Spiti Valley comes after Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Kinnaur and Kalpa already discussed on Kalpa Kinnaur section.
Spiti, means ‘The Middle Land’, and the place is very appropriately named, as Spiti Valley separates India from Tibet. Scantily populated. Long winding roads and picturesque valleys presenting glimpses of cold deserts and snow-crowned mountains, with intermittent greenery and picture-perfect villages welcome you when you set foot into Spiti Valley. Bordered on all sides by the Himalayas, Spiti Valley, located in Himachal Pradesh, has an altitude of 12,500 feet above sea level, and gets around 250 days of sunshine in the year, making it one of the coldest places in the country. With the thick Himalayan snow cutting Spiti off from the rest of the country for around 6 months in a year, the summer months are the only time Spiti is directly accessible through road. Spiti is a high altitude or cold desert having close similarities to the neighboring Tibet and Ladakh regions in terms of terrain, climate and the Buddhist culture. Spiti Valley Tour organized by Himalayan Destination can make your vacation memorable one, as we are specialist in this sector. Himalayan Destination is one of the best Spiti Valley tour and travels operator, who organize Spiti Valley Tour.
Nako, is the small village at an elevation of 3,662 m & built around the Nako Lake, in the Pooh sub-division of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh with the backdrop of Reo Purgyal which has an elevation of 6,816 m and is the highest mountain in Himachal Pradesh. It is 103km away from Reckong Peo. Although a part of Kinnaur, it is located in the border of Spiti, and displays similar landscapes of the cold desert. It is a small village but has a rich history and many stories related to Padmasambhava. The village is now on a more stable location near the Nako Lake (formed by the slopes of the mountains of Reo Purgyal), compared to the opposite bank across the Nako river where it was located earlier and then shifted because of tectonic upliftment of the site. Nako Monastery in the upper part of the Nako village and the Nako Lake are important landmarks in the village. The monastery dated to the 11th century (1025 AD), oriented towards Tibet, similar in style to the Tabo Monastery consists of four large halls of which the oldest and largest is known as Dukhong. It is also known as ‘Lotsava Jhakang’ meaning “Complex of the Translator” named so in honour of Rinchen Zangpo who translated Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit to the Tibetan language. Apples and Sun dried apricots are the agricultural produce from the village.
Giu Village, is called The Mummy of Spiti Valley. Giu is a remote village deep in Spiti Valley, which has achieved its fame thanks to a naturally preserved dead body. A small village, with only about 50-60 households, Giu is situated at an elevation of 10,000 ft. Tourists often ignore Giu when planning a trip to the Kinnaur / Spiti region, and most people come close to the region. Giu has some stunning views keeping in line with the region! Even though the area is challenging to reach, the Giu Mummy has started attracting tourism for the tiny village. It is a good stop-over when in the region and looking for something different and unique to experience.
The Mummy is a tiny and fragile body, which is sitting and a little hunched. The body seems to have shrunk through the generations in a manner that looks like dehydration. With a chocolate brown color, covered in traditional yellow and white monk clothes, inside a glass casing, it seems the body has lived many a life cycle since the time it was alive.
Tabo, village is situated at an altitude of 3,280 m. Tabo is a small town in the Lahaul and Spiti district on the banks of the Spiti river in Himachal Pradesh, India. The town lies on the road between Recong Peo and Kaza, the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti. The town surrounded by snow capped peaks of the Trans Himalayas. The town is known for the Buddhist monastery which, according to legend, is said to be over a thousand years old. The Tabo Monastery or Tabo Gompa was founded back to 996 A.D. It the oldest continually operative Buddhist institution in India. The Dalai Lama has expressed his desire to retire to Tabo, since he maintains that the Tabo Monastery is one of the holiest. In 1996, the Dalai Lama conducted the Kalachakra initiation ceremony in Tabo, which coincided with the millennium anniversary celebrations of the Tabo monastery. The ceremony was attended by thousands of Buddhists from across the world. Tabo Monastery’s spiritual head is Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche. Climb the mountain face and explore the Tabo caves. These ancient caves were used by Buddhist monks for dwelling and till date, some of them are still used for meditation. Tabo caves used by monks are marked by flags and are prohibited to enter.
Climate in Tabo is very unpredictable as it ranges from cloudy to sunny and from snow to heavy snowfall. Summers are short from May to August and winters are longer from mid-September to April. Winter temperatures in Tabo can range from −15 °C (5 °F) in the day to −45 °C (−49 °F) overnight. In summers, temperature ranges from 20 °C (68 °F) in daytime to −5 °C (23 °F) at night.
