Spiti Valley in winters: Self Drive Road Trip guide

Spiti Valley in winters: Self Drive Road Trip guide

Do you want to come along for the winter Spiti Valley expedition? We asked our friends before planning the trip. With the popped eyes and open mouth, they replied – Are you guys crazy? Spiti valley in winters– the roads will be snow-covered, temperatures fall down to -40 degrees Celsius, pipes and water get frozen, people come down to the lower hills for survival and you want to do a road trip there. It is India’s remotest & inaccessible area. Crazy people, go in summers! All this surely led to the second thought but who could stop the adventurous wanderlust of ALLGUDTHINGS, after seeing the beautiful cold desert, Spiti valley in summers.

Spiti Valley In Winters: Self Drive Road Trip Guide

So, in January, we took a planned self-drive road trip from Delhi to Spiti Valley. We took the first halt at Shoghi and spent 2 good memorable days at Aamod Resort Shoghi. Further, from there, we continued our trip to reach and explore the snow sheeted middle land i.e. winter Spiti .

Tip: Never do an unplanned trip to Spiti Valley in winters i.e. offseason, as it can land you in serious trouble.

Spiti Valley in winters

Just like our friends, the majority of people think the Spiti valley is inaccessible in winters. But it is not so. Some parts of Spiti valley are open especially the Shimla – Kaza road. Also, it is a perfect time to see winter Spiti life.

Spiti valley in winter is entirely the transformed version of Spiti we had seen earlier in summers. The semi-arid mountains, deep terrains, a stretch of barren landform and green oasis, all were supposed to be completely shrouded by a blanket of snow in the month of January. But nature had some other plans for us.

The Kaza in winter was snow sheeted whereas the rest Spiti Valley looked just replenished by wind and nature. Spiti River looked like a sea of snow or white cotton candies floating in the turquoise blue water. The mesmerizing spectacle of the whole valley left us just go on clicking and clicking.

Spiti Valley in Winters: Self Drive road trip travel guide

The winter Spiti Valley is really different and unique as there are only a few visitors and you feel the whole valley belongs to you. You get ample time to talk, stay, and interact with the Spitian’s. They make you taste the most wonderful delectable local cuisines.

Kaza Village in a blanket of snow: Spiti Valley in Winters

So, a winter Spiti trip, to this picture postcard land is a must for adventure enthusiasts and road trip lovers. And here is a self-drive road trip guide for Spiti Valley in winters.

Route/ How to Reach Spiti Valley in Winter?

Ideally, there are two routes to enter Spiti Valley from Delhi. One from Shimla and other from Manali. But in winters, Rohtang La and Kunzum La both get covered with heavy snow, so you can’t travel from Manali to Kaza in winters. The only viable option is to enter and exit Spiti Valley in winters is through Shimla.

Delhi – Shimla – Rampur – Rekong Peo – Tabo – Kaza

And remember the routes beyond Kaza are closed too. So, the farthest one can reach is Kaza and the villages around it i.e Kibber, Komic, Langza, Hikkim, Tashigong, Chicham Khas.

Also read: 10 days itinerary for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip

Condition of Roads to Spiti in winters

During winter Spiti trip, expect to find snow patches on roads beyond Shimla. So, be really slow and cautious while driving on snow. And strictly avoid driving on black ice, as it is too slippery and can be dangerous. To avoid skidding, keep some luggage or stones in the boot space of the vehicle. Also, one can deflate the tires for better grip on snow.

Tip: If your car loses control, don’t push the brakes. Just, leave the accelerator and let it go in the intended direction.

