When we talk of Stellar Locations in our Indian Himalayas, Spiti Valley definitely steals the show with its mind staggering beauty. This time we offer an adventurous and a little offbeat itinerary to be in these remote lands of the Himalayas in one of the most difficult times, The Winter Season. Undertaking this tour will be with an intent to capture its pristine Winter Beauty in our cameras and in the process create images of the snowland both in terms of Landscape and Astro Photography with Nikon India as our Equipment Partner.
Hence with the most sorted itinerary and logistics to carry out the same in the high altitude terrains of Kinnaur and Spiti region in the winter season, thEscape announces it's Landscape and Astro Photography Tour to capture the pristine showcase what Spiti Himalayas has to offer from 18th Feb to 26th Feb, 2023 (Ex- Chandigarh).
Spiti is always considered as an adventurous destination be it any time of the year. But winters of this region adds up to the spice as the temperature dips to as low as -20 to -30 degrees in winters. Characterized by frozen lakes, frozen streams, frozen river beds, this entire region freezes during winters and if one thinks of carrying out a landscape photography tour to this region, then that person is bound to get some real great content. With that intent, thEscape has designed a special itinerary with the required logistics to move around in the the retreating winters to carry out Landscape Photography in those pristine lands.
This is our second tour to this region, but first time in peak winters. If you want to see a showcase of what we did in our last tour, please go through the following link for the set of images -
Landscape Photography Partner for the Tour
Nilakkhya is a published Landscape Photographer of India from Delhi and has been in the photography arena for the last 11 years. He is associated with Nikon India and to talk of some of his accomplishments, he has been published on all major platforms of photography including some of the top photography magazines of India. For his complete set of works-
Highlights of our Tour
Group size of minimum 5 participants and maximum 9 participants mentored by one landscape photographer on first come first serve basis to ensure personal attention.
An extensive 8N/9D well planned out trip to ensure we cover every nook and corner of Kinnaur and Spiti by not rushing through and hence don't leave out any opportunity to photograph it's beauty.
Participants experiencing latest High End Nikon cameras and Lenses as Nikon is our Equipment Partner.
Working on the concept of Travel, Share and Learn on Landscape Photography with Nilakkhya Dutta who has an experience of photographing Himalayas and showcasing it's beauty in the most purest form. Nilakkhya is a published photographer across different platforms and magazines around the globe.
We will also publish a book in collaboration with our publishing partner of the works of our participants during the trip be it photographs, a write up or a painting. This anthology will have introduction of the participants and the showcase of their work at an added cost. This book comes out as an Bi-annual edition of thEscape. Participants who pay for being published are given 3 copies of the book.
Through our NGO partner, we will be selling copies of the book on Amazon and the sale proceeds of it will go as a donation to the remote backward areas of Himalayas in the form of books, clothes and essential products.
thEscape will provide Post Processing Online One on One session to the participants who would require a hand holding in this aspect. Though we at thEscape believe that Art is one's own visualization and creation. We will only help in the technical aspects both on field and after coming back in the online sessions (if required). In this regard, we would also like to mention that we will make the participants click their own images with the outlook they like and would not encourage them to imitate or copy the frames taken by more experienced photographers of the group or the Photography Partner( Nilakkhya as he would also be capturing his frames during the tour after making sure that all the participants are getting their images) as we believe the style of photography and Art grows of an individual with their own eye.
We give the trip ex-Chandigarh with transfer of participants in ONE Tempo Travller. Chandigarh is connected with rest of India with flights and roads.
The accommodation of the participants will be in comfortable hotels and home stays throughout the tour. Heating Facility where ever available will be offered at an extra cost if needed by the participants. ( Though Home Stays in Spiti have traditional internal heating systems which keeps their houses warm).
Food facility would be given at MAP basis ie. Breakfast and Dinner on all days in the hotels and home stays where we would be staying throughout the tour at different locations.
Service of an experienced professional local Tour Leader.
