Tag Archives: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip

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.

10 days Itinerary for Lahaul Spiti Road trip

Ask anyone in India, which is your dream destination, and for the sure, the majority will say road trip to Leh Ladakh and only a few will answer Lahaul Spiti. A year back; the same notation was true for us too. So, we did both a 13-day road trip to Leh Ladakh and a 10 day Lahaul Spiti road trip. Honestly, both the God lands left us speechless and Lahaul Spiti valley became our favorite. It is raw, lesser commercialized, lesser densely populated, and more enigmatic than Ladakh – land of high passes; where only wind and water play at their best to carve and decorate the valley.

10 Days travel Guide For Lahaul Spiti Road Trip

The word “Spiti” means middle land between India and Tibet. So, Spiti Valley is the extension of mesmerizing landscapes of Tibet with challenging terrains and adventurous hairpin bend roads everywhere. The place has calming vibes and also can see the perfect combination of Hindu and Buddhist culture.  A true tourist or traveler, photographer, and adventurist cannot delight his eyes and soul just by traveling through this mystical land once. Indeed, he will long for more and start planning his next visit. Take a second visit and still, you will feel the valley is new and it will be exactly like a first visit.

The route for Lahaul Spiti Road trip

There are two routes to reach Spiti Valley. One can enter from Shimla and exit from Old Manali or vice versa. We did a complete circuit, starting our journey from Manali and taking an exit at Shimla.

Route AllGudThings followed: Delhi – Chandigarh – Mandi – Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu- Kunzum La- Kaza – Tabo – Nako – Sangla – Rampur – Shimla – Chandigarh – Delhi

Route: Lahaul Spiti Road Trip
Route: Lahaul Spiti Road Trip

Total time to reach Kaza in Spiti Valley from Delhi

The total time to reach Kaza in Spiti Valley from Delhi 17 -18 hrs. We advise you to break this journey into 3 days and halt at first Chandigarh or Mandi and if not here in-between, then Manali.

Condition of Lahaul Spiti Roads

Just forget the highways after Manali. There are bumpy and mud roads with potholes all around, most of the journey is like off-roading. At the passes ice will be melting down so additionally the roads will be wet too. Expect huge traffic jams from mid-July to August as there is apple crop transportation too.

Best time to take Lahaul Spiti Road Trip

The best time to do Lahaul Spiti road trip circuit starting from Manali and exiting at Shimla is between June-September. During this period both Rohtang Pass (opens in May) for which you need Rohtang Pass Permit and Kunzum Pass (opens in June) get functional. Whereas the other route via Shimla till Kaza is open throughout the year. Traveling to Spiti Valley in winters to the valley is extremely adventurous but surely tough too. 

Way to Kaza from Manali: Travel guide for Lahaul Spiti Road trip
Way to Kaza from Manali: Travel guide for Lahaul Spiti Road trip

Itinerary for Lahaul Spiti Road trip

While taking the Spiti Valley road trip, vistas change at every turn. If you think to blink your eyes or relax for a while, you will surely miss something worthy. So be awake during the whole journey to get soaked in the adventure.

Day 1 (Delhi – Chandigarh or Delhi – Mandi / Manali)

Leave early morning from Delhi to reach Chandigarh/ Mandi or Manali, according to your driving skills and capacity. From Delhi, Chandigarh can be reached in just 5 hrs and further till Manali it will take another 8-9 hrs, so totally journey coming to 13- 14 hrs. The terrain is plain till Mandi and changes after that. From here, the route becomes worth admiring. After reaching Manali rest in your hotel room, and walk to old Manali to enjoy scrumptious dinner.

Evening at Old Manali: Travel guide for lahaul Spiti Road Trip

We usually start our drive from Delhi in the late evening and reach Manali by next morning. After resting for some time, we go to Manali DC office to take the permits for next day.

Attractions on the way: Anandpur Sahib Gurdwara and Rewalsar Lake in Mandi district.

Must try: Do try Siddu and famous Bedawi Chapati / Puri in Mandi.

Day 2 (Manali to Chandratal Lake)

Leave around 7:00 am from Manali for Chandratal Lake. The Lake of Moon lays just 140 km from Manali but it takes almost 7-8 hrs to reach the place. The road to Chandratal Lake has only dirt and stones and no sign of tartar anywhere. On the way, you get to see waterfalls and the so-called Pagal Nallas (unexpected water comes through these). So, be really cautious.

There are several tents nearby the lake for accommodation. We stayed with Tenzin at Tenzin camps which lays almost 3 km from the moon lake. From here the lake can be reached by trekking or driving till one point.

Attraction: Rohtang Pass, also known as the pass of dead corposes and Chandratal Lake

Must Try: Chandra Dhabha at Batal run by a couple Chacha Chachi

Day 3 (Chandratal – Kaza)

After having breakfast and good tea, leave for Kaza which lies almost 100 km. Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti Valley. Along the way, you will cross Kunzum pass, located at 15,600 feet and village Losar.

Kunzum Pass: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip
Kunzum Pass: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip

Attractions: Kunzum Pass on the way, Key Monastery in Kaza, Sakya Tangyud Monastery, and the surrounding villages.

Must Try: Hotel Deyzor for its awesome food and worthy location

Day 4 (Kaza)

Stay at Kaza and explore the surrounding villages like Kibber, Tashigong, Langza for fossils, Gette and Kaumik / Komic village. Also plan to visit the Pin Valley National park, which comes under protected area for wildlife.


Day 5 (Kaza – Tabo)

Start your day early from Kaza and head towards the green village Dhankar (34km) known for one of the oldest monasteries and palace on the hilltop. From there 34 km ahead lays the beautiful village Tabo. Roads are both good and bad and with sightseeing, you will reach by evening.

