Best Season to Travel on Road to Spiti Valley

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In this article of the series, “Comprehensive Travel Guide to Spiti Valley”, I will try to share my inputs on best time or season to travel the road to Spiti Valley. There are two routes that goes to Spiti Valley, one via Manali as Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Chattru – Kunzum Pass – Kaza (Spiti Valley) AND then other one goes through via Shimla – Kinnaur Valley as Shimla – Kinnaur – Nako – Sumdo (Spiti Valley) – Tabo – Kaza, commonly known as Hindustan – Tibet Highway. The Hindustan – Tibet highway remains open all through out the year via Kinnaur Valley and you can make a journey to Kaza over it all round the year because there is no high mountain pass that comes on this route. It is said to be motorable all round the year, however, traveling to Spiti Valley especially in winter months is not that easy as it reads and conditions in winters on Hindustan – Tibet highway is quite challenging and tough.

Vistas worth dying for at Pin Valley…
Views between Kaza and Pin Valley

Going via Manali side by and large depends first upon opening of Rohtang Pass and then opening of route from Gramphu to Kunzum Pass and Kunzum Pass in itself. This generally takes time and remains closed for almost 7 months in an year. Rohtang Pass generally opens post Mid – May and further route to Kaza over Kunzum Pass almost opens by second week of June only. So, you have very little time in an year, in case you are interested in the entire circuit viz. Delhi – Shimla – Kinnaur – Kaza (Spiti Valley) – Kunzum Pass – Rohtang Pass – Manali – Delhi

Best Time to Travel on Road to Spiti Valley

In the following part of the article, let’s check in detail, how the whole year looks like in terms of traveling on the road to Spiti Valley and then you can evaluate which month shall be best for you to travel there.

Come April to Mid-May, snow starts to melt and some link roads starts to open up including the road to Losar from Kaza. Opening of Kunzum Pass and further road towards Manali from Kunzum Pass, takes more time and generally gets open in the month of June only. However, conditions in Spiti Valley become bearable and journey to spiti Valley is not that hard this period and in fact season starts to open in these two months only when adventurists from various parts of the country start planning their trip to Spiti Valley. Hotels just start to come out of hibernation and things starts to arrive in Spiti Valley on frequent basis. If you are interested in watching snow studded peaks, want to play in snow then this is the ideal time to be in Spiti Valley.

If you are one of those who want to feel the deserted roads, low tourist count, OK with basic facilities and OK to take a chance on giving up a place or two as that link road might not have opened then it is OK for you to travel in this window. But, keep in mind that you will not be able to do the complete circuit.

Heavenly View of Losar Village in May…
Heavenly View of Losar Village in May

Mid – May to Mid – July, is the actual main season in Spiti Valley when loads of tourist make their journey over here and season eventually takes rapid move as the road to Manali over Kunzum Pass also open by second week of June. Mostly all the link roads to various sightseeing places or remote villages in Spiti Valley are open in this period and you can plan your visit. Hotels are all open with full facilities, there is quite a lot of hustle bustle of tourists all around in Spiti Valley. Even Chandratal lake becomes accessible in the month of June soon after the Kunzum Pass opens. Well, it is one of the good time to be in Spiti Valley and a desperate retreat from the HEAT of northern cities of India. There are many water crossings active during this period as the snow melts, so it is always better to reach the destination well in afternoon to avoid getting stuck either in one of those water crossings or behind it. So, follow “Leave Early, Sleep Early” principle very strictly. In the recent past, June appears to have good pre-monsoon showers on the way to Spiti Valley especially in Kinnaur and even Spiti experience one or two spells of snow in June as well :shock:, not to forget the recent (June 2013) tragic flash floods in Kinnaur district. So, weather is somehow becoming un predictable now a days. However, this is considered one of the better times to travel over road to Spiti Valley that is Hindustan – Tibet Highway.

