Hiking in the Pin Valley: One of the Best Things to Do in Spiti, India
If you’ve been following my travels in Spiti you’ll be well aware of what a scenic little corner of the world it is. Postcard worthy views stretch out in all directions from pretty much every inch of high altitude earth. One of the best things to do in Spiti is a day hike in the Pin Valley, which is home to some of the region’s best scenery.
Hiking in the Pin Valley
I set off early from Mudh, a village which is far more pleasant than its name suggests. This sleepy collection of white box houses (with a couple of home stays and guesthouses providing some tourist comfort) is the logical place to stay in the Pin Valley. Soon after leaving town I reached my first major obstacle: a swift mountain stream with no proper bridge in sight. There was a thin log though, and I debated with myself for about 10 minutes as to whether I should make an attempt to cross it. My balance isn’t good at the best of times and I calculated my odds of falling into the freezing water to be around 50%. I headed upstream to try and find another place to cross but had no luck. I eventually decided to just cross and get my feet wet, which caused some pretty bad blisters later in the day.
Once I crossed the stream it was smooth sailing. After a while the rocky path temporarily turned purple, and a little while later I arrived at my first “snow crossing”. I managed to cross without slipping over, but it was slow going. The scenery all around me was incredible. The Pin River cut through the dry earth while the mountains above were lightly covered in fresh snow.
I was all alone. I couldn’t believe I had this place all to myself. I kept walking for a couple of hours, crossing a few more patches of snow along with the way. Nearing lunchtime I arrived at another fast flowing stream devoid of a bridge. I tried to cross but gave up in the end. I had forgotten to pack the biscuits I’d planned to eat for lunch and my feet were killing me — it was time to turn back.
I took a bit of a detour as I edged my way closer to town and found a bridge to cross that first stream. I walked through the crops below town and collapsed on my bed — it was a tough walk (a lot tougher than it needed to be) but it was one of the highlights of my time in the mountains of North India.
Pin Valley Travel Tips
- Where to stay: I stayed at Tara Homestay in Mudh — the views were awesome and it was probably the nicest room I had in Spiti (I paid 600 INR). There are a few guesthouses in Mudh and you can get some really good deals in low season. I got talking to someone who was paying 200 INR a night!
- Getting to Mudh: There’s one daily bus from Kaza to Mudh. It leaves at 5 pm. The return bus leaves Mudh at around 7 am. The trip takes roughly two hours.
- When to Visit the Pin Valley: The Pin Valley is home to snow leopards, red foxes and Ibex but most tourists never see them. A woman I was talking to claimed to see a fox but it could have been a dog. Winter is the best time to see snow leopards but even then you might struggle. If you want to do the multi-day trek between the Pin and Parvati valleys you’re best bet is to do it between July and September. I visited the Pin Valley in mid May and it was really quiet. The weather was perfect although it did get cold at times (it was snowing when I arrived).
The Pin Valley is one of the most beautiful spots in one of India’s most picturesque regions — put it at the top of your Spiti itinerary!
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