This photography tour of Kinnaur and Spiti helps you discover these two completely different Himalayan regions. On one hand, the Kinnaur valley is lush green and full of forests and farms, while Lahaul Spiti is a dry, high altitude desert. Together they offer unique sights, people, places of worship, wildlife, rivers, lakes and a lot of other things of interests to a photographer as well as a casual tourist. You can spend years in the place and still find new things to see and photograph every single day. The region is sparsely populated by hard working and hospitable people who treat all visitors like their own family and it’s a joy sharing a few moments with them.
We have designed this photo expedition so as to offer some completely unique and diverse photography opportunities which include landscape, people, monuments, wilderness and night photography in different areas, each one carefully selected for the best possible experience for all participants. For example, this trip includes night stays in small family run homestays in remote villages of less than 100 people, camping in wilderness as well as comfortable hotels and guesthouses. You will not only see some great sights but also meet some really charming local people and observe their way of life from up close. This is a great trip for beginners in photography as they can get guidance from experts to take pictures of different types in different conditions as well as experienced or professional photographers who get the chance of visiting a great photography location for taking some great shots.
This photography tour will help you hone your skills on wide variety of shooting techniques including but not limited to landscape, potraits, wildlife and night photography.
We have tried to keep everything safe and comfortable, but keep in mind that Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti are still very remote areas and a large part stays cut off from civilisation for 6-7 months, sometimes more. While the travelers may miss out on some creature comforts for a few days, this photography tour more than makes up for it in every other way possible.
Highlights of Trip:
- Professional quality image reviews and constructive feedback from experts.
- Expert guidance and help from accompanying photography guide on all days.
- All basic needs of the journey are taken care of and the guests can feel free to focus on their photography.
- Careful selection of sites for some great photography opportunities.
- Accommodation a mix of campsites, hotels and local homestays in different places for a complete experience.
Day 1 : Chandigarh – Sarahan
Pickup from Chandigarh and drive towards Sarahan via Shimla through scenic mountain roads. On the way, we will stop at a few places for rest and to take some good pictures of the scenery as the altitude changes gradually. After we reach Sarhan, we will check in at the hotel and rest for a while followed by an orientation meeting about the photography tour. Sarhan is famous for it’s Bhim Kali temple, one of 51 Shakti Peeths in Hindu religion.
Day 2 : Sarhan – Sangla
We will start driving towards Sangla, a small village in Kinnaur district. Most locals here make their living from farming, mostly their fruit orchards. Sangla is surrounded by tall snow capped peaks and offers great views for landscape photography. Baspa river is one of the more prominent features as it flows through the valley and is also a place for trout fishing. We will also visit the ancient Kamru Fort where local kings were crowned for photography.
Day 3 : Sangla – Kalpa
This day, we’ll start traveling towards Kalpa will make a few stops on the way. Kalpa is famous for it’s high quality apples and pinus gerardiana (chilgoza) plantation. For photography, we will visit these plantations as well as some important local Hindu and Buddhits temples with their distinctive art style and architecture.
Day 4 : Kalpa – Nako – Tabo
As we start traveling further, the surrounding terrain starts changing from lush green to stark brown with little patches greenery as the altitude increases and we cross tree line. We’ll stop at Nako (3625 meters) for some refreshments and photography in village. We will visit the village monastery and the small Nako lake nearby which offers some great landscape shots from certain angles. We will drive further to stop at Tabo village which is famous for one of the holiest Buddhist monasteries.
Day 5 : Tabo- Dhankar – Pin Valley – Kaza
Dhankar is the site of a famous monastery and ancient fort which sit in between some very sharp, jagged and unstable peaks giving the whole place beautiful and haunting look. This are is highly unstable and both monastery and the fort are in danger of collapsing as the mountains crumbles little by little. Dhankar place offers excellent views of Pin Valley and the confluence of Pin and Spiti rivers. If you’re willing to hike for 5-6 km, there is a small lake on a nearby mountain top which is a vital source of water for all locals in the area. Later on, we will drive further towards Kaza, Lahaul Spiti’s administrative capital and the largest town for night stay.
Day 6 : Kaza – Langza – Hikkim – Komic – Kibber
Our destination for this day will be Kibber and we will make stops for photography at Langza, Hikkim and Komik. Komik’s Buddhist monastery is highest monastery in the world while Hikkim has the highest post office. Like most visitors, we too will send a post card from here, although the delivery is not assured. These are all small villages and people rely on farming, animal rearing and tourism for survival. It’s not uncommon to spot some rare wildlife like Blue sheep, ibex and Snow Leopard, if you’re lucky. We will spend the night in a guesthouse in Kibber.
Day 7 : Kibber – Gette – Ki – Chandra Taal
We will wake up early morning before sunrise and reach Gette to take some amazing photographs from a steep ledge just above Ki Monastery of the monastery itself as sun rises and beautiful Spiti river flowing some distance away. Later on, we’ll make a stop at Ki monastery to talk with monks, observe their daily routine and walk around taking pictures. Then we’ll drive towards Chandra Taal which will take 3-4 hours depending upon road conditions. We can either drive to campsite or hike for 8-9 km from Kunzum La. Night stay will be in campsite, 2 km from the lake. Most of late evening and early night will be spent taking pictures of night sky.
Day 8 : Chandra Taal – Rohtang – Manali
We will visit Chandra Taal lake (4300 meters) via car or foot. Early morning visit is prefered because there’s no wind blowing at that time and reflections of nearby mountains in the water are almost perfect. This lake is a must visit attraction of Lahaul Spiti region and is agreat place for taking some memorable pictures. After breakfast in the camp, we’ll start our drive towards Manali with stops at Chatru and Rohtang Pass. Drop at Manali town to end the tour.
- Wind cheater, warm trousers, thermal innerwear.
- Warm jacket.
- Thick socks and hiking shoes.
- Scarf, cap, hat.
- High SPF sunscreen.
- All personal medications and tablets for high altitude sickness.
- Water filter or tablets.
- Accommodation in hotels, home stays, guest houses and camp site.
- Shared transport with pickup from Chandigarh and drop at Manali.
- All meals with option for non-vegetarian food in a few places.
- Services of a highly skilled and experienced photographer as a tour guide.
- Pickup or drop from Delhi. It can be arranged if needed at an additional cost.
- Rental of photography equipment.
- Cost of any personal expenses like laundry, shopping and similar.
- If this is your first time visiting such high altitude places, consult a doctor first to check for any medical condition which may prove problematic. Usually it is not an issue if you are generally healthy but better to be safe than sorry as people with some medical conditions like BP, respiratory and cardiac issues may face some problems.
- No phone company apart from BSNL will work in most of the Lahaul Spiti region. Even it’s coverage is not available for most of the region.
- Travel programs in the Himalayas not necessarily would always run exactly as scheduled. Allow for unplanned long days or early camps due to weather disruptions or similar causes.
- There are places with limited communication possibility and/or medical facilities nearby on this route.
- Participants should be prepared for cold conditions with strong winds and high wind chill factor.
- Any additional expenses which might occur due to delays, weather disruptions, medical evacuation etc. would need to be borne by the participants. All overstay due to weather disruption, road blocks and similar which are not under our control would be charged as per tour cost for planned days.
- All participants are recommended to have a travel insurance that covers trekking and wilderness travel.