Backpacking, Budget, Himachal Pradesh, India, Offbeat
Comments 12

Hitchhiking on my First Solo Trip to Spiti Valley.

My first solo trip to Spiti Valley was filled with many firsts, including hitchhiking in India for the first time! Come along?

As I walk along the green fields of Pin Valley, I smile in delight at the pink, purple and yellow flowers in bloom. I haven’t seen greenery for the last 3 weeks in the mountain desert terrain of Spiti.

I carefully walk across the fragile bridge across the Spiti River, to the village of Gulling. The goal is to hitchhike my way back to Kaza, Spiti’s capital, instead of waiting for a bus that may / may not show up the next morning.

Also read: I Love Spiti – A Campaign to Save Spiti Valley from Single Use Plastic

pin valley
Solo trip to Spiti Valley | The bridge to Gulling.

I have never hitch-hiked in India before. It would be a parent’s worst nightmare for their 23-year-old daughter in the northern cities of India. But my time in Spiti has convinced me that there isn’t a safer alternative to travel the region. The mountain people welcome you with big hearts, space or no space. And it’s a great way to meet fellow mountain travelers.

As I reach Gulling, I’m greeted by a gorgeous view of green slopes topped by snow-capped peaks, some of which have melted into swift waterfalls. The aroma of freshly cooked breakfast draws me in to a little dhaba. I chat with the cook as he whips up breakfast, and ask him if any cars will be heading to Kaza soon.

Immediately, he calls out to an elderly gentleman, who in turn, summons some boys to find me a ride. By the time breakfast is done, the entire village is scrambling around to find a way to get me to Kaza.

Also read: 10 Offbeat Things to do in Spiti Valley

pin valley national park
Solo trip to Spiti Valley | The green of Pin Valley.

The cook invites me to take refuge in the shade of his dhaba for the few or many hours before a car passes by their humble village. But I insist on taking my restless self to walk the single road of the village under the trees.

As I stroll along, every passer-by has a smile to give and help to offer. A young man tries to initiate a conversation in English. I oblige, and gradually break into Hindi, to which he seems surprised.

Immediately, he insists that I join him for tea, and as I run out of excuses, I follow him into a shed by the roadside. He calls a boy and tells him to make us his best tea. As the boy heads out, I look at the tattered, isolated surroundings of the shed.

Over the next hour, I hear everything about this man and his family, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his move to Pin Valley many years ago. It’s only in Spiti, I think to myself, that my eyes didn’t subconsciously dart around for escape routes.

Also read: How Volunteering in Spiti Led me to the Women in Red

solo trip to spiti valley
Solo trip to Spiti Valley | A trip of many firsts!

I find a ride just after noon. As we drive through the precarious mountain roads, with the majestic Himalayas watching over us, I feel glad, yet again, that Spiti has salvaged the notion of atithi devo bhava for me. All the world has heard of Indian hospitality, but living in the cities made it seem like a hoax.

Typically, Spiti’s mountain villages have a population of merely 50-100 people in a dozen or less households. They are often 5-10 hour hikes away from Kaza, Spiti’s administrative headquarter. Perhaps it is this unique geography that hasn’t allowed the peculiarities of urban India to seep into its hospitable culture.

Also read: Why Travelling Solo in India is Not So Scary

spiti valley, spiti valley hitchhiking, solo trip to spiti valley, is spiti safe
Solo trip to Spiti Valley | Remote Himalayan villages.

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12 Comments

  1. midaevalmaiden says

    I just read the post on Clay. Do ever keep a weapon with you when do these kinds of solo travels in the middle of no-where? I thought of it when you describes the man who served you tea at his shack.

    • Sara, I was exactly trying to make that point. I wouldn’t dare do this sort of thing in any other part of India, and definitely not without a taser or something. But in Spiti, the people are so genuinely kind that the thought didn’t even enter my mind!

      • midaevalmaiden says

        Thats why I like people and life from distant countries as much as I do. They have not been tainted by civilisation. They treat all people as family and appreciate the simple things (wich are also the most important things) I could so easily enjoy that lifestyle forever.

        • Me too, atleast that’s what I think, though forever is a long long time 🙂 Sometimes I think it’s ironic how civilization is what taints civilization.

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  3. Hi Shivya,
    I always visit your website and I really love the content. Thank you for sharing such beneficial articles!

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  8. Richa says

    Hi Shivya

    I want to read this complete article but not able to find the page on club mahindra site. Can you pls share the link?

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