The trans-Himalayan terrain is colossal, vast, and unforgiving! Such is its charisma that even a passing conversation on it lightens the eyes of every adventure pro. Rooted in the unforgiving terrains of northeastern Himachal region between the Parvati Valley and Spiti Valley, is Pin Valley National Park! Talk of its naked mountains (summer), infinite vistas (snow-capped peaks in winter), lush biodiversity, and the infinite maze of daunting trails crisscrossing the valley region, and your wanderlust will transport you there at that instant, quite implicitly, if not for real.
Pin Valley is the famed land known as the popular habitat of the snow leopard – the big Himalayan ghost cat that has lured thousands of hopers into a visit, yet eluded them the lone glimpse. With the Great Himalayan National Park on one side and Rupi Bhabha Sanctuary on the other, this part of Northern India can only be reached by road. Another 45 km east from the national park area takes you to Tibet.
General information & topography of Pin Valley National Park
Set in the breathtaking cold desert region of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, the protected region is home to more than 20 animal species while quite a few flora species as well. Of all the animals that one can find in Pin Valley, the Snow Leopard is the most talked about but the rarest. The snow leopards, also known as the ghost cats, can’t be easily sighted lest it’s the time for extreme winter in the park.
It was in 1987 that Pin Valley National Park was established in the cold desert of Lahaul & Spiti thus forming a part of the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area. Altitude-wise, the national park spans between 3,300 to 6,632 m and offers a myriad of flora & fauna for nature seekers.
Besides the exotic Snow Leopard, the park houses almost 12 other species of the big cat family. Also, there are other fascination animals like Siberian Ibex, Bharal, Weasel, Red Fox, Marten, Woolly Hare, Tibetan Gazzle, Himalayan Marmot, Blue Sheep, and Himalayan Black Bear that can be easily spotted in the national park region. Himalayan Snow Cock, Chukor, Golden Eagle, Griffon, Raven, and Blue Rock Pigeon are some of the birdies spotted in the national park region.
Although there isn’t much of flora in the park, there’s plenty to explore. The National Park region is identified by dry alpine Scrub Forest that offers perfect flora to explore. It includes Juniper & Birch trees, Salix & Myricaria, Bhutal (Juniperus mecropoda), and Populus to name a few.
There are a few plants found in the national park region that have medicinal use as well. Look for it, Pin Valley has vast expanse with a lot to explore and fewer people to bother, exactly how you’d like!
Best time to visit Pin Valley National Park
July to October makes for the perfect time to explore Pin Valley National Park when the summer is mild and conditions are just perfect to explore the valley region. However, if you are adventure seeker you can always plan a winter trek to Spiti and catch the stunning beauty of the place all draped in the spotless sheet of white. Also, this could be your chance to spot the Snow Leopard.
How to reach Pin Valley National Park
By air: Bhuntar is the nearest airport to Spiti at 245 km distance. Chandigarh Airport, at 522 km distance is the nearest international airport. Both these airports have good road connectivity to Spiti. You can hire private vehicles to reach Spiti from Bhuntar (246 km in 5.5 hours) as well as Chandigarh (503 km in 12 hours)
By road: Buses ply from Manali to Spiti Valley on a daily basis. Direct buses from Delhi to Manali are easily available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Thereafter you can either take a roadways bus or hire a private taxi to reach Spiti. The road to Spiti opens for public transport from June to October.
Most popular things to do in Pin Valley National Park
Despite located in the vastness of arid plains beyond the cold desert region of Spiti, the Pin Valley National Park hosts a range of activities. These popular things to do in and around the national park region make for the exciting range of activities when it comes to finalizing an itinerary for the great national park in the north.
Leave alone nature views and capturing the pics of exotic wildlife of the national park, there is an entire list of adventure activities that you can pull off in the park region. Trekking in and around the area by far remains one of the most popular. Make a list of these popular attractions and activities that shouldn’t be missed when you are in Pin Valley National Park.
i. Take the Bhaba Pass Trek
ii. Plan a trek to Dhankar Gompa
iii. Explore the Tabo Caves
Suggested Read: 10 Scenic Places To See In Spiti Valley In The Month Of June
iv. Go camping at Mantalai Lake
v. Enjoy adventure activities in Spiti river
vi. Sight a Snow Leopard
vii. Catch the breathtaking sunrise view
viii. Explore the diverse flora & fauna in the national park region
ix. Spend a night camping at Chandratal Lake
x. Explore the flea market in Kaza
Places to stay in Pin Valley National Park
After gaining popularity among travelers Spiti has, of late, seen improved facilities for travelers with the most important of them being stay options. Today hotels, guest houses, and homestays make prominent places to stay in Spiti. The fact that people in Lahaul and Spiti are so welcoming makes a homestay here a must-try. Mud Village being the closest to Pin Valley has a few homestays like Pin Valley Homestay and Tara House Home Stay while Kaza being the main market and the largest village in the region has plenty of options available for travelers.
There aren’t much of information about them online, however, you can either reach them directly or ask a taxi driver/ tour operator to help. A stay here is the best you can get to experience the wonderful life and culture at one of the most difficult places to inhabit.
Most popular stays in Pin Valley National Park: Banjara Retreat Kaza, Parasol Camps and Retreat, Sagnam PWD Rest House
A trip to Pin Valley National Park in Spiti district turns out to be a humbling experience if you choose to stay spend some time around the national park region. The valley must be explored by every adventure seeker but quite responsibly!
Further Read: Test Your Grit, Take The Spiti Valley Trek