A backpacking trip to Kinnaur valley is the perfect natural retreat that people crave when looking for a break from the daily humdrum of their daily lives.
From witnessing apple and apricot orchards gracing the green meadows of Sangla Valley to breathing in the clean air of India’s last village Chitkul, Kinnaur has many gems hidden in its embrace and we explore the best places in Sangla valley and other nearby spots as we embark on this Kinnaur Valley backpacking trip.
Kinnaur has gained recognition recently because of its picturesque landscapes and the stunning view of the Kinner Kailash ranges but the history of this valley remains obscured and the only mention of its existence in the record is through mythological tales and local legends, adding more mystery to this land that remained forbidden for a long time.
Nestled on what was the ancient trade route between India and Tibet, it is surrounded by many natural wonders. On one hand, the great Himalayas beckon you closer while on the other hand, the Zanskar river flows ceaselessly with a promise to wash you anew.
We start this 7-day backpacking trip to Kinnaur valley from Delhi as our rendezvous point. The overnight drive from Delhi takes us approximately seven hours but every turn that we take just means that our destination would be closer and that excitement is what makes this otherwise long journey seem short.
The real trip to this valley with rich culture and age-old tradition starts from Shimla which serves as our first halt point in this Kinnaur Valley trip. The route from Shimla is perhaps the best when it comes to road trips to Kinnaur valley as it’s not only accessible throughout the year (except in cases of heavy snowfall) but also because you get to glimpse the beautiful valleys and meadows en route while driving on the Hindustan-Tibet highway. This route also helps your body get acclimated to the weather conditions as well as the high altitude.
En route to Chitkul from Shimla, we will make a brief pit stop at Narkanda which is a small town nestled within a Fir forest in Himachal. At an elevation of 8599 feet, it is surrounded by the great Himalayan ranges. The small town has pleasant weather throughout the year and in winters, it transforms into a ski resort. After spending some peaceful moments here, we will resume our Kinnaur backpacking trip.
Chitkul, our first stop on this trip, is the last village in India. Elevated at a staggering height of 11,320 ft, this small village is considered to have the cleanest air in the country. Located on the banks of the Baspa river, the trails of this place are covered in wooden houses and apple orchards with majestic mountains in the backdrop, making it the perfect place to start your adventurous journey from.
Our next destination is Kalpa and as we will start moving toward this beautiful place, you will start getting entranced by the views of the Himalayan mountains. The town of Reckong Peo with its vibrant market is a must-stop while on a backpacking trip to Kinnaur valley.
Surrounded by the Kinner Kailash peaks with the Sutlej river flowing through deep gorges, Kalpa is known for its beautiful views but it has a lot of different things to offer.
The 3000-year-old Kalpa Monastery and the famous suicide point are a few of the major attractions of Kalpa. While the monastery is home to many ancient relics and thangka paintings, the suicide point acts as a vantage point for a 360-degree view of the Kinnaur ranges.
The next stop in this Kinnaur trip is a tiny hamlet located amidst the trans-Himalayan ranges. An abode to a thousand-year-old monastery and many Buddhist stupas that have remained intact for many decades is the quaint village of Nako. With Reo Purgyal in its backdrop, Nako is a perfect spot for those who are looking for some peace of mind. A stroll to the beautiful and serene Nako lake along with a chance to visit the Nako monastery is something that you simply can’t miss out on while on this backpacking trip.
Sarahan, a small town, and a sacred site acts as a gateway to Kinnaur because of its proximity to the old Indo-Tibetan road. Popular because of the Bhimakali temple which is the abode of the Kuldevi of the dynasty that reigned here in the past, Sarahan has its roots back in the Puranas and Vedas of Hinduism. The Bhimakali temple is considered to be as holy as the 51 Shakti Peeth, making this temple a significant part of the entire district and the reason why we would pay our respects at this holy site while on this Kinnaur backpacking trip.
This trip aims to explore the best places in Kinnaur valley and since the valley is vast with a lot of destinations to offer, from lush green valleys to confluences of many rivers, quaint villages where life seems to move at a slow pace, towns like Reckong Peo where you get to witness distinct cultures blending, it isn’t humanly possible to cover them all in this 7 day Kinnaur backpacking trip. That is exactly why we have carefully curated this itinerary, handpicking some of the must-visit places in Kinnaur valley to make sure that we cover all the major attractions so you get to make the most out of this experience.
The temperature of Kinnaur valley remains pleasant throughout the year except for the heavy snowfall that graces the land with thick blankets of snow, making it less accessible to people. Hence the best time to visit Kinnaur valley is from March to May as in winters, the temperature drops below sub-zero.
During these months though the temperature remains at a tolerable level, maintaining a balance between the too-hot temperatures of cities like Delhi and the harsh cold winters of most hilly areas.
