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Must know Challenges before taking a Spiti winter Trip

Sometimes, you hear a place and mark it to your wish list. That is how our Spiti saga started in 2013. And we never knew a single visit there will make the place become our second home. Yes, we are absolutely in love with Valley and now want to see it in in every color, in every season. We have traveled to Spiti Valley multiple times in summers and the wish list was to do a Spiti winter trip now.

There is a common thought among people that travelling to Spiti Valley in winters is not possible – as the roads get snow covered and becomes inaccessible, temperature falls extremely low and survival gets tough. But the question was then how do locals survive. We wanted to see the challenges they face during winters and how they tackle them. So, we took a self-drive road trip to Spiti valley in winters (i.e. in January).

Before leaving from Delhi, we checked the MET department forecast, rain and snow both were predicted in the upper hills. There were high chances of getting struck but our spirits were much higher than the thought of getting struck.

Route for Spiti Valley in winters

There are two routes to enter Spiti – one from Shimla and other from Manali. In winters i.e. by October end, Rohtang La and Kunzum La both get covered with heavy snow, so one cannot enter through Manali and complete circuit via exit from Shimla. So the only viable option is to enter and exit through Shimla.

Our routeDelhi – Shimla – Rampur – Rekong Peo – Tabo – Kaza

Beyond Kaza, towards Kunzum La and Chandratal roads gets closed. So, the farthest one can reach is Kaza and the villages around it i.e Kibber, Komic, Langza, Hikkim, Tashigong.

What to expect while doing winter Spiti Trip

By October end or November first week the valley start receiving snow and the temperature dips down to negative around -10 degree Celsius. Public transport service decreases and the only moving vehicles you get to see are of local Spitians, local taxis and of government officials.

1. Snow on the road

Expect fresh or old snow on the roads between November to March in the Spiti Valley. So, roads will be slippery and one needs to drive very carefully. Snow cutters are there but not on the moves always, so there are high chances of getting struck in between too and if weather conditions worsen than there are chances of roads getting closed for several days.

Snow on the road during winter spiti trip


  • Remember our vehicles usually don’t have snow tires; so drive with full concentration and as slow as possible; only during the day time
  • Try travelling by 4*4 only and if you don’t own one, do tie snow chains for extra traction
  • Don’t try to apply hard brakes, especially on the black ice as there are high chances of vehicle getting slipped
  • Reduce Tyre pressure and add more weight in your car by luggage or add stones
  • In case your car loses control, don’t apply brakes. Release the accelerator and let the car go to intended direction
  • Also keep a towing cable and shovel, in case you need to clear snow on the way

2. Limited food joints on the way 

Finding a food joints while taking the winter Spiti trip is a challenge in itself.

After Rampur the places which serves you food are at Tapri, Spillow and Nako. Between Nako to Kaza, there is no food joint option.

Limited Food Joint Options - Spiti Winter Trip


  • Carry along packed food, at least a stock of 1 week. You never when you can get stuck.
  • Drink lot of water to avoid dehydrtion & AMS and Thupka or soup to keep yourself warm

3. Sub Zero Temperatures

As you cross Rampur and drive towards Kaza, the temperature dips further and goes subzero.  The villages above Kaza i.e. Hikkim, Langza, Komic are much colder and here temp even go as low as – 25 degrees. So, the key to live and stay comfortable in this extreme weather is to wear proper layered clothing.



  • Wear clothes in 3- 4 layers, with a warmer / thermal inside to fleece to thick feather jacket to wind cheater outside.
  • Keep your head, hands and feet covered. 
  • Also keep snow and ice proof, warm boots which have enough traction for walking on slippery surface
  • Carry a pair of sunglasses to avoid snow glare / blindness
  • Keep drinking something warm
  • When inside sit inside the kitchen around Angithis
  • Never touch metal with bare hands as there are high chances of your skin sticking to the metal. If in any case, that happens, don’t pull your hand away. Instead, pour hot water to detach your hand
  • Keep camphor and cotton handy to light fire, if struck anywhere on the road,

4. Limited Accommodation and Resources

As the winters set its feet in Spiti Valley majority of the hotels, guest houses and home stays close down. Only few home stays are operational and ready to host you. So, it’s always advised to go with a pre-booking in winters.

