Want a local, ethical, action-packed and lesser-seen view of the mountains and valleys of the Indian and Nepalese Himalayas?
In this much better 3-part feature we get under the skin of the northern Himalayas around Himachal Pradesh with Spiti Ecosphere, trek through the North Eastern regions and the Neora Valley National Park with Help Tourism, and finally we go trekking and rafting in Nepal with Social tours.
Himalayan Adventures Part 1: The Spiti Valley
Spiti the middle land between India and Tibet, is still well off the tourist radar. A stunning high altitude desert region tucked away in the Trans-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, it is also one of the least populated regions of India. Breathtaking mountains and a fascinating history and culture make this remote, rugged and relatively unknown destination really appealing to the muchbetter adventurer. That is where Spiti Ecosphere come in. A passion for conservation, mountain travel and adventure brought together this collaboration of local community members and professionals. They have put together a variety of trekking, mountaineering, biking, rafting, cultural and spiritual opportunities that will appeal to anyone with a bit of energy and a desire to get off the beaten track.Described by Rudyard Kipling as a world within a world’, Spiti is home to a Buddhist Society of just over 10,000, who bear stark cultural similarities with their neighbours in Tibet & Ladakh. Varied trekking routes will have you traversing remote, pristine and forgotten trails high in the Himalayas. Passes in and out of Spiti provide a strategic access to neighbouring areas of Ladakh, Kinnaur, Kullu and Lahaul. Trails wind past ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples dating back to more than 1000 years, and pass through indigenous villages which offer a unique glimpse into the Spitian way of life. Fancy a Himalayan summit? Khanamo peak is a unique opportunity to climb a remote 6000m peak. Inside the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to the elusive Snow Leopard and the endangered Himalayan Wolf, Khanamo peak is ideal for trekkers and inexperienced mountaineers. Staying in community home-stays either side of the expedition, this is also an unforgettable experience into the nature and culture of a little visited part of India. If trekking and mountaineering isnt really your cup of tea, Ecosphere can also have you heading out on multi day mountain biking excursions deep into the Himalayan backcountry, or getting involved with some of the incredible white water rafting on the Pin and Spiti rivers. These options will soon be appearing on the site, but for now, just get in touch with Ecosphere to find out more.Best time to go?
As the roads are covered in snow, it is difficult to visit Spiti except between May and October. Manali, the starting point for trips to Spiti, is a twelve hour drive from Delhi. You can also fly to Kulu and travel from there.Why ‘much better’?The aim of the not for profit initiative is to develop unique, authentic and reliable adventure tourism experiences which provide the residents of the Spiti Valley with a sustainable source of income. This also serves as an incentive to conserve their unique natural & cultural heritage and environment. 90% of permanent staff are local to the Spiti Valley, and the revenues are all ploughed back towards the local Spiti community, either to service providers, or for conservation activities, welfare and development of the region. All trips are also carbon neutral thanks to their investments in in-house renewable energy projects such as solar passive housing, green houses, setting up of solar cookers and solar lighting.
You can find out more about Ecosphere and view a growing range of their itineraries here.