Once the snowfall starts at Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass, the Manali Kaza closes down, and Shimla Kaza road is the only route that connects Spiti Valley in winters. As the season end approaches, so do the questions on making a trip to Spiti Valley from Manali Kaza road in October or later.
In this article today, I will write in detail about the reasons I believe you should avoid traveling to Spiti Valley from Manali Kaza Road in October.
Spiti Valley has become very popular among tourists and travelers these days. People are traveling to Spiti Valley from Shimla Kaza road as well as Manali Kaza road based on individual preferences. We know that the connectivity to Spiti Valley from Manali Kaza road is only possible in the summer months every year.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Why travel from Manali to Kaza?
Manali Kaza Road is the shortest route to reach Spiti Valley. It offers mesmerizing views, great adventures like crossing Kunzum Pass and Rohtang Pass, passing through water crossings, driving or riding on the river bed, etc.
The other route from Shimla – Kinnaur to Kaza, Spiti Valley takes about three days to reach Spiti Valley from Delhi while Manali Kaza takes two days. Of course, you can read the articles 5 Reasons to Travel Spiti Valley from Manali Route and 5 Reasons to Travel Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur Route to understand the differences more.
One thing to note about Manali Kaza road is that once the season gets over, that is by October, one should definitely think at least once before venturing out on Manali Kaza Road. You can get stranded in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days and sometimes more.
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Places on Manali – Kaza Road
The places that fall on Manali Kaza road along with approximate distances between them goes like: Manali – Marhi (37 KMs) – Rohtang Pass (51 KMs) – Gramphu (66 KMs) – Chattru (81 KMs) – Chota Dhara (98 KMs) – Batal (113 KMs) – Kunzum Pass (131 KMs) – Losar (151 KMs) – Kaza (202 KMs).
Usually, people make a night halt at Manali or Solang Valley and then reach Kaza from Manali the very next day. You should know that as the distance is shorter, you also rapidly bump the altitude from Delhi to Manali (1950 Mtrs) to Kaza (3600 Mtrs). It has AMS risks associated with it, but if you are careful and follow some basic precautions, mostly you get away with it with minor AMS issues. You can also refer below the Altitude & Distance Graph for the Manali Kaza Road:
5 Reasons to Avoid Manali Kaza Road in October
October – November are the months of festivals like Diwali, Dusherra, Durga Puja, etc.. and people get lots of holidays. This holiday season means people plan lots of trips, and those who fail to make the trip to Spiti Valley in season time tend to plan the trip to Spiti Valley in October / November.
Hence, the possibility of them making the trip on Manali Kaza road in October or November also increases. Given below are some of the top reasons I feel you should avoid making the trip on Manali Kaza road after mid-October especially.
To know more about the best season to travel to Spiti Valley, please check the article: Best Season to Travel on Road to Spiti Valley
1. Being Stranded & Likely Snowfall on Manali Kaza Road
Firstly, by late September winter season starts to set in the trans-Himalayas and all high passes in the Himalayas start receiving snowfall at frequent intervals. The road from Manali to Kaza passes through both Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass which also starts getting the snow.
The chances of road closure temporarily also increase; however, the snow in late September or October does not last much longer. Although the BRO tries to maintain the Manali Kaza road open by the end of October, you can surely get stuck or delayed for a day or two or maybe more due to snowfall.
Hence, it depends upon the Spiti Valley weather altogether, and if you are lucky, you may get through it without any single blockage. The point here is that there is a risk of a 1-3 days delay which you must keep in mind before planning any journey to Manali Kaza road in late September or October.
Stock Food & Water
I will also suggest making sure that you have sufficient food stock and drinking water stock with you when traveling from Manali to Kaza in October to ensure you get past these days if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Although it is not freezing cold and snow melts away, chances of losing a life when getting stuck in a situation like this is still very much a possibility. Hence, better safe than sorry and carry essentials when traveling to such remote places of the Himalayas.
A Caution by Real Stories !!
More than 25 people got stranded in August a couple of years back when sudden snowfall occurred at Kunzum Pass. Please note it was August, and still, they got stuck. Some of them had to be rescued by chopper, and many of them almost starved. Dorje Uncle at Batal dhabha gave them food and a place to stay and saved their lives. If a similar thing happens in October, well, things can be very different due to low temperatures. Also, Dorje’s uncle packs up the dhabha by mid-October too. Similarly, 100s of people got stuck in September 2018 as well when sudden snowfall blocked the roads in Spiti and Manali – Leh Highway.
