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15 DAYS · SEPTEMBER 2024 & 2025

Key monastery during daytime, Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz
SPITI VALLEY·INDIA

15 DAYS · SEPTEMBER 2024 & 2025

For centuries, the sleepy valley nestled in the Indian Himalayas remained a hidden Buddhist enclave forbidden to outsiders. Enduring the harsh year-round conditions of the high mountain desert, the people of Spiti Valley lived by a simple communal code, share the Earth’s bounty, be hospitable to neighbors, and eschew greed and temptation at all turns. 

Located at the border with Tibet, at an altitude above 3,800m, the valley offered only a road to get there. It is a difficult and sinuous mountain path, dangerously flirting with the void at times. But for those courageous enough to venture far into Himachal Pradesh lies a wonderful and fragile gem.

​We will travel in late summer from remote villages to mountain monasteries in search of the true buddhist way of life. We will spend time with young nuns and explore the vast treasures of Spiti valley, witness a shamanic ritual of healing and take in the magnificence of the Himalayas on a 2 to 3-day hike at high altitudes.

After having discovered the valley for the first time in 2016, we are now offering you the unique opportunity to dive into Spiti’s unique and hidden world through an exclusive, small scale, 15-day photography journey led by documentary photographer Thomas Cytrynowicz.

  • Spiti valley and neighboring high himalayan valleys in Himachal Pradesh province, India.

  • The expedition will run from September 2nd to 16th 2024, starting and ending in New Delhi. Check the itinerary further below.

    This expedition will also run in September 2025.

  • Take advantage of our Launch Discount of 20% off until June 2024.

     

    The total price for the trip is 5200€ 4160€ (incl. taxes).  A non-refundable deposit of 1560€ is required to secure your place on the trip.

    Please note that by paying the deposit, you agree to our Terms & Conditions.

  • Maximum 6 people

  • Car-based overland expedition with one in-country flight.

    A mix of luxurious accommodations, local homestays and camps.

  • Anyone is welcome, from beginners to professionals. Tailored mentorship is provided based on your needs.

  • General itinerary : Moderate. We will sleep at an altitude higher than 3800m.

    Trek option : Moderate-to-Challenging. The trek takes us up to 5000m.

The mountains of Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

What to expect

Spiti valley will surely offer you an other-worldly feeling as we will wander through the remote, almost fragile-looking villages scattered around the deep valleys and the high Himalayan peaks. Some say Spiti is the original Tibet, where Buddhists monks left behind treasures long forgotten inside mountains’ caches. 

 

This photography expedition is designed as the most exclusive experience possible, only open to 6 participants. This is your chance to travel with like-minded adventurers in a very small-scale fashion and make the most out or your Expedition leader's experiences as a documentary photographer. Together, we will discover the valley’s secular and spiritual life at amazingly high altitudes. We will spend time with locals, sleep at their house and accompany their daily work and personal routine, from herding at 4000m to cooking local dishes.

It will also be a journey through the valley’s Buddhist history, with its own legends and mysteries. Buddhist monks and nuns will welcome us in their monasteries where we will learn about their spiritual journey and the discipline it requires. We will witness their morning prayer and chanting ceremony while finding a resourceful environment far from the stress of our lives back home.

 

We will uncover what challenges Spitian face to safeguard their way of life, fighting harsh climatic conditions and dealing with scarce resources. 

 

An optional 2-3 day trek will push us further into the mountains to take in the vastness of the landscape. Hundreds of kilometers of wilderness will unravel before your footsteps. This includes two nights in camp. It is our chance to spot the elusive wildlife that inhabits the valley. 

 

All of this will be done alongside an in-depth photography training. You will learn about portrait, landscape and action photography, as well as post-production workflow on your own photos in a tailored fashion adapted to your needs, thanks to our small-scale group setting. 

The goal is to push your skills further while discovering new things every day.

Young nuns laughing in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

LEARN FROM

YOUNG NUNS

A young monk in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

VISIT CENTURY-OLD TEMPLES

Key monastery at night, night photography, Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

EXPLORE AMAZING LANDSCAPES

Spitians hosts in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

MEET LOCALS

AT THEIR HOME

Highlights

Young nuns laughing in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

LEARN FROM

YOUNG NUNS

A young monk in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

VISIT CENTURY-OLD TEMPLES

Spitians hosts in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

MEET LOCALS

AT THEIR HOME

Key monastery at night, night photography, Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

EXPLORE AMAZING LANDSCAPES

Highlights

Day 0

With everyone traveling towards New Delhi from different places, this day is all about arriving in the city. From the airport, you will be taken to our boutique hotel. Relax and enjoy your time there as the next morning, our epic adventure begins.

Day 1

After a good night of sleep, we meet for a succulent breakfast. This is the time to get to know your fellow travelers and get acquainted with your Expedition leader, Thomas. We will then spend the day exploring India’s bustling capital city together and indulging in local delicacies.

 

Day 2

We catch a morning plane from New Delhi to Chandigarh and head to Manali, the gateway to the Himalayas. We get to explore the bustling mountain city and spend the night in a comfortable hotel.

