Overview of Spiti Photography Tour
The Spiti Valley photo tour is one of the most scenic tours in India. If you are interested in shooting Landscapes Photography (Mountains, Rivers) Milky Way / Astrophotography (shooting the stars), Beautiful Villages and People Photography, this tour is for you. This is less popular compared to our Ladakh tour but no less in terms of beauty and photographic opportunities.
Why Join Us? The tours are led by Saurabh Chatterjee, who has been visiting these regions for almost a decade. He will take you to the right places at the right time and make sure that you come back with some great pictures. He will help you with the settings required for different kinds of pictures. We also do feedback/review sessions whenever possible, during the tour.
You will be in the company of many experienced photographers and have fun.
Spiti Valley Photography Tour Highlights
Landscapes - Lakes, Mountains, And Flowing Rivers, Astrophotography, Portraits And Village Photography, Architectures (Monasteries), Ancient Mummy.
Day 1 - Chandigarh Airport to Chail (2,250 m) - 116kms (Distance 6 hours)
We start our journey in the afternoon after landing at Chandigarh airport. The distance to our resort in Chail is 116kms. We get introduced to each other while on the way. This makes the journey time shorter. We enter Himachal Pradesh after Bitna.
This is a very quiet place with amazing views of the landscapes around. We reach our destination by about 8 pm, have our dinner. All the food here is organic and locally grown and have great taste.
We go to bed early and get ready for the next day's long journey.
Day 2 Chail (Altitude 2,250 m) to Chitkul ( Altitude 3,450m) Distance 263kms 12 hours
We start at 7 am for the long journey through beautiful Kufri which is covered by tall pine trees. We pause to have a panoramic view of Shimla from far. We pass through Theog, Matiana, Kotgarh, and reach Rampur Bushahr.
We pause for lunch and then continue all the way to Chitkul.
You will see a lot of apple orchards and trucks full of apple being transported. We also buy apples for our week-long journey.
Very soon, we enter the beautiful Kinnaur valley. The roads are developing and have got much better over the years.
You will see how the landscape is changing every hour, from the dense growth of pine trees being replaced by apple orchards and scantier vegetation.
By the time we reach Chitkul, it’s already dark and cold. We are tired, but the fun is about to begin. We go to our hotel rooms, drink tea and go out to shoot the stars and the Milky Way. Here, we are at the mercy of the weather gods. Most of the time, we are blessed with clear skies. We walk for a few meters and find a place with a great foreground for astrophotography.
I have been going to these places for more than a decade and I know the best places from where we can get the shots.
After an hour's session, we come back to our hotel, have dinner, and hit the bed.
Since we gain significant altitude, it is highly recommended to drink a lot of water and take it easy.
We start the practice of reminding everyone to drink water every hour. We also carry Vitamin C tablets to help us get acclimatize to the high altitude.
Day 3 Chitkul to Kalpa (Altitude 2960 meters) (Distance 70kms) 4 hours
We wake up at 4 am and get ready for some amazing shots at the river banks of Baspa river down the village. Walking down the rocky valley in the dark needs a good torch. Walking downhill is not very strenuous, but because of the high altitude, we pant for breath. We just have to take it easy. Sunrise happens at about 545am. We take some long exposures before sunrise and shoot till the golden hour, come back.
We freshen up, have some hot breakfast, and go out for a walk in the village. Chitkul is a beautiful village. We talk to the villagers, interact with them, and take their pictures. The houses are built with traditional wood carvings. We also visit the village temples which are very beautiful. A lot of intricate wooden carvings depicting stories from the Puranas.
We come back, pick our luggage and board our vehicle to go to Kalpa. The drive to Kalpa is very beautiful. We join the main highway at Karcham and continue. We pass by Reckong Peo and then to Kalpa.
Our hotel is amid apple orchards, though we don't pluck them without permission. The mighty Kinnar Kailash is right in front of our hotel. Ask if someone can show you the Shivling which is the destination of the popular trek of Kinnar Kailash.
