The Middle Land of Lamas
Long winding roads and valleys that present unforgettable glimpses of cold desert and snow-crowned mountains 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 just 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 a year, the summer months are the only time Spiti is directly accessible via motorway.
The term Spiti means ‘The Middle Land’, as Spiti Valley separates India from Tibet. Scantily populated, Spiti is an adventure lover’s paradise, with a number of trekking trails that tourists can choose from. All of these treks start from Kaza (Spiti’s capital from where you make your base camp) to various peaks from where you can get panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains. An easy 1.5-kilometre trek along the Spiti River from Dhankar Monastery to Dhankar Lake promises gorgeous views of the villages below. The Dhankar Lake itself is a place where you can sit back and relax amidst the cool mountain air.
The Spiti Valley Trek is a haven for adventure seekers and trekkers as it offers treks through some of the most unseen, dream-like landscapes, watched over by majestic sceneries. The mountain ropeway from Kibber to Chichum is also another popular tourist attraction that offers spectacular views of the gorge below, as well a bird’s eye view of the surrounding peaks.
Lahaul and Spiti are separated from Kullu by the Rohtang pass and Kunzum pass and it lies on the Manali-Leh highway. This route is fine to reach Spiti valley during the summers but is inaccessible for most parts of the year due to heavy snowfall. However, Spiti valley is accessible throughout the year though from Shimla via Kinnaur (except for occasional disturbances due to landslides or heavy snowfall).
Route 1: Via Kinnaur through Hindustan – Tibet Highway
Reach Shimla via Delhi or Chandigarh in an overnight bus. There are many public and private buses running between Shimla and Kinnaur from 5 AM to 8 PM. Beyond the specified time, there are around 2-3 overnight buses to Reckong Peo (Headquarters of Kinnaur district). You can get these buses from the New Bus Stand as well as from the Old Bus Stand in Shimla.
In addition to this, you can also hire a shared taxi or even a private one (Xylo or Scorpio). The charges range from INR 2500 – 3500 per day from Shimla depending on the season and your bargaining skills.
Some people also prefer to drive down on their own. A drive in an SUV is safe enough but a sedan or hatchbacks are not preferred due to major landslides and rough terrains.
Although self-driving is more enjoyable and gives you the convenience of stopping and taking in the scenic beauty at your own pleasure, however, a journey in the state/private bus is less time-taking.
Route 2: Via Manali
The other option is to take a private/public bus from Manali and reach Kaza through Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass. There are buses leaving from Manali at around 5 am in the morning to Kaza.
You can hire a shared taxi or even a private one (Xylo or Scorpio). The charges range from INR 2800-3500 per day from Manali depending on the season and your bargaining skills.
You can also take a private vehicle and drive down on your own as the route is without any trouble (slushy roads etc.), unlike the Hindustan- Tibet highway.
The best time to visit Spiti is from March to June. The ones who are into a relaxing vacation should visit Spiti during this season when the temperature ranges from 0 – 15-degree Celcius, which starts from March and lasts until June. Winters in Spiti are for the daring. The road connectivity is unreliable during the winters with Manali-Kaza highway being cut-off. The snow leopard expedition is one activity that takes the cake during this season. It is best to avoid planning a trip to Spiti during the monsoon months (July- September), since the continuous heavy rainfall, followed by landslides and slippery roads, may spoil your holiday mood to a great extent.Share this tour
At Himalayan Drifters, we love to introduce you to our home the Himalayas and to wander with you doing some of our favorite things – mountaineering, trekking, camping, cycling, ski touring, para-gliding and so on.
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