Mud Village, is a part of a cluster of 17 villages of Pin Valley, housing around 200 people in its 30 homes. Some Bollywood film has been shooted here, Paap is one of them. A striking feature of the village is how lush green it is, probably because the Pin river flows right beside the village. The river nourishes this land and enables its soil to harbor healthy crops. Mud village gained popularity among travelers for being a trekking base to Pin Parvati Pass, trek to Bhabha Pass and of course, the entrance to Pin Valley National park.
At an altitude of about 3600 meters, Mud is the last inhabited village of Pin valley, located 50 km away from Kaza. People travel to Pin Valley from Tabo and then Mud Village to Kaza after sleeping for a night. The distance from Tabo to Mud Village is 65 km, and generally, tourists visit Dhankar Monastery and Dhangkar Lake before staying overnight at Mud village in Pin Valley.
Pin Valley National Park, is a National park of India located within the Lahaul and Spiti district, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, in far Northern India. The park is located in the desert habitat of the Spiti Valley, within the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve, in the Himalayas region.
The Pin Valley National Park established in the year of 1987. Total area of the park is about 1150 Km2 (Core Area – 675 Km2). Spreading south of Dhankar Monastery near the Tibetan border, the park marks the border between the formerly separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The elevation of the park ranges from about 3,500 m near Ka Dogri to more than 6,000 m at its highest point. Because of the park’s high altitude and extreme temperatures, the vegetation density is sparse, consisting mostly of alpine trees and groves of Himalayan cedar. In summer, rare birds such as the Himalayan Snow Cock, Chukar Partridge, Snow Partridge and Snowfinch flourish in the park. It is famous for Snow Leopard. The region is a cold desert, which is adjoined to the Great Himalayan National Park in the southwest and Rupi Bhabha Sanctuary in the south. Visitors not only enjoy the unique fauna and flora of the national park, but they also love to roam around the region. The nearby areas are equally beautiful. They are dominated by the influence of Tibetan culture.
National park is an area which is strictly reserved for the betterment of the wildlife & biodiversity, and where activities like developmental, forestry, poaching, hunting and grazing on cultivation are not permitted. Their boundaries are well marked and circumscribed.
Dhankar Monastery, is a village and also a Monastery, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in India. It is situated at an elevation of 3,894 m in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar Village, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. A serpentine road now takes you to the base of the monastery and with a flight of few steps you will find yourself standing in an ancient space where monks have prayed for centuries—uninterrupted. Dhankar Monastery was a part of a fort, in fact the word Dhankar itself means fort in local language. Monasteries in Spiti impress you with their unique location—almost hanging on the tip of a peak and overlooking beautiful valleys. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means fort on a cliff. Dhankar, like Key Monastery and Tangyud Monastery in Spiti, and Thiksey in Leh, Likir in Ladakh and Rangdum monasteries in Zanskar, was built as a fort monastery on the Central Tibetan pattern.
Komic, literally meaning ‘eye of a snow cock’ (Ko means snow cock, Mic means eye), is a remote village in Spiti valley. Having its fame as the Highest village in the world connected with a motorable road, Komic is quite a destination for most people traveling to Spiti. Komic village is situated at an elevation of 15027ft above sea level. There are many important and noteworthy spots near the village, including Langza village (Fossil Village of India) and Hikkim village (highest village with a post office).
Set handsomely within the splendid peaks of Himachal Pradesh, the beauty of this place cannot be described in words; you need to feel it. Bounded by snow capped mountains and majestic valleys, Komic Village attracts countless tourists who want to experience firsthand the stunning beauty and the beautiful culture. All you need to do is come and explore the delightful vistas of this scenic valley.
The monastery houses the ‘Maitreya Buddha’ (Future Buddha). People believe that the Maitreya Buddha looks after the well-being of the Villagers. The 14th-century monastery has a fortified castle made of slanted mud walls, taking you back to the yester years through the beautiful murals, scriptures, and arts. The monastery has an amazingly unique look, as it is situated on the edge of a canyon. It almost looks like a fortified castle. Being situated on the periphery of the Kibber wildlife sanctuary, the views are stunning, and you might even be able to spot a Himalayan red fox! Inside the monastery, you’ll spot a stuffed leopard.
Langza, is a high altitude village situated on the way to Komic from Kaza. It is also known as the Fossil Village. This village has many stories to tell and has preserved them with all its might.
Thanks to the many fossils carefully kept from over the many years, it can invoke great senses in the curious souls. Also, a striking feature of the village The Chau Chau Kang Nilda Peak adorns its landscape majestically.
Hikkim village, is situated at an altitude of 14,400 ft. A local signboard will inform you that it holds the title of the Highest village with a post office. Of course, this has managed to grab the attention of every traveler coming to Spiti valley.
