After staring at bewitching pictures of Spiti on his desktop day after day, he finally booked himself and his friends a Spiti tour package to actually witness its grandeur with his own eyes. Here’s the full account of his road trip to the Instagram-worthy landscapes of the beautiful hamlet of Spiti where he experienced the best of both worlds – Tibet and India!
Details Of Our 9 Days Road Trip From Delhi To Spiti Valley
Trip Type: Friends
Duration: 8 Nights 9 Days
Dates: 9th to 17th September 2017
Trip Cost: INR 8,000/-
Agent Name: Tanish Tours And Travels
Inclusions: Accommodation and All Meals
Exclusions: Transfers (Rented Car) and Entry Tickets
“Every hundred feet, the world changes”. To me, traveling is about discovering those changing landscapes and experiencing everything they have to offer. From engulfing in novel cultures, relishing new cuisines, and meeting different kinds of people, there are myriad reasons why I travel!
Working in a travel firm, I had long waited to embark on those poster-perfect realms of Spiti Valley after listening to excited travelers rant accounts of their Spiti trip day after day. And when I finally got the opportunity, I roped in four of my friends, booked a package with a trusted agent, hired a scorpio for my self-drive tour, and set off on an exhilarating journey!
How we made this a budget Delhi to Spiti Valley road trip: Since we only needed to use the hotels to rest at night, we booked ourselves the most inexpensive of accommodations, which even included guest houses of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC). We ditched flights and booked ourselves a scorpio for INR 4,500/- so that we may enjoy the changing landscapes of Spiti on our way.
Here’s a day-wise account of our Spiti Valley road trip
On our road trip from Delhi to Spiti, we experienced a mix of thrill, bliss, and luxury of witnessing nature’s beauty like never before. Here’s an account of what we did on our 9-days tour.
Day 1 | 9th September: Overnight journey to Sarahan
We drove all the way to Sarahan from Delhi over the night for our road trip to Spiti Valley, making a halt here and there for rest and refreshments. Though it took us 12 hours to cover the entire distance of 480 km, the journey was rather enjoyable, thanks to my fun-loving friends.
Distance covered (Delhi to Sarahan): 480 km
Time taken: 12 hours
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Day 2 | 10th September: Exploring Sarahan
We reached Sarahan at 1 PM the next day. We checked into Hotel Snowflakes and took some rest before setting out to kickstart our Spiti valley road trip. After taking the load off, we went out to explore the quaint village of Sarahan, taking a stroll and gazing at the beautiful views of mist-covered hills and valleys. We visited the Bhima Devi Temple before returning to our hotel for dinner.
About Hotel Snowflakes: 3.5 Star | Average services and food | No lift | Clean and well-maintained
Day 3 | 11th September: Camping at Chitkul
After immersing in those serene early morning views of Sarahan, we resumed our journey to Spiti. We were met with the most scenic views on our drive to Chitkul, the last inhabited village near the Indo-China border, only to be greeted by even more scenic views when we reached our campsite. The beginning of our Spiti road trip felt nothing less than magical.
Once we had freshened up, we set out to soak in the mesmerizing beauty of Chitkul village, visit the Kadcham Dam, and explore the market area. We returned to our campsite well in time for dinner.
Camping near Baspa River is an experience in itself. Nothing can beat the joy of sitting before a crackling bonfire beside our tent and listening to each other’s’ life stories while the Baspa River flowed nearby. Other than the camping, the views from our campsite were charming enough to melt our hearts. After an elaborate photo session before the campfire, we returned to our respective tents and retired for the night.
About Baspa River Camp: 4 Star | Adventure nature camp | ‘Best river view’ | Delicious meals
Distance covered (Sarahan to Chitkul): 103 km
Time taken: 3.5 hours
Day 4 | 12th September: Trotting about in Kalpa
After horking down a delicious breakfast and clicking numerous pictures at the riverside, we resumed our journey for our Spiti road trip. It was yet another scenic journey which led to another beautiful town in the hills of Himachal – Kalpa. Once we had arrived, we checked into the Himachal Tourism Guest House and got ready to set out and experience what this little hamlet had to offer.
We first scaled the Reckong Peo District, one of the 12 administrative districts of Himachal, before proceeding to the market, where the colorful range of Tibetan goods and handicrafts was luring people in. Later we visited a hundred-year-old Buddhist monastery, along with other sightseeing tidbits. By the evening we returned to our guest house, which had amazing views of the Kinnaur Kailash Peak waiting outside our windows! Seeing everything around, it felt like it was the perfect and best time to visit Spiti Valley.