All required permits to travel on this route.
Facility of First Aid kits.
Above all, we will ensure Covid Protocols by following any protocol of state of Himachal Pradesh at the time of the tour.
Detailed Itinerary Day Wise
18th Feb- Day -1 (Saturday) - Participants reach Chandigarh by taking the morning flights from their respective locations and reach Chandigarh. The tempo traveler departs from Chandiagrh by 12 Noon maximum . Participants are required to reach before that time. Transfer to Narkanda(2700m) (175 kms). Overnight in Hotel.
19th Feb - Day -2 (Sunday) - On this day, the real fun begins as we enter Kinnaur and drive till Rakchham(2900m) (170 kms). We carry out our photography by the riverside during the golden hour, blue hour and then pursue Astro photography. Overnight in Hotel/Home Stay. If at all, the road remains closed, we then instead stay at Kalpa on that night.
20th Feb - Day -3 (Monday) - On this day, after the sunrise shoot, we further drive and enter Spiti after visiting Frozen Nako lake to reach Dhankar(3900M) (230kms). We carry out photography activities during sunset and create Astro captures. Overnight in Hotel/Home Stay.
21st Feb - Day -4 (Tuesday) - This day, after sunrise, we drive to Pin Valley(55 kms) and set our base at Mud Village(3800M). Here the photography happens towards the wide open spaces towards the Pin Bhabha and Pin Parvati Pass both for sunset and Astro. Overnight in Home Stay. If the road remains closed, we set our base nearby Kaza.
22nd Feb - Day -5 (Wednesday) - On this day, after sunrise shoot, we move to Langza(4400M) village via Hikkim and Komic villages considered as some of the highest motorable villages of the world for around 75 kms. Here we capture the pristine beauty of Buddha statue during sunset and create the Astro images around the same. Overnight in Home Stay.
23rd Feb - Day -6 (Thursday) - On this day, after the sunrise shoot, we follow the route and visit Key Monastery, Tashigang, Kibber, Chiccham, and rest our day at Rangrik village(3800M) for around 40-50 kms. We create the famous photographs of winters here of the monasteries and villages on our visit. Overnight at Hotel/Home Stay.
24th Feb - Day -7 (Friday) - After sunrise, we take a long route back today to Kalpa(2900M) and drive around 250kms. Enroute we visit the famous Tabo Monastery. Overnight in Kalpa Hotel.
25th Feb - Day -8 (Saturday) - This day we keep as a buffer for any road closures and if we get stuck anywhere due to snow.
26th Feb - Day -9 (Sunday) - After early morning sunrise shoot over Kinner Kailash, we drive back to Chandigarh(330Kms) by evening and end our tour with some great captures and happy memories.
Rs. 39,000 per person (Including 5 % GST) (Ex-Chandigarh)
(Twin sharing in Hotels/Home Stays)
Single Supplement - NOT AVAILABLE
Additional Rs. 3000 ( For people who want their works to get published in the Bi-Annual edition of thEscape Book)
All accommodations in hotels/Home Stays on twin sharing basis.
All transfers from Chandigarh to Spiti and back in OneTempo Traveller.
All Breakfast and Dinner(MAP) from Day 1 of Tour to Day 9. (Breakfast on Day 1 and Dinner on Day 8 is not included)
Services of an experienced local tour leader for whole tour.
First Aid kit .
Permits for the whole tour.
Experience of Nikon High End Camera Gears for taking pictures.
Photography Assistance for day time Landscapes and Night Astro scape on all days with image critique.
Making participants understand the settings of the camera for capturing the scape.
Online post processing session to participant if needed.
3 copies of published anthology book to each participant who opt for the book.
Travel to Chandigarh and return travel from Chandigarh to your location.
In transit stay and meals during the travel from your location to Chandigarh and Chandigarh to your location.
Breakfast on Day 1 and Dinner on Day 8.
Lunch on all Days
Charges of Heating Facility at Hotels/Home Stays if available.