Hikkim is situated at a distance of around 4 Kms from Komic. Most importantly, if you are in Komic and need medical supplies, the nearest medical shop in Hikkim village. Hikkim is situated at a distance of 16 km from Kaza, 45 minutes of the uphill drive with dizzying roads. You can approach it while going to Komic and Langza villages from Kaza.
Being a sky lover, this has been my favorite activity whenever I am in Spiti. Night sky at Spiti is magical, with millions of stars looking down upon you, the milky way seems like an arm’s length away, and the moon is a giant white-spotted ball – all of this silhouetted against the trans-Himalayan mountains.
At night Spiti becomes a mysterious land, totally gripping you in its charm. Same goes for Hikkim, try your hand at Astro-photography or night photography, if you are into it. Spiti is one of the best places in the word to do that. Or simply gaze at the alluring night-sky and make twinkling memories of a lifetime.
Kaza, is the sub-divisional headquarters of the remote Spiti Valley in the western Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The beautiful town of Kaza is located at an altitude of about 12,500 ft., on the left bank of the Spiti River in the majestic Lahaul and Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Kaza is surrounded by high mountains, crystal clear river & streams, and barren landscapes interspersed with green landscapes and meadows. It is a marvelous destination, which houses several beautiful palaces, monasteries, gompas, and other historical buildings. Kaza is the largest township and commercial center of the Spiti valley.
Key Monastery, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located on top of a hill at an altitude of 13,668 ft above sea level, close to the Spiti River, in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Also known as Key Gompa, it is biggest centre of Buddhist learning in Spiti Valley and the oldest training centre for Lamas. It is home of around 300 lamas who receive their religious education here. The place is considered to be one of the most important and oldest research and debate centre for Buddhists of Spiti Valley.
Kibber, is a village high in the Spiti Valley in the Himalayas at 14,200 ft in Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Kibber has the distinction of being the highest motorable village in the world. The village is known for its scenic mountains, barren splendor and monasteries. The landscape of Kibber and the entire Spiti Valley resembles that of Ladakh and Tibet. The culture also is similar to that of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism is the predominant religion. No wonder then that Spiti is also known as Little Tibet. Kibber Village comprising 80 houses. It contains also the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Kibber lies in a narrow valley on the summit of a limestone rock. It is located 20 km from Kaza. Agriculture forms the backbone of the local economy and lush green fields are abundant. The Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1992, which spans over an area of 2,220.12 sq-km of land. The elevation range of this sanctuary is 3,600-6,700 m above sea level. In Kibber you can found Snow Leopard and Kibber is called The Land of Snow Leopard.
Demul, is high altitude village situated at an altitude of 14,170 feet at a Trans-Himalayan valley in the Spiti region. Demul is around 32 kilometers eastward from the town of Kaza. Demul is a village with a little over fifty houses, which is big enough by Spiti standards. It personifies solitude, simplicity, and remoteness in this middle land of Spiti. Driving from Kaza to Demul, it will take one hr drive to reach this beautiful hamlet of Spiti Valley. An uphill offshoot of the main road along the Spiti river, just before Lidang village will take you to Demul. Demul is connected to all of the high villages of Spiti Valley. Some travelers choose to trek to Demul from Koumic or Hikkim as well on their home stays trek of these high villages.
Balari Top, is a hilltop point at the elevation of 16,000 feet, which presents an amazing bird’s eye view of Spiti valley. Balari top is the only place from where you can see 18 no of villages spread across the Spiti valley, three meandering rivers (Spiti, Lingti, and Pin), Dhangkar monastery, wind-sculpted rocks and a landscape which is the signature of Spiti. The famous Chao Chao Kang Nilda and Kanamo peaks are also visible from this gem of a point near Demul.
Balari top is three hours of a hike away from Demul village with a gentle gradient but the elevation can be arduous. Hence, it is important to understand the basics of high altitude trekking in the Himalayas.
Losar, is peaceful, soothing, and absolutely delightful village in Spiti Valley is located at an altitude of 4,085 meters above sea level. Your visit to Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh is incomplete if you have not visited this heaven like place, situated near the confluence of Losar and Peeno streams. It is located in the extreme end of the Spiti Valley, which is much similar to Ladakh in appearance. There are magnificent mountains, stunning rivers, and breathtaking vistas in Losar that can spellbind any tourist with its unparalleled beauty.
There are a few hotels and home stay options in the valley, having come of late that offer comfortable stay to the guests. The distance between Losar and Kaza is only 56 km and therefore, tourists can visit the main town of Spiti Valley ‘Kaza’ in just a few hours from Losar.
