Are you looking for an ultimate travel guide to Spiti Valley with a detailed itinerary? This article will provide you with all the necessary information.
Winding streets, picturesque meadows offering glimpses of the desert land, and some stunning views welcome you to Spiti valley from the beginning. This valley is a cold mountain desert, a landlocked mountain valley that lies between India and Tibet. The exacting significance of Spiti is the middle land. It is encircled by thick snow-capped mountains, small villages, monasteries, and surreal road views.
I have recently done a full circuit of Spiti Valley trip starting point from Delhi via Aut to Spiti and came back via Manali. I did this trip with a group of people from a tour company. I learnt a lot from this trip in terms of people, culture, the lifestyle of the locals, how to acclimatize, how to travel etc. I have written a blog on Prepare yourself (Details You Need to Know Before Visiting Spiti Valley)
I am sharing below the complete Itinerary of Spiti Full Circuit with detailed information about each place, route, cost of this trip. You can always customize the plan as per your requirements. Also, I’m including a brief section for your better understanding.
The valley is situated at 12,500 feet above ocean level in the Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh. The climate is exceptionally harsh and has a cold desert territory. Consistently, the place gets daylight for only 250 days and is probably the coldest area in the Himalayas.
Spiti is a part of Lahaul and Spiti District. Notwithstanding, Lahaul is a different part of Spiti that revolved around Keylong town situated toward the west of Spiti. They might look adjacent however these are such difficult landscapes that you have to plan separately for Lahaul and get transport from Kaza to Keylong.
Starting from Delhi, the travel route in Spiti is following below :
Delhi- Aut- Jibhi-Chitkul (va Sangla)- Pooh-Nako-Sumdo-Gue-Tabo-Kaza-Hikkim-Langza-Komic-Key-Chicham Bridge-Kunjum La Pass- Chandratal-Manali-Delhi
Spiti is accessible via two routes, either Manali or Shimla. From Manali, it is accessible via Rohtang Pass and Kunjum Pass and from Shimla, you can reach via Kinnaur Dist which is Chitkul or Sangla. In the winter Manali routes get closed due to heavy snowfall, so for winter Spiti, Shimla route is easier to reach the location.
By Air: The most convenient way to reach Spiti is by Air. You can reach either Shimla or Bhuntar airport depends on your route and from there you can hire a cab or get a bus to reach the destination.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Kalka or Shimla or Chandigarh. From there you need to take a bus or cab.
By Road: The most connecting by road path is from Shimla or Manali to reach Spiti. There are several buses available from Delhi. Also, Delhi to Chitkul or Sangla buses are available from Delhi but it would be more tedious and hectic to reach. Better if you can take a bus from Shimla to reach Recong Peo and from there Recong Peo.
Passport-size photos, Aadhar card, negative RT PCR test or vaccination certificate are mandatory to carry. At Sumdo, before entering Spiti you might need to show them at the check post.
Spiti has a lot of options to Stay. From luxurious Resorts to budget homestays or hostels both are available at every place and they are pretty reasonable too. Also, Monastery guesthouses are also available and they are really affordable price starts from INR 300 and you can get an amazing idea about culture and religious beliefs. In Chandra Tal, you will get camps to stay in which are really good. I stayed at a swiss camp where they have a separate washroom, beds available and food was also decent.
I covered the complete circuit within 8 nights and 9 days. My journey started on 16th July 2021 and ended on 24th July 2021. Please read the below-mentioned outline of my journey :
Day 0: Started Journey from Delhi by taking Volvo to Shimla.
Day 1: Got down at Aut and transferred to Jibhi via Tempo traveller. The evening and night were hopping at Jibhi waterfall and cafes.
Day 2: Proceed to Chitkul ( 6 to 7 hours journey). Evening and night were definitely amazing to visit Chitkul temple, village and India’s last dhaba from Indo Tibetan border. The night was spent at a beautiful camp.
Day 3: Day started with Chitkul riverside hopping and then after a sumptuous breakfast we proceed to Nako via pooh. Evening at Nako while visiting Nako Monastery, Nako lake and a short village walk. The night spent at Nako.