Day 3

We meet with our drivers early in the morning and embark on a breath-taking journey across the mountains, with as many stops as we want to take in the beauty. We arrive in Spiti valley after sunset, make ourselves comfortable at our amazing retreat spot and acclimatise to the high altitude.

Day 4

The morning starts with an introduction talk about Spiti valley and a photographic lecture by Thomas, our Expedition Leader. We meet with our local guide and translator before heading to the fascinating Key monastery to spend the day with monks. This is a special opportunity to learn about Buddhism and get started with portrait photography. After sunset, we have a special night photography workshop around the monastery and head back to our accommodation.

Day 5

For the early-risers, we make our way to a magical viewpoint to catch the sunrise illuminating the entire valley. We then head to Dhankhar monastery for a landscape photography session before heading further into Pin valley where we will meet the joyful nuns of Kungri nunnery and spend the night there.

Itinerary

Young monks in their study, Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz
Monks on the terrasse of Key monastery overlooking the valley, Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

Day 6

At sunrise, we meet the nuns for Puja, the morning prayers, and spend the day with them and their male counterparts at the nearby monastery. We will be taken to one of the oldest monasteries in the valley and learn about the special care it requires.

Day 7

We drive to the edge of Pin valley to glimpse at the vast expanse of mountain peaks around Mudh, the last village in this direction, then head to Lalhung, Thomas’ favorite village in the valley. We spend the end of the day with our hosts and listen to their stories before sleeping in comfortable homestays.

Day 8

We spend the day in Lalhung, accompanying our hosts on their daily tasks, strolling around the small alleys and taking in the beauty of the surrounding nature, including the village’s wonderful terraced fields. We make our way to the old temple, chat with the elderly and bathe in the sun. It is a great time to look at the photos we have taken over the last few days and get together for a post-production workshop.

Day 9

In the morning, we leave our hosts and make our way to Demul, one of the valley’s most secluded villages. We will discover how the families handle all aspects of life as a community, taking turns in the main activities such as farming, herding, and even hosting guests. Our hosts will welcome us for a peaceful night. 

Until June 2024, benefit from a 20% discount on all expedition bookings.

The price of the Spiti Valley Expedition is set to 5200€ 4160€, taxes included.

 

​Participants will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 1560€ to secure their place on the trip. If booking within 90 days of departure, full payment is due on confirmation. 

 

More information on payment will be made available upon signing up for the expedition.

What's included:

  • Pick-up and drop off at New Delhi airport and Manali airport

  • 3 nights at 5-star hotels in New Delhi 

  • 2 nights at luxurious retreat in Spiti valley

  • 2 nights in a nunnery 

  • 5 nights at homestays

  • 2 nights in tents (for the optional trek)

  • 1 night in high-end hotel in Manali

  • 4x4 vehicles for the duration of the expedition with dedicated drivers

  • A professional guide & translator for the duration of the expedition

  • Spiti Valley entrance fees

  • Full board from day 1 to 14 incl. all meals, snacks, tea, coffee and soft beverages

  • Photographic workshops, lectures, and editing sessions by Thomas

  • Donation to community development project (read below)

 

​Not included:

  • International flights

  • Visa

  • Travel & cancellation insurance

  • Expenses of personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls

  • Additional excursions, not mentioned in the itinerary above

Price details

Day 10

Our wilderness trek begins after a healthy breakfast. We slowly walk upwards and deeper into the valley, leaving the village behind. A few hours later, we set up camp and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. We eat by the fire, marveling at the stars and the pristine nature. For the non-hiker among us, there is the possibility of spending the day in Demul with our local hosts.

Day 11

Our second day of hike takes us higher, and far enough from humankind to get a chance to meet with the local wildlife. Herds of mountain goats, birds of prey, and perhaps even the elusive snow leopard. The non-hikers head to Komic, one of the highest villages in the valley.

 

Day 12

After a short but intense morning walk, we finally head out of the wild and make our way to Komic, a high-altitude village where we rest before heading to Kibber for the night. 


Day 13 

Kibber offers various activities and will be a great way to put into practice all types of photography we already covered over the last few days. Depending on your desires, we will organise a portrait workshop and a wildlife spotting session.

Day 14

After such an intense journey, It is time to leave Spiti behind, traveling back to Manali. It is an opportunity to enjoy a warm chai and discover some of the town’s local spots.

Day 15 

We catch a plane from Manali back to Delhi, where we reach another comfortable hotel. A very last dinner will allow us to unwind and share all we have learnt and lived over the last 14 days. This is the end of our Spiti valley expedition.

View of Dhankhar buddhist monastery in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz
Spitians in traditional clothes, Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz
Rices paddies in Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz
Integenerational portrait in Demul village, Spiti Valley, Thomas Cytrynowicz

GROUP SIZE

Karai expeditions host a maximum of six or eight individuals. We prioritize intimate expedition groups to ensure unparalleled and immersive experiences, as certain moments can be truly appreciated and savored only in the company of a small, close-knit group.