Any kind of Meal skip cost as planned for the tour. For eg. for photography or travel need, the lunch or breakfast is served late, then if any participant chooses to consume food from any outlet or restaurant, the cost of that is not included.
Any cost arising out if we have to extend a day of the tour as per actuals of transportation and food
Expenses of personal nature including tips, laundry or similar.
Expenses of any kind of food or beverage bought by the participants during transit from one place to another.
Expenses of extra food or beverages both soft and hard ordered though we try to avoid hard drinks at high altitudes and not recommend it to our participants.
Any cost arising out for Medical emergency of any participant.
Any cost arising out if there is an increase in the number of days due to unforeseen civil unrest, weather disruption or anything beyond our control.
1. What are the terms of Payment and Booking Procedure?
Booking Amount - Rs. 16,000 at the Time of Confirmation.
Final Payment - Rs. 23,000 15 days before the Departure Day, i.e. by 3rd February, 2023.
All Prices quoted above are Inclusive of 5 % GST and are subject to change if at all the GST percentage changes by any Govt order. Invoice will be generated and given for each payment made by the participants.
2. What is the Cancellation and Refund Policy?
If cancelled 30 days prior to Departure, ie. on or before 18th Jan, 2023- 50% Refund of Advance Amount.
If cancelled between 30 days prior to departure date and 15 days prior to Departure, i.e. b/w 18th Jan, 2023 and 3rd February, 2023 - No Refund of Advance Amount.
If cancelled between 15 days prior to departure and Departure Date, i.e. between 3rd February, 2023 and 18th February, 2023 - No Refund of Full Amount of Trip (considering the final payment is paid by 3rd February, 2023 )
For people not paying the final payment by 3rd February, 2023 and cancel their participation between 3rd February, 2023 and 18th February, 2023- No Refund of Advance Amount.
Any cancellation of Trip from the organizer side due to surge in Covid cases or a Lockdown imposed or any participant testing positive in RTPCR with due diligence, FULL REFUND WILL BE GIVEN of the Advance Amount or Full Payment made by the participants. Nothing will be held upon on our side. Though participants may wish to keep that amount with us as an deposit for the next trip planned by thEscape.
Please note - Any refund to be made from our side if it may arise will be done after one month of completion of the tour. i.e., by 26th March, 2023.
GST component of the payments made will not be refunded in any of the above scenario.
3. What are the precautions to be kept in mind as winters of Spiti are extremely harsh and temperature dips to below to -20 degrees or beyond?
First of all, winters of Spiti especially to pursue Landscape Photography are for participants who are mentally and physically strong. On the temperature part, yes it may dip to as low as -20 or beyond , and thus a strong mindset and determination will be required to carry out photography activities . To avoid the cold and to keep warm, the home stays will have a common heating area, but during the sleeping time participants should use the hot water bags along with the hand and feet gels to keep oneself warm. Apart from that, one also has to make sure that they are properly dressed with appropriate layering of woolens and thermals along with down jackets with gloves and woolen socks always on to avoid any kind of mis-happening. Keeping oneself hydrated at all times would be another need of the hour. Though we will have the facility of first aids, but still one has to keep himself/herself fit and warm enough to carry out the photography activities. Moreover Winters of Spiti is uncertain because of both weather and other reasons, so there might be a case that we change the itinerary or skip a place keeping in mind the well being of the participants and their physical and mental health. The decision of the tour leader would be final here and the team has to adhere to the decision whatever made. No Refund would be made in that case. Rest we will undertake this tour with a strong mind and a passionate heart and I'm sure the team will come out with flying colors and some great content of Landscape Photography of Kinnaur and Spiti.
4. What are the rules and the protocols to be followed during the course of the tour?
While traveling, the group leader in the Tempo Traveler will decide on the stoppages for Photography. Participants can click from their windows but when it would be required to stop and get down to capture something, it will be decided by the group leaders.