Kunzum Pass, situated at an elevation of 15,060 ft, is a high mountain pass on the eastern Kunzum Range of the Himalayas some 128 km from Manali. It is one of India’s highest motorable mountain pass on the route to Kaza the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti. It’s the highest point in the Spiti Valley Road. The road over the pass is not a road. Just a dirt track leading upto the top of the hill. The surface on this gravel road is often loose, especially along the sides of the road. The drive is definitely worth it. The top of the pass offers spectacular views of Bara-Sigri glacier, the second longest glacier in the world. Also visible from the top of the pass are the Chandra-Bhaga Mountain and Spiti Valley. Besides the panoramic view of the region, Kunzum Pass has got a temple of Goddess Durga at its top most point. Avalanches and heavy snowfalls can sometimes block some sections of the road and can be extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. It connects the Kullu Valley and Lahaul Valley with the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is the only motorable route connecting Lahaul Valley on the western side of the pass with Spiti Valley on the eastern side. There is also a 15 km trek to the Moon Lake or Chandratal from the Kunzum Pass. It consists of 15 sharp hairpin turns, testing driving skills of even experienced drivers. The drivers, travelers and passer by seeks blessings of Kunzum Mata before undertaking the dangerous journey.
Chandra Tal lake, is also called the Moon Lake, is situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau, a crescent-shaped basin, surrounded by the gigantic Himalayan Mountains on all the sides, which overlooks the Chandra River. The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape. It is situated at an altitude of about 14,100 ft in the Himalayas. Mountains of screed overlook the lake on one side, and a cirque encloses it on the other in Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Chandra Tal is a tourist destination for trekkers and campers. Earlier, the lake was the resting point for the traders and voyagers who used to come from Tibet or Ladakh. One will get awestruck when they will see that the color of the lake keeps on changing with the color of the sky. The shimmering lake is flanked by the green-carpeted Chandra Baga mountain range. The lake is accessible on foot from Batal as well as from Kunzum Pass from late May to early October. There is also a motor road accessible as far as a parking lot around 2 km from the lake. The route from Kunzum Pass was accessible only on foot before, but now motorcycles and 4×4 cars do travel this distance where you take a right cut from a T-point, the road to left leads to Bataal. It takes approx 2 hours from Kunzum Pass to Chandra Taal. Chandra Taal is also accessible from Suraj Tal, 30 km away situated near Baralach La Pass or Baralacha La in Lahaul district situated Leh-Manali highway.
Khokhsar, at an altitude of 10302 ft. Just a few km before Gramphu, you will reach Khoksar which is the first settlement in the Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh. This place has several Dhabas where you can enjoy the food, a clean washroom or toilet to fresh-up yourself. There are few houses as well in this small village. You can found few options of night stay in hotel as well as guest house / home stay. The Chandra river flows through this place, and the surrounding views are just amazing from the village. It is a major eating point on Manali Leh Highway (especially when you going to Ladakh from Manali).
Gramphu, at an altitude of 10499 ft. After you crossed the northern area of Rohtang Pass, you reach a place called Gramphu. At Gramphu, there is a diversion towards the right which will lead you to Spiti Valley via Kunzum Pass. If you want to visit Chandratal then you need to take the diversion towards Spiti and once you reach Batal, go straight towards Chandratal. There are no stay options at Gramphu, but you will find a couple of tea stall / dhabas there.
Rohtang Pass, at an altitude of 13058 ft. Distance to Manali from here around 51 km. Rohtang Pass connects the tribal valleys of Lahaul and Spiti to Kullu Valley. This is the hottest Himalayan tourist spot in Northern India and people flood this place in the month of May and June. Though there has been some respite since the introduction of Rohtang Pass permit.
Do expect heavy tourist rush and traffic jam, if you are late in leaving from Manali in the early season (If you start you Ladakh trip from Manali).
Rohtang Pass remains closed for more than six months in the winter months due to heavy snowfall and thus closing the Manali Leh Highway. No permit can be issued on every Tuesday for crossing Rohtang Pass (if anyone start there journey to Ladakh from Manali).
Many people feel the altitude factor after reaching Rohtang Pass with headaches and feeling to puke. So, it better to keep yourself hydrated on the way. There is no place to stay or eat at Rohtang Pass.
Rohtang Pass is the last of the five major mountain passes from Leh – Manali Highway.
Rani Nala, is few km ahead of Rohtang Pass, which is a glacier point. This place is famous for its huge snow walls, more than 20 feet high. You can find snow here almost 8 out of 12 months. The feeling of going between these huge walls of snow is impeccable, especially in the early season. You can face traffic jam in this area in the early season due to the narrow passage and kill your time. You need to leave as early as possible like 5 am from Manali to avoid the traffic jam on Manali – Rohtang Pass road (If you start Ladakh Journey from Manali).