Evening view of Kaza- Spiti Winter Trip
Evening view of Kaza – Spiti Winter Trip

During our Spiti winter trip we met few folks from Chandigarh, who came without booking and it was a big nuisance for them as well home stay owners. First all the running home stays were booked and they didn’t get the place to stay. Second, there was a fight for the resources. Still, the big heart Spitians accommodated them.


  • Book your stay in advance
  • Limit your expectations as the resources are limited and life is really tough in winters. Water freezes down in pipes and for usage it has to be carried from far away hand pumps. Angithis are kept burning throughout for heating water and keeping the room warm.  The supplies are stored for coming months
  • Don’t compare winters pricing to the summers pricing. Indeed help locals in whatever way you can
Morning windiw view at Tabo. - Spiti Winter Trip
View from our Homestay at Tabo – Winter Spiti Trip

Note: We stayed with Mr & Mrs. Tandup at Pema Homestay in Kaza; a 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. 

5. No Bathing & use of Dry toilets

Pipes & sewerage system freezes down in Spiti valley in winters. Locals keep 20 litre and 40 litre cans filled for the usage, which they get after walking miles from the hand pumps. And this is a part of their daily chores. So, give up on bathing every day and remember to save water.

Also the only option for pooping is dry toilets. Dry toilets are like pooping through the hole in the ceiling of a room filled with compost.


  • Instead of bathing, ask owners for warm water and do wet towel scrub
  • Carry enough of tissue paper roll and wipes to clean
  • Be prepared to use dry toilets. Dry Toilets don’t smell if used properly. Make sure to add a shovel of compost after you are done
  • Avoid taking your cellphones in the dry toilets. If it drops in the hole, you cannot get it back anyway

6. Frozen Diesel in the car

Don’t be surprised if your car is not starting in the morning. It’s the result of frozen diesel in subzero temperatures and keep in mind that the diesel vehicles are more prone to it than the petrol vehicles.


  • Don’t park your car in the open. If there is no other option, at least cover the bonnet/ hood of your car
  • Mix appropriate portion of anti-freeze in the diesel to avoid diesel freezing. And still expect that diesel can freeze and it happened with us during our Spiti winter trip
  • Wait for the sun rays to melt the frozen diesel or use a cylinder with the local’s help. Also you can throw boiling water over the engine
  • There will be more wear and tear of vehicle in the snow as compared to summer trip
  • Always keep a towing cable in your car

7. Getting struck anywhere

Spiti is a land full of challenges so be prepared for the undue situations. Landlines or snow can make you struck here for several days. So, only move on the route after local’s guidance and stay in touch with them.


  • Always carry the contact details of a local person with you and inform your homestay owner where you will be travelling for the day
  • If you see the unlikely condition, ask immediately for help
Spiti Winter Trip

8. Limited Medical Help

There is a hospital in Kaza but you can ger only limited medical help. Many times electricity is not there, although during our last trip electricity was there for majority of time in Kaza. Hospital has ambulance service, but if the roads are closed it is of no use.


  • Carry all the basic medicines (like Disprin, D- cold, Chestron, Noroflox, Betadine etc) and a first aid kit with you
  • For any major complications, you will be referred to the Rampur Hospital

9. Chances of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness)

AMS (Altitude motion/ mountain sickness) can surely hit you at this extreme altitude. So, be prepared and if you see any of such symptoms i.e. a headache, nausea, breathless during Spiti winter trip it is AMS. Seek help immediately.


  • Give yourself some time to get acclimatized
  • Keep sipping a lot of hot water
  • You can start a DIAMOX course prior to the trip, only after the doctor’s consultation

10. Fuel and Cash Availability

ATM service is available at Kalpa, Tabo as well Kaza but don’t expect them to have enough cash as well many of them will not be in working conditions.

There is a Fuel station at Kaza which opens only between 10 am to 5 pm and if it snows then it doesn’t open up. Also at times, the fuel tank doesn’t reach Kaza on time. So, there won’t be fuel for a day or more.