  • Delhi to Chandigarh: Multi-lane highway
  • Chandigarh to Shimla: Few bad patches because of the road widening process.
  • Shimla to Rampur: Highway. Expect snow at Kufri, Narkanda
  • Rampur to Kalpa: A good road with few bad patches because of road widening and expect to face roadblocks due to some landslides.
  • Kalpa to Tabo : Narrow road with continuous incline and decline. Expect few bad patches because of landslides and shooting stone sights. And on this day, One also has to cross frozen Malling Nala, beyond Nako village.
  • Tabo to Kaza: A good scenic narrow road with continuous incline and decline. Expect few bad patches because of landslides.
Narrow Steep Roads around Kaza: Spiti Valley in Winters

Expected Spiti Valley Temperatures

As you move ahead from Shimla, with every increasing altitude, the temperature in Spiti Valley decreases and the air gets thinner. So, expect to feel breathlessness while walking and climbing stairs. The expected temperatures in winters in Spiti valley are subzero:

  • Shimla: Sunny chilly days and cold nights. Temperature ranging from 15 degree Celsius to -3 degree in night
  • Rampur: Is warmer than Shimla. Day temperature goes till 14 degree Celsius and night temperature dips till 1  to 2 degree Celsius
  • Kalpa: Sunny cold days and extremely cold chilly nights. Day temperature range from -2 to -3 degree Celsius and night temperatures goes to -13 degree Celsius.
  • Tabo: Expect sunny chilly days and very cold nights. Day temperature ranges from – 2 to – 3 degree Celsius and it goes to – 19 degree in night
  • Kaza temperature in winters: Days are sunny with extreme chill and nights are extremely cold and chilly too. The day temperature ranges from -6 to -9 degree Celsius and night temperatures go to -25 degree Celsius

Also Check: Bridges of Kinnaur and Spiti

Halts & Accommodation in Spiti in Winters

The total distance from Delhi to Spiti Valley i.e. Kaza is just 765 kilometers. Google maps show the journey of 19 hours. That means one stop and you will reach Kaza. But in actuality, it is really impossible. We covered the first 300 kilometers in 6-7 hrs but the rest 465 kilometers in the mountains were equivalent to 800 kilometers. So, one needs to take proper halts at proper locations, to get acclimatized before hitting Kaza.

Landscapes of Spiti Valley in winters: Self Drive road trip guide

The life of winters in Spiti Valley is completely different & is almost standstill due to the extremely low temperatures in December, January, and February. So, don’t have high expectations for stay and food. Most of the hotels, homestays are closed during winters in spiti. Only 2 -3 homestays are operational everywhere and locals can guide you best on the same.

After Shimla, we took halts at Rampur, Kalpa, and Tabo, before hitting Kaza.

Rampur: There are multiple hotels in and around Rampur bus station. We stayed at Nau Nabh heritage hotel, one of the luxurious heritage properties. 

Kalpa: One can choose to stay at homestays or at HPTDC (Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Cooperation), Kalpa. We opted for HTPDC to be on the safer side. Apart from Kalpa, you can also opt to stay at Sangla valley in Kinnaur, where few homestays are operational

Nako: Forget about homestays or hotel accommodation in Nako. The whole village was under hibernation except a Maggi shack opened near bus stan. Even the Nako monastery rooms are closed in winters.

Tabo: At Tabo, 2-3 homestays were operational. We stayed at Baba’s / Phunstok’s Homestay, one of the generous family who was already waiting for us. You can contact them at 94185-76181; 01906-223452 and they charge Rs 1000 per person/night including meals.

Cozy Kitchen in Baba's Homestay at Tabo: Spiti Valley in winters

Kaza: Similar is the case with Kaza. Most of the hotels and homestays are closed. Only 4 -5 home stay’s run during offseason. We stayed with Mr & Mrs. Tandup at Pema Homestay, another super helpful family who can go beyond limits to give comforts to the guests. You can connect with them at 9459252699, 8988231033 and they charge Rs 1500 per night. People say that if Mr. Chering  (relative of Mr. Tandup) knows about your existence or arrival in Spiti, you are completely safe. He will go extra miles to search you out if you missing or have not turned back by the expected timings.

Fresh Thupka in Kaza - Spiti Valley in Winters
Fresh Thupka in Kaza

Apart from this, we met a girl Tanya Roy from Delhi, who runs a Wanderer’s Nest Homestay and amazing cafe in Kaza. You can connect with her at 9459357754. Rest, you can enquire about the open homestays at Kaza Bus stand.

Food Joints on the way to Spiti Valley in Winter

There are multiple eating options till Shimla. The real fight starts after Rampur.

