Exploring the veiled regions of India, the famous and the not so famous nooks and crannies of the country is something that campers enjoy doing each year. And why not, India is indeed blessed with a lot of amazing unexplored regions that need exploring. Camping in India is the most ideal way of exploring the region diversity and unity of India.
When my friends and I decided to choose a destination for our first camping trip, Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh was our first choice. Spiti is like a concentrated drop of heaven on the shore of Spiti River, in the backdrop of snow caped, sun kissed Himalayas. Spiti gave us an inexplicable experience of exploring life in Himalayas in an entirely new way. It borders Tibet in the east and Ladakh in the north. The strong Buddhist influence on the city is evident in the hospitality and benevolence of the people residing there. Trekking and swooping into a road trip through the breathtaking landscapes will leave you in awe and you’ll be left completely smitten by the grandeur of mighty Himalayas. The kaleidoscopic town is enriched with lots of dance styles, music, theatre art etc so if you are an art lover, you won’t thrive alone and if you like admiring scenic splendors of nature, the flora and fauna there will mesmerize you.
When we reached Spiti, the first challenge which we came across was the stay. In my opinion, most fulfilling way to stay in Spiti is to stay with a resident family. The best part about Spiti is its people and living with them will surely make your trip memorable. People offer clean & comfortable rooms to travelers, together with the unique opportunity to bond with the home owners, savor home-cooked Tibetan delicacies, and interact with the Spitian way of life. But we had planned for an adventurous trip so we decided to camp outside in the higher reaches of valley with our tents and sleeping bags and we arranged for food from nearby villages.
Before taking you further into the journey, I would like to share with you a virtual checklist I made which can be helpful if you are camping outside because it was very helpful to us!
- A big rucksack or duffel bag, and a small backpack for day trips
- A mix of summer & winter clothes that can be worn in layers as temperatures can vary greatly within the span of a few hours
- A good pair of walking shoes
- A wind & waterproof jacket
- Long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Water bottle for day hikes
- Sunglasses, sunhat, sunscreen – essential in the desert heat of Spiti
- Books to read & write, stationery to paint & draw, basically anything you’ve always loved to do and never got the time to
- Binoculars for animal watching
- Cosmetics you need
- Prescription medicines, if any
- Flash light
- Camera & batteries / charger
The best part about Spiti apart from sightseeing is food. Mostly you’ll get Tibetan food which will include dishes like of momos (dumplings) and thukpa (thick noodles in soup). If you’re not a fan of Tibetan cuisine, you can get typical north Indian food and even wood fried pizzas! In drinks, butter tea which is a Tibetan delicacy is most famous and it tastes amazing. Apart from that, homemade crushes from berries are also popular and alcoholic drinks to keep travelers warm are also available. Flavored teas, including lemon, mint, ginger & honey, are served in all restaurants.
When it comes to trekking activities, we had a time of our lives. The following things were the highlights of our trip:
- Mountain biking in the high-altitude terrains of Spiti
- Trekking to the highest inhabited villages of the Himalayas
- Interacting with lamas in the monasteries of Key, Komic, Dhankar & Tabo
- Camping on the banks of the Chandrataal Lake
- Riding the mountain ropeway at Chichum
- Bird watching in the village of Langza
- Tracking elusive mountain wildlife in the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary & Pin Valley National Park
- Volunteering on responsible travel projects with Spiti Ecosphere
- Posting a letter from the world’s highest post office in Hikkim, or refuel your car at the world’s highest petrol pump in Kaza (Its administrative capital)
Long story short, it was an amazing trip. I wanted my friends to experience a different kind of holiday – that is totally different from the kind of lives they lead. I have travelled extensively in remote rural areas and wanted my friends to experience this too! We had a great time. People there were one of the most wonderful people we have met. Their simplicity and warmth bowled us over.