Tag Archives: Winter Spiti 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.

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