Fuel Station at Kaza - Winter Spiti Trip


  • Carry enough cash with you
  • Get your vehicle fueled timely

11. Limited Connectivity

Till day Spiti Valley is a remote land and there is only BSNL connectivity. So, it is a perfect place to digitally detox yourself.


  • Carry a BSNL sim with you
Winter Spiti Trip

So, these are the challenges which you are most likely going to encounter while taking up a Spiti winter trip. The drive to valley is tough as it checks your patience and endurance but once you pass all this, you will fall in love with it and you will wish to return here every winter.

View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza

Millions of years back, India as we know it today, drifted towards Asia in the Tethys Ocean. Upon collision, the silt from the ocean bed rose and gave way to the majestic Himalayas, and there evolved the Spiti Valley. In these valleys there stands a village known as Fossil Village Langza. Walk through the village and you will find a surplus of marine animals and plant fossils.

The Village Langza lies immediately at the base of Chau Chau Kang Nilda peak (20,679 feet), near village Kaza of Spiti Valley, India. The peak acts as a sole water source for the village, throughout the year. So, every summer some villager goes upstream to check the water stream route to be unobstructed and clear. From there started the interesting tale of Chau Chau Kang Nilda Peak.

Chau Chau Kang Nilda Peak from Fossil Village Langza

Chau Chau means Young Princess, Kang means snow-capped mountain, Ni means sun and Da mean dawn. So, this princess snow-capped mountain shines both during sun and moon. It is also known as “Guan Nelda” or “Blue Moon in the sky”.

Check: Spiti Valley in Photos

Story of Chau Chau Kang Nilda Peak

Every summer in order to check the water supply and as a tradition, one villager by turn had to go upstream, and this time the work was given to a lazy flute player Landup. Without heart and lazing around here and there, he went off to the base of the mountain to check the stream. After checking, he sat at the base of the mountain and started playing his flute. Whenever he used to play he used to get lost in his own world and the similar thing happened this time too.

Fossil Village Langza in Spiti Valley, India

As he finished playing, he opened his eyes and saw an ethereal beauty standing right in front of him. With a broad smile and transfixed gaze, she requested him to play it again. He was so impressed by her beauty that he couldn’t refuse and started playing again.

And then she said – “I am Chau Chau Kang Nilda fairy princess. Come here often to play this tune and I would love listening to it”

He turned back home and started waiting for the next summer to go back upstream. He went every summer upstream and played flute there. With following seasons princess and Landup fell in love with each other. But the fairy laid a condition that their love had to be kept secret and for that Landup agreed.

One winter evening when Landup was drunk and lazing around, his wife asked him to go and do some work. Listening, this he got furious and replied that it is better to be with Chau Chau Kang Nilda fairy than to be with you. His wife ignored him thinking to be totally drunk and asked him to stop dreaming.

Night Shot of Chau Chau Kang Nilda Peak from Fossil Village Langza

Next morning, Landup woke up covered in boils and pain. He remembered the last night conversation and fairy words but couldn’t do anything because of extreme winters. So, he started waiting for summers to come. As summers approached, he ran to meet his fairy love. He played the flute, called her, confessed his love and mistake; but nothing worked. Fairy never turned down to see him. Indeed after that every time he went close to the mountain, the weather turned nasty and cloudy.

Even today, it is believed that whenever a man tries to climb Chau Chau Nilda Peak, the weather turns bad. Fairy’s wound has still not recovered. She is still nursing her heart and will never let any man come nearby.

If that is the one mythological story then there are true stories of mountain expeditions too. The Chau Chau Nilda Peak was first climbed in 1939 by James Roberts, who crossed Spiti from Kullu.

Fossil Village Langza

The fossil Village Langza in Spiti Valley is located at height 4400 meters or 14,500 feet, 16 kilometers from village Kaza. The place is guarded by beautiful peak on one side and the huge Buddha statue on others side, to keep the evil spirits away. The bowl-shaped flattened valleys around the village are divine, and completely untouched.

Fossil Village Langza at the base of Chau Chau Kang Nilda Peak

A small remote village usually cut off from the civilization has just 35 houses and a total population of 150 people. It is divided into two parts- Upper Langza, known as Langza Gongma and Lower Langza is called Lnagza Yongma. The village remains snow covered in winters whereas turns completely into green pastures in summers.