Day 4: Entered Spiti via Sumdo (the first Spiti village) and headed to Gue Mummy, Tabo Monastery and finally reached Kaza, the largest town of Spiti. The night was spent at Kaza.
Day 5: Supercharged and did my bucket list of places which are Langza, Hikkim, Dhankar, Komic and Key Monastery. An evening spent shopping and café hopping at Kaza.
Day 6: Started early to reach Chicham bridge, Kunjum Pass and Chandratal. Rest at Chandratal
Day 7: Started early and reached Manali via Rohtang Pass. Got an evening bus from Manali to Delhi.
Day 8: Bid Adieu and reach back Home …..
Spiti is situated at a high altitude area ( 3300- 5000 mt) uphill and to explore the valley you need to be fit. It needs proper acclimatization for every traveller either their first visit or many times visits to these places. It is advisable to plan your journey slowly. You must halt halfway in Kinnaur or Manali which helps you to adjust the uphill and area accordingly. Those who suffer from lung diseases like asthma or breathing problems or heart issues are advised to consult their doctors before planning the trip.
Spiti is a place you need at least 20 to 30 days to touch all the places. Here I am jotting down the most visited places in Spiti which you can cover within 10 to 15 days and can do the full circuit too.
Tabo Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in India built in 996 CE and it is still operating. This is also called the Ajanta of the Himalayas because of wall murals painted all over the monasteries’ walls. The total complex is made up of nine temples, four stupas, and twenty-three monk quarters. The monastery complex looks innocuous from the outside, with some scattered mud houses and chortens.
Note: Tabo has so many cafes, and hostels and well build trekking routes towards old meditation caves. The Network is good here and you can find 1 ATM and a small market too.
Gue is an offbeat village where you can go slightly divert away from Sumdo and can see the small beautiful village situated on the extreme side of the Indo-China border. There is a 550 years old mummified monk found here who is believed the mummy of a Buddhist monk named Sangha Tenzin. The mummy has intact teeth and hair, and it is said that the area is so pristine too because of the strange mummy.
Note: Gue has enchanting views from the monastery. Do not forget to spend some time upstairs.
Between Kaza and Tabo cliff this oldest and classic, monastery is situated. It displays magnificent sight of the Buddhist religion and culture. Inside the monastery, you can see four Buddha statues seated in four different directions. Surrounding the monastery there is a small village situated called Dhankar village from where you can reach Dhankar Lake which has stunning views to offer.
Note: Dhankar has excellent Maggie points outside the monastery. Try some.
Kaza is the main headquarter of Spiti and It is a developing town which can be your base to visit sightseeing like hikkim, langza, key etc. You can find here a lot of hotels, hostels, homestays, cafes, and a market to buy souvenirs. You can easily find busses or private cabs to explore key points.
Langza is a small village with 25 to 30 houses and is famous for its gigantic langza buddha statue. This place is rich in fossils of marine animals and plants. That is because Spiti was submerged underwater millions of years back. You should go on treks around Langza and you will probably be able to find a few of these fossils. Langza has excellent viewpoints and you can easily find the highest pick of Spiti from there.
Note: Langza is one of the best places for stargazing as you can chase a clear sky from here at night.
Hikkim is a small village in Spiti but famous for the highest post office in the world, situated at 4440 meters above of sea level. The village is small but the post office makes it the most famous point of Spiti. You can send postcards from here to your loved ones.
Note: Make sure to stamp the postcards from the shop (from where you buy the cards) as the post office doesn’t have any stamps.
20 kilometres from Kaza, Kibber is a tiny village of 25-something hamlets. Spend some time roaming around the village – visit the monastery, talk to the locals, and try some local food. If you have time then visit the nearby Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary for a chance to spot a snow leopard.
Note: Kibber is not only the highest inhabited village in the world, but also the highest polling station, and the highest educational institution in the world.
Komic is one of the highest motorable villages and the highest cafes in the world at around 4600 meters. The monastery at Komic is also a very ancient one and is situated even higher than the village. Komic monastery is so colourful, even accommodating monks there too.
Note: Try momos here at the highest café which is soooo sooo mouth-watering.