It is perhaps the last major point on the southern portal of Rohtang Pass. No stay options are available at Rani Nalla.
Marhi, at an altitude of 10827 ft. After Rani Nala, you reach Marhi which is the highest snow point in winters when the road to Rohtang Pass is closed. There are few Dhabas on Marhi by HPTDC but there are no stay options. Marhi is a common stoppage point for people doing cycling on Manali Leh Highway. Cyclists put up their own camps to spend the night at Marhi and get acclimatized for the ride ahead.
Gulaba, is famous as one of the lower winter snow point when the road to Rohtang Pass gets closed. There are only a few Dhabas on Gulaba and no options to stay. Running through few small villages (Kothi, Palchan etc.) of this beautiful lush green valley you reach to Manali from Gulaba, around 20 km.
Nehru Kund, is located at the distance of around 6 km from Manali. It is one of the natural springs of natural water in India. Nehru Kund is named after the late Prime Minister Jawar Lal Nehru. Nehru used to drink water from this Kund, while his journey to Manali. Nehru Kund is on the Manali-Keylong road, about 6 kms from Manali.
Manali, at the northern end of the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh, is a hill station situated at a height of 2050m (6398 ft) in the Himalayas, is one of the most popular, beautiful and awe-inspiring hill stations in this country. Surrounded by majestic hills and woody forests, the quaint charm of Manali has captured the world’s attention and has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in India.
Situated on the Beas river (Vyaas in Hindi) and near its source, it is a popular tourist spot for Indians in summer and a magical, snow-covered place in winter. The pristine River Beas flows right through the town, creating a mesmerizing and spellbinding landscape. Nestled at one end of the Kullu Valley, Manali is a popular hill station with attractions such as the Rohtang Pass and Solang Valley nearby. Rohtang Pass is covered with snow throughout the year and is a good experience in itself. This is the ideal place for tourists looking to unwind and rejuvenate in the lap of nature, for there is no place in the country more vibrant and charming as Manali.
This town also has a multitude of options for tourists looking for adventurous activities like trekking, paragliding, skiing, zorbing, white water rafting etc. Besides adventurous activities, Manali also has a lot of temples which all tourists and devotees love to visit including the Raghunath Temple and Jagannath Dev Temple being one of the important ones. Hadimba Temple, a 14th-century temple is famous for its wooden architecture and for its religious values. Manali is also used as the base town for the Manali-Leh highway and Leh is around 479 km from here. Lahaul and Spiti district can also be accessed from here during the summers using the same highway.
Mostly BSNL Connection does work on major places. But most of the time when you traveled through the remote areas network might not available.
It is not easy to find fuel or petrol on Spiti Valley. Do not forget to full your car tank from Shimla / Narkanda / Rampur / Recong Peo / Kaza. When you travel from Shimla last petrol pump at Recong Peo and next also only at Kaza. But when you travel from Manali don’t forget to full from Manali as after Manali only petrol pump at Spiti at Kaza.
Apart from Shimla or Manali there might have ATM in Rampur, Sarahan, Sangla, Reckong Peo and Kaza in Kinnaur and Spiti Valley. But it is advisable to carry enough cash along with you because most of the time the on route ATM have run out of money or become un-operational at any day or any time.
Medical Facilities in Spiti are basic, although there is a well equipped hospital in Kaza there are only a few primary healthcare centers outside of the district headquarters. Traditional medicinal practitioners known as Amchi are present in every part of the valley and can provide preventative herbal remedies for most afflictions.
The road is just a relative term here and for most part of the journey, you will be driving around on a complete nightmare. Mud, slush, dirt trail, water crossings, boulder and big stones on the road, shooting stones, narrow steep climbs. Car ground clearance will play the most important part while driving through Spiti. You cannot risk the underbelly of your car hitting the ground every time you get across a water stream, or your car getting stuck as you try to take it through a rivulet, mud or slush. Driving through lose gravel will mean stones flying and hitting the belly of your car. Any SUV will probably be the best car for Spiti Valley. It doesn’t matter if it is a 2 wheel drive or 4×4 but the good ground clearance an SUV offers will be of great help while traveling through Spiti.
Best Time to travel to explore Spiti Valley / Mini Ladakh
Spiti valley is accessible from Shimla side throughout the year however from Manali; it is accessible only for 5 months, from June till September. So if you are planning from Shimla, from June till September, you can complete the circuit by exiting from Manali. However from late October till early May; you can only drive up to Kaza from Shimla and will have to return the same way. There is no high altitude pass between Shimla and Kaza however when it comes to Manali; you will cross two high altitude passes, Rohtang and Kunzum Pass. Both these passes remain close from anytime in October till May (depending on the weather and road conditions) so a journey from Manali to Spiti valley can only be done from June till September.
