When the adventurous thought of making a trip to Spiti in winter comes to mind, it brings along lots of questions and apprehensions with it. The thoughts like, will the roads be open, will the stay options be available, how will be the temperature during that time, will I get food or water, etc.
Naturally, these questions are coming to your mind and they should, to make a successful trip to one of the remotest corners of trans-Himalayas in winter. I took care of many of these important questions in my last article How to plan a trip to Spiti Valley in Winters but left out what shall be your itinerary for a trip to Spiti in winters.
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Let's quickly dive into the details:
Spiti in Winter – Detailed Plan
When you are planning such an adventure trip in a remote corner of Himachal Pradesh, you must be well prepared. In this article today, I will be suggesting the most common itinerary for a trip to Spiti Valley in winters. In the next and last article of this series on planning a trip to Spiti in winter, I will share my thoughts in detail about staying and food options available in Spiti Valley in winters.
There are lots of variables when you are planning such a trip, and the most major one is the itinerary. Your itinerary must be flexible, and hence, you know about places to stop overnight in case of any changes from the original plan. You must also know which places you should avoid staying overnight due to vulnerabilities such as cold, acute mountain sickness or being stuck from both sides of roadblocks.
Itinerary for Spiti in Winters for 9 Days
This nine-day itinerary flows to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur side and you end up traversing the same route on the return because the route from Manali – Kunzum Pass – Kaza remains closed in winters.
You should be aware that the route from Manali to Kaza, Spiti Valley, only remains open in the summer months from mid-June to mid-October. Beyond this time, the road is usually closed, or it is not suggested to travel on this route because of the reason of getting stuck in the middle of no man’s land for about six months.
The route from Shimla – Kinnaur Valley to Spiti Valley remains open almost throughout the year including winters barring a few days of heavy snowfall that closes NH-05 or the road between Kaza – Tabo or Tabo – Puh at times.
This article covers places accessible in Spiti Valley in winter including Tabo, Kaza, Ki, Kibber, and other parts of Hindustan Tibet Highway. Below is the most common itinerary for Spiti in winters, spanning over 9-10 days and making the most use of each of the days.
Day by Day Plan
Let us look at a detailed day-by-day trip plan for winter Spiti Valley.
Day 1 | Delhi – Shimla / Narkanda
- Shimla sightseeing includes Famous Ridge, Mall Road, Lakkar Bazaar, Jakhu Temple
- Narkanda is about 60 KMs from Shimla and takes about 2 Hrs
- About 8 Hrs drive to Shimla
- Overnight at Shimla or Narkanda, whichever suits your time
- There may be snow on the road and you can expect closure due to heavy snowfall between Shimla – Narkanda
Day 2 | Shimla / Narkanda – Kalpa / Reckong Peo
- Leave early, if from Shimla and enjoy the vistas en route
- You can plan for lunch at Rampur
- About 8 – 9 Hrs of beautiful drive through Kinnaur Valley
- Overnight at Kalpa / Reckong Peo
- The road to Kalpa might be closed due to snow but the road to Reckong Peo remains open
- This will be your last place where the mobile network will be coming, so call up your near & dear one. Also, check the weather updates here before venturing.
- Once, you get past Reckong Peo, there is no looking back, and the chances of getting stuck between Puh – Nako – Tabo road always remain high. Hence, you better check the weather updates before leaving
Day 3 | Kalpa / Reckong Peo – Nako – Nako Lake – Tabo
- Start your day early and watch the vistas en route over the Hindustan Tibet Highway
- Check Out Khab, Confluence of Spiti and Satluj Rivers
- See the Leo Purygal Peak from Khab Bridge
- Have your lunch at Nako, the Nako Lake will be frozen
- Meet the dreaded Malling Nalla ahead of Nako which will have a lot of ice and completely frozen. The road will be very slippery around this section of the road
- After Chango – Sumdo you will enter Spiti Valley. In case you see the weather being not welcoming, try to stop over at Chango. Avoid sleeping at Nako where it will be too freezing and AMS prone
- After Sumdo police registration, the detour towards Geyu Village to visit the 500-year-old Mummy will be closed. So, keep moving towards Tabo.
- About 8 – 9 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between
- Overnight at Tabo
Day 4 | Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza
- Visit Dhankar Monastery in case the road is open else continue to Kaza
- The route to Pin Valley will be closed
- About 2 – 3 Hrs of drive in the day
- Overnight at Kaza
Day 5, 6 | Kaza and around
- Head for Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti Valley and spend a couple of days in Kaza
- Have lunch at Kaza and check in to Hotel
- In these two days, explore the road to Ki – Kibber which remains mostly open and for more details you can read: Key – Kibber – Gette – Tashigang – Local Sightseeing in Kaza
- Ki is a famous monastery and others are places to explore as a lovely drive
- About 2 – 3 Hrs of drive in the day
- Overnight at Kaza
Day 7 | Kaza – Tabo – Nako – Puh – Reckong Peo
- Start your day early and watch the vistas en route over the Hindustan Tibet Highway.
