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Unveiling Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Winter Adventures in India

29 Nov 2023

The winters are finally here, and it's the perfect time for all you outdoor enthusiasts to lace up those boots, pack your bags, and travel! Forget the over-done, touristy locations that appear on every Instagram bucket list, this holiday season, we’re exploring some lesser-known, extreme winter trips in India that promise adventure, breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, history, culture and memories that will last a lifetime…


1. Stargazing in Hanle, Ladakh - India's first Dark Sky Reserve!

Located on the banks of Hanle river, this quaint little village has played an important role in the Silk Route. It is a haven for nature lovers and celestial enthusiasts. The clean atmospheric conditions, absence of pollution and distance from the city life make it an ideal spot for a stargazing experience like no other! Its winding trails and surreal views make it a good location for your next adventure.


What to look out for:

  1. Clear Night Skies: Hanle has some of the clearest night skies in the world, providing an uninterrupted view of the cosmos in all its glory.
  2. Hanle Observatory: Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Indian Astronomical Observatory- one of the highest-located observatories in the world, and gaze at the stars through powerful telescopes.

  3. Chadar Trek Preparation: Hanle is the perfect base spot for hikers as they acclimatize for the famous Chadar Trek. We highly recommend this trek if you’re an adrenaline junkie.

TrekKit Pro Tip: 

Pack a thermos of hot chocolate, your favorite snacks, and lightweight extreme winter wear. Without proper gear you might miss out on the chance to venture out in the dead of the night when the celestial skies are at peak visibility! Be sure to check for permits needed to visit areas near the border and have the weather app handy.


2. Snow Leopard & Wildlife Photography in Kibber, Spiti

Spiti is a region suspended in space and time, and is known for its expansive valleys, glaciers, intriguing geological formations, and towering trans-Himalayan peaks. Nestled in this high-altitude desert terrain, Kibber stands as one of the world's highest villages. It functions as a base camp for exploring the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary where you can spot Himalayan Ibex, Blue Sheep, as well as one of the most iconic big cats in the Indian subcontinent—the Snow Leopard. For those seeking a more elusive winter adventure, Kibber in Spiti Valley is the place to be! Winter transforms this region into a snow-laden wonderland and brings with it unique opportunities to experience once-in-a-lifetime sights!


What to look out for:

  1. Snow Leopard Spotting: Discover a number of guided tours that take you deep into the snow-covered terrain- the home of the enigmatic snow leopard! 

  2. Spiti's Winter Charm: Marvel at the breathtaking beauty of Spiti Valley blanketed in pristine white snow, a sight you’ll remember for a lifetime!

  3. Local Culture: Engage with the warm-hearted locals, experience the culture, and savor the mouth-watering, traditional cuisine Spiti has to offer.

TrekKit Pro Tip: 

Remember to carry very warm winter clothing that's lightweight and easy to pack. Temperatures here drop to as low as -30°C in peak winter, the snowy outdoors & the biting cold demands extreme outdoor apparel. Bring a pair of binoculars and a good camera (extreme weather friendly) – you never know when the majestic snow leopard might make a surprise appearance! Check if roads are open and weather is favourable to spot these big cats. 


3. History & Culture Winter Trip - Old Silk Route (Wool Route), Sikkim & West Bengal

Embark on a journey through time as you follow the ancient trade routes along the 'Old Silk Route,' also known as the Wool route in Sikkim & West Bengal. This historically significant and iconic trail leads you through enchanting villages, lush forests, and enduring mountain passes. The cultural richness of the region is a treasure waiting to be explored! The renowned trade route was born in the bustling Kalimpong market, navigating challenging mountain paths across the Chola Range, crossing the windswept high-altitude plains of the Tibetan plateau, and culminating in Lhasa. 


What to look out for:

  1. Kalimpong: Due to its strategic location, this small town emerged as one of the most significant of its kind in British India. Serving as the starting point of the well-known "Silk Route," Kalimpong became the entrance into Tibet. 

  2. Gnathang Valley: This prominent stop on the Silk Route is perched at an elevation of 13,500 feet above sea level. The celestial destination is draped in winter snow, with temperatures plunging to 3°C. Its pristine beauty remains unmatched and a visit to Tsomgo Lake is an absolute must, where everything turns into a magical, icy landscape in the winter months.

  3. Nathula Pass: Once a bustling trade route connecting India and Tibet, the Nathula Pass has evolved into a scenic mountain adventure adorned with prayer flags and unforgettable panoramas. Serving as one of the three open trading border posts between India and China, Nathu La is renowned for its picturesque beauty and serene sights.

TrekKit Pro Tip: 

Take your time to interact with the locals and learn about the historical significance of the Old Silk Route – it's not just a trip , but a journey through time. Carry a rugged backpack to keep your essentials protected from the rigour of the outdoors. Be sure to check for permits needed to visit border areas, and of course, the weather app!


And that’s our list! This holiday season, it’s time to venture off the trodden paths and explore the wonders that await on these lesser-known winter adventures . Whether you're gazing at the stars in Ladakh, spotting snow leopards in Spiti, or taking a journey through the Old Silk Route in Sikkim & West Bengal, each trip  offers a unique blend of adventure, culture, and nature at its best.

So, gear up and brace yourself for a brand new adventure this winter. Let the trails lead you to unforgettable experiences.


Happy travels!