The time for taking images after getting down from the vehicle will be communicated by the group leaders as per the scene in picture. Everyone has to adhere to the timings given. If it is 10 minutes, then everyone should be back in the vehicle in 10 minutes, if more, then more. But be rest assured that ample time will be given to the participants to capture a particular scene in view.
Everyone will have to adhere to the rising time and sleeping time communicated by the group leaders and the participants have to wake up on their own. If someone misses the time, then that person would miss out on the photography opportunity and the group leaders won't be responsible for the same. Since it’s a photography tour, it’s extremely important to catch the right light for the images, both for sunrise and sunset.
While we are photographing at a particular place, no one will come in each other’s frame. If someone wants to capture the exact scene as being captured by the counterpart, it is advised to everyone to allow the first person to complete the shot and then give the chance to second person.
No quarrels during the tour amongst the participants. If anyone faces any issue with any other person, be it for photography or otherwise, one should raise it first to us and we resolve it.
For the logistics, all the participants are advised to follow the regular protocol of calling the hotel/home stay helpdesk for any need or the Travel Partner during the tour for the same. If at all, they don’t respond or the problem doesn’t work out, then you can come to us and we will provide the resolution.
Strictly no littering during the tour of plastic bottles, wrappers or any other material. Do carry it back to hotels or a proper disposing place and dispose off properly.
All the participants need to carefully handle their camera equipment, be it the camera, lenses, tripods, memory cards etc. All of you would be responsible for your own belongings. If anyone damages the products given by Nikon India, then that person bears the cost of it.
Every day during the evening chitchat session, we will come to each participant and review their images clicked. It is requested to take the feedback from us in a sporting way and improve upon that.
Participants who want to consume alcohol during the evening chitchat sessions can have it in quantity best suited to their bodies without going overboard. All are requested to carry it from their respective airports as it’s not available readily in winters in Spiti.
Moreover one needs to keep in mind that the travels and stay would be a little offbeat and tough in nature with photography being the primary motive. So there would be instances where the meal timings along with some other facilities will take time and will not be as per schedule though the travel partners will put up their best show to be on time. Participants need to understand here the same and any negativity in the group or talks about the same during the tour will not be taken in a positive spirit and will imply necessary action as it would disturb the positive flow of the photography spirit and will imbibe unnecessary hurdles in creation of images.
For People who would want to take their photographs by going a little away from the group would be at their own responsibility and any mis-happening would not be responsibility of thEscape and it's associates.
We would also discourage any visit during the tour which would be of personal nature like a visit which generally tourists make during the tour as this tour is characterized as a Landscape Photography tour.
Any skip of any destination as mentioned in the itinerary due to any factor not in our control like road block, weather etc, In such cases, we shall be responsible for providing suitable alternatives, the best we can. Any extra cost arising for the same will have to be borne by the participants.
5. What is the minimum and maximum number of participants and what does happen if the minimum participants don't enroll for the tour?
The minimum participation we are looking at is of 5 people . In case the minimum number doesn't enroll, we will try to conduct the tour but with some increased cost per participant.
6. If due to an emergency, the participant wishes to leave the trip in between, is the fee refunded and arrangements made for his/her return to Chandigarh and their Destination?
In case due to any unforeseen circumstance, a participant wishes to leave in between the trip, No Refund would be made. Moreover the cost of arranging the transport for going back to Chandigarh and to their respective destination has to be borne by him/her.
7. What Photography Equipment are expected by the participants to carry?
The trip is characterized as a Landscape Photography tour but at the same time invites are also for people who wish to create some art in the mountains in the form of paintings or creative writing which can be published in the anthology. Camera Equipments expected from everyone -
One DSLR camera along with a wide and telephoto lens
Filters for those who want to try out Long Exposures. ND10 and Polariser.
Shutter Release remote again for Long Exposures
L-bracket who want to take vertical long exposures and panos.