Please note that even though you can travel to Spiti from Shimla throughout the year, in peak winter the entire valley remains under a thick sheet of snow so a road journey will not be only difficult but also very challenging.
So, the best time to visit Spiti valley depends on what your preference is. If it is snow you are after, then the best time would be to go sometime in February or March otherwise July till September would be an ideal time to visit Lahaul & Spiti. More specifically as below –
- Spiti Valley In January, Not a good time to go at all. Winter is at its full swing and there is heavy snow all around, starting right from near Shimla until Kaza. Chances of catching a live snowfall, roads being closed and getting stranded somewhere are highest during this time. The road from Manali to Kaza remains closed at this time so the only way to get into the valley is to travel from Shimla however the road goes through some regions that experience heavy snowfall due to which it is best to avoid traveling at this time. There is not much of accommodation options available too in January. Please do keep in mind that life in Spiti Valley in winter is really not that easy. Water freezes everywhere including in pipes and taps; which means there will be no running water and you will have to depend on water in buckets.
- Spiti Valley in February & March, If you want to see snow blanket, then the best time would be to go from mid Feb till March. There will be huge snow near Shimla, Narkanda, Kufri, Sarahan, Nako and Kaza at this time. Please do carefully plan your accommodation though because this is not really the tourist season and most of the hotels at this time remain closed. Please do keep in mind that life in Spiti Valley in winter is really not that easy. Water freezes everywhere including in pipes and taps; which means there will be no running water and you will have to depend on water in buckets.
- Spiti Valley In April & May, Snow starts to melt in this time. Hotels and guest houses too start to open up by this time however tourists are still few in numbers. If it is solitude you seek with not a lot of people around, then this is the best time to go. Chances of catching snow will be very less however the weather will still be extremely cold. Accommodation will still be limited and you will not be able to complete the circuit as well. You can hope to find whatever is left of the snow in the months of April and May but it is also the time when roads are in worst condition.
- Spiti Valley In June till September, The complete Spiti circuit will open only at this time. You can start your journey from Shimla and end at Manali or vice versa. While Spiti does not experience much rain, almost next to none for that matter; roads leading to the valley can still close due to landslides in monsoon. Kunzum pass opens in late June and it takes some time for BRO and PWD to improve the road conditions from Khoksar till Kaza. The entire patch from Khoksar to Kunzum, especially till Batal is a nightmare to drive on.
Landslides often occur in this region and you may have to wait for a few hours for the road to reopen and turn back and return the next day. Road from Shimla however does not have that large of a risk of closing down, even though it is equally bad. But even after all this, you can still comfortably complete the journey and enjoy the valley.
Chandratal is open during this time so you can add that too to your itinerary. Hotels are all fully functional so finding accommodation will not an issue. If travelling in June or early July, your trip will pretty much be event-less. However, monsoon would have arrived around Shimla and Kinnaur Valley by late July bringing in chances of landslides along with it. Best to keep a couple of buffer days while planning your itinerary in July or August. By September, monsoon would have gone and the valley would be colorful all around which makes it an ideal time to be travelling here. Temperature however would start to dip by late September or early October; so ensure that you are carrying heavy woolens at this time. During September, Kunzum Pass and Rohtang Pass are remain open so you can complete the circuit as well.
- Spiti Valley In October till December, gets one sided during this time because Kunzum pass remains closed till June. You can start from Shimla, travel till Kaza and return taking the same road back.. The region starts to receive snowfall sometime in late December so until then; it will just be cold winds that you will experience which makes it a bad time to be travelling to Spiti. Most of the hotels are in the process of closing down in October so choice of accommodation is just a few hotels and guest houses still operational. Please do keep in mind that life in Spiti Valley in winter is really not that easy. Water freezes everywhere including in pipes and taps; which means there will be no running water and you will have to depend on water in buckets.
From June till September is the best time to explore the hidden Himalayan destination, Spiti Valley by road. This way you will be able to complete the circuit and will not be limited to just visiting from Shimla to Kaza. Places like Chandratal and Kunzum Pass are also accessible during this time only.