Village Dhankar: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti road trip
Village Dhankar: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti road trip

Attractions: Dhankar Village, Dhankar Monastery, Dhankar Lake, Dhankar Palace, old and new Tabo monastery, Tabo caves, Tabo Helipad.

Must-Try: Stay at Tabo Monastery. They have mud lining rooms that are super cozy and dirt cheap. You can spend one night here in just Rs 500/-.

Day 6 (Tabo – Kalpa via Village Gue, Nako & Rekong Peo)

This day is going to be long as you will be covering 3 -4 attractions on the way before reaching Kalpa. The village Gue lays 8 -10 km inside from village Sumdo (24 km from Tabo) and is known for the sitting 500 years old mummy.

The Village Nako lies 33 km ahead from Sumdo. It is the highest village in the Hangrang Valley and here the bumpy road ends and the perfect tarred road starts. Do read the complete post a walk to the Nako village, to know more.


Kalpa & Rekong Peo lies 103 km from village Nako, which is almost a journey of 3-4 hrs. There is nothing much in Rekong Peo but for sure you will be mesmerized by the views of Kinner Kailash and apple orchards in Kalpa.

Kalpa Village : Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti road trip
Kalpa Village: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti road trip

Attractions: Mummy at village Gue, Nako monastery, Nako Lake, Chango Gompa, Kinner Kailash from Kalpa, Suicide point, Narayan Nagini Temple, Kalpa Monastery, Sapni fort, and Kamru fort.

Must try: Stay with Himachal tourism guest house at Kalpa, for the best views and food.

Day 7 (Kalpa – Sangla)

After watching the first ray of sunrise at Kinner Kailash and having filling breakfast, leave to check the attractions of Kalpa. By afternoon leave for Sangla, which lays 40 km ahead of Kalpa. Check into your hotel and get lost in the evening beauty of Sangla Valley, Kinnaur. Listen to birds chirping and the flowing Baspa River along.

Sangla Village: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip
Views from Sangla village

Attractions: Kinner Kailash, Suicide point, Narayan Nagini Temple, Kalpa Monastery, Sapni fort.

Must-Try: Tents at Kinner Camps, Sangla. We really enjoy staying with them because of their extraordinary hospitality and comfort.

Day 8 (Sangla – Chitkul- Sangla)

The next day, after breakfast drive 22 km from Sangla to the village Chitkul.  It is the last Indian village and the first glimpse of it is enough to leave you transfixed and speechless. On one side you can see the snow-capped arid mountains while on the other side there is a lush green valley with the Baspa River flowing in between.

Chitkul Village: Travel Guide for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip
Chitkul Village

Attractions: Chitkul, Baspa River, Sangla meadows, 1000 years old Kamru fort, Bering Nag Temple, & Sangla Monastery.

Must try: Evening long walks and apple orchards

Day 9 (Sangla – Shimla)

From Sangla, it is time to cover the last part of the circuit and the last day in hills too. Start early around 7:30- 8:00 am to cover 225 km. Roads are perfectly tarred and in excellent condition. If you have an extra day, do cover Sarahan & Narkanda on the way.

Highway from Sangla to Shimla: Travel guide for Lahaul Spiti Road trip
Highway from Sangla to Shimla

At Sarahan, check Bhimkali Temple and Bird sanctuary whereas in Narkanda visit Hatu Peak, Hatu temple and Jubbar Lake.

Attractions: Karcham Wangtoo Dam & cut out mountains forming ceilings on the highway near Rampur, Kufri.

Must Try: Buy red and golden farm fresh apples and plums.

Day 10 (Shimla – Delhi)

The day 10th is going to be the toughest day as it is the end of a memorable trip. But cherish up as there are so many memories to take back home and plan the next journey. Roads are in excellent condition and you will be covering 345 km in almost 8-9 hrs.

Attractions: Himalayan Expressway, Timber trail resort at Kalka.

Must try: Good Punjabi food on the Chandigarh- Delhi highway.

Driving next to river bed in the valley: Lahaul Spiti road trip
Driving next to river bed in the valley: Lahaul Spiti road trip

Points to Remember before taking Lahaul Spiti road trip

  1. The Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass are high altitude passes, so check the weather forecast with locals before heading out.
  2. In the mid-July – August, there are spells of rains in the Lahaul Spiti Valley, although being a rain shadow region. So, the drive can be tough as well as risky.
  3. Always keep a buffer for a day while taking the Lahaul Spiti road trip.
  4. Get your vehicle properly inspected before hitting for a 1600 km road trip.
  5. Carry proper car toolkit along.
  6. Avoid driving at night as the roads are narrow and valleys are deep. Moreover, the whole valley is serene and worth admiring during the day. Spiti valley: Travel guide for Lahaul Spiti Road Trip
  7. Certain places like Rohtang Pass in the Lahaul Spiti Valley can be visited only with permits, so get those arranged timely. The Permit can be taken online or by visiting the DC office in Manali.
  8. Carry the additional photostat copies of a permit with you, during the trip.
  9. There is the last and highest fuel station at Kaza after Manali. The next can be found in Rekong Peo and then in Sangla.
  10. ATM facilities are available in Sangla, Rekong Peo, Kaza, Manali & Shimla
  11. Take time to acclimatize and don’t rush in the valley.
  12. Basic Medical facilities are available at Sangla, Rekong Peo, and Kaza. Advance medical facilities can be availed only in Shimla and Manali.
  13. Don’t expect luxurious accommodation and food in the valley, especially during winters.
  14. The locals are really nice and ready to help. Do respect their traditions and cultures.
  15. Remember to keep the valley clean and don’t litter around. Practice responsible tourism.

 Trip Expert 2017 Awards

Trip Expert Award Badge 2017

We have compiled this post for the nomination in “Travel Expert Awards -2017”.