If you are someone who isn’t a snow fanatic, the best time to visit Kinnaur valley for a backpacking trip would be the summer season. You get to see the valley bloom in all its glory as the snow will melt away except for a few patches that you will only find at higher elevations.
In a nutshell, the Kinnaur backpacking trip gives you the chance to break out of the monotony of life that you may find yourself in after a tedious routine and since it’s a week-long trip, it is the perfect retreat that you can plan and see almost every attraction of Kinnaur.
Day 1 : Delhi to Shimla (342 Kilometers, 8 Hours)
- The group assembles at the pick-up point by 08:30 PM
- We’ll meet the team captains and a small tour briefing would also be conducted.
- After which, we’ll head out on an overnight journey to Shimla.
Note: The pickup point would be Majnu Ka Tila.
Day 2 : Shimla to Chitkul/Sangla | (236 Kilometers, 7 Hours Drive)
- Upon reaching Shimla, we will freshen up and head towards Chitkul/Sangla.
- En route, we will make a pit stop at Narkanda.
- upon reaching Chitkul, we will check into our designated hotels.
- Dinner followed by an overnight stay in Chitkul.
Day 3 : Chitkul/Sangla to Kalpa (50 Kilometers, 3 Hours Drive)
- After breakfast, we will head towards Kalpa which is known for its scenic landscapes
- En route Kalpa, the small town of Reckong Peo town, serves as the perfect pit stop. If the weather gods are in your favor, you will be able to catch a glimpse of Kinner Kailash Peak.
- Upon reaching Kalpa, after spending some leisure time, we’ll head out to visit the 3000-year-old Kalpa Monastery and the Suicide Point which offers a picturesque view of the Kailash ranges.
- Post-check in, Dinner will be served followed by an overnight stay in Kalpa.
Day 4 : Kalpa to Nako (100 Kilometers, 5 Hours Drive)
- After having breakfast, we’ll continue our journey towards Nako, a tiny hamlet situated in the trans-Himalaya ranges.
- En route, we will make a pit stop at Khab, the site of the union between Sutlej and Spiti river.
- In Nako, we’ll visit the serene Nako lake and pay our reverences at the Nako Monastery.
- Dinner and overnight stay at Nako.
Note: In case of heavy snowfall, staying in Nako becomes extremely tough. In that case, we’ll stay in Tabo instead.
Day 5 : Nako to Sarahan ( 174 Kilometers, 6 Hours Drive )
- After having breakfast, we’ll continue our journey towards Sarahan.
- Sarahan is known for the Bhimakali temple where we will pay our reverence upon reaching this small town in Himachal. The rest of the day is at leisure.
- Dinner followed by an overnight stay in Sarahan.
Day 6 : Sarahan to Shimla (154 Kilometers, 5 hours) | Overnight Journey
- Embark on our return journey after early morning breakfast and head towards Shimla.
- Upon reaching Shimla, we will indulge in local sightseeing at the Mall road and local market.
- In the evening, we will start our overnight drive to Delhi via Volvo.
Day 7 : Delhi Arrival | Tour Ends
- We’ll reach Delhi early in the morning and the group will disperse with fond memories.
- End of Winter Kinnaur Valley backpacking trip.
Why is Kinnaur famous?
Kinnaur is renowned for its lush green meadows, apple orchards, and scenic views. It is also an abode to the Kinnaur Kailash mountain peak and is one of the most beautiful valleys of Himachal Pradesh.
What is the best time to visit Kinnaur?
The best time to visit Kinnaur is from September onwards, as the monsoon season comes to an end, the roads become easier to drive upon. The valley takes on different colors of autumn with a cool breeze billowing through maintaining pleasant weather. As October starts, the entire region experiences heavy snowfall making it perfect for snow fanatics to embark on a backpacking trip to Kinnaur.
Travelers can enjoy winter activities in Solang Valley such as Skiing, Snowboarding, ATV rides, and more in the winter season as well making it an ideal time to visit Kinnaur.
Is Kinnaur a part of Spiti Valley?
Kinnaur is a district in Himachal Pradesh that is accessible when one is traveling to Spiti via Shimla while traversing the NH5 route. It isn’t a part of Spiti Valley but acts as an ideal halt point for people traveling to Spiti Valley.
How can I go to Kinnaur from Delhi?
Kinnaur is approximately 600 Kilometers from Delhi and is accessible via the NH5 (National Highway 5) that traverses the Shimla to Spiti route. One can either drive their own vehicle or travel to Kinnaur via buses that run from Delhi and Chandigarh on a daily basis.
Is Kinnaur open in December?
Even though the region receives heavy snowfall during December, Kinnaur valley remains accessible to tourists. However, caution is advised as the roads are often slippery making it difficult to traverse them.