Pappu Ka Dhabha at Tapri - Spiti Valley in Winters
Pappu Ka Dhabha at Tapri

Between Rampur to Kalpa: Have Thali (food) at Pappu ka dhabha, Tapri – The food quality is surely more than value for money.

Kalpa to Tabo: You will find tea and food stalls only in Spillow and a single shack open at Nako.

Tabo to Kaza: No food joints

Tip: Carry a lot of eatables, nuts, and water with you on the way.

Must carry accessories for Winter Spiti Valley Road Trip

  • Do carry snow chains if your vehicle is not 4*4.
  • Carry shovel along, in case you need to clear snow on the way
  • Add Antifreeze to avoid freezing of diesel
  • Keep some camphor and cotton handy to lit fire, if required
  • Always keep a towing cable in your carSelf Drive Road trip to Spiti Valley in Winters

Problems you can face during Winter Spiti Valley Trip

Spiti Valley in winters tests all your survival instincts and body endurance. You go as prepared as you can, but still, this land will make you realize that you are unprepared i.e. the nature and topography of this valley.

But Open your mind to the following before going:

  1. Bathing is not possible because of frozen water tanks. So, be prepared for the wet towel scrub only.
  2. Be prepared to use dry toilets, as the water pipes will be frozen and there is no water in the taps. Dry toilets are traditional toilets with a hole in the ground and avoid taking your phones in the toilet.
  3. A year back I say in 2017, electricity used to be there for fixed hours, but now there is full-time electricity. The voltage is less, so your batteries, cameras, phone will take much longer to get charged
  4. There are chances of AMS (Altitude motion sickness) hitting you at that high altitude. So, be prepared. If you see any of such symptoms i.e. a headache, nausea, breathlessness, take help. Otherwise, give yourself some time to get acclimatized and keep sipping a lot of hot water. The alternative is you can start a DIAMOX course prior to the trip after the doctor’s consultation.
  5. Only BSNL network works here
  6. Temperatures are subzero and it is bone-biting cold. So, be in proper winter clothing. Wear layers, cover your head, and do include warm shoes. Also, do carry your sunglasses. Suruchi Tashi; AllGudThings -Spiti Valley in winters
  7. Expect road closure for several days, if snowfall occurs in between. BRO works here throughout the year to keep road operational till Kaza
  8. Be prepared, that despite adding antifreeze your car fuel will freeze. In such a case wait for the sun rays to melt it down or use a cylinder with the local’s help. For this, we have expert advice from Mr. Shibhu Varghese of 4*4 India adventure which we will be sharing soon with you.Scorpio sun bathing in Kaza to melt down the frozen Diesel - Spiti Valley in winters
  9. Expect bare minimum medical help. Carry first aid kit and some basic medicines with you.
  10. Carry enough cash with you. ATMs are available at Kalpa, Tabo as well as Kaza but don’t expect them to have enough cash as well as in working conditions.
  11. Fuel station at Kaza, opens between 10 am to 5 pm. So, get your tank fuelled timely.World's Highest Petrol pump at Kaza - Spiti Valley in Winters

The kitchen is the warmest place in Spiti houses, as there is a burning Angithi throughout the day.  So, if you feel excess of cold, rush there to normalize your body temperature. Don’t touch any metal with bare hands, as there are chances of your skin sticking to the metal. If in any case, that happens, don’t pull your hand away. Pour hot water to detach your hand.

Spiti Valley in winters checks your endurance and patience but you surely are bound to leave your soul in God’s own land. It looks completely magnanimous in winters and engulfs you in its beauty.

If you have any more question or need any more information, feel free to type in the comments. We will be happy to answer all about Spiti Valley in winter. Till then, please share it with your friends and family.

Spiti Valley In Winters: Self Drive Road Trip Guide

49 thoughts on “Spiti Valley in winters: Self Drive Road Trip guide”

  • Wow the valley really is transformed in winter from what I’ve seen of your adventures here in the summer. Really stunning landscapes, though thankyou for highlighting the importance of not taking an unplanned trip in winter, and the importance of driving slowly and safely when the roads are this dangerous. A truly spectacular season, but at the same time one which is very harsh. Kudos to taking on such an adventure when everyone thought you were crazy!! And good tips on what to expect re the water pipes being frozen over. Not something I would have thought of in advance!