- After Chango – Sumdo you will exit Spiti Valley and enter Kinnaur Valley.
- Have your lunch at Nako or Puh.
- Nako has an IPH Rest House, and Puh has a PWD Resthouse where you can stay if required due to road closure. Chango also has a PWD rest house. You may be OK to stay at Nako while coming back but still, better to opt for Chango or Puh
- You can make quick progress on this day with fewer stops, as you have already covered to places of interest while reaching Tabo from Kalpa
- About 9 – 10 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between
- Overnight at Reckong Peo
Day 8 | Reckong Peo – Sangla/Rakcham – Jeori – Sarahan
- Enjoy the day at Sangla Valley, in case the road is open. I am not suggesting to stay at Sangla Valley overnight. Firstly, it will increase the previous day’s travel time and secondly, in case the road to Sangla Valley gets closed, you might get stranded there for a few days. The road to Chitkul will be closed.
- Go over to Sarahan and spend the night up there
- Visit Kamru Fort at Sangla
- You can plan for lunch at Sangla village and by evening reach Sarahan
- About 2 – 5 Hrs of beautiful drive through Kinnaur Valley
- Overnight at Sarahan
Day 9 | Sarahan – Narkanda – Chail/Shimla/Delhi
- Leave early and enjoy the vistas en route
- You can plan for lunch at Narkanda, Negi Dhabha. Check review in DoW Community
- This time instead of staying at Narkanda, stay at Chail by taking the different inner beautiful route to Chail from Kufri, in case opens. That route sometimes gets closed due to snow.
- About 6 – 14 Hrs of beautiful drive through Shimla – Kinnaur Valley depending upon where are you planning to halt the day
- Overnight at Chail/Shimla/Delhi
Day 10 | Chail – Delhi
- In case, you have this extra day past the whole week, well, you can relax in Chail
- Roam around in Chail and leave for Delhi by afternoon
- About 8 Hrs drive to Delhi
- Overnight at Delhi / Sweet Home
Day 11-15 | Buffer Days
When planning a road trip to such remote corners of the trans-Himalayas in the winter month, buffer days must be kept in case of road closure due to landslides or snowfall or perhaps you want to enjoy more in the frozen beauty of Spiti Valley
Add On Days in Spiti Valley in Winter months??
If you have more days with you then perhaps you can choose any of the days to explore more beautiful places within Spiti Valley in winter…
- You can trek in the snow to Langza, Hikkim, or Komic villages for a few days. Do not forget to take a local guide or local villager with you if you are undertaking such a snow trek. Carry enough food + a water bottle and a sleeping bag to sleep in homestays up in these villages. You can go for spotting Snow Leopard in these villages as well.
- Spend a day with Sakya Abode boys or Tsering Bhai who goes over to ski on the snow slopes around Kaza. An exhilarating experience I must say.
- Spend a day working out winter routines in some homestay to actually experience the hardships of daily life in Spiti in winter.
- Spend a few days in Kibber village and try your luck to spot Snow Leopards, who knows it is your lucky day to spot this amazingly elusive cat :).
Petrol Pumps Between Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti Valley
When you travel to Spiti from Kinnaur side, you may not worry much about petrol availability or extra petrol to carry on your road trip. There are plenty of petrol pumps on the way from Delhi to Kinnaur Valley. I usually prefer to top up at Narknada and then either at the last petrol pump of Rampur or I prefer the petrol pump at Tapri to top up.
After topping up at Tapri, the only petrol pump left is Kaza if you do not have any plans go to Reckong Peo and stay at Sangla Valley and Chitkul instead. So, do not forget to fill your vehicle’s petrol tank at either the Tapri petrol pump or the petrol pump at Reckong Peo.
Finally, there is only one petrol pump at Kaza and hence, you must fill your tank after reaching Kaza and doing the local sightseeing. Make sure you top up again before starting the trip back to Kinnaur – Shimla from Kaza. This way you do not need to carry extra petrol on your Spiti Valley trip.
- Narkanda Do Top Up Here
- Rampur After crossing the town, the last one on the right side is pretty reliable
- Tapri – New one, not sure if one can rely on it
- Rekong Peo
- Kaza – Do Not Miss
Foreign Nationals visiting the protected areas of Spiti Valley and Kinnaur Valley are required to get the inner line permits or ILP. Domestic (Indian) tourists do not require any permits. If you are Indian, then just carry a valid photo ID proof of your nationality to be on the safe side.
I am sure the above itinerary if not help you 100% with planning a trip to Spiti Valley but can certainly act as a starting point for your upcoming trip to Spiti Valley in winters. Do share your valuable thoughts or questions or doubts you have in the comment section and we can discuss your upcoming Travel Plans for Spiti Valley 🙂
Now we have talked about what to expect and how to plan the trip to Spiti in winter, in the last article of the series I will talk about available food and staying options in winters in Spiti Valley.
Feel free to share this article with any friends or family whom you know are making such a trip to Spiti Valley in winter.