Incredible Spiti – a road trip

Spiti, literally meaning “the middle land” between India and Tibet, is a desert mountain valley and the whole region is one of the least populated regions of India. I did a (lazy) photo blog after coming back from Spiti but never sat down and wrote this detailed post. Finally writing it, hoping this should help you plan your dream trip.

The time was end of June, which is about time Kunzum la gets cleared of snow to allow you to travel from the Spiti valley towards Rohtang and Manali and thereby completing the full circuit. When Kunzum la remains blocked (which is the case for six-seven months every year), retracing Shimla-Kinnaur route back is the only option.

Route map

Delhi – Kufri – Rampur – Sangla – Chitkul – Nako – Tabo – Pin valley – Kaza – Chandrataal – Manali – Delhi

The circuit takes you through the beautiful valleys of Satluj, Baspa, Spiti, Pin, Chenab and Beas rivers.

In terms of pure natural beauty, Chitkul (Baspa valley) and Mudh (Pin valley) are incredibly beautiful and serene. Both are a bit detour from the main circuit. Making side trips to both of these valleys was an amazing experience in itself and I would have hated to have missed out on either of these!

Spiti Weather

June-July is the time when it’s scorching hot in the plains but pleasant during day time up in the Himalayas and cold during the night. Depending on the altitude, the weather can still get unbearably chilly especially during night. Chandrataal was the coldest region we encountered with sub-zero temperature. Other than that a t-shirt works alright during the day as the sun is rather sharp at the high altitudes and one blanket serves enough when you’re sleeping in a hotel. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is an issue which you need to be aware of, and prepare for, especially if you’re coming from the Manali side as the ascent in elevation is not as gradual as the one from Shimla side.

Spiti Roads

Boulders Road

Snow cut Road

The roads, right from Sangla to Rohtang are in a mildly bad to challenging conditions. The stretch from Kunzum la to Chandrataal lake is the worst part we encountered. Driving sedan on this route is extremely tricky and there’s high risk of getting stuck somewhere. We were in a Swift Dzire which according to many people we met during the journey is a poor choice due to the bad stretches, but thanks to our amazing driver bhaiya, we successfully completed the circuit. I’d recommend going on a 4X4/SUV on this route.

In total we drove approximately 2000 kms, driving through some of the most breathtaking yet challenging roads of the world.

Select next page below for day by day travelogue.

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