  • We absolutely love road trips but we never considered Spiti Valley before! I can’t believe that temperatures fall down to -40 degrees, gosh, that’s SO cold!

  • Oh wow! I really want to hire a car and check out this beautiful mountain landscape. I rather visit this part of India than the touristy places as I love nature and scenery like this. Totally loving your photos. 🙂

  • Wow, this really looks off the beaten path and a little intimidating for someone that doesn’t know the area and conditions. But the views and experience to this look really spectacular I’m sure.

  • I commend you for taking a trip to the remotest area in India – in the winter! I am sure it was fascinating to see the difference in this area between summer and winter. Thanks for the great set of tips for planning this trip. It was a good reminder to think about planning reasonable travel hours and to think about accommodation along the way. Travel is so much slower in the winter! Thanks for sharing.

  • Spiti Valley looks spectacular during the winter season. Kudos for taking on the challenging journey. I can imagine it would be difficult to find a place to stay. Did you book the homestay and Nau Nabh in advance?

  • I did Spiti Valley in July but I did do Leh in January. It was COLD but it was fun. The absence of crowds, the snow cover, frozen rivers and frozen waterfalls, all were simply worth it. I am not sure if I would to do Spiti in winters but I can see how much fun you had.

  • This adventure is truly blowing my mind. I’d never heard of Spiti Valley before, but WOW are these photos stunning. Kudos to you for taking on such a unique trip. Black ice and extreme temperatures are no joke!

  • That looks extremely cold but beautiful! I cannot believe I haven’t been to Spiti Valley as yet, I’ve heard so much about it! I would, however, prefer to go in the summer, I am not a very cold-loving person haha. Even the petrol filling pumps are covered in ice, just makes me feel cold looking at it! I know the crowds would be much less in the winter and that’s one very attractive thing about travelling off season. But I think I’d still want to make it there in the summer 😀

  • I’ve never been to this region of India but the self-drive appeals a lot. Perhaps not in the depths of winter for me though as I’m not sokeen on slippery ice on the roads! But the views are certainly spectacular and I bet there were few fellow travellers! Great practical advice too, for anyone planning.

  • The change of season of Spiti Valley is amazing. The winter shots are spectacular. You guys are so brave to survive the cold…and such tough conditions. Regardless, what an amazing experience. That’s one amazing road trip!

  • The photos are totally beautiful! Beautiful landscapes and godly. Must be so cold in here that I could just stay in the kitchen since it’s the warmest place! I hate cold but I love snow! When traveling, some unexpected circumstances can happen like frostbite especially in winter but preparation is the key! I could feel frozen here in Spiti Valley. Everything seems so frozen but beautiful covered with white snow!

  • I am one of India’s biggest fan 🙂 Actually, I am llanning my 4th trip to India for next month! And one of the ares that really conquered my heart is Ladakh. We’ve been twice there and each time we wanted to combine it with Spitu Vally but couldn’t make it. I really hope I can one day explore Himachal Pradesh properly 🙂 You have an amazing country and soooo many places to see! For sure, I will be following you 😉

  • Well you lost me at -40. Yes I was born in Canada but I don’t think my Caribbean genes would like that too much. But…as the owner of a Jeep Wrangler driving in that environment over that terrain would be exonerating. Awesome pictures!

  • Spiti is a place with a wild beauty. I have read accounts of the difficulties one encounters on road trips to Spiti. Especially about the condition of the roads and being stranded for days. But of course, I guess, these are the hardships that need to be endured for pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The amazing panorama of the Spiti valley. We have not been there but hope to plan a trip sooner rather than later.

  • I feel, Spiti is my second love of life. I can go there again and again.
    I am yet to experience Winter Spiti, and I am sure your this article will help me plan that too. It looks you had a great road trip this January. HPTDC at Kalpa is my fav and can be classified as one of the most scenic stay option. Let me tell you, you have given a perfect list of tips and important information which is even useful during summer trip too.