Its a sight to cherish for a lifetime.
Around 2 pm, we have our lunch take some rest (sleep is medicine here) and start at 4pm to go to the Lochawa La Khang (Samdug Choeling) and the Narayan Nagini Temple. We come back to our vehicle and then go to visit the Jai Shashering Nag Temple in Pangi which is about 14 km. This is a beautiful village amid apple orchard. We take some portraits and landscapes here.
We come back by sunset and get ready for the eventful night. This is one of my favorite spots for astrophotography. The skies are generally clear and we get amazing views of the Milky Way. We also try star trails here with some good foreground. We do all the shooting from the hotel terrace.
In between, we come back for dinner and continue our session until we can.
Day 4 Kalpa – Nako – Nako Lake – Geyu Mummy – Tabo (Altitude 3280m) (Distance 189kms)
We wake up early in the morning at about 4am, and shoot the landscapes from our hotel balconies. In fact, you can put your camera on a tripod for a time-lapse and go to sleep :D
We get ready and leave after breakfast for another eventful day.
We take a lot of stops on the way, whenever we find some good spots for pictures. We travel on some of the roads, which at one time were one of the most treacherous roads in the world. The roads have gotten much better and are no more difficult but the signboards remain. We don't mind taking a picture in front of a board to show off.
On the way, we cross a place called Khab where the Sutlej river meets the Spiti river. This is the place from where the Spiti valley starts. We drive beside the Spiti river for the next 5 days.
We reach Nako village by 1 pm, go to the Nako lake and walk around the village. Nako is one of the most beautiful villages in the area. It has many old houses made of stone stacks. It's like getting transported to centuries back.
After spending some time in the village, we have our lunch of local momos or chowmen or thukpa, the traditional Tibetan cuisines, and leave for Tabo.
On the way we take a right turn at Sumdo to visit the Gue Mummy Lama temple. This place is very close to the China border.
We reach Tabo by evening, have tea and then visit the monastery. Tabo monastery is more than 1000 years old. We stay close to the monastery to make the best use of time.
This is the place where some Milky Way and star trails.
The next morning, after visiting the monastery, we leave for Kaza.
Day 5 Tabo – Dhankar – Pin Valley (Mud Village) - Kaza (Altitude 3800m) Distance 132kms (8hours)
We start from Tabo and go to Dhankar Monastery. This is also a very old monastery situated in a very scenic location. Unfortunately, photography is no longer allowed here. After spending some here talking to the monks and having tea with them, we head to Pin Valley. We take a left at Attargo Bridge crossing the Spiti river to go to Mud village in Pin Valley. Mud is the last village in the Pin valley, and also the starting point for the Pin Parvati Pass. The drive is very scenic with mountains of different colors. The kids in the village are very playful.
We stop for some time at the hanging bridge near Sagnam village to take some pictures before reaching our destination, Kaza.
We might get tired in this long journey but cannot miss the opportunity to shoot the stars having the monastery in the foreground. Thankfully, we don't need to go anywhere. We shoot from the terrace of our hotel.
We stay for 3 nights in the same place.
Day 6 Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Kaza (Altitude 3800m) Distance 42 km
We get up late in the morning and relax. Some like to walk to the Kaza market. We love to have samosas and jalebis after having the same kind of hotelish food for many days. We take pictures in the market.
We start our journey post-lunch. We first go to Key monastery. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the monastery. The best place to take pictures here is in school and the hostels. The young monks are naughty and playful.
We then head to the Kibber village. This village was one of the highest villages with electricity at one time. It is now shot to popularity due to the snow leopard expeditions in winter. Its a part of the Kibber National Park. The village people are very warm and friendly. We spend some time here before going back to the Key monastery to shoot the stars. It is cold and windy but very rewarding. If the skies are clear, we get some of the most amazing shots of the trip.
If we are lucky, we are able to see the ibex in groups.