About Hotel Kinner Kailash (Himachal Tourism Guest House): 4 Star | Good services | Well-maintained | Awesome views
Distance covered (Chitkul to Kalpa): 63 km
Time taken: 2 hours 40 minutes
Day 5 | 13th September: Gallivanting away to Kaza
Post breakfast, we left for Kaza, the longest road journey on our entire trip. On the way, we visited a number of attractions, including the Nako Monastery, famed for its iconographic artwork and intricate designs. Next, we visited the Gue Monastery, which houses the 600-year-old mummy of monk Sangha Tenzin.
We also paid our respects at the Dhankar Gompa in the Dhankar village, and the Tabo Monastery in Tabo village before finally reaching Kaza. After a monstrous traffic jam on the way due to a landslide, we finally reached our destination. We checked in to our hotel, Manglam Guest House, one of the very few places in Spiti with a petrol pump nearby. In fact, we were ecstatic at finally spotting a petrol pump after this long a journey.
We also visited Cafe Sol for lunch, where we gorged on delicious delicacies. Run by a woman from Dehradun who uses the earnings to promote growth and development in Spiti, the cafe is a must-visit for all who visit Spiti Valley. With unending scenic beauty, Kaza was one of the best parts of our trip. One can gaze at those alluring vistas of this beautiful town for hours on end!
About Manglam Guest House: 3 Star | Average | Next to petrol pump | Passable hospitality
Distance covered (Kalpa to Kaza): 196 km
Time taken: 12 hours
Suggested Read: Test Your Grit, Take The Spiti Valley Trek In 2019
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Day 6 | 14th September: Scaling the Highest Village in the World
The morning greeted us with unbeatably stunning views of the Spiti Valley while we had our breakfast at the hotel. Later, we set off for Langza, the first stop for the day’s sightseeing. After witnessing various attractions of Langza, we proceeded to Komik via Kibber, the highest motorable village in the world at 14,200 ft above sea level.
We visited the Hikkim Post Office, the highest post office in the world. Here, we also encountered a herd of the Himalayan Ibex, the large, peculiar-looking goats with curved horns found only in and near the Himalayas. Later, we went to the famed Key Monastery to engulf ourselves in its architecture and surreal backdrop. We also visited the Komik Monastery, a peculiar yet attractive sanctum bordered by the barren hills of Spiti.
We thrilled ourselves with another visit to Sol Cafe, where we indulged in a fine cinema experience with the movie Everest, and some delicious snacks, all for just INR 220/- per person. After 7 hours of sightseeing, we drove off to The Taste of Spiti, a popular restaurant in Spiti run by Cafe Sol’s owner and serving lip-smacking Italian, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine. After a delicious dinner, we returned to our guest house in Kaza to rest. Our road trip to Spiti Valley was going so far so good!
Day 7 | 15th September: Lake-side camping at Chandra Taal
Post breakfast, we hopped into our car and excitedly drove away to the next happening destination on our Spiti itinerary – Chandra Taal. We were totally looking forward to this mesmerizing gem of Spiti, and it, in turn, didn’t disappoint us!
The first 20 kms of our journey was absolutely scenic, but then the road started to get rougher and more treacherous with every kilometer. There came a point when we there was no road before us, and just a stretch of the rocky dirt path.
We crossed the Kunzum Pass on our way to the lake, where we stopped by and visited the Kunzum Mata Mandir. The temple is an outright fascination for travelers owing to the story revolving around it. The shrine has a sacred stone which is believed to have magical powers. If one isn’t able to stick a coin over the stone it implies that the person is deceitful and dishonest.
We reached our camp at Chandra Taal Lake in the afternoon. After checking into Parasol Camp, we freshened up and proceeded to explore the lake. While the drive to the lake was filled with incredible views, it was nothing compared to the beauty of the lake. By evening, the temperature had dropped to -7 degree Celsius, but the views of this Moon Lake were such that we just didn’t want to leave! Assuring ourselves we’ll back to the lake in the morning, we returned to our campsite.
Camping near the lake was just as amazing. Sitting inside small tents bordered by breathtaking views of barren hills and a lake right under the blanket of a star-filled sky made up for an unforgettable experience.
About Parasol Camps and Retreat: 4 Star | Scenic hideaway close to the lake | Great food | Clean
Distance covered (Kaza to Chandra Taal): 200 km
Time taken: 7.5 hours
How to reach Chandra Taal Lake from Parasol Camp: 2.5 km drive to the Chandra Taal ‘parking lot’ | Then 0.5 km trek up to the lake area
Day 8 | 16th September: Rohtang Pass, hippie cafes, and Sunny Deol!
