properties to spend your nights. There are very good qualities of guest houses, small hotels and camping resort where you may find accommodation on arrival. A few places are still there where telephones do not work so it is not possible to book accommodations in advance. To be on safe side you must carry your tent, a sleeping bag and a sleeping mattress.

  • During these trips you will be traveling away from the usual and crowded tourist places. So some accommodations are very basic and may involve group share.
  • Although all the guest houses have attached toilets and bathrooms but may not be able to provide hot water showers.
  • Body sponging is possible at the places where showers are not available.

Good Meal : Almost every hotel and guest house has a kitchen and they provide basic Indian meals such as Dal, rice, Chapati, vegetable, non vegetarian item, paneer, curd – sometimes, salad and sweet dish. You may not like the taste sometime but it’s very rare. Except at Shimla, Manali aDharamsala and Leh please do not expect to have any other food such as Pizza, Burger, or any other European food. It is suggested to carry some :

  1. Enough drinking water
  2. Tinned food.
  3. Juices.
  4. Soft drinks.
  5. Fast to Cook Noodles.
  6. Biscuits.
  7. Chocolate.
  8. Dry fruits.
  9. Fruits.

Some road side shops provide basis meals such as rice and dal, Maggi noodles and tea.

A Good Guide : It is highly recommended that you take services of a good knowledgeable and qualified guide. The aim is to help you through out the trip and let you have a hassle free tour. He provides information about the places you are travelling through, offers suggestion for things to do and see, recommends local eating venues and introduces you to the local friends. He is your escort and a friend too as well and keeps a vast knowledge about the area, its traditions, culture, lifestyle, religion, and society. Special local guides are also available where more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places you are visiting.

Something more for you:

Health :

  • The effects of altitude can be a problem, so plan your itinerary in such a way that you gain height gradually.
  • Before you travel to India it is advised that you should consult your doctor for up to date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial requirements and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses.
  • Always keep a First Aid Box Kit along still it is recommended that you carry any personal medical requirements if you have.
  • You might experience Acute Mountain Sickness and Oxygen deprivation while traveling in Spiti & Ladakh. If you reach these places by air you need minimum 24 hours to get acclimatized. If you reach these places gradually then you  get sufficient time for acclimatization.

Cultural Shock : India is a country which may be very different from something that you may have experienced before. In most of the small of big towns here pollution, poverty and the crowds can result in initial culture shock. Some villages are still under the poverty line but they follow their traditions and culture strictly. So all this should be seen as an exciting new challenge.

Weather Conditions : July to September is the monsoon months in India and there could be some unforeseen problems like road blockages due to land slides or roads damages. Although the Boarder Road Organization people are very well equipped and work very fast in these conditions but still then a change or delay in itinerary could be there or we reach the destination from some other route, however it is quite unlikely.

  • In these conditions Government of India and the State tourism Department also become very active and extend the best possible help but we always seek your cooperation.
  • Check out the India Meteorological web site for the latest news on the weather forecast in India.

Inner line Permit : Spiti and some areas in Ladakh fall in the inner line area as it shares it boarders with Tibet & China. So you need to have inner line permit to visit these places which is an easy process. The documents required are A copy of Passport, A copy of Visa, 4 copies of your Photograph.

Safety and Security : Check with the embassy in your country and follow their advice for their latest travel information.

  • It is recommended that you use a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travelers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items.
  • Leave your valuable jewelry at home as you won't need it while travelling.
  • Keep your baggage under lock and key.

Check List

  • Travel documents: passport, visa, travel insurance, air tickets.
  • Health requirements arranged.  1 photocopy of above documents, Money: cash/credit card/ travelers cheques, Money pouch.
  • First aid kit including rehydration salts, Sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses due to harsh sunlight and exposure to high altitudes.
  • Wide brim hat or umbrella
  • Antibacterial hand gel, when water is scarce.
  • Day pack to carry your personal needs during the day.
  • Trekking boots and warm socks. (Just incase if you have to walk).
  • Alarm clock and torch/flashlight.
  • Lightweight travel towel.
  • Refillable water bottle, for filling from thermos.
  • Iodine based water purification tablets.
  • Ear plugs can be useful if you are a light sleeper.
  • Inner sheet/sleeping sheet are recommended due to the basic nature of some of our accommodation.
  • Please bring your own sleeping bag.
  • Warm clothes. It is recommended to bring thermal under wear, and either a down or a fleece jacket.
  • A wind proof jacket.
  • A pair of gloves.
  • A scarf or face mask for dust, Sarong for covering up when washing / showering.
  • Food- although you can buy quite a variety of food (trek mix, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate) for the trek in Delhi, there may be specific brand items you should consider bringing from your home country if it is important to you.
  • Underwear. Three pairs are enough.
  • Bras. For Women, a couple.
  • Tampons or Sanitary Napkins. They are easily available in the open market.
  • Sleeping Bag.

Travel Light : Pack as lightly as possible (stay under 10 kg/22lb). It is in your own interest as you are expected to carry your own luggage, though distances are never great. Most travelers carry their luggage in a back pack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice. Avoid Suitcases.

  • Keep your bags locked.  The smaller your bag is the better, for when it comes to traveling on trains or buses usually only smaller bags will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas, often the only place to put it is on your seat or on the roof. So to get maximum comfort, pack small and light!
  • The mountains can be cold. Night time temperatures can be as low as 5 degrees, so bring a set of warmer clothes; thermal underclothes, being small and light, can be very useful. A warm jumper/jacket, cap, gloves and sunglasses no matter what time of the year, as we travel at altitudes above 3500m.

Dressing : It is very important that when you are travelling to India, you kindly dress up keeping in mind the respect for the locale culture, especially Ladies. In some area you might have some people gathering around you, touching you and looking at you for a long time, as you are a foreigner.

  • As a general guideline full shirts and full length skirts or knee covered skirts are recommended at all times. At some places or the religious buildings shorts are not allowed as it will restrict your entry into buildings.
  • At religious places such as Bhima Kali Temple at Sarahan or Kamru Fort in Sangla or some Monasteries you shall be required to cover your head. The cloth is provided by the temple. So kindly follow the tradition other wise the authorities might not allow you to enter the premises.
  • You are required to cover your head before entering every Sikh Temple. You may cover it with a handkerchief or a piece of cloth provided by the temple.
  • In India before entering all religious places you are required to remove your shoes. You can also bring a pair of floaters footwear those are easily available in the markets in India too, these footwear are easy to remove and wear.

Photography and Interaction with Local : During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. You are allowed to take pictures but it is also suggested that you take permission before clicking their houses, lifestyle and them. One way to start any conversation is with pictures.

  • Children in the villages might ask you to click their picture. If you have a digital camera you are click and show them on screen.
  • Also if possible for you to bring some photos/postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country to show them.
  • People in Indian villages are very simple and hospitable. They might ask you to come to their house and have a cup of tea as tea is a very common and untimely drink in India. They shall be very happy if you accept their invitation.


For more details on this trip contact us at response[at]himalayanpictures.com OR  @gmail.com OR call at +91 9816149102