What to carry on a trip from Manali to Kaza?
It is always recommended to carry an inverter cum car charger with you so that many of the electrical/electronic components can either be charged or worked upon in the absence of electricity. For example, electric kettle for boiling water, charging your camera or laptop, charging your phone, charging your torchlight or camp light, etc…
You never know when you need any of that equipment for one or the other use, for example, making a call from a dead phone as soon as you reach a signal zone. I have purchased a Targus 200W Car Power Inverter With USB Fast Charging Port which works like a charm and I have been using it for the last six years without fail. It had never disappointed me when there was a need in a while to travel in the remote Himalayas or the plains/city world. Or you can buy it from Amazon India from the link/image provided on the right side.
2. Lack of Accommodation or Stay options
Once you cross Kothi on Manali – Rohtang Pass road, there isn’t any permanent place to stay up to Losar, about 51 km from Kaza. There is a PWD Guesthouse at Khoksar about 5 km from Gramphu and then a PWD rest house at Chatru & Batal. You have Dorje uncle Chandra Dhabha at Batal too and another one.
However, these makeshifts dhabhas and availability of caretaker at Batal PWD rest house will be difficult, especially after mid-October. These places may require you to stop in case there is snow on some adjoining mountain passes or other reasons for the road closure. The point is the risk of running out of limited accommodation options in case you get stuck at some unplanned place. So, better carry your tent and camping kit to avoid getting stranded in the middle of nowhere without a place to stay.
Do check this list of 40 must-have things to carry on a self-drive trip to the Himalayas.
3. Buses on Manali Kaza Road
The HRTC bus running between Kaza and Manali/Kullu also stops in October as the risk of being stranded increases. I guess they stop the bus service as soon as the black ice starts forming on the roads after the third week of September or mid-October and it becomes risky to drive or ride on the Himalayan roads.
The frequency of shared taxis between Manali to Kaza also decreases and only people who need to travel, follow the Manali Kaza road that late in the season. Hence, the best will be to avoid the road from Manali to Kaza in October.
4. Cold and Slippery Road Conditions
In October, you will need to bear some cold conditions, especially at night, late evening, or early morning. You may come across almost sub-zero temperatures in the region around Chandratal, Kunzum Pass, Batal, Losar.
In the daytime, it can be warmer than expected, though, but strong cold winds will always leave you numb in shades, especially when biking is tough. So, go prepared with proper gear. Make sure you have proper clothing to survive the cold conditions in case such a thing happens.
Another thing to be careful about is the ice on the roads that makes slippery road conditions. As the temperatures go sub-zero, the water on the roads freezes, especially around Kunzum Pass and Rohtang Pass. You should be very careful of the black ice else you may injure yourself in the middle of nowhere without any help nearby.
You should always carry your water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
5. Motor Rallies
Last but not the least, October is the month when the popular rally, Raid De Himalaya, is carried out nowadays over the roads in Spiti Valley, Ladakh, and Manali Leh Highway. When this rally event taking place, you may find various road sections to be closed for their smooth run.
Hence, it is an inconvenience for you as it may delay or toss up your plans completely. Moreover, finding accommodation among the limited open options in Spiti Valley also becomes a challenge as most of the hotels/stay options are pre-booked for the participants. This further means trouble and delays.
Having said all that, in October, you will find the least crowd, best road conditions of the season, very little water in the nallas, and best bargains on taxis or hotels 🙂 (of course except rally time). So, evaluate the risks and then make a call to travel on Manali Kaza road in October or later. You should never plan the road trip on Manali Kaza road in November as that is when the chances of getting stuck for more than months increases and travel becomes life-threatening.
In the month of early October, if you are well prepared for the risks defined in the article, you can try to make a trip on Manali Kaza road in October at your own risk. Personally, I will STRONGLY recommend NOT TO attempt any travel on Manali Kaza road in late October or November. Otherwise, be ready to either get stuck for a much longer time or sell/leave your vehicle then and there itself and bear a huge loss.
I hope you will take into consideration the above risks before planning your journey on Manali Kaza road in October or later. I will be here to answer any further questions you may have for your upcoming trip to Spiti Valley from Manali Kaza road. Feel free to post them under comments or reach me on my Instagram account.
Feel free to share this article with your friends or family whom you think might be planning their trips to Spiti Valley in October.