Heart of the Himalayas – Photography Tour in Lahaul & Spiti

Tour 1: July 27 to Aug 2, 2014 ||| Tour 2: August 10 to 16, 2014

 
Jeep Safaris, walks in the mountains, living with villagers, camping near pristine lake deep in the mountains, on field learning in photographing the exotic locations

One of the still unexplored and insanely beautiful stretch of the Indian Himalayas, Lahaul and Spiti is a valley of stark landscapes and high snowy peaks stretching to the sky. Gurgling rivers and crystal clear lakes dot the highlands of Lahaul, while an ancient civilization has survived for nearly a thousand years and has preserved its culture against the onslaught of modernity in Spiti. The faraway valley connected only through a narrow road that traverses through mountains over 10,000 feet high, this region offers vistas and heritage that can keep a travel photographer in a click-frenzy for months together.

This photography tour is a unique combination of jeep safaris, short & easy walks, exploring villages deep in the mountains, pristine lakes, rivers flowing fast through the mountains, all keeping photography in mind. We will not only spend time learning the nuances of photography in these exotic location, we take enough time in all the locations to let the experience sink in, and come back enriched with tales of a terrain that is much isolated from the modern world.

Scroll down for Detailed Itinerary below for more information on the tour.

Tour 1:  July 27 to Aug 2, 2014  ||| Tour 2: August 10 to 16, 2014 

Itinerary – Tour 1. July 27 to Aug 2, 2014

  • Day 01 – July 27 – Sunday – Arrive at Manali, briefing and photography sessions. Stay at Manali.
  • Day 02 – July 28 – Monday – Drive from Manali to Kaza through scenic mountain roads passing Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass, stay in Kaza
  • Day 03 – July 29 – Tuesday – Photo-exploration of Spiti Valley – Ki Monastery, Komic and Langza. Stay at a homestay in Langza
  • Day 04 – July 30 – Wednesday – Morning walks in the village. Drive to Dhankar and walk to Dhankar Lake in the second half. Stay in Kaza
  • Day 05 – July 31 – Thursday – Drive towards the magnificent Chandratal Lake, provided the road to Chandratal is open (it normally is at this time of the year) and camp in the mountains near the lake.
  • Day 06 – Aug 01 – Friday – Drive from Chandratal to Manali through the mountains. Night at Manali
  • Day 07 – Aug 02 – Saturday – Free time at Manali in the morning. Checkout in the afternoon.

Itinerary – Tour 2. Aug 10 to Aug 16, 2014

  • Day 01 – Aug 10 – Sunday – Arrive at Manali, briefing and photography sessions. Stay at Manali.
  • Day 02 – Aug 11 – Monday – Drive from Manali to Kaza through scenic mountain roads passing Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass, stay in Kaza
  • Day 03 – Aug 12 – Tuesday – Photo-exploration of Spiti Valley – Ki Monastery, Komic and Langza. Stay at a homestay in Langza
  • Day 04 – Aug 13 – Wednesday – Morning walks in the village. Drive to Dhankar and walk to Dhankar Lake in the second half. Stay in Kaza
  • Day 05 – Aug 14 – Thursday – Drive towards the magnificent Chandratal Lake, provided the road to Chandratal is open (it normally is at this time of the year) and camp in the mountains near the lake.
  • Day 06 – Aug 15 – Friday – Drive from Chandratal to Manali through the mountains. Night at Manali
  • Day 07 – Aug 16 – Saturday – Free time at Manali in the morning. Checkout in the afternoon.

Also see the detailed itinerary at the end of this page.

  • Drive through some of the most amazing landscapes in one of the remotest regions in the Indian Himalayas.
  • See and photograph the views from high passes of Rohtang and Kunzum La
  • Visit the brilliant high altitude lake of Dhankar, trapped in the mountains at an altitude of 14,000 feet
  • Camping in the heart of the mountains, near the clear blue expanse of Chandratal Lake surrounded by high peaks, subject to road being open.
  • Visit the a Buddhist monastery more than 800 years old, which has followed an ancient tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Visit to sights specifically chosen keeping photography opportunities in mind
  • Expert help and advice with photographing culture and landscapes of Lahaul and Spiti
  • Constant interaction and assistance on field by photography experts with an experience of travelling in Lahaul and Spiti
  • Insights to nuances of travel and outdoor photography during the tour
  • Image reviews by your photography expert

This tour is for everyone who loves to explore the exotic and beautiful landscapes deep in the Himalayas. We will be travelling to places that are less visited by tourists, to see and photograph some unparalleled landscapes in the country.

The tour is designed to help participants learn the nuances of making beautiful photographs of the mountain scenery and the culture. Note that the participants are not required to be experts in photography or carry professional equipment. Beginners and newbies as well as serious photographers benefit through our personalised attention to photography sessions and on field assistance. Non photographers interested in exploring Lahaul and Spiti are welcome too.

Can I bring my non-photographer partner with me?

Yes, you can. We visit many beautiful places in Lahaul-Spiti and having a good time during the trip is as much on the agenda as photography is. Your partner will enjoy the journey with the group. Please note that we do not offer a separate non-photographer pricing.

