Spiti has always been the younger sibling of Ladakh when it comes to choosing between the two arid jewels of the Himalayas. Even when Ladakh became an offbeat destination, Spiti was able to maintain its mystique and aura of an unknown land.
In this age of over-knowledge and comprehensive research before embarking on any journey, both Ladakh and Spiti are so far-flung that they can maintain their glory days of seclusion, isolation, and zen.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Why travel to Spiti Valley and not Ladakh?
This is an age-old question that will be difficult to answer through a blog. Ultimately, you will have to pick one based on your style and personality. For, when you are traveling, every place adds to your identity forever, and your choices will define what you can get from experience.
Spiti is often known as the Little Tibet or even the Cold-Dessert Mountain Valley – it is for sure a paradise! There are many things to do in Spiti – from visiting beautiful monasteries to checking out 500-year old mummies, from National Parks to River Rafting. But, what makes it unique is the culture and the immersive nature of the region.
I have previously talked about what makes Ladakh unique. Today, let’s dive deep into the exquisiteness of Spiti.
1. Not a tourist trap
Spiti Valley hasn’t fully realized its tourism potential. With a reasonably well off agriculture-based community, Spiti isn’t a tourist hotspot in Himachal. And, this is truly the biggest selling point for the place. Here, you will get to experience an amazing local, authentic culture. You’ll get to interact with the locals and truly understand their way of life.
It is indeed baffling that a small strip of a valley that is Spiti can provide such fierce competition to the vastness of Ladakh. But, that truly is a testimony to the appeal of the untouched peaks and sites.
It has become a possibility because Spiti is difficult to reach. At least two days of travel is required to get into the Spiti valley. Then another two days at the fag-end of your journey. The comfort level might be low, but oh so worth it!
2. Limited amenities – 13,800 sq. KM of barren land
What makes journeying through Spiti so amazing is that it is truly not a vacation. There are minimal guesthouses, minimal facilities, and minimal comfort. Getting to experience that level of isolation in its truest sense without any fancy technology assisting you at times is an experience worth having.
It is the only way to experience nature at its finest. Situated 12,500 ft. above sea level – the place is difficult, yes, but provides you with ever-changing hues of the barren mountains and striking reflections make for a spectacle to witness.
3. Myriad of off-beat experiences jam-packed in one trip
Spiti is a textbook definition of a strange trip or journey. Any expedition in this journey needs to be well-crafted, and certain off-roading experiences are waiting to experience. However, you need to properly plan for such explorations.
The Pin Valley National Park is another huge attraction of the region, and this park is home to some of the most beautiful and scarce species of flora and fauna. For those well-acquainted with traversing the Himalayas – this is a place where you would lose all sense of time!
4. Culture of Spiti
Given the relatively small region of Spiti, it is easier to get the hang of the culture of the region. In Ladakh, you mostly focus on the landscapes, which are also plenty in Spiti. However, Spiti has an added advantage of truly immersing yourself in the life of the region.
You can plan your travels in a manner where you could attend major festivals in the region. Also, here, you can visit Key Monastery – dating back to 996 AD. This monastery is one of the many monasteries you can visit and understand more about art, architecture, religion, culture, and everything else in between it!
In terms of food, Spiti is also very different from Ladakh in certain aspects. Yes, Chai, Momos, and Maggie remain a staple here as well, but there are unique flavors. Also, the fact that most of your stays will probably be in homestays – the food experience will be very genuine.
5. Buchen Llamas, Yaks, many more adventures
If Ladakh has the double-backed camels, Spiti has the Buchen Llamas. These delightful creatures are revered by the locals and worshipped as they drive out any evil! Also, the Yak safari is another activity to look forward to when in Spiti.
Spiti is perfect for adrenaline junkies – Spiti River is perfect for rafting, and there are many treks in the region. Most of the sites and lakes can often only be reached through treks. Such adventures are packed with a bang in Spiti.
You get to not only experience the Spiti Valley – which is amazing on its own. But, you also get to experience the often contradicting and rich cultures of the nearby Kinnaur Valley.
Thanks to the massively long journey and the need to acclimatize, a Spiti journey encompasses everything from the barren mountains that are a signature for the place to the very fertile lands of Kinnaur.
The all-immersive nature of the spellbinding Spiti Valley is exciting and absolutely isolating. It is a beauty in itself to be so far off from your comfort zone. Add to that the unique experience of learning the culture of a far-flung place – Spiti is a true delight.
Spiti is proclaimed by those who see it as a world in and of itself! The stark high-altitude of the rocky land is scattered with villages, Buddhist monasteries, and tonnes of peaks as well as landscapes.
Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.
Spiti packs a punch, truly, all the while leaving you so emotionally and physically vulnerable. Famous for its natural beauty and cultural heritage, Spiti will be a memory you will look back at as some of your favorite memories.
So, pack your bags and head on to the trip of a lifetime.