From Kaza to Key is 14 km distant which takes 40 minutes to reach the monastery. The 1000 years old ancient monastery is one of the largest monasteries in the world situated on a hilltop. The road takes you to the monastery complex from where you can start your journey towards the monastery. It has 200-plus rooms inside and the surreal murals on the walls surely give you goosebumps. Ancient manuscripts and weapons are the added things to show. The view from the monastery is beyond words.
Chicham is a small village that was associated with Kibber with an extremely unsteady suspension overpass over a profound chasm. Recently, it was converted over to another motorable scaffold. Along these lines, the Chicham Bridge is currently the most elevated motorable bridge in Asia.
Note: Get the famous insta worthy picture from here.
Kunzum pass connects Kullu and Lahaul valley to the Spiti valley and is considered one of the most challenging highest passes but it is worth visiting. The blue river of Spiti and the dry brown mountains are just worth seeing. There is a temple of Kunzum Devi situated here which is another place to visit. The prayer flags and beauty of nature make this pass so popular. It is located at an altitude of 4551 metres. Kunzum Pass usually opens from late May to mid-October.
Note: Do drink a lot of water as this is one of the highest altitude places in Spiti.
Crescent Shake Lake which is popularly known as Chandratal Lake is the centre of attraction for adventure seekers. The name ‘Chandratal Lake’ literally translates into ‘the moon lake’ and that is because of the lake’s crescent shape.
Spiti Valley often alluded to as the ‘ land of Lamas, is a Buddhist land. Spitians follow Vajrayana Buddhism, similar can be found in Ladakh and Tibet. Spiti Valley is dabbed with a few antiquated monasteries and is a cultural and social community for Buddhists. 62% of the inhabitants in Lahaul and Spiti Valley are Buddhists, 36% are Hindus and the rest is isolated among Muslims, Christians and different religions. Buddhism in Spiti became famous in the eighth century.
The family in the Spiti people group is going by a senior male part who is known as Yunda, while his better half is known as Yundamo. They acquire these titles by being the older people in the generation. After the parent’s demise, the oldest child acquires family property, the oldest girl acquires the gems, and the other kin gets nothing.
Tourism and horticulture are the principal livelihoods for the local people of Spiti Valley. Guesthouses, hostels, homestays, cafés, stores, travel services and trinket shops have grown in the spaces where a boom in the travel industry has started. Green peas and potato cultivating are common. other occupations incorporate government occupations, business, craftwork, and private jobs.
Bhoti, Hindi, English and Sanskrit are the main languages here.
You can easily find basic Tibetan food like momos, Thupka but they have some unique local food too. Thenthuk, sea buckthorn tea, and white meat sandwiches are some of the local food apart from the mainstream food like Maggie, paratha, rajma chawal etc.
In Kaza or Tabo, you can find gemstones, woollen stuff, magnets, incense stick, prayer flags etc to buy.
May to early October is good to explore summer expeditions and most of the places. But if you want to cherish the white snow land in Spiti then February to April is a good time to experience Winter Spiti.
I believe safety is in your hand. If you are travelling solo then you must research the place before visiting. I found the local people here to be very humble and supportive. The majority of the valley is simple villagers and the crime rate here is zero. But there are other tourists too. Also because3 of barren land most of the places have no commute system or zero networks. So make sure to drive sensibly, did not take any unnecessary risks like hopping at night or drinking with strangers, do not wander alone into the wild, know before travelling and try to visit before sunset then Spiti Valley is a safe place to visit.
Whenever you go to any high altitude AMS can happen. I too had AMS effects at Nako village and I know how difficult it was. I was running out of my breath and could not walk properly even at the market too. Nausea, Vomiting, and chest pain, I suffered. I took Diamox and had plenty of water, also I took proper rest and tried to walk but did not take any drastic steps. I only tried my best when my body permitted me. So, please take medicines, drink water and take proper rest when you travel to any high-altitude area. It can hit anytime with anyone.
Let me know if you want any advice for Spiti and do not forget to check my Spiti Series here (SPITI SERIES)
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“Don’t be a Gama, in the land of the Lama”