I am not a keen photographer. But I want to visit Lahaul and Spiti with your group. Can I still join?

Yes. We visit many beautiful places in the region, and having a good time during the trip is as much on the agenda as photography is.

Is there a lot of walking/trekking involved?

No and Yes. Most of the places we go to will be reached through vehicles. But we will be doing some walking at a few places. There are no strenuous, long distance walks or full-day hikes. Nor do we have walking as a necessity to reach a destination, which means that you may opt out and rest instead of going on a walk if you feel tired.  We believe that most people in reasonably good health should not have any problems with most of the activities through the tour. Speak to us if you have any doubts.

Also refer to our tours faq for more information.

Rs.39,250 per person.

The cost includes

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis
  • Transportation on all days of the tour
  • All meals during the tour except in Manali
  • Permits and all entry fees
  • Photography sessions, expert advice and assistance, image reviews and critiques on all days

The cost does not include

  • Travel to Manali and return travel from Manali to your location.
  • All meals on Day 1 and on Day 7; dinner on Day 6 (all meals in Manali)
  • Additional food or beverages ordered

Note:

1. Please let us know, if you need any assistance in travelling from Delhi to Manali and return.

2. The tour begins at 12pm on Day 01 and ends at 12pm on Day 07. Early check-in in the morning of Day 01 and late check-out on Day 07 evening may be possible at the hotels, subject to availability.

3. Please note that the itinerary is subject to favourable weather and road conditions. In case of bad weather and inaccessibility to a destination, we will do our best to make alternate plans. The cost of the tour or any part of it will not be refunded in the event of unfavourable conditions anytime during the tour days.

Accommodation
Accommodation will be in comfortable hotels on the days we are staying in Manali and Kaza. We will be camping near Chandratal Lake in tents on Day 05, subject to roads being open. We will be staying at basic home-stays in Langza.

Contact us at the email/numbers below to book the tour.

email: register@darter.in

Tel: 9880006460 (Arun) / 97400 83260 (Shreeram)

Alternately, fill in the contact form at the end of this page.

Arun Bhat

Accomplished travel and landscape photographer Arun Bhat’s works have been used by publications in India and across the world, all the way from Japan to USA. He is a professional photographer who has extensively travelled across India, creating some of the finest imagery of India’s landscapes and has spent years capturing the essence ofIndia’s cultural diversity. Having travelled the country many times over and being used to waking up at 5am in bitter cold winter days, he has seen and captured finest landscapes all the way from Himalayas to the peninsular India and has mastered the art of travel, outdoor and landscape photography.

Arun has spent several months of travelling in the mountain regions across South and North India, exploring and photographing the varied landscapes. His in-depth knowledge of the hills will come handy throughout the tour as he helps you photograph the region’s hills and waterbodies. People who have travelled with Arun on tours never forget to mention his friendly approach and a willingness to be available to everyone all the time through the tour.

Some of his very popular travel images were photographed from Lahaul and Spiti Region. You can view some of his works at www.paintedstork.com


Detailed Itinerary

Day 01. Sunday. Arrival in Manali, briefing and photography sessions, free time to spend in Manali.

We will arrive at Manali this morning and check-in to our comfortable hotel. In the afternoon, your photography expert will brief you on the exciting days ahead in the heart of the Himalayas and take you through an elaborate session on photographing the landscapes, people and culture of the region, also describing photography opportunities waiting for you for the whole of next week. You will have some free time on arrival and also later in the evening to explore the town.

Lahaul and Spiti Lahaul and Spiti

Day 02.  Monday. Manali to Kaza, driving through scenic mountain landscapes.

We leave Manali early in the morning and drive up slowly towards Rohtang Pass – perhaps the most well-known pass and most easily accessible of the high passes in the Himalayas. The drive to the pass is a steep climb and offers views of some of the most dramatic vistas of rocky cliffs and green slopes.

Driving over Rohtang pass at an altitude above 13,000 feet, we are suddenly led into no man’s land as we enter into the valley of Lahaul. Civilization and hustle bustle of the everyday world is left behind and completely forgotten in its silence. There are no houses, no people, no vehicles to give way to, or anything to remind of the world we have left behind. A narrow road that splits the mountains reminds that we are still connected with the world, and also gives us access to the terrain that almost feels uncharted. Lahaul and Spiti region is a desert in the higher ranges of Indian Himalayas, where nothing more than tiny grass a few inches tall grows. Stark mountain slopes stretch as far as the eyes can see, and the peaks keep growing taller and taller as we look ahead.

lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti Lahaul & Spiti Photography
lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti Lahaul & Spiti Photography

We drive along the valley of Chandra River, passing through the heart of the Himalayas and stopping occasionally to gawk at unbelievable views and capture images that would keep you excited about the upcoming journey.

