Through the Spiti Valley and up north to Ladakh

We left Kalpa with the appetite for more mountains, more scenic views, and higher altitudes. After a brief administrative stop in Reckong Peo (a permit for crossing the ‘inner line’ close to Tibet is required) we got on the bus to Nako, our next destination. The bus ride, considered one of the most adventurous in India, offered beautiful views of the Sangla and Spiti Valleys and the Kailash Range. And while the bus got stuck for a couple of hours due to one of the very common landslides, we still made it to Nako (3,600m) for candle light and cold water, as there was on of the frequent power outages.

We spent a couple of days to get used to the altitude and make some smaller hikes before continuing the journey up the Spiti Valley to Kaza. Again the bus ride offered breathtaking views as the road wound along the valley. Depending on which side you sat on the bus, you would sometimes look down hundreds of metres, and once, at a very narrow passage, a passenger actually got up and walked to the door in case the bus would roll over and fall … but the bus driver, as usual in the mountains and quite contrary to the rest of India, made a solid no-risk job.

Kaza (3,600m) is quite touristy but nicely surrounded by arid mountains, and we enjoyed the wonderful stary sky. From there it was another twelve-hour ride on a public bus to green Manali, honeymoon destination for Indians and well-known backpackers’ hotspot. Fleeing the rain, we decided to venture quickly on towards our final destination in India, Leh in the Ladakh region. This time the ride on a minibus took 21 hours, we crossed multiple passes (the highest at 5,300 meters) and were totally wrecked when we finally made it.

In the middle of mountains, cozy Leh is a hub for trekking and also serious mountaineering. Unfortunately tourism is working its way and the number of big expensive hotels and seasonal tourists is going up as due to the airport the place is no longer only reachable for intrepid backpackers accepting straining bus rides, street-side food stalls and low-cost guesthouses. Still it’s absolutely worth a visit.

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2 Responses to Through the Spiti Valley and up north to Ladakh

  1. Nicolas says:


    India, Leh and Ladakh are great places. I’ve spent some vacations over there : Radjasthan, Agra, Dehli, Varanasi and a nice trek in the Markha valley (from chiling to chogdo). If you have the chance, go to Hemis gompa, it’s really beautiful.

    At Leh, we were at the Oriental Guest House which is a bit outside of the city.

    I hope you will enjoy your stay in Ladakh as much as I did 3 years ago!


    • admin says:

      Thanks Nicolas! There even was a festival at Hemis this time. Very nice. Leh and Ladakh are great.

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