The months of April, May, June and September would be best to visit Spiti valley on Bike. From January till March, the weather will be cold with chances of snowfall and black ice on the road which is not really an ideal situation to be riding around on a bike. Some people do make a winter ride to Spiti but not everyone can do that without getting hurt. July and August would bring the season of monsoon with chances of rain, landslides and slush which again is not ideal for a bike ride. From October to December, you can indeed ride to Spiti valley but the weather would then be cold. These three months in my opinion are worst time to be going to Spiti valley. There will not be much greenery anywhere on the route; there will be no snow as well and you will just be riding through cold winds and an overall dull landscape.
This will depend on what exactly you like to captured. If a valley covered under a thick sheet of snow is on your mind, then you must go in January or February. For lush green hills, you must visit in August. If the colors of autumn interest you, then plan it by late September or early October.
If you are on a budget, you must plan your trip between June and September when it is the peak tourist season. All the hotels are operational during this time and you will easily be able to find a budget accommodation. You will also not have any trouble at all finding public transport services during this time.
AMS does not matter with respect to any age or sex or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness level. No matter how many trips you under go to Spiti or other high altitude places and how many times you undergo every year, AMS just won’t spare you if you break its basic principles. It cries the death out of you when it strikes and in such remote terrain you know what it is to be in India for survival !! Hence, you need to understand & accept that your body needs time to adapt to high altitude and you should respect that basic natural principle rather than boasting any stupid reasons. So, do consider the principles as suggested by acclimatization schedule and try to follow them to minimize the chances getting hit with AMS which in result will spoil your Spiti trip.
Never be over confident that you are master of driving or riding or you have done Rohtang Pass or Nathula ‘x’ number of times. Even if you are a champ driver in plains with 1000K of driving / riding experience but don’t compare it with Spiti especially via Manali to Kaza road could be one of the strangest and adventurous drive you will ever undertake in life. Never think that any overlying stone will not hit the underbelly, never think that the road ahead is straight as an arrow like runway and you can cruise through it. Such a thinking can get you / your vehicle stranded in the middle of …..
Even the smoothest and straightest of the roads, which look super fine, newly laid tarmac are washed in between or have sudden bumps in them which can badly hurt your vehicle. If you see a big rock lying in between on road especially at sections with loose gravel then it is always you better step out and throw it away to make your way instead of taking any chance and getting your car’s underbelly hurt with it. It’s suggested hire a local and expert driver always with you.
Well, guys, you may have done Leh – Ladakh trip in your hatchback or sedan. However, the road from Manali to Kaza, especially between Gramphu to Battal or Chandratal, is altogether a different ballgame. The road from Gramphu to Battal is more like driving on a riverbed with multiple water crossings and some like Dorni Nalla, Chota Dhara, Bada Dhara, etc.. which can be very nasty on a given day. There are big rocks beneath them as well which you need to negotiate in these water crossings. Be sure of the car you are taking and experience you have driving in such a terrain otherwise opt for a local taxi.
Always keep in mind, “Trouble never comes knocking your door”. It is good to be explore everything & everywhere in travel but with a remote place such as Spiti where even a diarrhea can lead you to death path if not treated in time. It’s suggested that please plan at least basic things before making a trip to Spiti. It’s always better to consult with your travel guide before plan.
You may be a great driver or a rider having done 1000s of KMs in a day but keep in mind these are trans-Himalayas and they rule the time and life up there. You may be able to do 400 KMs in Spiti on a last day, which is perfectly fine because you are going to descend to lower hills where your body is used to live. However, things change when you plan something crazy as doing Manali to Kaza / Chandratal / Batal in single day while going to Spiti. Again, it is completely possible but just imagine a very possible situation of running without acclimatization and having a tire puncture just below Kunzum Pass.
It depends on person to person to take the children of such age group. The issue with children is that they tend to exert the body considering it the same kind of place they belong to and this elevates the chances of getting struck with AMS. Secondly, they are not much expressive about their uneasy feelings, so it is parents who need to watch out and take care that the child is not suffering from uneasy feelings, headache or nausea and is behaving properly. With less than 3 year child start your journey descend to lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight and if symptom increase then start descending immediately. Same is applicable for any adult as well. And yes, do keep the body adequately hydrated.
I know you are a champ when it comes to Patiala pegs, please hold on to them in Spiti or high altitude places. Taking any kind of tobacco, smoking and alcohol or other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills etc can decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of the AMS symptoms. The alcohol actually dehydrate your body further which does not help a bit in acclimatization.
Taking Tobacco will decrease your lungs capacity. When you travel on high altitude it may harmful for you and then you will going through a helpless conditions.
At the high passes taking photo with a sleeveless or shirt-less makes you deadly, super cool combo for your next profile pic on Facebook may your last picture. Always remember that exposing the bare parts of the body, especially the chest or lower neck, to the cold winds at that high altitude with less acclimatized body also makes a FATAL combo which can lead you to being seriously ill.