Views on Kaza – Kunzum Pass – Battal – Manali Road in June…
Views on Kaza - Kunzum Pass - Battal - Manali Road in June

Mid – July to August, is the time when monsoon is in full flurry in Kinnaur and DO understand that Kinnaur is not a place to be at especially in rains with its history of massive landslides and the live landslide zone of Malling Nalla ahead of Nako. in this period, roads are almost in horrible state as compared to rest of the year especially in Kinnaur Valley. Having said all that, it does not mean that it is not a season for Spiti Valley. Spiti Valley falls under Trans Himalayan region which is generally rain shadowed but in recent past rains have started to reach even Spiti though not that much just frequent drizzles and overcast skies. So, generally this time shall be avoided, if possible and only chance shall be taken when you have enough number of buffer days in hand to face intermittent delays or even cancellation of the trip. Once, you reach Spiti Valley, things remain mostly OK but do not forget that you have to return via either Manali or Kinnaur again which DO experience good monsoon rains, especially Rohtang Pass will be in big mess. Also, keep in mind that it is also a time of Apple Season and crop transportation which creates good amount of traffic jams owing to high number of trucks that ply on Kinnaur Valley route. If you happen to be there, then do take one or two cartons of golden apples or red apples from Kinnaur 🙂

Dreaded Roads of Rohtang Pass in August…
Dreaded Roads of Rohtang Pass in August

September to mid-October, is the time which is my favourite when autumn colours of Spiti are blooming with oranges leaves on the trees enhancing the beauty of magnificent backdrops by many levels. The aqua colours of water in the river just adds jewels to the pristine beauty all around Spiti Valley. The conditions at night and morning is quite cold, at some parts, almost close to 2-3 degree Celsius, so do carry heavy woolens at this time of the year with you. You can also get your hands on super delicious Spiti Apples around Tabo or Hurling and even in Kaza at house of locals. DO NOT miss to taste them or buy them if possible, I am sure you would not have tasted such an apple before 😉 … If you are a snow lover then you will not like this month as almost all the peaks around you would be naked without any snow on them.

Regarding making the complete circuit, especially after mid of October, yes you can come from Kinnaur side and go via Manali side BUT do check the weather updates for few days before making the trip across Kunzum Pass when you are at Kaza or Losar. Kunzum Pass starts getting snowfall by September end and it can be very tricky and risky crossing over it in no mans land. Hence, you need to be very very sure of weather especially in October, when making a move from Kaza to Manali beyond Kunzum Pass. My frank and modest advice is always to avoid it.

Leading us to heaven – Spiti Valley…
Views at Road to Spiti Valley between Nako and Tabo

November to March, is generally winter months in Spiti Valley and while traveling you go through lots of hardships of ice on the roads, lack of electricity, extreme winter conditions with sub zero temperatures topped with basic facilities as most of the guest houses gets closed. Kunzum Pass gets closed by November for next 6-7 months, so one cannot complete the circuit from Shimla – Kinnaur to Manali during this period. It is to be noted that in this winter period, the water in the taps freeze and people depend upon hand pump water at certain places or boiled water in buckets. Kaza, especially suffer from shortage of water in these months and wash rooms are big nightmares without tap water. So, in all this period, the life is not that ease. In this period, the link roads to various places like Geyu Mummy, Pin Valley, Kibber, Gette, Komik, Langza, Losar ahead of Kaza etc. in Spiti Valley remain closed as well. Hence, you can only make a trip upto Kaza on this route and there is always a chance of closure of roads for few days if it continues to snow for a period of time during winters. So, if you are making a road trip in winters, be ready for extreme adventure and delays too!! Go Very well prepared in this time of the year with respect to mental levels, physical levels and food to carry along with buffer days.

Conclusion

Still confused?? Well, in the end, I can say if you love lovely vivid colors of nature or photographer, love less tourists around you at the cost of snow around then make a journey in the month of September. Otherwise, if you are one of those snow lovers then make the journey in the period of Mid-May to June.