  • It looks like the pictures you took were worth the challenges of visiting in the winter. The tips are welcome and super helpful, thanks. I was born in the high dessert and though it can be cold in the winter, there is nothing quite like a mountain landscape enshrouded in snow.

  • I appreciate your very thorough post! I have been to Himachal Pradesh but not to the Spiti valley – wow ! Your pictures are just fabulous! I like your section about common problems to be prepared for, its good to know – and be prepared – because there certainly isn’t the amenities as a major city.

  • Thank you for the detailed post guys – Spiti in winters is certainly gaining traction, and I am sure this will be helpful for many to plan a trip there! Your pictures are awesome as well as the practical details you’ve shared!

  • What an adventure! The views you captured certainly help me understand why you would want to take this today trip. I’m not sure it’s my style of travel but I like the idea of homestays and enjoying the hospitality of the locals. The thupka looks very good. That must have been a delicious meal!

  • What a detailed post and an unusual spot for your winter holidays. Amazing photos and a really unique experience. What an adventure in Spiti Valley. Great read and a wonderful introduction to the area.

  • This is a phenomenal road trip. In addition to the hilly roads, I am sure it will take more time for us because of photo stops.
    Love your striking photos of the journey. Spiti is on the cards but the its time has not come for us

  • One of the major regrets that I had with my Ladakh trip was not being able to do Spiti. I so so want to do it and I hope this year is the year for it. I only touched Keylong and that was enough for me to realize that this was an even more unexplored and stunning part of our country, Your descriptions and photographs absolutely endorse that belief of mine. Well captured.

  • The Spiti valley looks amazing, it reminds me of the Atlas Mountains. Well done you for braving the cold and doing something different! There are some good tips here about being careful on mountain roads, as snow can be a real danger on the mountains, but so long as you stay safe, it is worth it for such beautiful scenes.

  • We have been thinking of visiting Spiti for quite long now. It is one road trip which I am wanting to experience and can’t wait. Must say your photos are fantastic and this post is quite informative for the first-timers.

  • Absolutely amazing… You surely have a lion’s heart . I did the complete Spiti circuit with ford EcoSport from 4th to 12th June this year.. I am planning to do the winter Spiti from 2nd to 10th Feb.. everyone is saying no to me , telling it’s very dangerous and almost impossible. Should I do it or not ?

  • This area really does look amazing in the winter months and despite the cold temperatures (which I am used to), I would still love to check this area out. Hiking might be a bit hasher but if I can take in those amazing views (and get some quality photography in) and then have a good meal and drink in the evening, then I am there. Hopefully I will get to this area one day on my tour of india which I am still planning.

  • LOL!! Going to Spiti Valley in winter sounds very adventurous. I don’t love the cold, but your photos are so incredible that I might just be tempted. Plus, I like the idea of being able to explore without crowds, leisurely sample local foods and actually get to know some people along the way. Excellent safety tips!

  • I’m always impressed by the adventures you take. While Spiti Valley sounds amazing in the warmer months, your desire to visit in the winter is remarkable. However, after seeing your stunning pictures, I can see why. Great tips on how to best prepare for the trip. My favorite is not taking your phone with you to the toilet 🙂

  • This looks awesome! I love winter trips but have never really done a driving trip in winter. Your tips on driving in the snow like not pushing the brake, leaving the accelerator, deflating the tires for better grip, etc. are really helpful to give me some ideas about what to do and what to expect, so thanks for that!

  • Amazing – snow and ice are not the first problems that come to mind when you think about India. Really interesting and a whole different perspective. The sceneries are just gorgeous. Well done, you guys!

  • Wow! This takes a lot of preparation! I love that you provided a name of someone who will come find you if you don’t turn up as expected. I would for sure stay with him. Great advice to pour hot water if you hand gets stuck to metal. So much to think about!

  • I have just returned after spending over two weeks in Spiti and I was so happy to read your post. I took the Delhi – Shimla – Rampur – Rekong Peo – Tabo – Kaza-Manali route. It was really beautiful but as you mentioned, the roads were terrible and it was already getting cold. Unfortunately, one of my friends got mountain sickness in Langza. We had to descend immediately to Kaza. During our travel time (October) the Rohtang Pass was closed for several days due to snowfall.