As we had promised ourselves the previous night, we went back to the lake and were met by a completely different experience than the previous night. Saying the lake is the most beautiful spot in Spiti, is an understatement!
The lake literally gleams in the morning, and while we were there we noticed it was snowing in the mountains – the perfect backdrop for those zillions of pictures we clicked here. At 11 PM, we left for Manali, our stopover on the way back home. It was yet another struggle with the bad road condition for a stretch of 150 km.
On reaching Gramphu, we were not just met with awe-inspiring views of the Lahaul Valley, but also got to meet renowned actor Sunny Deol, who was shooting for his next Bollywood flick in this quaint Himachal village. Next on our Spiti valley road trip, we took a halt at Rohtang Pass where we spent some time enjoying the snow and views, and basically resting our backs after the lengthy and bumpy ride. From here, the roads got better and we could enjoy the rest of the way to Manali.
We reached Hotel Paramount Inn well before evening and immediately went out to explore the hip town of Manali after freshening up. We went for a leisurely stroll in Mall Road market and hung around in some chic cafes:
- Il Forno Cafe – known for its delicious Italian food and lush, picturesque setting
- Johnson’s Cafe – known for its sumptuous Italian, Indian and European cuisine, lavish interiors, and live music!
About The Paramount Inn: 2.5 Star | Budget stay | Slow staff | Scenic views
Distance covered (Chandra Taal to Manali): 200 km
Time taken: 7 hours
Day 9 | 17th September: Driving back home
The overwhelmingly beautiful landscapes of Spiti are enough to put one in a trance! Add to that a road trip and the company of good friends, and you’re sure to get a deadly combination of fun and adventure!
After an early breakfast, we left for Delhi at around 7 AM from Manali, stopping on the way for food and fuel. We reached Delhi at 7 PM, marking an end to our 9 days road trip to Spiti.
Our WOW Moments on this Spiti Valley road trip: The scenic drives | Chandratal Lake | The natural beauty of Spiti | Café Sol | Meeting Sunny Deol | Tibetan cuisine | Camping in Spiti
Our Not-So-WOW Moments on this Spiti road trip: Driving on the poorly maintained roads from Kaza to Manali | The landslide on the way to Kaza
Tips for future travelers:
- Opt for a self-drive tour to Spiti for the best experience and scenic views
- Keep a lookout for petrol pumps as there aren’t many in Spiti. Don’t miss out on the one in Kalpa
- Only BSNL network works well in Spiti. You won’t get reception with any other network in Spiti
- On a shorter trip duration, make sure you don’t miss out on Chandra Taal Lake!
- Adventure seekers and trekking enthusiasts must visit the Sopana Lake and Pin Valley Trek
- It gets extremely difficult to use washrooms at night at the campsites near Chandra Taal as the temperature drops to -6/-7 degree Celsius. So make arrangements accordingly
- Plan for at least 9 days itinerary for Spiti Valley as that’s the ideal duration for traveling and exploring the valley
Yearning to weave your own tale of adventure in those picture-perfect settings of Himachal? Take inspiration from this Spiti Valley road trip and book your trip to Himachal right away!
Frequently Asked Questions About Spiti Valley Road Trip
A. You can surely drive to Spiti Valley by car from Manali and Shimla. However, the route from Manali until Kaza is quite rough and gets worsened during monsoons. If you are planning to head from Shimla then the route is comparatively better.
A. A five days stay in Spiti Valley is enough to explore almost all the experience of this beautiful destination. However, you can extend your stay according to your preferences.
A. From March to June is the best time to visit Spiti Valley. The average temperature during this time ranges from 0 to 15 degrees Celsius. Winters are extremely cold here and road connectivity is not reliable during this season.
A. The Spiti Valley circuit is one of the most dangerous roads in India. The road is quite steep and includes asphalt and gravel sections. The road is believed to be even more challenging than the popular Leh-Manali Highway.
A. If you are heading here from Shimla then the roads remain active throughout the year, however, an excursion from Manali to Spiti gets closed during winters as Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass closes during this time.
A. Spiti Valley is located at a distance of 731.1 kilometers from Delhi and if you are planning to drive non-stop to your destination, the entire distance can be covered in nearly 15 to 16 hours.
A. If you are planning to travel via road to Spiti Valley then there is no direct connectivity between both destinations. You need to take a bus from Delhi to Manali and then hire local transport to Spiti Valley.
A. If you are interested in witnessing snowfall in Spiti Valley then June is not the perfect month. Planning an expedition during winters will make you encounter the best snowfall here.
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