 

This is an extraordinary opportunity to explore in the best possible conditions, while sharing experiences with fellow adventurers.

 

Our expeditions attract people from all over the world, curious about human cultures, passionate about nature and enthusiastic about photography.

 

We take the time to meet everyone beforehand, allowing us to curate groups that harmonize seamlessly, ensuring a tailored and cohesive experience for each expedition.

EXPEDITION LEADER

Thomas Cytrynowicz is a documentary photographer and filmmaker. Sensitive to the human condition and its relationship with our environment, he has traveled and worked in many countries around the planet. 

 

He often works for NGOs on humanitarian and development projects, believing that well-crafted images can be a force for good. 

 

An experienced expedition leader, passionate storyteller and inspiring teacher, he will be offering his access to and knowledge of the remote communities you will visit, while helping you take your photography skills to the next level.

Portrait of documentary photographer Thomas Cytrynowicz
COMMUNITY COMMITMENT

In Spiti valley, our commitment to the local communities supports the development of solar heaters and greenhouses. It directly benefits families among those we stay with during our expedition.

COMMUNITY COMMITMENT
Community commitment

In Spiti valley, our commitment to the local communities supports the development of solar heaters and greenhouses. It directly benefits families among those we stay with during our expedition.

Expedition leader

Thomas Cytrynowicz is a documentary photographer and filmmaker. Sensitive to the human condition and its relationship with our environment, he has traveled and worked in many countries around the planet. 

 

He often works for NGOs on humanitarian and development projects, believing that well-crafted images can be a force for good. 

 

An experienced expedition leader, passionate storyteller and inspiring teacher, he will be offering his access to and knowledge of the remote communities you will visit, while helping you take your photography skills to the next level.

Portrait of documentary photographer Thomas Cytrynowicz

Group size

Karai expeditions host a maximum of six or eight individuals. We prioritize intimate expedition groups to ensure unparalleled and immersive experiences, as certain moments can be truly appreciated and savored only in the company of a small, close-knit group.

 

This is an extraordinary opportunity to explore in the best possible conditions, while sharing experiences with fellow adventurers.

 

Our expeditions attract people from all over the world, curious about human cultures, passionate about nature and enthusiastic about photography.

 

We take the time to meet everyone beforehand, allowing us to curate groups that harmonize seamlessly, ensuring a tailored and cohesive experience for each expedition.

  • All are welcome on our trips. From the confirmed amateurs to the newcomer who only photographs with a cellphone, there is something for everyone. Photography is first and a foremost a tool to get to far away places, connect with fellow human beings, and take in the great beauty of our planet.

    If you’re willing to push your skills further though, that’s definitely the right place!

  • The photography gear carried with you during the trip will be your personal one. 

     

    We will cover a variety of situations. Be prepared to shoot portraits, events and landscapes alike.  Here are some ideas : prime lens (50mm, 85mm), zoom lens (24-70, 70-200), wide lens (16-35). But any camera and lens will do. Do not forget to bring a laptop for our editing sessions and enough batteries and memory cards for our nights in camp.

  • We will send you a more detailed handbook before leaving, including recommended reading and clothing.

  • If you would like to get an in-depth knowledge of the valley or specific photography tips ahead of our trip, you can request a paid training session with our Expedition Leader. Send us an email to enquire.

  • As stated in our About page, giving back to our host communities is of paramount importance to us. With our background in humanitarian and development affairs, we are particularly careful with the impact we have as guests. On top of paying our hosts for their hospitality, we ensure to provide financial support to local initiatives. Find out more on each expedition’s page.

  • Unexpected things happen, and you can of course cancel your booking, though the non-refundable deposit is indeed… non-refundable, unless we find a replacement in time. Please read our Terms & Conditions for more information.

  • Once you pay your deposit, we will schedule a call to go over the specific details of visa and international travel. It’s a good time to ask any question you might have.

  • You are in charge of getting your own travel and/or cancellation insurance. We recommend selecting a policy that includes emergency evacuation in case of trouble, as we will be off-the-beaten tracks for most of our journey.

  • Please check with your doctor if you require vaccination for your chosen expedition.

  • We will be traveling with a standard medkit and various medicines. We recommend you bring one as well, especially if you have any specific medical need.

    We advise you to read about altitude sickness and bring tablets of Diamox or related drugs. Your GP will be able to recommend the best one for you specifically.  Spiti is a remote valley, accessible via road only. In case of emergency, you will be escorted out of the valley and taken care of by local professionals.

  • Either cooked by our embedded cook,host families, or selected hotels, food will be fresh, diverse and plentiful, but also local. This is your chance to dive in the culinary specificities of our destinations. Please inform us of any specific diet ahead of our trip so we can plan accordingly. Some destinations require a level of flexibility.

  • We travel on private jeeps or similar and professional drivers at all times.

  • Throughout our trip, we will be accompanied by at least one local translator who will communicate in a language that you are comfortable with. More than a translator, they are local assets who know the area well and have many stories to share. Make the best of it!

FAQ

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