Though this is a comprehensive list, but not hard and fast that everyone will have to carry these. For those who want to carry out simple landscape photography of golden and blue hours and want to learn Astro can just bring in DSLR with lenses and a tripod. For long exposures, the filters are very important along with the shutter release remote.
Since it is a trip to some remote lands with no electricity , we also expect that the photographers get their extra battery sets in case they run out of charge. An extension board for putting in extra chargers would also be handy if participants carry it. For keeping the batteries not running out of charge due to the cold bitter weather, participants can keep them attached to the bare body inside their clothes. For painters and writers, the expectation is that they bring their creative kits with them in the form of copies, pens, painting sheets or canvas, colors etc.
8. Can a participant bring a Non- Photographer Friend or Companion or a Non-Photographer or a Non-Artist Join?
We here invite two sets of people, one who are keen on Landscape Photography and second who are painters or writers as we publish an anthology for them. Apart from these two, if someone wants to join in the tour is welcome because we do a lot of sight seeing too in this tour but subject to the following conditions-
No reduction in Fee Cost
If they don't create any form of Art, then their name doesn't go in the anthology we create.
Photography and Art tours are slow moving as we will stop at a lot of places and spending time on creating the Art Form and the Non- Art participant is thereby expected to respect the time of the Artists and move as per their pace.
9. What is the fitness level required for this trip? Does it involve Trekking or Long Walks?
Any person visiting the Himalayas, especially an altitude more than 3000 meters is expected to have a minimum level of fitness for carrying out day to day activities during the tour. Though our trip is a driving tour majorly and not involving full day hikes or treks, still because of winters and road closures, we might have to trek to reach a particular destination, hence the participant needs to be physically fit for the same. We might also do some small hikes to reach a particular point for photography. Apart from that minimum level of fitness, it is also expected that any medication to be also taken care by him/her during the course of the trip and carry them in adequate quantities to avoid any kind of mishaps. Rest for a while if facing any issues and move forward at a pace best suited for his/her body. Participants hence are expected to bring in their medical and first aid kits. It's the participant's responsibility to notify the staff of any pre-existing medical conditions and/or disability that may affect his/her ability to travel on this trip.
10. What is the Age Group of travel and Can the Participants bring their kids?
Since the entire Spiti region falls under the altitude of more than 3000 meters ranging up to 4000 meters and since the tour is in winter season, it is advisable not to bring in kids and if brought then taking his/her entire responsibility. Further, it's an Art trip with Photography being the primary motive, it's advisable to bring in kids only when they are able to comprehend the pace of the trip and respect the precision of the artists at work. Any child below 16 years of age will not be allowed for the tour due to it's high altitude nature.
11. Will the organizers use the photos taken by the participants or of the participants for Promotional Purpose?
Yes, with signing of the trip, the participant will also grant thEscape the right to use some of their images taken by the participant and of the participant and art created with due credits to the artists on their Website and Social Media handles. By joining the trip, the participant will also grant the permission for creating an anthology and publishing it in the form of a book by Raindrops Publishers and selling it online in order to proceed the sale grants to the backward Himalayan region.
12. Does the organizer hold the right to cancel the participation of any member during the course of the trip and under what circumstances?
Any misbehavior or misconduct by any participant during the course of the trip like causing distress and annoyance to co-travelers, any kind of damage to property of any supplier or travel companions, any kind of sexual harassment or misconduct, the participant will be terminated from the trip without any kind of refund of the fee amount and also has to bear the cost of him/her going back home. The decision of the Group Leader will be binding here keeping the respect of the group and artists intact. At the same time, we at thEscape expect the participants to be polite to the hotel staff, drivers and trek support staff. Any kind of foul language used with them and calling out to them in a disrespectful manner will invite a warning from the group leader and repeatedly doing so will invite a termination from the tour. We also have zero tolerance towards any kind of misbehavior after consuming alcoholic drinks. Though we discourage its consumption during high altitude tours, but participants consuming it for keeping themselves warm or similar should keep in mind to be in discipline with the co-participants. Any spread of negativity in the tour will also invite a warning from the group leader and repeatedly doing so will lead to termination from the tour without any kind of refund of the fee amount and also has to bear the cost of him/her going back home.
