If transition is what you’re looking for, Pin Parvati delivers. This challenging trek ascends from the vibrant forests and apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh into a high-altitude landscape filled with waterfalls, alpine lakes, glacial traverses - culminating into crossing state lines via the 17,000ft pass.
SAC T5 Demanding Alpine Hiking
Often without paths. Some easy climbing sections. Exposed, demanding grounds, steep craggy ground. Danger of slipping on glaciers and firn fields.
Delhi to Delhi
5 days travel & rest
9 days hiking & camping
80 km / 50 mi
5300 m / 17400 ft
Fly and/or drive from Delhi to Manali. Mode of transport is subject to weather conditions and availability of flights.
Today we will travel to Bhuntar and on to Barsheni, the roadhead connecting us with the Parvati Valley trail.
Day one makes things fairly easy for us, with an initial descent to the riverbed of this fertile valley, and then sloping gradually upwards to the small village of Nakthan, where we can take a minute to sip chai from the local tea shops. From here, we move on upward toward the scenic waterfall, temple and apple orchards that can be found at Rudranag Village. Now the steeper climb begins, past teahouses and over stream crossings, until we reach the meadow at Kheerganga - famous for its hot springs.
After an initial muddy section, we ascend mildly up into the forest, enjoying the shade from the undergrowth and occasionally passing a shepherd herding their enormous buffaloes. We know we’ve made it when we emerge from the forest into a meadow clearing, with a cliffside waterfall cascading visible across the valley.
Today is a mild 250 meter ascent, and easy - save one landslide section that needs to be navigated through about an hour into today’s route. Having left the treeline the previous day, our scenery is rockier now, rather than the vibrant green from before. We will reach the meadow of Thakur Kuan, set beside the flowing Parvati River, in the afternoon to set camp.
We start out with a level walk today, before ascending a seeper section to our first memorable river crossing of the day. Spanning the width of the Parvati River here is an enormous boulder, Pandu Pul-1, our makeshift bridge. Again up ahead, we use another massive boulder, Pandu Pul-2, to cross yet another section, before arriving in the vast pasture of Odi Thatch, frequented by shepherds and their flocks for grazing.
We follow a pleasantly sloping trail alongside the Parvati River for a good portion of today’s hike, before reaching mini-Mantalai, where the Parvati River fans across the ground in tiny streams. From here, we make a steep ascent of 300 meters up to the main Mantalai Lake, glittering blue on a sunny day, and set amidst the higher Himalayan peaks that we have now climbed our way up to see. We will camp lakeside for the night.
Today is a constant, rocky ascent as we move closer toward the glacier and away from civilization. After crossing several boulder-filled spurs, we enter onto the moraine for the final steep and rocky kilometer of the day. Just 300 meters from our campsite, the Parvati Glacier lies frozen and undulating, our trail for tomorrow.
We’ve got a long day ahead of us, so we rise early and head out on the initial 3 kilometers of ascent required to cover the glacier on this side of the valley. Here we will rope up with our harnesses on, as the glacier can hide crevasses beneath thin layers of ice and snow, and ascend the final steep section 350 meters to the top of the pass. From here, the views from this unearthly terrain and the towering peaks surrounding are some that few have had the privilege to witness. After some celebration, we descend for two hours to reach our campsite.
After having crossed the pass yesterday, today is all descent. The initial three kilometers is fairly steep, after which we cross the stream and continue descending, the earth slowly becoming greener again, until reach tonight’s windswept camp.
The final leg of our journey, we make the fairly easy descent into Mud, an isolated village is the arid Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh. The neon green color of its crop fields along the valley floor distinguish it from the copper-brown mountains that border this wide valley. From here, we drive to Kaza, where we can visit the 14th Century Tangyud Gompa (Monastery) and see the Kyu-ling Palace in the evening.
Give your legs a much-deserved rest as we make the drive from Kaza to Manali, where our Playground home base is located. As we will arrive late, we will spend the night at Playground Manali, for some much needed rest, good food and celebration! For the evening, take a trip into town or enjoy the hostel culture we have right here among fellow travelers. We often host cozy movie marathons, cake & coffee tastings from our cafe on the terrace, bonfires out back, game nights (we challenge you to a game of Exploding Kittens), tetherball tournaments, local Himachali cooking/handicraft classes - you name it. Tomorrow, we head our separate ways. Of course, if exploring Manali or taking a few days’ rest is on your to-do list, our door is always open.
Depart Manali for Delhi or elsewhere. Mode of transport will depend on weather conditions and availability of flights.
In the case of inclement weather or other complications. We keep this reserve day as part of our itinerary for times when we may need to stay again at one of our camps. If the need never arises, we will depart Manali as scheduled on Day 12.
Handcrafted & Curated
We don’t copy our itineraries off the internet. We scout and design all trip offerings personally. This ensures enough time to acclimatise at high altitude, explore around the campsite, and indulge in authentic local experiences so you don’t miss out on anything.
Honestly, everything. Internal flights, best-in-class travel insurance, personal camping equipment, and all meals - we’ll take care of everything that most travel operators will mark with an asterisk. You pay for nothing except personal purchases from the day your trip starts.
Equipment & Safety
4 season Mountain Hardwear tents and sleeping bags, emergency oxygen reserves & PACs to provide a safety net against AMS, UIAA Safety Label glacier rescue kits for technical trails, WAFA/WFR & CPR certified guides, best-in-class adventure insurance - we’ve always got a plan B.
Personalised & Bespoke
We curate bespoke adventures and trips every day because we recognise that everyone’s travel bug is unique. When it comes to adventure travel, there are different ways to experience the world’s most beautiful places, because every traveler is different - which is why we’ve stepped in to provide a space for environmental advocacy, cross-cultural connections, wellness and adventure to combine - all through travel.
Responsible travel starts with acknowledging that travel and tourism often contribute to the global climate crisis. We believe in the positive power of travel to transform mindsets & generate a sense of preservation towards wild spaces. We follow LNT Principles, minimise our carbon footprint, adopt regenerative practices & give back to local communities - from making sure our field staff are well equipped to higher-than-industry-standard compensation.
Self Guided & Operated
We’ll never hand you off to someone else - we run all trips ourselves. We minimise external contracting and only partner with people we know and trust personally. While we employ and collaborate with local guides and support staff for their unparalleled expertise and knowledge of the Himalayan ranges, our trips are led by one of our core team members so you always have a single point of contact.