Feel free to ask any queries or share your valuable inputs on your take on Season to Travel on Road to Spiti Valley either in the comments section below or help other travelers with your views in DoW – Himalayan Travel Community at the link here

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944 Comments

  1. Amjad Khan on

    Hi Dheeraj

    I was planning to do Spiti trip end April through bus Shimla side. All tickets are already in order. But then just had a crazy idea today. How bout travelling in Chevrolet spark all the way to Kaza and it’s surrounds. Would you recommend it ? We have 9 days in hand ex- Delhi. Thanks.

    • Well, I have been to Spiti in all sought of vehicles including my sedan as well. So, it is surely possible. Please get in touch with some hotel in Kaza or Tabo to confirm if the road has been opened or not. It will surely take a beating in Kinnaur but it is manageable unless you love your car very much.

  2. Rutik Shah on

    Hiiii sir…..well I am planning to visit spiti n doing a solo trip in the month of November will it be a good time to visit? N also I know to drive car but I don’t want to take risk by driving alone. N next thing is that I don’t know how to ride a bike.can you help me in travelling ?

    • Rutik, by November it gets pretty cold in Spiti Valley. It is possible to travel but I am not sure how much cold sensitive you are. It will be dry and cold in November in Spiti.

  3. Dear Dhiraj,

    I am planning to travel to Spiti via Shimla starting 8th May with 2 young children (5 and 9). Would we find good hotels on the way? Please share names of the best hotels at various locations.

  4. Sanjay Kumar Solanki on

    We are planning to visit Spiti valley in the month of June. From 13th to 18th and places we would like to stay in order are Raksham, Tabo, Kaza, Rohtang. I just want to know is this route possible for us in June and we will be driving Tata Zest and Swift..? Please guide us… Thanks

    • You are planning a very hectic trip in just 6 days. Also, the road from Manali – Rohtang Pass – Kaza will not be open by that time of the year or would have just opened. Better plan it towards the end of the June. Also, hatches and sedans very much struggle on Manali – Rohtang Pass – Kaza road.

  5. Hi Dheeraj. Great to see that you are replying to all the queries very promptly. Really appreciate.
    I am Lalit from Bhopal. We are a family of 3 adults.
    Keeping in view the dates of opening of Kunzum pass I have booked my flights from 15th July to 26th July for a full circuit trip to Spiti valley from Shimla to Manali.

    But now I am very anxious as lot of websites are saying this time time would be a rainy season.

    I need your advise should I change my dates from 24th June to 5th July or should I stick to the original plan.

    • Hey Lalit,

      Mostly the monsoons are delayed nowadays and July is still a good time to travel to Spiti Valley, IMO. Rather if you look at last few years, June end there are some rains always. Also, once you are in Spiti, you are in rain shadow region and it does not rain much up there.

      You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Spiti Valley followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 10-11 days: Most Common Itinerary for Spiti Valley.

  6. Sir please tell me if i can complete the whole circuit from shimla side to manali by my swift car or not in the mid June.do i require any permit.

    • No permit is required if you traveling from Shimla side. Chandratal road may not be open by 15th June, so better that you plan the trip up to Kaza in your car and then take a taxi beyond Kunzum Pass and trek to Chandratal and be back in that taxi.

  7. Nithin ramba on

    I’m very much confused to travel spiti in this month…. They are many questions in my mind ! How ? , Which way ?, Where to stay ? , How can I get busses to cover this entire valley ? And much more ….
    Plz help me with this deeraj sir ! We are not able to plan this area …

    • Nithin, you mean traveling in the month of April? You cannot do the entire circuit in this month. You have to go from Shimla side and come back the same road.

  8. I’m very much confused to travel spiti in this month…. They are many questions in my mind ! How ? , Which way ?, Where to stay ? , How can I get busses to cover this entire valley ? And much more ….
    Plz help me with this deeraj sir ! We are not able to plan this area …

  9. Hello sir ! This is Nithin 🙂 . We are two actually .We are planning for spiti in this month like April 29 th. Soo which way is the best to go now… Thanks in advance 🙂

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