13. What if any odd numbers come out of the Male Female Ratio while assigning twin sharing to participants ?
In that case, the best possible solution will be given by the organizer and under no circumstance, a twin sharing will be allotted to opposite sex people.
14. Is there any Mobile connectivity in Spiti Valley?
The service is going to be on and off in entire of these valleys. Internet services would also be there on and off throughout. Airtel, Jio and BSNL work well in some parts.
15. How many people would be going along with the tour participants?
Nilakkhya will be the photography partner along with the tour leader and support staff.
16. Use of Psychotropic Substances Alcohol and Smoking during the Tour
Use of psychotropic substances(drugs) is strictly prohibited during the tour. Any one caught possessing or consuming it will be terminated from the tour immediately. Smoking is allowed though it creates a problem in High Altitude Tours and we don't recommend it during the same and consumption of it will be allowed till the point it doesn't create any disturbance to co-participants. People not opting for Single Supplement provision, it is advised to all the participants to consume it taking his/her room mate into confidence. Alcohol is allowed and is advised to take in quantity best suited to one's body and not create any problem.
17. Are there any other Terms and Conditions which needs to be kept in mind?
It is a fundamental condition that the participants acknowledge that this is a high altitude tour. This requires some flexibility. The day-to-day itinerary is taken as a guideline only. We cannot be held responsible for any delays caused by International or domestic flights, strikes, Government regulations, weather or natural casualties etc. In such cases, we shall be responsible for providing suitable alternatives, which could be decided upon mutual agreement. Any extra cost arising for the same will have to be borne by the participants.
If the participant doesn't show up at Chandigarh on 18th February, 2023 by 12 Noon max, we will assume the participant has been delayed and has cancelled the tour and will be considered as "No Show". There is no refund of any money paid in that case.
We reserve the right to revise pricing rate posted on our website, under any circumstances, or on the pressure of various external factors that are further than our control. But, we put forth effort to keep on the present rate. In case of minor increase in price of hotels or other related factors, we don’t revise the cost of the trip, which was already confirmed & booked by deposit.
We highly recommend our participants to have a medical insurance and an insurance against any unforeseen event before attending this trip or any trip for that matter.
The tour date is fixed for the itinerary and the plan we have made. No alterations would be possible in this with regard to the participant's need. The itinerary has been made keeping in mind the best time for the need of Astro and Landscape Photography.
This tour will pass through some points which are checked by authorities of Himachal Pradesh. Participants will have to keep in mind to not take photos where is it not allowed. At the same time, the participants have to show their Govt. Issued Ids at all the checkpoints.
Participants are requested to keep their documents handy during the trip for any kind of checking by the authorities and administration. We’re not accountable in case of any non-compliance if the authorities ask for your document and you fail to provide it. Before commencing the trip, the participants also need to deposit the indemnity bond duly signed by them and show their Aadhar Cards to the organizer.
You understand that during the course of the trip certain events may occur, including, but not limited to, accident or illness in remote places without medical facilities, political instability and the forces of nature. You agree to assume all risks associated with the journey to the maximum extent permitted by Indian law.
For Booking and queries, write to us "email@example.com" or call on +91 9717960028 and speak to Nilakkhya and discuss on the same.
For Transfer of Advance Amount of Booking and for the Final Payments, we will share with you the Bank Account Details along with the contract and acknowledgement of the trip. Lets get it rolling and make it one of the most memorable trip of our lifetime with loads of images and artwork. Looking forward to hear from you soon.
Disclaimer- All photographs used here in the post are of Nilakkhya from his last visit of this area in 2021 and 2022 though it will be our first pilot visit in peak winters.
Anyone making the payment for booking will be considered as an acceptor of the above cancellation policy and will fall under the above Terms and Conditions.