Fossil Village Langza

The white and red painted mud houses here are typical Spitian mud houses. They look small and widely spread from each other but are equally spacious inside. The houses are warm, cozy and they gel well with the surroundings. The roofs are covered with a lot of thatch and fodder for insulation. Every house kitchen of fossil village Langza has installed Angithis to beat the extreme cold temperatures. The kitchens have small cloth covered entrances and floors are decorated with colorful yak mats to keep them warm.

Tip: Do remember to remove your shoes before entering the Spiti Kitchens.

Kitchen of Spiti Houses -Fossil Village Langza
Kitchen of Spiti Houses

Food and accommodation options are limited in fossil village Langza but who can beat the hospitality of upper Himachali’s. They treat you like Kings and can surpass everything to give you comfort. The yak tea with local puffed chapatti is what they can treat you with on a small conversation too.

The Toilets in Langza Village are mostly dry pits toilets, outside the houses.

Birds & Animals around Village Langza

Many national International tourists visit fossil Village Langza in winters to spot the big cat – Snow Leopard. The other animals which can be seen in the months of December, January are Tibetan wolf, Blue sheep, the Himalayan griffon, Yellow-billed Chough, and rock pigeon. And during any time of the year, one can see yaks and sheep roaming freely in herds or with the shepherds.

Herd of grazing Blue sheep in Spiti Valley: On the way to fossil village langza

Also read: A must visit Fairyland- Chandratal Lake

Attractions of Village Langza

  • The village has an ancient Lang or temple 1000 years old, regarded as the headquarters of all the Deities of the Spiti Valley.
  • Various trekking routes and trails start from village Langza
  • One can also visit the high altitude lake –Tsonyeti and Chumo Tso. These lakes are around 3-4 hour hikes from the village which is difficult for travelers like us, owing to the low oxygen and high altitude of the region.
  • The village is a pivot for fossil lovers. The local name of fossil here is ‘chaudua’ and can be easily found in and around the village. The fossils are Cephalopoda. Do visit the fossil center, also known as Chauda Centre.Cephalopoda fossils of Fossil Village Langza, Spiti ValleySource
  • The other main attraction of Village Langza is Zama Pottery done with black soil collected from the valley. The villagers make Zama pitchers, pots, decorative items, animal figures, sculptures, penholders, lamps, paperweights and clay fossils. These can be seen displayed in their homes for sale

Earlier Zama pottery used to be the main source of income for villagers, but now they have earnings from agriculture too.

Zama Pottery of Fossil Village Langza

How to Reach Langza Village

The fossil village Langza can be reached by hiking, own car, hitchhiking, or by bus (which leaves on particular days and timings).

Route: While driving to Rangrik from Kaza, there comes a bifurcation on the right side which takes you to the village Langza. The fossil village Langza can be done in a circuit with village Hikkim and Komic.

Roads: The roads are narrow, perfectly paved with continuous ascent and descent. There are few bad patches in between. In winters expect snowfall on this route.

Also Read: 10 days itinerary for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip

Expected Temperature

In winters, days are cold and windy the with a temperature between 0 to -5 degree Celsius. Evenings are extremely chilly in winters and temperature goes to -25 degree Celsius. Don’t wait for night photography here, as you may suffer from hypothermia.

In summers, days are warm but the night temperature goes below 5 degree Celsius

Best Season to Visit

May to September but if you are crazy like us, then winters too is good, as you will see the different face of this snow land.

Spiti River view on the way to Fossil Village Langza

Important Points:

  • Food and accommodation options are very limited.
  • Only a few homestays are operational in winters
  • Avoid driving after sunset as roads are really narrow
  • Do spend a night with locals to experience the local traditional culture
  • Buy some local craft, Zama pottery, for locals earning and livelihood
  • Visit Spiti Valley and Langza village in winters, only after planning.

View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza

So, the village is a charming beauty with ancient buildings, old monasteries, snow-capped peak Chau Chau Kang Nilda, green meadows and bowl-shaped plains. Also, the land takes you to the prehistoric era, when Spiti valley was submerged under the Tethys Sea.

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Also Read:

A walk to the Nako village, Himachal Pradesh

The Sangla Valley, Kinnaur