Starting your journey from Manali side. It will take less time. Even you have rush then also don’t took this route. Wait and confirm your day enough then go to Spiti Valley. Here some Reasons to avoid the Route. You tend to gain very high altitude too quickly by making a trip to Kaza from Manali side. In case, you are doing a full circuit from Manali – Kaza – Kinnaur – Shimla, it is always in best interest of your health to start from Shimla side and end at Manali side after covering both Kinnaur and Spiti Valley. It helps you adjust to the high altitude because of a gradual ascend. If you still interest to take this route rest enough at Manali and gradually increase the altitude.
Chandratal lake is located at an altitude of 14000 feet which is termed as very high altitude and no human body can get acclimatized to such an altitude in one night. Sleeping at Manali does not help in acclimatization, so you are pretty much trying to sleep at Chandratal Lake at 14000 feet without any acclimatization at all. Many people get away with it, some get sleepless nights, some with headaches, some in Kaza hospital and some canceling their trips further. So, it is in your best interest to make a night stay at Chandratal lake while coming back to Manali after completing the Spiti Valley trip.
Lahaul Valley is altogether a different region with different views than what Spiti Valley has to offer. Both Lahaul & Spiti Valley often termed together and most people get confused between them. Technically speaking, Kunzum Pass connects Lahaul Valley with Spiti Valley and by geographically, Spiti Valley is up to Chatru beyond which Lahaul administration starts. Both are tribal circuits but Lahaul Valley can be distinguished by names like Keylong, Udaipur, Trilokinath, Jispa, Baralacha La Pass, Surajtal Lake, Darcha, etc.. Majority of these places falls on Manali – Leh Highway and hence, anyone who has made a trip to Manali – Leh Highway would have experienced them. The scenic beauty perspective is also different between Lahaul and Spiti where Lahaul Valley is more green and living while Spiti Valley is more barren and a cold desert.
Well, there are so many places in Spiti Valley that it deserve more than 4-5 days. Hence, it is best to make a trip to Spiti Valley when you have at least 9-12 days to make some sense of it. Otherwise, it is nothing by ticking off a place from your bucket list rather than actually experiencing what Spiti Valley has to offer.
To ensure that all participants get the most out of the tour, it is important that you are fully aware of the level of activity, fitness and medical health required to successfully complete this itinerary. Please read this carefully prior to confirming your place on the tour and, having established the facts, it is your responsibility to contact us with any concerns regarding individual levels of fitness, health, or ability. If you would like to discuss any of these issues further please contact us.
NOTE: Acute mountain sickness can occur to any one at an altitude above 10,000 ft. from the sea level. The most common symptoms of acute mountain sickness are headache disturb sleep loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, breathlessness, lassitude and lack of concentration. Spiti Valley is situated at an altitude of 11,500 ft. above sea level. It is advisable to take the following precautions, so as to acclimatize your body properly.
• Take complete rest for the first 36 hours of your arrival at Kalpa or Manali. However, this period may vary with different people.
• Your body should get used to the lower oxygen levels.
• In case you feel uneasy or AMS symptoms, please consult a Doctor.
• Tourist undertaking mountaineering and trekking in Spiti Valley, whether in groups or individual, should take some precautions. There is no private aerial rescue agency in Spiti and only as a life saving measure; engaging the Indian Air Force help in evacuation.
• Always carry drinking water and dry food.
• Take Disprin with you if you want to go to the high passes.
• If you are not able to go further from a particular spot in day, do not move stay there, as road condition is very bad in some places and it would be very difficult to travel in night.
• Temperature in Spiti Valley is too low and if you will throw any biodegradable item, it will remain in the same state for very long time, especially in snow, people defecate and the shit remains in the same for years, so please try the Local winter toilets.
• Use vehicles, which have good-ground clearance and are in good condition. SUVs like Tata Sumo Grande, Toyota Qualis and Highlander, Mitsubishi Pajero work best over there.
• Make a first-aid box and carry proper medicines for headache, fever, and vomiting also in it.
• There is electricity problem in Spiti Valley, so it is better to take extra batteries for digital products like camera, mobiles phones, etc. Charge them fully before leaving for the tour. You may not get electricity at some remote places and also because of the cold, the battery gets discharged soon.
• People there are very friendly and hospitable. Respect them.
• Wear nice clothes covering your body while on roads, especially while visiting a Buddhist Monastery. Respect the culture.
• Don’t use Polythene bags. Spiti is a “non polythene” zone. Kindly respect this and please carry back all the plastic you take with you.
• Don’t buy a new water bottle. Refill your water bottles, mountain water is good. If you have doubt, boil it and refill.