We head back by 9 pm and if possible shoot the stars again from the hotel.
Day 7 Kaza – Hikkim – Komik – Langza – Kaza (Distance 42kms)
We get up late and relax, and walk to the market if someone wants to have more jalebis.
This day, we go to Hikkim, post-lunch. This is the highest post office in the world. Make sure you carry some postcards to mail to your near and dear ones. It's a collector’s item and a great idea to send letters to people you love.
After mailing the letters and taking a few pictures of the village and villagers, we head to Komic monastery (4587 m) We then go to Langza by evening and wait for the heavens to show up. Sometimes, the weather can play a spoilsport.
We take pictures of the stars till the time we can and then leave for Kaza by 9 pm.
It is generally very cold and windy. We go back to our hotel and take a late dinner.
Day 8 Kaza - Kunzum Pass – Chandratal (Distance 75kms) (Altitude 4300m)
Today, we leave for our last place - Chandratal. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in India and most difficult to go to. Make sure you drink enough water to keep yourself safe from AMS. Take it easy, no running around.
We start at 8 am after breakfast and reach our campsite by the afternoon. We have our lunch, take some rest and leave for Chandratal lake. Here we stay in basic tents. There are no hotels here. The drive to the parking from our tents is about 3 km but a very arduous one. This is followed by a walk of about a kilometer. The walk is actually quite gentle, but the altitude makes it tough. Do not hurry, take your own time.
We spend time in the lake till evening, shoot the stars and come back. It’s really very cold here due to the wind. Make sure you carry enough warm clothes and a windproof jacket.
Day 9 Chandratal – Rohtang Pass – Manali (Altitude 2050m) (Distance 133km)
We go to Chandratal lake again in the morning to shoot the sunrise. It's a great experience to shoot in the morning. You will find an amazing play of light and shadows. We come back and leave for Manali after breakfast. It is a hell of a bumpy ride. We reach by evening, stay in our hotel, and relax.
Day 10 Relaxing in Manali and leaving by evening
Today, we have a very lazy day. We get up late, sit in the lawn of our hotel with apple trees, and have breakfast. You can relax or visit the market if you want. By afternoon, we leave with our luggage, and sit in the market and roam around. We take the evening AC Volvo bus to Chandigarh, go to the airport and fly back to our destination.
We go back with memories of a lifetime and some great pictures.
During the tour, whenever possible, we spend time reviewing the pictures and providing feedback on how to get better.
Note: This is a group tour. Personal tour can be arranged on demand based on your requirement.
Only 10 participants on first come first serve basis.
Cost includes1) Accommodation at all destinations as per the itinerary. (Twin sharing basis) Single room available on request.
2) Breakfast, lunch, and dinner from Day 1 afternoon to Day 10 Morning
3) Comfortable vehicle for all days as per the itinerary
4) Driver charges, driver accommodation, fuel and inter-state toll.
5) Expert guidance for Photography by Saurabh Chatterjee
Cost does not include1) Travel cost from your destination to Shimla.
2) Mineral water, any additional beverage ordered.
PICTURES FROM Lahaul Spiti Valley Photo Tour 2020
1. Do I need to be physically fit to join this trip? We will be travelling by SUVs with hardly any physically intensive activity. However, we will be travelling at high altitudes. Please consult your doctor first.
2. Is this trip only for Photographers? No, anyone can join. We will spend a lot of time taking some great pictures though. I'm sure everyone loves doing that. We have had non-photographers in our previous trips and they enjoy as much.
3. I have no knowledge on Photography. Will I get some help? Yes, absolutely. Saurabh will be assisting you all the time. He will help you on how to take some great pictures. So, you will learn while having fun on the go.
4. I don't have a camera. Can I get camera or lenses on rent? Yes, Camera / Lenses for Rent in Hyderabad
5. How do I reach Chandigarh? Chandigarh is well connected from New Delhi by bus / train / flight.