Kinnaur is one of those mystical Himalayan regions that is in the list of backpackers and travellers but they keep wondering why and how to. An Instagram user once asked me for tips for a complete weekend trip to Kinnaur. Well, you cannot. If you are starting from Delhi or Chandigarh then you certainly need atleast 5 days to experience a part of Kinnaur and then return home. If you want to experience the local culture, meet people living there and go on short hikes then you need at-least a week in your hand.
So here is a solo traveller’s guide to Kinnaur valley. If you are a backpacker, budget traveller and someone who wants to experience Kinnaur to the fullest then go ahead and read on. I’ll share my experiences and what to do and not to do when going on a long journey to this region. This blog will also be helpful for those who are planning to drive through Kinnaur valley. If you are a solo budget traveller then this blog will come handy for you, otherwise you can go buy a package from one of those travel agencies.
Why visit Kinnaur?
I have highly recommended solo traveller, especially the female solo travellers to visit Kinnaur. I personally feel that Kinnaur is a lovely region with the friendliest people one will ever meet. Need more reasons? How about the lovely Satluj flowing right below the road on which you are traveling or the green apple orchards and mighty Himalayan peaks? The beauty of Kinnaur is something that osne can only feel and experience when you are there.
By the way, Highway’s climax was shot here. Remember the bus ride where Alia and Randeep go sit on the top of the bus and the place where they meet a bunch of Shepherds? It was all shot in Kinnaur. If this doesn’t convince you to pack your bags and leave then nothing will ever do.
How to travel to Kinnaur
Considering that your starting point is either Delhi or Chandigarh, you’ll have to take a bus either going directly to Sangla or take bus going to Shimla and then change another bus from there. There is a bus that goes straight to Sangla from Delhi and it takes 18 hours to reach the destination. I took that bus and almost regretted my decision because of the long and utmost tiring journey. I personally won’t suggest this bus because of the long journey. Here is what you should do.
Take the bus going to Sangla and get down at Narkanda or Rampur in the morning and spend the day there.
Both Narkanda and Rampur here lovely villages of Himachal with picturesque views of Satlaj River flowing by, mountains. Staying at one of these places will also give you time to overcome the tiredness and will prepare you for the journey next day.
From Narkanda, you have two options of traveling to Sangla. Either you take the evening bus and reach Sangla by morning or take the morning bus and reach Sangla by 4 PM. I would suggest the morning bus because the road to Kinnaur is beautiful and is a treat to view these gorgeous passes and the valley. At the same time there roads are treacherous and traveling during the night time is not safe. The road towards Sangla valley has been featured on Discovery channel in the list of world’s deadliest roads.
Prepare yourself for some fast turns and vomit inducing Himalayan roads. Buses on Kinnaur roads move at a very fast speed that usually induces some action in the stomach for someone who is new to these roads. Take ovamin, cloves and candies to keep a control over your stomach and not ending up puking before reaching your destination. It induces weakness and your entire day will be spent resting and being sick after you reach Sangla.
Places to visit in Sangla
Considering that you’ll reach Sangla by evening, there won’t be much to explore. There are cheap guesthouses further away from the main road and will cost you around 300 to 500. You can walk up to Kamru fort and visit the trout fishery nearby.
There is a bus that leaves for Chitkul in the morning around 8:30, you can also take lift from vehicles going there. Chitkul is simply beautiful, serene and quaint. I would personally skip Sangla and travel straight to Chitkul but I am not so sure about finding a vehicle in the evening.
There is nothing much to do in Chitkul. You can take short hikes to the nearby farms and explore the region around. This is one of those places where you sit around and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just allow yourself to feel the nature’s bounty to the core.
Chitkul – Reckong Peo – Kalpa
Leave Chitkul early morning and leave for Sangla, from where you’ll find a bus going to Reckong Peo. Reckong Peo is the headquarters of Kinnaur district and is a major bus stand. From here you’ll find buses going to different villages of Kinnaur and Spiti.
Spend the rest of the day at Peo and catch the bus for Kalpa in the morning. Hike upto Roghi Village and enjoy the beautiful views. Sunset behind Kinner Kailash is a treat to watch. Roghi is one of the traditional Himalayan villages at it feels like you have teleported to a different world altogether.
You can also visit Kothi village. The Chandika Devi temple here is famous for its unique architectural style.
How to return to Delhi from Kalpa
After the end of your trip you can either take local buses plying for different villages of Kinnaur and Spiti or take a bus back home following the similar itinerary. There are two or three buses that run between Reckong Peo and Delhi, there are other buses that go upto Chandigarh and Shimla. You can find either of these buses and travel straight to your destination or take a stop at Narkanda or Shimla and take a toy train next morning for Delhi. Trust me, it is a wonderful experience.