We will drive via unpeopled Lahaul region’s dramatic landscapes and over the high Kunzum Pass before entering the sparsely populated Spiti Valley. Kunzum Pass is nearly 15,000 feet high, and needless to say, offers amazing views on the way up and down. Descending from Kunzum, we will leave Lahaul Region and enter Spiti Valley. Lahaul is stark, rugged, uninhabited and has its own beauty, while in Spiti, you will suddenly see patches of greenery, plateaued lands and sparse habitation. In some time, you will see Losar, the first village since we crossed Rohtang early in the morning. Now the road will course along Spiti River, with some interesting formation on the slopes along the way and beautiful views of highlands. In Spiti, besides the breathtaking landscapes under clear sky, we will also visit ancient monasateries and photograph beautiful people of the valley. Tonight’s stay will be at Kaza where your room’s windows will open to the bed of Spiti River and the tall mountains beyond.

Day 03.  Tuesday. Photo-exploration of Spiti Valley – Ki Monastery, Komic and Langza. Stay at a homestay in Langza

We will allow for a relaxed morning today, let you cling to the bed and feel the luxury of waking up late again. But before the sun is very high, we will be ready to explore the jewels of Spiti. Our first stop is the 800 year old Ki Monastery, where we witness the monastic Buddhist culture of Spiti Region. A friendly monk from the monastery will show us around the monastery and explain the significance of everything we see inside. The centuries old interiors of the monastery are greatly photogenic. The windows of the monastery offer brilliant views of the valley below.

lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti Lahaul & Spiti Photography
lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti Lahaul & Spiti Photography

From here, we make a quick visit to Komic, a village that is often credited with the highest all-weather motor road, electricity and telephone despite an altitude of about 15,000 feet.

Well before evening, we are at Langza Village, a place as picturesque and green as it can get at these altitudes. You will be surprised how beautiful Langza is. This is a small hamlet of a few dozen houses surrounded by Barley and Sweet Pea fields, boasting incredible views of 20,000 feet Chau Chau Kang Nilda Peak (it feels like you can almost touch it by extending your arms!). In the evening, we have time to walk the fields, admire the tall statue of Buddha on a ridge, speak to villagers and play with kids, all the while making photographs that you will remember fondly, assisted ably by our photography lead. It is such a simple village filled with happy, welcoming people, that Langza will remain a place not just as a visual treasure in your head, but will permanently take up a part of your heart as well.

In the night, we will have a go at photographing the star studded sky, with the snow peak of Chau Chau Kang Nilda glittering in our frame. This will be an experience you will never forget. Take our word for it!

Day 04. Wednesday. Morning at Langza, visit to Dhankar Lake in the second half.

We get to spend part of the morning wandering in the Langza. Later in the day, before lunch, we drive to Dhankar, a small village downstream Spiti River. The village is home to a monastery tucked away at the edge of a steep crag. It is so faraway and so amazing, you will wonder how the monastery has survived the centuries without ever falling off the cliff! A truly magnificent place.

lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti lahaul and spiti
Lahaul & Spiti Photography Lahaul & Spiti Photography Lahaul & Spiti Photography

From the village, we make the hour-long hike to Dhankar Lake, a water body trapped in a trough 14000 feet high in the mountains. You will not forget the view of puffy clouds reflecting in the emerald waters of the lake, with snowy mountains looming high faraway behind the lake. Of course, we will make sure that the memories will be made permanent with photographs that will reflect the beauty of the lake.

Day 05. Thursday. Drive to Chandratal

It is time to stay good-bye to Spiti. We will start early in the morning and make a slow drive to Chandratal, enjoying the views along the way. We will camp in the evening at a walking distance near the calm blue waters of Chandratal Lake. Please note that visiting and camping near Chandratal are subject to road being open, as the conditions of the road to Chandratal are unpredictable and changes frequently.

We spend a long evening walking along the banks of a blue & emerald Chandratal surrounded by mountains on all sides save for an outlet. This place is perhaps the finest creation of nature that our photographers have ever witnessed. We let the words take backseat now, and let the pictures tell you how beautiful Chandratal is.

lahaul and spiti chandratal lake Chandratal Lake

Day 06. Friday. Morning walk to Chandratal; drive to Manali.

If your heart is not quenched by an evening in Chandratal, you have the option to brave the morning’s cold weather and make another visit to the lake. It is incredible how the light conditions make the lake appear very different from previous evening.

Lahaul & Spiti Photography Lahaul & Spiti Photography Lahaul & Spiti Photography

Later, after a good breakfast, we head back to Manali, stopping occasionally for some river side photography and also to photograph Bada Shigri, the largest glacier in all of Himachal.

Day 07. Saturday. A relaxed easy morning, tour ends by noon.

By now the group would have bonded so well, if our experiences in the past trips are to go by, we would already be making next travel plans. We spend the morning hours sharing our experiences and pouring over an awesome collection of images over breakfast. We will spend the morning hours together seeing images and happily reminiscing the days in Spiti before checking out in the afternoon.


Registration Details

Contact us at the email/numbers below to book the tour.

email: register@darter.in

Tel: 9880006460 (Arun) / 97400 83260 (Shreeram)

Alternately, fill in the following form to get in touch with us regarding the tour.

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